The Carrot and the Stick: Rated Battlegrounds and the Conquest Point Cap of 4.2

Ed: Please see my next post for the PTR changes of 6/16/11.

There has been a conflict brewing in the Arena community over the last few weeks over an upcoming change to the way Conquest Points will be awarded starting in 4.2. From the PTR notes:

The game now separately tracks different Conquest Point caps for Battlegrounds and Arenas. The cap for Arena rating will always be 2/3 of the cap for Battleground rating at any given Arena rating. Players may earn a total number of Conquest Points per week equal to the higher of these two caps, but once players have reached the cap for either Arenas or Battlegrounds, they can no longer earn Conquest Points from that source. Conquest Points from Battleground holidays only count toward the total Conquest Point cap.

This is a somewhat confusingly-worded note, but the intent is that there will be a fundamental change in the way Conquest Points are earned. The only way to reach the weekly Conquest Point cap will be through doing Rated Battlegrounds, not Arenas. You can get 2/3rds of your weekly CP through Arenas, then the remainder have to come from Rated Battlegrounds.

If you want to be competitive in higher-end PvP, you must play Rated Battlegrounds in 4.2. That’s the intent behind this change. All rated PvP is not equal. Zarhym writes:

So, as many of you are interpreting this change, it is to encourage more participation in Rated Battlegrounds. We see the fact that participating in Arenas is by far the superior way of obtaining top-notch PvP gear, in terms of time investment, as a problem. If you want to maximize your Conquest Point gains in patch 4.2, you’ll need to participate at least a little bit in Rated Battlegrounds.

We know this may not sound very appealing to those of you who have grown accustomed to spending as little as an hour a week getting the top PvP currency in the game via Arenas over the last couple of expansions. To put things in perspective though, the total number of items that can be purchased with Conquest Points today is much larger than what you used to be able to buy with Arena Points pre-Deathwing world explosion. And there is no longer a requirement to “grind” unrated BGs for Honor each season, so the real time investment isn’t changing as much as some players are perceiving it to be.

On top of that, the frank reality is that the total time investment required in season 9 to get all your points has been much, much too low, as you could do that from a few 2v2 Arena games each week completed in less than an hour’s time. It shows that Rated Battlegrounds are currently sub-par in terms of the rate at which points can be accumulated.

We do feel this change is necessary to keep the time investment vs. high-quality item accumulation in check, even if it doesn’t read well on paper. However, as always, your constructive feedback is welcomed. :)

This is an interesting response, because there are two reasons given for why this change is being made, not one.

  • First, to encourage participation in Rated Battlegrounds.
  • Second, to require more time playing to get high-end PvP gear.

The first one is obvious, but what’s interesting is that it’s not the focus of Zarhym’s post. Of course this is being done to motivate players into playing Rated Battlegrounds. But why? After the first sentence, it’s not mentioned again and the entire response is about the problem of time investment versus gear acquisition.

Doesn’t this strike anyone else as being a little odd? Give one reason, then talk about another one that’s not really related to the first?

Let’s say that the problem is that Conquest PvP gear is too easy to get – a problem that I’m not sure is a real problem, but I can accept it for now. It’s not even that it’s too easy, it’s that it doesn’t take enough time each week if you do Arenas. Put the problem another way: too many Conquest Points are awarded per hour in Arenas.

Okay! That’s a solvable problem!

When we’ve seen similar problems with Battlegrounds and Honor Points in the past, you know what Blizzard has done? They adjust the rate of points gained in a battleground. This is not rocket science – we’ve had several Honor Point adjustments when developers felt that it took too much time to gear up via Battlegrounds versus Heroics (patches 3.3.3 and 4.1 most recently, if my memory serves me correctly.)

The logical response to Arenas giving too many Conquest Points per hour is to reduce the number of CP awarded per match, not to send players into a different activity. I’ve seen many good, creative suggestions about how to handle this on the official forums and Arena Junkies. Any of a number of solutions could be implemented to increase the time per piece. In fact, Blizzard has already done this once before in Cataclysm, normalizing the CP per Arena win in 4.1 so it took at least 7-8 victories, regardless of bracket, to reach the minimum cap instead of 5.

First I’m asked to believe that the graveyard changes of 4.1 were an anti-camping measure, and now I’m being asked to believe that these changes are to solve the problem of Arenas awarding too many Conquest Points per hour?

I… I actually feel kinda insulted by this post. I never thought I’d say that about a Blizzard blue post, but … there it is. I know I’m supposed to take a page from the Vulcans on just about everything, but… really? Really?

You really expect me to believe this is about CP/hour?

THE PROBLEM OF RATING

I think there are numerous problems affecting Rated Battlegrounds right now. These problems drive players to disproportionately avoid rBGs and favor Arenas, which in turn causes problems since Blizzard must justify the development cost of Rated Battlegrounds. My hunch is that, much like in Tol Barad, Blizzard feels that the solution to these problems is one of scale, not design, and that by adding more people the problems will resolve themselves.

They might even be right.

Gevlon describes the underlying problem with Rated Battlegrounds when he writes:

Rated games have about 50% win rate. A bit more when you are underrated and a bit less when overrated, but after you reached your “real” rating, it’s 50%.

If you played rated BGs, you know it’s absolutely not true.

The objective of rated play is to determine ratings. That sounds silly to say, but I think it’s important to come out and say it. It’s not about being “better” or “harder” – it’s about putting quantitative measurements on people’s play, which in turn can elevate the level play with good matching. Ultimately, though, it’s all about assigning numbers.

In theory, every team (and player within that team) has a equilibrium that they’re moving towards, a rating that represents their true ability demonstrated over time. Players should converge on their real rating as they play, and – in theory – they should have a roughly even chance of winning against someone with the same rating. Through the crucible of rated play, your team’s measure is taken.

When it works, ratings can be a hugely compelling incentive towards playing Arena because they guarantee that you’ll win some of the time. You can pick up a new partner and after a few hours of play your rating will settle to that point of equilibrium. Once you’re through that initial period – and it’s often surprisingly fast – things will settle down and you’ll start winning about half of the time.

This is not the situation in Rated Battlegrounds. Team MMRs – the measurement of the overall team’s ability – are often wildly mismatched. And I’m not talking about 100-200 points difference – we’re talking 1000-1500 points variance. That’s just ridiculously unfair matching.

If we assume that the same matching programs are in use between Arenas and rBGs, then the problem isn’t that there’s buggy code – it’s that the finder slowly relaxes its standards until it finds a suitable match. Let that sink in for a minute. Assuming that it’s working correctly, the hugely imbalanced match was the best match it could find.

Which, in turn, means that there aren’t enough teams in the system, period.

At best, there are clusters of teams in the queue, grouped around certain rating points. At worst, the queue is empty enough that the clusters don’t exist, and it’s all about finding any match.

I expect that the truth is somewhere in the middle of those two extremes – the few teams that survive the initial beatdown get established, allowing them to rise a bit, which in turn lets them win against the hapless newbies. It’s a vicious cycle where the strong thrive and the weak are pushed out, causing fair competition to cease at the lower skill levels. (Oh, hi, Warsong Gulch 10-19 bracket before the twinks left. It’s nice to see you again.)

Cross-battlegroup queues was the first step towards solving this problem. Making same-faction matches possible was the next step towards solving this problem, as it effectively doubles the size of the matchmaking pool. Requiring Rated Battlegrounds to cap Conquest Points is a logical step in this progression.

As long as Rated Battlegrounds require a full raid group to enter the queue, this problem will bedevil the system. Twink battlegrounds have similar problems with population, but can draw from individuals queueing in addition to guild groups. Arena 2s and 3s will enjoy fairer matching (and more accurate ratings) than 5s or rBGs due to larger populations to draw from, which in turn is due to the relative ease of coordinating smaller groups.

Much like Tol Barad, Blizzard needs to do something to get people to play Rated Battlegrounds. If the problems are not simply technical, but rather one of scale and player distribution, then driving PvPers into rBGs is the logical solution.

Much like awarding 1800 Honor to the attackers for a victory in Tol Barad, I expect that this will work… in much the same way, sadly.

THE CARROT AND THE STICK

I think we’ll look back fondly on the problems we had with Tol Barad during the first few months of Cataclysm, because this change to Arenas is going to make the TB debacle look like child’s play.

