Saturday, April 30, 2011

Why I Don't Like the 4.1 Conquest Point Change

If you don't PvP, you probably were ambivalent towards the change in the number conquest points awarded in patch 4.1. If you're a talented PvPer and have an excess of conquest points, you're probably annoyed, but by now you probably primarily play for rating, not to buy things.

As for me, I have no aspirations of a title this season, since I'm only doing 2v2. I'm playing for fun and the thrill of making that clutch save, but that doesn't mean I'm not affected by the change. Since I'm not interested in how high I can get my arena rating, I play just to get my points for the week. Once I'm done, I stop.

And that brings me to the conquest point change.

Community Manager Zarhym wrote:

We saw that Arenas and Rated Battlegrounds were over-rewarding players for the time investment required, particularly compared to point gains in PvE. We felt the change we went live with in the patch was a little bit too low and overcompensating though, so we buffed up the numbers for wins just a bit to 180 (Arenas) and 400 (Rated BGs).

Now, I don't disagree with the time investment for epic PvP gear vs. epic PvE. My first two weeks of arena netted me my epic healing mace while the non-PvPers in my guild are still salivating for the maces off of Cho'gall and Nefarian. I don't have to worry about the whims of RNG. Two weeks of playing for a little over an hour and I got a mace better than anything out of a heroic.

I was actually quite surprised when I learned how quickly conquest gear came to me. I stopped doing any PvP other than arena and Tol Barad, just because I couldn't justify the time vs. honor gained (not to mention that when I first got my paladin to 85 the battleground queues were buggy for Horde). An hour of arena vs. an hour of battlegrounds? It's no contest.

Gillien is ilvl 356 in his PvP gear, and I'd wager I spent less time assembling that than I have Hana's 358 and she's my raiding main.

Considering that I agree with Blizzard's assessment, it might come across as strange that I don't like their change, but what bothers me isn't that they fixed it. It's how they fixed it.

When arena was first introduced it was as a casual form of PvP where people could earn gear and titles without doing the crazy High Warlord/Grand Marshal slog that was infamous during vanilla. The fact you only needed ten games a week made it very casual friendly. Any games played beyond the ten were attempts to increase one's rating and considering that ratings tended to settle after a while (except perhaps at the extremes), it was easy to figure out when to stop.

My Challenger-level 3v3 team had a rule in WotLK. We would play our 10 games, and then if we were winning, we would keep playing until we lost two in a row. This prevented us from playing into a losing streak, but if we were hot we wouldn't stop.

In arena it is expected that when you reach your appropriate rating that you will hover there, winning 50% of your matches and losing the other 50%. In that sweet spot between the start of Cata and patch 4.1 players earned enough conquest points to cap for the week from winning just 5 matches.

I liked the 4.0 Cata system. It promoted winning (since previously teams could get their points for 10 games even if they lost all of them), and if the 50-50 ratio held true people would still be playing their 10 games for the week. It seemed elegant enough to me.

But now I have to play more games to cap for the week. After the whole 10 games and you're done that has been around since TBC, I'm rather irritated that I'm now forced to play an average of 16 games in order to cap. It's a 60% increase in the time spent each week.

What I would rather have seen (though I'm sure it still would have been an unpopular choice) would have been an increase in the cost of conquest gear. Two weeks for an epic mace is ridiculously easy to obtain. Make it three or four weeks. Just increase the prices by 50%-60%.

Blizzard would get the same effect of increased time spent per each piece of gear earned, but without increasing the amount of time spent per week.

I found 10 games to be a reasonable amount of time for a casual player to do in a single night while still leaving time for other activities, and while some weeks I've had to do more than 10 games due to having more losses than wins, it still hasn't amounted to as many games as my 50-50 win rate of this past Thursday. If we get on a losing streak it could potentially make for a very long night and I don't like the idea of playing 20+ games in a single night in order to cap.

Equally I dislike the prospect of making arena night twice a week instead of once.

While I like arena for what it is (as in I've played skirmishes before for no reward), I admittedly like my purples as much as anyone else and I feel obligated to cap my conquest points just as a hardcore raider feels obligated to run heroics until valor points no longer offer any upgrades.

I won't stop playing arena due this, but it means less time to do heroics, less time for alts. Maybe I won't get a game of Tol Barad in that I would have otherwise joined. I don't raid on my paladin, unless one counts the occasional Baradin Hold. This isn't an alternate way of me getting gear to kill internet dragons. This is my one night a week PvP fun fest that gives me better gear for hitting a set number of wins.

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