OT: Crushing Blow

[note: Blizzard updated the notes after I wrote this, but before I posted. See Edit at bottom]

The inexplicably undocumented Arena point change has been a huge blow to my drive to PvP in WoW. In case you missed it – you know, focusing on all the gold-making and “versus AH” opportunities – the way Conquest points are earned have been radically changed. Pre-4.1, you had to win five games to cap yourself to the week, regardless of whether you were at the minimum 1343 (sub-1500 rating) or at 2000+ (over 1500). This may have seemed too “easy” for some, but the entire point of personal/team MMR is to put you against other teams/players that will result in a 50% win percentage. In other words, you are expected to play 10 games in order to win those 5.

Now? Blizzard has at least doubled the required number of games everyone has to play to achieve the same results. If you do 2s for points with your friends, you are going to be playing 20 games instead of 10. If you are above 1500 rated, you will be playing exponentially more – a 1600 Conquest point cap, for example, means I need 12 wins, or 24 games… 14 more than last week. A 2300 cap is 18 wins or 34 expected games at a high level of play. This is what I wrote on the MMO-Champ forums:

You guys really aren’t getting it.

1) This change hugely impacts everyone who does Arenas: it is at least doubling the amount of Arena game wins each player needs to have to get capped each week. If you are below 1500, it now takes 10 wins instead of 5. Blizzard balances your MMR around the idea of a 50% win percentage, meaning they expected you to play 10 games to win 5, capping yourself out. Last expansion, you could /dance or /afk your way through 10 games per week for points; the pre-4.1 change let people cap early if they get lucky (going 5-0), but if you have a lower win percentage you could end up going 5-13 and do more games than last expansion. This new change doubles the amount of games everyone needs to play. Now your “for fun + points” teams will be running an average of 20 games instead of 10, and the upper-crust PvPers could be required to play an average of 40+ games instead of 10. Between the queue times and how long matches can last (at any level), we are talking about a massive, extra drain on your time.

2) No warning whatsoever. Patch was on the PTR for months, and a fundamental redesign of the Arena system was pushed through like a Congressional earmark on a budget resolution at the 11th hour? Not only that, Blizzard already knows it “may be too low” but they pushed it anyway?

3) All of this smacks as a back-handed move to push Arena players of all stripes into Rated BGs for Conquest Points – “Hey kids, how about 4 Rated BGs instead of 20 Arena matches?” Instead of, you know, admitting that Rated BGs are a failure due to their overall design, and not the reward structure itself.

4) The lack of empathy from obvious PvE players who never Arena’d to save their life is just sad. This is the equivalent of them reducing the VP you get from dungeons from 70 to 35 (or 140 to 70), but leaving the weekly cap the same. How would you feel about suddenly needing to run twice as many heroics per week? Oh wait, “it isn’t necessary to cap VP each week” so nothing changes, right?

I had not really paid any attention to the MMO-Champ forums before, but it is truly despicable garbage over there, way worse than even the official forums in terms of trolling (if you can believe that). Most of the “counter-points” were essentially saying “haha, suck it” or:

No, it’s not the fact that they don’t enjoy PvP, it’s the fact that they don’t want to grind for the same type of rewards that sole PvE players have to endure for their epics. That’s why many people went to PvP in Cata due to the fact dungeons and raids are very time consuming again, and are not zergable as in Wrath… It’s the extreme lack of paticence that these players have that causes them to rage, because arena battles are not as easy to farm as, say, normal 5-mans or unrated BG’s… Plus, there is the rating issue… (lol)

There is a literal disconnection from reality with these people, and it is becoming impossibly hard for me to even wrap my mind around their worldview. “Extreme lack of paticence [sic]?” Is there no difference between a Tol Barad daily that requires you to kill 12 spiders and a hypothetical one that requires you to kill 24 spiders for the same reward? Is there no difference between a heroic that takes an hour to complete and one that takes two hours? What is the magical patience threshold they are using as a metric here? Imagine if it took twice as many heroics as it does currently to gain the same amount of JP/VP. Did nothing change? Did you lose nothing? Is the argument that your fun is actually increasing because you are being forced to play longer for the same goal?

