Implications of Increased Conquest Rewards in Battlegrounds

Patch 4.3  will dramatically increase the Conquest Point rewards from regular battlegrounds, offering 100 for the first victory and 50 for each subsequent one. It’s a big change for battleground incentives and adds a layer of complexity to gearing decisions in both PvP and PvE. I personally don’t think this is going to ruin battlegrounds, but I also, upon reflection, think that this quality-of-life improvement indicates a lot about where Blizzard is going with rated and unrated PvP.

THE PREMADE QUESTION

Gevlon has written a series of posts on the change where he makes an argument that this change is going to be overall a negative one to those people it’s supposed to benefit due to the increased number of premades which will flood the BGs. It’s a nuanced argument and I think it’s worth reading both posts in their entirety.

Will the new Conquest Point rewards create enough interest in making premades that the overall experience for players? Specifically, will it hit those players who seem to stand to benefit the most from the change – the competent but time-constrained PvPers? If you queue up solo, will your win rate drop below 50% just because you’re facing premades all the time?

There are incentives for people to organize premades. Gevlon takes his experience in organizing and running BG premades and spells them out nicely.

  • Doesn’t affect your rBG rating, so if a few members of your team are out you can just bang out Conquest Points with no risk.
  • Provides visceral fun for your team, because quick, decisive wins can be a LOT of fun. (At least for a bit.)
  • Provides a nicer social environment while PvPing, filtering out the ragers, afkers, and whiny elements you sometimes find in /bg.
  • Yields a little less CP/hour than rBGs, making it an attractive alternative to rated play.
  • Can be done with fluid group sizes, since even a partial premade can have a great impact on a battlground.
  • Allows you to influence BG team composition, avoiding no-healer no-FC scenarios.
  • Great initial gearing tool, since in the first few weeks everyone needs Honor Points.

There are a lot of good reasons there for people to start organizing premades, especially at the start of the season. But will premades have a long-term effect on the season?

Gevlon comes right out and says that the biggest weakness of premades is that there are too few of them to really matter or make a statistical difference in people’s experiences. I agree with him here. I have seen fewer premades in endgame Cataclysm than I did in Wrath, but I attributed that to Rated Battlegrounds siphoning premades away. More small groups and partial premades? Yes, absolutely, we’ll see those. But I suspect full ones are never going to be the norm, since they 1) aren’t possible with the default client and 2) because rated play is still more rewarding per hour.

Premades are probably going to be pretty popular during the first few weeks as everyone gets geared up. But after a while, the dual-reward system becomes a non-motivator and it’s even easier to toss together a 2s or 3s team as it is to get a premade going. Arenas will remain the gearing activity of choice for the semi-organized.

I fully expect people to complain about premades and the Premade AV Enabler, though. No matter how many premades really flood the system, I’m sure they’ll be pointed at as everything that’s wrong with PvP today, which … well, frankly, that attitude overlooks a lot of other issues, as well as puts too much weight on something that I don’t think will be statistically important.

If it does become a problem, though, one solution would be to reward Honor Points in rated play. Taking away the uniqueness of premade rewards would eliminate some, but not all, of the incentives for doing premades.

(They’re still a heck of a lot of fun.)

THE PVE QUESTION

There are two areas in which this change could possibly affect PvE: making it easier to get PvE gear, and sending PvP gear into PvE.

Will this change make it easier to get PvE gear through PvP? Not really. Unlike changes to Honor Point rewards, Conquest Points are isolated from PvE because they don’t convert to anything else. You can’t flip them to Valor Points, you can’t flip them to Honor Points in any meaningful way, so adding meaningful CP to regular battlegrounds doesn’t change things there.

You could argue that it’s better to gear up an alt through regular battlegrounds than through rated play, even once their Honor gear set is complete. While you might not get as much CP as rated PvP, you will get Honor Points at the same time, which can be converted into Justice Points and a solid T12 PvE kit can be built that way. This doesn’t really unbalance things, though.

Will this change send PvP gear into PvE? Probably yes, but not as much as the other gear changes we’ll see with Season 11/Patch 4.3. S11 Conquest gear will be very good (ilvl 397/403) but there are other ways to get it, too.

What we are far more likely to see is crafted ilvl 377 PvP gear flooding the LFD/LFR. Here’s is a case where gearscore gating for Heroics/Zulroics will completely fail, as the PvP gear might be acceptable for DPS, and maybe even healers, but tanks are going to be really squishy and lack avoidance.

