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Filed under: PvP

Patch 5.4.7: PvP gear will be ilevel 550

Senior PvP Designer Brian Holinka has confirmed via Twitter that PvP gear in season 15 will be ilvl 550.

And just in case, like me, you weren't 100% convinced he was serious, Community Representative Lore also tweeted confirming the item level was correct. Does this mean that the season is imminent?

Is this good or bad news? Depends what you play the most. If you're a PvE-er this is not such great news. Double-upgraded Flex gear is now 2 item levels behind Conquest gear. But more relevant is honor gear. What this means is that, if you're starting from scratch, the best way to hit a higher item level is no longer to farm Timeless Isle. It's to kill rares in Krasarang, do dungeons to get JP to convert and buy honor gear, which will likely be 522 or 524 ilvl, or to do PvP.

No player with a preference for PvP or PvE likes to feel they have to do the other to gear up. While this PvP gear won't have the PvE set bonuses or similar, and may not be superior to Flex gear as a result, it could still be perceived as such by someone focused on ilvl alone.

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Filed under: News items, PvP, Raiding

What do Battleground win-loss numbers really tell us?

MMO Champion recently posted an interesting graph indicating win-loss percentages for the different battlegrounds from different factions. Now, they were clear, as any good data gatherers should be, that their data isn't perfect. It's very hard for anyone except Blizzard to gather perfect data on these sorts of things, and MMOC made no bones about it. Nonetheless, Blizzard's Senior PvP Designer Brian Holinka confirmed over the weekend that they were representative of the trends:


It's interesting to note that Holinka is quick to dispel the notion that maps are imbalanced. But let's look at the ones completely outside the RBG rotation for a moment. Isle of Conquest (IoC) is a really interesting one. It's one that it is definitely easier for Alliance to win, thanks to how the Docks is marginally closer to their base than to the Horde one, but in no way does it account for that magnitude of difference. Indeed, looking back at MMOC's 2011 figures tells a very different story.

What this tells us is which battlegrounds Horde downvote. Horde have a minor disadvantage in IoC, and so the experienced PvPers will downvote it. This means that the Horde players who are in IoC are often newer players, less likely to be able to stop the Alliance Docks-->Glaives-->Win strategy.

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Filed under: PvP

How can Blizzard improve Honor with Warlords?

If you read my recent initial PvP gearing post, you'll know that we're in a bit of a strange situation right now with earning honor. Honor points are the points for the mid-level PvP gear, where the entry level is crafted gear and the top level is Conquest gear. They are currently not earned at their best rate via PvP. Instead, in order to maximise your Honor point gains and gear up with Honor gear as quickly as possible, players would be best advised to do a few different things.

First up, you should farm the three rares in the opposing faction's Krasarang base. They drop 275 honor per kill, more if you have a Guild Standard or similar. Their respawn time averages out at around 30 minutes. There are sometimes oQueue realm-hopping groups, which, while frowned upon by many, are the most efficient ways to farm them.

Other than that you should do Wintergrasp and Tol Barad whenever they're up, they're usually deserted and an easy way to get some fast honor. And if that all seems too much waiting around doing nothing, then you can farm Justice Points by running heroic dungeons, and converting them to honor. Yes that was changed with patch 5.4 to be less efficient, but it's still far more reliable than what you should be doing: random battlegrounds. Yes, your first win of the day is worth getting, it nets you conquest points too, but if it takes you five tries to win one, you're wasting your time.

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Filed under: PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP), The Art of War(craft) (PvP), Warlords of Draenor

Four reasons why PvP Dampening shouldn't start at 5 minutes

This is something I discussed, in vague and mysterious exchanges, with Senior PvP Designer Brian Holinka on Twitter. While he certainly didn't confirm that Dampening would be moved to starting at 5 minutes, like it was at the BlizzCon tournament, he certainly implied that that was something the devs were considering. For the uninitiated, Dampening is a debuff currently applied to all arena players after 10 minutes of a match that reduces their healing and absorbs by 1% every 10 seconds.

Now, first and foremost, I have to make it very clear that on a purely personal level unrelated to game design, I dislike this debuff immensely. I dislike the change in power, I dislike knowing that as a PvP healer, no matter how carefully and efficiently I play, my effectiveness will decrease and decrease as the match continues. It's a horrible feeling, and I think Brian Holinka was right, way back in May 2012, when he said the devs "didn't really like the idea of your power changing over time" in response to a tweet asking for an ever-increasing Battle Fatigue. And yet, here we are.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP

Warlords of Draenor: PvP Power's proposed re-design

Blizzard Community Manager Lore has been posting up a storm in the PvP forums, talking about the proposed redesign to PvP Power with Warlords of Draenor. There's also another post after the break.
Lore
Quote:
If you guys are doing as much number tinkering as you claim I don't know why you wouldn't take this opportunity to rethink pvp power altogether

I'm all for differentiating gear but I find it pretty silly that a stat called "pvp power" exists at all.