I mean, good lord. Do people act like this in their real lives? “Pay freeze this year, so no raises. Oh well, nothing changed.” Or does this masochism only appear when they sit down for entertainment?

I enjoy WoW PvP… more or less. On equal skill levels, the player with the better gear wins. You have to have gear to compete, as PvP sure has hell isn’t balanced amongst players with 11% resilience (crafted PvP gear) and 31% resilience (4pc + weapon + trinkets) – one player is literally taking 20% more damage than the other. You know those unkillable healers running around these days? That doesn’t happen in crafted gear. Well, it might happen if you both are in crafted gear, which is the reason why you are getting better gear.

Regardless, Arena games are stressful affairs to me, and random BGs typically boil down to squeezing blood-fun from the “inevitably getting farmed at your GY” stone that is Alliance PvP. If I wanted to play more Arena games, I would play more Arena games. Indeed, I do Arena on three separate toons. Now? I will be forced to cut at least one of those toons out just to scrape enough wins on whichever I decide is my main PvP toon. If this system was in place at the start of Cataclysm, I would not have geared up three toons and otherwise not have played as much.

If you cannot recognize a difference between doing 30 games across 3 characters vs 30 games on 1 character, or are dismissive of the former because “it’s for the gear,” then… I have to question your sanity. You are playing an MMO; being rewarded for the things you do is not something dirty, it’s a huge part of the game. If the reward doesn’t match the effort, you don’t do it. If you disagree, well, I expect to see an Armory link of your main with “the Insane” title along with your response.

Which, ironically, would only prove my point.

Edit: Check out this post by Zarhym:

We saw that Arenas and Rated Battlegrounds were over-rewarding players for the time investment required, particularly compared to point gains in PvE. We felt the change we went live with in the patch was a little bit too low and overcompensating though, so we buffed up the numbers for wins just a bit to 180 (Arenas) and 400 (Rated BGs).

This changes the math a bit, but not by much – 8 wins (16 games) instead of 10 for casual Arena players, ~13 wins (26 games) for the upper crust. Make no mistake about one thing though: the Blizzard designers are very concerned about how rewarding you find the game. Fun cannot be metered out too quickly, because why else would you be playing, amirite? Think about that next time you find yourself grinding out Therazane rep for your 25 extra stats on shoulders. That kind of shit is mathed out on an Excel spreadsheet, and they just added three more lever presses before the Conquest Point food pellet comes out.

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Posted on April 28, 2011, in WoW and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. In all honesty, comparing PVE and PVP point systems as the same is a bit off. They aren't.

    When running Heroics and/or raids, we all have the same point cap. When doing rateds/arenas, we don't. Point caps are based on your rating, right?

    This…shouldn't be.

    I agree with you that having to put forth more effort/time to get rewards is not fun. Loot should be rewarded based on skill. But having a different cap level is silly. Just plain silly.

  2. While I'm not happy about the change, I did think that it was ridiculously easy to cap conquest points every week. Capping valor points each week requires, at a minimum, something like 5-6 hours or dungeon running and/or raiding. For arena points you can hit the cap in well under an hour.

    I have a 2v2 team with my brother. We're a Elemental Shaman / BM Hunter burst damage team. Our strategy is to burst as hard as we can and hope to win quickly (or lose quickly). On average our 2v2 queue times are 90 seconds, we spend a minute doing nothing before each match, and the matches take about 90 seconds on average. That's 4 minutes per match. We win somewhat less than half the time so we have to do about 12 matches per week to get our 5 wins. That's about 50 minutes of time spent to cap conquest points, and we're not that skilled.

  3. You can't cap VP without raids. Random heroics don't give enough VP. Maybe they should change arenas so that you need rated BG to cap out. :)

  4. Why are you still sending them money? I mean… why?

  5. Only problem with what Kring says is that heroics don't get harder but arenas do. The better your gear in arenas, the better your MMR and thus the better your opponents will be.

