The Problems of PvP Reputation Grinds in Cataclysm

Cataclysm Patch 4.2 introduced several undocumented changes to the reputation system in Warcraft. Some were quite welcome: city tabards now worked in Burning Crusade dungeons, allowing alts going from 60-70 to keep gaining home city reputation while running LFR. Others were less welcome: dungeon bosses gave less reputation in general.

The biggest change for battleground enthusiasts, however, was in Arathi Basin and the reputation awards for the League of Arathor and the Defilers.

  • Before 4.2, you got 100 reputation per win (10 reputation per 160 resources).
  • After 4.2, you get 60 reputation per win (10 reputation per 260 resources).

Yes, that’s a 40% nerf, and is before guild perks or Diplomacy bonuses are factored in.

Exalted with any faction requires 42,000 reputation points. To get Exalted with the Arathi Basin factions before 4.2, this required, in the best case, 420 wins. More realistically, that’s probably around 600 games, as you still gain experience from losing as long as you get some resources on the board.

After the 4.2 changes – and as this has never been confirmed as a bug, we have to assume that it was a deliberate change – Exalted requires 700 wins, or probably around 1,000 games total.

One thousand matches to Exalted. At 20 minutes a game, that’s 13.9 days /played in Arathi Basin.

Warsong Gulch isn’t really any better, but it didn’t change during 4.2. It’s been bad for a while. At 35 rep per flag capture, you’re looking at 1200 flag caps, or a minimum of 400 three cap games. Since you can win with a single flag cap, and can lose without any flag caps, you’re more likely looking at 600-700 matches to Exalted.

Does this seem like good design?

CONTENT THAT GETS PROGRESSIVELY HARDER

The 4.2 Arathi Basin reputation nerf is actually not the first time that PvP reputation has been nerfed – these reputations used to be far, far easier to grind, and the Justicar/Conqueror titles (Exalted in Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, and Alterac Valley) were much more in reach.

Back in the old days, Marks of Honor – remember those? – could be turned in to the appropriate quartermaster for reputation (3 Marks for 50 rep), shortening the grind considerably. Before Wrath of the Lich King, you needed far fewer victories to reach Exalted:

  • Warsong Gulch: 273 wins
  • Arathi Basin: 280 wins
  • Alterac Valley: 70 wins

Let that sink in a bit. Getting to Exalted takes 127 more WSG and 420 more AB victories than it did now than it did in Burning Crusade. That’s victories – I figure you’ll have to play 30-40% more games total to do it. If you’re in a guild with the reputation perk when you start and all the way through, you can shave 10% off.

No analysis would be complete without looking at some of the other changes that have taken place to these battlegrounds:

  • Warsong Gulch now has a timer, which limits the amount of time each battle can take, so 40 mins – 1 hour long matches are no longer the norm. Unfortunately, this timer also means that each victory can be earned with a single cap, making the rep gain wildly variable. It’s pretty much a wash.
  • Arathi Basin was reduced from 2000 resources to 1600, which means each victory awards fewer reputation points. The rate of gain, however, has remained unchanged before 4.2.

The resource gain reduction in Arathi Basin is partly responsible for the increase in the number of games required to play to get to Exalted. The rate of reward wasn’t substantially modified until 4.2, though, so while we can say that it’s not quite as bad as the numbers say, it’s still bad.

It’s still about a thousand games to Exalted with the League of Arathor and the Defilers.

I guess they’re really hard to impress.

IMPROVING REPUTATION IN BATTLEGROUNDS

This is what content that gets progressively harder looks like. And it’s honestly not all that much fun. If you started playing in 2005, this was difficult but doable. If you’re starting now, in 2012, this is brutal.

Is this a good game design? Is it good to have a goal like this, one that is so far out there that you really have to focus on a single character for years to get it?

Yes, for years. Let’s say you are a relatively casual player and can play 3-4 AB battles a night (2 hours with queue times). You better keep up that pace for 286 days.

Nothing but Arathi Basin. No Arena. No PvE.

Just AB. BS, LM, ST. No, go GM. LM inc 3. Go Farm. GO FARM. BS going. BS gone.

I’ve played about 300 Arathi Basins across my different characters in the past 3 years. Cynwise has the Veteran achievement there. I know the place pretty darn well at this point, and I haven’t even scratched the reputation post. She’s 9796/12000 Honored. Yikes.

I don’t mean for it to sound like I’m complaining, because at this point I’ve totally given up on this as a reasonable goal for me. I’m not getting it. It’s not worth it to me.

