28 April 2008

Five reasons why PVP is bad for your raiding career

World of Warcraft is really two games. You can chose to explore and interact with the rich, hypnotic landscape that we inhabit, undertaking intrepid quests and enlisting comrades to defeat monstrous foes for the good of a common cause. Or you can beat up other players.

Sure, you can do both. I'm on a PVE server, so the thuggish stuff is optional. Occasional scraps break out between players, but for the most part end-game PVP is confined to battlegrounds and arenas. My World of Warcraft, at least, is two games.
Many players walk the line, exploring both aspects of the game. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. But the PVP reward system misleads many into thinking PVP is a route into endgame PVE content. This is a Bad Thing.

I've come to the conclusion that this blurring of the boundaries between the two games, while hardly damaging to either, certainly slows down progress in PVE content and helps to perpetuate some of the key frustrations that players express with WoW overall. And I can think of five reasons.

1. Gear
Not surprisingly, obtaining those purple epic goodies is what drives most players at 70. And a good chunk of them are under the impression that the battleground is the best place to start. Why? I think it's a combination of reasons. Firstly, BG epics are heavy in stats and look very tempting. You can enter a BG at any time and don't need to worry about forming a group and finding annoying things like tanks and healers. And there is a common myth that you can't run heroics or start Kara without a full epic kit, which scares people off early on. I think there is also a sense that, for players who intend eventually to tank or heal, you can put off the respec and collect a tanking/healing kit while still in dps mode. These are Bad Things. You don't need epics to run heroics and you are doing yourself no favours in the long run by putting off that respec. But by perpetuating these misconceptions you are contributing to a general shortage of tanks and healers available for PVE encounters, thus driving more people into the battlegrounds instead. And contrary to popular opinion, PVP epics are generally not the best gear choices for PVE. They lack expertise, spell hit, mana regen, defence — all the things that you will need in abundance for boss fights.

2. Ability
Undoubtedly, the PVP game takes skill to excel in. But it is a very different discipline to instances and raids. When you do eventually step foot into a heroic it's going to take you time to adapt. I suspect it is this transition that has helped earn hunters their (largely undeserved) reputation as the CC-breaking, trap-fumbling idiots of the dungeon. There are examples of it in every class — good players who forget where they are or else who aren't familiar enough with the encounter to act properly. You might even conceivably find someone who, kitted out in glorious PVP epics, walks into a heroic without having stepped foot in the instance on normal mode. There is no substitute for experience: if you want to run instances, go run instances.

3. Talents
Are you dabbling in the arena with threat reduction? Have you maxed out your spell hit? Did you skip over that instant fear? Then you, sir, are an idiot. Most classes demand alternative specs for PVP and PVE. Sure, you can play both games in the same spec, but you're going to suffer for it. You even have to pay to change your talents, which must surely tell you something — even if the cost of those respecs has not kept up with the game (a respec before the Burning Crusade was a much bigger deal). It's not economic to constantly swing between the two games, nor is it practical without tailoring your talents.

4. Time
We all have a finite amount of time on the game; we have to work, study, socialise, eat, sleep whatever. We need to make that time count. Splitting your focus between two games will only push your goals further out of reach. Players have left my guild in the past because we weren't progressing fast enough for them, or because they could never find people to help them with quests or instances when they wanted — players who themselves were usually in a battleground when you wanted their help. It's counterproductive to spend so much time on one game when your main goals are in another, and doing so only reinforces the paradox.

5. Experience
Not in the sense of knowledge but the encounter. The PVP game is a greatly diminished experience of the World of Warcraft. How does PVP fit in with the lore of the game? How does it help progress the story line? I'm not saying there is anything inherently diminished about playing PVP, but if all you want is a psychotic frag fest why are you playing WoW? Even Blizzard will admit that PVP was tacked on and is not an intrinsic part of the game. I've clearly gone further and said it's not the same game at all.

