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Patch 5.2: PvP undergoing some huge gearing changes

PvP gearing undergoes some huge changes
It's been talked about for some time now, with both Daxxarri and Ghostcrawler teasing the community with ideas on the new setup for PvP gearing. They've been saying things would change, and they certainly have! The question is, have things improved, or not?

The PvP gearing blog was posted late last night, and was an accurate summary of the issues faced by PvPers in WoW at the moment, followed by an explanation of the planned changes and how they will work.

The full blog is after the break, but what exactly is going on?
  • The Rating catch-up system which didn't make it into patch 5.1 will be introduced to patch 5.2. This means that teams playing more games will gain higher rating, allowing them to overtake inactive teams sitting on high ranks and not playing.
  • There will be four tiers of gear (please note that ilvls are datamined and may change)
    • Dreadful -- item level 458 crafted gear;
    • Malevolent -- ilvl 483, purchased with honor. This is the current conquest gear;
    • Tyrannical -- ilvl 493, purchased with conquest, and with honor in patch 5.3, once the player has earned 27,000 conquest in the season. Weapons are exempt from the points requirement come patch 5.3;
    • Elite Tyrannical -- ilvl 515, purchased with conquest only after earning 27,000 conquest points in the season.
  • There will no longer be any rating requirement to purchase any gear
  • Players with higher ratings will still have a higher conquest cap
  • A dramatically increased catch-up cap will be implemented with patch 5.3

Initial impressions

This is a change for the better. The limit of 2200 imposed on gear was arbitrary, and caused an artificial line which was difficult to cross later in the season. Players who are high-rated will continue to be high-rated, and will continue to have faster access to better gear. The difference now is that the gear gulf is not so massive, and is on a smooth curve rather than suddenly jumping at 2200, and that lower rated players will be able to gear up to the same level as higher rated players, with time.

The comments from players who assert to be higher rated in the original blog are not surprising. Some high-rated players will doubtless be frustrated and annoyed that low-rated players now have access to the same gear as they do. The playing field is now much more even, and, for me, that's how it should be. There is still a reward for high rating, namely, that the elite gear will be accessed far more quickly thanks to the elevated cap.

However, this might slightly contradict Ghostcrawler's earlier tweets regarding the PvP gear grind:

This tweet was controversial at the time it was made, certainly, as there are many, myself included to some extent, who feel that PvP should be more about skill than about gear. Do the changes demotivate high-rated players to maintain their high rating? For me, rating is its own reward, but I cannot speak for the entire community. And, of course, there is another set of gear to strive for, so that provides additional impetus to keep playing, along with the rating inflation changes.

The conquest point catch-up should, in my opinion, be implemented earlier than patch 5.3. Naturally this depends somewhat on the patch cycle, and how quickly patch 5.3 arrives, but it is a great idea, and Blizzard should perhaps consider introducing it four weeks into the season, or at a similar point so that players don't just delay getting into PvP until patch 5.3. Additionally, while I think the item levels of the Malevolent and the Tyrannical work well, perhaps the Dreadful is too far behind, and, just maybe the Elite Tyrannical is too far ahead. The gap between the Dreadful and the Malevolent is the same as in this season, and it's a big gap. The top-end gap is likely fine, but maybe just a little too large.

Daxxarri
Change is coming to PvP gear in the relatively near future, and we wanted to provide a not-so-brief update on the improvements we're planning, while pulling the curtain aside a bit so you can see the thought processes that motivated the coming changes. We also thought this would also be a great time to get the World of Warcraft PvP community involved in the discussion.

The Challenges
There are a few main issues that we're working to address within the next couple of patches:

Early Advantage
Currently, it's very common for players that have a head start at the start of the season to earn the best gear quickly and gain a dominating position on the ladder with a very high Match Making Rating (MMR). It's then pretty common for those players to only participate on the ladder in a minimal way before reaping their rewards at the very end of the season. That's not particularly good for competition, and we don't think that it's a very fun way for a competitive ladder to work. We would like to see the ladder remain active, and for high ranking players to earn their positions throughout the season, instead of just blitzing early and camping a spot above a certain threshold.

Mid-season Start
Players getting into PvP mid-season face a very significant challenge to gear up and become competitive because players that started earlier in the season are so far ahead in terms of gear. We want to make it more reasonable for a player to join in on organized PvP mid-season, while still rewarding the commitment of players that have remained invested in PvP throughout the season.

Rating Requirements
The current rating requirements on PvP gear create an artificially sharp division between players over 2200 rating and those below that rating threshold, which is unduly difficult to cross. We'd prefer that teams progress up the ladder on a curve against gradually more difficult opponents, instead of running into a wall at a certain rating.

Gear Advantage
Over time, the gap in power between Honor and Conquest PvP items has widened. This happened, in part, because it's necessary for us to preserve the balance in power between PvP and PvE gear so that one doesn't become the most obvious path to victory for the other. Right now, there are four tiers of PvE items, but only two tiers of PvP items. To keep Honor items from being the best choice for entry into PvE, they needed to have a lower item level than equivalent Raid Finder items. At the same time, Conquest gear still needs to be better for PvP than Heroic raid items, which puts it way over on the opposite end of the power scale from its Honor counterpart. While there are items that bridge the gap between Raid Finder and Heroic Raid loot, there really haven't been any PvP items to bridge the gap between Honor and Conquest gear. We plan to solve that problem by introducing new tiers of PvP items, changing which currencies it takes to buy items and when, and by making PvP weapons more readily available in general.