I confess, I was nervous when Rated Battlegrounds were announced as part of Cataclysm. The idea sounded all well and good, but the devil is in the details of implementation. How would ratings be assigned? How would losses be handled? What would this mean for the current setup? I had dozens of questions without any answers.

- “Preparing for Rated Battlegrounds,” June 2010

I wrote that a year ago. Let’s take a look at some of the problems Rated Battlegrounds have had since launch.

  • Having both 10-man and 15-man rBGs proved to be very difficult to staff for, causing 15s to be underplayed.
  • 15s were cut to drive players into 10s, which removed half of the battlegrounds from rated play. This left only two types of games – Capture the Flag and Resource/Node Control – on 3 maps. (10-man Arathi Basin was added later to compensate.)
  • Compositions which dominated these two games – especially the 4-healer/1-tank teams in CTF – caused a very defensive type of game, necessitating major changes to all rated maps, which in turn affected non-rated play.
  • Wins were often not recorded properly, sometimes causing teams to lose MMR for a victory. Can you imagine going through the effort of putting together a 10-man raid, downing a boss, and getting penalized for it?

On top of that:

  • Due to a lack of players, inexperienced teams will usually find themselves facing far superior opponents. This demoralizes the new players while boring the experienced ones.

The devil is in the details. Any one of these problems might not be enough to cause a mass exodus from rBGs, but over time, they’ve whittled down people’s desire to play them. Looking at the list above, as well as the cross-battlegroup and inter-faction changes designed to bring more people in to Rated Battlegrounds, paints a rather gloomy picture of this part of PvP.

In Tol Barad, Blizzard used a carrot to get people to fix the problem of people not playing it anymore. By offering massive Honor Point rewards for winning on offense, they caused rational win-trading by masses of their playerbase, completely undermining the zone. They made 2 more changes to the reward structure before finally implementing the solution that actually “fixed” Tol Barad – change the game mechanics to allow for an easier final base cap.

The carrot got people back into Tol Barad, but it didn’t solve the problem.

It backfired pretty badly, to be honest. I’d be shy of offering carrots after that week, too.

So, instead of a carrot to draw people in to Rated Battlegrounds, Blizzard now offers us a stick. And make no mistake about it – this is a stick. If you don’t do Rated Battlegrounds, you will fall behind in Arenas. Instead of offering better rewards from rBGs – or poorer rewards from Arenas, which works out to the same thing – we get an ultimatum. Instead of making Rated Battlegrounds more fun than Arenas, we get handed a chore that must be done.

You will do Rated Battlegrounds if you want to cap Conquest Points each week.

Period.

THERE’S ALWAYS A BIGGER CARROT

Tol Barad has more incentives to play than Wintergrasp, but players are less enthusiastic about it. Rated Battlegrounds have more rewards than Arenas and normal battlegrounds, but participation is low. Conquest Gear is too easy to get, while Honor Gear is too hard.

What the hell is going on with PvP in Cataclysm, anyways?

It’s so strange to be writing about the problems with Rated Battlegrounds when, for me personally, Season 9 has been a blast. I have had so much fun screwing around in Arenas it’s not even funny. This is, admittedly, a very personal perspective – we finally have enough folks interested in Arenas in my guild that we have a definite PvP subculture growing. Some weeks are bad, but most are good, and the time spent in the Arena has been rewarding on a lot of levels.

I still think a lot about my motivations that led me to write Replay Value, and why it is I’d rather PvP than raid. Arenas play a large part of that right now; it’s more appealing to me, with a somewhat fractured schedule, to know that I can bang out my weekly cap in a night or two of play, no matter the comp I choose to go with. I hang out with my friends, we have fun, we win some, we lose some, we have fun. Bring the player, not the class, right?

All of these little carrots that Blizzard manipulates in-game help us justify our specific choice of activity – in-game. They guide us towards certain things that we want. If we want to be a respected PvPer, we’ll probably want a PvP title, so we’ll work towards it. Perhaps we want a cool mount to show off our raiding skills, or a title that shows how much we like Fishing.

But there are bigger carrots out there, motivations that have nothing to do with in-game bling.

  • Am I having fun?
  • Am I enjoying spending time with the people I interact with?
  • Do I have a sense of accomplishment for the work that I’ve done?

Sure, the loot is nice. Shiny purples make you feel like, damn, I done good. Having a character with accomplishments makes you feel better.

But what happens when something in game simply isn’t fun for people?

This is the biggest carrot of all that a game, any game, can offer – this is more fun than the other things you could be doing right now. Why are mobile games so popular? Because they’re more fun than just waiting around in line somewhere. You can play Angry Birds on your phone for a few minutes while waiting in line at the DMV. You can play Words with Friends while killing time at the coffee shop. You can play World of Warcraft instead of watching TV, to unwind at the end of a busy day.

Why are Arenas popular right now? Is it the easy loot? Sure, that’s part of it. But they’re also more fun than Rated Battlegrounds for a lot of players. When I took my casual PvE-oriented guild into rBGs for a night, we got matched up with teams way beyond our rating – and we got stomped. The next rBG night we begged and pleaded for people to give it another try – and got stomped again.

We haven’t been able to fill out a rBG team since. Arena teams? Yes. Regular battleground groups? All the time. But no more Rated Battlegrounds.

This is not an easy problem to fix. Rated Battlegrounds aren’t fun for those who aren’t already good at them, so inexperienced teams find themselves matched up against good teams who destroy them, which drives the inexperienced teams away, perpetuating the imbalance.

I find myself thinking about the bigger carrots more and more these days. Why did I find Wintergrasp so much more fun than Tol Barad? Why do I prefer Arena to rBGs? Are these little carrots even worth it anymore?

Having little carrots replaced with a little sticks makes me wonder about the bigger carrots.

THE PROBLEM OF MINIMUM COMPETENCE

I witnessed a fascinating exchange over Twitter a few weeks ago between members of a highly progressed raiding guild about Rated Battlegrounds. It went something like this.

  • GM: I’d like to put together a Rated BG team.
  • PvPer: Please make sure that the people on it are good, or we’ll get destroyed.
  • GM: Well, this is something that I think a lot of people are interested in.
  • PvPer: Seriously, people need a 1900 Arena rating, or this is a waste of my time.
  • PvEer: I was leveling a priest specifically to help fill out our PvP team, but since I don’t Arena I’m not sure why I’m bothering if that’s your attitude.
  • PvPer: I appreciate what you’re doing, but I’m also being realistic here. It’s not enough to have a priest. We need good players in every position or it’s not worth our time.
  • PvEer: Thanks for demeaning my contribution before I’ve even made it.
  • GM: I just wanted to have us run some rBGs, people.

Rated Battlegrounds are like raids in organization, time investment, and composition. You need to have certain roles filled, players need to invest time in getting appropriate gear, and players need to be able to execute their roles correctly.

They are unlike raids in that the difficulty of the activity will vary from encounter to encounter, and will never get easier – at least if the rating system is working correctly. You will go from getting your ass kicked all the time, to getting your ass kicked some of the time, to getting your ass kicked occasionally but still losing roughly half of the time. Raiding generally doesn’t work like that – you get your ass handed to you for a while, then you make progress, then eventually the boss goes on farm status and you move on.

The conversation I watched unfold on Twitter had two people arguing two very valid, but conflicting, points of view.

The first point of view is that you need to be good enough to play with us. Raiders already know this, and many raid teams enforce strict rules about who can raid or who cannot. If you ignore the labels, the PvPer was actually espousing a philosophy of minimum demonstrated competence – you have to put in the time to show that you can perform up to a certain standard before you get the job. You have to be able to run Heroics before you raid. You have to be able to play in the Arenas before you rBG.

The other point of view is that you need to value the contributions of the members of your team, no matter the level of competence. Dismissing someone’s effort of leveling another character to 85 and gearing it up for rated PvP play based on an arbitrary qualification absolutely destroys their motivation. The PvEer in question is an excellent raider with strong loyalty towards their guild, but without a lot of PvP experience on that character. By adopting the attitude that it’s a waste of his time if people aren’t already really good, the PvPer made his participation conditional on the PvEer’s performance – which is not good for building a team.

