As I mentioned before, I’ve been pushing my hunter to get him Outland-able. He was leveling well but kept running out of rested XP bonus or blue bar, so unless I was close to the next level, I had been parking him to let it recharge before I would go out and make more progress. Still I seemed to be using it up as fast as it regenned.
During the downtime, I thought I’d do a little research and see where the next set of equipment upgrades might come from. Not running instances, that meant mostly quest rewards and the occasional AH bargain. One of the more neat features WoW’s Armory has is the “find upgrade” option when looking at gear items. As most hunters will tell you, bow and/or gun options are a bit limited. I had been using my skull splitting crossbow for a while, but it was starting to come to the end of its useful life. Where to go shopping for a new ranged weapon?
Armory says: Alterac Valley. Complete the Battle for Alterac Quest (and continuation quest Hero of the Stormpike) and have your choice of a nice blue wand, polearm, crossbow or mace. The price of this? One win in AV where the end boss Drek’thar is downed. Quest reward. Guaranteed if completed. It was too tempting.
Now the last time I had run AV was back in the day when matches, when they were up, would run for 4-8 hours sometimes…. Yes. Hours. Our little group experimented with AB, WSG and spent a little while in AV, but got burnt out by it fairly quickly. With the instance group, I hadn’t really been interested in PvP. I certainly hadn’t been interested in doing the honor grind for gear when I was otherwise having plenty of fun in PvE. Quite frankly, I had consciously avoided the whole welfare epic discussion entirely.
So, I thought, ok. No blue bar, a chance at a significant upgrade or two for which I wouldn’t see better until L58 in Outland, what the hell. After doing a little research, I found that there are at least a few upgrades I could use that I thought would be reasonably accessible and useful for a L55 hunter: Stormpike Soldier’s Cloak, Storpike Mail Belt, Bloodseeker and Stormpike Soldier’s Pendant.
Most matches in this bracked seem to last about 1/2 hour on average. Playing Alliance, most folks seem to play the fairly common strategy of taking Snowfall Graveyard first, then Iceblood Garrison with its miniboss Galvangar, destroying Iceblood Tower, Iceblood Graveyard (in various orders), next moving to Tower Point, Frostwolf Graveyard and then making the push into Frostwolf Keep to take the Relief Hut and confront the main Boss Drek for the win. Seems a smaller proportion actually gets to the final boss battle at this bracket and the matches devolve into a reinforcement attrition game which takes a while.
Occasionally, someone would go for a mine or get fixated on trying to retake Stonehearth Graveyard (for which they would get shouted down in chat incessantly), but basically everyone knew and stuck to “Plan A.” The better groups would dispatch a few for defense at the Alliance base and have enough discipline to keep a few to defend the captured graveyards until they switched from “contested” to Alliance controlled.
After about a dozen matches, the win/loss ratio has probably been about 1:3 which isn’t too bad. After about three evenings of running a few matches, I’ve managed to collect 24 Marks of Honor and about 5000 total honor. One of those victories was a result of downing Drek, so I was able to complete the Battle of Alterac Valley quest and get my Bloodseeker crossbow. Likewise, I was able to complete the quest to get my Stormpike Insignia trinket (which allows you to recall back to the Alliance base for defense or turn ins). I’m probably a match or two away from having enough honor to collect the neck item, so that will probably happen this weekend.
So far, its been a welcome departure from the usual digestible in convenient 30 minute pieces. Its never taken me more than 2 or 3 minutes to get in a match (often about 30 seconds), so there is very little downtime which is a vast improvement since the old days.
Tobold recently posited the question of whether WoW’s PvP was the best possible that a MMORPG could hope to implement. Seeing how its evolved since release, I think he’s probably right to a large extent. Certainly not the best PvP overall, but certainly one that has sufficiently removed many of the barriers that would keep most PvE MMORPG players from participating which ultimately is key to keep it thriving.
Complaints about about how its just an honor grind and of no consequence. Newsflash, so is PvE. A series of repetitive activities that allow mostly gear-based character development over time through the accumulation of XP often as a result of overcoming highly scripted events.
The risk to reward ratio, both in terms of time and cost is low. Unlike PotBS or Eve which have high penalties (and a relatively high learning curve to be successful), WoW PvP is fairly forgiving. With a low penalty and a consolation prize for participating through a match, I’m finding that there are few AFKers and most people are generally having a good time. Likewise with a large number of players in one battleground, ganking can’t really exist. There are always a dozen or so other players just up the road. Could it be more imaginitive? Probably. Is it boring? I suppose anything will be after the hundredth iteration.
I’m still amazed at how little lag there is when close to 80 players are in a massive battle. So far, the PvP 2.0 experiment is entertaining as a diversion from the usual. More on this as it develops.