I had a break from WoW due to last arena-season being slightly worrying. With last season being the first season at level 80, there was bound to be some sort of imbalance really – but for me it was just too much really. I initially started off with my freshly leveled Paladin and did a few matches right out of the starting blocks really, not having done any PvP with my Paladin before that, and did rather well. A limited skillset with independant skills was really not my idea of having fun in arena though, so I decided to scrap that and level up my Priest to play that instead.
My previous arena history includes grabbing Rival titles from both S3 and S4 with a Priest/Rogue setup, first one with a RL friend, second one with someone I met online. Now, I didn’t actually have someone in mind to play with, as my previous rogue had transfered off to greener pastures, but decided something would show up sooner or later, and just rushleveled Priest up to 80 to start PvPing. It was actually quite refreshing and fun in comparison to the Paladin I played, and, my previous rogue decided to transfer back to once again team up and annihilate the opposition in my battlegroup.
Now, initially things weren’t going all that well, but as we progressed and got slightly better gear – we managed to push through and finally break the 2000rating barrier. However, things just went downhill really…
First off, the skillset of Hunters and Death Knights mainly in combination with Paladins, we would pretty much get properly annihilated if one of these would show up and say “hi!”. Any Hunter-team could mess up several times without being able to lose really, at one point I saw 3 different CC-types on me at the same time from a Hunter/Paladin team, and still we’d barely be able to win that match. I know if we’d screw up our cooldowns like that, we’d struggle with any wins at all really.
Secondly, the weapons and gear for arena was extremely important for success, especially seeing how fresh gear also implies zero resilience, people with the endgame raidgear had an insane advantage over the rest. As someone who really only enjoys the PvP/Arena aspect of the game, neither of us had access to that kind of gear, and was at an immediate disadvantage. It probably didn’t help that I only leveled my Priest *after* playing Paladin in arena for a few weeks and got behind on the gear race even further. As an additional point here, Blizzard had decided to let the raidgear be superior to the top pvp-gear you would be able to get from arena, as such, the dps-classes would mainly want to utilize their raidgear, even if they had access to the arena gear.
As a result of all of this, and after meeting excessive amounts of what people would consider “hard counters” to our setup – where we could really play 100% flawlessly but yet have no chance of winning if they were doing well, we just dropped it, and I ran off to take a break from WoW altogether.
For me, playing 2v2 with my Priest and not playing with a Rogue would just be… something I wouldn’t do to be honest, I’ve just always liked the synergy and relative finesse which you mainly have to use to win. I realize that people who have been properly annihilated by over-raidgeared luckycritting rogues would most likely be whining at this point, but really, when I see the Rogue I’m playing with having to deal with all the different choices possible, the reactions and mainly sneaky tricks in general, I can’t help but feel that it’s not as random as some people will have it. We’ve faced several matches where I see the other rogue just being utterly annihilated by my rogue, despite him not having nowhere near the gear and general damageoutput as the other person if they had been fighting targetdummies. This was one of the things I felt we just had to accept last season, neither of us would get the top gear, and we would just have to start at a slight disadvantage when facing other teams with access to these items.
Now, the new season came in, I was reading up on the patch-notes, and they addressed quite a few of the problems that I felt was making last season quite crappy, namely Hunters had their insane attacks toned down, but the killer is most likely that the manadrain has been toned down to more or less a non-factor. This alone would enable us to have a fighting chance against Hunter teams. Furthermore, I have to admit I’m not all up to speed on what kind of skills the Death Knights use, but I know that I was killed by one at one point who was spamming one attack over and over again, so I’m guessing that quite possibly got toned down a bit. And those were pretty much the nice balancing factors that I felt was “enough” to make me want to give it another go. Then I came to the Priest section, and realized that they’re giving some new utility for Priests as well, increasing the survivability and lasting by so much I had a feeling it’d be a bit too much, but we’d see when the season got going.
One of the new “interesting” things Blizzard did for Season 6 was to start all teams at 0 rating. I assume this was done to sortof make players feel like they were progressing, even if they were eventually going to land up around 1000 rating regardless, and for people in my guild who weren’t at the top of the lists last season, it has been a fairly huge success! The matchmaking system still matches you against your “hidden” rating (which now is a “visible hidden” rating – shown at the end of each match) and gives you points based on the differences in points from the matchmaking rating compared to your teamrating. The rating gain was capped at 47 I believe, and started going down at around 1200, so it would take about 50 wins to get to 1500, and as a result - start looking at the gear rewards.
My other problem with the last season related to gear had also been solved by Blizzard, by letting PvP-weapon/armor-rewards being equal in level to the very endgame content from the PvE part, implying that as people get geared, the gear aspect of the game will more or less fade away, and it’s all down to who can play their classes and combinations best.
After playing for a few days, we were doing fairly well, hanging out around 2000 rating and being quite happy with that really, when the SK-100 (top 100 teams in the world) showed something that made me laugh a bit, apparently in the top 100, almost 50% of the teams were Rogue/Priest! Now, I started thinking about this one, as it’s a fairly crazy thing really. And my theory was that by removing the Hunters from the foodchain, Priests again became the viable healer, Shaman and Paladin healers would go down as they were better against Hunter-teams, but worse against Priest-teams, and adding in the fact that Warriors got buffs and now have the ability to remove the Paladin bubble, those kinds of healers have rapidly dropped below the charts. The entire top player class representation was turned completely around.
I don’t really know what I assumed would happen, I did expect some nerfs to surface soon, but seeing how they let things run wild last season, I expected them to let things calm down for a bit before doing anything quickly, as the top 100 list was nowhere near completed due to the fact that most teams had to start at 0, and not all the top teams would’ve been able to play enough to get “up there”.
But, I guess I was wrong about Blizzard again, and they started their new policy, with “today we’ve patched in these changes …” type announcements, instead of letting things run through the normal patch-cycle. Priests got a few slaps in the face, but, I’m not too concerned about that really. All I see now is that things are starting to look a bit more like they were in S3/S4, with a slightly more balanced field, letting PvPers have as good gear as PvEers, and having a feeling of being able to stand a chance at most combinations we’re up against, yet we’re able to lose horribly in the same matchups if we’re not doing what we should. My favorite types of matches now have actually become the mirror matches where we play other Priest/Rogue teams, more specifically the matches that go on for a good 5+ minutes. I think even if it’s a win or loss there, it’s a fun test for both teams, and they have a great way of going back and forth creating a fair amount of close calls and recoveries.
… of course, those matches will hopefully be a bit more fun tomorrow when we get our first S6 weapons … :) sitting at 2100 rating now before that, and our last rated match was a win against a double undead mirror at ~2450 matchmakingrating, good fun! Hopefully that’s us in a few weeks. :)
Ooh, reminds me, I should start recording some matches again, recruited a fair few players last time I recorded arenafights in S3/S4.