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Guest Post : The Gear Model is Broken; or why I choose PVP over PVE

Note:  This post is a Guest Post. I haven’t been writing much, so my friend Jarrad who has been a long term reader thought to liven this place up with a suggestion for a fix to the gear model system.

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Background: I am a BC baby but started not long after BC dropped so I know a bit about the gear grind in Vanilla and BC. I’ve raided at a Heroic level for content that was current and on average would consider myself “mid-tier” as a raider and PVPer.

WoW as a game has undergone several evolutions in just about all of its spaces. From raid mechanics, PVP mechanics, to gear acquisition. As the game has grown, so too has its core pillars.
Some things though, have not changed. Among these is the idea that the acquisition of armour and weapons constitutes a progression and evolution of your characters as heroes within the World of Azeroth. This is intrinsic to the nature of the MMO genre, and WoW has seen many changes in the way gear has been delivered.
The explosion of popularity around Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, together with ideas of “welfare” gear and subsequent introduction of casual game play has seen large changes to gear. Where once the hallowed epic item was only obtainable to a select few, let alone a set item, now just about anyone can have these kinds of items by investing a fraction of the time that their counterpart games did in the early years of the game.

And here comes a tl;dr warning. It’s a short history of gear in WoW. Nothing super fascinating, but it is interesting to see from an evolutionary perspective.

In classic WoW, it took raiding to obtain epic level items. The general character wore green (also known as uncommon) for the most part. Those who could organise forays into larger dungeons like Scholomance or Stratholme would be lucky enough to score rare (blue) items, and if the stars aligned an epic item. The 40man raids of the day awarded a mix of rare and epic items. On top of these, you also had the rare item dungeon set drops which could be upgraded to epic level through a series of quests. There was no PVP gear in Vanilla.
In the Burning Crusade, the model held similar until the introduction of Heroic dungeons, which were tuned for slightly geared players, and dropped guaranteed blue armour from bosses, and a chance at an epic item from the final boss of the dungeon. Burning Crusade also saw the introduction of competitive PVP formally via the Arena system, and thus the introduction of PVP armour. Subsequent to the introduction of PVP armour came the notion of “welfare epics”, or rather that one could progress their character to epic pieces of armour by simply playing in PVP battlegrounds to earn enough currency (Honor) to obtain epic quality items. It is somewhat regrettable that the “welfare” began, but the result was that the game became more accessible to more casual players who could see a change in their armour value and subsequently could identify progression more easily. Armour was acquired through a combination of Honor Points and Badges of Honor from the various battlegrounds. Also introduced in Burning Crusade was “Arena points” – a system for acquiring higher level PVP armour equivalent to raid armour that did not require Badges nor Honor.
The negatives associated with gearing in Burning Crusade, at least from a PVE raid perspective, was the need to farm older raids for newer players to a guild to obtain gear to progress those characters to a level required for raid progression, which quite frankly made recruiting a pain in the arse.
With Wrath of the Lich King (or Wrath of the Casual King as it was sometimes known), gearing changed again. Heroic dungeons now guaranteed an epic drop from the final boss and the old currency of Badge of Justice were phased out for Badges of Heroism and Valor. As tiers progressed, new Badges were introduced and eventually bypassed. To simplify gearing for current content, the opportunity to purchase raid level gear with those Badges was made available. This functioned to stop the long farm grinds needed for guilds to recruit new players. PVP gear, despite changes to the Honour system, maintained its current system for gear acquisition including Arena points, with minor changes to the PVP badge system that saw individual battleground Badges replaced with a ubiquitous PVP Badge currency.
It was the Wrath of the Lich King expansion that saw the height of the gear inflation problem that was creeping in, and also solidified the idea of the casual gamer for the game. Casual players in Wrath could obtain armour and progression more easily than ever before.
Realising their mistakes though, Blizzard did an about-face for Cataclysm and made gear hard to obtain again. Heroic dungeons no longer guaranteed an epic drop from the final boss, and content wise were actually difficult much like BC. Currencies were converged and the Badge system replaced with a points system called Justice and Valor. The Arena Points system was scrapped and renamed Conquest, and the Honor Points system remained but with the removal of the Honor Badges. It should be noted that prior to Cataclysm, casual gamers could easily be in up to date armour (i.e. ilvl 260ish) without much effort. To suggest that it was “raining epics” would be silly, but the acquisition of armour for PVE and PVP was still quite trivial. Cataclysm did radically change this with no single progression armour piece being obtainable in a week from the points systems (unlike Wrath and to a lesser extent BC). Justice armour (blue) filled the role it did in Classic – entry before raids. However, much like Wrath, Cataclysm saw the current raids need dropped each new tier and this was achieved by dropping the old tier’s armour to the Justice currency and new tier armour on the Valor currency. PVP armour followed a similar model.
These currency and armour systems, whilst not perfect, did work quite well when it came to simpler character progression.
The introduction of the Looking For Raid system in patch 4.3 changed everything again however, by introducing yet another level of armour to the PVE arena. In essence, one could earn Justice to buy last tier’s armour, and could fill gaps with the current tier’s raid finder equivalent, which was of equal progression to the previous tier’s Heroic. Or, quite simply, it messed up the systems.
This as again overhauled in Mists of Pandaria. As it currently stands, Justice as a currency is worthless. The previous tier’s armour no longer changes from Valor to Justice, but instead has the amount of valour needed nerfed. The PVP system however, has not changed apart from the introduction (carried over from Cata) or the Elite tier of conquest armour. PVE gearing has reverted to a model similar to Burning Crusade with none of the positive changes from Wrath of the Lich King or Cataclysm. One could argue that this is due to the changing nature of Raids. with LFR providing filler gear instead of skipping tiers, the need to drop gear down to the easier to obtain currency is supposedly nullified. The primary idea behind this, however, is not for character progression through the story and armour, but rather providing a slathering of content. Blizzard is probably better than most other rollercoaster MMO’s when it comes to delivering new content, but personally having to repeat LFR with no guarantees or character progression on multiple alts, is boring. Potentially what makes it worse than say, grinding heroics, is the time investment for alts, and typically Blizzard has favoured the idea of alts quite heavily (heirlooms etc).

