Huge PvP Info Post
Kalgan answers PvP question with a ton of info
There have been lots of blue posts that provide info, but this one is a real gem. Kalgan provides a lot of information on the PvP system, items, and ratings.
First, thanks for the level-headed feedback Duraeas. I'll do what I can to explain what our philosophy has been on the topic, for better or for worse. ;]
To address the point of not having access to any pvp gear before attempting to start arenas, I don't actually feel that's accurate. We've made a point to include easily craftable pvp gear of dungeon quality to give players a chance to get their feet in the door before moving along the upgrade path.
The Savage Gladiator set is actually of item level 200s (superior), equivalent to the item level of a heroic instance. So, in much the same way that you might expect a player to first gear up in normal mode instances and get a handful of ilevel 187s items before proceeding to the heroics, the philosophy is that in the pvp case players will get the 187s crafted pvp items before attempting endgame pvp activity.
In addition, players have access to ilevel 200e (epics) for the boots, belt, bracers, ring, neck, trinket, cape exclusively through honor (equivalent item level to end-boss heroic instances, nax 10, or items from the Emblem of Heroism vendor). These items, combined with the crafted items, provide a pretty good base of items from which a player might make an entry into the arenas.
At that stage, the number of arena points required for a player to get a piece of Savage Gladiator equipment is tuned to be pretty generous. Even at a significantly sub-1500 rating, a player can generally get about a piece of the Savage Gladiator set with the points from one week (10 games), which is generally about a time investment of less than an hour of arena play per week. This seems to stack up very competitively with how long it might take running heroic instances to get a piece of gear for your character.
As far as the question as to why the Savage Gladiator set requires arena points, there needs to be a set of gear obtainable through arena points that requires no rating, otherwise there's simply nothing for a player of 1500 or below to play for, beyond the hope that they might at some point go above 1600 rating (which not everyone is guaranteed to do).
It's certainly valid to express one's dislike for the arena playstyle, although is it entirely different than requiring players that love the arenas to play in the battlegrounds to get their boots, belt, bracer, rings, neck, trinkets, and cape? One could also make the argument that it's somewhat similar to the fact that we "require" all players to level-up in order to participate in end-game content, or perhaps that engaging in tradeskills is "required" to be maximally competitive in raiding or pvp gameplay.
Were also doing what we can to address the fact that players that dont have high ratings can often still get steamrolled by highly rated players that are starting new teams, helping friends, etc. As Ive described in another post, we have plans to keep a persistent under-the-hood rating for all characters that is used for determining matchmaking, so that even if a highly rated player starts a new team (or joins another low-rated team), the system will know what opponents that team should really be playing against.
That being said, the fact that some players feel there is too much emphasis on the arena as a method for getting powerful endgame pvp gear is heard and understood. We'd love for players to be able to get high-end gear from the battlegrounds, and it's something that will definitely factor into our plans for the future. However for now, we don't have a way to measure "skill" in a battleground in a way that getting the "best" items in the game through battlegrounds would feel equitable when compared to what is required as far as co-ordination and success in pve to get items of equivalent power.
Of course, I realize that the subject of "skill" is another topic of debate on its own, with many players citing gear quality and team comps as factors in determining the outcome (some seem to go as far as to imply that it's all that matters). Clearly, those factors do influence the outcome, but not in a way that makes skill irrelevant. If that were the case, it wouldn't be very hard to step onto the stage with some of the pro-gamers in the tournament and take them down in a match of even gear and comps. However, I can assure you that while I consider myself (for example) a pretty respectable player when it comes to arenas, I and a pair of similarly skilled teammates probably wouldn't win more than 1 in every 100 games against the top players despite using identical gear and comps. Like it or not, that's skill.
That aside, it is important for me to point out that the arenas were never really meant to become quite as much of a focal point for the overall pvp game as they have (part of why we set the system up so players could get the full benefit from the system with only 10 total games per week), it's more of a natural consequence of the fact that because we have a way to measure success that feels reasonably balanced against pve, we're able to put high-end items there, which on its own creates the focus of importance. I'd venture to say that if there were no item rewards in the arena system, they wouldn't be quite the subject of debate that they are now (either with respect to overshadowing battlegrounds or with respect to the microscope that class balance gets put under as a result).
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