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Your PvP Questions: Spell announcers, MMR and patch 5.3

Your PvP Questions
It's been a little while since I last did a PvP mailbag, and the emails have been piling up! So, if you have PvP questions, do drop me a line, I will do my best to respond to them, possibly in columns such as this one, or if I can fire off a quick email I will. Do note that I'm far from a PvP specialist in all the classes in WoW, and PvP questions which are class-specific would probably be better directed to the relevant class columnist.

Janrana wrote:

Hi Olivia, since reading about it a while back in one of your columns I've been a big fan of SpellAlerter, but it doesn't seem to have had any updates in a long while and is a bit broken for me. It doesn't seem to have all the spells any more and it also causes some errors to appear when it's on. Do you know of any alternative?

As it happens, I do! First and foremost SpellAlerter is alive and well... ish. It was updated for patch 5.1, but hasn't had any further updates since then. It still works at least fairly well, but I wouldn't rely on it completely. At least, it still allows you to set up custom alerts, so if there are spells it's missing you can add them in.

Your PvP QuestionsAnother alternative is OhSnap, one I've been using myself recently. It works very similarly to SpellAlerter, but without such a large selection of spells, and unfortunately there isn't yet the option to customize the spell list to add or exclude specific spells. Nonetheless, OhSnap seems to have most of the major spells in place, things that you'd need, and although it is far from perfect it's not throwing any interface errors at the moment.

It shows you four categories of spell for your target, and sporadically for other enemies, and these can be edited to include or exclude various components, as well as have the font changed. However, that is really the only customization available within the addon, so if you're after something more easily tailored it's probably time to break out the big guns.

And those big guns, in this instance, are to that perennial favorite, which I don't like at all, GladiatorlosSA. Why don't I like it? Because of the sound alerts. I find them distracting when I should be communicating with my team-mates, rather than helpful, and would far rather have text alerts, but there's no denying that GladiatorlosSA is a very well-made, very comprehensive and very popular addon.

NicoSinatraGrindley asked in The Queue

Can somone please explain MMR..... to me it seems bull sh*t, my 1600 or less team goes again 1700+ mmr rated teams. but when we lose we lose a huge chunk of rating a maximum of 16 we we gain a maximum of 13 rating change upwards... but teams with a mmr at 1700-1850 gain 69 rating, then if them 1750 team lose they lose 0 rating... we went against a comp that had 1589 mmr and lost to us.. we joined instantly again and they had 1650 rating and won.. they lost 0 rating and gained 69 rating.. this is just a horrible head ache to me... please I'd appreciate any advice on this.

I thought I'd pull Nico's question out and actually answer it properly in a column, as the answer I gave in The Queue's comments was brief at best. Basically, MMR and rating are two separate systems. Yes, they both have the word "rating" in them, and both are ratings, but it's important to distinguish between them to avoid confusion.

MMR is Matchmaking Rating, which is the system used by the game to match one team against one of similar skill. Your MMR will increase or decrease according to your wins and losses, so if you've never played any arenas before you'll start with an MMR of 1500, and if you lose to a 1500 rated team the system will conclude that you're actually not a 1500 MMR team, and pull your MMR down a bit until you stop losing. The MMR systems is essentially aiming to give you a 50-50 win-loss ratio, so that you're winning half your matches. It's perfectly normal, when you're first getting started, to drop a few points in MMR until you're down at a level where you can start to win, by the way, so don't stress about that!

Rating, on the other hand, is a different system altogether. While you begin with 1500 MMR, you will have a rating of 0. If you beat a team with a higher MMR than yours, you will gain more rating, if you beat a team with a similar or lower MMR, you will gain less rating, if any. Your rating increase is therefore based on your MMR and the MMR of the teams you face. Rating gains do not relate to the opponent's rating, rather to their MMR.

What was likely happening in Nico's situation was that he was facing a team with a similar MMR, but a low rating. They could have just got started that season and been winning and therefore gaining big chunks of rating, with their rating being well below their MMR they will gain more even from matches against lower MMR teams. The system tries, to an extent, to match your rating to your MMR, so if yours are fairly equal and you're sitting at around a 50-50 win-loss, you'll only be gaining and losing small chunks of rating unless you beat a team with a far higher MMR than your own.

What about personal rating? Why is that different to team rating? The game doesn't want you to stroll into a 2.4k rated team and instantly have 2.4k rating, rather you should have to earn your rating just like that team did. You'll start in any new team with a personal rating of 1,000, and quickly gain rating to match your team rating, as long as you keep winning. For rated battlegrounds, your starting rating is zero, and you'll gain at a steadier pace.

Now, I do understand that this is pretty confusing. So, let's have some bullet points to sum up what I've spelled out above:
  • MMR (matchmaking rating) is how teams are matched against each other.
  • Team Rating, usually just called rating, is the points gained or lost by winning and losing.
  • Personal rating is the rating of an individual player in that team.
Hopefully that's cleared a few things up!

Sally asked:
Will PvE gear be better for PvP than PvP gear when patch 5.3 starts? I've been told it will be, and want to start doing more PvP, should I stop trying to get PvP gear?

In a word: no! PvP gear will remain the best for PvP. Brian Holinka, the new Blizzard PvP designer, has been very clear about this on Twitter, and while there may well be some outliers, the overall design intent is for PvE gear to be passable for PvP, but not the best.
Do you want to capture flags, invade cities, attack towers, and dominate the enemy for your faction? Do you dream of riding your War Bear with pride? We'll steer you to victory with secrets of Battlegrounds and Arena, prepping you with proven addons and keybindings that win! Send questions or comments to olivia@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

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