I'm not the only person to question the compatibility of PVE and PVP content in World of Warcraft, but perhaps I am in the minority when I say I don't think they belong together at all. A pure PVE game would, I think, go a long way to addressing the problems that guilds and pick-up groups alike have forming groups and running instances. And if they won't go so far as to split the games entirely, they at least need to do more to differentiate gear to avoid the pointless waste of time people spend farming honour — perhaps by giving PVP rewards values and effects that only work inside battlegrounds and arenas. If your PVP rewards didn't work in the 'real' world, would you still be grinding honour? Or if the PVP game broke away, would you go with it?


grayhammer said...

You make some strong points here though I want to reply with my point-of-view on pvp, emphasizing that the context of play time/style and experiences is important to what you choose to do to make your toon better. I have a vague aim to join raids so am trying to get the gear and experiences to support that. I put in about 1 - 1.5 hours or play time in the early AM most weekdays, 4-5 hours on fridays, and 30-60 minutes here and there on weekends, sometimes 2-3 hours weekend nights. What is missing here is many multi-hour play sessions during the week, which makes frequent instance runs a challenge. The dilemma has become how to get gear adequate for running the advanced instances, without having the time to repeatedly run heroics? The answer for me has been 1) powerlevel tailoring to get the frozen shadowweave set and 2) run battlegrounds. Of course I focus on getting into heroic groups when I do have extended hours of play time available.

For a while I ran heroics with blue and some green gear, and things worked now and again, usually only if the other group members were quite skilled and geared properly. But I was clearly a liability in that my health was alarmingly low, relative to the other group members, as was my DPS. "But wait", one might argue, "the real issue is learn-to-play, so you dont die and your DPS is higher, etc". Be that as it may, I was getting passed up for heroic PUGs because of my gear. Groups wanted to see the "grapes" and they wanted my +damage to be closer to 1k than to .5k. I think they were right in taking this stance. In the PUGs that did tolerate my presence, wipes were frequent and in the end hours were wasted beating heads against the wall because DPS just wasnt fast and high enough and group fragility was high. Now of course this wasn’t all my fault but I was certainly part of the problem. PVP gear is helping me with both my low health and low DPS, AND more importantly I get through "gear checks" and am permitted to join PUGs more often.

So things are better now, I am getting into heroics more, getting more badges, and thus working towards a better PVE set of gear using some PVP gear to help me along. To re-cap the strategy that is working for me, I ran enough heroics to get the witchdoctor wand from badges, but took a break from that frustration to tailor my gear and ran BGs until I got a couple more grapes. Now, with the shattered sun dailies open, one has the option of grinding those out and in a short while getting a few more epics that will help in any setting. Based on my experiences I am an advocate for sampling various types of game content, PVE-PVP, as a strategy for some folks who are steering a course for end game PVE.

Merlot said...

I feel your pain: finding quality pick-up groups for heroics is a challenge, particularly when you have limited CC options. I take it you're a fellow shadow priest because I can't imagine any group overlooking a mage or a lock, with or wituout imba gear. The best advice I can offer you on that score is to find a good guild and work tirelessly to organise your own runs. Sometimes you won't find a tank or healer, but other times you'll time it just right and have a really fun run. And sometimes, other people will do the organising and you can sit back and enjoy the ride. What else? Find a paladin tank and keep them sweet. They will love the mana regen and couldn't care less about cc.

But you raised another valid point that I ignored - how to build up gear when you don't have time to run instances or are online during off-peak hours. I can see then how PVP would appeal - even more so if you don't have tailoring to fall back on. If that's the case, focus on weapons and trinkets and build up your spell hit with more tailoring gear like the spellstrike set and belt of blasting.

Most of all, don't listen to noobs and snobs who say your gear isn't good enough. 600 spell damage is plenty for the easier heroics (bot, mechanar, slave pens), which depend more on tanks and healers than dps anyway. And if your health is low, what do they expect? You're a shadow priest. You compromise your stamina so they can benefit from unlimited mana. You are the god, they are the insects. And that's the truth.