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Filed under: PvP

Warlords of Draenor: New Ashran achievements

Wowhead has datamined a whole bunch of new achievements, and the ones for Ashran interested me greatly - since I did some level 100 PvP recently (I didn't do very well at it, but I think at least part of that is my sheer unfamiliarity with it at this point) I'm definitely interested in how Ashran turns out.

I assume one of those two Take Them Out achievements will eventually be switched to Alliance, and hopefully captain will be spelled correctly. (The achievements have different ID's.) It seems the Alliance gets to summon something called Fangraal (presumably this fellow), and there's something called The Everbloom where Kirin-Tor Battle Mages can die while fighting something called Yalnu (since there's an achievement for them not dying, I assume it's fairly easy for that to happen) - these are pretty tantalizing hints for what we're going to see once we get in there. I'm wondering if there's a Horde equivalent to Fangraal - possibly this Lifeless Ancient Protector, or this Ancient Protector (both are relatively close in ID and come up on a search for 'Horde Guardian')? Time will tell.
  • Ashran Victory: Kill the opposing faction Commander while controlling all points on the Road of Glory.
  • Bounty Hunter: Loot all the following off Alliance player corpses:
  • Bounty Hunter: Loot all the following off Horde player corpses:
  • Tour Of Duty: Complete each Event at the following areas listed below.
  • Just For Me: Activate a Class Specific Book Epic Item found within Ashran.
  • High-value Targets: Defeat all of the creatures within Ashran listed below.
  • Opperation Counterattack: Defeat Fangraal within 5 minutes of it being summoned by the Alliance.
  • Grand Theft, 1st Degree: Loot 100 Artifact Fragments from an enemy Player, and turn them in
  • Grand Theft, 2nd Degree: Loot 500 Artifact Fragments from an enemy Player, and turn them in
  • Grand Theft, 3rd Degree: Loot 1000 Artifact Fragments from an enemy Player, and turn them in
  • Divide And Conquer: Kill 5000 enemy Players anywhere outside the Road of Glory within Ashran.
  • Weed Wacker: Defeat Yalnu without any Kirin Tor Battle-Mages dying in The Everbloom on Heroic Difficulty.
  • Take Them Out: Defeat all of the Horde Captians within The Road of Glory listed below.
  • Take Them Out: Defeat all of the Horde Captians within The Road of Glory listed below.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Achievements, Warlords of Draenor

Deserter debuff changes for Random and Rated PvP

PvP has long has the Deserter debuff, which means that there's a cost to simply dropping a game rather than taking the loss. However, that system is being changed in terms of how it functions in rated PvP like Arenas and rated battlegrounds. For starters, it's being applied to said rated PvP. In addition to now getting the Deserter debuff for rated PvP, how it works for random BG's will also be changing.

Lore - Upcoming Deserter Hotfixes for Rated PvP
As part of our continued efforts to curb exploitive behavior and improve the overall PvP experience for our players, we're applying a couple hotfixes that will make a few changes to how the Deserter debuff functions, and also apply it to Arenas and Rated Battlegrounds.

Once these hotfixes are applied, a player who leaves an Arena or Rated Battleground before anyone in the match has entered combat will, at first, be given a 5-minute Deserter debuff. If they leave another match prematurely within a 20-minute window, the duration of the Deserter debuff will increase by 5 minutes each time (and the 20-minute window will restart), to a maximum of 20 minutes. The debuff will also apply if a player leaves the queue (or ignores it) once the match is ready and they're given the prompt to enter.

The Deserter debuff given for leaving a Random Battleground early will also be changed to begin at 5 minutes (and increase by 5 minutes for each subsequent desertion), but otherwise the rules will stay the same. Leaving a Random Battleground in progress at any point before it's finished will give the Deserter debuff, and leaving or ignoring the prompt to enter a Random Battleground will not.

We're currently in the process of preparing and testing the hotfix, but hope to push it live with this week's maintenance period.


The change seems aimed at allowing players who just drop occasionally to get back into PvP relatively quickly, while becoming more onerous if you're a serial dropper. Rated PvP will also get the debuff if they queue but don't accept the queue, while randoms will not, which seems reasonable to me.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, PvP, Mists of Pandaria

Free Horde to Alliance Faction Change for Specified Realms

Starting this June 24th and lasting for two weeks, Horde players on the servers Firetree, Frostmane and Bloodscale will be eligible to transfer from Horde to Alliance for free. And to prove their seriousness, Blizzard is going beyond the usual here.
Guild leaders who want to faction-change their guild for free will first need to pay for the initial transaction, but will be granted a refund if they change to the eligible faction within the free-faction-change time frame.
What this is aimed at, according to the post itself, is queue times (especially in PvP) and it's a direct attempt to reduce them. So if you're a Horde player on those servers and you're looking to swap sides for shorter queues, here's your chance, and you can even bring your entire guild over for free.

