Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Udder-Madness on arena

If you haven't read WoW Insider's take on PvP (now and in Wrath), go do it now (thanks Toresh for the link, I don't have the time anymore to keep up with all the WoW Insider stuff).
While you're at it, take a look at what Kalgan writes about Blizzard's philosophy of PvP (also linked to from the WoW Insider article).

So I thought I’d write my own thoughts on PvP the way it is at the moment, and the changes Wrath will make to the arena setting.

First, those changes the way I understand them:
-There will be a set of PvP blues that will be obtainable through crafting.
-There will be a set of Arena epics (requiring no rating) that will be obtainable for arena points: the Savage gear (I suppose similar to Season 3 gear available in Season 4, barring Shoulders and Weapons)
-There will be a full set of gear that requires rating from between 1665 and 1850 rating (I think): Hateful gear
-There will be honor-obtainable gear for Bracers, Belt and Boots, Necklace and Rings, set a bit higher than the craftable blues
-There will be a plague of locusts o’er the land (brought by those silly Death Kniggets)

Secondly I want to state where I’m coming from. My hunter (Darksentinel) started arena maybe around 10 weeks in to Season 3, with a resto druid partner (Meellow) and both of us in mostly non-heroic instance blues, needless to say we got steamrolled. But we had a lot of fun, and after dipping as low as 1280 we climbed back up to the mid-1300s and I earned my Waraxe []. We’d pretty much found our niche, hanging with a bunch of other misfits like us (and the occasional Season 3 geared team that really sucked), but not near the bottom. During this period we also started Drunken Hobbits, a 3v3 team with Stupidcow, Damah and Arkanon (3 other guildies with PvP inclinations), but didn’t play regularly due to timetable issues.
Season 4 came out and we upgraded our gear to the reputation blues (so sad), and then hung around just under the 1400 mark. Now Darksentinel is in a mix of Season 1 – Season 3 gear (probably S2 on average) and we’re somewhere between 1400 and 1450.
Towards the end of Season 3 I started levelling my Druid (Beathooven) more seriously, with the aim of seeing how broken restoration actually is at 70 (quite broken, actually), and I hit 70 in the first week of September (well into Season 4). That same week I started Multiboxing, a 2v2 team with Damah (elemental shaman), to start earning points. A few weeks later, Stupidcow (SL/SL Warlock) joined Multiboxing and we’re currently pushing for a title (any title) that we can bear into Northrend with pride – hopefully we’ll make 1600, although for the last 2 weeks we’ve been pretty stable just over 1500. But just having broken the 1500 mark felt like an awesome achievement, since most of the teams had far more experience and significantly better gear (for reference, my druid currently has: Engineering epic goggles, Scryer SSO necklace, S2 shoulders, reputation chestpiece, Karazhan cloth bracers, S2 Mace, questing blue offhand, S3 gloves, S4 belt, reputation legs, Heavy Clefthoof Boots, S2 ring, blue quest ring, PvP blue trinket, Goblin Rocket Launcher – i.e. really crap gear), and I’m kind of being carried by Stupidcow (who is one of the best gamers I’ve had the honour of knowing).

Thirdly: a lot of work seems to be based on balancing PvP against PvE. I’d hesitate to say it can’t be done, but Blizzard keeps trying, and players keep QQing about their perceived discrepancies. While the arguments range both ways from “good PvE gear just involves joining an experienced raid group and taking stuff no one wants” to “damn PvP welfare epics”. My druid has been in both situations: a week after turning 70, I healed a part of lower Kara and Maiden dropped her mace, which should have been a significant upgrade over anything else I would normally have had at that point, except I already had the S2 mace.

The actual point I want to make here is rather simple: I want to gauge myself against other players within the system that Blizzard has set up. I like working hard to earn rewards (which I haven’t yet, and probably won’t), and the rating requirements mean that I have something to strive to. I like the challenge, the intense competition and the satisfaction of slowly increasing my rating through playing well. I find that the gear takes slightly too long to earn (15300 honor takes me about 10 hours to farm all up through AV, more if it requires marks from a battleground Horde don’t win very often (e.g. AB, which often takes 20-30 minutes for a single mark).

