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PvP in Patch 5.2: Gear changes, resilience changes, class changes


Thanks, most likely, in no small part to the relatively recent arrival of Brian Holinka, a Blizzard recruit whose sole job it is to rework PvP, patch 5.2 is bringing in some seriously chunky PvP changes. We've spoken in the past of Blood Sport about the changes coming to PvP gear, and those begin in earnest when the PvP season starts on Tuesday. If you don't want to re-read the old article, the summary is as follows:
  • There will be four tiers of gear
    • Dreadful -- item level 458 crafted gear;
    • Malevolent -- ilvl 476, purchased with honor.
    • Tyrannical -- ilvl 493, purchased with conquest, and with honor in patch 5.3, once the player has earned 27,000 conquest in the season. Weapons are exempt from the points requirement come patch 5.3;
    • Elite Tyrannical -- ilvl 515, purchased with conquest only after earning 27,000 conquest points in the season.
  • There will no longer be any rating requirement to purchase any gear
  • Players with higher ratings will still have a higher conquest cap
  • A dramatically increased catch-up cap will be implemented with patch 5.3
And that's just the start. There are a lot of class changes, which bring out some clear winners and losers, as well as perhaps shifting the strengths and weaknesses of certain classes in the arena, and big changes to how resilience scales.

Class Changes

These are nothing new with a big patch, but what is new is the Class Change blogs with Ghostcrawler and Daxxarri, where the devs reveal the philosophy and intentions behind the class changes. Ghostcrawler has also commented in several of his recent interviews about making changes to certain "outliers" to increase or decrease their representation in PvP. So let's look at the winners and losers of patch 5.2 with regard to PvP. Of course, these are not necessarily indicative of strong or weak classes in PvP, it might be the case that, even with heavy nerfs, a class is still stronger than others. It's more to illustrate the shifts from this season to the one before. In no particular order...

  • Monks have been rather under-represented in PvP, probably an element of that relates to their newness, as a very new class they're likely to be under-represented, but even so, according to the devs, their representation is low. This probably related to several factors, but nonetheless, they have received some substantial buffs. Monks will receive several new abilities, most notably Ring of Peace, a very irritating bubble around the monk or any friendly member! This will be one to watch, as Blizzard's team acknowledge. Will this result in more arena representation? As with all these, we'll have to wait and see.
  • Rogues found themselves moving from being one of the top classes in PvP to one of the lower. Several prominent rogues complained bitterly about the class at the beginning of Mists, and now they're seeing some notable improvements. The choice between Shadowstep and Preparation has been removed, with Preparation being made baseline, and Cloak and Dagger added as an option in the same tier of talents. Marked for Death replaces Versatility, which could, like Ring of Peace, be a very strong PvP ability, and may be one to watch.
  • Mages have been very, very strong in arenas this season, specifically frost, but even with the nerfs they're likely to remain powerful. Nonetheless, they were one of the two outliers at the top of the table, and their being on the chopping block should be no surprise. The nerfs sound minor, but coupled with the hotfixes through the patch, they're a big deal. Presence of Mind Ring of Frosts now take two seconds to arm, rather than arming immediately, making them far easier to counter, and frost mages can no longer detonate their Frost Bomb on demand with Glyph of Fireblast. The removal of Scorch from every mage except fire makes us wonder whether fire could become a reasonable choice in PvP again, but frost is still likely to dominate.
  • Warriors are another class that has been subject to nerfs through the season, and yet remained strong. Increased rage demands in Arms mean that, hopefully, sitting in Defensive Stance all the time is no longer viable, along with a damage mitigation nerf for all specs that are not tanks. Stance dancing will likely return. Along with that, there have been changes to Shockwave and Warbringer, with the former given a longer cooldown unless it hits multiple targets, and the latter put on a DR with non-proc stuns, although it now has a snare added to "compensate". Recklessness has also had a duration and cooldown reduction decrease to try to reduce burst.
Will these changes really shift PvP representation for the coming season? Likely not, in my opinion. Rogues will probably see a resurgence as, having been one of the more popular PvP classes in the past, they have many dedicated PvP followers, but battleground play in the first week of the season indicates, preliminarily at least, that warriors and mages are still extremely strong. Of course, battlegrounds are very different to arenas, so we will have to wait and see. With any luck, the focus on decreasing burst will continue, and arenas will no longer be won or lost by the Time Crisis-esque ability to blow all your cooldowns faster and more effectively!