But contrast AB reputation to Alterac Valley reputation, which most people get Exalted around 80-100 victories in. I have two characters at Exalted there, another two at Revered, and most of the others are making great progress. Some of this is due to factional imbalance in the old battlegroups, but it’s also due to the amount of reputation awarded.

This kind of reputation grind – one that requires commitment, but is doable on your way to the Veteran (100 victories) achievement, feels more realistic. Let’s face it, after you’ve won 50 battles, you feel like you’ve gotten the hang of it. By 75, the NPCs should know your name when you zone in.

All three of the original battlegrounds have reputation, and they are all tied into specific objectives within those battlegrounds. This has benefits – you gain rep for doing the stuff in the BG – but it also has drawbacks, as we see here. The scale is so out of whack now that changes need to be made to WSG and AB to make their grinds relevant again – otherwise people will simply look at them and go, that’s not worth it, and it fails to have any value.

Just like now.

These tasks are supposed to be hard, not impossible.

(There’s also the issue of  lingering resentment caused by increasing the difficulty on a task over time, but that’s a different post.)

My opinion is that the reputations need to be scaled to a number of games or victories. That’s how we evaluate these grinds, after all, and that the huge disparity between AV and AB points out that one can be done on multiple toons, while the other is an all-or-nothing deal. Personally, I like the 75-125 win mark – it’s an investment, but given the number of battlegrounds out there, it’s not unreachable. It still allows you to play other battlegrounds without feeling guilty. You could make an argument that it should be easier – 50 – or harder – 200 or 250 – and I’d go, okay, at least we’re in a ballpark. Personally, with the number of other things to do in the game, I lean towards a lower number. But settle on some number of victories/matches and base your rewards off of that figure.

Also, standardize reputations and rewards in battlegrounds. It baffles me why the Isle of Conquest has a tabard for the Master of Isle of Conquest achievement, AV/AB/WSG have them for Exalted reputations, and EotS, Strand, BfG and TP completely lack them. I’m not crazy about the IoC model – I don’t really like Battleground Achievements that aren’t “Win” and “Win More” and “Win ALL THE GAMES,” but it’s at least a viable, consistent model that could be used.

The gear rewards from leveling should also be adjusted to reflect the new brackets and early introduction of several battlegrounds (Eye of the Storm, I’m looking at you), but that goes without saying.

Consider extending the BG reputation system to PvE and Arenas. I like this option least of all, but I think it needs to be put out there – the way it works now is really bad. Arathi Basin and Warsong Gulch are arguably the two worst rep grinds in the game. Tabards that could be worn while questing, dungeons, or – best of all – in Arenas and Rated PvP – would allow people to grind while doing other stuff.

If you could Arena in the name of the League of Arathor, would you? (I bet you would. I’m not wild about raiding/dungeons for PvP rep, but it’s something to consider as well.

I actually think a piecemeal approach to fixing reputation systems is harmful, and that the battleground reps need to be considered as part of the entire reputation system. Reputation tabards are an interesting idea, but wouldn’t it be simpler to code the game to award X amount of tabard rep per Y thing done (mob killed, boss killed, BG/Arena won), then check the tabard and award it appropriately? I know I’m falling into the non-programmer fallacy of “it sounds logically simpler, so it should be simpler to code,” but… I have been a professional programmer, and it actually is simpler to code up one system than a bunch of disparate other systems. It’s harder to yank bad code out and make sure things work right after the fact, but … I’ll stop.

One of the things Blizzard mentioned they wanted to work on in Mists was WoW’s reputation systems.

I hope when they do so, they take a long look at the BG reputations and make them a more accessible part of the game.

Because tasks that get progressively harder as the game ages?

Yeah. They’re not fun for anyone.

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25 Comments

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25 responses to “The Problems of PvP Reputation Grinds in Cataclysm

  1. I knew it was bad… but that really puts it into perspective :(

    I sure hope this changes with MoP.

  2. One of the things that I have been mulling over was raising my reputation with the major PvP factions as best as I could before MoP hit. I actually had no idea things had been made this ridiculously difficult for you to hit the cap.

    Compared to the PvE content, it seems even more disproportionate, considering most factions are partway through Revered by the time you are done questing in the zone that primarily features their story.

  3. Adam

    A PVP only tabard like the Guild tabard would be nice maybe a 100% increase and a 200% increase which could cost honor. I dont like the idea of raising PVP reputation in a PVE environment. Also why not award reputation off of HK in the specific BG’s this would probably only amount to 100 rep or so per game so not over the top.