tl;dr end’s here.

So where am I going with all this history? Well it’s simple really. Since the introduction of PVP armour, the option to purchase which slot of armour I want has always been available. PVE gearing has always been, and still is, about the random drop. Cataclysm helped address this by dropping the previous tier’s armour set to Justice, making Justice still worthwhile for particular slots, leaving random drops open for the others but there was always slots missing like shoulders and weapons. But at the end of the day, myself and other players want our characters to feel “complete” as much as possible and this usually revolves around having a piece of gear for every slot. And the you start gearing your alts! But the fact that you can go an entire raid tier and never see a piece for a slot drop, quite simply, is why I choose to PVP. Recently Blizzard CMs have acknowledged that sometimes thing’s don’t drop and have taken on feedback that weapons and bonus rolls need assistance. But what Blizzard is failing to see, is that the model itself is broken for gearing PVE.

So if it’s broken, how to fix it?
It is plainly obvious based on progression races, interviews with guilds doing those races, and to the analytical observer, that the majority of the player base is an unskilled casual who plays in his spare time. And even if this spare time is multiple hours per night, 5 days a week, thats still nothing near the hours spent by hardcore players or even semi-hardcore. It is to this subset of the community that Blizzard has been trying to cater to whilst still delivering high end content to the hardcore. And for the most part, they are quietly succeeding. But despite all the great content, the gear model and character progression is still especially broken still for PVE. Hardcore guilds have acknowledged that gearing alts is not only time consuming, its a requirement. And even the hardcore have expressed that gearing alts is a right royal pain.

So, really, all this whinging is there any suggestions on how to fix it? Yes, I do have an idea that is partially formed and here it is.

The PVP “completion” model works well. The PVE model needs to be redesigned to be similar. Here are some suggestions on how to do this.

