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Season Six Recap

By Robert Duckworth on June 15, 2009 | General Articles | Comments

Season Six Recap
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An issue by issue journey through the current arena season for anyone who may have missed out. It is just a few weeks into Season Six, but already there have been a lot of changes. Blizzard appears to be holding by their new philosophy that PvP can, and should be, balanced in a timely manner. Obviously nearly everybody's view on what should be changed first is likely to be different, but change is happening.

Starting at the beginning: Season Five has just ended, patch 3.1 has hit the servers, and two classes are going wild. Warlocks have discovered how to two shot players and many quickly proceeded to enjoy themselves in the battlegrounds. Their fun was hot fixed in less than 24 hours. Retribution Paladins also came out of the gates roaring, and were subsequently tied back down with restraints before the week was out, though they continue to try and break free into OP'ness. Most Fury Warriors have already switched to Arms, and most DKs went deeper into Unholy due to the loss of shadowfrost spec. Feral Druids lament their bear form nerfs, and subsequently their survivability; while Disc Priests and Resto Druids looked hopefully in the opposite direction. DPS casters continue to cry about anything that is melee, especially Retribution and the Arms Warrior Juggernaut buff. It is a new season, Ring of Valor arena has been fixed and reopened, all ratings have been reset to 0 for the first time in arena's history, and many players are excited to see what the 3.1 changes bring.

Week one comes along, andmany players quickly realize that the Matchmaking Ratings (MMR) have not been reset. As arena battles continue to be won and lost, it is further discovered that the system is slightly broken. Players do not start losing points for a loss until after surpassing their previous season's MMR. As a result ratings are quickly inflated beyond what they have ever been before. Priest/Rogue becomes a FotM (flavor of the month) comp in 2v2 almost over night. Nerfs in 3.1 to the counters of Priest/Rogue, such as to DK/Holy Paladin, have left a stagnant wasteland just waiting to be filled, and this traditional comp does just that. Rogue/Rogue also becomes a popularly recognized comp once again as a team manages to snag the number one spot in 2v2 with it. To almost no one's surprise, Ring of Valor is still completely broken. What few fixes that were intended to be implemented apparently just couldn't make it on time. One thing was fixed for sure though; players were no longer able to leave the gated area early by passing through the supposedly solid gates, because the gates were removed. Players against Retribution Paladins continue to voice their disgust with the class, so much that Blizzard unveils that they are coming up with plans to rework the Retribution offense in the 3.2 patch.

With week two come changes, lots of changes. The MMR system is fixed. You will no longer gain an inflated rating, though players who did achieve such a rating are allowed to keep it and possibly a good number will camp it until the end of the season in order to guarantee themselves Gladiator titles and mounts. Due to the inflation of Week One, Blizzard decides to increase the rating requirement on the top Furious Weapons from 2200 to 2350 in order to help curb the number of players who achieve such items. Blizzard reminds everyone of their reward philosophy, that the percentage of players who gain access to Ulduar Hard Mode epics should be the same as the percentage of players who gain access to the top arena weapons. Priest/Rogue continues to rise in representation in the 2v2 bracket. Warrior/Druid, that classic comp, discover that they have a fast growing niche as well, further swelling the void left behind from select unlucky classes. Classes which, as many have noted by now, are not the nerfed DK's. Instead, melee is doing great, so are healers, but DPS casters have been left in the cold. The majority of Holy Paladins discover a new survivability trick as many start taking all of the Protection talents instead of the Holy talents, allowing them a permanent Divine Plea up time, as well as Hammer of Justice on a 20 second cool down and a 3 second ranged silence, at the cost of their only instant cast heal. Hunters proudly announced their spot as dead last in all arenas, all brackets, on all possible statistics that involve arenas.