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

Bloody coins now 100% drop rate


Bloody coins, which you get through the Timeless Isle's Fire-Watcher's Oath, have recently undergone some major changes. The drop rate was nerfed when the Censer of Eternal Agony was nerfed, and collecting bloody coins became a head-desking activity. Fortunately, that's changed now.

Hinted at over Twitter yesterday and posted on the forums last night, the Oath now guarantees a 100% drop rate on the bloody coins in Battlegrounds. Just get the killing blow and you'll be set. The full blue post as follows:
Lore
Thanks for all the feedback on this change. We agree that the chance to earn a Bloody Coin from the Fire-Watcher's Oath buff felt too low, especially with all the competition for killing blows in Battlegrounds. We've just pushed a hotfix that will increase the chance of earning a Bloody Coin from a killing blow while Fire-Watcher's Oath is active to 100%. Enjoy!

Filed under: PvP

Censer of Eternal Agony and Bloody Coin hotfix and changes

A very brief list of hotfixes for patch 5.4.8 were introduced on Friday, brief enough that they likely escaped the attention of most players. However, if you are one of the players currently farming Bloody Coins on the Timeless Isle via the Censer of Eternal Agony, you may have noticed a few changes in the way the Censer works, and in the manner that Bloody Coins are farmed. The cooldown for the Censer of Eternal Agony has been increased from ten minutes to one hour.

In addition, Fire-Watcher's Oath now has a cooldown of ten minutes, down from the one hour mark it was set at previously. Its cost is now 100 Timeless Coins, rather than 50 Bloody Coins, and the transformation now allows both mount usage and druid shape-shifting. In addition to that, the internal cooldown on earning Bloody Coins has been significantly reduced.

Community Manager Lore hopped on the official forums to discuss the changes in detail.

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Filed under: PvP, Mists of Pandaria

Warlords of Draenor: Build your own fel reaver

According to Brian Holinka, we'll be getting something that any old school AV players will remember for Ashran, the new PvP zone in Warlords - namely, the ability to create a mob that makes the other faction's day considerably worse.

It just gets my Ivus senses tingling, you know?

I realize that this may be the nostalgia talking (oh, what a potent drug that can be) but man, I hope it actually is a giant fel reaver. I have no idea how that would even be possible, but I still hope for it. Ashran is shaping up to be something we've not had in the game in a long time, a true free for all, and I'm very interested.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, PvP, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: New flavor items, weapons, and armor

For the Alliance!
Our fellows over at Wowhead have posted the datamined details of Warlords of Draenor's latest build, including a number of intriguing items from Ashran, WoD's new world PvP zone. The quest items, doubtlessly linked to killing members of the opposite faction, are particularly fun. Thanks to the Tauren Hoof, you can enjoy your favorite gelatin-based chewy candies, or collect and grind Draenei Tails to help spice up your love life. You know, if you don't mind some mindless slaughter (and this is Warcraft, so of course we don't!). Other new faction quest items include the Severed Night Elf Head, Worgen Snout, and Forsaken Brains.

Even more interesting than these are the epic-quality PvP weapons pulled from the latest build. Not many are listed so far; just a priest staff (Nozaro, Staff of the Heavens), and a paladin mace (Rowyn, the Jailer's Gavel). Both weapons are only usable in Ashran, and will disappear upon leaving the isle. Both of them also have really cool abilities. The priest staff will levitate you high in the air for 30 seconds, out of enemy range, and the paladin mace will teleport an enemy player to your faction's prison. How neat is that? These can't possibly be the only Ashran weapons; certainly there will be at least one for each class. I wonder--what kind of effects will they all have?

As if the weapons weren't enough, a single piece of armor pulled from the patch invites rampant speculation about the nature of gear we might see in Warlords. That would be the mail hunter boots, the Simplyswift Treads, which removes the cooldown from Disengage. If this effect makes it to live, it could mean huge things for class gear in the upcoming expansion. What other abilities may we see modified in such a way? If you were designing a piece of gear like this for your own class, what would it be? There are so many possibilities!

