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Looking Towards the 5.2 Changes

There are a lot of changes coming in 5.2. Here are the ones I’m keeping an eye on:

Reputation

  • “Work orders will pour into the farm from factions across Pandaria, and completing a work order will earn a reputation boost with the issuing faction.”
  • “You can now earn bonus reputation for your first dungeon and scenario of the day. You can select which reputation you choose to champion by selecting it from the reputation panel on the character screen.”

The above two items have mentally freed me from the self-imposed shackles of dailies, for the time being. Up to this point, my time in WoW has been 100% consumed by dailies – Golden Lotus, Cloud Serpent, Tillers, Anglers, Klaxxi, Shieldwall. Even the days when I ignored Golden Lotus (no real rewards for them or any linked reps for Alch/JC), I still found 2-3 hour play sessions evaporate with nothing accomplished other than rep bar movement. I was back on the Golden Lotus horse due to the lure of the Commendation (I’d love for my tailor alt to get the 28-slot bag eventually), but the day I read these patch notes is the day I stopped feeling like it was required every single day.

There is not any indication to how much reputation is earned with either method, but assuming it is larger than 500, I feel comfortable in focusing more on alts than hitting reputation milestones on the main.

Valor/Justice

  • Heroic Pandaria dungeons now award 100 Justice Points per boss.
  • Scenarios now award 50 Justice Points, up from 25.
  • The cost of Valor Point gear introduced in patch 5.0 has been reduced by 50%.
  • The cost of Valor Point gear introduced in patch 5.1 has been reduced by 25%.
  • The ethereals that offered to upgrade items using Valor or Justice Points have departed Azeroth for the moment.

The big question mark here is whether the current Valor items will still cost Valor in 5.2. It seems a pretty straight-forward answer at first – “Yes, of course” – but look at the implication here. If you have 1200 VP heading into 5.2, chances are that that 1200 VP turns into 1200 JP and then… what? You buy upgraded heirlooms? It is great that Blizzard is actually putting in sources of Justice for people that want heirlooms, but what else are JP good for? I don’t think I have ever seen a patch transition in which the current currency is downgraded but then you need to re-grind the new currency to buy shit you had access to the day before.

On the other hand, one of my guildies was skeptical that Blizzard would reduce reputation gear costs by 50% plus add in the 100 JP/boss gain plus make rep gear purchasable with Justice. And how many new Valor pieces are going to be introduced anyway?

Hopefully there will be some clarification on this issue before the patch.

PvP

  • Conquest gear no longer has rating requirements.
  • Highest tier PvP items are unlocked after 27,000 CP are earned in a season.
  • Weapons that require the 27k CP unlock have said requirement removed inbetween seasons (i.e. in 5.3).
  • Honor weapons are back.
  • Your CP cap for the week is increased by 1,000 for each week you haven’t been hitting the cap.
  • The losers in an Rated BG gain Conquest based on score; close games can award up to 200 CP.

It is difficult to even imagine a coherent complaint about this fairly radical paradigm shift. Blizzard locking weapons behind rating walls was a mistake when they first made it in Season 3, and it has been a mistake every season since. The straw that finally broke my four-year subscription back was when my warlock alt maxed out on non-rating Arena gear; I was permanently “done” with that character’s progression, unless I bribed someone to boost me past the glass ceiling. While I would not look forward to 15+ weeks of Conquest caps from BGs and 2v2 anymore, at least there is no longer a brick wall at the end.

Overall, pretty exciting changes. I’m not following the new raid information particularly closely, because A) there doesn’t seem to be much news out there, and B) it is kind of a moot point for me outside of LFR. And speaking of LFR, I finished all of the available ones; impressions will have to wait for another post.

