Thursday, February 18, 2010

And Even More Game-Changing:

Sometimes I think Blizzard just likes to mess with me, and change the honor system based on how close I am to completing an analysis of the current system.

MAJOR OVERHAUL of the system including the elimination of marks of honor, the implementation of random BG Finders, etc.

It's gonna take me a week just to figure out how to record numbers from this new shenanigans. Damn you, Blizzard.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How to make an arena team :

So you may have noticed that Relentless Gladiator gear requires only arena points...but no rating. And also there's no option for getting it with just honor. It seems like to get that pretty i251 gear you may actually have to take off your socks and get your toes wet in the arena after all. But where do you start? How do you go about finding a partner? Well lucky for you that's today's subject!


1) Know this website : Arena Junkies -- it's the PvP equivalent of Elitist Jerks, except less n00b-friendly. There is a lot of information on there, especially in the forums where they only allow people with high ratings to publish. It's a somewhat-guarantee that the people talking know what they're talking about. We'll get into some specific things you can do with AJ a little further down, but for now, feel free to browse and see what you come up with.

2) Buy a charter. You can do this at four different places: a fella in Gadgetzan named Bip Nigstrom, a fella at the Nagrand Arena named King Dond, a fella at the Blade's Edge Arena named Steamwheedle Sam, and a fella-ette in Dalaran named "Baroness" Llana. Apparently if you're horde you can also buy a charter in Orgrimmar (lucky!) from Greela "The Grunt" Crankchain. A charter costs you 40g per person -- 2v2 is 80g, 3v3 is 120g, and 5v5 is 200g. General courtesy is that founding members of your team should reimburse you their section but that does not always hold.


3) Now you've got a pretty charter, and it's got your own lonely signature on it. You need more. This is where AJ comes in helpful. If you click the "Ratings" tab at the top, you will see the top arena teams in various brackets. Go for the bracket you're trying to form a team for, and you will have a corresponding range of pull-down menus to talk about class. The first one is you. Are you married to having certain people on your team? Friends, guildies, etc. -- fill those people in also.

This is what I did when I wanted to make a 3s team. I knew I wanted to build it around me and my 2s partner, who is a mage, so I put us in and then look down the chart and it will show us what people with a druid and a mage are running with. 8 of the 16 highest teams run with a lock, so that's what we started shopping for.

Also be careful to look at spec -- you can click on the individual teams that show up. Once you have a team put together, find a team on AJ that matches that, and you may find that in order to do Well a respec is necessary. If you look at 2s teams with a druid/mage, tree is not optimal. Feral or Boomkin are much preferred. I chose to sacrifice that because I like to challenge myself -- but be aware of that handicap ahead of time. Which leads to :

4) Have realistic expectations. Don't expect to hit 2k in the first go-round. Experience playing not only arena, but with each other, shows noticeably. Me & Kitykat don't notice improvement particularly from when we first started, but when we picked up our lock for 3s he commented several times on how well we worked together. If you're running a sub-optimal comp, be comfortable with the fact that you may not hit 2k at all -- there is a glass ceiling sometimes to what you can achieve. Apparently, tree/frost mage CAN get to 2k...but there is only one team on AJ that has done that. I would be happy if we hit 1800. Know your limitations.

5) If you're shopping for a partner, do you want them to have experience? Or not? Like I said, experience tells, and it can teach you. I learned a ton from my first serious 2s partner over on Emerald Dream (Hello, Cleverfox!) and I am grateful that he took me with my relative lack of experience. That was an arms warrior who knew what he was doing. However you need to look at your synergy too -- If some people on the team have experience, will they be intimidated/threatened by people with more? Another thing to remember is that people who have experience have certain ways that they do things -- they're not wrong, or right, usually, but it may be different than other people run. I ran a few 2s skirmishes with a DK who had a tree as his actual partner, and there was an adjustment there b/c he was used to expecting certain things out of his tree that I didn't do, and not expecting things that I did do. You may add to your learning curve if people have to unlearn old ways of working. It's a balancing point.

6) Know where to get your gear and how to get it. Much like you have to run heroics before you can raid, you will need to do some non-arena stuff before you can run arena successfully. This can include BGs, Wintergrasp...even running heroics, since you can buy furious gear (i232) with emblems of triumph. I'm going to make a copout here and highly recommend that if you're having trouble with this step, you read Cynwise's article on the subject.

7) While you're gearing, don't do it alone. Gear with a buddy, ESPECIALLY your arena partners, in BGs -- it's more fun, and it helps you practice together outside of getting gibbed in 2 globals in an arena. Much like my set on healing battlegrounds, playing arena together is about two things : working with each other, and working against the enemy. When you first start an arena team, if you're a total n00b at it, then you're going to lose. A lot. And very quickly each time. It's hard to learn much, except what classes really have it in for you (Kitykat and I are terrible against locks, for example). So BGs can give you a longer set of time where you're all alive together to practice different things and coordinate them.


