Where’s the PVP?

Let me start this massively procrastinated blog post with a really quick rant: patch 1.0.6 only contained two bug fixes and some background “road work” for improved chat features? REALLY? And then to top that off we’re teased with 1.0.7 news will be forthcoming … soon’sh? Boy does the Diablo 3 development team sure know how to keep us all on pins and needles with anticipation.

Okay, I’m being a little harsh. Patch 1.0.5 was a massive improvement to the game in just about every single possible way and 1.0.6 hopefully fixed the bug that allowed duping to happen. BUT WHERE’S THE PVP JAY WILSON? Prior to release Mr. Angry Robotics stated that PVP should come well before the end of the year and if it didn’t that it would be considered a disaster.

Well, by looks of the calendar on the wall there’s only just over a month to avoid a disaster.

So it’s pretty obvious that with all of the clamoring for a better end-game focus on PVP took a back seat and I agree completely with that decision. At this point PVP is going to be almost impossible to attain any shred of balance with the massive gear gap present in the game. If you’re a have-not you’re going to be instantly decimated by the haves.

Critical strike chance and critical strike damage are so incredibly broken that even if they were to cut those stats by 75+% that those without good gear still won’t be able to compete. And there will be a LOT of have-nots returning to Diablo 3 and jumping into PVP once it finally comes out.

So what’s the solution? Sadly I don’t think there’s a good one.

Awhile back there a PVP vendor was data-mined which would definitely lead us to believe that the D3 team will be taking a page from the WoW team by creating PVP gear for PVP. This gear will likely mirror what is currently in WoW today with two new stats on gear: PVP Power and PVP Defense. These two stats will presumably put everyone on an even playing field since no one will have PVP gear initially, but again those that have will easily decimate those that have-not and will be able to attain all the PVP gear they need to widen the gap.

Perhaps balance will be thrown out the window since it clearly won’t be easily attained and I’m sure we’ll hear things like “PVP is something to do on the side — for fun — and is in no way to be intended as an end-game progression system.” It’ll be a cop-out but we all know what the forums will look like after PVP is introduced.

If you thought the QQ present on the forums today is bad, just wait until PVP is launched.

So what’s the solution? You can’t back down from bringing PVP to the game, but there’s little chance for it to NOT be broken when introduced. Is PVP destined to be a massive failure and disappointment? Will it take months of tweaks to get right?

I’m sure these questions are the reason that we haven’t seen PVP yet. If they rushed PVP out without addressing these potential problems it could do far more harm than good. A broken PVP system would permanently drive everyone that has been waiting for it.

So while I am disappointed that we still don’t have PVP and haven’t heard much about the progress being made to get the system in game, I’d rather the dev team took their time to get it as right as they can before unleashing it to us. I want smashing puke doctor faces in to be fun, not frustrating ^^;

A Passion Re-Ignited

Let me preface this entry by stating that I began writing this before patch 4.2 dropped but between a trip to Disneyland with my wife and all of the hullabaloo over 4.2 my blog became a distant concern. I’m not apologizing for the neglect over the past month, but I did want to explain to a small degree why there has been yet another lapse in my long career of lapses. You won’t hold it against me, right?

Anyhoo, let’s move on into the meat of this post …

It amazes me how with each expansion my approach and focus to my long-time gaming addiction changes. In The Burning Crusade most PvE content was out of my reach, not only because of the painful rep-grinds but also because I was having to balance time against the birth of my daughter. These restrictions led me back to an aspect of the game that I once spent a good chunk of time in, PvP.

Granted back then I did most of my PvP on my priest, not my rogue. It was something that I could jump in and out of without adversely affecting the gameplay of my friends or whomever I was grouping with at the time. Even though it started off exceptionally frustrating until I got my rogue enough gear to survive long enough to provide any kind of threat. Once the gear was mostly not an issue my enjoyment of the competitive nature of PvP soared.

Then Wrath of the Lich King arrived and my focus shifted back to running PvE content. My daughter was older and my ability to commit longer chunks of game-time increased to where I could run heroic dungeons. With my PvP-focused priest lagging far, far behind in levels I decided that I didn’t want to once again subject my rogue to the grueling gear-grind to become viable in PvP once more. Death Knights were the bane of my rogue’s existence when I did foolishly venture into PvP as they were EVERYWHERE and would death grip me away to my demise. So I hung up my PvP boots and embraced trivialized heroics as WotLK matured.

