Tag Archives: Twinks

Green Tinted Giggles

Twinks.

For as long as I have played World of Warcraft, “twink” has been a dirty word. Conventional wisdom held that twinks were the reason low-level PvP was inaccessible to normal players, that those toons with their Green Tinted Goggles and their Lucky Fishing Hats –the most visible sign of a level 19 twink — had ruined casual battleground play.

Prior to the great Battleground Experience Patch of 2009, I think the conventional wisdom had identified the symptoms correctly while missing the real problem. A new player venturing into Warsong Gulch, clad in a few quest greens and whites, with untrained skills and professions and only a few hours of /played under their belt, would (and did) get slaughtered at the hands of players with a deep understanding of their abilities and the battleground, best-in-slot gear, maxed skills and professions, and weeks of /played time. Couple that disparity with the nerdrage prevalent in so many battlegrounds and the 10-19 WSG bracket was hellish for casual players.

Setting aside the nerdrage, which is its own independent problem, the ability disparity is neither unique to WSG nor the fault of twinking players. With but one exception, this is the almost the exact same problem experienced at the level cap: a freshly-dinged 80 is nothing like the main of a hardcore raider or arena gladiator with maxed skills and ilevel 245 gear, except in level only. If we ignore the character levels, the attitudes of hardcore raiders and twinks are identical: pursue excellence in your character’s chosen activity and seize every advantage possible. What would you call a raider without maxed professions, who refuses to ever flask before a run or get the Hodir shoulder enchants?

Benched.

The exception I mentioned above is that hardcore raiders and gladiators get to select both their teammates and their opponents, while WSG twinks could not. Raiders can be as picky as they want about who is in the raid, and run content appropriate to their ability. Gladiators have opponents chosen for them based on a complicated evaluation of gear and performance, and while the system has some flaws, it does prevent teams in crafted blues going up against teams in Relentless gear.

Battlegrounds can be joined by anyone who could find the appropriate Battlemaster and met the level requirements. I think this is why the conventional wisdom about twinks in Warsong Gulch was right, though it was for all the wrong reasons. It was never the twink’s fault. Warsong Gulch sucked for casual players because they weren’t fighting other casual players, and it sucked for twinks because they would get non-twinks assigned to their team, with no corresponding weakness on the other side. In other words, the content was too hard for some characters to handle, and those players with characters who could handle the content grew frustrated at their inability to choose teammates who took it as seriously as they did.

But since there is an order of magnitude more casual players than there are twinks, twinking became the dirty word.

BATTLEGROUND EXPERIENCE


This situation changed with patch 3.2 and the introduction of XP to battlegrounds. In one fell swoop, Blizzard both opened up the low-level battlegrounds back to casual players, and gave twinks their own battlegrounds. The decision to let experience-frozen characters only play their own kind divided each bracket in two: a leveling bracket and a twink bracket. It was a good move, though it had devastating effects on some of the brackets. My level 59 Death Knight Cynwulf couldn’t find a match in his twink brackets for weeks after 3.2 hit, while the leveling bracket exploded with players flocking to the rich XP rewards. Alterac Valley became a place for lightning-fast leveling through difficult stretches, with people leveling alts all the way to 80 within its frosty confines. It changed the dynamic of the game, opening up a new way for players to level. Quest for a while, then take a break and play battlegrounds for a night without falling behind!

I have heard that a similar phenomenon took place in the 19 twink bracket as the 59; very long queue times for infrequent matches. Some twinks resorted to playing in the leveling brackets and leaving the matches before they finished to avoid too much experience gain. But many twinks just had a hard time finding games after 3.2 dropped.

It’s difficult for me to reconcile those reports with the current situation, three months after battleground XP was implemented, because both the 10-19 leveling bracket and 19 twink bracket are thriving now on the Ruin battlegroup. I suspect that what happened was that since 3.2 contained so many changes (Argent Coliseum raids, new tier sets, new heirloom items, a new battleground, and mounts at lower levels) that twink players found other things to occupy their time. I know that 3.2 is when I threw myself out of the battlegrounds and into raiding. I leveled my few alts with their new mounts. I played some Isle of Conquest. I ran the new Argent Crusade dailies every single day and became an heirloom item junkie.