We are planning to revisit PvP Power in Warlords. Our current thinking is that, instead of a flat percentage increase to your normal damage/healing in PvP (as it is currently), it'll be a bonus amount of your spec's primary stat (Strength, Agility, or Intellect).

Here's an example with some completely made-up numbers: lets say a piece of gear has 80 Strength and 30 PvP Power on it. In a PvP environment, that would total out to be 110 Strength. Meanwhile, an equivalent piece of PvE gear might only have 100 Strength on it. Again, those numbers are purely hypothetical, but hopefully it illustrates the idea.

That change accomplishes a couple of things for us. First, it lets us keep PvP and PvE item levels closer together, while still ensuring that PvP gear remains best for PvP and vice versa. It also "demystifies" PvP Power quite a bit; a percentage-based increase can be hard to really quantify without a lot of math, but raw stats are much easier to understand.

As to the name, we can talk about it, but part of why we chose the term "PvP Power" to begin with was that it makes it extremely obvious that the stat only functions inside PvP environments. We want to be sure that players who purchase PvP gear know that it's going to be less effective in PvE situations. I'll bring it up, though :)

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Filed under: PvP, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: More on PvP damage and potential Resilience removal

Blizzard Community Manager Lore has posted on the official US forums in response to a thread about PvP target dummies. He also, in doing so, ha added some more detail to the changes to Battle Fatigue and Base Resilience that Senior PvP Designer Brian Holinka tweeted about late last week.
Lore
Great suggestion. I'll be sure to bring it up with the team :)

That said, we're doing a lot of retuning of how health works in comparison to incoming damage in Warlords, with the hope that we won't need (or can significantly lessen the effects of) things like Battle Fatigue or Base Resilience. If all goes well, there shouldn't be as nearly as substantial of a difference between PvE and PvP damage output.

Still, it's a great suggestion, and there will likely still be at least a small difference (due to PvP Power if nothing else), so I'll make sure to pass it on.

So it looks like the way Blizzard might be trying to work Resilience and Battle Fatigue out of the game is to rework how health is tuned relative to incoming damage. Maybe, as Celestalon has tweeted in the past, the way that stamina converts to health could be altered, allowing PvPers a larger health pool.

The problem is, of course, that at the moment the damage output in PvE is necessarily higher than that in PvP. Players don't have the health pools of raid bosses, and there's an eternal arms race to generate bigger numbers in PvE that means player abilities hit way harder. I've seen Chaos Bolts crit for huge numbers, often over 1m. My PvP characters have around 550k health on a good day. This is the issue that Resilience and, as a result of having to heal raid damage, Battle Fatigue are there to fix. While I really hope that Blizzard can repair the issues they have right now, I am glad they're not removing resilience completely just yet.

Filed under: PvP, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: A peek at Diminishing Returns changes

Senior PvP designer Brian Holinka has been on Twitter today clarifying the changes to diminishing returns in Warlords of Draenor. Along with the recently posted indications of changes to CC, Community Manager Lore tweeted and then posted about the changes to DR, or Diminishing Returns:

Lore
One other thing I just mentioned on Twitter that I'd like to bring up here as well -- we're also planning on having fewer DR categories (and thus, more shared DR's) in WoD. Again, still in development, anything can change, but that's what we're looking at.

The reduction in DR categories is welcome indeed, as we've discussed here in the past, there are 117 abilities across 13 categories, excluding things which CC and don't DR at all. This is baffling for new PvPers, and even advanced players often won't know every spell's category. As part of the big CC cull in Warlords, Blizzard's devs are looking to simplify DR. And Holinka has added more detail to their plans.

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

Warlords of Draenor: Base resilience and Battle Fatigue potentially eliminated

Senior PvP Designer Brian Holinka has been tweeting up a storm today on the topic of PvP design plans for Season 15 and Warlords of Draenor, the most interesting of which is the following:

I think this is an admirable goal, base resilience and battle fatigue are confusing to some, and annoying to others, but I'd be really interested to see how they do it. Resilience, although not Battle Fatigue, has been part of the game almost since PvP first got instanced, and it's a valuable option for the devs to tune incoming PvP damage so that it can cope with the ever-inflating stat levels in PvE. Yes, there'll be a squish, but then PvE will still almost certainly scale up.