Filed under: News items, PvP, Warlords of Draenor

Hotfix to address issues with flag carriers in rated battlegrounds

It's tough carrying the flag in Warsong Gulch or Twin Peaks, primarily due to the Focused Assault debuff which increases the damage you take when you pick up the flag -- but it's about to get a little tougher for tanks playing these rated battlegrounds. According to CM Lore, in rated battlegrounds tanks who carry the flag should be getting a bigger debuff -- 50% additional damage compared to the 20% others get. However, a bug is currently treating tanks just like everyone else, so expect a hotfix soon (no restarts required).

In addition to fixing debuff damage, there are plans to add the same kind of debuff system to orb carriers in rated Temple of Kotmogu and cart carriers in rated Deepwind Gorge. These changes will take effect next maintenance cycle.

All of these changes are for rated battlegrounds only, where they should make it a bit easier to take out enemy flag carriers -- and tougher to keep your own alive.

Filed under: News items, PvP, Hotfixes

The tension between balance and player interest

I'm looking forward to Ashram, the new PvP island zone in Warlords that seems to combine elements from zones such as the Timeless Isle, Wintergrasp, and the old days of world PvP. So I tend to go looking for information on it, which is where I found the following.
With cross-realm groups being possible on Ashram, this is a perfect example of the ways the game has to balance what most players will do vs. what some players will do - balance the min-maxing attitude vs. the more common, and more often executed, use of a feature or game element. Ashram as it stands will allow players to group cross realm - this is intended so that players who have characters on separate realms (my wife and I, for instance, often would run the Timeless Isle on characters that were on separate realms) can still go to Ashram. This is a good and fun use of cross-realm grouping. But there's a potential down side to this.

Since cross-realm grouping is possible, we know the next step - something like oQueue that allows you to put together a group of 40 players and go destroy Ashram on an already imbalanced server. If a certain server is already heavily skewed towards the Alliance, putting together a 40 player group (since Ashram exists in the world and not in a raid instance) and just destroying any hapless Horde you come across, or vice versa. Even if you don't pick a server with a faction imbalance, it's still feasible that a big raid group could end up owning Ashram for an extended period of time, and using players that aren't even on the server.

Decisions in the game's design are always made between these two poles - between the ease of abuse, and the benefit it brings to individual players. Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, things don't work out like we'd hope. Reforging, as an example, falls into the 'possible player imbalanced use trumps player convenience' category.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Warlords of Draenor

How PvP gear works in Warlords

Say you want to PvP in Warlords of Draenor -- how are you going to go about gearing? How is gear going to work? Well, Blizzard's Lore went and put a whole lot of information about that very thing into this huge post, and it's very much worth reading. Because it explains:
  • PvP gear with now scale up in power when you enter a PvP zone (battleground, arena, Ashram) or when you are attacked by another player. This is intended to remove the sometimes confusing extra stats we've seen proliferate since Cataclysm.
  • All gear, even PvE gear, will scale up in designated PvP areas in a similar fashion. It won't eclipse PvP gear or its scaling, but the intent is that PvE players who are poorly geared won't immediately explode in PvP content.
  • The exception is mythic quality PvE gear. It's ilevel is high enough that it will be slightly downscaled in PvP zones in order to keep Conquest gear the best option for PvP.
  • PvP will now reward strongboxes for completing objectives and winning matches, and these strongboxes can contain rewards up to and including actual PvP gear.
  • There will now be three tiers of PvP gear - starting gear, earned via strongboxes, with a fast accumulation rate, veterans gear, from both strongboxes and honor, and finally gladiator's gear from conquest points.
For the full details, Lore's post is chock full of information. It also teases an upcoming post about how Ashram is going to be implemented, which I'm interested in reading.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Warlords of Draenor

Further MMR adjustments for Rated Battlegrounds

You may recall that, a little while back, WoW Insider posted about the changes being made to MMR tolerance in order to repair the ladders after a bug. It seems, unfortunately, that these changes did not go far enough to rectify the issues for players of Rated Battlegrounds. It makes sense that, for this far less played discipline, MMR issues have not self-corrected.

As a result of this, matches played are still resulting in 0 point rating gains with wins, which is disheartening at best. So Blizzard has come up with a simple solution that might have been a faster and more popular fix to the initial issue -- increase everyone's rating to get it closer to their current MMR. If these terms are confusing, I made a fair attempt at explaining them in the last post.