8) Don't be afraid to lose. This doesn't require much explanation but your team starts with an invisible matchmaking rating of 1500, which means the system is going to try to put you up against 1500 teams. Your team is not a 1500 rating, and I don't care if it's the most dreamy mcdream team ever made : you lack experience together and there's going to be losses, especially at first, as you learn to play together.

9) Know your team's pacing -- does your team focus on burning someone fast? Or playing chess for a long game? Do you CC? How are you coordinating that? Figure out your team's strengths and weaknesses are -- playing a lot of games will help give you an eye for that -- and tailor your strategy for winning to your team's strengths. On the flip side, think about what you can do to limit your team's disadvantages.

10) Be prepared to step out of your comfort zone...but don't sacrifice your primary role to it (I need to CC sometimes...but not at the expense of healing necessarily). If you're dps, do you need to bandage your partner? If you're heals, do you need to throw in a last little push of dps to help drop someone? Look for opportunities to step outside your realm. As a general rule the need to do that is going to go down the bigger your team is -- in a 2s team there's only the two of you to do everything that needs doing; in a 5s team you likely have more specialized roles and stepping outside of them is not so much encouraged as frowned upon.

And last but not least :

11) Communicate! Vent or some similar form of real-time speaking communication is absolutely key for arena. Things move too quickly for you to take the time to type things out. My 2s partner and I really struggled last season, even though we had vent, in doing this. There was a lot of dead air during the match. Don't let that happen to you, talk about EVERYTHING. We've somewhat corrected that this season by having a little pep talk before we start a session. I say "What are we doing?" and she says "Communicating!". Whatever helps you focus. Referencing #9 above, we recognised that effective communication was one of our weaknesses that we needed to address, and so we added that little back-and-forth to our pre-game warmup to help fix it. And it has, and our performance has been noticeably better this season.


Hopefully this information will help you if you're new to that whole arena thingy...go forth and dominate :-)

Sunday, February 7, 2010


(ETA: This post was MEANT to be published last friday but blogger was not cooperating on the pictures)

and no, I'm not referring to the bizarrely ludicrous happening of Saturday where, casually deciding to participate in the Kalu'ak Fishing Derby for the second time ever and somehow ended up winning and getting the achievement that only 103 other people on the server will get this year. Though that was pretty cool, and had me fishing for the rest of the day since suddenly Salty seemed a lot more obtainable. No. What we are talking about here, is a potential solution to the great IOC debacle.

For those three of you not familiar with the fact that IOC sucks for alliance, let me first tell you that Alliance sucks at winning IOC. How much suck I would imagine depends slightly on your battlegroup but on mine at least it's a good 8-10% lower win rate than other BGs (which if you want to really make it sound bad, is a 16-20% swing). The reason for this, in my opinion and generally concurred in by other PvPers around the blogosphere, is a map design that allows for horde glaives from the docks to perch in a "sweet spot" across the bay from the west side gate and batter it down without opposition b/c our cannons can't reach them there.

However, while grinding through IOC with my arena partner (and yes, the new season is going very well, thanks for asking, 26-16, 921 so far), we noticed a shammy doing something interesting. By the time I could get back to get a good screenshot, he was gone, but I can give you the gist of it :

Upper circle is the sweet spot where horde parks their glaives. Lower circle? IN RANGE. If you park some ranged dps with you down there, it's like lying in wait. The horde will come right up to you, not realising you're there, and you burn those glaives like nobody's business. I've tried this both with my 2s partner Kitykat and with our new 3s partner Littlebroe (a destro lock) and it's worked lovely every time. Horde usually jumps down in a rage and kills us after, of course, but the damage is done.

And really, the more people that do that the better, I think -- the point is not even the physical "we can actually kill glaives now!" one, so much as the psychological "guess what horde...that's not such a sweet spot and we can KILL YOU THERE TOO"...maybe they'll eventually become leery enough of it that they'll start risking the cannons to come at the gate how it was meant to be.

Go forth and game-change!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

HPM Chart (non-holiday)

ETA 4/2/10 : With the drastic revamp of 3.3.3 the below data is wildly outdated! I will be making a new chart soon, but the relative values of one to the other, I expect, will remain reasonably similar. Keep that in mind :-)

Holiday BattlegroundWinning HPMLosing HPMOverall HPM (inc. marks)Overall Percentages
Arathi Basin55.8337.3278.8890%
Eye of the Storm71.8134.1287.6100%
Strand of the Ancients77.0529.9886.699%
Warsong Gulch47.822.7358.1666%

I'm not going to go into the big long math list on this again, as you can find it elsewhere on blog if you so chose, and also because at some vague point in the future I plan to make a comprehensive "Here's the Math Behind Everything" general post, but I will be putting a link back to this chart on the sidebar so as I update it it will be available for easy reference.

Little suggests itself from these numbers for now due to the missing of the two 40-man beasts, IOC & AV. If I had to venture a guess based on the holiday proportions I would say AV is probably Still the Place To Go, and IOC fairly middling -- there's a fairly consistent clumping in the middle, with AV a high-end outlier and WSG a very disappointingly low-end one. But hell, nobody who has any sense actually needed concrete math to tell them that.