Yet there was a apart of me that yearned to return to the PvP scene; watching PvP videos certainly didn’t satiate my hunger. Unfortunately the barrier to entry was so painful that when I did decide to jump back in, it was already far too late in Wrath’s life for me to get my priest caught up. Besides, most of my time was already occupied running lots of PvE content with my rogue and death knight tank, finding time to fit in PvP would have been impossibly difficult.

That’s where the great world sundering of the Cataclysm strode in to save the day; that and the birth of my son. Back are the days of spontaneously needing to jump up and tend to my son at the drop of the hat and my inability to dedicate chunks of time to run PvE content, especially since Cata brought back lengthier dungeons. Once again I’ve returned to clashing with the opposing faction, this time from the opposite faction than before. Instead of jumping into the fray from any of my horde toons I am spilling the blood of my “former” comrades with my Draenei mage.

Fret not, however, I haven’t completely forsaken my horde toons and still have grand plans to get my Undead priest caught up and in the middle of the action … as soon as I find the time to do so. Until that fateful day I’ve been spending the majority of my time working on my mage as well as watching mage PvP videos to keep my motivation and drive going. I still have a lonnnnnng way to go considering that I still need to drop herbalism from my mage and pick up engineering for all of the fun toys tinkers get to play with in BGs.

At first I tried running with frost my mage and was getting my ass handed to me on a regular basis. Sure I wasn’t properly spec’d for PvP but there was something about frost that didn’t sit right with the mentality I was taking. I like to be mobile in PvP and in order to deal my best damage I had to be a stationary glass cannon. I was also running into issues with my water elemental running off and/or not following me when it came time to retreat. I knew I needed to try something else and to make sure that whatever it was that I picked the right talents for PvP. That’s where this video CHANGED MY LIFE …

Well, okay. Maybe it didn’t actually change my life but it definitely did change my mage’s life. Fire is just an absolute blast to play! Pun-intended. While I’m still far from a high-level of play I’m learning the in and outs of playing as a fire-battle mage and enjoying the hell out of it. That’s the most important thing, right? Once I get my mage’s gear together and her engineering up I know she’ll be a wrecking ball out on the battlefield and I can not wait, but for now she’ll just have to be satisfied with occasionally wrecking people.

Roles

A new design philosophy is about to be dropped on WoW with hybrids becoming viable role-fillers other than just providing extra utility. Up until now boomkins/kitties provided lackluster DPS compared to pure DPS classes, but now will be on par with everyone else. This has many pure classes upset and fearful of losing their raid spots, but I think they’re missing the “why” this change is coming.

Most buffs are becoming raid-wide which makes a raid organizer’s job a lot easier. Instead of worring about properly stacking the right classes for encounters, they only have to worry about stacking the right amount of tanks, healers, and damage dealers. In addition to this simplification, pure classes have been given more seasoning and utility so they shouldn’t feel obsolete and/or unnecessary.

While some preferred the overtly complicated theory in raid composition, this change will make raiding slightly more accessible for everyone. If you’re good at your role, you’ll find a raid spot.

While the PVE QQ is mostly unwarranted, where this change will hold more ramifications is in the realm of PVP. Many people already feel druids are OP in PVP based on their ability to deal decent damage, keep themselves up, and/or mitigate damage to hold out for reinforcements. While spec will play a large part in just how viable each role will play for a druid in PVP, I’m really worried about a druid’s DPS as a rogue. Abolish poison is severely OP and will become even more so after wounding poison no longer stacks.

Druids with substantial resilience will be an absolute nightmare to take down I fear. Unless you have buddies with you focus-training the druid, a druid can step in and out of different forms to make life painful. They’ll be able to provide substantial DPS in either kitty or boomkin form, switch out to HoT themselves when needed, and in an emergency switch to bear form to possibly last just long enough for their bleeds and/or dots to take you down. I only hope that their healing is not adequate enough while spec’d for DPS to completely reverse the work of a pure DPS class on them.

But hey, on the other side of the coin, PVP with my druid maybe a lot more fun in the expansion. ^^. *whistle* Now onto something slightly related …

Holy crap, ME WANT! Sure there have been TCG loot cards that have been really cool, but this “Owned!” thumbs-down flag to add insult to injury is just too damned awesome. Hopefully it won’t be fetching insane prices on eBay. If I can pick one of these up cheaply … I’ll just have to do it.