    Anonymous 2 has a good point about the amount of time required to cap, but misses the fact that some of us are trying to PvE and PvP and thus don't have the extra hours to invest.

    Neowolf2 is clearly a troll, mostly because you don't have to love every aspect of a game or every decision a company makes to still love the game.

    Lastly, if you're in the MMO for the gear then your problem is probably that your grinding for the wrong reasons. I PvP for rating because I want to push myself to be better, which won't happen until I end up against players with better MMR. I PvE for the progression so I can see the endgame content and again push myself to be better. If you're after the gear then you really are pushing the lever for a food pellet instead of pushing yourself. I know the mindset isn't all that different, and heaven knows the gear is necessary, but my mindset keeps me isolated a little from the item choices bliz makes.

    Good luck with your arenas!

  6. I think it is valid to compare PvE vs PvP (or specifically Arenas) reward structures because the overall idea is the same. Namely, I do NOT believe very many, if any, people would run heroics if they rewarded nothing at all. Would anyone queue for a random heroic if no loot dropped from bosses, no VP was gained, mobs dropped nothing, etc? Some would, sure; the overwhelming majority would not. The irony there is that's more or less the PvP reward model. Aside from Conquest Points (and temp titles/mounts), you get nothing from Arenas: no loot, no drops, no BoE epics, no enchanting materials, nothing. Of course, if you find Arenas fun in of themselves, you enjoy rising in a ladder system, etc, that is something absolutely. Indeed, for all my griping about BGs, I still play them for the same reason why millions of people play Counter-Strike in random servers: for those bright flashes of fun amidst getting camped, trolled, AWP-whored, etc., regardless of a lack of accumulated progress (e.g. your cash doesn't transfer between play sessions).

    I would (and do) play BGs in spite of the Twin Peaks “weekend BG” session that almost led me to ragequit/faction change after nine consecutive embarrassing losses. You know that warlock chain-fearing and kiting you for 10 minutes midfield despite being unable to take you or your pocket healer down by themselves? That is me. And I have a blast doing that as long as I'm not getting camped at the GY and otherwise have to pay attention to how bad Alliance is losing.

    In any event, I doubt a workable Arena ladder would be possible in WoW without Conquest Point rewards. I have fun in quite a few matches – my pulse quickens each time the gate goes down – but the fun alone isn't enough to justify the time spent in there, especially for organized content. Even with just one other person, that is asking a lot. Thus, it is entirely possible turning down the Conquest knob so far (~6 extra games each week for me) will result in me forgoing Arena altogether.

    Was it “easy” to cap out points before? Maybe it felt that way, but it wasn't any different than doing 10 games for point back in Wrath, win or lose.

  7. I get what you're saying, but can't argue with Anon#2 that capping those weekly Conquest Points was – relative to other rewards – an easy no brainer.

    I think the issue here boils down to our hard-wiring, that we lose more utility when something is taken away from us than when we're given an equivalent amount.

    Think of it as a nerf on an imbalanced over-giveaway. The reason you were able to cap your Conquest Points on so many toons is because you were drawn to PvP by the easy epics.

    You could be totally right about the reasoning – pushing players to rated BGs – I wouldn't know, I'm clueless, but the explanation sounds reasonable.

    But more importantly, you win the prize of the month for best damn writing:

    “That kind of shit is mathed out on an Excel spreadsheet, and they just added three more lever presses before the Conquest Point food pellet comes out.”

    OMG that is awesome. You rock.

  8. I don't think anyone is doing RBGs for getting Conq points in a short amount of time – as each match tends to take 20 minutes, it can take like 3 hours to cap that way. It is still way faster to do arena. And it was so absurdly fast…if people are supposed to participate to get the top shelf of gear, then make them actually participate. I have no problem with the current rate of time, especially when you consider how much time it takes to cap Valor for the week.