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The Art of War(craft): How Patch 3.0.8 will change PvP, part II

Zach Yonzon

From the very beginning, I always thought that the new Arena maps were a bad idea. I don't like the thought of more RNG introduced to Arena play, and no matter how anyone justifies them, the new gimmicks in the Ring of Valor and Dalaran Sewers can be unpredictable and get in the way of actual combat. The only thing is that the new Arenas have a whimsical element of fun. I think it's bad for competitive play, but it's certainly more entertaining. I believe the only thing that should kill a player in an Arena is another player, so the fire in the Ring of Valor is an unwelcome addition to an already RNG-infused game. Didn't Blizzard say they were reducing the amount of RNG in PvP?

Unfortunately, the only thing changing about the Ring of Valor is that the elevators will now start moving as soon as the Arena match begins, making the timer coincide with the actual start of the match. In the Dalaran Sewers, a small change was made that prevents Warlocks from using Demonic Circle to hide back up in the starting pipe.

The biggest and best news, however, is that all Deadly Gladiator Arena gear have had their rating requirements have been reduced by 100, making it easier to obtain by a huge margin. This means that the highest rating required to obtain all pieces of Season 5 gear is 2050, which still requires reasonable success in Arenas, but should be much easier to obtain.

One of the problems with high rating requirements is that players always hit an artificial ceiling -- it's almost impossible to advance past a certain point unless you have a considerable pool of opponents within the same rating range. At a certain point, players will get longer and longer queue times as the matching system fails to find a suitable opponent. Point gains will also become smaller, losses will result in steeper ratings drops, and eventually it simply becomes a waste of time trying to wait for a game so progression through ratings always ends at a certain point no matter how good you are. In fact, the better you do, the faster you'll run out of opponents to fight and get points from. Even Serennia's Death Knight took several weeks to hit Arena Master. It takes some time for the rest of the player base to catch up.

Another problem with Arena design is the point cap. As noted in a forum thread, players acquiring over 1k points a week will accrue enough points to almost buy the 4,500 point Deadly Gladiator weapons, but will have to waste points on the last week because the cap is at 5,000. Ghostcrawler said that the cap will likely be raised, although there is no official word on it yet. Hopefully it shows up as a hotfix or with the patch today. The rating requirement reduction in Patch 3.0.8 addresses this problem obliquely by allowing players to spend their Arena points sooner but doesn't solve the problem for players already at high ratings.

There's a similar problem with Honor for Battlegrounds PvP. The cap hasn't been raised beyond the 75,000, so any player continuously playing Battlegrounds or world PvP at or nearing the Honor cap will be forced to spend his or her points. That there are enough items to purchase isn't the problem, the problem is that players are forced to purchase something just so Honor past 75,000 isn't wasted. Marks of Honor are also capped at 100, and because Level 80 PvP gear only requires Honor, the Marks must be turned in for even more Honor through For Great Honor or Concerted Efforts. In contrast, players can accumulate as many Emblems of Heroism or Valor as they want, as there is no known limit for them.

Blizzard's idea of a solution for this is to provide more things to spend on. In Patch 3.0.8, players will be able purchase Greater Inscription of the Gladiator, a shoulder enchant that grants 30 Stamina and 15 Resilience to a shoulder slot item, for 10,000 Honor points. It's nice and probably buys some time for players until they can get Sons of Hodir inscriptions, but it doesn't solve the problem of players who already have all the Honor items they can buy and are already at cap.

The archaic Honor system needs to be revised to keep up with the times. Players shouldn't feel penalized for continuing to play the Battlegrounds. Wintergrasp Marks of Honor can be stacked to 1,000 in Patch 3.0.8, and players can only play that every 2.5 hours. Why not lift or raise the cap for other Battleground Marks of Honor? It would have been easy enough to give updated versions of the PvP potions, at least.

The only other change in Battlegrounds PvP is some buffs to vehicles and cannons in Strand of the Ancients, and the move of the seaforium charges nearer to the graveyards, allowing players to pick up the explosives as soon as they rezz. The Battleground has a bigger issue which wasn't addressed, and that's the fact that Alliance always start the game on offense. This is the mislabeled Alliance "advantage". It's not an advantage in any strategic sense, it's just that when two teams of equal skill are put in the same scenario, the Alliance will take a shorter time to win because they set the pace. Speaking of timers, the Storm the Beach Achievement is broken. We'll see if Patch 3.0.8 fixes this, although there's nothing about it on the notes, undocumented or otherwise.

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