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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

Warlords of Draenor: Low level Battlegrounds to drop dungeon-style satchels

Senior PvP Designer Brian Holinka tweeted something yesterday that will be music to the ears of any player who wants to level via PvP.


Leveling via PvP is a hard-fought battle in WoW, XP gains are unpredictable, and unless you're using heirlooms you risk falling behind in gear gains and gold gains. So this change, put in place by Reward Systems Designer Russ Petersen, allows those players to keep up with their PvE-ing counterparts. It's fantastic news! I'd love to see some improvement to XP gains from battlegrounds, too.

And let's not forget that Holinka has previously hinted at Skirmishes being potentially available for leveling, which would be an incredible change. Certainly, the rewards would need to be ironed out, but that they're even thinking about it gives me hope for PvP leveling becoming something that more than just the dedicated or foolhardy undertake.

Filed under: PvP, Warlords of Draenor

Armageddon PvP tournament VODs online

If you missed watching PvP Live's Armageddon tournament live on Twitch, you're in luck because the first day of competition has been posted on YouTube for your viewing enjoyment. So tune in, study top arena team tactics, and up your own game. If these early matches don't hold your interest, you can jump to the end and watch the grand finale: Skill Capped vs. Three Amigos. We won't spoil the ending for you, but if you want to be spoiled, catch our tournament recap.

Also online are interviews with Brian Holinka and Kim Phan, as well as Swifty and Azael -- so if you're keen on PvP, you've got hours of viewing ahead of you.

Filed under: PvP

PvP-Live Armageddon Tournament

Followers of official Blizzard Twitter accounts will certainly have heard about the well-publicized WoW arena "Armageddon" tournament, hosted by PVP Live, that took place this weekend just passed. It was great to see Blizzard get behind a WoW PvP tournament in such a big way, after years of other, less recognized tournaments.

After some early issues with audio, which were mostly repaired by the Sunday, the tournament kicked off in style on the Friday night with a face-off to see which of the newer teams would claim the eighth "seed", by which they meant place in the tournament. Following that, the tournament continued, in a bracketed structure, commentated by the ever-outstanding Isaac "Azael" Cummings-Bentley and Jared "vhell" Coulston. They were joined by PvP-Live's "Mackaw" on a beautifully-crafted set to lead viewers through the tournament.

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Filed under: PvP

PvP and the barrier to entry

I was very disappointed when the Trial of the Gladiator ended up not making it as a PvP mode. I get all the objections to it (Olivia raises a handful of them here) but for my money, the biggest reason I stopped PvPing seriously way back in The Burning Crusade and never started up again is twofold - the introduction of Arenas and the rise of PvP gear.

For me, PvP (especially back when I ran the ladder) was all about going into a battleground, solo, and seeing what happened. Many times I got stomped so hard that I barely knew what my name was, other times we'd have a great game. After the ladder went away, I PvP'd even more because I was using the gear in PvE content - this was back before resilience even existed - and I wore some of that gear all the way to 70, as you can see in my mismatched set above. Even in BC, when resilience first took off and arenas were introduced, I often PvP'd to supplement my PvE gearing, or even to replace it on alts that didn't raid. But the more stratified PvP and PvE became, and the more gearing intensive PvP became, the harder it became to even do things like random BG's without first acquiring a full set of PvP gear. The barriers got taller and taller, and I was less and less interested in jumping over them.

I understand why this all happened - dedicated PvPers wanted a separate experience, free from the need to PvE at all. PvE players didn't like that sometimes the best route to getting gear was to run battlegrounds. Even now, with some 550 PvP items dropping from the Celestials, people are upset that there are PvP items that are better for them than PvE items. But for me, the solo PvPer, arenas and the stratification of WoW's PvP and PvE games became too great for me to keep participating. Even now that I'm PvPing more often, I'm only doing so at the end of the expansion, when I could buy a set of good PvP gear for justice points so I don't have to go into BG's without any PvP power and get steamrolled.

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

Honor hotfixes are live in a battleground near you

WoW Insider posted recently about upcoming honor hotfixes, which increase the honor gains from building up points and achieving small victories in battlegrounds. These hotfixes are now live, as Community Manager Lore tweeted today:


Periodic honor earned in points-based BGs, namely Arathi Basin, Battle for Gilneas, and Eye of the Storm, will be doubled, so you'll get bonus honor every 130 points as opposed to 260. This is altered for Silvershard, where it's every 200, as opposed to 265. The flag capture battlegrounds, Warsong Gulch and Twin Peaks, will see the Focused Assault debuff applied faster in an effort to make them shorter, and there's a bonus for capture prevention. Strand of the Ancients will give a bonus for destroying gates, or preventing their destruction.

It won't outdo the PvE methods for efficiency, but it's a step in the right direction.

Filed under: PvP

Warlords of Draenor: New instance technology, no load screen in new PvP island

Senior PvP Designer Brian Holinka has been teasing us with tidbits of information about Ashran, Warlords of Draenor's new PvP island, for some time now, both on Twitter and in interviews on the recent press tour. And now another little piece of intel that has wider-reaching ramifications than PvP alone.

This sounds excellent, firstly, for Ashran itself. The sense of immediacy, of being in the world and participating in a battle that is on your server, in your realm, will really add something to the experience. The sense of separation in instanced PvP removes something of the immediacy, the feeling that the other faction are invading your territory, that it's your personal server's fight. Not to mention, most people wouldn't be happy to call it world PvP if it was obviously instanced!