BEM Arena

Then week three comes about. Priest/Rogue synergy is mildly nerfed, buffing Resto Druid/Rogue in the process, while Priests themselves take on the brunt of the changes. There is discussion on the power of melee in arenas and on possibly nerfing Warrior's Juggernaut because it gives them too much mobility. Many DPS casters cry foul and demand nerfs to all four melee classes... because feral druids and enhance shamans are basically forgotten about. More players start to notice that the 3v3 bracket isn't looking to healthy, and that the 5v5 bracket is almost completely dead. Various possible causes are linked to the issue; Players enjoy the smaller brackets more, it's too hard to get five people together and then grind out over 100 games just to get to a 1500 rating, and players go where the easiest rewards are and 2v2 is known to be the easiest bracket to progress in. Despite the insistence on melee classes being over powered, the 3v3 bracket continues to be topped by RMP. Though every team that is not RMP is a cleave team, and most 5v5 teams are also cleave teams, so obviously there is a problem with DPS casters vs. Melee. Any buffs to casters, possibly brought about by nerfs to melee, will have to make sure not to buff RMP further. Many forum goers state that they feel that armor is what separates the viability of a melee versus a DPS caster, but then Blizzard points out that the mobility of the melee is probably more to blame then how much armor a person has on when that melee catches up to them, hinting at possible nerfs to Juggernaut and Hand of Freedom. Juggernaut is then announced that it will be nerfed, amid the tears of many, many Warriors. Restoration Druids ability, Thorns, is causing ire among the Rogue community because they will basically kill themselves on the thorns even if they manage to kill the Druid. Hints of what class will be the target of the next QQ train start to arise as well.

Week four: Restoration Druids' QQ train is on overdrive. They were safe all through Season Five, but four weeks into Season Six and they can't catch a break. Restoration Druids have a brand new Innervate which, when linked with the new Barkskin, has a 90% chance to not be dispelled. And that's on top of all of the other buffs that a Resto Druid would have on themselves. Lifeblooms are reported to be blooming for 10k health. A Druid in tree form is considered to be un-killable by... well, anyone. No one can kill a Tree Druid with HoT's on them. The armor is good and the lack of requirement to cast heals leaves them immune to the majority of silences and spell lockouts. They have traded a lot for the ability to tank heal though. Loss of mobility due to increased fragility in cheetah form as well as in caster form, and in order to cast any type of CC a druid must switch into caster form. With the nerf to Juggernaut, hot on the scene is not in fact Resto Druid/Warrior, but instead is Resto Druid/Frost DK. A spec that is expected to get nerfed in a hot fix one way or another, Frost DK's have the ability to pool rune power and then unleash massive Frost Strikes, while having all of their actual Runes still charging or active and then ready to push out even more damage on top of what they've just finished. There are more abilities stacking on top of each other to further increase Frost Strikes damage as well. It takes more planning than a Retribution rotation, yetalso deals a lot more damage as well. This may make some players go back on their wish for Retribution to take more effort. Also in week four, included in the patch unannounced, Nitro Boots have been removed from arenas. Engineers became upset. Warlocks gained a nifty new spell to their Voidwalkers that apparently doesn't help them since it is often just dispelled off of them and they lose too much viability by having a Voidwalker out instead of a Felhunter. The hot fix nerf to Warlocks that happened less than 24 hours after 3.1 went live has finally been properly fixed, and Warlocks started asking when they were going to be nerfed again because they couldn't believe the amount of damage they were able to pump out. A major weakness of this new burst is of course the amount of required setup, as well as the talent trees somewhat lack of spell protection, so despite what some Warlocks have been saying, not many others have shared the sentiments.


Nagrand Arena

In the upcoming weeks. Blizzard has announced that Engineering will receive some work, mainly Nitro Boots, and that they hope nobody got rid of Engineering as a profession, because they feel everyone will like the new boots... but not so much that you'll switch out of another profession to get them. Jewelcrafting Prismatic Gems will be nerfed, allowing players to get socket bonuses was considered too good compared to other professions, so now nobody is allowed to get socket bonuses. More hints at nerfs to melee mobility in order to help DPS casters have been heard. Retribution is still looking at a major offensive overhaul in 3.2. Incredibly surprising, just four weeks into the season, Blizzard has already announced the coming of Season Seven and the PvE that will come with it, though not a date of any kind. Blizzard has also announced that they have finished their rating tuning of the 3v3 and 5v5 brackets so that there is a decent percentage of players that will receive the ratings required for gear by playing those brackets. This is meant to stimulate play in 3v3 and 5v5, though probably the best way to stimulate 5v5 is to allow players to start that bracket at a 1500 rating. It appears that Blizzard is remaining very committed to only allowing a select few of players achieve Furious Two weapons, as they reminded everyone again that the cost to buy them is now 2350 and not 2200. There will most likely be more nerfs and buffs in the upcoming weeks, and hopefully more changes geared towards the classes that are not seeing much light at this time.

Robert Duckworth / http://averice.blogspot.com/
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