Flexibility
While the item upgrade system has the benefit of allowing players that have "finished" their PvP set to continue to progress their character's power, because there's built-in pressure to continue upgrading their main set, it also means that players don't always feel comfortable spending those points on alternate sets of gear for different specs (though it's worth mentioning that the upgrade system will be disabled for patch 5.2). We'd like to make it easier for players in this position to experiment with alternate specs and stats.

Moving Forward
Meeting these challenges will mean that some changes are coming to MMR, PvP gear, and how gear is earned and paid for:

Team Rating Inflation
As we've mentioned previously, we want to see the ladder rankings decided toward the end of a season, and not a foregone conclusion dictated by what happens at the start. As discussed in the PvP in Mists of Pandaria Dev Watercooler, as of patch 5.2 Team Rating will gradually increase as players participate in PvP over the course of the season. We expect the new system to help ensure that the ladder remains active at all ratings and that the competition stays fierce from start to finish.

Gear Changes
To accomplish the goals of making PvP more accessible and less punishing, gearing more consistent and flexible, and flattening the power curve out over the course of a season, there are some significant changes in the works:
  • 2200 rating requirements removed from all PvP gear. (5.2)
  • Gear will be available in four tiers:
  • Dreadful Gladiator's gear will be crafted. (5.2)
  • Malevolent Gladiator's gear, including weapons, will be purchased with Honor Points. (5.2)
  • New tier of PvP items: Tyrannical Gladiator's gear will be purchased with Conquest Points. (5.2)
  • Tyrannical Gladiator's gear can be purchased for Honor after 27000 Conquest Points are earned for the season. (5.3)
  • Elite Tyrannical Gladiator's gear can only be purchased with Conquest Points after 27,000 Conquest Points have been earned for the season. (5.2)
  • The 2200 rating requirements on gear will be removed in patch 5.2, and when that happens, the only barrier to acquiring top of the line Elite gear will be the 27,000 Conquest Point seasonal currency requirement. While highly rated players will still earn gear more quickly, there won't be an invisible wall to progression at 2200 rating.

As of patch 5.3, patches that don't include the start of a new season will offer players the opportunity to purchase Conquest Point weapons without first meeting the seasonal currency requirement for them. We're relaxing these restrictions because, by the mid-point of the season, the restriction has served its purpose and is no longer necessary. It's worth noting here that the 27,000 Conquest Points earned requirement must always be met to buy Elite armor and weapons in every season.

In terms of relative power, we're tuning the item levels, PvP Power, and Resilience on the new set of PvP items so that the difference between Malevolent and Elite Tyrannical Gladiator's gear is similar to the relationship between this season's Dreadful and Malevolent Gladiator's gear. This helps accomplish the goal of smoothing out the power curve by adding a tier in the middle of the PvP gear spectrum. Also, to add choices and flexibility, once the seasonal currency requirement is met, players will have the option to purchase Tyrannical pieces for Honor, which should allow players to more easily experiment with alternate stat loadouts and specs.

Mid-Season Catch Up
Players who are starting their journey into PvP mid-season start significantly behind the gearing curve. While we want to avoid invalidating the effort of players that have competed for the whole season, we agree with the feedback we've received that the starting gap is too large, so a new Conquest Point catch-up cap will be implemented using the following formula:

(Current week of the season) * 1000 – (Conquest earned thus far this season)

Here are some examples of how this will work:

Player A is starting PvP for the first time in week 10 of the season, and hasn't earned any Conquest Points at all that season. He will have an additional cap of 10,000 points added to his normal weekly rating based cap.

Player B has already earned 5,000 Conquest Points by week 10, so she would have an additional cap of 5,000 points added to her normal weekly rating based cap.

Player C has been playing all season long, and has earned more than 10,000 Conquest Points by week 10. He only has the normal weekly cap to work with (but should already be on their way to being well geared).

If a player "redeems" their catch up cap by earning all those points, then they'll begin the next week at their normal weekly rating based cap. Should they miss more weeks, then the catch up cap accrues again.

So, to sum up the planned changes for Patch 5.2:
  • Rating requirements will be removed from PvP gear.
  • Malevolent Gladiator's gear, including weapons, will be available for purchase with Honor Points.
  • A new tier of Conquest Point gear will be added that becomes available once 27000 Conquest Points have been earned for the season.
  • Team Rating will gradually increase during the season for teams and players that continue to compete in PvP. This system is explained in the Mists of Pandaria PvP Dev Watercooler.
And here are the specific changes that are planned to hit in Patch 5.3:
  • In patches that don't include a new season (including patch 5.3), the seasonal currency requirement of 27,000 Conquest Points earned will be lifted from weapons. The seasonal currency requirement must always be met to purchase Elite items, though.
  • Once the seasonal currency requirement is met, players will be able to purchase Tyrannical Gladiator's gear with Honor Points.
  • The Conquest Point catch up cap will be introduced.
Conclusions
Overall, we expect that these changes will create a more active and competitive PvP environment, narrow the gear gap between the highest rated players and those still working their way up the ladder, and open the door for more experimentation in terms of class or spec.

We look forward to hearing your opinions and feedback on these upcoming changes!



Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.

Filed under: PvP, Mists of Pandaria

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