Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Art of Rock, Paper, Scissors PvP

Its no deep dark secret that World of Warcraft PvP is based more on what gear a player has then their skill at the game. Players strive to improve their gear first since it makes the greatest impact on their chance to win. Only after obtaining the top tier of arena or raid gear do most players even stand a chance of moving through the rankings. And it doesn't stop at just virtual gear since most serious pvpers are known to use programmable keyboards and mouse controllers to gain an edge. But with all the mods, expensive hardware, and epic items sometimes it just comes down to your class.

Blizzard follows classic DnD combat which means players are forced to choose a class which has a specific role to perform in group combat. A player's role determines what kind of abilities and spells they get as they level through the game. The problem of course is the classes were originally designed around fighting NPCs not each other. Thus something like a standard heal spell becomes incredibly powerful in PvP since most classes can't regain their own hitpoints. Then again classes which can silence or spell lock a healer have the advantage over them since their opponent has only weak dps.

A very basic way to break down the pvp system in World of Warcraft is to compare the classes to the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Basically the spells and abilities of each class work extremely well against some of their opponents but not all of them. For an example a warlock may be able to dot and fear a druid or priest to death but can easily fall victim to a patient rogue. This balance hasn't come around by accident since Blizzard has nerfed abilities and even introduced new pvp abilities like Cloak of Shadows to maintain it.

To continue with the Rock, Paper, Scissors metaphor you can see some interesting pvp stereotypes if you map the primary description of a class to one of the objects in the game.

Rock - Melee

Paper - Healer

Scissor - Caster

Rogues and Warriors are good at taking down low armor class targets without the ability to heal.

Druids, Priests, and Paladins can heal themselves against melee opponents.

Offensive Casters all have some form of silence which is devastating against healers since the pvp trinket doesn't remove it.

Of course this is just a basic overlook at the classes in pvp. Some classes can't really be locked into one role and you have to know their talent tree to guess what abilities they will use. Plus some matches are always going to be a close call since the classes are about even in offensive and defensive power. There really is no one overpowered class in the game despite the constant calls to nerf warlocks.


Changling bob said...

I think PvP in WoW is less of rock paper scissors and more of a 'nemesis' setup.

Locks beat mages beat rogues beat whoever they get the jump on.

The problem of course is that its imbalanced. Healers beat anyone who can't burst or silence them; Locks can just cc/dot until their opponent falls over; Rogues beat whoever they can stunlock from stealth, whereas warriors or shamans might be able to kill someone with low sta if they get a set of lucky procs on their first couple of hits.

Relmstein said...

I think if you look at the pvp system overall it appears balanced. But of course every player is locked into one small part of that system and gets to experience the overwhelming odds when facing their 'nemesis' class.

LOTR attempts to avoid giving classes advantages over each other in pvp by making monster classes. This allows players to play as monsters when they wish to pvp and their abilities don't have to be balanced for the pve side of the game.

Warhammer is going another route by making sure all abilities are balanced around pvp first. Then they can adjust the difficulty of any pve encounters for players if group synergy is lowered by changes.

Klatz said...

It gets more complicated when you consider specs. For example frost mages do quite well against wars and rogues. Shadow priests usually don't have a problem with casters.

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