But, looking at the new technology, it's exciting to consider what options this opens up for Blizzard. It's more than just phasing, it seems, or Holinka would not have referred to new tech. Could we see this used for questing? For scenarios? Dungeons? Raids? For me at least, the opening scenarios for the Isle of Thunder would have felt a lot more authentic if I didn't have to go through a load screen.

Filed under: PvP, Warlords of Draenor

Honor changes not active until next week [Updated x2]


Last week we learned that honor changes were coming to battlegrounds across WoW. Too little honor was being earned in the multitude of BGs available, and in turn Blizzard decided to significantly adjust the rate at which bonus honor was awarded. For example, where previously you earned bonus honor every 260 points in Eye of the Storm, you'll now receive it every 130 points.

At a small level this won't have a major effect, but when you add up running a few dozens BGs while honor farming, it's going to stack up pretty quickly. This change also seems to be a good way to allow players to catch up and enjoy the expansion's PvP offerings near the end of its run.

However ... not quite yet.

PvP Designer Holinka tweeted that the changes will be coming next week. We'll just have to wait for "moar honor."

Update Part Deux: According to a source of Lore, this actually is happening next week.

Filed under: PvP

Changes to Honor earned in certain Battlegrounds

Blizzard Community Manager Lore has posted today in the official forums about some changes to honor earned in several different battlegrounds. His full post is, as ever after the break. The devs have concluded that players are earning too little honor in various different battlegrounds, specifically Arathi Basin, Battle for Gilneas, Eye of the Storm, Silvershard Mines, Warsong Gulch, Twin Peaks, and Strand of the Ancients. All other battlegrounds remain unchanged.

While these aren't huge changes, which is to be expected given that they're arriving via Hotfix, every little helps. The jist of the changes is that the periodic honor earned in points-based BGs in the list above will be earned faster, so you'll get bonus honor every 130 points as opposed to 260. This is altered for Silvershard, where it's every 200, as opposed to 265. The flag capture battlegrounds will see the Focused Assault debuff applied faster in an effort to make them shorter, and there's a bonus for capture prevention. Strand will give a bonus for destroying gates, or preventing their destruction.

Whether this will be enough to replace the most efficient methods of farming honor -- Krasarang rares, Isle of Thunder PvP dailies, Grizzly Hills quest and JP conversion -- remains to be seen. I suspect not, but it's at least a step in the right direction. Hit the break for Lore's full post.

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Filed under: News items, PvP, Mists of Pandaria

PvP Season 15 begins today

Blizzard has announced that PvP season 15 starts, as scheduled, on February 25. The ladders are already open, queues are already available for arenas and rated battlegrounds, and what's more, titles and rewards are already going out.

Blizzard
With weapons at the ready and armor secured, it's time to kick off PvP Season 15! The playing field is even once more, and this is your chance to prove that true grit and steely determination are what it takes to become a champion. So grab your most trusted companions and teach your enemies the true definition of fear!

Before you set foot in an Arena or on a Battleground, keep in mind we've made a few changes this season:
  • Conquest gear is now Item Level 550
  • The Dampening debuff will be applied 5 minutes after the start of an Arena match, and games will reach a draw at 20 minutes. Dampening decreases the effectiveness of healing spells by 1% every 10 seconds.
  • Base Resilience is now 77% (up from 72%).
  • Battle Fatigue is now 65% (up from 55%).
Good luck, champions-may the most bloodthirsty warriors win!

If you want to dive in with both feet, step one will be to farm out honor points for 522 gear. You can check out our past posts on this to discover the most efficient ways!

Filed under: PvP

Warlords of Draenor PvP: Everything is awesome!

I was already excited for PvP in Warlords of Draenor. I was already looking forward to the stat squish and the ability squish and the changes to casting while moving and the lowering of CC. Senior PvP Designer Brian Holinka has been tweeting about the internal testing in 6.0 environments, and I was already excited. You had me at the squish, Blizzard. You already had me.

And now, the latest PvP blog's arrival has basically blown my mind. If you missed it, WoW Insider published a short summary of the key changes. Skirmishes are in, Trial of the Gladiator is out. Spectator invitations are in, for wargames, as well as an API allowing addon creators to build interfaces around the invitations. And all these are really, really exciting changes.

Before you accuse me of being overly positive, I've been critical of PvP this expansion, highly critical in places, because I think it's had real problems. And it has -- it's fair to say that Mists of Pandaria has been an expansion of experimentation for PvP, and as is often the case with experiments, some are more successful than others.

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP), Warlords of Draenor

Simplify point-based currencies in Warlords

We've covered in the past how the best way to gear for PvP is to grind justice points, and I have recently experienced this - since I wanted to get some pieces of Season 14 for transmog (and to do some PvP on the side, since I like running random BG's) I spent the past couple of days capping honor so that I could pick up several pieces as soon as possible. This led to running dungeons for justice points. Lots of dungeons. And this led me to realize that justice points themselves have a lot of uses - picking up older gear to catch up, converting to honor for PvP gear - but they feel strange and antiquated.

There's literally two ways to get them in the current endgame - run scenarios or dungeons - and they only upgrade blue dungeon gear, so their use as an upgrade currency is fairly limited. While you can in fact also buy them with honor, that would have been self defeating in my case.

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

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