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PvP gear and the barrier to entry

Honesty time: I hate PvP gear. I have good gear for PvP now, and I still hate it. I hate having to collect another set of gear, having to gem and enchant it differently, having to decide between resilience, crit and mastery, and in general having to do even more work to keep yet another set of gear (my third) current in order to participate effectively. On my alts, I especially hate having to go into BGs effectively naked (in PvE gear) and blow up over and over again.

I've been considering the changes to PvP coming in Mists of Pandaria intended to address some of this and the conservative design philosophy reflected in this post by Ghostcrawler, and it has me contemplating how much more radical the redesign to PvP could and potentially should be. We know that in Mists of Pandaria, valor points will no longer serve to purchase new gear. Instead, they will be used to upgrade existing gear. You'll get a dungeon drop, then spend valor on it to improve it for purpose of raiding content, making the piece itself better instead of replacing it with a valor purchase.

This has me thinking, and thinking hard, about how honor and conquest points should work in Mists of Pandaria and whether or not we should even have separate PvP gear anymore. There are a variety of ways we could alter the existing system.

Erase all barriers to entry

Let me start off by saying that I don't hate the concept of specific PvP stats, and I even think the idea that making the defensive damage reduction stat baseline is a good one. But in looking over the concept of having PvP gear with lower ilevel than the same tier of PvE gear, but with the PvP stats of power and defense (whatever they end up being called) not being considered in the gear's itemization, it seems needlessly elaborate. The concept of a stat that makes you stronger specifically against other players isn't bad, but the implementation on gear makes me scratch my head. (I'm not alone, based on the series of forum posts Daxxari needed to make to clear it all up for people.)

Then it occurred to me: Since these PvP stats are not going to be counted into item level at all, why not let players add them to their PvP gear using honor or conquest points in the same manner as they'll improve their gear for PvE with valor points? You get to keep the idea of separate PvP stats that only work in PvP without forcing players to farm up another entire set of gear.

The idea could be implemented in a variety of ways. You could simply make honor and justice points exactly equivalent, letting players buy stock gear with these currencies and then spend conquest or valor points to upgrade the gear for PvP or PvE, as they choose. Since the PvP stats don't count toward item level anyway, it wouldn't cost anything to append PvP stats to your PvE set except time spent collecting the currency needed to do so. PvE gear worn in PvP in this manner wouldn't be unbalanced because everyone would be doing so.

We have two PvP currencies -- let's use them

One difficulty this brings to mind is raiding gear. Since raiders could easily get better overall gear and then put PvP stats on it, wouldn't it bring back the problem of highly geared raiders just crushing competitive PvP? It certainly could do that.

One way to prevent that would be to give Arena and rated BG players a chance at gear through the individual loot system coming to Raid Finder in Mists. Winning a rated BG or an Arena match could actually be given a loot table with a chance for raid quality gear.

Another potential solution lies in the fact that we have two honor currencies. If honor points were initially used to add PvP stats to gear, conquest points could be used to outright raise the item level of that gear to put it on par with raid epics, perhaps with a different emphasis on stat spread to make the gear superior for PvP or some bonus PvP stats thrown in to encourage the use of the gear in PvP.

Make PvP a part of the endgame

These changes, purely theoretical and possibly too extreme in scope, just serve to reflect what could be done with PvP itemization. It doesn't have to be endless tiers of gear forever.

Anyone who PvPs seriously either exults or dreads when new legendaries are included in the game, because they have a tendency to make their way to PvP and wreck faces. This leads me to wonder, with legendaries seemingly moving to a more inclusive format in Mists, is it time for a PvP legendary? And frankly, with the endgame more broad in Mists with a wider variety of things to do, perhaps it's time for PvP to becomes just another one of those things.

Perhaps it's OK to PvE for PvP gear and PvP for PvE gear. Perhaps it should be the same gear, with options given to players to customize it the way they want to for whatever they want to do with it. I'm not arguing against PvP stats at all. I think they're useful and should continue.

I just don't see why they have to only be attainable in one way, on one new set of gear, when they could be attainable in a variety of ways to ease the barrier of entry to PvP. I like the idea of Daxxari's example of how Mists PvP will work -- so now, make it even easier for us to get in there and start doing it.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Mists of Pandaria

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