Tag Archives: Gear

Preparing For Rated Battlegrounds

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.

We have more answers now than we did then, and while there are still many, many unknowns, the shape of Rated Battlegrounds is starting to coalesce into something we can have a conversation about.

So what do we know so far?

RATED BATTLEGROUNDS ARE A RAID, NOT A RANDOM

The defining feature of rated battlegrounds is that they will require you to assemble a full team, like a raid. You don’t have to be in the same guild, but you will have to assemble your team before you head in. You can’t do this on your own.

In other words, rated BGs require a premade.

This shift mirrors the current PvE philosophy, where you can queue for dungeons and heroics solo, but raids require a group. The new reward system (which I’ll talk about later) reinforces this separation, giving the highest tier of points to raids, rated BGs, and arena, and a lower tier to heroics and regular BGs.

What does this mean for us?

  • Playing in rated BGs will require a network. We have to start expanding our friends list to include good PvPers who can fill out your team, much like finding good tanks and healers.
  • Don’t wait; start joining premades now. This is the best way to learn how to work together as a team, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and expand your network. Even partial premades will teach you a lot about working as a team.
  • Start making guild plans now. If there is interest, consider creating a guild BG Leader position to organize and lead PvP teams. Just like raid teams need a raid leader, rated BG teams will need organization and leadership.

BATTLEGROUND SIZE MATTERS

A corollary to treating rated BGs like raids is that the size of your team will dictate which battleground you fight in, not your preference or random chance. So if you have:

  • 10-man: Warsong Gulch, Twin Peaks
  • 15-man: Arathi Basin, Eye of the Storm, Strand of the Ancients
  • 25-man: Alterac Valley
  • 40-man (unrated): Isle of Conquest, Battle for Gilneas

Alterac Valley is currently a 40-man bg, but in Cataclysm it will become 25-man. I wondered about this when it was announced, but in the context of Rated BGs are Raids it makes sense. AV will become the 25-man raider’s battleground of choice. It’s a brilliant move by Blizzard – they needed a BG that 25 man teams could run, so why not take the most PvE-like one and make it available to them? This way both 10 and 25 man raiding teams can hit the bgs on off nights or after a raid. AV is going to remain a popular BG because of this change.

The biggest problem I see is that it appears not all rated battlegrounds are going to be available at all times.  I’ve seen conflicting posts about this.  Some say that they will have a featured battleground, much like the old Holiday Weekend BGs, that will offer extra points and help consolidate players into a single queue.  This would be ideal for constructing dedicated teams.  What would be less ideal is having only a single rated battleground queue available at one time and rotating between them, which would require some tough staffing decisions.

My hunch is that a core of 15 players is going to be the team size of choice for serious PvPers.  This gives you access to 5 of the 6 rated battlegrounds, with the flexibility of pugging for Alterac Valley.

Here’s what this means to us.

  • If you are a raider, get familiar with WSG and AV now, and TP when Cata hits. Your guild may want to run these three as a warmup to a night’s raid, as an alt run, or as a regular event. Rated Battlegrounds will be an easy way to pick up gear and gems, help with guild leveling, and with the new currency system can contribute to PvE gear too.
  • PvP teams should try to size themselves to run 15-mans consistently. That gives you 5 bgs to rotate through on a regular basis, and puts AV within reach with server pugs. When a few folks are out the 10 mans are still available, and if you have 20 you can split into two 10s.
  • If you are practicing or learning BGs, get the basic achievements now. If people start asking for credentials to get into pugs, which I don’t like but am sure it’ll happen, you should at least have a Victory under your belt.  Veteran (100 wins) of a battleground will have a lot of weight, and Mastery of that battleground will make you a hot commodity.

We’ll have to see how the queues are really implemented before we can plan our teams out.  Having a flexible roster, rotating people in and out through the night, splitting teams, and getting good puggers will all be important skills of your guild’s battleground leader.

NO RATING PENALTIES FOR LOSING

We don’t know much yet about how ratings will be calculated, but we do know that losses will not lower your rating. This is a very good thing.

If you join a team that is struggling, it doesn’t lower your rating. You can try out different combinations, experiment with different strategies, and be a social networker without it affecting your score.

I’m really encouraged by this. By removing the penalty of failure, Blizzard makes it easier to bring casual PvPers into the game and makes losses more like a raid wipe. Imagine the opposite scenario: what if raid wipes caused loss of your raiding ability or standing, say by destroying gear?  Other games have incurred that sort of penalty, but we’ve thankfully moved on in WoW.

Speaking of gear…

GETTING PVP GEAR

The PvP gear grind in Cataclysm continues the trend we’ve seen in Wrath of consolidating tiers in both PvP and PvE , with PvE moving towards a point-based system.

In short:

  • Hero (PvE) and Honor (PvP) points will be the low tier, easier to get rewards from normal battlegrounds and dungeons.  There will be a cap on how many you can own, but no cap on how fast you can earn them.
  • Valor (PvE) and Conquest (PvP) points will be the high tier, harder to get rewards from raids, rated battlegrounds, and Arena.  There will be both a cap on how many you can own and how many you can earn in a period of time.
  • You will not be able to stockpile Valor and Conquest points between seasons/raid releases.  When a new tier of gear comes out, your high tier points will convert to lower tier points.

So far, these changes unify the two systems and honestly don’t introduce a lot of changes in how you gear for PvP.  Regular BGs will give you honor points to get started, and Rated BGs/Arena will give you top end gear.  A nice benefit is that you won’t lose your Arena, er, Conquest points when a new season comes out, but that they’ll convert to Honor points instead.  So you can go buy gems or something.

About that top end gear:

  • Personal ratings will no longer be required for top-tier PvP Armor.  (And thank goodness, since this was a huge barrier to participating in Arenas.)
  • PvP weapons will be divided into two tiers, equivalent to those gained by raiding on normal or Heroic difficulties.
  • Normal PvP weapons can be purchased with Conquest points and no minimum personal rating.
  • Heroic PvP weapons can be purchased with Conquest points and require a minimum personal rating.

Removing the personal rating requirements for PvP armor is huge.  HUGE.  This levels the playing field between players for both Rated and Arena play.  The rating requirements on armor in the current system created a self-perpetuating gap between those with it and those without; this removes that dichotomy nicely.  Keeping the rating requirements on 3 slots (instead of 12) means that the rating will reflect more on your skill than on you outgearing your opponents.

The caps discussed above are welcome changes to PvE, and already familiar to PvPers. We’re used to having the Honor Cap (and hitting it all the time).  Having to spend those Triumph badges means I’ll have to finally buckle down and either get those last few heirloom shoulders, a bevy of heirloom trinkets, or … what, Crusader Orbs?  (I assume I can turn them into cash somehow.)

The other cap, a cap over time on the Valor and Conquest points, are in place to limit the amount of upper tier gear you can get in any given week.  Ghostcrawler described it as making the system “less grindy,” which I think it does.  Once you’ve hit your cap for the week, you’re done.

No word yet on if PvP gear will be available in Tol Barad, the new PvP questing zone, like there was in Wintergrasp. Crafted PvP gear, however, should be quite good at the start of Cataclysm.

