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Blood Sport: Patch 3.2.2, the times they are a-changin, Part I


Blood Sport investigates the entirety of all-things arena for gladiators and challengers alike. C. Christian Moore, multiple Rank 1 gladiator, examines the latest arena strategy, trends, compositions and more in WoW.com's arena column.

Okay, I'm a bit of a music buff. I love Bob Dylan, one of the most influential American singer/songwriters of our time. Here's some listening music while reading -- you can probably guess what it is. I selected it primarily because the song title goes well with our discussion -- and I love Dylan's brilliant live performance in Budokan. It's a bit much if you're not a Dylan fan, I'll freely admit.

Patch 3.2.2 has a myriad of PvP changes in it; I am stunned to see so little conversation on the interwebz about it. In fact, I've written so much about these changes that I was advised to split the article into parts. A lengthy article here on WoW.com is approximately 1000 words -- this article was over 3,000. (No, not over 9,000.)

I'm going to split up this article into three parts.
  1. Overall changes
  2. Class changes
  3. Bug fixes and Glyph Changes
Check out what's a-changin' after the break.



Absurdly long essay on square arena pillars incoming! Take cover!

Nagrand Arena and Blade's Edge Arena have had their circular and pentagonal pillars changed to square pillars
Note: Nagrand's pillars have gone through more than one change. The rated arena/skirmish pillars were changed from the original model (what is shown in the image above) due to exploits with wall jumping + drinking and/or evading in The Burning Crusade. I couldn't find a good picture of the revamped circular nagrand pillars in my screenshot folder or on google images. Regardless, they were circular in the same way.

So why the change? We can only speculate as there is no blue post out right now to elaborate.

This might seem like a miniscule modification. In reality, it is a game-changing transformation that will impact not only the strategy of playing on these maps, but the outcome of many arena matches.

"Pillar humping" is much easier with circular or many-sided objects compared to square or triangular-shaped pillars. I think we've all experienced trying to chase someone (perhaps a resto druid) around a nagrand pillar. It feels a game of duck-duck-goose more than an epic gladiator death match. Now, that's not necessarily a detrimental sentiment if you really enjoyed DDG in Kindergarten, or if your games of DDG were very similar to epic gladiator death matches (that would be awesome), but work with me here.

The new design will allow for 1.5 second crowd control (such as fear, polymorph, cyclone, etc) to be executed with vastly greater accuracy. I've dodged many a warlock fear on Nagrand by "schwiff, round the corner," (NSFW language) than I would like to admit. This wouldn't be so frustrating for my opponent if she knew I was going to line of sight her cast. Standing next to a square pillar makes it more clear whether an opponent is in a position to line of sight -- with a circular pillar it is much more difficult to discern. Adding latency into the mix can get even more frustrating with trying to use cast-time crowd control around circular pillars.

It's harder to discern because circular pillars have odd pixel schemes. Most of us have probably experienced something peculiar in Nagrand Arena, and it goes something like this:
  • DPS: "Wow, I died, where were the heals?"
  • Healer: "It said you were out of line of sight."
  • DPS: "It did? Look where I am, I'm totally in LOS of you."
  • Healer: "Yeah, it does look like that, but my heal didn't hit you."


The new polygon might help less buggy-deaths due to lack of heals, but I wouldn't care to wager that healing has become easier. In a "open" map (i.e. ring of valor / orgrimmar arena), the weight is very heavy on a healer's shoulders to keep his teammates up while avoiding crowd control. Imagine a completely open map with no objects for LOS (pillars) at all. An entirely blank plane filled with nothing other than the players themselves. Damage on this map would be incredibly high, increasing the need for healers to "stand and heal" as opposed to running around doing other things. This, of course, would play into getting crowd controlled more easily due to unfavorable positioning. While these recently revised arena maps are far from completely barren, they have been transformed to allow for slightly easier access to DPS freely.