Honorgate Solved: Mark Your Calenders

In true, inane 24/7 News fashion, I hereby coin the PvP fiasco of this past week “Honorgate.” Ladies and gentlemen, allow me also to bring to you a truly groundbreaking Blizzard solution to this controversy. From blue lips to your eyeballs:

We’ve been working over the past few days to evaluate and determine the best course of action to offer players some kind of compensation for those who were caught off guard by the new gear. The plan we’ve found to be achievable within an acceptable amount of time is to provide players who were affected with 4000 Honor Points. This extra Honor would function similarly to the currency down-conversion in that it would stack over the cap, but you would not be able to earn more until you spent under the 4000 cap. (source)

You read that correctly: four thousand (4000) Honor points. The announcement is hedged in “this is still uncertain” and “things could still change” but to come right out and say they would be giving out 4000 Honor and then not doing so would likely cause more problems than the initial screw-up. The other thing Blizzard mentioned is that the most likely date of this distribution of wealth would be July 19th, which is about a week and a half from now. I recommend marking your calenders because there will likely be thousands of players on your server getting 1-2 pieces of high-level epic gear that will need gemmed and enchanted. This is about as close to a patch day AH run you can get without it actually being a patch day.

Honestly, this post by Blizzard rather floored me. The solution I thought they would go with would be to simply reset the purchase timers on all of the Season 9 gear bought in the last week. You know, this thing:

After reseting it, you could simply sell it back to the vendor and recoup your Honor points to purchase the 371 gear. Perhaps that is more technically complicated than I am aware of, or maybe they did not want to run the risk of players missing the announcement and playing for 2 hours while the timer expired. Other solutions suggested were to add the ability to purchase the 371s with the S9 pieces like they sometimes do when you upgrade heroic raiding gear. Then again, that would require a vendor to always have that available, lest they remove the option and get bitched at by some clueless player a few weeks later. The “let them eat cake” option is truly unprecedented especially considering they decided to grant 4000 regardless of whether you just bought a 1650 Honor belt, or similar.

It will be intriguing to see whether my warrior ends up getting a 4000 Honor stimulus package despite my having gotten the S9 Chest refunded already. I must say though, this solution almost makes me sad that I did not “waste” Honor buying more S9 gear across my other toons.

Welcome the C Team

I think I will allow Blizzard’s C Team speak for themselves here:

You are correct. The season transition and introduction of new PvP items was different this time around, and we apologize for the lack of advanced warning.

The Season 9 set was removed today. The items available for purchase with Honor Points are now considered lower tier Season 10 items. They are still the same items from Season 9 in terms of aesthetics, but the item level and stats are slightly higher to ensure that the Season 10 honor gear has the correct item level relative to the Season 10 conquest gear.

It’s likely this is how things will work going forward and we’ll be sure to make that more clear when the next season transition takes place.

New basic transition flow:

1) Season X ends and rated play is unavailable; Season X gear becomes available for purchase with HP; CP is wiped.
2) One week later Season Y starts and rated play is available; Season X gear is removed entirely; Season Y introduces a low tier of items which replace Season X vendor items and are available for HP; Season Y introduces the new top items available for CP and rated play. [source]

If it is not entirely clear from the above, or the 51-page post-capped thread, the basic gist is anyone who bought S9 epic gear in the last week got punked by Blizzard. The 365 gear that previously required Conquest Points, then required only Honor points – this is what you would expect in an universe of forms and logic and elegant game design. In bizarro-Blizzard C Team Land, taking the 365 epics and obsoleting them one week later with strictly better in every conceivable way 371 gear, for the same Honor costs even, makes sense. Here is a visual:

On the right, the 365 PvP chest that was 2200 Honor as of June 28th (gemmed and enchanted as you’ll notice). On the left, the 371 PvP chest that is 2200 Honor as of July 5th, about 168 hours later. Luckily enough, I had not played my warrior all that often after purchasing the chest, so I still had time remaining to sell it back to the vendor for a 2200 Honor refund, and then buy the new 371 version. Whether the stat upgrade seems like a big deal to you or not really depends on how much you PvP, but one way of looking at it is that the 371 pieces give you 6% more stats.

And, you know, the whole fact this was such a huge designer “Gotcha!” moment; a fitting insult to the injury of literally wasting dozens of hours across hundreds of thousands of players. That is the other way of looking at it.