STATISTICS CHANGES

The stat changes in Cataclysm are huge.  Dizzying.  Some stats are going away, others are going to be used differently… here’s where we still don’t know enough to make good plans.

One thing we do know, though, is that there will be more Stamina on armor.  A LOT more.  Health pools are going to increase in relation to damage output, which is great news for battlegrounds.  Burst damage in PvP has been a problem throughout Wrath, and a slower pace will be a welcome change.

Interestingly, the place where I’ve seen this slower pace the most has been in the level 19 twink bracket, where health pools are also huge in comparison to the damage done.  If you want to get a feel for how Cataclysm battlegrounds are going to play, visit that bracket.

CROSS-BATTLEGROUP BATTLEGROUNDS

Battlegrounds, rated and unrated, are going to pull players and teams not just from your Battlegroup, but from all servers in your region.  This should even out the queues and give you someone to play pretty much all the time.  It should also erase faction imbalances within a battlegroup, which is freaking awesome all around.

My only concern is with latency, as this potentially adds another leg between you and your opponent (between your server and theirs.)  There are a lot of technical ways around that, though (moving both clients to a neutral server, peer to peer, etc.) so it remains to be seen if this has any impact on actual play.

And for twinks?  This makes freezing your experience viable again.  No more destination battlegroups!  If you want to try experience-capped brackets, but don’t want to change servers, now’s a good time to start making a twink.

BATTLEGROUND SCRIMMAGES

Blizzard calls it “war games mode,” but that makes me think of a nice game of chess, so I’ll call it scrimmage mode.  Scrimmage mode lets you challenge other teams to a battleground fight.  Faction doesn’t matter.

The experience and feedback you can get from this is invaluable.  Set up two 10-mans and run Warsong Gulch or Twin Peaks — and then compare notes.  Who did what well?  Who did what poorly?

Scrimmage mode — fine, WAR GAMES mode — is going to really be a powerful tool.

Even if it makes me want to play chess.

GUILD LEVELING

Guilds will progress in Cataclysm, gaining perks and… other… stuff?  as their players do stuff with the guild.  The details are kinda fuzzy, but one thing is clear — PvP will contribute to guild leveling, hopefully on equal footing with PvE.

If there was a case to be made for harnessing your guild’s latent PvP tendencies under a guild Battleground Leader, this would be it.  Do PvP with your guild, help the guild level.

Seems like a good thing to me!

(Now if only we knew more about what those levels actually do…)

CASUAL BATTLEGROUNDS ARE STAYING

The most welcome news to me is that causal, non-rated battlegrounds aren’t going anywhere.

I like being able to log in after a hard day of work and relax in the battlegrounds.  I don’t want to stress out about it, I just want to PvP to unwind.

And I still can.  Thank goodness.

CATACLYSM IS COMING

Right now, each week seems to bring us news on Cataclysm: new changes to classes, professions, game mechanics. A lot of it seems to be a tease, something to keep players interested as Wrath winds down.

But enough information has come out now that you can start taking steps, even simple steps, to get ready for Cataclysm’s inevitable release.  You can start thinking of battlegrounds as a group activity instead of a solitary one.  You can start networking with other PvPers in your guild an on your server.  You can start putting together premades, or even found a PvP guild.

Rated Battlegrounds are coming.  In a few short months, they’ll be here.  When they were first announced, I was nervous.  Now?

I can’t wait.  Bring ‘em on.

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Battleground Gear in 3.3.3

I’ll be honest. Patch 3.3.3 is leaving me a little dizzy in the battlegrounds. The Battleground Finder is everything I hoped for and more. Getting rid of Marks of Honor has opened up the lower gear tiers to players of all levels without having to grind specific battlegrounds.

The biggest change is how much honor you get for PvP now. My GM put it really well: Honor is flowing like water in the battlegrounds. The honor boost to Honorable Kills has yielded a terrific boost to getting honor in every battleground. Blizzard stated that they wanted gearing up for PvP to be as easy as gearing up for PvE, and I think they’ve done that. You can outfit yourself in a full kit of T9 with a few days of random heroics, and now you can outfit yourself in a full kit of Furious Gladiator’s gear with a few days of random battlegrounds. This is a good thing.

ENDGAME GEAR

I don’t see any new gear since 3.3.2; there’s no new Arena season with this patch, so Wrathful is still the top tier of gear. The vendors are different: Alliance is the badass-looking Knight-Lieutenant T’Maire Sydes, and I assume the Horde got a new vendor, too. But the gear is all the same.

The PvP gear levels at level 80, and how you purchase them, are:

  • Wrathful Gladiator (ilvl 264-270): Arena Points + Arena Ranking
  • Relentless Gladiator (ilvl 251): Arena Points + Honor Points
  • Furious Gladiator (ilvl 232): Honor Points
  • Titan-Forged (ilvl 200-251): Wintergrasp Marks
  • PvP Enchants: Stone Keeper’s Shards or Honor Points

Offset Gladiator pieces are purchasable at a currency level or two higher than listed. Given how much honor is flowing right now, it’s worth changing the format and talking about the best PvP pieces you can get in each slot with only honor or Wintergrasp Marks.

  • Head: Furious (ilvl 232) – 54500 honor
  • Neck: Wrathful (ilvl 264) – 52200 honor
  • Shoulder: Titan-Forged (ilvl 251) – 40 Wintergrasp Marks
  • Back: Wrathful (ilvl 264) – 52200 honor
  • Chest: Furious (ilvl 232) – 54500 honor
  • Wrist: Wrathful (ilvl 264) – 43400 honor
  • Hands: Furious (ilvl 232) – 43300 honor
  • Waist: Relentless (ilvl 245) – 34100 honor
  • Legs: Furious (ilvl 232) – 34700 honor
  • Feet: Relentless (ilvl 245) – 34100 honor
  • 1st Ring: Wrathful (ilvl 264) – 52200 honor
  • 2nd Ring: Relentless (ilvl 245) – 26100 honor
  • Trinket: Medallion of the Alliance/Horde (ilvl 264) – 68200 honor
  • Trinket: Battlemaster (ilvl 245) – 34100 honor
  • Main-hand: None
  • Off-hand: None
  • Ranged: None

This entire kit will cost 583,600 honor and 40 Wintergrasp Marks. You’ll have to bring your own weapons. It’s a pity I haven’t been keeping track of the prices from patch to patch, because I suspect that the addition of Wrathful gear to the honor pool has made this the most expensive battleground kit ever.

However, with the recent buff to the amount of honor you get, it might also be the easiest kit to complete. So take it for what it’s worth.

MOUNTS

Mount collectors seem to be unanimously in favor of the change from Marks to honor for purchasing PvP mounts. And I can see why. The convenience of not having to run specific battlegrounds outweighs the honor math, and to be honest, all math before 3.3.3 likely needs to be thrown out, anyways.

PvP mounts now cost 50k honor. Based on a day or so of running battlegrounds with the new levels of honor, that’s about 2-3 hours of random battlegrounds. Before this patch, 50k honor was a significantly greater investment. With moderate PvP, I used to hit the honor cap about once a week or so, and now I expect to hit it every 2-3 days. So comparing prices before (60 Marks * 248 honor = 14880 honor) and after (50k honor) is faulty. Fortunately, there is a common currency.