Justice and Valor armour should continue to have their variable stats and not be “perfect” for one class, i.e. continue to have haste/crit, mastery/expertise, haste/mastery on gear slots. But make a piece available for every slot. EVERY slot. If necessary, make some pieces crafted so that people can’t farm a set of Valor gear in a week but Justice should be farmable in a week.
Return to making Justice useful: i.e. dropping last tier’s armour down to Justice
Have tokens drop from LFR and Normals to allow players a chance to convert their existing Valor armour to better stats (not reforging but a chance to reroll completely secondary stats on armour.) At the Heroic level, maintain the existing gear model of RNG as this can assist . This provides a dynamic shift for Heroic raids, and allows existing gearing methods (gearing alts etc) to continue.

The PVP model works. It gives players a chance to evaluate and see where they want to spend their currency and it gives those players a sense of completion that is achievable – unlike the random nature of PVE. This would facilitate the desire and needs for character progression in a PVE environment without moving back to the archaic and often clunky model that Burning Crusade introduced. And with resilience coming off PVP gear, and PVP power not part of the item budget, the question of why gear for PVE with PVE gear when you can plan your PVP gear acquisition and still do OK in casual PVE?

Jarrad

About these ads

O Queue

Most of my pvp friends had stopped logging in, and my new guild were somewhat surprised when they got the Classic Battles Guild  (exalted rep with classic battlegrounds)   achieve when I joined.  Pvp achievements? What?    and so on suggestion of one friend , I installed O Queue from curse

It’s  a raid/BG queuing system that uses battletags and basically over takes your friend invite system and you can wait list yourself for  other groups that people post through the mod.

You submit your battle tag to the Mesh,  and if you get accepted into a group it automatically adds your battle tag to the leaders group.

This feature was a little confusing because I kept getting spammed with new friend requests I couldn’t see, and I was a little concerned that the friend adding feature was now randomly adding me to flists. However,  from what we can work out,  it’s using the friend request feature in someway to ping their servers or to keep you connected to the mesh so they aren’t real friend requests.

This is an example of a weekend queue list below.   As you can see there is a large variety of groups going and you can see the min requirements.  Ticking the qualified box at the bottom will filter the groups that you can queue for .

It’s quite simple to set up your own, and you can set min restrictions such as resilience or Ilevel and what this does is filter/auto declines people who do not meet your min requirements.  I made the mistake for queuing for a Pvp group while in PVE gear and it rejected me.  So you had to be wearing the gear for it to pick up your stats

Oqueue

If you hover over the person’s name who is the leader you get some stats which can be useful.  How many people are in the group. how many are in the wait list.  Wins and loses ect..

oqueue2

I ended up leading and listing one Random BG group  ( 5 man semi premade)  because the guy who set the group up had to go before we even run one,  so I was made leader, and had to list the group.  As leader you get to see your wait list,  and you can pick people from that list to refill group as people left.

The most frustrating thing with this, is dealing with people.  I’ll quote a blue in relation to a 25 LFR post because it applies to a 1o man group,  or a 5 man group.

“….. We’d be happy to entertain ideas for how we can put a group of 25 strangers together, who all have different goals, expectations, and time constraints, and see each of them remain until the end regardless of anything else that happens in the raid or in their life (drops, wipes, wife came home, cat peed on foot, etc.) ”  from forums

When I was ‘mean’ with people coming in from the wait list , I  told them if they weren’t ready to join group in 2 min or so then we would queue/find a replacement it worked well.   We played games, and for an hour we had the same 5 people.  When I got soft, and said sure,  I’ll wait for you for 5 min here,  and then another person had thing..  so 3 more min later..  and then 10 min and so on.

I also lost control of my group when someone else decided he was going to do his own thing.  Basic strat in Battle for Gil is our premade team would hit mines. He decided he was going to WW after I told them to go mines, and his response was ‘I’m going to do something different’  and I said you will weaken our offensive… we lost that BG.  Imagine saying that to your raid leader.  I’m going to do my own thing… I think this is one of the primary differences between pvp and pve mentality when it comes to organised teams in PVP. Respect for Raid leaders.