  4. Another way to put it in perspective – I think that’s worse than the entire rep grind required for “the Insane” (especially in it’s current state, with the removal of one reputation and severe nerfing of DMF). That’s a Feat of Strength, not a normal achievement (are the exalted reps required for the associated BG meta?).

    • I was chatting with Raimondas – the author of the Insane guide on the forums, owner of 4 (!!!!) Insane toons – and his opinion was that the only rep grind to Exalted that was close was the Bloodsail rep, because you have to kill 850 Bruisers.

      He then noted that that was considered too hard, and that Bloodsail Exalted wasn’t part of the Insane title. :(

  5. You do not need the exalted achievements for the BG metas. And yes, those grinds are terrible. I finally got Conqueror yesterday morning, and I’m ecstatic that I can do randoms now (or, I suppose, the two new Cataclysm BGs since I don’t have those metas).

  6. Not to mention the lack of Conquest Point rewards (except 100cp / first win on bg weekend) when queuing for specific battles instead of random. Just got back into pvp in 4.3, and need 14k rep with WSG to get my title. I have all my 4.2 gear and can’t just focus on WSG unless I want to remain a green warlock instead of playing in cool clothes. Damn this all.

  7. ^ Total word to everything said here. I put in an ungodly amount of time on AB and didn’t even scratch mine to honored either (or maybe I was just barely over?).

    I think something that would really help would be kill honor — one of the reasons AV rep goes so fast is that you get 1 rep for every kill you get in the BG, and since there are 40 people…that was an easy 70 rep a game.

    Objectives aside, there’s no reason why I should get rep for killing horde in AV, but not in WSG/AB. They’re still just-as-Bad Guys.

    Of course, with blizzard’s abysmal track record on this subject, they’ll take that as an excuse to remove kill-rep from AV sometime soon.

    On the bright side, the rep isn’t a requirment for the meta anymore, which says at least blizzard is aware of their own ridiculousness.

    • 1 Rep per HK to whatever tabard you’re wearing.

      I’m down with this idea. So, so very down with it.

      Sure, it’s 42k HK to Exalted, but it would be GLORIOUS. :)

      • Well and it’s still not that bad — you’re still getting rep from doing the BG parts too so maybe it’s more like 30-35k HKs. And since there’s an achievement for 100k kills (and nobody complains about that being unreasonably difficult), it wouldn’t be that bad. Work, yes…but definitely doable. I think for all my fairly-dedicated PVPing I left WoW with about 47k HKs.

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  9. People can actually still get those achievements? Honestly, I only started playing PVP seriously near the end of wrath. I hadn’t ever thought that those achievements were actually a consideration for people who didn’t already have them. Despite my 12,000 HK, I am still Neutral with 2 of the 3 horde factions and only friendly with the third..

    • People still are getting Exalted with AB and WSG. I’m really impressed by the dedication people show in doing it.

      If anything, I want to be able to ID people who get it *now* versus *then*. :)

  10. Kusucks

    To get WSG and AB you will need to be over 100,000 hk easily

  11. Good points, couldn’t agree more!

  12. Tin

    I don’t like the tabard idea. But then again, I didn’t like it in pve either.

    However, scaling the rep gains to some feasible amount of wins is long over-due. As is scaling the Resilient Victory achievement. But I digress. :)

    • The tabards are kind of a losing battle – I’ve given up on resisting them too (see: Ambassador grind in Wrath vs. Cata). As such, I’d rather have them work uniformly as a consistent system, one that is either entirely PvE or stretches across both.

      I actually saw someone get the Resilient Victory about 2 months ago in AB on my 70 twink. The opposing team was a guild premade, and they took the farm and waited. They sent out stealthers to each node, waited for us to distribute our forces, and then eliminated us before we could react at about 0-750.

      We went from 4-1 to 0-5 in a matter of about a minute. It was horrific (from our side) and awesome (from their). I was SO impressed by their strategy and execution.

      As a pug, though? Yeah, it’s not happening at 500 points. :(

      • Yep, that’s about how we did it — got our premade group together into an unrated BG, all camped at Farm, and then spread out and did it. As I recall we did it back to back actually :-). No stealthy positioning though, that would make it a lot easier.

  13. The change in AB nearly broke my back… I discovered it as I entered what I thought would be my last rep farming AB Call to Arms weekend.

    Instead I ploughed on.. very unhappily… tickets were raised.

    It annoyed me most that in PvE, they were making rep grinds easier by the day, but then they just went and made it harder… in what was an undocumented change at the time.

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