Time, not Marks or Honor, is the real currency you are using to buy PvP mounts. Getting 60 Marks took a minimum of 21 and a maximum of 60 battles. At 15 minutes each, that’s a range of 5.25 hours to 15 hours. Let’s take a median of 8.812 hours for each PvP mount.

Now, mounts will probably cost about 2-3 hours each. Seems like a good deal to me.

Mount collectors have every reason to celebrate this patch.

LOWER LEVEL HONOR

Things get a little trickier discussing honor when we move away from the endgame, mostly because each bracket offers substantially different levels of honor rewards. Where the gear scales with bracket, this works out fine. If you get 200 honor per match, buying a sword for 600 honor is a fine value and you should definitely consider it.

Rewards from Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, and Alterac Valley all fit this criteria. You can get them from the following vendors:

Don’t dismiss these rewards as PvP-only. They’re not. They’re solid leveling and dungeon gear, and at many points they are the best in slot items you can get. Be willing to spend honor as you level to keep your gear current.

Rewards that are useful beyond a bracket, though, are probably more inaccessible now than they were before. If you get 200 honor per match, a 50k Mount is now 62.5 hours of PvP time instead of 8.812 hours.

But to be honest, I don’t know how much honor folks should expect to get while leveling through battlegrounds. The changes at level 80 have me so disoriented — I seriously got 5k honor from Warsong Gulch, which blows my mind — that I can’t even guess how hard it would be to get 50k honor at level 60, let alone 40. I’m not worried about the scaled rewards, but the mounts and battlefield standards? Yikes.

This patch will take some time to really fully understand.


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Marks Of Honor Will Suck Even More In 3.3.3

Well, that was a nice little dream while it lasted.

The latest patch of the PTR has substantially reduced the value of each Mark of Honor you get from each battleground from 2000 to 185.  This means that grinding Marks is no longer going to give you a massive bank of honor, but that’s not why this a big deal.  That’s a theoretical loss, one where we never had the value of that bank to begin with.  No one had an actual bank of 1.2 million honor that was just wiped out.

No, the important part is that the current, actual value of a Mark of Honor will go from 248 to 185, or a 25.5% loss to the value of your Marks of Honor over the current trade-in quests.  In exchange for the convenience of being able to turn them in individually instead of in matched sets, you will only realize 75% of the honor value of each Mark.

Now, I don’t know if the Concerted Efforts / For Great Honor quests are going away.  It didn’t really matter before, what with the crazy hyper inflated honor rush we were about to experience. But now it really matters.

If the quests stay, then this reduction becomes nothing more than a convenience charge.  I actually like this model — if you can get all 6 battlegrounds and turn in the marks together, you effectively get a bonus over turning them in singly.  Okay, that’s cool.  I can live with that.

If the quests are taken away, though…  Well, then there are a lot of players who just lost out on a lot of potential honor.

Okay!  Back to the honor grind!  See you in Alterac Valley!

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The 3.3.3 Honor Economy

Well, this next patch is shaping up to be a doozy on the PTRs for battleground players.

The biggest news is the turn-in ratio of Battleground Marks of Honor: 2000 honor for 1 Mark. Yes, you read that right: 2k for 1 Mark. This is 9 times as effective as the current Wintergrasp honor system, and 8 times as effective as the Mark turn-in quests.

That’s right — all those Marks that are worth 248 potential honor on the live servers are a lot more valuable on the PTR. Stop turning them in now.

The only advantage to Wintergrasp Marks is that they are Bind to Account, allowing you to send them to your lower level alts. So you pay a premium for their transferabillty.

Holy moly. I’m practically speechless about how much potential honor this represents.

Actually, I’m not speechless. Six battlegrounds with a maximum of 100 Marks each with a value of 2000 honor equals 1.2 million honor points.

Say that again with me: 1.2 miiiiiillion honor points.

The best part? It doesn’t count against the honor cap.

Obviously, the situation on the PTR is evolving rapidly. Things are changing there almost every day. I have no way of knowing if this ratio will make it into the live servers.

But the fact that Blizzard was willing to even consider this means that there’s a chance it will happen.

If it does, be ready for it. Your gearing strategy should probably focus upon acquiring as many Marks of Honor as you can, as quickly as you can. Go for high-risk/high-reward strategies like the Blitz, 4 towers, 5 nodes. Do not be conservative – win and lose quickly and move on. This is counter to all previous wisdom, but let me repeat again:

You can have a bank of 1.2 million honor.

Not only will everyone have great PvP sets, but the epic gem market is about to crash.

This is going to be a hell of a weekend in the battlegrounds.

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On Marks of Honor

Marks of Honor are one of several types of PvP currency in the game. They are awarded from the various battlegrounds for participation: 3 for winning, 2 for a tie, and 1 for a loss. You can have up to 100 of each; check your currency tab to see them.

Wowhead has a great feature allowing you to view what a given object is currency for, so below are the types of Marks you can get and what you can buy with them.

Some of these rewards are quite good, depending on your level.

THE OLD WORLD BATTLEGROUNDS

The first three battlegrounds in Azeroth (Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, and Alterac Valley) all have similar types of rewards that are available for a combination of honor and marks.. You can purchase specific types of gear from either vendors at the site of the battleground, or from your faction PvP quartermasters in Stormwind or Orgrimmar.

The Warsong Gulch rewards are actually quite good for their level, if you can get them early enough. Several WSG pieces (the necklaces, rings, cloaks and staffs) are best in slot or near-best in slot items for 19 twinks, which means they’re good for leveling, too. The Arathi Basin rewards are also outstanding, especially the boots. I’ve written about them before, but I love them primarily because you can have both a riding and walking speed enchant on them.

The gear you get from Alterac Valley marks used to be great, but since it’s available at level 55, Outland greens that outclass them in every way are right around the corner at 58. AV marks can get you a very sweet mount and cool Battle Standard, which is always nice.

Combinations of these marks can buy very nice rewards from the faction quartermasters. Of particular value to collectors are the PvP mounts (Alliance, Horde) that used to be a cheap way to get an epic mount when such things were expensive, and tabards, which can be gotten either through marks (WSG, AV) or reputation (AB). You can also get some great looking level 60 PvP sets for RP, though again — anything that’s level 60 from the Old World is outclassed by equivalent level items in Outland.

EXPANSION BATTLEGROUNDS

The battlegrounds from Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King are fundamentally different from the previous ones because they don’t have a physical location or gateway you can visit in the world. They might have a place in lore, but they don’t exist within the World of Warcraft. So there aren’t battleground-specific vendors, and with that lack comes a corresponding lack of cool gear and neat toys.

Eye of the Storm marks can at least give you access to some level 70 PvP gear, which can serve you well as you level through Northrend. Not that it’s great leveling gear per se, but it has good PvP itemization and is some of the first resilience pieces you can get, which does make a difference in a battleground.