That’s a problem unrelated to this specific change, though.

THE BOTTER QUESTION

Will there be more afkers and botters in regular battlegrounds because of this change?

To be honest, probably yes at first. Not a flood, and it should get better over time, but I think there will be an uptick in botters, less so with AFKers. It’s not like grinding Honor, which can be done win or loss. You actually have to win to get the Conquest Points, so AFKing doesn’t really help.

But I wager people who bot now, or who are on the fence about botting, would look at the losses as a cost of gaining the Conquest Points – they’re not actually spending time at the computer doing anything.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

THE FUTURE OF PVP REWARDS

I still think that this change is a net benefit for most players. Getting 25 CP a day was like getting a bad tip for playing battlegrounds – it wasn’t enough to be meaningful with current gear prices. Meaningful CP rewards give players incentive to win, while the Honor Points for the loss are a good consolation prize for losing.

One of the biggest challenges in designing a PvP environment is motivation, especially motivating people when they lose. Not Beck-style losers, but those who find themselves on the losing side. How do you make it so that there’s a feeling that it’s still okay to requeue after getting pummeled? How do you make it so that pursuing your preferred PvP activity still feels valuable, win or lose?

Related to motivating players on a loss, Conquest Point caps motivate people to play up to their cap, and no further. That’s a big problem of rated PvP in Warcraft – once you have hit the cap for you, and your teammates, you’re done for the week. Extra time spent practicing doesn’t net you anything. Blizzard took a step towards fixing this with Rated Battlegrounds by offering Honor after Conquest is maxed out, but that’s an incomplete solution (and also ignores Arenas.)

I think Blizzard is going in the right direction for solving both of these issues.

Having both Honor and Conquest be rewards from any PvP activity (but only Conquest from winning) lets the system give people something for their time spent playing. This motivates people to win – win and you get CP! It motivates people through the losses – at least you got a few honor for that fight, requeue and try again! It motivates people to keep doing the activity after the CP cap is hit – still need Honor gear? Keep playing Arena with your team if that’s what you like doing!

I’d like to see them keep going in this direction in Mists. It gives me some hope that they’re talking about “play what you like,” but the systems have to be adjusted to make that vision a reality.

There are also technical challenges for awarding Honor Points in Arena that I don’t want to dismiss. Should it be based upon kills? Wouldn’t that drive people into 5s, then? What if the opponent AFKs out and no kill is scored? Should it be a flat value for the match, perhaps modified by rating? What if that promotes quick AFKing if the fight looks tough? Should it be a flat per minute rate? What happens if you just run around for 60 minutes? (What if those 60 minutes are spent authentically trying to kill a Holy Pally or Resto Druid?)

I have a feeling that a combination of match-based values and time-based values is the most fair, but it’s not a trivial problem to solve.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Implications of Increased Conquest Rewards in Battlegrounds

  1. With regards to PVE, I remember reading that Blizzard was looking to make gearing changes in MoP, that would make running with PVP gear less of a set-back. I don’t remember the exact details, but I thought they were going to basically put Resilience on all gear?!? So if you got the gear via dungeons, or you got it via BGs, it will still be viable in the other. No longer needing to carry around 2 (or more) gear sets.

    • Resilience is set to become a base Player stat in Mists, so that will offset the lack of Resilience gear in leveling PvP. They haven’t said it’s coming off of PvP gear yet, though – just that it’s going to be there no matter what.

      • At least with Resilience on everything (right there next to +Stam), running a 5-man dungeon in your PVP set, shouldn’t get you immediately vote-kicked.
        I sometimes like to raid in my PVP set, simply because I have spent more time acquiring it, so it’s the better set of the two. By decreasing our reliance on resilience, or making it a base stat, using either set should be viable option in end-game content.

  2. I like your tone here Cyn, cautious optimism.  Yes, some people will have some bad experiences, but it’ll be a net boost across the board.  No one likes losing, but that is the reality of PvP.  And part of growing as a PvPer (well as a person, really) is to take lessons from losing and not get bogged down at every defeat.  Premades will not be the norm, not any more than they are today.  What we’ll see more partial premades, 4-5 people with a solid leader that can influence the remaining random players.  I’d argue these are pretty common already, so not a massive shift.
     
