Friday, April 22, 2011

[Paladin] More Thoughts on Season 9 Arena

My paladin is starting to get decently kitted out in PvP gear, especially for an alt I haven't had much time to focus on. (I blame a combination of Dragon Age II and overtime at the day job.) My 2v2 partner and I have designated Thursday nights as arena night and I've since bought my Vicious Gladiator's Gavel as well as a new cloak, ring, wrist, and shoulders. It's kind of funny how quickly these Conquest points are adding up compared to previous seasons.

I love it.

I've realized that I really like Season 9 much more than previous seasons and it's because of the changes that have been made to allow people to buy epic PvP gear.

Back when arenas were first introduced in TBC everyone started at 1500 arena rating and went up or down, but as long as you played your ten games a week you got arena points. Gear had no rating requirements so you played, win or lose, and got your gear after you earned enough points. A lot of casual arena play occurred due to people who had no interest in titles but found it was a nice way to get gear.

Unfortunately, people also played who had no interest in arena itself, titles or no. They just wanted the gear, because it was better than what they could gear raiding Kara every week. I knew several people like that.

Then Blizzard added the rating requirement to get the best gear. Some people I knew stopped arenas altogether, because the gear they wanted (for PvE) was out of reach.

With WotLK, the urge to do arenas for gear largely went away. For certain classes a piece or two of arena gear could be sweet, but by and large PvE gear came from PvE. And arenas themselves changed.

Now players started at 0 rating and moved up. Gear could be purchased at 1100 rating and up, but it would take a good many games before reaching the appropriate rating, and it was frustrating to be accumulating arena points only to cap out at a point where points were coming in but there was no new gear to spend them on because the better gear was inaccessible. Or, perhaps your team got to the appropriate rating, but you didn't have the points to spend and by the time you did you'd lost that ranking and your chance at the gear you wanted.

I did have a good time with arenas in WotLK. I got my Challenger title for 3v3 and 5v5 in Season 6 (both teams were ranked high enough). I loved my teammates.

But after they stopped playing it was hard to get back into arenas again. My one remaining teammate was my hunter friend, and as I've mentioned, hunter/paladin is mocked as "terrible" to put it lightly. While we knew we weren't terribad players, we couldn't get a rating that mattered, and our gear couldn't get any better, which was discouraging.

These days in Cata, we're still playing, and while we aren't at our former Challenger-level glory, we're making progress and having fun. We progress without being concerned about hitting a number.

We're getting conquest points much more efficiently than earning honor points in battlegrounds (working a lot of overtime right now, time is at a premium), and as our gear has improved, we're finding hunter and holy paladin isn't quite the suck it initially appears to be.

That's not to say we don't hate the Dalaran arena anymore, or that my partner doesn't want to punch himself when healers start pillar dancing, but we're durable. We outlast other teams.

My partner loves the double dps groups. If I can keep him alive through the initial burst, we nearly always win. And I have a lot of burst healing. I've had Divine Favor and Aura Mastery up at the same time to let me chain cast a bunch of super fast un-interruptable Divine Lights.

If we fight a healer/dps combo, the fight is often longer, more likely to be dicey, but I have discovered something. Even with only 1600 resilience, I'm pretty durable against a single dps. It's only been these past couple weeks that it's become evident, but apparently my resilience is now at critical mass where I can start feeling comfortable with a dps beating on me while my partner does his business of pew-pewing a target.

After last night's rousing win ratio of 5-2 (only 5 matches needed to cap on conquest for the week), I started reforging some of the spirit off my PvP set to haste.

The reason for that is that I've noticed I haven't been hurting for mana the past two weeks. We had several matches where our opponents are dps (in which case the match is over one way or the other relatively quickly) or the healer goes oom way before I do.

We had one poor team where the disc priest was at 5% mana and I was virtually at full. We can outlast. If we're durable I can keep us both up primarily with Holy Shocks and Word of Glorys, weaving occasional Holy Lights or Divine Lights as necessary. I have kited a rogue in circles in the Lordaeron arena while keeping myself alive with nothing but instants.

I can only see this getting better. I used to be the squishy healer, never mind the plate, but I can only imagine how much the opposing team is going to hate me once I get even more PvP gear. It makes the PvPer in me grin.

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