OQ has  a Public Vent with rooms available for use, and Max limit rooms to stop Spammers. We were in a room for one BG and kept getting visitors making random noises, talking /mumbling,  so I muted them and told the group I ended up leading to do the same.   One was somewhat annoying enough with his,  urgh I can only say the over sharing of his own personal enjoyment that I reported him. Within 2 min, a Mod popped into our chat to ask about the person I had reported,  I explained the circumstances and they were booted.  This was very efficient.

I like this system,  it takes the preform mods that we have used before to another level, and as there are more users there will be more options to use it for.  Oqueue lets you delete all your OQ added battletags which after you have lead a few, and you end up getting all these random people in your friendslist,  its a good thing to be able to clear them. You can also ban people  you don’t want to play with.  ( not had to test this)  I was very impressed with the Moderating of the vent,  and I ran/lead another group for 9 Bgs this arvo, and had no issues with spammers or bots at all.

You be the Captain.. or the Admiral

You be the Captain.. or the Admiral

My Fav Transmog of all time.
Admirals Hat
Abjurers Mantle
Abjurers Robe ( forgive the gloves )

Millie Watt – Brawlers Guild

Millie Watt yells: You really shouldn’t play with this stuff. Someone could get hurt.

I got to play with Millie in the wee hours of the morning when there was less of a queue.  I had lots of frustration as I was having difficulty getting her down past 1000k Health.

Millie Watt yells:  Look at you! HAH!

So I tweaked a little,  Healed a LFR and got  483  Dagger, paid 6.5k for the Jade Spirit Enchant,  and got the best Bracer enchant.  Was getting her to 600k

Tweaked some more,  Reforged more of my Mastery to  Haste, replaced the gem in helm to the +crit effect ( was using helm for heals and dps so had the +mana) and reforged some spirit into haste as I didn’t need the extra hit.

I committed my gear to a dps spec.  Rather I did all the stuff I should have done if I had been raiding as pure dps instead of the Heals switching I am doing with the casual guild I occasionally raid with.

I kept hitting the timer with 200-400k health left.  I was getting close,  and it’s so easy to panic.  I finally killed her.   The things that helped me was shuffling enough of a distance as soon as dynamite was thrown, and so taking less damage.  resisting the urge to shield or disperse when she casts Discombobumorphanator  as this only absorbs the damage your meant to take to break the stun., and trying to use my insta casts while standing in the field rather than just standing there waiting for it to happen and then moving quickly out of it.

Fears when your standing close to help reduce some of the constant damage she does,  but even then,  it doesn’t really interrupt her casting too much, and you run the risk of moving too far away from the lightning fields repositioning yourself.

***********

I’ve done a fair bit of upgrading and tweaking since starting the Brawlers guild,  and my Ilevel is now 483 I had to really think about ways of optimizing when I could dps. ( and hope for  good Crits )  I think so far that there has been plenty of  opportunity to put out the DPS required, it’s just a matter of optimizing the time you have, even if it means not stopping and healing your self, and reducing your movement too much.

There is a thread on the EU wow forums about the disappointment that the Brawlers guild is a gear check mainly because there is a timer – 2 min for each fight, and Pvp geared people, and non top geared raiders will have difficulty beating it. ( except Proboskus which is only 60 sec ) and it does get to a point where gear is required to beat the timer. I am struggling at Rank 5 with the gear I have with some of the DPS timers,  no tier, and bits I’ve upgraded or crafted & LFR stuff, but  that has made me work smarter.  Currently up to the 4th Gladiator at level 5 which are 5 little gnomes ( currently only killing 4 of them )

Some fights are easier for some classes, I got stumped for what would be considered an interrupt on Proboskus – Silence Durrr…  I’m not used to thinking in terms of interrupts outside my fears, and they don’t form part of my normal rotation – and silence is pretty much useless on any raid boss, so it’s more of a PVP use mentality,  whereas a melee class may have several interrupts to choose from,

My self-heal abilities as a shadow priest means I can worry a little less about taking some damage,  and some Gladiators like Millie do a constant stream of damage,  we have  Devouring Plague, Vampiric Embrace,  Renew, Praying of Mending  Halo, that will give self-healing back with little interruption to dps

Best resources so far for any of the fights have been

Twitter ( thanks Marathal) pointed me to Sorella’s Guide for Shadow Priests on How to Priest

Icy Veins Brawlers Guild Guide  ( has vids for all the fights – class specific information is missing though for a lot of fights – and needs collaborators)

Dancing with Deeken – Brawlers Guild Rank 4

Deeken Yells: DIE QUICKLY — I HAVE LUNCH PLANS!