But mostly, I ran the Trial of the Champion and heroics until my eyes bled.

A FRESH START

I don’t know what it was, specifically, that caused me to roll a new alt. I’m a slow leveler, and I have tried to focus my attention on as few characters as possible to achieve as much as I can with them. Perhaps it was the mount changes, or all the pretty heirlooms I was getting, but something caused me to roll a paladin just to see what it was like. I outfitted her with some nice heirlooms, leveled her up to level 12 or so, and then took her into Warsong Gulch to see if things had changed since my last ill-fated visit.

Oh. My.

Warsong Gulch at 10-19 is completely different now. The leveling bracket is filled with toons of all different levels, gear, and player skill. Interestingly, level seems to be a poor predictor of performance, which is counter to what you might expect. The matches are short but not frenetic. Best of all, you get to see how your class plays in PvP before a lot of complications are added – there just aren’t as many things to keep track of as with an endgame character. Your opponents lack a lot of counters that they get later on, so you can learn how your abilities are really supposed to work.

It’s really a great experience. I recommend at least trying WSG again if you’re starting a new alt. It is a great training ground and helps you understand the core of your new class much better than solo questing does. (Running Deadmines is the other part of learning a new alt that I find really valuable.)

The leveling bracket of WSG is also ridiculously low-stress. I jokingly call it the Come-As-You-Are bracket, because you will find such a wide variety of gear, skill, and ability spread throughout both teams. Compared to the intensity of endgame PvP, this bracket is like a pickup flag football game. Sure, you want to win, but having fun is just as important.

THE HARDCORE ATTITUDE

If the matches in the 10-19 leveling bracket are afternoon pickup games, the level 19 twink matches are decidedly professional affairs. The expectation is that you’re geared, skilled, stocked, and prepared. You need to know your role in the fight, or learn it quickly.

The item levels are different, but the hardcore attitude is just the same as the endgame: be the absolute best you can be.  If you’re not there yet, you better be working on it.

Seeing this attitude applied to level 19 characters is really amazing. The potential abilities are astonishing, if you are willing to pursue them. Bandages that heal you to full in two ticks? Food buffs that give 10-20% more health?

I don’t know about you, but I had no idea any of these things were possible when I first leveled up through Westfall and Loch Modan.

The experience cap has made twinking much easier; no longer do you need to plan out every step from level 10 on. You can quest all the way to 19 and then get your gear, if you choose. Faction changes allow players to get the best of both worlds now, eliminating the problem of faction-only BiS gear. Yes, that’s how hardcore twinks can be – faction changes for a BiS ring.

Having a separate bracket for these characters is a very good thing, for everyone involved. Twinks fighting twinks is a completely different kind of game, with a slower pace and more emphasis on control. There are no facerolls in the twink games.

And when you beat a premade, the taste of victory is very, very sweet.

IN PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE

You don’t have to be as hardcore as the most hardcore twink to take away some very good lessons from their approach.

First, train your professions to max level as early as possible. You can pick them up at level 5 and reach 150 skill by level 10 – do it. This gives you access to all the benefits at a time where they are completely OP. You will also have a viable income if you are rolling on a new server. Don’t forget that many of the best endgame professions are not very good at lower levels, and vice versa. Herbalism, Mining, Skinning, and Engineering all have excellent benefits while leveling.

Second, max out your First Aid. At level 10 you can reach 225 skill, which let’s you use (but not make) Heavy Runecloth Bandages. So you can use any old-world bandage you can get your hands on. Bandaging can be done in combat and is a cheap, easy way to reduce downtime.

Third, get good gear. Heirlooms are great if you have access to them, but crafted gear is really good at low levels, too. Seriously, crafted gear. Check it out. Enchant it if you can afford it.