Gear Changes

No, we're not repeating ourselves. Apart from the points changes above, there are, of course, new shiny epics to get our battle-worn hands on, and some changes have come in under and over the radar with regard to gear, as well as the points we earn to buy it. As is often the case, due to the absence of in-depth theorycrafting skill on my part, I'm turning to the expertise of our very favorite PvP theorycrafter, and MVP, Eldacar.

Resilience Scaling

Blizzard confirmed, through the medium of Ghostcrawler's twitter, that resilience scaling had been subject to a change. Previously, resilience scaled in rather a complicated way, as Eldacar and I previously collaborated to explain. Essentially, while each point of PvP Resilience offered only a very small percentage increase, the more percentage reduction you had, the more value every percentage point added.

With patch 5.2, this has been changed to linear scaling. The rate of diminishing returns is now equaled by the rate at which each point of resilience added more value. Now, no matter how much resilience you have, you will always gain a 1.42% effective health increase for every 100 resilience. For those who are fans of pictoral representations of data, Eldacar has put together a couple of graphs.
PvP in Patch 52 Gear changes, resilience changes, class changes

Click the chart for the full-size version, but the lines tell the story. The effective health lines tell the story -- the blue line indicates last season's scaling, while the red line indicates the current system.

What this means for PvP power and its mitigation by PvP resilience is that, as Eldacar put it in his detailed blog,

As players gear up Resilience is boosting up player effective health faster than PVP Power is boosting up player damage. Which also means that Resilience is still a stronger stat than PVP Power by a fair margin, even when comparing just 10K Resilience to 18K PVP Power Resilience is still stronger, meaning point for point it isn't even a competition.

This will likely serve to smooth out PvP burst, as well, especially for higher geared assailants hitting lower geared targets.

PvP gear or PvE gear?

This is the important question, particularly thanks to the changes to resilience as explained above, and its interaction with PvP Power, is PvP gear still the best option for PvP? I put the question to our tame theorycrafter and he had a lot to say in response.

Top end PvPers will primarily stick to PvP gear for most slots because they need the resilience to survive the enormous damage everyone is throwing around and the stats are still pretty good. The two places where we are likely to see PvE gear creep into arenas and battlegrounds are once again weapons and trinkets.

This first point is definitely encouraging. The changes in resilience and its interaction with PvP power could have served to create a sort of soft cap beyond which resilience was no longer as useful, as, of course, there's a finite cap on PvP power, based on what it's possible to get on your gear. But the second point is still interesting.

Eldacar backs up his second point as follows:

For example, the heroic Uroe, Harbinger of Terror is a top end two hand PVE weapon which does roughly 24% higher raw DPS than the equivalent top end PVP weapon. The 3744 PVP Power on the PVP weapon only offers a 14% DPS increase, compounding this is the fact that the extra 24% damage offered by the PVE weapon will be multiplied by the player's existing PVP Power, where as the extra 14% from the PVP weapon will just be added on top. This is all before the secondary stats and gem on the PVE weapon are accounted for.

So when all is said and done someone with the PvE weapon should do roughly 20% more damage, with only about 7-8% loss in survivability, a pretty good trade. It is also worth noting that PvP weapons cost a lot of conquest points, if it were me I and I had the PvE equivalent available I would use it in a heart beat and spend that conquest to replace other items.

He goes on to add that the procs on PvE trinkets have a similar effect, while their base stats don't offer much, citing examples such as Rune of Re-Origination and Unerring Vision of Lei-Shen for DPS and Horridon's Last Gasp for healers as trinkets whose proc effects could cause real problems in the arena with heavy burst and mana regen. Keep an eye on these for nerfs! Do check out Eldacar's full blog post for more information.

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