Strand of the Ancients and Isle of Conquest marks can’t buy you anything. Perhaps in the next expansion you’ll be able to purchase the current PvP gear with them, but for now they are almost worthless. Keep in mind I said almost worthless. We’ll get to that in a bit.

WINTERGRASP

Wintergrasp marks are different than the other Northrend marks of honor, perhaps because Wintergrasp is itself different. It exists on the map. There are multiple vendors who sell great PvP gear for level 80 characters that can only be purchased with Wintergrasp Marks. This gear is valuable not only because it’s an alternate currency for getting endgame PvP gear, but because the gear is itemized differently than the standard Gladiator gear, allowing you to balance out Crit and Haste and not be overly gimped in one direction or another.

I’ve written a lot about the gear you can get in Wintergrasp, because it’s the one battleground for level 80 characters where the marks really get you gear you can and should use. But it’s not the only reason Wintergrasp Marks are valuable.

THE VALUE OF A MARK

This post was prompted by several terrible battles where people were yelling to either zerg Drek and ignore all the towers in Alterac Valley (“for quick marks! so we can get honor for gear!”), or forfeiting the fight in Arathi Basin to “collect their Mark and get out.”

Both of these actions confuse me a bit, because those marks are less valuable than the honor you get from fighting a good fight. They’re nice to have for later, but a good fight where you meet more of the objectives will yield more honor, and isn’t that why you’re in Alterac Valley at level 80?

Apparently not.

Determining the value of a battleground Mark of Honor lies entirely upon your character’s goals. While leveling, the marks have value for the gear and stuff they can get you. At level 29, the WSG and AB rewards are pretty darn good, and you need marks to buy them!

But marks lose this particular value as you level, because the gear they purchase loses value. My boots from Arathi Basin served me well, but they now collect dust in my bank. So while there’s real value associated with the gear you can get from marks, it decays over time and expansions.

(You can argue that some of this gear has great RP value, which is absolutely true. The level 60 PvP sets look fantastic. But fashion has a variable value because it is so highly subjective.)

The Old World marks definitely have value if you are a mount or tabard collector. The 6 epic mounts and 4 tabards you can buy with them go a long way towards some of those achievements and there are people (myself included) who have ground out battlegrounds solely for this reason. But, much like RP PvP gear sets, this value is subjective. Not everyone needs dozens of epic mounts. And with prices and level requirements slashed on epic mounts, the gold value we could have assigned to these Marks (90 total marks = 60 AV marks = 1 epic mount) has decreased considerably.

The New World marks have even less value than the Old World ones in terms of purchasing power. Eye of the Storm marks at least can help get you some PvP gear, but Strand and Isle marks buy you nothing. So as you level up, one set of marks is losing the value it once had, and the other set starts out with little value and doesn’t gain anything as you go.

So what’s left to do with these marks at level 80?

The good old standby, convert them to honor. Honor is a universal currency amongst PvP, and can be converted directly to gold. So honor it is.

Concerted Efforts / For Great Honor are repeatable quests that allow you to convert 1 mark from each battleground available to your level (except Wintergrasp) into honor. With each new battleground’s release, new marks have been added and the honor rewards increased. Currently, there are 6 marks required for 1489 honor, so any given mark is worth 248 honor. If you figure that each battleground takes an average of 20 minutes — you have to do Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin, don’t forget — then we can start really assigning value not only to the marks themselves, but also to the methods used to getting them.

Six marks from six battlegrounds, each lasting 20 minutes each… that’s 1489 honor divided by 120 minutes, or 12.4 honor per minute. It’s really bonus honor per minute, because you’re already accumulating honor by being in a battleground, which can vary wildly from battleground to battleground. Let’s look at the two scenarios that drove me up a wall last night, running the AV Blitz and giving up in Arathi Basin.

SCENARIO 1: WINNING ALTERAC VALLEY

I’ve been in Alterac Valley battles that netted over 3000 honor for the game. Sure, they have been 45-minute long slugfests, with half of our towers down and honorable kills in the thousands, but Alterac Valley is like that sometimes!

Alterac Valley rewards bonus honor based upon objectives, which you can see on the official AV page:

  • 1*20.9 honor for every wing commander (3) that returns to base
  • 2*20.9 honor for every tower/bunker you still have
  • 2*20.9 honor for your Captain surviving
  • 3*20.9 honor for every tower/bunker you destroy
  • 3*20.9 honor for the captain you killed
  • 4*20.9 honor for winning

So, if all your towers and captain are up while all the enemy’s towers and captain is down when you win, you get (62.7+167.2+41.8+250.8+62.7+83.6) = 668.1 bonus honor for the match.

Now, compare this to the Alterac Blitz, where you take nothing, tank the adds, and kill the general in under 6 minutes. You get 83.6 bonus honor for each match because you win, a difference of 584.5 honor.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that you’ve got optimal conditions in both cases and are pretty much facerolling the opposition. Waiting for all the towers to go down adds another 4-5 minutes or so to the standard Blitz, which itself takes about 5-6 minutes. So let’s call it 5 minutes for the Blitz and 10 minutes for the Stormpike/Frostwolf Perfection win to make it easy. We should also add 1 minute at the start of each game in the cave, and another minute for the queue. So 7 minutes per Blitz, and 12 minutes per Perfection.

  • The Blitz’s strength is in the number of marks it generates — twice as much as for the Perfection win if we look at the time fighting, and almost twice as much with the queue and start times.
  • Over the course of an hour, you could conceivably run 8.57 AV Blitzes, giving you 25.74 AV Marks for a conceptual value of 6337.14 honor (or 105.6 honor per minute).
  • During that same hour, you could run only 5 Perfection AVs, giving you 15 AV Marks for 3720 honor.
  • However, those 5 Perfection AVs grant 3340.5 honor from reaching all the conditions described above, for a total of 7060.5 honor , or 732.36 honor more than the Blitzes. That’s 117.67 honor per minute.

This also doesn’t take into account the increased number of HKs a Perfection AV generates over a Blitz, since people are actually defending nodes, capping graveyards, things like that. So that will need to be factored into the model somehow, but it just strengthens the point. Perfection gives you an edge in honor versus the Blitz — not a big one, but there

Now here’s the kicker — this direct comparison assumes that you are running not only AV, but all the other battlegrounds too to generate marks for turn-ins. So the more marks you generate, the more time you need to spend in other battlegrounds — battlegrounds that reward less honor per minute.

Consider it this way: for every AV marks you generate, you will have to win 5 other battlegrounds to realize the value of that honor. So the fewer marks you generate, the more honor you get overall. Using Ihra’s holiday HPM results:

  • AB: 79.19
  • WSG: 83.92
  • IOC: 86.44
  • EOTS: 88.56
  • SOTA: 97.59
  • AV: 146.42

… you will have to spend your time in battlegrounds that yield 56.6% – 66.6% less honor per minute than Alterac Valley. Now, some of the bonus honor from objectives is already baked into Ihra’s AV value, so we can’t distinguish between the Blitz and the Perfection values. But we don’t have to! Look at it this way: Perfection generates 15 marks per hour, while Blitz generates 25.74 marks per hour (1.716 times more).