(As an aside, flip the roles around and see how this conversation applies to raiding. It’s a fascinating exercise.)

The problem here is that the bar for minimum competence in Rated Battlegrounds is high, because mediocre and fair teams don’t keep playing.

Guilds are in an awkward position here; many have preexisting raid teams of skilled PvE players who would like to try rBGs, but don’t have the same level of experience or commitment to PvP yet. They can’t even practice in regular battlegrounds to help gear everyone up – they can only hope to find a like minded group to war-game with, which is time fighting without improving even basic gear. PvPers in non-PvP guilds are in a similarly awkward situation, having to mentor and assist their guild in preparing for an activity not everyone signed up for.

The new guild system only exacerbates this problem. Guilds are tempted by the new achievement structure to expand their normal spheres of activity. Players are encouraged to do things in guild groups, further increasing the temptation to have guilds just try out things like Rated Battlegrounds – even if there’s not a solid PvP core. Players who want to both raid and PvP either have to find a guild which is a good fit on both, or consider splitting their time between guilds by having a PvP toon in one and a raiding toon in another – a hugely awkward solution.

I brought up this conversation because it reflects a real problem with Rated Battlegrounds – there’s not really any way to do them causally, unlike raiding. You can’t bang your head against them and make some progress. The content doesn’t get nerfed over time, things won’t get easier naturally. You never outgear your opponents, and the way things are structured now, you must have a good level of gear and competency across the team to have a chance. The similarities to the heyday of 10-19 Warsong Gulch twinking are apt.

The only way to make rBGs more accessible to casual PvPers is to lower the overall minimum competence required by flooding the system with weaker teams. Otherwise, the pool will remain populated by dedicated PvP teams who will crush aspiring teams as a matter of course.

I’ll let you try to find a good way to spin that inconvenient fact into a press release.

TAKE IT TO THE MATTRESSES

I keep coming back to that blue post about this change and wondering what the behind-the-scenes discussions are like at Blizzard regarding Rated Battlegrounds. Only they have the real numbers behind participation – only they can really tell if the amount of developer time spent on the key PvP feature of this expansion has been worth it. Are enough players playing rBGs to justify their cost?

The change to how Conquest Points are being awarded in 4.2 isn’t about slowing down gear acquisition; it’s an effort by Blizzard to get players back into Rated Battlegrounds to solve a number of problems that, upon due consideration, stem from not having enough teams distributed throughout the rBG system.

That’s okay. I can understand it. This is their business, and ultimately this is about their bottom line, not mine. I can be curious, I can have opinions about it, but let’s face it – my criteria for the success of a game (is it fun?) is different from theirs (is it profitable?). I can enjoy an activity that isn’t making the developer any money and call it a success. The popularity of Rated Battlegrounds, and therefore their profitability, is not really my concern.

At least it wasn’t, until Blizzard just made it my concern by affecting the fun I was having elsewhere.

There are things I care about as a customer of any product or service, and there are things that I decidedly don’t. I care about the product I get, the service I receive, and the price I pay. If you fail to deliver what I paid you for, here are some things I really don’t care about:

  • Your other customers.
  • Your internal problems.
  • Your bottom line.

This is just business; it’s not personal. I don’t care about your other customers if they’re taking away development resources on things I’ve paid for. I don’t care about your process problems which cause you to be 6 weeks late in installing a circuit, and then cause you to do it wrong. I don’t even care if you’re going to take a loss on the transaction. None of those are my problem.

Don’t get me wrong: I understand that problems happen, I provide goods and services too. I value long-term partnerships, and don’t throw them away because of isolated issues. I want us both to be successful. I want my partners to make money and have a profitable relationship with me.

But when someone says the reason they failed to deliver something they promised due to an internal problem, or due to other customers, I remind them that I don’t care about their problems. I care about my problem, which is that you failed to deliver on a promise!

And if you can’t fix it and make it right, then I will start looking to take my business elsewhere. It’s just business; it’s not personal. You screwed up, which I can forgive, but then you tried to make your problem into my problem, and I don’t forgive that easily.

It took me several days to realize that my reaction to Zarhym’s post was exactly the same reaction I have to someone telling me they’re going to have to limit services I receive due to process problems that resulted from, say, a reorganization, or a new product launch. And hey, prices are going up, too!

I was actually quite relieved when I realized this. Like, okay, I get why I’m pissed about this. Got it.

Why should I care that Rated Battlegrounds need more teams playing it? I enjoy playing PvP with the people I play with. We tried Rated Battlegrounds, didn’t enjoy the experience, so went off to play Arenas instead. It’s not a judgement call on the Rated Battleground product as a whole – it’s just that it wasn’t fun for me and the people I wanted to play with. Other people love them, which is great! But not us, not right now.

I like Product A, and have liked it for a while. But now, in order to enjoy Product A, I have to also buy Product RBG, which is more expensive, is more of a hassle to assemble, and takes longer to deal with. I can get Product A on its own, but I get less than I used to without Product RBG.

And this change is because sales of Product RBG are low. It’s a quirk of the product that if more people had Product RBG, it would probably be easier to use, which is arguably a good thing for the vendor.

But how is it good for me, exactly?

Other people’s problems are not my problems, and I don’t appreciate it when they try to make them mine.

THE PROBLEM OF SHUT UP AND DEAL WITH IT

I don’t think it’s my place to say if Rated Battlegrounds are a success or a failure. In my world, that’s a business evaluation that only Blizzard can really perform, because it really only matters to their bottom line.

As a player, however, I have to look at it and ask why I’m being asked to change my behavior. Why am I being asked to stop having the fun I’ve been having in Arenas and start having less fun in Rated Battlegrounds? Does it add up that this is really about slowing down gear acquisition?

I think that’s what bugs me the most about this change. I understand corporate logic; you can’t come out and admit that a game is not attracting players, because that’s a tacit admission of failure in the marketplace. That’s not going to happen. It’s dumb of me to rationally expect Blizzard to come out and say, “Rated Battlegrounds are not doing as well as we would like; not enough teams are participating, so we’re going to force our PvP players to participate – despite their unwillingness to do so to date.”

Yeah. Not going to see that in a press release.

But this is the second time that major changes have been introduced to PvP due to Rated Battlegrounds that affect other parts of PvP, and the second time that such changes have come out with misleading explanations. And much like saying that the graveyard changes were to prevent camping (when they obviously were not), saying that the changes to Arena Conquest Points are to slow down CP/hour is simply … wrong. Dishonest. It doesn’t hold up.

Come right out and say it: we need more teams participating in the lower rating levels of Rated Battlegrounds. That is the fix that’s needed. If rBGs are to have a chance at being successful in this expansion, more people absolutely need to be convinced to put forth the effort to give them a try, casually, to give the matching algorithm a chance to work.

There’s a little carrot called gear that’s being held out to PvPers to get them to play Arenas and Rated Battlegrounds. The stick is now there, too – if you want to stay competitive in Arenas, you’ll do your rBGs and like them.

I don’t expect this to change, and I don’t expect Blizzard to say anything more on the matter.

All I ask is that that we be honest about why this change is happening, and make our choices accordingly.

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58 Comments

Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual

58 responses to “The Carrot and the Stick: Rated Battlegrounds and the Conquest Point Cap of 4.2

  1. Paul

    Since Blizzard is gaming the system to get people to use rBGs, it’s proper to game them right back.

    The optimum strategy for someone who wants to cap CPs, but hates rBGs, is to drive their rBG rating down until they are facing bad teams, then faceroll them. You will be able to get that last 1/3 of your CP cap even if your rBG rating is lousy.

    If you are ever matched against a highly rated team, play to lose as fast as possible so you can requeue quickly against a team you will faceroll. Sure, this won’t be entertaining for your opponents, but why should you care about making Blizzard’s other customers happy after what the devs just did to you?

    • I agree. This was Gevlon’s suggestion, too, and while I don’t like advocating throwing a match, there’s a question of rational efficiency here. You’re not here for a fair fight; you’re in it for the CP, and trying to work around a broken system. You don’t gain anything – either in game or out – from getting stomped by a much better team.

      Close teams? Definitely go for it. But when my totally inexperienced guild goes up against 2200 teams? Take the loss and move on.