So I'm pleased they aren't planning on taking the rather bold step of completely removing it, to leave themselves without the option to reintroduce it easily would seem a little foolhardy, and not something they'd be likely to do. I'd imagine that if it were to go, there'd have to be some method to increase player health, or at least effective health, in instanced PvP, and there'd have to be some formula changes to healing, too. I'm looking forward to beta!

Filed under: PvP

Warlords of Draenor: More information on player CC removal

Blizzard Community Representative Lore has been over on the official forums providing players with more information on the planned reduction in CC that will be implemented in Warlords of Draenor. While Lore isn't exactly spelling out what will and won't be removed, he is talking about how the devs currently like CC in talent trees, particularly when it's three abilities over one row.

The reason for this is that it forces players to make intelligent choices about the CCs they take. Struggle with casters? A root won't do you any good. Know you're facing a lot of fear breaks? Don't take that, then. And it cuts down the overall number of CCs available to existing players. This, to me, is far better than the current trees for, say, warriors, where Storm Bolt and Shockwave are both on trees with two DPS abilities -- although Dragon Roar is a knockback. These two abilities would be far better off on the same tree, perhaps with Dragon Roar as the third. Bladestorm could then join another CC break + damage increase -- Avatar -- on another tier.

Lore also mentions, in the blue post after the break, that they will not just look at talent tree CC, but at baseline abilities as well. What's more, given the removal of CC abilities, CC breaks will need to be slimmed down, and that is on the devs' radar. In a subsequent tweet, he adds that DR categories are being looked at. With 14 at the moment, this is also a welcomed change.

Hit the break for Lore's full post.

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Filed under: News items, PvP, Warlords of Draenor

Esoth explains how to serve Ordos on the Timeless Isle

No, it's not a cookbook. Not exactly, anyway. You will be scorching your fellow players, however.

If you've ever been interested in farming up some Bloody Coins on the Timeless Isle but didn't understand how it all worked, Esoth has a complete guide for you on how to go about doing just that. You first have to find Speaker Gulan and pony up 1000 timeless coins for a Censer of Eternal Agony, and then the fun (if you like killing players of every faction) begins. While I won't try and recap all of Esoth's article here (you should definitely go read it, it's very comprehensive) I will point out a fact I learned from reading it - while under the influence of the Censer, not only are you hostile to all players (Horde or Alliance) who are not under its influence, you are friendly to all players who are - meaning that your undead rogue using the Censer will be friendly to that gnome warrior who had the same idea to go farming for bloody coins. Shakes of the zombie invasion, eh?

So head on over to Esoth's write up if you're feeling like spreading some mayhem. And remember, don't complain when we gang up on you and kill you sixty times in a row so we can get back to farming elites. You asked for it.

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

My Warlords of Draenor Wish List

It should be noted that these are not features that have been announced, nor even speculated about or teased to my knowledge - if they have, I missed them somehow. It's possible. I'm human, I miss things. But I was thinking about the features announced for Warlords of Draenor (including recent announcements that blood elves and draenei will be among the races who get new models) and I realized that there's all sorts of things I'd like to see that haven't even been mentioned yet, and while I don't expect they'll happen, I might as well share them with you in the hopes that they may end up arriving at some point down the road. After all, transmog and LFR happened in the middle of an expansion, and they both worked out pretty well.

So here we go.

Level scaling

This is one I've wanted for a while. With flexible raiding now a reality, I'm drawn back to the idea of being able to scale your level down to run older content with friends, something the late, lamented City of Heroes had (called mentoring/sidekicking in that game). We've been teased with this potentially existing as recently as October of 2013 and whether or not it was a hoax then (I personally have no idea) it's something I've wanted for years. Sure, it's fun to bring your level 90 to an old dungeon and blow it up sometimes, but I want the option to step myself down and run it at an appropriate level in appropriate gear if I so choose. I'd also like to be able to boost a friend up to my level so that we can run stuff together, although I suspect the free level 90 boost is aimed at handling this same problem. Basically, anything that lets friends do more stuff together, I'm down for.

And speaking of that...

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Filed under: PvP, Raiding, Warlords of Draenor

Russian servers to join EU battlegrounds and arenas

Blizzard EU Community Manager Takralus posted today about a change to the Battleground grouping in the EU in patch 5.4.2.

Takralus
The winds of change are blowing across World of Warcraft's European Arenas and Battlegrounds. As the next step in what we started with Patch 5.4 and its changes to region-wide matchmaking, Russian and European players will soon be able to face off against each other.

Every player queuing for a Battleground or Arena will still join a team with players from realms with the same language designation – German with German, English with English, and so on. However, this change means that now a Russian-speaking team might be pitted against a team from anywhere in Europe.

