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Member Since 24 Feb 2010
Offline Last Active Aug 15 2014 12:00 AM

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The Gear Gap: The Biggest PvP Problem

29 December 2012 - 11:52 PM

I just cross-posted this same wall of text at us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/1011696/

TL;DR version: decrease the gap between RBG and Arena point caps, decrease the ilvl gap between T1 and T2 weapons.

One of the biggest problems with arena right now is the huge gear gap that teams often encounter. This is especially noticeable for teams pushing 2200, as, starting at 1900, you'll often encounter teams who already have their elite gear. Two factors create this gear gap:

1. Players starting late during the arena season: people who decide they want to pvp mid-season, people returning to the game, and alts. A lot has already been written about this issue, so I won't really rehash it here. The most-discussed issue is the fact that a fresh 90 can farm a full set of honor gear, but will still has to wait 3-4 weeks to get a weapon with pvp power on it. This weapon is mandatory for being competitive. I actually think this issue will not be as big a deal next season, when (presumably) this season’s T1 Malevolent weapons will be available from honor vendors.

2. The conquest point gap between players who RBG and players who only do arenas. At comparable ratings, the RBG’er will have a much higher cap than an arena player. This allows them to gear up faster, in turn dominating lesser geared players even harder. The upgrade system makes this an even bigger deal. During previous seasons, players who gear up quickly will eventually stop having such an advantage because they simply run out of stuff to buy. With the upgrade system, this process is stretched out, so players who managed to obtain a high RBG rating at the start of the season have a huge advantage throughout. This snowballs: according to the conquest point calculator, 1900 RBG rating is a 3013 cap, while a 1900 arena rating is a 2465 cap. After only 4 weeks, the player who has a 1900 RBG rating has earned 2192 more points.

Item Level Gear Gaps
None of this would be a big deal if gear wasn’t so important right now. World of Warcraft is an MMORPG, so of course gear should matter. While we’re not seeing things like legendaries and pre-nerf vials, I think a player’s equipment is as important now as it has been since Burning Crusade. The gear gap that exists between the blue gear and the Malevolent gear is gigantic: 33 item levels. Even if you upgrade all your honor gear, the difference is still 25 item levels: not nearly enough to be competitive in arena at moderately high ratings.

The most punishing gear gap is the 20 levels between T1 and T2 weapons. This is the biggest that it’s ever been: in Wrath and Cataclysm, the gap was 13 item levels. Considering that you often start running into teams with full epics and/or T2 (whether from RBGs or rerolling teams) in the upper 1800s, getting to 2200 for the first time is rough. Arena ratings have generally decreased in the last two seasons. Now, there are a lot of top players at 2200-2400, where in S10 and before, they would have been 2400 and higher. Increasing your rating and obtaining T2 after mid-season should be a challenge, not a near-impossibility.

Some readers will roll their eyes and say “play better” or “just do RBGs at the beginning of the season.” However, as discussed above, it’s not always possible to get in on the action early.


1. The elite weapons shouldn’t be 20 item levels better than the regular ones. The datamined Tyrannical Gladiator gear is ilvl 496 for armor pieces. This is an increase of only 13 item levels over the current Malevolent Gladiator armor. This is MUCH better than the 33 item level difference between Dreadful and Malevolent and in-line with how it’s been in previous seasons. However, the difference between the T1 and T2 weapon is still 20 item levels. This gap should be narrowed, perhaps back down to 13. In addition, for some reason, the Malevolent T2 is better than the Tyrannical T1. This creates an even bigger next season hurdle for characters without the current T2 weapon. Even if they get their T1 Tyrannical in 3 weeks, they will still be disadvantaged. The rich stay rich and the poor stay poor.

This is a change from previous seasons. For example, the T2 Ruthless (S10) weapon was ilvl 391, and the T1 Cataclysmic (S11) was 397 (later, after the season and during patch 4.0, the 397 weapon was nerfed down to 384). The T2 Relentless (S7) weapon was 258, while the T1 Wrathful (S8) weapon was 264. In short, up until this upcoming season, the new season’s T1 has been better than the previous season’s T2 by 6 item levels. This meant that players with the old T2 had a very small short-term advantage (and one could argue that they should), but in the long run, a new season was a new season and the playing field was relatively even.

2. RBG caps shouldn’t be so much bigger, at a comparable rating, than arena caps. It should be easier to cap your weekly points in RBGs than in arenas, but doing RBGs shouldn’t provide a huge advantage in 3v3. With the upgrade system, this advantage can be maintained for a much longer time period than ever before. I’m not saying that the upgrade system is a problem. The problem is the conquest point gap in general. Perhaps the gap should be narrowed; perhaps it should be eliminated.

WoW is an MMO, and gear should matter. However, gear shouldn’t be the primary factor to success.