  2. One other possible solution that I personally would really enjoy would be to enable you to queue for rated battlegrounds individually, rather than having to amass an entire 10 or 15 man raid group. For me, for whatever reason, I’m just not very good at arenas, but I love playing battlegrounds. My guild is primarily a raiding guild though, so it’s essentially impossible to pull together a group for rated battlegrounds. So, let us queue individually. You could establish a minimum resilience score or something like that before you could queue, similar to what is used for heroics.

    The really interesting thing about this option, is that you’d have no idea what the MMR of your group would be. If you get a group of very experienced players with a high MMR that just had a hole or two to fill, you could get into a very competitive high level group. Or, you could end up paired with a bunch of lower MMR players which would help fill out those lower level brackets. You might get facerolled that time, but in theory there would be more of those types of groups going, and you’d at least have a chance of getting the other scenario later on. Blizzard could also probably set it up so that it attempted to pair players first with others with a similar MMR.

    • It would also allow the system to more evenly distribute matches throughout the MMR bracket. If a team queues up with a MMR of 1100, the system could assemble individuals in a way to make a roughly even match. Given that there’s no persistent team MMR, individual queueing would be another way to help bring more players into the Poor to Good brackets.

    • Joar, I think this is THE solution to the problem of rated battleground participation. In fact, I’m fairly confident that it is the only workable solution that doesn’t drive more of the player base to other pursuits. Doing this might even encourage some to come back from their current hiatus.

      I thought the idea of rated battlegrounds was intriguing and looked forward to giving them a try. Sadly tho my guild is/was (my guild is in hibernation at the moment and isn’t very active) a casual raiding guild and we could only get about 5 or 6 to even try random battlegrounds, so actually attempting a rated BG was not possible. After reading Cyn’s post, I can only imagine that had we been able to get in to one (and been stomped) we would never have gone back and any prospect of guild PvP would have died.

  3. zwinglisblog

    First off ~ Holy Freakin Crap! This is an excellent post. Is there any possibility that someone from Blizzard may actually read this?
    I guess we can hope.
    Secondly ~ Your analysis is amazing. I say this from a completely inexperienced opinion. But, as a person coming in with little to no pvp experience, I got it! It made sense, which I appreciate.
    Thirdly ~ You make me feel like an adult while reading this. I don’t know, you could be a 15 year old in some business AP class; but you write as if you’re a business manager, or possibly in sales/acquisitions. You don’t insult my intelligence, which I greatly appreciate.
    I’m thinking that this type of post would be interesting for math majors in algebra, or trig, or some sort…given that they had the appropriate numbers to plug in. (I majored in humanities, which meant only 1 math class in college. I’m math dumb.)
    Anyway, thanks for the post. It was really great.
    Zwingli

    • There’s a chance. If people want to link this in the official forums, I’m open for that. I have a few readers from Anaheim, so there’s always hope – but I do not expect anything to change. There’s too much at stake for Blizzard for them to change this.

      I get why Blizzard is doing this. I am just left wondering… do I vote with my dollars or not?

      Thanks for the kind words about the post – though I’m a PvPer, I try to make sure that my posts are accessible to the majority of non-PvP oriented players. So thank you!

      And I’m going to cherish the thought of being a 15-year old AP student again. :-) Do they have AP business classes now? High School and AP classes were a very, very long time ago for me.

  4. sarevok

    Hmm, I wonder if there’ll be possibility to exchange Valor to missing 1/3 Conquest cap. While doing heroic dungeons might be bothersome for people, it would be surely some sort of option.

    • It’s actually a likely consequence of this. I will probably run Troll Heroics in my Vicious gear to supplement my CP deficit.

  5. So some quick napkin math here, assuming we’re still doing a 1500 CP cap per week, with 1000 available through Arena and 500 available through RBG’s:

    Full epics require roughly 27,000 CP, which will be 27 weeks (6.5 months) worth of Arenas if you never do RBG’s. If you manage to cap each week w/ RBG’s, then it takes 18 weeks (4.5 months).

    There’s also the restriction on purchasing weapons, often the single-most important in the bunch, requiring 11,650 CP earned before you can purchase them. Non-RBG takes 12 weeks (3 months) where capping allows you to purchase them at 8 weeks (2 months).

    So you face a full month of getting owned because your opponents have access to gear (weapons) that you don’t, followed by 2 months of getting owned because they’re fully geared and you aren’t – all simply because you’re not in a PvP oriented guild.

    Lovely…

  6. Shimoda

    Thanks for a fascinating post, reassuring that thoughtful people are dealing with the issues.

    • Thanks! I don’t know if “dealing” with the issues is quite right – I don’t have many illusions that this is going to change anything. (Okay, I have a small glimmer of hope.)

      But at least we can be honest about what’s happening!

  7. Pingback: Conquest Points and Rated BGs | Malchome's Mind on Gaming

  8. Norm

    Hmm.

    I guess the question is does Blizzard have the right to change the rules on what you must do to acquire the maximum amount of X. Clearly they’ve never had an issue on this for raiding – in order to max out your raiding ability, you had to clear all the bosses, and do a heroic daily (and level crafting professions, and earn enough gold to purchase consumables, enchants, repairs, etc, to bring in a related idea). In BC, it was basically impossible to cap emblems, but guilds ran Kara for badges through Sunwell. They’ve always made you play various aspects of the game to minmax in a raid.

    Blizzard isn’t saying that you have to stop having fun in arenas. They’re saying they’re going to pay you less a week for it. You can continue doing arenas all day, if you’re following a personal carrot. But people talk a lot about the personal carrot and don’t really believe it, because they still don’t, at a very human level, like doing “something for nothing.” (This is why I get annoyed capping XP on alts – I’m wasting possible XP I could have had!)

    One of the fundamental truths about an MMO is that everything is a choice. We choose to be in a guild that doesn’t focus on rBGs, or high level arena, or high end raiding. If I made different choices, I could do all of those things very differently. But I would have to give up my friends, or my free time, or my class, or my preferred play style, or my sleep. It might piss off my family or make me a terrible parent. It might make me cry myself to sleep because I just can’t click fast enough to compete.

    Some are valid choices to make – I’ve made a lot of them in the past. I just don’t want to. My personal “fun” carrot is just way bigger than the “achievements” carrot, right now. Blizzard can’t control that some of their players have infinite free time and lightning fast reflexes, and some get dizzy in heroics and work 80 hour weeks without getting epically Harrison Bergeron on our asses. They do a pretty good job by things like capping and allowing a casual 2v2 team to gain high end points.

    It’s a perfectly logical and accepted thing to say “I am in a casual raiding guild so we gear up more slowly”, or “I choose not to do a heroic every day, so I gear up more slowly” or “I loathe Therazane dailies so I don’t have shoulder enchants.” I just wonder if “I choose not to be in an rBG guild so I’ll gear up more slowly” is any different other than the newness of the change.

    You can still compete in Arena exactly the same – you will end up with an MMR that matches not just people with your skill level, but also your dedication to minmaxing. Which is ALWAYS been the case, just now in a very specific time-sensitive way. (You could always lose to people of lower skill willing to run FotM comps. A team who hadn’t ground out the gold or honor for basic resilience gear would deserve to lose to a team of equal skill that had done their “homework”. Blizz is adding a new factor (willing to do their RBG homework) , but it’s hardly the only, or the largest, factor. Theoretically, it should only lower your ranking and not your experience once at an appropriate MMR.

    Yes, MMR is in game and raiding ranking is community-based. Yes, Pvp theoretically never gets outgeared. Do these factors change the nature of saying “I made choice x with consequence y”? Why is this specific consequence Y so much more annoying than any of the other balance/carrot issues wow has played with over the last 6 years? Blizzard never promised that we’d get all our BIS gear from casual arena forever. After all, we used to think it was completely normal to have to do hundreds of each BG, via walking uphill, both ways, to Arathari Highlands, to get gear. This change is harder, in a game where the typical mode is to make things easier and more accessible.

    I’m not really sure if this is a good change, all that said. I’m playing devil’s advocate to try to understand why Blizz thinks this kind of change is acceptable, and to see why pvpers think it isn’t. I think the issues with rated BGs are far more about habit and cat-wrangling numbers and that’s not something Blizzard can change – you can’t make it easier to get 10 skilled geared pvpers to show up than it is get 2. Impossible. All they have is carrots, sticks, and giving up and letting Guild rBGs become an increasingly niche interest ( and thus increasingly worse to play.) Personally I think Joar’s option is a very good thing for them to try.

