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Should valor upgrades be removed permanently?

Anne Stickney

I'm a raider at heart. Sure, I took a break back in Burning Crusade, but when I returned to raiding it was with a vengeance, albeit in a slightly less hardcore fashion. Mists of Pandaria started out with several different raids that are continuing to keep my guild occupied and will likely keep us occupied right up to patch 5.2's release -- and that's an excellent thing. Dragon Soul, no matter how interesting a few of those fights were, was simply not enough to keep my guild occupied right up until the end of Cataclysm.

In fact, Mists of Pandaria started out with a whole flurry of activity to keep everyone well and truly busy for the first couple of months. Daily quests were something that I threw myself into without flinching -- partially out of interest for the stories and quests, but also, yes, because I wanted to make sure I upgraded my gear as quickly as possible. Doing this flurry of dailies meant that I was capping valor incredibly early in the week, and spending it as fast as I obtained it.

But there's kind of a problem with that now, and it's being addressed to some small degree in patch 5.2. See, part of that whole raiding process is making sure you're in the gear you need. Now, it also includes upgrading your gear as quickly as you can, putting even more emphasis on capping valor just as quickly as possible. Is all that pressure a good thing?

Should valor upgrades be removed permanently
Theck over at the blog Sacred Duty doesn't think so, and he's got some really good information to back all of that up. In a recent post, Theck pointed out what he calls the "valor plateau" -- that point in an expansion or a patch in which raiders don't feel that obligation or pressure to continue to cap valor week in and week out. It's been par for the course for every raid tier in every expansion since valor points and valor gear were introduced -- and even prior to that, during the badge frenzy of Burning Crusade. You spend the first part of a patch or expansion eagerly squirreling away as many points as you can, and after obtaining everything you need, the urgency to cap fades away.

Which is, as Theck points out, when most raiders switch to leveling alts or finding alternative pursuits to raiding. And most people absolutely enjoy that plateau moment -- I know I do. I live for the day when I don't have to try and max out that cap every week without fail. In Mists of Pandaria, this is especially true, because I blew through all my daily quest hubs immediately upon hitting level 90. I did it as quickly as possible, a course that I then proceeded to tell people to avoid. Now I'm paying the price for that, because capping valor isn't the easy task that it was at the beginning of the expansion.

The main issue, Theck states, is that with the implementation of that valor upgrade system, there isn't a plateau anymore -- and I'm inclined to agree with him. At the moment, there's no break from the valor grind for raiders. The players that enjoy playing alts have to sacrifice that alt-playing time just to hit that valor cap, if they want to remain "competitive." And if there's one thing I've learned from raiding this long, it's that if you don't take every opportunity that presents itself to improve your performance, you're not really succeeding as a raider.

Should valor upgrades be removed permanently
Now, as Theck points out, the valor upgrade system will be "taking a break" in patch 5.2. But the question then lingers -- will it be back after that? Should it be back after that? I'd argue that maybe, just maybe, we're better off without it. Frankly, as a raider, the last thing I want is to be told that if I'd like to remain a competitive raider, I will have to keep going back and re-visiting old content that doesn't really hold my interest anymore. It's pressure -- and raiding already has enough pressure as it is.

And as Theck mentioned, maybe that's part of the reason this expansion feels so unfriendly to those that enjoy playing alts. We as players only have so many hours in the day to play -- and right now, that valor upgrade system is dictating exactly how we can spend those hours. Mists of Pandaria has given us endless options for endgame, but the valor upgrade system has limited the amount of those things we can do, if our interests are in raiding.

Yet I think what we're looking at here isn't necessarily a system put in place to make our gear better. To be perfectly honest, I think that the valor upgrade system was implemented to make the raiding a little easier, as an alternative to the scaling raid nerf/buff that we saw at the end of Wrath, and again at the end of Cataclysm. Instead of introducing a raid-wide nerf or a raid-wide buff, we were instead given the opportunity to earn more valor, make our gear better, and make that content just a little easier on ourselves, by merit of upgrading our gear.

Should valor upgrades be removed permanently
It's obviously a scaled system, and it's dependent upon the individual player, rather than Blizzard simply slapping a buff or a nerf on the content. In that aspect, it's a neat system. But I don't think we necessarily need it, especially when it's creating this overwhelming feeling of necessity in players, that urge to cap that valor every week and improve every last bit of gear we possibly can.

Theck's post was pretty fascinating, and well worth the read -- particularly for those that enjoy playing alts, and those that enjoy raiding as well. I'm curious, however, about what everyone else thinks about the valor upgrade system. Do you think it should make a return? Do you think it'd be better off simply being removed? If you raid, how do you feel about raiding -- do you think there's too much pressure to cap valor? Do feel like you absolutely have to cap your valor every week? Do you think you have plenty of time for doing other things, or does it sometimes feel like there's simply too much to do?

There isn't a right or wrong answer to any of these questions, but I think it's a topic worth discussing, and the subject is an interesting one. Check out Theck's full post for more on the subject, and let us know what you think.

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