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Cynwise dissects patch 5.2's battleground scaling


Well-known Warlock PvP blogger Cynwise has posted a typically excellent article dealing with the problems brought about by one of the patch 5.2 changes designed to improve low level battlegrounds. Patch 5.2 added battleground bracket scaling, to all brackets with the exception of the max level one, which caused an uproar among the PvP twinking community. And it seems from Cynwise's post that their fears were not unjustified.

The addition of level scaling, where a low level character's health and base stats are scaled up to match that of the top level in the bracket, was meant to help even out the discrepancies that caused leveling battlegrounds to be anything other than fun. They were meant to even the playing field, but from Cynwise's research, it appears that they do exactly the opposite.

He reports on his level 85 warlock, Cynwise, which is a PvP-focused twink, and the problem's he's faced thanks to the scaling. To cut a long story short, and you should definitely read the long story, among the higher level brackets which span expansions, there are huge problems in place thanks to the availability of gear.

Cynwise explains it as follows:

At certain levels you'll see radical jumps in power due to expansion inflation – 58 for BC, 68 for Wrath, 77 for Cataclysm, 80-82 for Mists. This means that the gear available to players at the top of these brackets is substantially better than the gear available to the bottom[...] If you're in the 70-74 bracket – which contains Sunwell epics and Brutal Gladiator gear – you're almost always better staying level 70 because you'll have the best gear and the best combat ratings.

When you go up to the next bracket (75-79), though, things flip. The Cata gear available at level 79 is so much better (ilvl 277+) than the Wrath gear available at 75 (ilvl 155-179, tops) that the bottom part of the bracket gets destroyed.
We predicted back in our aforementioned twinking article that this would likely result in a shift toward gear being king, as health pools and level were less relevant, but Cynwise's article reveals some unanticipated issues which arise from the scaling.

He explains that, for example, hit, which is not one of the scaled stats, takes more base points to max out as you go up the levels. So, his 85 warlock, when scaled to 89, is still wearing 85 gear. That gear doesn't scale, so his lock went from 14.39% hit (remember he needs to hit players up to 89) to 5.48% hit, meaning he was almost not hitting at all. And the stat issues don't end there. Again, quoting from the article:
I lose 61% of Cynwise's secondary stats – Hit, Crit, Haste, PvP Power – in exchange for ~35% increase in effective health.
And that's not all. These gearing and scaling concerns are, as Cynwise states above, primarily related to the higher level brackets, although, of course, also relevant lower down. In certain brackets, scaling means that you're better off lower down. But, the final nail in the coffin is heirlooms. Quoting again from Cynwise:
Heirlooms scale according to your effective level. This means that a level 20 toon with heirlooms now has the stats of a level 24 with heirlooms, which is the only place where scaling seems to be working right!

The drawback is that this now means that heirlooms are more essential to leveling battlegrounds than ever before. Players in non-heirloom gear will be at a significant disadvantage to those who have them, and the more heirlooms the better.
Enchanted heirlooms are even stronger. This means that those players who are purely leveling rather than twinking will be at a greater disadvantage than they were before, rather defeating the point of the exercise.

So, in an effort to fix the brackets, it seems the developers have only done half a job. Hopefully hotfixes, changes, or a simple reversion will be incoming. Using the gear scaling technology from Challenge Modes would be a huge step in the right direction, or simply scaling all stats with level. I urge you to read Cynwise's full article and pass it on!

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