    • My take on the issue is that with this change they are putting people who may not be able to do rated BGs at a distinct disadvantage. They aren’t leveling the the playing field they are creating a greater imbalance and this is the reason for the angst.

      If you have (to this point) been a part of a good arena team (3’s or 5’s) you’ve been able to acquire the best available gear by doing arenas at the same rate as every other good arena team. With this change, that will no longer be the case, because those arena teams that are also part of a consistent group of 10 that can do rated BGs will be able to gear up more quickly than those that can’t. If you haven’t been able to do rated BGs, this change isn’t increasing your ability to do them and is putting you at a disadvantage.

    • I am tempted to work in Bartleby into my response to this. Let’s see if I can do it.

      I thought a lot about the other side of this argument before posting. I don’t like things that trigger my QQ meter, and my personal response actually *does* that. When someone changes something in the game which affects me negatively, I try really hard to step back and go… does this make sense for the good of the game? Could I be wrong and selfish about it? Do I just want to stay OP?

      That there isn’t an entire post dedicated to the removal of Mana Drain is a testimony to my QQ filter’s effectiveness… I hope.

      My own situation – as someone in a PvE guild without a strong rBG team, and which will struggle to field even a weak one – was one I had an entire section on, but deleted, because it tripped the QQ filter. But you touched on choices, and this is about choices, so here we go.

      I have a choice to do, or not do, Rated Battlegrounds. I can make the choice to maximize my character’s PvP gear gain, or not, based on the decisions I make. Any limits I cite (guild interest, for example) are effectively self-imposed limits: I can look at it and go, if capping CP every week is important to me, I can look for a cross-guild group on my server. I can move to a different guild. I can switch factions, or switch servers. I can leave my main where she is, and go roll on another server. I could carve out more time to play WoW and work on building up a rBG team of my own. I could run rBG pugs every night. I could quit my job and become a czar of Rated Battlegrounds. I could leave my family and raid and PvP to my heart’s content and FINALLY get all those titles I hoped I could get. I might be broke and heartbroken, but at least I’d have phat lewts. And chicken.

      This is obviously reducto ad absurdum, with a point.

      When Blizzard introduces a change designed to make something take longer – reducing point gain from an activity, for example – the only choice I have to make is, will I spend the additional time doing it or not. If I want to run Heroics, but Heroics suddenly take twice as long, will I still do them? There’s a single variable at play: time.

      When Blizzard introduces a change designed to change my behavior – do X, which you haven’t done before – I have to evaluate not only time, but ability and social support. Can I do X by myself? If so, then no social adjustments are needed, it’s a question of time, desire, and ability. I didn’t need much help getting Salty – a friendly guildie to form a raid to get into Serpentshrine was really the only group activity required.

      But what if I can’t do X by myself? Then I have to address my social network. Do I know people who are willing to do X? Am I willing to recruit new people? Am I willing to go find other people, if the people I do know won’t do it?

      Now guilds complicate matters even further. Instead of an informal social network, where if I knew the right people we could get together ad hoc, working like contractors, we have guilds which require linear participation. There are rewards and incentives to be part of a guild, and to stay part of that guild. I’m exalted with my level 25 guild in game, but more importantly – I’m friends with them. Would I be friends with them if we weren’t in the same guild? Maybe, maybe not. But I am.

      By asking people to do a new activity that their social network may not be able to support, Blizzard is asking people to choose between their friends and success. It’s not just a matter of time investment – it’s a matter of social organization. If you’re in a 10s raiding guild, chances are good that you can participate in 2s Arenas… but not good that you can do 10 man rBGs. Scaling up is harder than scaling down.

      We made choices with our social networks based upon the goals we had, and those social ties matter If Blizzard were merely asking us to spend more time to achieve a goal, that would be one thing. But they’re not. They’re redefining the conditions under which our social network can support us, and that’s not fair. They’re requiring that we expand that social network in order to maintain the same level of performance we previously enjoyed – and that’s not fair.

      Let’s say T12 required 25 man raids. Not rewarded better, but got rid of 10 mans entirely. How would 10-man guilds react? They’d go, this is too hard to staff to, this isn’t what we want to do. Others would say, you have a choice, either raid at 25 or raid old content, you have to have this many people to play.

      Saying that you have a choice doesn’t make it a fair choice.

      You, and by you I don’t mean you Norm but the devil’s advocate Norm, are absolutely right. I have a choice. I can cut lose from AF and transfer to a guild which does rBGs every night, and from a personal standpoint, this problem disappears.

      But I prefer not to.

      • BAM! BARTLEBY IN THE HOUSE!

      • Norm

        By playing DA, I didn’t mean to imply that this post was full of QQ. It’s a puzzling, and rather infuriating change for PVPers who cannot in their current situation, or do not want to do rBGs. I don’t think you let your personal position color it too much (beyond the natural consequences of speaking in your voice and experiences.) The “you” in these posts should be read as “the abstract pvper” unless the context happens to be “my buddy Cynwise”.

        Regarding absurd choices, I don’t actually think it’s necessarily ad absurdum. Even as a relatively mature adult, I had to sit down and decide if my relationship was more important than WoW. It was an easy choice, but I had to make it consciously when I realized I couldn’t maintain both. And there are a lot of people who’ve made very poor personal decisions they can justify in game because Warcraft always has a way to reward MORE. More effort more time more concentration more focus more gear more alts more points. There’s always some other carrot if one relies on Blizzard for that junkie dopamine buzz. (Just google “Wow widows”.)

        I see what you mean about the social aspects. I think its’ different in two respects, that you and I both touched on.

        1. This is an upscaling, in a game that has heretoforth only ever downscaled the size of group you needed for a specific activity. 40 to 25 to 10 man raids. Needing 5 people to do a dungeon to being able to queue alone. It’s easier, if not always fun or a good idea, to field small groups out of a large one. Ask any progression guild officer who organized her 25s guild’s mandatory 10 mans or who benched 15 of his Naxx raiders heading into BC if it was *fun*. But I can make a ten man out of 25 raiders if we don’t kill each other first. I can’t field a 25 with ten people, flat out.

        2. It’s unprecedented. Rated BGs just recently appeared, and just NOW became mandatory for someone to stay at the top of the gear curve. The exact issues you touched on re: guild choices can affect someone now if they change their goals. I left a guild of people I loved because I couldn’t meet my goals there. It wasn’t Blizzard’s fault that guild couldn’t and wouldn’t clear hardmodes because boss fights got more difficulty. In this case, Blizzard changed the requirements for your goals* for you. That is different.

        *If your goal is to explicitly acquire BIS PVP gear as quickly as possible. NOT if your goal is to simply enjoy arena.

        I do want to emphasize that to me being able to the exact same thing, and get the exact same gear, but more slowly is not a huge change. If they said “You cannot get weapons by doing arena”, that would be very different than saying “You will wait a month longer but your experience remains largely unchanged if you don’t do RBGs”. Except when you lose matches for a while when the people who capped rbgs every week get their weapons first – I can see that being a statistically significant bump that would piss me right off if I were watching my rating. A team might lose slightly more often to being outgeared than being outskilled or outcomped. Which ALREADY happens. It does not affect your performance, or your potential, merely your gear acquisition speed. If I’m somehow misunderstanding this change as a non-arena player, please do enlighten me.

        It’s not like removing ten mans at all, it’s like increasing the point differential between 25s and 10s, or making legendaries faster to finish in 25 mans. And if 25 man guilds start to die out and Blizzard decides having 25 man guilds survive is a design priority, you bet they’ll make them more prestigious or rewarding again. Actually the closest example I can come up with is creating a gating system where PVErs have to complete x number of heroics and y number of dailies before a boss fight opens up. And wow, that makes fucknuts ZERO SENSE and I can still see Blizzard trying it. (See also: AQ40 War Effort.)

        It’s just a strange choice, as they’ve done so much to make 10s and 25s more equal in Cataclysm and let personal preferences sort out who does what. My guess is that they HOPE that people will start seeing themselves and guilding themselves as “rated pvpers” rather than arena and/or battleground players. To me it’s exactly like the carrot on a stick they’re trying with tanking LFG goodie bags, honestly – trying in-game solutions to social problems.

