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Filed under: Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

Patch 5.4 PTR: PvP changes thus far

Patch 54's Arena changes
A week or so back, I made a rather rash promise on Twitter. Blizzard Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street and Senior PvP Designer Brian Holinka were teasing their joint follower base about "exciting PvP work being done" on the PTR. I responded to this tweet, saying that if the exciting work was cross-realm arenas, I would bake them a million cookies. Each. You can see from the header image, and indeed from a recent update to the patch 5.4 PTR notes just exactly what happened next.

Blizzard announced, with those notes, that cross-realm arenas were here. They followed this up with a blog on the subject, so let's take a look at just exactly what the changes entail.
  • Arena teams have been removed. All you need to queue for arenas is a party of the appropriate size, so two, three, or five players.
  • You can make cross-realm groups to queue for arena, with friends of the same faction from anywhere in your region
  • The arena rankings, along with the titles and rewards associated with them, will be region-wide, instead of by battlegroup
  • Conquest point cap, MMR, ranking, and overall rating will now be based on you as a player, not on your team.

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

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.

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

Tie-breakers in the arena

Arena tiebreak systems
An interesting discussion began on Twitter a few days ago, between ArenaJunkies moderator QTPawzz and Blizzard's Senior PvP Developer, Brian Holinka. The two were discussing arena draws. If you're not familiar with the current system, if in 2v2, team A kills one member of team B, but cannot kill the other, meaning that at the point where the match times out there are two of team A but only one of team B remaining, there is a draw. QTPawzz was complaining specifically about his experience as an affliction warlock, trying to take down a discipline priest 1v1, his own partner presumably having died.

QTPawzz' suggestion was a shorter time limit, as well as a mechanic whereby the team that did the highest damage would win. It's an interesting idea, and something Holinka didn't seem averse to, given his responses. It's certainly a question that is likely to be both divisive and highly subjective, depending on the class or role that a player has adopted in PvP. For example, as someone who principally plays healing classes, with a side of DPS, the idea that the team with the highest damage should win in the event of a draw is immediately offputting.

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Filed under: Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

Patch 5.3: New Battleground Deepwind Gorge

Patch 53 PTR New Battleground Deepwind Gorge
The battleground is set in a relatively large map, reflective of its 15v15 size, with three mines in a north-south line across the middle. From the top to the bottom of the map, they are the Pandaren Mine, the Center Mine, and the Goblin Mine. The Alliance base is at the eastern end of the map, with the Horde starting at the western end. There is only one graveyard on either side.

As can be seen from the screenshot in the header image, there's a pretty open central run from the Alliance to the Horde bases, both of which look down on the Center Mine, which is indicated by the vertical beam of light in the middle of the image, and in the middle of the map!

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

Patch 5.3 PTR: Role Check in Battleground queues

Patch 53 PTR Role Check in Battleground queues
One interesting change to be added to the patch 5.3 PTR is shown in the above screenshot: role check. It will be familiar to any player who has previously used the Dungeon Finder and Raid Finder tools, with the three available roles that we're all used to.

So what is it doing in the battleground finder? This is all part of Blizzard's renewed efforts to bring much-needed changes to PvP. The plan behind this alteration is to balance the number of healers on each side of a battleground, to within a tolerance of one, as Blizzard PvP Designer Brian Holinka clarifies on Twitter. What does this mean? The plan is that, while there's no set number of healers for a battleground, there should never be more than a difference of one healer between two teams in a random battleground. Gone are the days of four healers on one team and none on the other, now, if one team has two healers, the other will either have one, or three. If one team has five healers, the other will have either six or four.

While my PTR shaman can't choose it, the tank selector is still active, for now at least. Certainly, there are several battlegrounds in the random queue where a tank isn't really a useful addition to a team, and so far we haven't seen any specific mention of an attempt to balance tank numbers, but it's possible that, in a flag-capture battleground like Warsong Gulch, there is an attempt to get each team a tank.

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP), Mists of Pandaria

How to find a rated battleground team

How to find a Rated Battleground team
Since Blizzard "fixed" the expansion-long "bug" that allowed players to max out their conquest points through arenas or random battlegrounds, rated battlegrounds, which for the purpose of this column will be referred to as RBGs, have become necessary content for players to max out their cap every week. And maxing out your conquest cap every week is, until patch 5.3 at least, something you would do well to be getting on with.

The trouble is that finding a rated battleground team is not exactly straightforward, especially if you're a player who's a little new to the PvP side of the game, so WoW Insider thought we'd run down some of our top tips for finding an RBG team. Of course, there's no cast-iron guarantees here -- we can't be absolutely certain that, even if you follow this to the letter, you categorically will find an RBG team to play with every week. That's up to you. But we can arm you with knowledge for your team-finding attempts!