Some of my other views on Kalgan's post: the craftable gear idea is awesome. Easily obtainable Savage gear is also nice. And I don’t have a problem with the way Hateful gear is obtained: I like arena. A few people complain that Blizzard are pushing arena too hard, and that they feel forced to do arena in order to get the good gear. This may be the case, but personally, I don’t like raiding and if I so much as want to experience the end-game content in MH, BT and SWP (and being a deep fan of WoW lore I kinda do want to) I first have to spend a lot of time in T4 and T5 instances, working with a guild and forcing my cramped timetable to fit their raiding schedule – it’s the price you have to pay, at least if you want to, you can experience arena at any time.

WOTLK Arena:
So, what class will I play in Season 5 arena? Not sure. Here follow my personal opinions on the different options:
Death Knights: unknown how strong they will be, but definitely an option. Since I haven’t played beta or PTR I don’t really understand their relative power and mechanics enough to comment, but I suspect they’ll be good, if somewhat overplayed.
Druids: given the Lifebloom nerf (and other efficiency decreases), restoration won’t be the powerhouse it was in TBC, even with armoured Treeform, but will still be an incredibly versatile healer with a lot of cc potential. Feral I’ve never been entirely comfortable with from a PvP viewpoint (not enough cc, no drain, not enough burst). Balance is a viable option, but will need to see how it works out, since gear can be a bit finicky.
Hunters: although Wrath has given hunters an almost-ridiculous amount of love, I’m not sure whether I’ll try to push arena seriously with Darksentinel (even though I consider them to be the best drain class with a scorpid pet, especially with new instant cast Aimed Shot). There are 2 main reasons for this: hunters are still incredibly weak at melee range (Disengage notwithstanding) and Crippling Poison+Shadowstep/Hamstring+Intercept combined with my New Zealand lag make some classes a nightmare to play against, and additionally hunters are really easy to LoS. And while I think I play a decent druid, I don’t play a hunter nearly as well as I could.
Mages: I’m not really a fan of mages in arena, although that’s probably because as a resto druid with a warlock partner they don’t offer a lot of challenge (shift out of Shatter combo, LoS+heal and wait for DoTs to finish the job), and don’t really see the appeal. Although, given the decreased mana costs in Wrath they may become more attractive.
Paladins: Stupidcow and I are seriously considering Retribution paladins. They seem to have massive burst, decent survivability and efficiency. We may even run Ret/Ret. From what I’ve heard though, Holy paladins need some serious work before they become viable for anything at all.
Priests: not sure. Discipline/Holy will probably still be nuts, and hopefully Shadow will be both more mana efficient and have more burst.
Rogues: ah the infamous OP class. Seems like they’re even more OP. I might decide to roll a rogue, but doesn’t really seem to suit my playstyle.
Shamans: I love Shamans, all 3 specs. And while resto and elemental may seem more suited to 5s, they should be pretty viable for smaller brackets too, especially with the buffs Enhancement is getting in the patch.
Warlocks: I’ve always found warlocks scary in PvP (at least since hitting 70, before then my BM hunter would eat them with gusto), although more so as a non-BM hunter than as a resto druid, and I suspect that Demonology-heavy locks will be quite nuts in Wrath even if I haven’t heard the verdict on Demonform.
Warriors: yawn. They may be good, but they don’t appeal to me. They’re just too boring in the way they play.

Anyway, I has assignments to do, and rating points to earn. There’ll probably be more PvP commentary from me next week.

EDIT: hopefully fixed some formatting issues.


  1. Wtf man this week we're ranked 15593 at 1543 rating.

    The rating cutoff for titles is possibly lower than previously since S4 was a pretty short season but let's get to 1600 just to be safe D:

  2. You sure know your stuff.. I'm going to make a mage called Darksentinel now.. good name.