I’ve started doing these things on my alts and it’s remarkable what a difference it makes. A level 10 dwarf warrior with Green Tinted Goggles and fully-enchanted heirlooms makes leveling a joy, not a grind.

I admit – I giggle a lot going into WSG and beating people 5-9 levels higher than me in 1:1 combat.

It’s funny; I didn’t originally associate these tips or attitude with twinking; I considered it part of learning how to play well, especially for a part of the game I struggle with. Let me be honest — I made just about every mistake you could make while leveling, No, really, I’m terrible at it. But I got to the endgame, I learned how to play, and now I’m learning again by watching the twinks.

Twink.  It isn’t a dirty word anymore.

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The Twink Vacuum

Dun Baldar Flag.png

So a funny thing happened on the way to Alterac Valley; the upper level brackets are suddenly THRIVING in the Ruin battlegroup. 3.2 has been very, very good for participation across all levels, and both sides. No longer is it 40:12 odds against the Horde in AV; matches are equal and the Alliance loses if they don’t play smart.

Glorious!  Wonderful!  I love it!

/bg chat is full of people talking, with some amazement, about how much XP they’re getting. I’ve gotten 2-4 bars in each battleground at level 59, with AV rewarding the most by far when our side plays well.

I think this increased participation is due not only to the new experience gains, but also the removal of twinks from the field. It is a sad, sobering thing to realize how much the fear of twinks kept people from playing the BGs.

The only twinks in the upper brackets are now ex-twinks. I sat for hours in queue with my experience frozen and never played a game once 3.2 hit. With XP gains on, I play in under a minute.  The queue times speak louder than anything I could write.  If you want to twink in the 50s or 60s, you won’t play.

Blizzard did a very good thing with 3.2. With one change they both added more positive incentive to play the battlegrounds, and removed the negative fears of being mercilessly steamrolled by twinks. I think that while that fear may have been valid in the lower brackets, it wasn’t in the upper ones.

I’m glad to see so many people in the battlegrounds once more.

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Experience

Cynwulf Goes to Stratholme - Web.png

Patch 3.2 introduced the ability to turn off experience gains for characters, something that Blizzard envisioned having more uses than just enabling twinks. Having seen it in action, I have to agree.

I have a twink, of sorts: Cynwise’s dear drunk death knight brother Cynwulf. I say “of sorts” for two reasons — first, 59 DK, already OP, and second, because I didn’t do much research or planning to make sure I got the absolute best gear available, or maxed out professions for every last advantage. Best enchants? Sure. But real twinks go all the way. I really respect players who put that much thought and effort into working within constraints.

Freezing experience gains seemed like a great way to address this problem; I could seek out all the BoP gear I’d skipped, go level mining and skinning without getting exploring XP, and even go grind some reputations.

Little did I know the most transforming experience would be none of those things: it was leaving the city to go adventuring with friends. The freedom to go run a dungeon with your guild, to be a helpful part of a team, is not something that you get out of a lot of BGs.

So Cynwulf went and was the Main Tank on a Stratholme run, and did remarkably well at it. Would he do better at level 60, with Howling Blast and Death and Decay? Almost certainly. But it’s of little matter. Everyone involved had an absolute blast.

Just because you turn off experience gains doesn’t mean you stop gaining experiences.

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PvP in Patch 3.2 and The Isle of Conquest

I have actually been quite pleased with what patch 3.2 has brought to PvP in Azeroth; not only is there a new battleground, there are substantial improvements to both Resilience and DoT damage, enough to make Affliction warlocks and Shadow priests alike jump back into the fray. Yes, Destro locks got a slight nerf to Fire and Brimstone, but the warlock trees remain pretty balanced. I’m pretty happy with it so far.

There are a lot of PvP changes to take in with 3.2. Here are the major ones.