So, assuming all other things in those other battlegrounds are equal, you will need to spend 1.716 more time in those battlegrounds to convert those marks to honor. If it takes you 10 hours to match all the marks you get from Perfection, it takes 17 hours to match the marks from the Blitz. That’s seven more hours at 2/3rds honor.

In that 7 hours, you could run Alterac Valley for 61496.4 honor, or those other 5 for 35700 honor, for a net gain of 25796 honor.

That’s half a piece of Wrathful gear.

To sum up: not only is blitzing AV for marks bad because you aren’t getting the bonus honor for reaching the objectives, it’s doubly bad because you end up spending less time in Alterac Valley.

And no matter how you value honor (gear or gold), that’s a bad thing.

SCENARIO 2: LOSING ARATHI BASIN

Having laid out why it’s bad to value marks over achieving all the victory conditions in a high HPM environment, what about deliberately losing Arathi Basin to get it over with, collect their marks, and move on.

The competitor in me hates these people. I’ll come right out and say it — I hate people who consider it okay to lose. But do they have a point? Is it logical to adopt this strategy?

The reason I was in Arathi Basin last night was because it was the daily BG quest for me. So to me, the marks had no importance — only victory. Victory meant 1489 honor and 25 Arena points, which for a 20 minute battle is +74.45 honor per minute. The marks — at best — were 248 honor apiece, but I was really there for the Arena points. So a win would get me +2233 honor over whatever I got out of the battleground, while a loss… well, a loss gets me +248 honor. Yikes.

I have to assume the people clamoring for us to lose quickly so they can claim their marks, though, were not there for the daily battleground quest. Why were they there? I’m not honestly sure. Perhaps they were grinding out a few marks for some old gear or some mounts, but I have a tough time thinking that’s the primary motivation behind their desire for a quick mark.

What I’m left with is that they are looking for marks for the turn-in quests, which means that perhaps a loss really is the best use of their time. Giving up certainly requires the least amount of effort! If you aren’t trying to reach any of the goals of the battleground, or even engage in combat to get honorable kills, then you’re basically discounting all the potential honor you could get from fighting.

In a high HPM battleground like Alterac Valley, that attitude is crazy. Even a loss gives you a chance to get good honor, which is one of the reasons why it’s such a good battleground to farm honor in. And fighting back to take objectives gives you honor no matter what. But Arathi Basin doesn’t give nearly as much total honor, and since the resource accumulation scales non-linearly, a side with 4 or 5 bases is going to win in a very, very short period of time. How short?

  • If you control 1 base, you gain 10 resources every 12 seconds. 32 minutes to get to 1600.
  • If you control 2 bases, you gain 10 resources every 9 seconds. 24 minutes to get to 1600.
  • If you control 3 bases, you gain 10 resources every 6 seconds. 16 minutes to get to 1600.
  • If you control 4 bases, you gain 10 resources every 3 seconds. 8 minutes to get to 1600.
  • If you control 5 bases, you gain 30 resources every 1 second. 53.3 seconds to get to 1600.

Resources control bonus honor — I think it’s 20.9 honor for every 260 resources gained, or 160 on a holiday weekend. (Some sources say it’s every 330, but more say 260.) The winning side will therefore get 128 honor from resources, and then another 20.9 on top of that for winning, for a total of 149 bonus honor. (Holiday increases that to 209 and 230, respectively).

Let’s put that into the perspective of Alterac Valley: if you do nothing other than kill the enemy captain and general, you get 146.3 honor, about the same as winning Arathi Basin. Every tower you take down is additional 62.7 honor, so the conservative strategy of taking out the captain, towers, and general will net you +250 honor more than winning Arathi Basin. All in about 8-12 minutes, a time which could only be met by controlling 4 bases. The only conditions when winning Arathi Basin is more profitable than Alterac Valley is when you can control all 5 bases, making it an extremely quick small burst of honor.

Compare that to the established value of a Mark of Honor: 248 honor. If you win, you get three, or 744 honor, on top of the 149 bonus honor from the objectives for a grand total of 893 honor when all is said and done. If you lose having gotten to, say, 800 resources, you’ll get one mark worth 248 and 64.3 bonus honor from objectives, but at the cost of prolonging the match at least 15 minutes for that additional 64 honor. (I am ignoring the honor you can get from HKs during that time.)

So staying and fighting for that additional 800 resources nets me +4.28 bonus honor per minute. Which is terrible. I mean, that’s an awful return on your time.

Assuming that it is not your daily battleground, and you’re there just for honor, giving up when you start getting behind starts looking like a valid strategy. Allowing the enemy to 5-cap ends the battle quickly without materially changing your outcome. You are still going to walk away with 250-500 honor, tops. Staying and fighting might give you some HKs and associated honor, but it’s going to be tough going. Whereas if it is your daily battleground, the stakes for winning are much higher, so gritting it out actually makes sense. If you’re getting an additional 2000 honor out of a win, spending 20 minutes getting it is still +100 honor per minute. You can afford to slug it out.

But if you’re just playing for marks to balance out all those sweet AV marks in your bank? Letting them 5-cap actually makes sense, because the single AB mark you get has more value than fighting back for a win. Surrender is a viable option.

Ugh. I feel dirty writing that.

KNOW WHEN TO HOLD ‘EM

The biggest problem with Marks of Honor in level 80 battlegrounds is that they have no intrinsic value outside of the honor they confer. And while I’m generally a fan of having a few, universal currencies, in this case the mechanism of the turn-in quest means that a mark from a high HPM battleground is equivalent to the mark from a low HPM battleground in terms of opportunity cost. To realize the value of an AV mark means you have to spend the time in WSG and AB getting their counterparts; but spending time in WSG and AB means you are getting less honor for your time spent playing than simply going back and playing more AV. Which is madness!

This is one of the flaws of the current PvP reward system. While it’s great to have a unified set of currencies, and the three-tiered model works well in PvE and PvP, the incentives for winning need to be better for the worse-off battlegrounds. It’s like if when running heroics through the Dungeon Finder you had heroics with wildly different numbers of bosses and times to complete, and worse, the ones with the fewest bosses (and therefore the fewest Emblems) took the longest to do, while the ones with more bosses were faster and dropped better loot. No matter how enticing you made the daily quest reward in this instance, players would still look at those hard ones and either take the debuff and bail, figuring they could do something better with their time and try a different one later, or grit your teeth and smash through it as quickly as possible to get it over with.

Replace Emblems with honor and you have the state of battlegrounds and the daily bg quests today. Even having a Battleground Finder to randomize the quest location wouldn’t overcome the discrepancy between battlegrounds in the amount of common currency they reward.

Arathi Basin is one of my favorite battlegrounds. It’s one that uses the most small unit tactics, requires great communication and teamwork, has interesting, challenging terrain, and allows for many, many ways to win. It is wrong on so many levels to have to look at the incentives for playing it and conclude that if you’re not in it for achievements or reputation, you’re sometimes better off forfeiting, losing quickly, and taking your mark than sticking it out.

WHY WE FIGHT

When you zone into Alterac Valley, you’re surrounded by people with a lot of different reasons for being there. There’s a lot of incentive for people to fight well, and while the strategy for optimal gains can be debated, all the incentive is to fight the whole way through. Even a turtle in AV can be profitable (and a hell of a lot of fun.)