        /BARTLEBY’D

        • More fuel for your argument: Rated Battlegrounds were supposed to launch with 25, 15, and 10 man variants. They launched with 15 and 10, and scrapped the 15s.

          There’s an underlying issue with gear that I didn’t touch upon, but you’re indirectly addressing – why would a gear disparity matter? In PvE, it means you slow the rate at which you progress. In PvP, it means that you actively fall behind your competition, causing a gear imbalance which you can’t recover from. Season 9 was the first season where nearly all rating requirements were removed from PvP gear, which was a great change – it helped remove the gear gap that was created by those who could run FotM comps, or who were already exceptionally skilled. There were only two ways to force a gear imbalance between teams – gear acquisition and 2200 weapons. Higher rated teams still gear up faster due to higher point caps, but after a certain point in the season that will even out. This change would lengthen that gap time considerably – 3 months or more.

          That’s a good point about wow widows, too. I was writing from my own personal viewpoint, forgetting that those things actually happen. :-(

          Personally, I really hate that 1) Blizzard is making their problem my problem, and 2) Blizzard is asking me to choose between my friends and in-game goals. Thanks, Blizzard. Really appreciate that.

      • Norm

        Addendum: It’s interesting that PVP is divided into so many categories that people feel are or should be stand alone activities. World PVP, dualing, twinking, rated BGs, regular BGs, 2, 3 , or 5 player arena. Maybe you like world pvp: do you mean Halaa retro pvp events or ganking in wintergrasp? All those sorts of pvp attracts people into different kinds of PVP guilds, let alone all the people in general interest guilds or people who are mostly PVE players who like some pvp on the side.

        You can be a raider. You can do dungeons, or quest. And if you want to be a progression raider, you’re going to do all three, as quickly and as often as possible. The different “ways” to be a PVEr are just typically known as “the game” and not considered novelty interest groups. Yet it’s really really common to find people who for example, love twinking and world pvp but hate arenas, or love arenas but hate rated battle grounds. Perhaps the greater unification of PVE means it’s less jarring when Blizzard enforces combinations of activities. Perhaps that’s another underlying issue at work here that Blizz maybe has no control over.

        • Consider the divide between 10 and 25 man raiding, though. That’s essentially a question of group composition and tuning. Both are still raiding, but they are – according to each’s proponents – very different creatures.

          Raiding also includes the two elements which differentiate Arenas and BGs. Arenas are a death match, with a single goal: kill the other team. BGs have primary goals that don’t involve killing – hold this node, cap this flag, kill this NPC. Raiding combines the two in most encounters so that you have to do a little dance (like in a BG), but also just kill the motherfucking boss (like in Arenas).

          I think there are still strata within PvE. Heroic versus non-Heroic raids, 10s vs 25s, raiders versus dungeon runners, levelers versus endgamers. It’s just that the arguments are presented differently – instead of many groups competing against each other, the argument picks a specific axis – casual vs hardcore, for instance – and dwells on that, encompassing all the other elements into a single, arbitrary dichotomy.

          Huh.

          That idea would make an interesting post.

      • ScottTracy

        Any PvE vs. PvP “time cost” of gear argument needs to address the fact that in PvP you are facing other players.

        Rate of progress relative to other players is fundamentally important in PvP. In PvE you have a static difficulty, which is reached by players at whatever individual pace is permitted by Blizzard (with gating) and achieved by players (with skill in playing the encounters and by diligence in obtaining gear). But the key is that Nefarian never gets any better.

        PvP is different because gear improves your opponents. There is a good case for allowing gear even more freely (that is, why should it take 4+ months after max level to reach full competitiveness with a new character). The reason to limit gear is more about game pacing, but when the more skilled/dedicated section of the PvP community achieves the (inevitable) early gear advantage, the mountain is that much harder to climb for the rest.

        It is yet one more obstacle to the success of RBGs under this new model. An awful lot depends on deepening the pool of games – without a deep supply of “noobs like us” games, this initiative will fail hard.

      • Clayton

        “Let’s say T12 required 25 man raids. Not rewarded better, but got rid of 10 mans entirely. How would 10-man guilds react? They’d go, this is too hard to staff to, this isn’t what we want to do. Others would say, you have a choice, either raid at 25 or raid old content, you have to have this many people to play.

        Saying that you have a choice doesn’t make it a fair choice.”

        Exact same choice you have now except swap the number 25 with 10. There is no fair or unfair about it – it is just a number

        What is not fair is that you built up an expectation and now thing Blizzard is forced into meeting it or being called “unfair” – keeping in mind they have 11 million other expectations to meet at the same time.

        To me the whole thing is blown out of purportion and boils down to one thing – you think that you “need” the absolute best equipment simply to compete. The entire idea is nonsense. Right now I go into lvl 76 BG’s every single night and I am using lvl 70 PvP equipment. Everyone keeps saying “you need cata greens”. And almost every single BG I top the healing charts and more importantly keep people from dying.

        On our server Horde, from what I am told, lose almost every BG – yet I keep track and in the ones I am we are winning about 85% of the time. Is it just me? Surely not but with that ratio, and as a healer I can not be hurting.

        My equipment is far worse than what you are talking about.

        Simple fact here, you can skip the rBG’s completely, and still do just fine in the arena. But, you have it in your head you need the advantage (which you are justifying to yourself as a requirement) just to be ok. Guess what it is not true.

        To prove this point to someone else I did a BG last night in the nude, with only my weapon equiped. Yes, I died a lot but I still came second in healing and kept many people from dying. Oh, and we won. My guildmate was born again after seeing that – maybe I should do it again and youtube it for you. Keep in mind I am a very average PvPer at best

        • Wait, didn’t you just say on a related post:

          People talk about kill in PvP but in MMO’s it is simply not that relevant. It is more about having SUPERIOR equipment than anything. Yeah, decisions help but let me dueling you Season 9 stuff and you bring Season 1 stuff – lets see who wins.

          And now you want to maintain that equipment doesn’t matter?

          I think you are trolling for a response, sir.

  9. I have to say this change saddens me. I won’t be doing rBGs though. My guild hasn’t the interest and running rBGs seriously would be like organizing another raid group. I haven’t the time. I’ll arena to the Conquest Point cap and if the Valor Point conversion works, it looks like that’s what I’ll be doing.

  10. perculia

    My guild is quite progressed, but we set strict time limits on stuff during early progression. We don’t tack on extra nights to our raid schedule, alt runs go on hold, and achievements don’t really happen. At the start of Cata, RBGs were not happening for us because we didn’t have the mindset to commit to an extra day, and it was overwhelming to think about recruiting a brand-new PvP-only off-server squad because nothing seemed like it would be a good fit for the guild atmosphere. We fell behind on that and with Firelands coming up (at a bad time…middle of the summer after a long tier), I don’t think we can sustain doing RBGs on off-raid nights again.

    In the few light weeks we’ve had recently, we’ve tried to cram in some RBGs and chip away at the 75 win achieve. I love doing regular bgs, but I sort of grit my teeth and go along to get my pony wins. We’ve gotten 2500 teams and, like Gevlon said, started losing asap in the hopes of getting a better BG and a lower-ranked team. And all things considered, we have an advantage over other new players in a BG because we have BiS PvE weapons to offset some of the gear gap. People like doing stuff with friends, but Vent is a lot more cheerful when I ask people to run Gilneas with me after RBGs are done.

    I don’t want to have to do recruitment interviews, raid, and then stuff in my RBG after raid where I get to see the opposite team roll in with 4 priests and lifegrip the FC across Twin Peaks in 5 sec. I like unwinding after raid with a BG now and then, not viewing this as another ‘mandatory’ thing. We probably just won’t do any for a bit, or continue to keep it extremely lax. There just isn’t time to fit in regular RBGs in with Firelands and PvE dailies for a smallish raiding guild on a quiet server like mine.

    • Your guild sounds like it has the right attitude towards early progression. I can understand putting in huge effort on the final tier, but the first tier of an expansion? Is it really worth burning out your raiders right out of the gate?