Run-down

Here are the upcoming iLevels for the PVP equipment in WotLK:

  • Crafted PVP Set: ilvl 187, Rare quality
  • Savage PVP Set: ilvl 200, Rare quality (unrated arena plus honor)
  • Hateful PVP Set: ilvl 200, Epic quality (1665+ min rating requirement plus honor)
  • Deadly PVP Set: ilvl 213, Epic quality (1900+ min rating requirement)
  • “Off-set” PVP Gear: ilvl 200, Epic quality (rating requirements?)

It looks like getting in on the ground floor of season 5 will be much easier than in previous seasons. The gear gap between Deadly set and the crafted set is only 26 item-levels so without having set foot in an arena or battleground a fresh 80 should be able to feel moderately competitive. Granted, being new to PVP (or at least new to PVP with a new class) is already placing the player at a disadvantage, they can at least gather enough resilience to not be instantly gibbed.

Savage Gear — No Rating Requirements
Hand 200 AP 3600 Honor
Shoulders 275 AP 4800 Honor
Legs/Chest/Head 350 AP 6000 Honor
Shields 350 AP 6000 Honor
Thrown/Wands/Relics 175 AP 3200 Honor
OH Weapons & Items 200 AP 3600 Honor
MH Weapons 475 AP 8400 Honor
Caster Weapons 575 AP 10000 Honor
2H & Ranged Weapons 700 AP 12000 Honor
Note: It is not known which marks (if any) will be required to purchase these pieces

With no rating requirements and modest arena and honor point costs, savage gear will be easily attainable for even casual PVPers. Even in the sub-1500 ratings, players should be able to acquire a piece of savage gear pretty much every other week without too much dedication.

This procurement should make stomaching the arena easier for arena noobs or those that despise the arena; but a word of advice for someone new to the arena scene, don’t save your arena points to acquire your weapon first. I know it is tempting to get that shiny weapon, but upgrading your armor first will make you more competative sooner than later. Remember, the arena is about survival first (especially if you’re a healer) and your DPS drops to ZERO when you die.

I could break down the Hateful and Deadly sets, but honestly their rating requirements will put them out of reach for most casual pvpers. (Hell, I hope I can manage to get at least hateful equipment ;_;) But for the time being, everyone should plan on trying to get their savage sets early in season 5.

Overdue

No matter how much I intend to update this journal, I always seem to allow laspes … of the large kind. So let’s see if I can’t get everyone caught up with my going-ons …

Seems Blizzard will be releasing WotLK November 13th despite indications from the beta that it won’t be completely ready. But what ever is? When I worked at Namco games would routinely ship with bugs in them; sometimes even game-crashing bugs. Then when you think about the constantly evolving nature of a MMO, it only makes sense that they’d push it out sooner than polish it to a spit-shine.

Unfortunately 11/13 falls smack dab in the middle of this school term which will limit my game time. If I were not taking vacation time (Nov. 13,14,17-21) I’d barely be able to spend time in Northrend. Taking some time off from work will allow me to split my focus between school and WotLK while maintaining a happy household.

Being a month out from the expansion has led to changes in plans, mainly that I’ll be getting my rogue to 80 pretty much before anything else. With the changes that have come to the combat tree, I may just return to a combat build for leveling, (and maybe even for PVP given the mobility nerf to lolstep). I’ll toy with a mutilate build once 3.0.2 hits next week, but I’ll have to toss mongoose on the daggers I have: [Direbrew’s Shanker] & [Retainer’s Blade].

Part of the reason for the decision to focus solely on my rogue come expansion time is to get in on the ground floor of level 80 arena. My current 3v3 partners and I will be reforming a 3v3 team for season 5 and we’re determined to not allow gear dictate our ratings as much.

Last week we went a disappointing 4-6 dropping us to the low 1400s which killed our morale and drive. Yet we gathered again and went 7-3 this week pushing our ratings back to scratching at that ellusive 1500+ rating … le sigh. At this point in the game we keep running into teams with s3 weapons and/or s4 gear, even in the sub-1500 bracket.

Granted there isn’t a /huge/ difference between our s2/3 gear and s3/4 gear we’ve been facing, but folks that have acquired said s3/4 gear are far more experienced in the arena scene and have strategic advantages. Fortunately the arena scene will be almost completely different in the 80s and we’ll be learning along with the rest of the scene. So we’re confident that we’ll fare much much better in WotLK.