When you zone into Warsong Gulch or Arathi Basin, though, you have to wonder: why are these people here? This isn’t the best place for me to grind honor for good gear (or money), so why are people there? Are they trying to realize the honor they have stored up in other marks? Are they grinding reputation, or achievements? Are they completely lost?

Or, are they there to have fun, and maybe, just maybe, win?

The key difference between PvP and PvE is that the opponents have to be motivated in PvP. Winning in a raid means downing the bosses and collecting the loot; your incentives are clear. But you never have to consider the incentives of the trash mobs or bosses; they’ll be there, giving their all, no matter what. In PvP, you have to give players on both sides a reason to show up, a reason to compete, and a reason to win.

More than anything else, this is the problem facing endgame battlegrounds today. How do you motivate the losing side? These battlegrounds are still exhilarating places to spend an evening; simple to learn the basics, but hard to master. Competing in them is fun, and can be rewarding in and of itself.

But when the tangible rewards for doing other, somewhat similar activities are far superior, you have a conflict between doing what is right — fighting hard until the end — and doing what is best for you.

Surrender should never be a viable strategy for victory.

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Offset PvP Pieces in 3.2.2

I made a rather important mistake in my last post on Battleground Gear for 3.3.2 regarding offset pieces (cloaks, bracers, necklaces, etc.). See, in previous patches and seasons the offset pieces were a currency type easier to get, so last Season Furious set pieces cost honor and Arena points, while offset Furious just cost honor.

Another way of looking at it is that for the same type of currency, you could buy one level better of offset pieces than set pieces. So honor could equip you with Deadly set pieces and Furious offset, using last season as an example.

That changed in the last patch, and for the better, I think. Instead of getting Relentless offsets for honor and Wrathful for honor and Arena points, Relentless and Wrathful offsets are both available for honor – but Relentless is cheap, and Wrathful is expensive.

I rather like thus change. It increases the value of honor but doesn’t trivialize the gear. If you are gearing up a new 80, the Relentless pieces allow you to get up to speed quickly. If you’re upgrading existing gear, saving up for Wrathful is a better plan, because it’s that much better of an upgrade.

One side effect of this might be an increased amount of Arena players in battlegrounds, but I don’t think that it’s going to be that noticable. Arena players, good and bad, have slogged out Battlegrounds in the past for gear. This isn’t really any different.

This is a good change, and one I hope we’ll see it again in future seasons. Making Battleground honor worth something more than gold is a step in the right direction.

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Battleground Gear in 3.3.2

So Arena Season 8 is here at last, which means new fashions have pushed last season’s dowdy looks to the closeout racks. It also means that the purchasing imbalance between PvE emblems and PvP currency that existed at the beginning of 3.3 has been resolved, and it’s now safe to PvP for your gear again.

Patch 3.3.2 has introduced two new sets of gear: Wrathful Gladiator gear for Arena and new Titan-Forged offset pieces at Wintergrasp. Just like earlier seasons, the new rated Arena gear means that older seasons are now available for cheaper currencies. Since Arena points are available from the Daily Battleground quest, battleground enthusiasts can get very good gear without stepping foot in an Arena. It will just take a long while.

Here’s the breakdown of what you can buy with each currency.

  • Wrathful Gladiator (ilvl 270): Arena Points + Arena Ranking
  • Relentless Gladiator (ilvl 251): Arena Points + Honor Points
  • Furious Gladiator (ilvl 232): Honor Points
  • Titan-Forged (ilvl 245): Wintergrasp Marks
  • PvP Enchants: Stone Keeper’s Shards or Honor Points

This model is consistent with the PvE vendor gear model, with three tiers of gear rewards and offset pieces available through reputation. And while we can argue about the relative difficulty of Battlegrounds vs. Arenas, it is in many ways the same argument as the difficulty between Heroics, 10-man and 25-man raids, and ultimately futile. No matter how much you like Battlegrounds, if you want the top gear you play Arena.

Let’s talk about that top gear for a minute. The Wrathful sets are the design culmination of several seasons of gear, each one building upon the elements of the one before. Looking them over, I like them a lot.  I like the design idea that these are the product of our faction’s craftsmen and not looted sets from various Northrend dungeons; there’s a sense of consistency and evolution absent from the PvE Tier gear.  Plus, the different seasons tend to match, unlike Tier gear.

The downside is that there isn’t that much variety between sets, unlike PvE. So if you’ve got a great look going (like Warlocks do) the look of Wrathful gear may be enough to pull you into Arenas. But if you don’t (sorry, Paladins), you’re stuck with the look you’ve got. It can be a problem.

Setting aside the look of each set, the Wrathful gear is a no-brainer upgrade from Relentless. Itemization remains the same between pieces, there’s just more of it.

The new ilevel 245 Titan-Forged gear is a welcome addition and is a good way to get high-quality gear without burning your other currencies. There are essentially three new pieces for any given spec:

These new pieces are not sold by the mammoth vendor, but instead by Champion Ros’slai or Marshal Magruder, who are so new they’re not even on Wowhead yet.  They’re right next to the mammoth vendor, like so:

So Wintergrasp returns as the best place to spend your time while grinding for gear. Do all the weekly quests for honor and shards, and win Wintergrasp for the Marks and access to VoA.

The progression of battleground gear then returns to the same form it was during 3.2, namely:

  • Levels 10-59: Old-world (Marks of Honor) PvP rewards
  • Levels 60-78: Level 60 and 70 (Marks of Honor) PvP sets
  • Levels 70-78: Guardian (Marks of Honor) PvP sets
  • Level 78: Blue (Crafted) PvP sets
  • Level 80: Furious (Honor) PvP sets and offsets
  • Level 80: Titan-Forged (Wintergrasp) PvP offsets
  • Level 80: Relentless (Honor + Arena) PvP sets
  • Level 80: Wrathful (Arena) PvP set

Keep in mind you can’t walk into the Arena in ilvl 187 crafted blue gear and expect to be competitive right away.  You will need to work your way through an honor grind to get yourself into Furious/Titan-Forged gear first.  The best way to do this is:

  1. Wintergrasp whenever possible.
  2. Do the Daily Battleground quest until you win.
  3. Alterac Valley, Strand of the Ancients, and Eye of the Storm for Honor Points.
  4. Round robin of the remaining battlegrounds for marks to convert into honor.

If a particular BG is having a Holiday weekend, give it a go.  The important part is to win quickly, as that keeps your Honor Per Minute very high.  (If you haven’t looked at Ihra’s number crunching on the HPM for holiday battlegrounds, you owe it to yourself to take a look.)

Once you have yourself into a good set of Furious/Titan-Forged gear, you’ve gone about as far as you can go in the Battlegrounds.  (Update: you can still get Relentless/Wrathful offset pieces, and should. Thanks for the tip, Devv!)  You may be able to afford a piece or two of Relentless with the Arena Points you’ve acquired from the daily quests, but you’re going to need an Arena rating to get the top-end gear.

Making the transition from Battlegrounds to Arena, however, is an entirely different post.