Some of you might be scratching your heads, "Wait, so they just made arena PvP more difficult to heal? Wasn't this a huge problem in season five, and in general for nearly all of Wrath?" While it does lend itself for a heavier burden on healers, it's nothing like the beginning of arenas in Lich King. Season seven looks to be very balanced, perhaps more than any season yet. Blizzard can take the risk of changing a few arenas for the better now that the hype about PvP being ridiculously imbalanced has settled down, and for that I applaud them. Classy move, Blizzard. Self-modeled ice sculpture covered in chocolate-covered-strawberries wearing a tophat, cane, monocle, and tuxedo -- classy.

The cube-ish pillars also diminish access to "resets." You're probably familiar with what an arena reset is, even if you're not up to date on terminology. Essentially, a reset happens when teams separate from one another and drink to full and/or wait until cooldowns come back up to start combat. Teams almost always retreat behind pillars to do such. The most common teams which use resets to their fullest ability are Warrior-Druid and Mage-Rogue. You might have been on the other side of the arena when you noticed that even though you almost killed the opposing team's rogue, he restealthed while the mage blinked away and went invisible. When you spot them behind a pillar, they're at full health and mana (from mage food) mounting up to come back for round two.

So... anyone else think I find square pillars far too interesting? I gotta get out of the house more.

Armor Penetration Rating: The amount of armor penetration gained per point of this rating has been reduced by 12%.

I'm not a math guy. I'm not terrible at it, I just don't prefer to spend my time doing it. I haven't looked into the nitty-gritty much, but what I've been hearing from the PvP community on the issue is that the nerf is bringing the stat down in line with other stats so that it's comparable; the armor pen nerf is also largely a PvE issue that's spilled over a bit to PvP. The idea is to get armor pen to an area where preference comes into play with it vs. other stats. Warlocks, for instance, have a pretty even choice between crit or haste as a secondary stat -- strength and agility should be in competition with armor penetration for that gem slot.

It still might be favorable for some classes to stack armor pen at the expense of other stats (namely warriors). Players who use a lot of armor pen will suffer a drop in both constant and burst damage in PvP, which isn't the worst thing that could happen to arena PvP. If you have any extra information to add to the discussion, I welcome it -- please leave a comment, I'll do some research and make an edit.

The size of the Focus Frame can now be adjusted via the Interface Options menu.

Sweet! I'm sure a ton of people are happy about this one. I don't use the default frames (I prefer Pitbull), but one of the main reasons I got into using Pitbull was because I could adjust the size of everything. I might give the default bars a try now that I can make them a bit smaller.

Flying in Battlegrounds? What?

A thread popped up on Arenajunkies recently claiming that players can fly in battlegrounds. It might be nice to know what's going on if you see a few people flying over the gates. The bug involves using an obvious exploit, so beware of possible injuries to your account if you decide to use this information for ill-will.

Onyxia loot table is uninteresting for PvP

Unless I missed something (correct me if I'm wrong), there's nothing from Onyxia's Lair that's unbelievable. A few of the weapons are nice, and obviously high ilvl gear is great if you're a class that can afford to wear PvE gear in arena, but nothing jumps out as saying "wow look at that, can't wait to get my hands on it."

That is, of course, if we're leaving out that sweet 310% speed mount. That brings me to a question for you, readers: What 310% speed mount would you prefer if you had access to it? The Onyxia Mount, Ashes of Al'ar, Mimiron's Head, the Violet Proto-Drake, a raiding mount like the Ironbound Proto-Drake, or one of the gladiator mounts?

Tune in next time when we'll talk about class changes.

Do you want to read more about what 3.2.2 has to offer? Check out the full patch notes here. If that's not enough to wet your PvP whistle, check out WoW.com's articles on arena, successful arena PvPers, PvP, and our arena column, Blood Sport.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, News items, PvP, Wrath of the Lich King, Blood Sport (Arena PvP), Arena

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