This is par for the course for what I can only imagine is the C Team. Remember when they accidentally did the Conquest –> Honor conversion a week early without raising the Honor cap, resulting in thousands of Conquest points being turned into relatively useless gold? Or when MMR values were so FUBAR that they made the 2200 weapons require level 86, then delayed returning them to normal for months because not very many people were clearing heroic T11 content?

It is hard finding a stickie thread that is not also an apology for some massive screw-up.

Sinking Ships

I think it is fair to say Cataclysm has not been going according to plan.

Right in the middle of my writing a very long post about the Great Tank Bribe of 2011, we get hit with a few more broadsides:

  • Honor is now purchasable from the Justice Commodities Vendor at 250 Honor per 375 Justice.
  • Justice is now purchasable from the Honor Commodities Vendor at 250 Justice per 375 Honor.
  • Conquest is now purchasable from the Valor vendor at 250 Conquest per 250 Valor.
  • Any cut of uncommon gem now sells to NPC for 75 silver instead of 9 gold.

Not to mention the things we already know:

  • The rate at which Honor Points are earned has been doubled.
  • Revamped ZA/ZG granting 140 VP.
  • Daily heroics –> 7/week heroics.
  • Tanks getting gold, gems, flasks, non-combat pets (including cross faction), and mounts.

All of this for Patch Four “WE SWEAR FIRELANDS ISN’T BEING DELAYED” Point One. Or perhaps it should be called Patch Four “Precipitous Subcriber Activity Freefall Solutions” Point One. Individually, each one of these could change the entire gaming landscape for millions of people, and they are all happening together.

The easiest change to grasp is the (data-mined) change of cut uncommon gems going from what we all knew was a ridiculous 9g vendor price down to 75s. This radically undermines the safety net of bot-bought ore for Shuffling purposes as the True Vendor Price (TVP) going from 54g for Obsidium to 4.5g a stack. Will that stop the bots from burying us under a mountain of cheap ore? Nope. What else will they farm? More herbs? It is correct that such a high TVP meant a fairly substantial inflation spiral, but honestly, all that removing the floor will do is send Shuffle components (gems, dust, scrolls, etc) down into further free-fall. The bots have to go; all the 9g gems did was act as a garbage bin for their goods.

But what of the other changes? It is almost impossible to even imagine all the interlocking synergy going on. For example, with the tank bribe deal? It is safe to say that the gems and flasks from the goodie bag will be normal gems/flasks (e.g. sell on the AH), but what about those pets? Can you even imagine having an X% chance of bam! opposite-faction pet in your bags and ready to be sold? If they are BoP when you get them, alright, but most flasks are still hovering at 100g apiece over at Auchindoun, which puts the gold total at 84g + 100g + however much extra that toss in the bag itself. It would take a truly ridiculous amount to bribe me to tank based on gold alone, but at some point I will do an otherwise useless gold/hour calculation. And, hey, while I am not a mount guy, Reins of the Raven Lord is something I have been interested in since Sethekk Halls was current content.

What is most interesting to me at the moment though, is the calculus involving the honor JP conversions. It’s set at 66% rate of return, which means you need to turn in 3375 honor for 2250 JP (e.g. a “tier” piece) and vice versa. On the face of it, that’s a fairly bad return… but remember that all honor gain is doubling per the PTR notes. We don’t know if that’s honor from HKs or what, but can you imagine the alternative? I get 240 honor from a TB win, plus another 200 from the weekly quest, plus X amount from just general HKs around the map – 880 honor + X amount, let’s just round that to a charitable 900. Random daily BG losses will be 90 per game minimum. All this stuff will add up pretty quickly. That 3375 honor target is actually 1687.5 honor post-patch. In other words, PvP will be the most efficient way to farm JP in that you can turn 1687.5 honor into 2250 JP. Conversely, you could simply be picking up the blue PvP gear for 1100 honor for the most expensive slots.

If it sounds like I’m all over the place here, well, I’m all over the place. It honestly feels like Blizzard is throwing everything at the leaking hull and seeing what will stick, to mix metaphors. The doubling honor deal went under a lot of peoples’ radars, but added to all this other stuff? Madness, all around.