Every Brawl is a dance, some are easier than others.  Some you learn to stand there and take the damage,  others you need to learn when to move.

I learned  to dance Deeken style.  He is the last Gladiator of Rank 4 and I had some issues trying to stand still long enough to do damage, while jumping around enough to avoid the static that does random patterns on the floor.  So I was going along with trying to increase the time where I didn’t have to avoid the field.  So I kept him locked up on spawn as much as possible

Prepot Potion of Brawlers Cunning the Intell + 4k for 25 sec pot  ( get it from Quackenbush – The Brawlers Guild Quartermaster)

Run to centre where he spawns. Fear him on spawn,

SWP MB – Psychic Horror before he can do a push back.

MF MF ….

Then it becomes a massive mess of static electricity and a stupid robot pushing you back into that static electricity at the worst of times. Some attempts went really bad.  He would push back and interrupt my spells at the worst time.

You can jump over the fields,  but I found that It worked better if I danced around them,   moved between their ups and downs, and sideways.

The Static hits you for around 90k damage each wave. Some waves  overlap each other and can smash you down quickly and thus ended a couple of attempts. I even tried taking a wave or two to get more dps out.  Running around, avoiding the static electricity with only  SWP and SWD on insta cast hoping to get lucky mindspike procs won’t get him down in enough time.

I found he got immune to my fears  eventually,  or he resisted them,  when I did try to CC it was more to reduce his push backs then reduce the damage he would do in melee,  which wasnt much, you spend more time worrying about the waves then him.

Towards the end of the timer there is a pause where it seems that all the Static resets and the floor clears,  when I finally killed him I did that then,  free space to breath and smash him as hard as you can.  By that time,  if you haven’t already used a Brawlers Healing Potion, you should be able to use another Cunning pot.

Bizmo’s Brawlpub & The Brawlers Guild

You are next in Line

Your heart races.

You have been watching a few of the fights,  seen some people die,  seen them win.

Sold your soul on the Black Market Auction house to get an invite.   ( Actually it was only 6.9k gold for me and some BMAH camping for my outbids)

Now it’s your turn.  In front a crowd of your peers,  fellow players from your realm  and  some from others, guilds big and small are here watching or waiting  for their own turns. You can hear the hecklers cheering on the mobs. “GO BRUCE”  they yell. Bizmo laughing at each contestants deaths

So much blood

But it all fades away when your standing the centre. Facing the grey paneled metal wall, waiting for your opponent to appear,  deep in the depths of the Deep Run Tram.

You can smell the rust, metal,  or blood you’re not sure.

Just breath

Bizmo Yells: Put your hands together for Zahraah! Zahraah is a Rank 3 priest.

You told the Bouncer at the door you were here to fight, not die – what happens if you lose?

*********

Well if you lose, your body lays near the bouncer,  until you either release,  or someone nice rezzes you.

There was a buff group going, and people were quite friendly, and encouraging,  buffing, healing and rezzing. You keep all your buffs going in,  flasks, food and other class buffs. It all helps.

There is no shame in doing what you need to survive that fight,  and that means I have stopped and healed myself,

I will admit to looking up the Strat for Dippy. When he killed me.   My recount showed massive damage,  and basically  the guides said don’t let him cast Peck So I ran around like a mad woman, dotting him up, and Shadow Word deathing him to death.  The cast bar for Peck is quick and I figured I’d rather it take longer then slow down to add more dots, or even try to  Mind Spike him.

I also had some issues with the Ooze dude. Blat,  the first ‘Gladiator’ in Rank 3 I was able to keep away from him,  dot flay, run, dot flay run kinda thing,  but then I went over the timer for the fight and got the massive AOE so I had to take some more smack damage from the main Blat to get him down fast enough.

