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Patch 5.3 PvP Gear Changes: Don't Panic


I can understand why you did panic. The patch 5.3 PTR notes had a little section of PvP gear notes -- five bullet points that pulled the rug out from under our feet. These changes are characteristic of the bold, sweeping alterations that Blizzard's new PvP Designer Brian Holinka has been spearheading since he joined the company in August of last year. And these are big changes. If you missed the notes, let me repeat them for you here.
  • All characters now have a base Resilience of 65%.
  • Resilience has been removed from most PvP gear.
  • Season 13 Tyrannical gear had their item levels increased to ilevel 496, up from ilevel 493.
  • Season 13 Tyrannical Elite gear had their item levels decreased to ilevel 496, down from ilevel 512.
  • Battlegrounds, Rated Battlegrounds, and Arenas now have an ilevel cap. All gear will be scaled down to ilevel 496.
What does this all mean? I've been relentlessly bothering Brian on Twitter for your benefit, so let's run down how he's addressing players' concerns. Do note that Blizzard will release an official blog on this some time next week.

Firstly, the item level changes for the Elite gear. This has been scaled down to match the existing gear, rather like it was, with the exception of weapons, for previous patches. This is a good thing, as Holinka states very clearly on Twitter:
And, unlike in previous seasons, this looks to extend to weapons as well, meaning that all conquest gear is normalized at ilvl 496. Why were the lower ilvl items increased in item level? To even the playing field, and to ensure that the new gear was even with or better than the last season's fully upgraded conquest gear. In the case of fully upgraded season 12 T2 weapons, at ilvl 498, the down-scaling will bring them in line with the rest of the gear. Note that item upgrades will not return for PvP, so a similar situation will not be repeated.

Holinka has also confirmed via twitter that PvP resilience gems and enchants will remain, allowing a little flexibility for players wishing to choose whether to gear offensively or defensively.

Will this make PvE gear better for PvP?

This is the big question that everyone wants answered. In short, the response is that no, it won't. The long version is somewhat more complex. PvP Resilience being made a baseline stat with what will be a largely fixed number means that PvE players have an easier entry into PvP with their PvE gear. It also means, in tandem with the scaling, that PvP Power becomes the deciding factor separating PvP gear from PvE gear.

As we've explained before on WoW Insider, PvP Power is not, as many believe, a direct 1 for 1 counter to PvP Resilience. PvP Power increases your damage against other players. So, if you're a player who has 0 PvP power, attacking a player who has 50% damage mitigation from PvP Resilience, and your spell does 100 damage, it will only hit them for 50 damage.

Imagine now that you have a 100% damage increase against other players from PvP Power. Your 100 damage spell now hits another player for 200 damage. But, the player with 50% damage mitigation is still resisting 50% of your 200 damage, so it hits them for 100 damage.

PvE gear does not have PvP Power on it, and thanks to the down-scaling of PvE gear in PvP situations, so, rated battlegrounds, arenas, and random battlegrounds, it will be of the same item level as PvP gear, so the stats will be largely comparable. Only, that PvP Power damage boost is absent. With reasonable gear right now, it's easily possible for DPS to have over a 50% damage increase from PvP Power.

Will this continue to be enough? That's the beauty of PvP Power. It's a way for Blizzard to adjust the damage component of gear in PvP to ensure that the damage output is greater. And even with the PvP Power healing component changes, where less of your PvP power is effective for healing, the down-scaling of PvE gear means that the current 20%-ish healing increase players are getting from PvP power will be better than PvE gear.

What about lower PvP gear levels than 496?

Good question. I asked Holinka about exactly this, and another player asked him the same on twitter. His responses are below:

So the current honor gear is fairly even with the current Raid Finder gear, of course Raid Finder gear from previous tiers will be inferior. And the previous season's 483 gear will be superior to down-scaled PvE gear, even if it's high quality. The honor gear versus raid finder gear discussion is an interesting one. As Holinka points out, the difficulty in obtaining them is quite different, with the honor set easily ground out in a week, while even the very luckiest of players is going to get an absolute maximum of 12 pieces from a week of LFR. And that would be a very, very, very lucky player. What's more, it's arguable that more damage is better than more health, so honor gear will likely still be a good choice, even before the PvPer inevitably starts upgrading it to superior conquest gear.

There may well still be outliers which are better than PvP-specific choices such as healing trinkets like an upgraded Relic of Chi-Ji. Mana regeneration is bound to be a tricky stat for the devs to work out, but these can be fixed, as we've already seen with the 5.2 trinkets.

What worries remain?

We've brushed gently against a few potential issues already, but they seem solvable. Are there any larger, more significant outstanding problems for Holinka and his team to address?

A couple, yes. Firstly, the scaling is exclusively active in PvP-specific situations, which means that there is the possibility that, for world PvP, raid gear will be better than PvP gear. Raid gear won't be down-scaled in the world, so the higher numbers will likely have an effect, particularly for classes like warriors who have abilities scaling off weapon damage. But this is only a possibility, thanks again to PvP Power.

Burst damage is another potential issue with the largely flat resilience levels, but the pre-existing nerfs to trinket procs and legendaries indicate that Blizzard's team are watching this closely, and will step in to fix problems.

What's more, there is the potential for these changes, particularly combined with the removal of the upgrade system, will affect PvP participation in the latter part of the season. I've long said that, for me, PvP is its own reward, but my opinions are not reflective of everyone's. Again, Holinka confirms that this is on the devs' radar.

The only major chink in the armor of this system is flag carriers. It is possible, with the resilience changes, that a player in scaled raid gear who is geared with a heavy focus on defensive stats will be a better flag carrier than a player in PvP gear, thanks to the proposed base 65% resilience. Holinka has noted on twitter that his team are aware of this issue, and are working on a solution, so watch this space.

Do also remember that these are the first notes for an as yet unavailable PTR. And don't panic.

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