Get Geared

This is pretty important, as it's essentially the first hurdle you're going to have for getting into rated battlegrounds. In order to gain entry to a team, whether you're a good PvPer or not, you need to convince people to bring you. Apart from having very high ratings and the like, which isn't usually viable for the newer PvPers this guide is mostly aimed at, one thing people are definitely going to be looking for is gear.

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

Level 90 PvP Gems and Enchants by primary stat

PvP Gems, Enchants and Consumables by primary stat
Everyone knows where to get their PvP gear -- it's on the Serpent's Spine -- and with Blizzard's changes to the gear vendor panes, it's fairly straightforward to whittle it down to just exactly what you're after. However, one thing that's not so simple is the rest of the work you need to do. As we all know, gear needs gems, and it needs enchants, and we've struggled to find a place that pulls together all the PvP options for that, so we through we'd make one. Let's get started.


Pure PvP Stats

These, naturally, are items that provide increases in neat PvP stats, with no secondary stats. If you look back at my column which covered the changes to resilience, you can see how important these stats are. Depending on your style, class, and the season, these may be the best choice. There are no Jewelcrafting-only pure PvP stat gems.

Gems:

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

Analysis of Blizzard's post on patch 5.3 PvP gear

Blizzard's official blog on Patch 53 PvP gear
The patch 5.3 PTR notes brought some big, scary changes to PvP, which WoW Insider explained for its readership yesterday, and now Blizzard's official blog has, as promised, arrived. It deals with a lot of the same concerns as we addressed yesterday, but also adds in several pieces of new information for players to digest. Let's start with that. Here are the changes in full:

Daxxarri
  • Base Resilience will be set to 65% for all characters level 85 and higher
  • Resilience will be removed from nearly all PvP gear
  • Players will still be able to use Resilience gems and enchants
  • PvP power will remain exclusively on PvP gear
  • PvP set bonuses that currently provide Resilience will now provide PvP Power
  • Healers and hybrid-casters will benefit to a greater degree from PvP Power, and Battle Fatigue will increase to make PvP gear superior for healers.
  • The Big Change: We will be adding an item level ceiling to all gear in unrated Battlegrounds, Rated Battlegrounds and Arenas
  • All gear with item levels higher than 496 will be scaled down to 496 (Conquest gear item level). This includes even Conquest items that exceed the ilevel ceiling, such as weapons.
In addition, some of the changes that we've discussed previously will also be implemented:
  • In patches that don't include a new season (including patch 5.3), the seasonal currency requirement of 7,250 Conquest Points earned will be lifted from weapons. The seasonal currency requirement must always be met to purchase Elite items, though.
  • Once the 27,000 Conquest Point seasonal currency requirement is reached, players will be able to purchase Tyrannical Gladiator's gear with Honor Points.
  • The Conquest Point catch up cap will be introduced. You can read our PvP Gear in 5.2 and Beyond blog for more information on these changes.

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

Patch 5.3 PvP Gear Changes: Don't Panic

Patch 53 PvP Gear Changes Don't Panic
I can understand why you did panic. The patch 5.3 PTR notes had a little section of PvP gear notes -- five bullet points that pulled the rug out from under our feet. These changes are characteristic of the bold, sweeping alterations that Blizzard's new PvP Designer Brian Holinka has been spearheading since he joined the company in August of last year. And these are big changes. If you missed the notes, let me repeat them for you here.
  • All characters now have a base Resilience of 65%.
  • Resilience has been removed from most PvP gear.
  • Season 13 Tyrannical gear had their item levels increased to ilevel 496, up from ilevel 493.
  • Season 13 Tyrannical Elite gear had their item levels decreased to ilevel 496, down from ilevel 512.
  • Battlegrounds, Rated Battlegrounds, and Arenas now have an ilevel cap. All gear will be scaled down to ilevel 496.
What does this all mean? I've been relentlessly bothering Brian on Twitter for your benefit, so let's run down how he's addressing players' concerns. Do note that Blizzard will release an official blog on this some time next week.

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

PvP in Patch 5.2: Gear changes, resilience changes, class changes

PvP Resilience changes in patch 52
Thanks, most likely, in no small part to the relatively recent arrival of Brian Holinka, a Blizzard recruit whose sole job it is to rework PvP, patch 5.2 is bringing in some seriously chunky PvP changes. We've spoken in the past of Blood Sport about the changes coming to PvP gear, and those begin in earnest when the PvP season starts on Tuesday. If you don't want to re-read the old article, the summary is as follows:
  • There will be four tiers of gear
    • Dreadful -- item level 458 crafted gear;
    • Malevolent -- ilvl 476, purchased with honor.
    • 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
And that's just the start. There are a lot of class changes, which bring out some clear winners and losers, as well as perhaps shifting the strengths and weaknesses of certain classes in the arena, and big changes to how resilience scales.

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

Is it time to kill Arena teams?

