Friday 15 December 2006

Back to the Battlegrounds

So as I mentioned back in the first of these articles (titles courtesy of 1970s Doctor Who), there's now a revised honour system. Gone is the treadmill of you versus the server to be replaced with... another treadmill! But at least you can get to the controls of this one, and adjust the speed to suit.

Kills and other achievements in battlegrounds still give you honour points, but instead of totalling up those points every week, comparing them to the rest of the server, giving you a rank based on relative performance, and having rewards linked to this rank, honour points are directly exchanged for the rewards you previously obtained with ranks. All the rewards, including the highest ranking epic armour and weapons.

Prior to the revamped honour system, to get epic items you either had to raid or spend every moment in game PvPing to get to the higher ranks. (Or get *very* lucky with a random drop, or spend a vast amount of gold at auction, and even then they tend to be lower level items). Now, epics are in reach of everyone! Just sign up with your friendly neighbourhood battlemaster, queue for a while, and smite your foes until you have enough honour points for the rewards of your choice! You don't even need a group, the battlegrounds takes care of that for you.

Of course, it's not *quite* that simple. The epic rewards still require a good chunk of honour points which take time to get (even more so after a slight tweak), but this system works for me for several reasons. Battlegrounds are flexible. If no friends or guildmates are around, and I have a spare 20 minutes, I can hop in a queue for Warsong Gulch on my own and work on a bit more honour. The rewards are flexible too; being able to choose rather than hoping for a random drop means I can replace my chest armour, which previously I could only have upgraded with very low percentage drops from a few instance bosses. I can choose swords, daggers, maces or fist weapons to fit my spec (if I ever acquire the requisite 22,000-odd honour points). Most importantly, I'm enjoying fighting in battlegrounds as much as when they first arrived. The huge upswell in popularity amongst more casual players has reduced the chances of encountering a pre-made team and being overwhelmed (though it still happens), and I've had quite a few enjoyable, closely matched contests.

It'll be interesting to see how things change as more and more people get kitted out in their battleground epics; will the dedicated players take some time out, or work on banking up honour towards the level 70 rewards? Perhaps they'll start practising for the new arenas, which look like they could be interesting. So long as I can get a couple of bits of armour, and maybe an epic sword, it works for me!

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