Tuesday, 23 August 2011

OT: The state of the valour system

Hello and welcome back. Today we’re going a bit off topic, and discussing the valour system. Yay... valour points. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep this one fairly relevant, but there is a chance I’ll break into a nerdrage ramble type jiggery, in which case you have been warned, go QQ on the forums or something else productive. Hehe. I’ll be moving back to magery later in the week with either Baleroc or Ryolith, I haven’t decided yet, but stay tuned for that. Right, onto the meat of the post we go.

EDIT: This one really turned into a text wall, sorry about that :P

The valour system as we know it was effectively born in WotLK. That’s already not a great start, because, let’s face it, Wrath’s track record isn’t great (apart from Ulduar, that was awesome, but even there it had its problems). So, the basic premise is fairly sound. It allows a way to get your character ready for raids, and it means that new players or alts levelling up halfway through an expansion don’t face an absolutely massive gear jump into raids. So far so good. You run your daily heroic, you get a few badges to help towards getting your character raiding. At the same time, running the five-mans will help teach you some of the basics of the mechanics of raiding, and if you’re an alt, then you help teach the newer players what to do. The community gets better as a whole, you ewnd the day slightly closer to raiding, and maybe you meet some new people to run content with. Sounds good right? Hmmm, see the problem we get is with Blizzard’s implementation. What happened as Wrath drew on is that instead of helping people get into raids and learn tactics, it did... well, almost exactly the opposite. The daily heroic turned into an AOE zergfest that you basically could snooze through, and the quicker you went, and the more tactics you ignored, the better you were at the game. CC became a sort of lost voodoo art: ‘What the hell is CC? Wait, you mean I can turn that mob into a sheep, and then it won’t attack me? Why the hell would I want to do that, then I can’t kill it!’ (Conversation I had at the start of cata with a so called ‘wrath baby’ tank. We wiped shortly afterwards, which resulted in him dropping group. Ahhh those were the days, sitting back and laughing as the whole community readjusted their heroic difficulty expectations).

The other effect was probably an even bigger backfire. The gearscore culture that erupted due to the ewase of availability of gear was truly horrifying. Unless you were in full tier gear, people wouldn’t even consider letting you into that tier’s raid. I mean come on! You can’t get in here unless you have the rewards from completing it. That makes an absolute ton of sense, right? No? Oh, guess we messed up somewhere then, back to the drawing board. Hmmm. So the two primary aims of the system ended up backfiring, and that isn’t great, is it. The other unpardonable crime it caused was the death of multitier raids. Now, as a player joining at the end of BC, I can’t really speak from personal experience, but I have friends and acquaintances who can, and while this system had it’s own flaws, there was one really strong feature to it: you weren’t stuck in the same content week after week after month after month. I was one of those players who really lamented the loss of Ulduar for, wait for it, ToC. I mean, come on, months of those same five bosses in that crappy little room with useless captain fordring repeatedly telling me ‘what a waste’ it was. Gods almighty, I wanted to strangle something. I would have given anything to have a decent reason to go back to Ulduar, but with BETTER gear available from the five man BOSSES, let alone the badges, there was really no point, except for achievement runs. Part of this overlaps with the gear spiral that Wrath had, where you had the horrifying prospect of the 25 man gear being better than the 10 man, the 10man Hc gear better than the 25 man, the 25 Hc gear better than the 10man Hc, and the next tier’s 5 mans being better than the previous tier’s 25 man hc gear. *shudder*.

Now, obviously, blizzard has learnt some lessons from wrath. Let’s have a look back to the start of cata. Heroics were hard, and gave blues. Rejoice! Rejoice, our salvation had come at last! It took them all of a week to start nerfing things. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. So, you had 1250 points of valour to get each week, 490 of which could come from 5mans, running one a day for 70 points. This was excellent, and to make it even better, you could only get 3 of your 5 tier pieces. Fantastic. If you wanted to cap, you had to raid. This was a good thing. To make it even better, the tier of raiding was HARD. Perhaps even a little too hard, but that’s down to personal preference. I was happy with the difficulty level myself, but looking around, I think in retrospect, that it may have been a LITTLE overtuned. Not all that much though. Anyway. Looking back, it was a fairly average tier, and it’s a little worn because we had it for so long. But that’s all in the past. Now, so far, im at least fairly happy with what the situation is. Fairly, but I’ll discuss that later.