Russian players will still be able to join a cross-realm group with their RealID friends from European realms, and queue with them for Battleground and Arena matches.

And finally, so you'll know who cut you down just as you were capping that flag – players using non-Russian clients are now able to see character names in Cyrillic.

This is great news for EU and Russian servers, it will result in reduction in queue times, and a larger pool of players to draw from. But for both sides, there's quite the language barrier.

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Filed under: PvP

World of Warcraft, complexity, and design vs. sprawl

One of those trends that comes out of reading a lot about World of Warcraft is you start to see patterns in the responses. One trend I (and others, to be fair) have noticed coming out of BlizzCon, and then from discussions with people that I think needs to be understood and explored by players is the notion of vastness in World of Warcraft - this is a game that has recently celebrated its ninth anniversary. In that time it's seen four expansions, with a fifth on the way. Each of these expansions has added something to the game - reforging, transmogrification, arenas, new raid content, new dungeon content, new classes, new spells and abilities, new levels, new stats - and in many cases, this all increases the overall complexity of the game. It goes far beyond simple to understand symptoms of this growth, like the upcoming item squish, and into a realm of interconnected complexity that causes dominos to fall in directions we may not have even seen before it happens.

We started the game with three classes capable of tanking. We're up to five. Along the way, tanking has changed and changed again, until its modern implementation barely even resembles what we were doing back in the days of ten or fifteen person UBRS groups - tanking today has a host of mob control abilities in order to allow them to more effectively control groups of adds, tools for mobility and is based around actively reducing incoming damage in a way it simply wasn't years before. Now, consider this - how does the game itself change in order to challenge the modern tank? What does it do to demand they play to their best? Encounters of the past wouldn't even make a modern tank blink - what challenge would Garr pose to today's tank, for example? A bunch of adds? Bring it. So design has to take these new tanking modes and abilities into account and provide new ways to give them difficult encounters... and these encounters thus create, in their turn, the new tank of the future.

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

Patch 5.4.2: Accidental Dampening change will be hotfixed, hunter PvP nerfs will not [Updated]

A few stealth changes have crept onto live servers in patch 5.4.2, without making it into the patch notes. Both of them relate to PvP, and while one is accidental and will be fixed it could be coming in 6.0, the other is here to stay. If you're an arena-focused hunter, you're not going to like this much.

First up, let's examine the change made to Dampening. Dampening was introduced to the game after patch 5.4 to fix the issues caused by The Crowd Chose You. Dampening is a stacking healing reduction debuff, that decreases healing done to players and pets by 1% per 10 seconds, up to a maximum of 60%. This would usually kick in after 10 minutes, but was starting at 5 minutes. This was accidental and will be hotfixed as Community Manager Lore explains:
Lore
No need for alarm – we'll be hotfixing Dampening back to a 10-minute start time (with Arena matches ending at 20 minutes).

As you might be aware, the WoW Arena Invitational at BlizzCon was configured to have Dampening begin at 5 minutes, with a 15-minute round timer. Those changes were intended solely for BlizzCon, but made it over to live servers as part of the 5.4.2 patch. Again, this was unintentional, and we'll be hotfixing things back to normal ASAP.

However, the change to hunters' Dismiss Pet is intentional. It was being used to get full-health pets in the arena, and to reset cooldowns on things like Roar of Sacrifice. Now, hunters will only be able to swap pets before the arena starts, and this is intentional. It won't be changed back. Hit the break for Lore's post on the matter.

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Filed under: PvP

Warlords of Draenor: What CC needs to be cut?

Blizzard Community Manager Lore posted yesterday about the devs' plans to reduce CC with Warlords of Draenor's changes to abilities. If you haven't been keeping up, their general plan is a so-called ability squish, removing certain skills from every class, with a particular focus on those suffering from button bloat, such as hunters and shaman. We spoke a little while back about how they should cut abilities, and what you could stand to lose, and now Lore's weighing on CC.
Lore
We are planning to take a strong look at CC in Warlords with the intent of dialing things back a little. We do think it's important that players are rewarded for using CC intelligently (by coordinating usage, being mindful of diminishing returns, etc), but we think we can approach things in a way that allows us to tone down CC overall while still providing that gameplay.

To me, the key here is this: "We do think it's important that players are rewarded for using CC intelligently..." CC, in my opinion should have to be used intelligently. It shouldn't be something you use just because it's off cooldown, because there's no risk to using it, because it's effectively a surefire thing. That is not intelligently using CC, that's using CC blindly, and it's because there's no risk to doing so. So, what's bad CC? What would I cut, if it was up to me?

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

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