As for other WotLK plans, my mage on Whisperwind is easily going to be level 55 by the launch (she’s currently @ lv52)and I’ll probably put more focus on my DK on Whisperwind than I will on Cenarius (my main server). I don’t really need another alt on Cenarius to neglect, but having a DK on Whisperwind will give me more reason to spend time over there. Besides, I’m sure the alliance in the Rampage battlegroup could use a good/decent PVPer.

While my DK on Whisperwind will likely become my main, I’m determined to get my mage to 80 to PVP with her. Well, her and my DK of course. Seems that I live for PVP in WoW despite how inherently flawed it is. *smirk*

And now for some random screenshots …



Water elementals + Frost Spec = Paaaaaiiiiin


Brewfest Concert Event in BRD


Thunder Bluff is so beautiful

And now for some random thoughts …

  • I feel completely lost watching season 3 of Heroes (haven’t seen seasons 1 & 2)
  • I really like the new Filter album that was ninja released back in March (just discovered it last week)
  • My front yard is a complete loss; completely infested with crab grass
  • My sister picked out a stuffed Cactaur for her birthday present
  • I really need an iPhone 3G so I can listen to the Woody Show while not in Live 105’s broadcast area
  • When will the Niners get a good QB again? J.T O’Sullivan is NOT the future of the Niners
  • It’s October already?!
  • I’m sick of politicians and wish someone decent would actually run for office (hate both Obama and McCain)

Short-fall

I really don’t want to QQ, but getting into arena-based pvp this late in the TBC cycle is frustrating. Simply put, gear just makes too much of a difference (skill can only compensate so much) and if you’re just starting out, you’re pretty much fodder for those that are rolling s3+ gear.

Okay, so I’m not completely uber-undergeared (Nevik’s Armory), but lacking 400+ resilience makes cheat death worthless. I swapped the 3 points I had in CD into Master of Subtlety and so far I’ve been happy with the results. Sure, once my arena teams get above 1600 and we’re consistantly facing well-geared opponents I’ll need to respec to get CD back for survibility when focused, but for the time being, the extra burst damage is coming in handy.

Ran 20 matches (10 in 2v2 and 10 in 3v3) and ended up once again 50/50 on our wins and losses. We got absolutely trounced, twice, by a war/shaman/lock team in 3v3 where the majority of them were rocking t6/s3 gear. Considering that our hunter lacks the most amount of pvp gear, when he got focused, he died faster than any of us could react.

Then in 2v2 with the priest we got to QQ over the a-typical druid/war combo that is very very difficult to play against as a lol-step rogue and hybrid disc/holy priest. Afterwards we strategized on how to approach the match and came up with the conclusion that without a substantial burst of damage, we’ll have to CC the warrior and burn the druid down.

To accomplish this, we’re hoping that I’ll be able to open with a sap on the warrior while the priest begins a mind control while I hopefully find the druid. Should the warrior trinket the MC my priest will then scream the warrior off and when he breaks the fear by stance-dancing I’ll toss a blind on him. At this point hopefully the druid hasn’t run too far away and/or I can catch the druid in travel/caster form with a 5pt kidney shot (after opening on him with a 5pt imp.exposed armor) and burn him down before he can react while my priest mana burns and pw:deaths him to help with the burst.

Seems fairly simple, but execution is something that we’ll need to master. There is no room for error against a war/druid comp because a single hamstring/mortal strike on me = QQ. We’ll get more wiggle room as we continue to gear up (s3 pants will have to wait until next tuesday ;_;) and as we improve our coordination overall. (Broken record, I know ….)

On a positive note, I’m getting far more confident that our 2v2 rating will continue to improve as the weeks go by (we improved our rating in 2v2 by 20’sh points) and hopefully we’ll stop the hemorraging of our 3v3 rating (lost 3 pts) providing that our hunter team-mate grinds some BGs to improve his DPS.

And then there’s the approaching gear reset for 80’s arena. Still no details on how it’s going to work other than arena 71-79 will be skirmishes only while 80 is the return of rated matches (lv70 matches will also remain rated). Yet there are more lingering questions such as: will pvp-oriented gear be obtainable through leveling (either through instances or questing)? will s3/4 arena gear hold up and be a good starting ground for season 5? when will season 5 start up?