This, coupled with the initial increased tolerance in MMR to rating parity, should result in everyone gaining points for wins. Hit the break for Lore's full post.

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Filed under: PvP

Warlords of Draenor: The changing face of buffs and debuffs

One of the changes that will have a pretty significant impact on how we play both in PvE and PvP is that many buff and debuff spells are being changed or removed. It can all seem a bit complicated at first viewing, what with all the class specific changes, but it's really fairly easily broken down and it won't directly affect how you play all that significantly. We're going to go over the changes and explain what they are and how they'll change how you play, if they do.

First up is the Weakened Armor debuff. Essentially, this is the old-school Sunder/Expose Armor affect. It's gone entirely. Rogues no longer have Expose Armor, warriors no longer have Sunder Armor and the Devastate prot warrior ability no longer applies Weakened Armor. In addition, the druid ability Faerie Fire now applies Physical Vulnerability instead, increasing all physical damage taken by its target by 4% for 30 seconds. This is because it was thought that having both Weakened Armor and Physical Vulnerability was excessive, since they did basically the same thing. What this means in terms of how we play? Almost nothing. If you're a rogue, you won't use Expose Armor anymore because it's gone. A warrior tank will hit Devastate the same as they always did. Druids are still going to use Faerie Fire to debuff things. Hunter pets that had similar abilities will no longer have them.

Next up is the Weakened Blows ability that almost all tanks had - it reduced incoming damage. The abilities that provided it still exist, they simply don't provide it anymore. Thunder Clap is an example of an ability that currently provides the debuff, but won't in Warlords. Since all tanks applied this debuff, it basically wasn't very meaningful, and instead monsters will simply be tuned to do less damage to compensate for its removal. What changes for players? Nothing. You won't apply the debuff, but you'll still use those abilities that did once apply it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Raiding, Warlords of Draenor

Rating issues for Arena and RBG wins

There is a strange issue taking place at the moment with rating. Rating itself is a tricky thing to wrap your head around, especially as it's recently gone thorough something of a shift. Right now, your character has two ratings for every bracket of arena, and for RBGs. One is the MMR, the matchmaking rating. This is the rating the system uses to match you up against similar level players. It's shown at the bottom right of the scoreboard after every match, as an average of your group's character MMRs.

The other type of rating is CR, Current Rating. This is the rating that your character earns by winning and losing matches, the one that's shown in green and red letters in the main part of the scoreboard. It's also the rating that gets you titles and mounts. Every season CR is reset to 0, while MMR remains what it was last season. So, if you ended season 14 on an MMR of 1800 and a CR of 1880, you'd have begun season 15 with an MMR of 1800 and a CR of 0.

What happens next is that as you win games, your CR increases towards your MMR. You should expect it to stabilize as you reach a CR that's near your MMR. As you win and lose games, your MMR will also shift. Your MMR aims to give you a 50/50 win-loss rate, as when that's achieved you're being pretty evenly matched.

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Filed under: PvP

80% don't use the battleground blacklist


The discussion last week about blacklisting PvE dungeons brought the PvP blacklist back into the spotlight. People were talking about it, and it worked its way into a discussion with Brian Holinka over Twitter. When someone stated that battlegrounds queues are long because of the blacklist feature, Holinka responded:

That number is really surprising to me -- the vast majority of those in the queue for battlegrounds are not using the blacklist feature. Maybe it's just me, but when I queue for battlegrounds I commonly queue up with a blacklist or two (especially Arathi Basin). I wonder though if this is just a situation where people don't see it or realize it even exists. Minor changes to the UI promoting people to pick exclusions could help increase its use.

Nonetheless, this is an interesting insight into how players are engaging the game.

Filed under: News items, PvP

Cynwise talks about faction imbalance in random battlegrounds

If you only read one post about faction imbalance in random BG's this year, it should be this one. The always excellent Cynwise of Cynwise's Warcraft Manual (ask for it by name) does his usual thorough job exploring the numbers behind the game. If you were a fan of Nate Silver's election coverage, then you should be reading Cyn's work, as he does much the same kind of thing with the information behind what's going on in World of Warcraft.

This particular post is too dense for me to do it any justice, but just as a summation, Cyn explores the way faction imbalance affects random BG's in several ways - how perceived imbalance affects player choices, how the overall popularity of the factions plays out, and the way in which dividing players into factions in the first place causes instability in the representation. It's really a remarkable and remarkably well presented post, and I urge you to go read it.

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

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