Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Too much of a good thing ...

Who likes gear upgrades? I sure do. And yet, I'm coming to believe that there's too many good gear sets for leveling.

Let me explain. In Tier three, there are really 5 sets of quite good gear you can get:

The stalker set, obtained by completing RvR kill quests and then killing hero mobs
The devastator set, obtained from oRvR and renown vendors
The Mayhem set, from PQ gold bags
The Redeye set, from Gunbad
and the oRvR influence reward armor ... not really a set, but matched armor of a very high quality.

Each of these in a vacuum would be worth obtaining, but there isn't a vacuum, instead there's an overabundance of choices.

So what do people do? They choose the path of least resistance. Typically this means devastator, with maybe the oRvR influence to supplement.

Sure you might go for the stalker set, it's pretty easy to get, but the level requirements and relatively low quality make it a temporary solution.

Redeye, meanwhile, is left in the dust.

Yesterday, I noticed a comment in a post on Way of the Chosen by WAR's resident sourpuss Snafzg (love ya, Snaf, don't ever change) in which he complained about the randomness of drops in Lost Vale. To paraphrase, he writes that we shouldn't get drops from dungeon bosses that noone in the party can use.

My initial response was that this is how it is. WoW has always been like that, and it's one of the things that makes achieving a good set of gear so rewarding. It's a time sink sure, but that's part of the business of MMO's.

But on second thought, I think I'm coming around to his way of thinking.

1. RvR gear is not really random: winners are chosen by contribution (theoretically at least) and they get a drop they can use ... maybe one they already have, but not something for a different career.

2. dungeons are on lockdowns. You can't farm them really. Even gunbad has some length of lockdown, so you can't just do the Masta Mixa over and over until you get your drop.

3. Gear is career specific, not by type. In WoW you may get healing plate, only usable by a paladin, or you might get spelldamage cloth, usable by a number of classes. It's less restrictive.

PvE may be meant to be second fiddle to RvR in WAR, but it shouldn't be punitive. I'm fine with random drops, but it discourages groups attempting these dungeons, particularly when there's no specific need to do so (ie. Wards). What's the solution. I don't expect or particularly want to get perfect loot every time. But with tokens (or broken gear in WAR parlance) and chest drops (rewarding class specific loot to the winner) you dramatically increase the likelihood of a usable drop, without ever getting to 100%.

I've done 4 dungeon runs on Czarnal. 3 of these have ended in boss kills, not one of them has awarded a usable piece of gear. Meanwhile, in our last Gunbad run we got 2 PQ gold bags and redeye helms for Czarnal and our healer, Shennas. It's a good system, lets get it onto bosses.

And while you're at it, lets knock back some of the RvR rewards. Do we need devastator and oRvR reward armor? I know its important to have a critical mass of RvR players, but the rewards dramatically outweigh the challenge at this point, and are sabotaging the other choices.


  1. What if the T3 quests that rewarded the Stalker set gave Devastator gear instead? I don't mean that one could get the full set just by doing the quests, but perhaps one could get just 1-2 pieces by doing EVERY version of the quest.

    For instance, if a player kills 25 BW and 25 AM, then murders the two heroes for the two quests, he or she gets a set piece. If a player got a piece or two from doing the quests, it would whet his or her appetite for the rest of the set and encourage him or her to do more oRvR to obtain the other pieces.

  2. I think that's a great solution. Giving one piece from each type of activity would encourage the roundness of play that I suspect Mythic wants.

    Additionally, I think you can still have overlap of sets, multiples in a tier, by making them more different in level. For example, let's say full stalker is obtainable by ~ level 25, while devestator or redeye or w/e is only reasonably obtainable at ~30. That way you get to wear different armor for a reasonable amount of playtime.

  3. Interesting discussion. From a WoW perspective, with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion I think the developers have moved in the direction of drops being more useful to more people, which I view as a compromise solution.

    For example, it used to be that feral-specced druids had only a couple of feral-only weapons to choose from. Those weapons, which had "feral attack power," came from particular encounters and were otherwise worthless to every other class and spec. Now, though, all melee DPS weapons have a built-in "translation" into feral attack power, which serves the dual purpose of eliminating the feral-only weapons and giving feral druids a wider selection of weapons from which to choose.

    They've done the same thing for DPS casters and healers by eliminating the distinction between an item bonus to spell damage and a bonus to healing. It's all just "spell power" now.

    The good thing about those changes is that they increase the odds of a drop being useful for any given class and spec. The tradeoff, of course, is that there's now more competition for those drops. Instead of having to out-roll just the other casters, my warlock now also has to beat out all those grasping holy and discipline-specced priests!

  4. Having done a comprehensive delving into armor sets, I post this as reasoning I find valid:

    RvR may have gold bags with guaranteed items, but 1. you're competing with potentially 100s of people to get one and 2. you have to fight other players to get it.

    Those are the inherent risks of those rewards and what make them hard to obtain. For PvE, risk can be managed currently. What makes them hard to obtain is the randomness of drop loot. That's how they balance the two presently.

    With the advent of the Tomb Kings RvR dungeon, they've stated they will be introducing tokens, thus blending these two concepts to something that will probably be seen as the popular choice. However, until they allow PvP in regards to obtaining the other sets, don't expect the same.

  5. I get that the systems are meant to accomplish similar things: giving less than perfect chances to get desired drops, but I don't think that this means that they work equally well.

    First off, you say that rvr gear is hard to get because you're competing with 100s of people to get a gold bag. This isn't really true. Even if there were say 5 full warbands taking a keep, which would be over a hundred people, if not hundreds exactly, you're rolling for multiple gold bags, so you're really competing against 10s of people.

    Second, you don't have to fight other players ... ever. In Tier 3, Devastator armor pieces are distributed as follows:

    chest, helm from keep gold bags: you can farm empty keeps. It happens.

    Gloves, shoulders: renown rewards, you can farm empty BOs to earn these.

    Boots: buy them from the auction house.

    Boom, no players fought. It's an extreme example, but plausible.

    Furthermore, while you're fighting players, theoretically, for these rewards, you're earning other oRvR rewards of comparable or higher value.

    Finally, what's hard about fighting other players? I'd rather fight another player of the same level than a hero mob any day. Frankly some champs are harder to kill than players.

    You write that risk is managed in PvE... how so? How is pve easier ... if that's what you mean? To have a chance at a set piece from Gunbad, I have to earn the necessary influence, clear to the boss and then I fight him. Then i'm locked out for .. 24 hours? Something like that.

    Is that easier? Maybe it is. But for an 8% chance at a drop, I'm not sure the numbers balance out.

    Here's a very unscientific thing to consider: wardb profiles.

    Number of wardb profiles wearing redeye carapace (gotta go with chosen right?): 4
    profiles wearing devastator carapace: 292

    Obviously that could be just because people hate Gunbad, hate pve, or even hate the RedEye set, but regardless of the reason, it still suggests that the system is fouled up.