The Brawl Queues  got better the later it was,  I also noticed that we started getting more people from other realms as it became a shared zone. so there was always an audience.

I love that it does have this secret, grity underground club exclusivity to it.  I wish I had gotten into it a little earlier.  It’s been a few weeks now since the Patch and these were the stats on the brawls and if you chat to the dude called ‘Numbers’ he will tell you how bad or good its been so far.

The First number is the times the Gladiator has killed the Player, and the second number is how many times they have been killed.  Apparently its server wide stats. The fights get hard, and they look really interesting.

Brawlstats

Deeken yells: YOU ARE BAD AND SHOULD FEEL BAD!

I stayed in the pit way too long,   ( am on holidays – no bed time ) and I am writing this in between fights.  Currently stuck on Ixx. 3rd fight on rank 3   I can’t run between his legs fast enough – getting better though.  Using Inner Will for the 10% run speed.  Standing in his hit box to escape from the AOE he casts.  Tried to range it but he is too fast,  and its a wide cone.  Need to learn not to panic, and move too much so I stay in position, and also stop casting straight away and MOVE.   I am tired though which isn’t helping.

Haven’t seen many level 5-7 fights but there has been lots of people round my level tonight, and a few 8′s.  Those rank 8  fights look complicated, and I will need to read up on them,  have winged it mostly so far.

Will I go all the way to level 8?  Will I hand over for free the Brawlers Pass I will earn at level 7.  ( friends..  what friends… ) I can make a decent chunk of gold if I do it soon ( 20k the invite was for on the normal AH when I checked today) It’s been fun so far,  even if I am looking like a complete knob on this boss.   Finally killed it. i Did it by running between his legs and hooking – so not straight out the back as his AOE comes under his legs too. (  I wasn’t hitting publish post till it was dead)

My new Fav Song at the moment is Radioactive by Imagine Dragons, and their song, as well as the clip played through my head during the brawls.  Teddy bear Brawls. Did I say Teddy Bear Brawls. Oh yeah and Lazers!   ( give it just past 1 min for what a real brawl is )

Welcome to the new age, to the new age

The daily Grind – when it’s not the good coffee

So we know that playing is sometimes hard work and sometimes we complete tasks that in themselves are not fun but the end goal is.

But it shouldn’t be hard work, or boring as often as doing dailys have been for me.   We should be enjoying our recreational time,  cavorting  through fields of flowers giggling gleefully.  That’s what my gaming experiences are like,  aren’t yours? Either way I don’t want to come home from work, and feel like I have to do more work.

The rep grind for dailys has not been a gleeful giggle and this is the advantage to no longer seriously raiding.  I don’t need to care that I haven’t maxed out my reps, and have maxed my character out as much as possible.

Klaxxi – who?  Shado- Pan – Who?

Sure I have managed to now find the time to level 3 90′s, do a heap of pvp, run dungeons and even raid once a week, but the idea of spending my precious time doing the same thing, day in day out,  cross multiple factions,  I could have spent my play time for weeks just doing dailys and that would have made me not want to log in.  Sure there is some variety in some of the quests  and I will need to do Operation Shieldwall for the Trinkets , but it’s not its not how I want to play and I don’t feel the pressure that I HAVE to do them.   So I will get there eventually,  do the factions in small doses, enjoy the game.

But I will add my voice to the argument that the way they did the reps this xp really makes dailys a chore for me.  The Tabard rep gains worked for me because I would run as heals for quicker queues,  if I needed, but sometimes people obviously didn’t like being forced to do instances to gain rep,  and I can understand why waiting around for a 1/2 hour dps queue means that chain running them to grind wasn’t such a great thing for them.

The idea of doing dailys on a 2nd or 3rd toon, even with tokens to increase the rep gain doesn’t appeal.  I refuse to even attempt it right now,  there is still too much to play, and enjoy of the content to see the same stuff over and over. I understand why they did it that way,  couldn’t please the crowds with the Tabards,  would be unfair if they made rep buyable for gold, at least this way with questing everyone equally earns it.


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