Is it time to kill Arena teams
I had a very brief twitter conversation with Blizzard Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street a few days ago. It went something like this:

His response was certainly interesting, and rather unexpected. Let's break it down into the two main parts.


Cross-Realm Arenas

First and foremost, what was I thinking tweeting that question? A friend of mine had recently returned to WoW after a hiatus, and leveled his feral druid to 90. He had previously been a friend with whom I did casual arenas on characters I wasn't too fussed about, we had a laugh, we won some, we lost some.

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

Three reasons to be cheerful about PvP

Reasons to be cheerful about PvP
Firstly, an important note: PvP gear is now available on the PTR for pre-mades. Get in there and get PvPing. The future depends on you!

I've been rather critical of Blizzard in recent columns discussing the state of PvP. I've spoken before about the problems PvP has faced in recent times, and while the current season's rating is in tatters and crumbling around us as yet another win-trading bug is exposed, yet more suspensions roll out, and yet more players are stripped of rating, we can at least do what the devs appear to be doing and look forward to patch 5.2, and a fresh start.

While it's yet another black mark against season 12 that another win trading bug has been doing the rounds, win trading is hardly new, and it's good to see that Blizzard are taking steps to fix it, if rather slowly. Win trading has been around for a very long time indeed, and there are whisperings that this bug has existed for some time, although that remains unconfirmed. Quicker action from Blizzard would be welcomed, but there may be things preventing this, that we're not aware of, behind the scenes.


1. Gearing changes are a good thing

These have been quite the hot topic of late, with the recently announced changes to PvP gear which purport to flatten out the gear curve and aid the late starter to the season. While many players on the forums seem to be the polar opposite of cheerful about these changes, asserting amongst other things that they're the worst thing to ever happen to PvP, the stupidest decision ever made, and various other prophecies of doom.

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

PvP on the PTR, and predictions for 2013

PvP predictions for 2013
We've had a lot of exciting news about PvP changes in 2012, with some promises not delivered upon, and some sweeping alterations in our chosen section of play. But let's get the tin foil hats on and see what we think is coming in 2013.

As I write this, the PTR is active, and I urge all arena and battleground fans to get in there and PvP as much as you can. Ghostcrawler has commented several times on twitter about how there's often not a great deal of PvP testing in PTRs and betas, which in turn leads to issues like warrior burst and the hunter Stampede bug going unnoticed. So, let's not let that happen again. If you're a PvP enthusiast, download the PTR, get on there, and PvP.


Class changes

The big winners and losers from the Patch 5.2 PTR changes appear to be to be monks and rogues on the winning side, and warriors, mages and feral druids on the losing side. This is not entirely unexpected, nor is it unfair, as monks were very under-represented at high level, as were rogues, with warriors and mages being on quite the opposite end of the scale. Feral druids I've included simply because of the Cyclone nerf, which is a heavy one to one of their major, and most aggravating crowd control abilities.

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

How do you pick a class for PvP?

How do you pick a class for PvP
It's a question which has been asked many a time on the forums, and many times to me, and likely at least a few times to almost anyone who plays WoW! If you haven't been asked it by others, it's possible you've asked yourself. It has a lot to do with personal preference, and while I can't pretend to know what you should play, I can help you have a fair stab at working it out for yourself.

Flavor of the month

If you want to work out a good class for you to PvP on, there are some questions you need to ask yourself about play-style, preferences, expectations, and what you want from your PvP.

One of the first things to assess is what you want from PvP. Particularly right now, although Blizzard's team are forever working to change this, there continue to be what are known as "Flavor of the Month" or FOTM classes, often just referred to as FOTM in the forums. These are basically whatever class is overpowered right now, so right at the start of Mists, before the Stampede bug was fixed, that was beast mastery hunters.

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

Has Patch 5.1 broken PvP?

Is PvP Broken
If you read the forums, you may well think it is. There are several very vocal threads about the state of PvP right now, about the heavy burst coming from melee classes with the weapons upgrade, and the absence of a resilience upgrade to repair it. Those threads are always very vocal, always very convinced that PvP is worse now than it's ever been. While I try my best to be positive about the game, I'm not entirely sure that the forums are wrong, this time around at least.

PvP Power and PvP Resilience

Patch 5.1 brought about some changes to these two stats, introduced by Blizzard to help make PvP balance easier. They essentially provide a dial, which allows the increase and reduction of damage, healing and defense in PvP, without those changes impacting PvE. They're a great idea, but before Patch 5.1, as I spoke about months back, they weren't quite working as intended.

One of the stated aims of PvP Power particularly was to remove the viability of PvE items in PvP. Blizzard's team have been very keen that PvE gear does not become viable in PvP, and up until recently, PvP weapons were, for melee classes in particular who are far more directly affected by weapon stats than casters, not the best choice for maximum damage output.

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

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