Happy shopping!

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Heirloom Gear

I love Heirloom gear.

Heirloom gear is equipment specifically designed to help you level. The stats on them scale to the equivalent to a very good blue item of your current level, so as you gain levels, your gear improves with you. You can enchant them with any vanilla WoW enchant, which gives you gear that is always enchanted. Some of the pieces give bonuses to your earned XP, while others give you access to stats (like Hit, Haste, and Resilience) that are very hard or impossible to find below level 60. And you can mail then between all your characters on a server, no matter what faction!

In many ways, that last attribute is the most desirable one about Heirlooms — they are Bind to Account items, which makes them usable by many of your alts. The time spent acquiring them can be paid back by their usefulness to several of your alts, in addition to the time they save in leveling.

HEIRLOOMS IN BATTLEGROUNDS

Heirlooms are great for leveling, to be sure, but they also shine in the battlegrounds. I’d go so far to say that if you have access to an endgame character and are fighting in any of the pre-80 leveling brackets, not having heirloom gear is putting you at a disadvantage. While not everyone will be running around with Heirlooms, enough do that when you encounter one it will not be a question of player skill versus player skill – it will be about the massive disparity in gear, which in turn manifests itself as character ability.

See, there are three factors that affect your play in both PvP and PvE: the kinds of abilities you have available (as determined by race/class), your character’s skill in executing those abilities (determined by skills and gear), and your ability as a player. Once you start, you don’t really have any control over the first factor, so it comes down to improving your character’s skill and gear, as well as your own. These are the things you can control in PvP – you can’t control your opponents, you can’t control Ghostcrawler nerfing your class, but you can make both you and your character as good as they can be.

And in nearly all cases, Heirlooms let you do that. Equipping an enchanted Heirloom is equvalent to having a best in slot, or near best in slot, item, no matter what level you are. This shifts your focus in a battleground from your character’s ability — can he or she do the things you ask them to do — to your skill and proficiency with the class. It’s no longer a question of gear, it’s about you learning your class and how it relates the the battleground.

As if personal development and mastery of your class wasn’t enough incentive, of course, there’s also that sweet, sweet bonus to experience gained in battlegrounds with Heirlooms. In case you needed another reason to go out and get some.

GETTING HEIRLOOM GEAR

Heirloom gear is available by one of three currencies available to endgame characters: Emblems of Heroism, Champion’s Seals, and Stone Keeper’s Shards. All of these currencies are available through PvE play, while Stone Keeper’s Shards are also available as PvP quest rewards for the Wintergrasp weekly quests. There’s a fourth Heirloom item available from fishing, but that’s an entirely different kind of grind.

Emblems can be somewhat confusing when you first reach level 80; basically, there are two types of emblems available at any given time, depending on what the current endgame raid is. Right now, Emblems of Frost are rewarded for killing Icecrown raid bosses, or doing the dungeon/raid quests, while Emblems of Triumph drop from all heroic northrend bosses. These can be converted into earlier Emblems by downgrading them at different vendors — my favorite place to do this is with Usuri Brightcoin in the Underbelly, because she allows you to move straight from Frost to Heroism without switching vendors, if you choose. There are three Heirloom vendors in Dalaran: Brammold Deepmine in the city proper, Enchanter Erodin in the Sunreaver’s Sancutary, and Enchanter Isian in the Silver Covenant enclave. These vendors all sell gear itemized for PvE.

The same gear is also available from Dame Evniki Kapsalis, the Argent Crusader’s Quartermaster at the Argent Tournament Grounds in Icecrown. Dame Kapsalis takes Champion’s Seals (the reward from various Argent Tournament quests and bosses) but she doesn’t take American Express… er, Emblems of Heroism. Doing all the dailies and a Heroic instance of ToC will get you 1513 Seals a day. Considering most of the Heirloom gear she sells starts at 60 Seals, this means you can get an additional Heirloom every 5 days or so. She also has some great other gear to buy (especially consider the Argent Crusader’s Tabard, for the free port to Icecrown, and the Argent Pony Bridle, which gives you access to a mailbox, bank, or vendor) but if you are looking to gear up alts quickly, doing both random heroics and the AT dailies are a great way to do it.

A different set of Heirloom gear, this with more of a PvP focus, is sold in Wintergrasp. You can only access them when your side controls it, but Knight Dameron and Stone Guard Mukar both sell a great selection of PvP gear that I may have mentioned once or twice on this site. They trade Heirlooms for Stone Keeper’s Shards, rewards for the Wintergrasp PvP quests and looted off bosses (normal and heroic) when your faction controls Wintergrasp Keep. These Heirlooms are tuned more for PvP, and are one of the only ways to get Resilience at lower levels.

The fourth place to get an Heirloom, and easily the most difficult, is from Elder Clearwater, the host of the Kalu’ak Fishing Derby. He doesn’t sell Heirlooms per se, but he does offer a very nice Heirloom ring as a reward for winning the Derby. The Dread Pirate Ring is itemized so it’s good for pretty much every class, and it gives an experience bonus to boot, so if you can get it: do so. But it’s not easy.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT GEAR

There are some great tools out there for evaluating Heirloom gear. My personal favorite is the Heirloom Items Scale, which allows you to see how all of the gear will look at a specific level. (This really helps when trying to twink for a specific bracket, for instance, but also when comparing against normal blue items. Knowing when something will be outdated is useful). You can also do a general search for all Heirlooms on Wowhead, which will return not only the gear, but also commendations, enchants, arcanii, and other cool BoA stuff that you can get from your level 80s. There’s a lot of gear to look at, and in most cases you should be able to equip your new character with Heirloom shoulders, chestpiece, weapon, and trinkets, for any of the three major specs. (If you have the ring, you lucky bastard, you already know you can use it too.) The one glaring exception is the lack of an Heirloom shield, which would benefit Protection Warriors, Paladins, and Enhancement Shamans.

For leveling, you will generally want to start out with a set of shoulders and a chest piece to get the maximum XP bonus available. For battleground use, several items are clear standouts, though.

  • The Inherited Insignia of the Alliance / Horde is practically a necessity for any non-human characters you’re leveling. While it has the longer 5-minute cooldown of the lower-level Insignias, it provides Resilience at levels where you would not normally get it and is superior to the PvP trinkets available up through level 70. At level 70 you should be able to pick up the Medallion of the Alliance / Horde with the superior 2-minute CD without much trouble.
  • The Swift Hand of Justice should be your other trinket, and if you are human, you should have two. Even if you are a caster who could benefit from the spellpower of the Discerning Eye of the Beast, having Haste on your actions in low-level battlegrounds is exceptionally useful, and conserving health is more important than mana. Even if you’re playing non-humans, I still think you should have two of these, because they are so good to have when you don’t need a PvP trinket.
  • Heirloom shoulders are exceptionally potent at early levels, because shoulder items don’t start appearing until the late teens. The Exquisite Sunderseer Mantle is possibly the best single purchase you can make, since it gives the XP bonus in addition to reasonable stats, while being the one piece everyone can wear. Just ignore the spellpower and you’ll be okay! Other standouts are the Exceptional Stormshroud Shoulders (for just about every melee class), the Strengthened Stockade Pauldrons (for warriors, DKs, and pallys), and the Aged Pauldrons of the Five Thunders (for shamans, hunters, and holy pallys.) The Lasting Feralheart Shoulders are okay (especially if you’re playing a balance/resto druid or shaman) but the Pristine Lightforge Spaulders are … well, they’re pretty bad, and usable only by Holy pallys — who would probably prefer the Intellect on the Aged Pauldrons of the Five Thunders.
  • The Grand Staff of Jordan is a monster of a weapon. Resilience, stamina, and hit, all in the same weapon? Enchanted with either Spellpower or Mighty Intellect, this is a great staff for many classes, not just casters. Similarly, the Dignified Headmaster’s Charge can be used by more than just casters; anyone who needs Intellect can benefit from it. (*cough, cough HUNTER WEAPON cough*.)