      I’m looking at the time commitment for rBGs and just going… you know, I don’t even get to play Arenas every week. I can’t imagine trying to do that around your schedule – time spent getting involved in rBGs doesn’t help your progression team, it doesn’t help your raiding… it is just time spent chasing a pony. (NOT THAT THAT’S A BAD THING.)

      Blizzard’s problem shouldn’t be our problem.

  11. Lani

    First of all, great post Cyn. Really thoughtful and well put together.

    This change is harder, in a game where the typical mode is to make things easier and more accessible.

    Norm, I think this is a really important point. Blizzard, over the course of WoW, has really focused on making things more accessible. 40 man raids to 10s/25s. Adding the badges/points system. Removing attunement requirements. Removing group quests. The RDF. BQ queues from anywhere in Azeroth. The list goes on and on, but what it boils down to is that the trend we are used to is one of things getting easier, either by requiring less time, less skill, or fewer players to accomplish goals. By forcing players to complete rBGs to max out their point cap per week, Blizzard is going against the trend and making things harder. Honestly if they’d done something like this during Vanilla I doubt anyone would have batted an eye–but then again, during Vanilla it was just expected that accomplishing anything in the game required a much greater input of time and energy than it does now.

    That being said, I think this is a telling move on Blizzard’s part–in addition to your point about them needing to justify development costs, it’s also a tacit admission that they’ve made the game too friendly to single players and very small player groups. They now want players to have to work harder–in terms of needing a greater network and greater organizational skills, in addition to straight-up ability to play–to accomplish a particular goal than has been necessary in the past, and that never really goes over well.

    • Excellent point about this being a tacit admission that they’ve made this game to easy for small player groups. Or, more correctly, they’ve made it so the game can be played with small player groups at all, which means that becomes the expectation.

      I have no qualms with Blizzard making the game harder for single players. But then they shouldn’t be surprised when single players stop playing.

  12. dakotarick

    “I care about my problem”
    I absolutely love that line. My playtime is limited so PvP is a great option for me. I enjoy it and NRBG’s are easily accessible. I just click the button and off I go in a minute or two. My Priest is now decked out with Bloodthirsty gear and a couple trinkets and ready to try some of those RBG’s. It should have occurred to me at one point that access to RBG’s was going to be difficult. For some reason it did not and I feel like I am sitting at a dead end. In addition there will be a new gear set available via honor and I now need to start the NRBG grind over for the new set. I was really hoping that there was going to be light at the end of the tunnel but I am just not seeing it.

    Maybe forcing encouraging PvPr’s to participate in RBG’s will help develop more of a PvP community. Cataclysm seems to be very guild centric to me. On the server my Warlock is on the guild message of the day reads “Be sure to run your dailies with 3 guildies”. That’s all fine and dandy but it feels like we are turning into servers divided by guilds. Back in the day before the random dungeon finder we developed friend’s lists to help us run content.
    “We are one short for Shadow Labs who do you have on your friends list?”
    By the time we got to Karazhan we had a list of people we had run with and knew, to fill in the missing spots. Now we just click a button and some random person from some random server just shows up.
    We can analyze, count points and be upset all we want but that won’t change a thing. Will these changes help? Who knows, we shall see. What we do know is that if you want to be point capped at the end of the week you are going to have to run some RBG’s. How you or your guild gets this done is up to you.
    Maybe next time I post in chat “Healer looking for RBG” it won’t go unnoticed. That would be a little light at the end of the tunnel.
    Thanks for another great post.

    • I thought you’d like that little digression. That’s how you have to handle vendors! I don’t care about your problems, where is the shipment I paid for?

      You raise a good point about becoming guild-focused. In many ways, larger guilds are doing much better than smaller guilds precisely because of this change. The drive towards larger guilds, able to field multiple teams, is worrisome. I miss the days of being on people’s friends lists.

      Ultimately, we’ll do one of two things with this change. Either we’ll adapt to it, either creating new rBG teams, creating a pvp pug culture, or find alternate sources for the points (Zulroics, here we come!) Or get used to not capping each week, that’s an option, too!

      Or we’ll vote with our dollars and take our attention elsewhere. It’s pretty simple.

  13. Tonk

    If the problem is mismatched teams, why isn’t the solution a handicapping mechanism that would make playing poorly matched games more interesting than throwing them? I forget what the WG buff was called when one team had significantly fewer people, but I wonder why Blizzard doesn’t use something similar in rBGs when the ratings difference is large. That buff didn’t work very well in WG when sheer numbers were the issue but it seems better suited for balancing skill mismatches. Doing this might make getting into rBGs less painful and perhaps even fun.

    • The buff was called Tenacity, and it’s an interesting idea to solve the matching problems I hadn’t considered. I know a lot of people didn’t like Tenacity – I thought it worked pretty well – but it’s certainly a way to solve mismatches.

  14. Your emotions and reaction to this announcement remind me a LOT of when there was the glitch with last year’s Midsummer vanity pet. I wrote a post about it – http://is.gd/miD1Ir – but basically Blzzard’s explanation/solution was to say that “it appears that the pet isn’t available this year,” like it was some shocking surprise to them as well. I felt insulted and patronized, and would have preferred them just come out and say that there was something wrong and they weren’t able to implement it rather than play cute little games.

    I really, really dislike when a company tries to disguise a policy change or modification as something else, ESPECIALLY when it is so obviously transparent. It’s an insult to us as customers, to our intelligence, and really makes it seem like we aren’t respected or valued at all.

    Ire notwithstanding, this change is ugh.

    I’m a casual-hardcore PVPer in that I don’t do it often, but when I do go kill Alliance scum I take it seriously and perform strongly. I have only tried Arena recently and am a big fan, and I mostly like battlegrounds (though Strand and Isle and DIAF.)

    However, I HATE rated battlegrounds. My guild had the same experience as yours, Cyn. Actually, probably even worse since we are small and some of our members have zero PVP interest, so we had to pug a few people to round out our team. And we got stomped and humiliated. Unlike raiding where you can improve after a wipe by pinpointing where things went wrong, in rated battlegrounds there is no such method for improvement. “What went wrong?” “Well, we only had one person do Magmaw’s chains,” is easily fixed. “What went wrong?” “Well, we got graveyard camped 2 minutes into the match, which lasted until the match mercifully came to an end” is an entirely different matter.

    Another problem with losing rated BGs compared to losing Arena matches is their duration. I don’t mind losing some Arena matches because they’re nice and fast, I can knock out a few rather quickly, win or lose. But some battleground matches are sheer AGONY, and you are forced to just sit there and be horribly slaughtered for 10+ minutes, unable to do anything in response. That’s not exactly my idea of fun.

    This change doesn’t even really affect me (I rarely do enough Arena matches to max out my CP each week as it is) but it’s infuriating, just the idea that I might at some point have to do rated BGs.

    Finally, there is also the core issue that not all PVP = all other PVP. Some people love battlegrounds, hate arena. Some love arena, hate battlegrounds. It seems rather heavy-handed and oppressive to force players to do something they hate just so they can play the aspect of the game they ACTUALLY enjoy. (See: raiding in both 10/25 man raids in Wrath to maintain competitive gear levels.) (See: School of Hard Knocks)

    • Absolutely. Arenas are not Battlegrounds are not Rated Battlegrounds are not Duels are not World PvP, and treating them like they are is unfair.

      BGs are long. Good ones are long, bad ones are long. I shouldn’t never feel that “lose quickly” is a viable strategy – but it is.

      Like you said, being patronized by a company really makes me angry. This weekend was only the second time I have ever considered voting with my dollars and taking my business elsewhere.

      If it wasn’t that my son enjoys playing so much, I probably would have.

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  16. skinnemuva

    The solution to the problem that I see is to ignore end game pvp and just twink or level through non-85 bgs. That way you can get your pvp fix in and if I want to, you can turn off xp, get BiS gear and not have to regear again. If it turns out you don’t like the bracket you can level up to the next one. The queues aren’t bad in most brackets now that end with 9, and the more people that sign up, the better the queues will get! Bring guildmates along for low level twinking!

    I recently started pvp leveling with some end-game pvers, of which some insisted they didn’t like pvp, and they are loving it. We are going to turn off our xp at 39 so they can give twink battlegrounds a whirl.