THE ISLE OF CONQUEST

If you haven’t visited The Isle of Conquest yet, you should do so immediately. Not only is it a lot of fun, but anyone who claims in /bg to have the right strategy is talking total BS. You have to play a lot of matches, with a lot of different types of opposing strategies, to really say how to win. So don’t let any natural Battleground inhibitions get in the way, because NOONE knows what they’re doing yet. It’s total chaos and total fun.

Now, while the strategies are in flux, your tactics should be the same as other battlegrounds: fight at the flag, not in the road, defend what you take, and kill the opposing healers while defending your own. But questions like, should you capture the hangar or the docks first, or how many people should defend the keep? Those strategies are still to be written. Keep an open mind and experiment!

WINTERGRASP

Flying To Wintergrasp Keep.png

Wintergrasp is now an instanced battleground, so the biggest change is in numbers and lag. On Durotan, a 3:1 A:H server, the Alliance often fielded 3 full raid groups, which allowed crowd contol and gang tactics to overcome 20 stacks of Tenacity. With limits of 80 players per side, I expect to see more even matches, which lessens the impact of CC while enhancing Tenacity.

The other huge change is that the legendary Wintergrasp lag is gone. This should equalize things a bit, as during most frantic Keep combats you were limited to instant cast spells.

As opposed to the Isle of Conquest, Wintergrasp strategies are pretty well established at this point. I’m a conservative sort, though, so I’d like to see if the lack of lag and reduced numbers affects them at all.

Also: when the battle is over, you can now fly through Wintergrasp. This is awesome on many, many levels.

RESILIENCE

Resilience now affects all incoming player damage, not just crits and DoTs. This is both a survival buff for everyone (making Resilience THE stat to have in PvP, after 6% hit cap), and an indirect buff to any DoT-heavy spec, like Affliction Warlocks and Shadow Priests. It’s an indirect buff because DoTs are no longer resisted differently than direct damage, therefore relatively improving them.

I love this change. It simplifies Resilience and makes it the battleground stat to stack.

(The one modification you may need to make to your target Resilience is that it now takes about 15% more Resilience to mitigate the same amount of critical strike rating. So if your target was 800 before, you should shoot for 920.)

TIME’S UP

I haven’t played in the new Warsong Gulch, with a time limit, or the new Arathi Badsin/Eye of the Storm, with lower resource limits, yet. But I think all of those changes are good ones. Yes, spending two hours in WSG is great for the HK and damage meters, but terrible for honor/minute.

And the changes to grant honor for defending nodes? I LOVE THEM.

BATTLEGROUND XP

Experience Eliminator.jpg

I wish I had this feature when I was leveling up to 80. I spent many hours in battlegrounds that were a needed break from questing, but I hated the tradeoff. I expect to be using this a lot with some of my alts.

The side effect of earning XP in battlegrounds, of course, is that now you can turn off all experience gains for a character by visiting the stealthed twinks in the War Rooms of Orgrimmar or Stormwind, respectively. This feature has gotten a lot of attention because of the implications it has for twinks; they are now no longer city-bound, and twinks will only fight twinks in BGs. This is a great thing for both the twinks and the casual PvPers, since the presence of each was often an irritation to the other.

But I think that this will also concentrate twinks into 2, or maybe 3, brackets (19, 29, and 39). There just aren’t enough in the upper brackets to support a good community. Perhaps I’m wrong, and that everyone is off at The Isle of Conquest. But after an hour in queue last night in the 59 bracket, I am starting to think that leveling my DK through regular battlegrounds is the way to go.

EVERYTHING ELSE IN 3.2

Speaking of the lower battleground brackets, how cool will the 19 bracket become with Travel Form / Ghost Wolf and mounts for everyone at 29? Or the new heirloom chest pieces?

Okay. I don’t know how cool they will be for those brackets. I need to roll a twink and find out.

But I do know that 3.2 excites me in a way that 3.1 utterly failed to do, probably because I’m not a progression raider. As someone who spends a lot of time in Azeroth’s battlegrounds, I really like these changes. They are thought out well to bring people back to the battlegrounds to have fun.

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