Ask the Devs - Questions #2 "PvP"

General Discussion
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Welcome to the World of Warcraft "Ask the Devs" global Q&A. In this thread we'll be collecting questions from you to have answered by our developers. We'll be asking for your question each time a new Ask the Devs Questions thread goes up, having the community vote on them, and posting the answers we receive approximately one week later.

LOCKED. Tallying votes and preparing questions. Stay tuned for the answers.

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Is it a possibility that the premade group requirement will be dropped from Rated Battlegrounds, allowing players to queue for a Random Rated Battleground? I'm sure many people would be ok with the inherent risk and disadvantage of grouping with random players for rated content if it meant they could at least make use of the rating system.
Many questions have been brought up about the state of Elemental Shamans mobility in PvP.

Such as: the loss of Astral Shift, to the gain of Earthquake (useless with the mana cost), Fulmination (lightning shield charges), Spirit Walkers Grace (silenced, interrupted, dispelled, snared), and even Stoneclaw Totem (not scaling with spell power).

Simply put:
With the severe lack of Elemental Shamans in arenas, are there any plans to allow them to be more viable for PvP in the future?
Are there plans to make a fix to the sound system to again allow an add-on to play sounds while in-game sounds stay off? This directly affects PvP and PvE aspects of the game for many people.
Balance druids are widely recognized as deficient in PvP.

Can you describe your motivation for nerfing Balance druids' burst damage, crowd control, and self-healing in 4.1? This seems like a lot, given that you have acknowledged that Balance druids are currently weak in Arena (during your first Q&A).

(It would be great if you could speak generally to what your vision or plan is for this class, in PvP. Some players believe that Blizzard does not intend for feral or balance druids to be played in arena. Please tell us for the record that this is not true!)

Thank you.
Due to the tricky nature of balancing end game PVE and PVP damage, tweaking coefficients can get sticky. The vastly inflated health pools of 85 and the subsequent damage and healing needed have had deleterious effects on low level PVP, both in experience on and off. In order to rectify this easily without changing health pools of low levels, could they introduce a flat damage, healing, and absorption reduction while in instanced battlegrounds similar to the 10% healing reduction done during Wrath? It would be simple and the number could be tweaked as needed.
What are the devs' opinions on using vehicles in world PvP, specifically in areas such as Wintergrasp or Tol Barad? More to the point, do you feel like open world PvP offers a better environment for vehicle PvP than their controversial use in regular battlegrounds?
In WotLK, it was stated a Defensive DPS spec doesn't work well in WoW, but yet that seems to be the role Ret keeps finding itself in.

Has that design theroy changed, meaning are you planning on giving another shot at making a defensive dps spec work? if not, and you want Ret to be more of an offensive spec, what steps are being taken to further push them into an offensive state?
Are Rated Battlegrounds ever going to be able to queue as solo, if not. Why?
Alterac Valley has seen many changes throughout the years, and while it is best that the battles don't last hours or days like they used to, the current condition it is in is rather shameful. Do you have any plans to further alter this battleground in order to make the unique objectives such as training aerial soldiers and summoning the mini-boss more attractive, as well as overall encouraging PVP combat to be more present and important instead of the pathetic PVE race that it currently is (i.e. downsizing the map, making traversing the map easier, giving more rewards for participating in PVP combat, etc.)?
The question:
With the proliferation of spell interrupts and other control mechanisms, and the ever-increasing value of mobility, how do the developers plan to successfully move casters away from instant casts and make hard casting in PvP more viable?

More detail:
It was recently stated by a CM that the Developers would like to move away from instant cast spells, and back towards hard casting. This is a difficult philosophy to comprehend since the specs that rely on hard casting, in Season 9, have had the most difficult time succeeding in PvP. It seems improbable, with the game in its current state of design, that we can bring back hard casting viability without massive structural changes.

Edited for clarity/brevity.
Elemental Shamans took heavy collateral damage from some of the sweeping changes made in 4.0. Old strengths like burst damage, off-healing, etc were hit; but old weaknesses (notably the "turret") remain. What do the devs think could be done to help recover some of that old spark?

No pun intended, of course.
It feels like PvP is getting a bit stale.
What plans do you have to keep the pvp community alive and active?
In the PTR leading to patch 4.06 You removed the ability for Feral druid berserk to remove fear effects and make feral's immune to fear (but not horrify) during this.

It was explained by a blue that because of our ability to be near unpeelable that it was too much.

Then the next update to the ptr also removed our ability to shift out of roots. Making us the most peelable but not returning the fear break/immunity that the 3 minute cd gave us.

If not being able to freely shift out of roots was truly needed to balance the feral druid spec then I am fine with that, however feral underperforms so badly that I personally re-rolled a Death knight after sticking with Feral since I started in early 2005 until and hoping Feral is fixed.

In the upcoming patch notes Feral has been given 2 root breaks tied to their speed boost on longish cooldowns. Compared to other melee this will not be enough. Without a short term immunity the root break will be near useless.

It just feels to me and many people I know that if your class is a hybrid healing class that all attention is paid to the Resto or holy spec and the "off specs" are afterthoughts that truly lack the tools that make other non-healing hybrids perform so well in pvp. such as Warrior or Death knight.

I believe that unless you pvp as a spec or class you can't truly know where it is good and where it is not, otherwise you wouldn't have made such a huge change to the feral spec mid season, ruining it essentially, yet at the same time saying how removing the double dipping 2pc. set bonus wouldn't be done until the end of the season because of the work people put in for two pieces of gear.

The work I put into a whole set was wasted.

My question is this.

Since you have made such drastic changes to feral that made it unique in pvp and arguably harder to balance because of such, will you finally give feral the toolset it needs to be on par with the other melee?
If PvP is supposed to be a game of skill, why isn’t there stat-equity between (casual play) Honor and (dedicated, scheduled play) Conquest gear?
Retribution Paladins seem to always be between a rock and a hard place whenever we are "tweaked" at all. Our damage can be "overpowered" at times whenver RNG favors us or we are gimped when it does not. That along with Selfless Healer, Divine Purpose, and Eternal Glory, our Word of Glory can be extremely powerful when used on other players. Now, with the Word of Glory nerf, our off-heals won't be as OP, but our own survivability takes a huge dive. I could continue to go on about this subject, but there are far more detailed posts around the forum.

How do you plan to finally balance Retribution Paladins for once and all?
I have a question about Rated Battlegrounds. There seems to be a lot of frustration from people who are participating in Rated BGs, regarding the rating system and the hidden MMR. I think some clarity on the formula or at the very least about the MMR would do a lot to fix the frustration a lot of players are having with Rated BGs.

I know that each player has a hidden MMR, but my question is where did the MMR come from at the beginning of the season? Did it come from the prior arena season's MMR or from their gear level or was everyone's MMR the same at the start of the season?

It looks like players who had a high MMR in arena season 8 almost universally don't lose points until they approach what their arena rating was in the prior season. Players who didn't do arenas also seem to be progressing well and not losing rating until over 2k. It also seems like players who participated in arenas prior to this expansion, but had low to moderate ratings seem to be the ones who are losing points the earliest.

Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
When PvP'ers won Wintergrasp, and now Tol Barad, they got rewarded with a PvE experience, ie. a PvE raid boss. That seems counterintuitive and backwards to me. Why not have PvP-centric rewards for these PvP battles? Perhaps a buff in Battlegrounds/Arenas for the winning faction? Or let's say Horde wins...Alliance NPCs receive a debuff thereby encouraging PvP elsewhere in the world. You don't reward PvE raiders with Honor Points or PvP Battlegrounds...why reward PvP'ers with PvE content?

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