  17. D

    I’d forgotten about the conquest/VP conversion. 4.2 brings in a change to VP – the weekly available cap is being dropped to 980 (equal to 7 Zandarlar heroics), and it will not be possible to cap from raiding. To get your weekly cap, you must run heroics as well. So raiders who want to max their VP for the week must run heroics, or possibly rated BGs and then convert the CP points but it sounds like that would be less effeicent.

    It seems Blizzard intends to keep people in heroics longer on their well geared toons than would otherwise occur. That PvPers would end up in heroics looking for their last 1/3 of CPs would have occured to them. So raiders and pvpers have two choices – go get the rest of your points for the week in RBG or Heroics. Both options suit Blizzard, both options are contrary to the previously stated aims of giving players choice about what they do with their time and with their friends.

  18. Florismart

    There has been a new post on the PTR 4.2 patch notes.

    “Example: During the first week of Season 10 everyone starts with a rating below 1500. Therefore, the cap from Rated Battlegrounds will be 1500 and the cap from Arena rating will be 1000. In the first week, the character wins enough Arena matches to reach the 1000 point cap. After that point, Arena wins will no longer grant Conquest points for the week. However, the character can still earn up to 500 additional points, but can only earn those points from either Rated Battlegrounds, or from the Conquest Point bonus for holiday and/or daily random Battlegrounds. The following week the cap will be recalculated based on the character’s ratings, and it is possible Arena rating could now generate the higher cap. The second week, the character’s cap from Arena rating is 1600, and the cap from Rated Battlegrounds is 1500. The character has a total cap of 1600 Conquest points for the week. Up to 1500 points can be earned from Rated Battlegrounds, but the last 100 must come from a different source.”

    Source: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/2723732

    From this wording, you wouldn’t be forced into RGBs, merely just be better in Arenas than RGBs.

    • Your interpretation is incorrect, unfortunately.

      There is a total Conquest Point cap that is determined by your highest rating in the 3s, 5s, or rBG brackets. If your Arena rating is higher than your rBG rating, then the total CP cap will increase. In the example provided, the player’s overall CP cap increased 100 points to reflect their highest rating.

      The total contribution from each activity remains the same, relative to their specific caps. Arenas can contribute 2/3rds of its cap, rBGs can contribute 100% of its cap. When the Arena rating increases to 1600, up to 1067 Conquest Points can be earned from Arena. The rBG rating was static, so up to 1500 points can come from rBGs. The player will still need to run Rated Battlegrounds to hit their total cap of 1600 points.

      This makes the situation more confusing, since there are now effectively three caps you will need to consider: Arena Point cap (2/3rds Arena rating), rBG cap (100% rBG rating), and total CP cap (highest rating). But it doesn’t change the situation at all.

      • Florismart

        Ah, trying to interpret that at 4AM isn’t probably the best thing to do. I see now what Blizzard is saying.

  19. God I hope someone at Blizzard reads your blog.

  20. Seca

    While allowing individuals to queue for RBGs would certainly solve the problem, it would cause another. Normal BGs would be completely redundant.

    • sarevok

      Don’t think it would be like that at all. After all how wants to be farmed almost all the time? (For those wanting to check the feeling try Alliance on english side of Emberstorm battlegroup EU). So in the end people would only do them till they cap Conquest points or get frustrated after loosing time after time.

      • Seca

        The assumption that an individual queueing for RBGs would be farmed continually is false.

        There would be lots of teams queueing with the min required to get Guild credit. An individual queueing isn’t necessarily doing a 10 man pug against a 10 man premade. And once the initial settle happens and people get ratings appropriate to their skill, an individual queueing for an RBG is actually more likely to see appropriate competition then in the FFA NBG system.

        RBGs have all the rewards of NBGs plus more (beyond Conq points). If individuals can queue for RBGs, max level NBGs would be abandoned.

        Then you’d have to force people into NBGs using some sort of entry barrier (gear level, rating, whatever) for RBGs. This would just make it more difficult to assemble premades – the intended audience.

  21. Jaggar - Sentinals US

    I have said this before and I will say it again, They need to make Rated Battlegrounds a personal rating and not a team rating. In fact, wether you use battlegrounds, arenas or world PVP, I think it should all count towards your rating. This way you are not dependant on others to advance in PVP. This would eliminate regular battlegrounds, but really, why do we need them? Anyone who enjoys to PVP should have the same access to advance their gear as someone who only does rated content.

    This would allow a single toon to que for a battleground as we do now but give us credit towards our rating and points. I for one do not have the time to pput forth into many, many rated matches, not to mention finding other people to join me if I want to get a rating. To me this concept is rediculous.

    This would mean that every toon is either in pvp getting rated for all PVP actions or not flagged and running PVE. To me this would solve all of their issues with low attendance in rated battlegrounds.

  22. Anthony

    This is an excellent blog Cynwise. You have successfully taken something I would otherwise not read entirely and made it too interesting to quit. I too miss the days of putting together groups from my friends list. I think thats part of what got me interested in the game so much early on. Joining someone while questing around Darnassus or Auberdine and saying “hmmm…this guys pretty cool…” adding him or her to the friends list and later putting a group together with them made things very fun. Thanks for the post.

  23. Gameldar

    Great post as always Cyn – I’ll admit that I fit into the category of it wouldn’t really affect me much because I’m not sure I’d be capping from arena points anyway (my total number of arena games is 13 – 10 in BC, and 3 in Cata). And from that perspective I don’t quite come at it with the same negative feelings.

    So looking at MMO Champion they’ve either changed their minds or they have done a better job of explaining how the cap and gaining points goes – so it looks like you can just do arena to get your cap after it is adjusted – it is only the default starting rating that would require you to reach the cap. How it plays out with the new cap rating… i.e can you reach the point where you arena cap is higher than your rgb cap without playing rgbs? – no idea – that wasn’t explained.

    That said – I’ve been wanting to do RGBs but what you’ve said about them makes me think that it wouldn’t be fun because a) I wouldn’t be doing it very often and b) I’d more than likely be going in with an inexperienced group and c) I live/play in a minority population area so I think the extremes of the rating comparisons would be further pronounced.

    But I prefer BGs to arenas (although I haven’t done much arenas to compare) – and I enjoy doing randoms (and I’m hoping to pull others in the guild into doing more with me – had another one join me last night and he enjoyed himself). So I’d love to see RGBs become more popular with a great balance.

    I think some form of tenacity buff might work too, or simply just making a hard limit to the difference in rating that teams are matched? It comes down to is getting any match better than getting no match? From the new comers it really doesn’t seem like it is an advantage to getting a severely biased match and it switches people off – and I’m guessing those at a higher level of play would prefer the tougher and interesting matches – at that rating they’re not all about getting their weekly points. I know that’s what I prefer from the doing randoms – most exciting games I’ve had are the ones where the opposing side has ended up getting achievements for the difference in points – I’m yet to win in that scenario!

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  29. Collers

    Hey. I know that this post has been dead for 6 months now, but I just felt obliged to add a short footnote after spending 40 minutes reading all of the replies.

    Firstly, an excellent post, and some of the problems that you outlined are indeed true. However I am on a PvE server, and as such there a very few PvP’ers about. Despite this, I have managed to get capped most weeks through initially pugging, and then adding the people who were good onto my friends list. I am not the best PvPer in the world, but I am a better than average rBG leader, and I really enjoy the challenges associated with it. I have loved the revert to adding people who are good players, and whose company I enjoy. I have notes on all players in my friends list such as “Druid, Pvp, Healer” which means that I can log on, scan down my friends list and set up a rBG in a matter of a few minutes.

    I have had roughly 2/3 win rate to date, which I consider a flying success. As we near the higher ratings, I have noticed the need to form more specific team compositions, sometimes turning down a hunter in favour of a mage. I don’t like having to do this, but it is made necessary by the fact that on average my friends have shown an increase in rating.

    Despite the fact that I often have to turn people down, the most common reaction is “no problem, I’ll be around next week if you need a priest!”.

    This kind of attitude has been lost in the mire of dungeon finder, and “LF 2v2 for cap”, and soon to be further buried by the upcoming raid finder (*dies a little bit inside*). It gives me hope for the future of wow players, that not all of them are the “OMFG WTF NOOB” types.

    I do hope you get to read this Cynwise, and thanks again for an insightful and thought provoking post.

    Collers