Obviously, you need to consider your class and spec first when choosing heirlooms, and an appropriate weapon and chest piece are vital. But if you’re just getting started, or are on an Emblem diet to fuel your main, consider the above pieces first.

IT’S NOT (JUST) ABOUT THE GEAR

Yes, I love Heirloom gear. I think it’s a great addition to WoW and can make leveling a real joy. But it makes it a joy not because you’re OP — though you are — but because you can focus on other elements of the character, like how to use their abilities better in PvE and PvP. Heirlooms remove the distraction of having to constantly replace your gear as you explore Azeroth (and beyond.) I don’t have to walk into a battleground worrying that my gear is substandard; I have the best gear I can get for my level.

Everything after that point is up to me, the player. And now it’s up to you.

Enjoy your Heirlooms.

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Battleground Gear in Early 3.3

The release of patch 3.3 presents an interesting gear challenge for level 80 battleground enthusiasts. The Arena Season did not end with the patch, so no new top-level PvP gear was released. Because this set, the Wrathful Gladiator’s set, isn’t out, this means two things.

First, the past seasons are still available at the same currencies as before. Deadly is available for honor points, Furious for Arena points and a decent ranking, and Relentless for Arena points and a great ranking.

Second, that the current PvE gear is now even further ahead of the battleground kit, so you have to be aware both of your opponent’s increasing power, as well as evaluate your own gear and see if you might need to swap some pieces in from your raid set. You may find the reduced Stamina and Resilience acceptable tradeoffs for massively increased firepower.

The other big change in 3.3 is that dungeons are now as convenient to run as a battleground, and they have better rewards than bgs through the LFG tool. Battlegrounds give the same honor and worthless marks that they did before, and while the daily gives a little gold and extra honor, it’s just once, and honor gets you Deadly gear – roughly equivalent to Conquest gear, or T8. The arena points on the daily are similar to the bonus emblems on the LFG first random heroic in concept, but in terms of what they purchase they’re actually like the emblems of Triumph from the old Heroic Daily. You can work your way up to a nice piece of 232-245 gear, but it takes a few weeks.

Compare that to running random heroics with the LFG tool, which nets you gold and extra emblems for each dungeon run, in addition to the loot and emblems acquired in the instance. These emblems can be turned in for Triumphant/T9 gear – or they can get you Furious Gladiator gear.

In other words, grinding Battlegrounds for PvP gear is now both less effective and less efficient than running chain heroics through the LFG tool. Arena play is still the best way to get PvP gear, period. But running random Heroics until your fingers bleed is a close second.

Therefore, the strategy for gearing up for battleground fighting is substantially different from what I posted at the release of 3.2. Your ability to gear for Heroics is now also under consideration, and you really can’t afford to avoid Arenas anymore.

  1. Play Arena matches, even if you suck. Eventually you’ll win and be able to spend those points.
  2. Wintergrasp when it’s up, for some of the trinkets and starter gear. Titan-Forged gear remains very good and easy to get and will serve you well along the way.  It also will only cost you Wintergrasp Marks, so you will be able to fill out your kit without having to sacrifice other currency.
  3. LFG all the rest of the time. Regular modes at first, then heroics as fast as you can.

The only time you should be in another battleground is because you want a break from this grind and have some fun. Yes, the honor can be used for offset pieces, or epic gems if you need cash. But they should no longer be part of your gear grind. Saying that saddens me, but until the rewards get better you should avoid them for anything but fun.

In many ways I’m glad that I’m playing more in the 19 bracket, because it gives one perspective on the endgame and challenges your assumptions about it. While it would be nice to get all of your battleground gear by playing Warsong Gulch, it’s just not possible (or even desirable.) There are some good PvP rewards which are BiS gear, but other gear comes from dungeons, quest rewards, world drops, and even crafted gear. This variety is good and the perspective that it’s the gear, not how you get it, is important.

Things will change. The current Arena season will end, and a new one begin, bringing with it the old fashions to a battleground near you. And then Cataclysm, in the far-off future, with its promise of simplified stats and rated battlegrounds, will change it all again.

But for now, do what you need to do. Don’t QQ; just join the LFG queue!

(Ugh. I can’t believe I actually typed that.)

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The Gear Grind

Arena Season 7 started yesterday, which has two implications for the battleground fighter:

  1. Now is a great time to try Arena, if you haven’t, and

  2. It’s time to go shopping, because new PvP fashions are in stores NOW!

Last week, you could buy Hateful Gladiator main set pieces and Deadly Gladiator offset pieces for honor. Those have been replaced by Deadly and Furious pieces, respectively.

The information in my previous gear post is still reasonably correct, but the clear relative value of the Titan-Forged pieces is no longer there; in most cases the decision is now between crit and haste, and which works best for you.

Okay, The new Titan-Forged pants are still really good. And they make me look good, too!

The new pieces, for the most part, are nicer looking than their predecessors; more ornate detailing, more colors, a little more bling. But they are PvP gear, which means they look functional, drab, and, dare I say it, dowdy, when compared to raid clothes. They’ll keep you alive to win the beauty contests later though!

Expect to see long lines at the counters to buy the new gear, and long batlleground queues as people grind out the honor to get these new pieces. The honor cap of 75k prevents people from stockpiling enough funds to buy the sets all at once, but I found getting a full set can be done with some focused PvP in 1-2 weeks. My strategy last time was to hit battlegrounds in the following priority:

  1. Wintergrasp whenever possible.
  2. Strand of the Ancients, because of the time limit.

  3. Alterac Valley, because it’s fun
  4. All the other BGs as needed to get marks for Concerted Efforts

I’m not sure how I’m going to do it this time. The Isle of Conquest might offer a higher ROI than AV, but I’m not sold on it surpassing SotA. Warsong Gulch will hopefully be less painful than before, and Arathi Basin and Eye of the Storm should go a little quicker.

But my playtime is more limited than the last time I did this, and there are more things to do in 3.2. So I’ll take it one piece at a time. I may also look at splitting my BG time with some Atena time, to get the good loot discounts.

It’s important to remember when the shiny new fashions come out that they’ll be on the discount rack next season, so don’t burn out getting them. Gearing up isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Just remember to enjoy your run.

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Filed under Cynwise's Battlefield Manual