    But really, are premades bad?  This is a cooperative game, its RIGHT that the better coordinated group wins.  Seeing how effective a coordinated group of players are in a BG is something everyone should experience more often.  When you see competent people from your server in random BGs, throw them a quick compliment at the end of a BG.  You’ll be surprised how easy create informal BG networks.  With the current server-first matching system, people from mid and high population servers get matched together often.  So don’t be the guy/gal that’s quick to bring the negative when something goes bad, you never know who is seeing and judging your contribution.

    • I love, love, love beating premades in a pug. Sometimes it’s because the premade is bad, but other times it’s because the pug is good.

      And sometimes, the premade just steamrolls over the pug, and you’re right, it’s a thing to behold. :)

      I don’t think premades are bad at all. They might be bad if they form the majority of the battleground experience – the random pugging nature of it ensures a certain amount of equality – but no, I’m all on board premades like that.

      I’ll have to reconsider my Real ID stance when cross-server BGs become possible.

  3. fluffy

    In general, i’m mildly disappointed about this change.

    Like gevlon, I don’t think this change is aimed to make gear more accessible to casuals (where casuals are players who play less, not just worse, than the more accomplished/hardcore crowd.) If Blizzard were looking to increase the CP earning for people with limited playtime, they would be drastically increasing the rewards for the first BG played/won each day or (like heroic 5-mans) the first seven played/won each week.

    Instead, the new configuration favors people who will choose to grind grind grind their CP through regular battlegrounds because they are not skilled enough to earn them through more efficient methods.

    If you’ve read the goblin for any significant length of time, you will know what his appreciation for this sort of player is. While i’m not quite as intolerant of these guys, handing them CP is essentially an extension of the welfare epics program.

    I’ve preferred the way that blizzard has kept pve and pvp gear separate since more or less the beginning of wrath. However the option they’ve provided to convert between the two (at a discount, and for starter level gear) has been a good idea.

    Again, this isn’t something that i’m particularly passionate about, but I have found that spending time acquiring gear (pvp or pve) is usually simultaneously spent developing the skills necessary to use that gear appropriately.

    Too often over the years i’ve seen the pve equipped fire mage thinking pvp is a pure DPS race, or the pvp equipped hunter blundering through boss mechanics, trash aggro radii, and tricky environmental hazards like elevators.

    • I guess I can take this change as being for the stated reason: to reward folks who like to play BGs, but don’t have the time/ability/desire to do Rated Battlegrounds or Arenas. I was not happy at all when Blizzard modified the Conquest Point cap to force PvPers into Rated Battlegrounds, not because they’re harder, but because they’re radically different playing experiences from Arena. The different kinds of PvP are different, they appeal to different players, they require different skills. Some people don’t like BGs, some people don’t like Arenas, class performance will vary, yadda yadda yadda. I found that using CP caps to prop up Rated BGs through pissed me off. Let PvPers play what they like, achieve relative parity of gear over time, and duke it out in the BGs.

      I’ve read Gevlon for a few years now. I’m familiar with his classification of WoW players, and while I think it’s sometimes a useful tool for discussing trends, I don’t think it’s as useful when discussing Blizzard’s motivations. That’s a different topic, one worth a post all itself, but not really apropos to this post. Suffice it to say that I prefer to classify PvP players by preferred activity and bracket, and that in this case Blizzard is trying to make regular battlegrounds attractive for those who like to do them, extend their “useful” life during the gearing process, and reduce the opportunity cost for spending time in them versus other activities. Every hour spent grinding Honor in a BG is one less hour spent in Arena/rBG perfecting your skills there.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • Not everyone plays at a 1800+ or 2200+ rating, in fact I bet very few people that participate in PvP play at these ratings, nor even have a desire to get to that level.  A lot of people just want to be competitive in regular battlegrounds through playing regular battlegrounds.  What’s wrong with that?  How does that effect you?  I really don’t understand the attitude that many players get around gear being “too easy to get” in PvP.  We want more people to PvP, right?  So, why make this massive barrier to entry?  The scaling crafted PvP sets are a step in the right direction, but when a newer PvPer walks into a regular BG sporting 2300 resilience, there is very little opportunity to learn.  Most die so quickly they don’t bother getting to a competitive gear level.
       
      I don’t think playing regular battlegrounds up to the minimum conquest cap is any easier than doing a few lol 2v2s to get to the same result, in fact the lol 2s will get capped a lot faster.  What makes the person that gets to the cap in lol 2s superior to the one that gets it in regular battlegrounds?  Those that push their conquest cap will get gear faster, they will still have that visible ego boost.