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Valor points and player choice

Matthew Rossi

I get very frustrated with the valor point system. One of my characters is at the point where the only thing to do with valor points is upgrade gear, while the other struggles to accumulate enough valor to buy anything. Worse, they're on different servers, so I don't even get the buff when I cap valor on my main. Plus, in order to even spend valor, I had to grind a whole bunch of reputations so for a while I had valor and couldn't even spend it.

So it was with interest that I saw this forum thread detailing one player's issues with valor, which were interesting to me precisely because they weren't a problem I was having - instead, the argument seemed to be that the player was wasting effort and doing enough in a week to generate over 2000 valor, but the cap meant that more than half of that weekly play was meaningless. That kind of surprised me, because I only cap valor when I clear all the raid content, but I could see it after thinking about the issue. What was even more interesting to me was the idea presented that the valor cap served as a punitive measure punishing players who were running enough dailies, doing the daily scenario and heroic, and hitting each LFR in a week.

Vaneras responded, and those responses are worth discussing I think.

Vaneras - Why do we get punished for doing our best?
The cap should not really be seen as punishment to people for being able to reach the maximum amount of Valor points every week. The idea behind the cap is to give people a choice on how they reach the cap without having them feel obliged to do everything.

Valor points should also not be considered the primary way of gearing your character. The idea behind Valor in MoP is for them to be a supplement to the gearing process. i.e. you gear up normally through dungeons and raids. As it is normal to have streaks of bad luck, and thus having weeks when you are obtaining no or only few upgrades, you can get a little gear on the side by using Valor points and by doing a little crafting/trading.

On the one hand, I am aware of the pressures to gear up as fast as possible that have in the past led people to run as many dungeons as they could as fast as they could - I remember the Wrath of the Lich King dungeon gorges I ended up running to gear up a friend faster. One day I think I ran LFD for ten hours. Very few activities keep their luster after being overindulged in to that degree, and tanking Halls of Reflection sure as heck isn't one of them. And I do understand that Blizzard very clearly wanted to move away from the idea of gearing your character exclusively, or even primarily, through valor purchases. I even understand why they did this - putting players firmly back on the gear treadmill reintroduces the carrot and stick mentality that keeps people engaged in running dungeons and raids.

The problem I have is that I don't believe the 1000 valor a week/3000 valor total cap is a good number for what Vaneras is saying they want valor to do. Right now, valor points don't feel like they supplement gearing all that much - even on my alt who reached level 90 over a month after Mists dropped, valor purchases haven't done much at all for me. I don't think I've spent any valor yet on him, except to upgrade some items. In short, since it takes over two weeks to buy anything and you're constantly feeling constrained, valor points don't feel good. They're not something you really care if you acquire, you cap them (if you even do) out of a sense of obligation or with the goal of upgrading a piece of gear down the road. In the struggle to make getting gear from dungeons and raids the priority (one that I would argue has been successful) valor points have been thrown under a bus, and I'd argue that was too extreme a reduction in their desirability. I agree that they shouldn't be the primary means to gear up, but neither should they feel burdensome to acquire and use.

That being said, I absolutely do not like this idea that a valor cap is punishing us for doing our best. There's no skill in capping out valor in and of itself. You can cap valor by running all the hard mode raid content, or by judicious running of dailies and scenarios - the skill threshold for capping valor is wildly variant depending on how you choose to pursue that goal. You're not necessarily doing your best to cap valor.

As for the choice of how to use them, Vaneras makes some more points.

Vaneras - Why do we get punished for doing our best?
Just as the method of acquiring Valor points is a choice, so it is a choice how you decide to spend your Valor points.

The cap means that you cannot have everything at once, or even very quickly(as that would render the normal gearing process irrelevant), and this means that you will have to prioritise and make a choice when spending your points... one that actually matters. You must choose what is most beneficial to your character - decide if it is better in the long run to upgrade a piece or replace that piece with something else. If you feel the best way to spend your Valor Points is to upgrade your armor, well then that is what you spend your Valor Points on when you are able to do so.

The primary means of acquiring new gear is through defeating content like for an example raids, whereas Valor Points is a supplemental means of getting new gear. For an example, if you have acquired the best possible gear you can get from one tier of content, then you should be well equipped to face the next tier of content above it, which will reward you with even better gear if you succeed. The Valor Points system serves as a supplement to that process, helping you with a new piece of gear or an upgrade here or there, but it is not meant as an alternate gearing process.

There are several reasons behind the Valor cap btw., none of which are to serve as a punishment for people with a lot of time on their hands. Just in case you would like to know the reasons behind the Valor cap, they are as follows:
To make sure that the normal gearing process through facing and defeating different tiers of content is not circumvented or rendered irrelevant.To make your choices matter. We want there to be choice and decision-making involved when building and playing your character.To ensure that as many people as possible can use their time in-game on something they think is fun and that they enjoy doing, and not make people feel like they have to spend massive amounts of time every day just to reach a theoretical maximum weekly limit of Valor Points.
Whether or not the cap is too low is of course a different matter, and this kind of thing is of course something the developers are keeping an eye on continuously as the game evolves and progresses :-)

Before the valor point system existed, people in fact could gear their characters via heroic dungeons (using the then current Emblems of Frost and the LFD tool) in full epic gear in a day, if they were willing to spend the six or seven hours it would take them. I repeatedly helped friends chain run alts through the dungeons that came out with the Fall of the Lich King patch, not because the gear inside them was that great (there were some nice trinkets) but because there was new gear on the Emblem of Frost quartermaster that was as good as ICC-25 gear.

Valor point caps exist because players will consume content like a six year old with an ice cream cake. You'll come back a couple of hours later and the players have dungeon all over their face and are complaining that they feel ooky, and what can you do? You can admonish them not to eat their content so fast, but they're not going to listen - in the end, a point cap system is the best of a series of alternatives that gate players. The intent isn't punitive, but rather the inverse - it exists because some players, if given any possible means to gear faster, will pursue it even while they complain that its very existence forces them to use it. Blizzard's effort here is to ensure that the main reason you run the content is for the direct rewards of that content instead of for the consolation prize - whether or not we agree that they've achieved that, or if they've devalued the consolation prize too greatly in the process, it's not to punish us but rather to address the complaints that we feel forced to do things.

Frankly, I'd argue that with the creation of the gear upgrade system, and the pricing of a full upgrade for an epic item at 1500 valor points (two upgrades at 750 valor apiece) that the weekly cap should have gone up to 1500, just for convenience sake. I think it should be possible to completely upgrade a new item in a week if you're willing to. It would also make valor points feel less irrelevant, since at present they've moved to almost being an inconvenience rather than a consolation prize. But the idea of the valor cap is clearly not to punish us, but to prevent us from punishing ourselves, since we simply refuse to restrain ourselves if given the option. I don't particularly like it, but I understand it.

It's not punishment, it's babysitting.

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