Now, Blizzard starts making mistakes. Raid content is too hard, we hear the forums cry. People are not progressing fast enough through the content. Oh god, panic. First off they delay Firelands. Bad. Now they offend the hardcore raiders who are progressing at pace through the content. Next, they launch patch 4.1 as a filler patch. Throw out some content. Now, as a basic plan, this is good, but the way they executed it is still irritating me today. They put in a new tier of 5mans, ZA and ZG. These drop epic 353 gear, to help you get into the T11 raids. This in itself is not particularly a problem; a bit of extra gear will help breath life into stagnated progression. What I wish they hadn’t done though, was make it epic quality. Or, at least, make all of it epic quality. Most of all, it REALLY screwed with the enchanting mats market, on my server maelstroms are down at 70g ish most days, while Heavenlies are mostly north of 120g. It really screwed with the market. Perhaps, they should have made just the end boss gear, so the stuff of jindo and the other guy (I forget his name), even make it a slightly higher Ilevel, as an extra incentive to finish the dungeon. Oh well. But the real problem is that these reward 140 valour points. BAD BAD BAD mistake. Immediately, this was justified, the dungeons were hard, and pugs were mostly failing. But now, a few months in, the content is just another chore, and it effectively restricts you to only 2 different dungeons to get your mandatory valour points for the week. Good god. ZG isn’t so bad, with a decent group, because there is barely any trash, and you can brun through the stuff pretty quick (my record kill for zalzar is 36 seconds, at 33k dps I was the lowest in the group for that fight), but ZA drains my will to live, I probably quit about half of the groups I join for that one.

Finally Firelands drops, and then comes the biggest affront of the lot. The valour cap is lowered to 980 (meaning you can now cap out on zandalaries alone), but at 70 valour per boss for 7 bosses, you can now only gain 490 of your weekly 980 valour from raiding. A daily dungeon from the previous tier awards twice as much as a raid boss from the current tier. Absurd. Ridiculous. This, for me was the final straw. I was so outraged, I even took to the cesspit of humanity that they call the battle.net forums (usually I avoid these like the plague, unless I want to read a nerdrage or two for my own amusement). Luckily, this was fairly quickly hotfixed, but you still can’t cap out without running all 8 bosses on this tier (if you include occu’thar) on 10 man, although a full clear on 25 man will net you what you need. We are now a few weeks into Firelands, and again the grumblings about the monotony of the zandalari dungeons begins.  So Blizzard puts back a little bit of valour on the T11 bosses. And with this horrible, perverted system, this change actually makes sense. Good god, it actually made sense, that’s the scary thing. Regardless, this change was a huge quality of life increase for me. These days, we’re 4 bosses into Firelands, working on the fifth, so that’s 480 valour straight out of the box. I then clear 10/12 – 12/12 on the previous tier each week, depending on how I do, at 35 valour per boss, and throw in occu’thar most weeks, meaning that I actually only have to run one or two troll dungeons, which is totally manageable, and means that they now no longer make me quite as sick to the core as they did a few weeks ago. Good stuff. Since I’m working on my last piece of valour tier anyway, it won’t be long before I’m done with them all together. Good news. So that’s my piece of advice for the week, pug these raids, Really. They are entirely doable since the nerf, even with a slightly dodgy group (I always make a point of taking along an inexperienced player or two whenever I lead a PUG of these myself, I still remember the horror of trying to get into raiding myself, it’s really rough without an achievement, and there are a lot of good players out there who are simply locked out by the ‘you need an achi to raid, you need to raid to get an achi’ cycle). They will make the troll dungeons manageable, and it’s a great platform to try out spec changes, rotations, new items of gear, and generally hone your awareness’s for raiding. Plus, you can fill in that last spot of tier 11 if you still don’t have it, to preserve that 2 piece for a little longer. Good stuff. Anyway, onto the commentary.

The system has evolved a lot from where it was in wrath, and for the better. But, in my ‘casual raider’ opinion, there are a few changes that still need to be made.

1.       Move the tier chest piece onto a token that drops from the first boss in each raid tier. Perhaps even multiple bosses. It would be an extra incentive to start to get people sticking their nose in there, trying out the waters, and you would still be getting your two pieces bonus off valour. Personally, I find the wait between getting your first 3 pieces of tier and your last two a bit too long; adding this stepping stone would serve multiple causes.

2.       Aside from tier, make the gear from this vendor of the Ilevel of the stepping stone tier, so for Firelands 365, for T11 353. Perhaps have a system similar to the crystallized firestone off the heroic bosses to upgrade it to 378/359 respectively. I am of the personal opinion that raid level gear should be kept for the raiders, the people who need it. I understand that people want their purples even if they can’t raid because of time/skill constraints, and that it’s hard to get into raids without good gear, but you don’t need 378 level gear to start raiding Firelands, its tuned for people in 359’s, and if you need that extra boost to get going, 365 level gear should be enough. I am a strong believer in the risk: reward ratio being kept as integral to gaming, and allowing you to build half a set of raid gear by running 5-mans from the tier below doesn’t really cut it for me in that respect.

3.       Reset the troll heroics to give only 70 valour per run, and add them back in with the other 8 starter heroics. This would allow people to run 10 different heroics as opposed to 2, reduce burnout, and get rid of the ridiculous imbalance between valour from raids and dungeons compared to difficulty. Yes, you would be capped at 490 from dungeons per week, but that is how it should be. Valour capping should be a perk reserved for raiders, and really, you ought to be getting at least the 120 valour from occu’thar each week on top of that proposed 490. They can even slightly buff the valour to say 90 per run, as long as capping valour is a perk reserved for raiders.

If you guys have any further suggestions on this, and how the system could be changed, or even if you disagree with me (go ahead, I love a good argument) drop a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

No comments:

Post a Comment