I just hope that once Blizz announces an actual date, they stick to it (yah right ….) so I can take a week of vacation to focus on burning through to level 80 and get as much of a headstart on lv80 pvp as possible. Yup, looks like pvp is going to remain my focus.

Decisions

Twenty-three months have passed since I blog’d about what potential talent builds I’d pick up for TBC. I figure it would be fun to reflect on those ideas and look forward to my current ideas for WotLK with my rogue. Back in August ’06 I laid out 4 talent spreads, 2 combat specs, a mutilate spec, and a pvp spec. Unfortunately I don’t have “snap-shots” of those builds, so I’m at a loss for what my “pvp idea” was, but suffice to say, rogue talents have gone through some changes since then.

In the end I mostly stuck with a combat build (20/41/0) since it provided lots of solo-oriented and group/raid talents. Of course instead of utilizing swords, I’m a mace-rogue if only because my buddy Trogdor assisted me with forging my Dragonstrike. Then once I got serious about pvp, mainly because raiding is pretty much not a possibility, I’ve stuck with your “cookie-cutter” lol-step build (20/0/41).

I’m still contemplating taking 3 pts out of cheat death for master of subtlety considering at 299 resil, cheat death only occassionally makes a difference as I usually die a (split)second later. Getting an extra 10% damage for 6 seconds could give me that extra burst damage I need in the arena when I’m able to properly open on someone: (Premed > Cheap Shot > (Imp) Expose Armor > Vanish > Cheap Shot > Hemo > Kidney Shot)

Speaking of arena combat, so far my 3v3 team with priest buddy and his brother’s hunter is slowly coming together. We’re still ranked really low (1449 rating as of our last outting) but overall our gear is pretty bad (I have about 100 resil on my other teammates) and we haven’t completely fleshed out our teamwork and plan-of-attack based on enemy composition. With that said, we’re doing well considering and for the most part going 50/50 with most of our matches.

We’re on the threshold of getting our first piece of season 3 gear; if we manage a 1554 rating we’ll have 1500 pts on Tuesday. I was hoping to hold out and pick up the s4 pants, but considering I’m still wearing the ghetto-pvp pants (rep pvp gear) picking up the s3 pants will provide a substantial increase to my stats overall. I’m also only a mere 8k honor away from picking up the +80 AP trinket which will bring me well over 1600 AP and make me a little more effective.

After that, I’ll more than likely upgrade my s1 head to s3 head and socket a relentless earthstorm diamond in it as opposed to a powerful earthstorm diamond. I’m also hoping to run a kara or two, or three, to get those leather boots that Moroes drops for even more socketing fun and to finally slap an enchantment on my feet. (I’m still boot-enchantless >.<)

So while there is still a lot of gear upgrades for me to obtain for pvp, the realization of just how much better my rogue is geared now prior to WotLK compared to how he was geared prior to TBC is incredible. It also has definitely affected my WotLK plans, and I’m pretty sure I’ll start WotLK on my rogue with a (16/4/41) build and dump those extra 10 talents points into the combat tree as I level leaving me with 16/14/41 build.

Going with that hybrid leveling build should provide substantial mob-killing power and give me some tricks like lol-step to make leveling fun. My current spec is actually faster at killing mobs solo than my combat-mace spec. So I’m fairly certain that it’ll remain faster as I continue to gear up prior to WotLK. Yet I don’t plan on keeping that hybrid spec once I do hit 80 as return to the pvp scene, or possibly start raiding.

While it’s hard to truly gauge what pvp will be like at 80 I’m either leaning towards 30/0/41 or 58/8/5. Going with 30/0/41 gives me the same pvp-flexibility I’m accustomed too right now while adding in seal fate for faster combo point generation. The mutilate build seems like it’d be tons of fun, even though it’d lack mobility. It would also hinge the acquistion of pvp-daggers (or if the removal of “Required: Daggers” is not a bug, maces will be lots of fun to mutilate with =).

If I do decide to put more focus on grouping and raiding, I’ll probably go with either Combat Maces (20/51/0) (Or combat swords) or try being a positional rogue with Combat Daggers (17/50/4).

Whichever spec I end up with mainly depends on weapon acquistion as I level, but if Blizz does impliment the ability for us to carry 2 specs, obviously I’ll carry one of the two pvp specs and a combat spec. I’ll probably continue to refine these specs as the trees are tweaked, and/or more information becomes available to what the new end-game/pvp will be like.