Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Gearing up through PvP

More pondering on the gear upgrades.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me to form a 3v3 arena team with him. He is always helping me out, and will run any dungeon I need to grind rep in or hope for a drop. I know he's big on BG's for gearing up, so I figured I'll help him out. PvP is not my cup of tea.

We get spanked in Arena. First week we go 1-9. Second week we go 2-10. Third week we go 4-12. Rating somewhere in the upper 1200's. Total garbage. We discuss strategy (kill the healer, if you can find him before you get ganked), we try executing the strategy (oh sh-t, i can't find the healer), we cry on eachother's shoulder (did the doors open yet? yeah dude you're facing the wrong way. oh, nm, i'm dead).

Then a few days ago, I learn that there's a cool axe available for 1000 arena points. Arena points? I've been doing arena, what're those? So somebody explains it to me, and I'm a sharp cookie, so I follow him to the quartermaster and I see the Axe and a handfull of other beauties. I also possess higher math skills, if not higher spelling skills, and I can see that we've got a bit over 500 arena points after the first 2 weeks, so a quick extrapolation shows that we need to bang out 10 games monday night, and then if the point income rate is linear, one more week and I'll be looking for an enchanter for my new axe.

Then there's also a bunch of other blogs around town that are debating the whole Welfare Epics and AFK players just grinding out their points to get the PvP rewards. I guess that on one side are hardcore raiders thinking that PvP rewards cheepen the glory of the raiding epics. And the hardcore PvP players feel that PvE raiding is painful and the random boss drops leave players feeling like they have no control over their own destiny. Not sure if I captured the argument correctly here, but that's my perception.

What about folks like me? At heart, I'm a PvE player. Not a raider yet, but I'm getting there. I play Arena. Poorly. Looking at me, you'd not know the difference between me and an AFK'er, unless you were listening to the swear-fest on vent during the matches. We do laugh and have some fun, but being dead before you can even target an enemy wears thin pretty quickly.

The matches we win are probably against AFK'ers, or maybe others like us who are trying but are just bad at it. Whenever I kite a plate wearer or an F-ing rogue using a combination of traps, concussive shot, arcane shot and serpent sting, I have a blast. I'm not good at it at all, but when I'm up against someone of equal skill as me (ie, low) at this little game, we have a slow sloppy, but in our minds, EPIC battle.

Even better when we actually do find the healer, and target him, and take him out like we planned.

I wonder where the hardcore people on either side of the PvP/PvE fence stand regarding people like us.

Then I got to thinking about it. Having never fired a shot in anger inside Karazhan I cant say for sure, but it would seem that during a week, it would be reasonable to say a casual guild new to raiding might spend 4-6 hours in there. Maybe more, but that's a starting point for a new guild. In that first week, is it reasonable for someone to get an epic drop? Probably. You as an individual probably shouldn't expect anything, lest the loot gods decide to hate on you. But a few people in the team will get some epic drops.

Now stretch that out, and keep running Kara for 4 weeks. Is it a bit more reasonable to expect that you as an individual will get a drop for yourself to equip? Not guaranteed, but probably a decent chance.

I'm looking at my Arena team. It'll take us 4 weeks to get our first pieces of gear. Or if you don't want that first 1000 point item, then the next items are around 1800, or 7 weeks. Depending upon the Arena queue times, you can get those points done in as little as an hour, or upwards from there as wait times vary.

So what's the difference?

I suppose the first one is time. Just using my entirely fabricated time frames, over that same month, you spent lets call it 6 hours in Arena, and perhaps 24 hours or more raiding. Again, this is semi-casual players, not hardcore players who do their 24 hours on the first 3 days of the month, or play tons of Arena matches. So there's clearly a time investment difference.

Then there's the organizational difference. For my arena team, we just needed to organize 3 people (plus two extras because one didnt show up, and his replacement DC'd, on a monday night when we needed our matches to be done before server reboot). For Karazhan, this is probably my biggest barrier to entry, where you need to organize 10 people plus a couple of subs to cover for absences and fights where the RL wants different classes to try stuff out.

And finally, I suppose there's the universally comparable challenge that a boss kill represents. In Arena, although we are improving (or playing worse teams through the rankings), there's no benchmark against which we can compare our accomplishments. If a guild takes down Curator, anybody else who's beaten him knows the level of challenge that was overcome. Even for good Arena teams, who maintain a high rating which is a big challenge, there's little benchmark for cross comparison. The difference is that good Arena teams will get the phat loot way quicker than the sloppy teams like mine. I do my extrapolations using some pretty minimum expectations at weekly point earnings. A good team would have a much steeper slope. During the course of the season, I will probably get two pieces, MAYBE a third (not sure how long the seaon is). The good players will be fully decked out in the S3 gear.

In summary, who cares? Why all the fuss? Go play your game, the way you like it, and have fun and collect phat loot. Only get jealous of other players if they steal your spot in a Kara raid :-P

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd say you summed up the two extremes of the debate pretty well. Where you fit in? In the same space as the majority non-hardcore players. Those who pick an activity either because they like it or because they need it but still put a honest effort into completing it.
Entering arena in S3 as a fresh level 70 is tough these days - even at low ratings you're going to find people who may be totally unskilled but still outgear you and win by the sheer weight of their kit.
The learning curve is steep no matter how, as you have 1-2 minutes at best to get a bit of experience on the particular format of arena, the specific layout of the place the match is being held, how to use your own abilities, how to counter the opponent, and most importantly how to work as an organic team with your team mate(s).

If you're anything like me, every time the gates open your heart will beat faster, adding to the stress of the encounter, something which will last until you start building confidence that you can win more games than what you lose.

Taking a nosedive in rating during the first weeks is totally normal for an average-skilled team just starting out. The key here is that at some point in time (provided you don't play at totally off hours), the rating system will place you into the right ecosystem where the combination of your opponents' skill + gear factor matches your team's. That's when you will start capitalizing on every tiny bit of learning you got from every single loss, and rebound.

As for identifying the healer, here's a little "secret": you and your teammates should get the Proximo Addon off WoWAce (make sure you use /proximo test outside arena first, alt-rightclick to move the window to a more convenient place). Your opponents will appear there, with health and manabars coloured by class, synchronized with all your team members, as soon as one of you hovers above your foes.