We may kill from sky break to sky fall and still our work will never be done. Yet at the end of days when we are measured for our accomplishments, only the bloody wake that we have left behind us will show our true strength. For this reason you must never stop the slaughter of those that would seek to harm us and our loved ones.
Promise me, Gar’shúl.
Well, you can’t say no to a request like that, can you?
With a return to Warlocking comes a return to PvP, simply because I lack the patience for sitting in the lengthy queues endured by pure-DPS classes in search of PvE content. With a return to PvP comes the usual anxiety about gear gaps, season start times, faction bias, etc. etc….
Oh, wait. What’s that? Gladiator’s Sanctum? OK, forget I said anything.
I like the Sanctum a lot. It’s a Garrison building which, like many others, allows you to set work orders; you put in resources, wait for a bit, and produce comes out. The thing is, what you feed into it is Broken Bones, which you acquire by murdering players of the opposite faction; what comes out is currency (honour and conquest points, garrison resources and Apexis crystals) and entry-level PvP gear (item level 600 out in the world, scaling to 660 in PvP zones).
I’ve probably had two full sets of Felweave emerge from mine since hitting 100 a week ago, plus belt/bracers/rings/necklace. No trinkets – I guess you still have to buy SOME things – but enough honour to make buying trinkets trivial. It’s quite marvellous, since it means my slacker ass is pretty much ready to disgrace itself in battlegrounds and arenas now that the first season of the expansion’s opened, and all I’ve had to do is spend a couple of hours hanging around Ashran throwing around ridiculous amounts of AoE attacks.
Admittedly, that might have been worth doing in its own right. Ashran, the new world PvP zone, feels like a new take on the old Alterac Valley standard. For those not in the known, Alterac Valley is a massive forty-players-per-side five-hundred-respawns-per-faction battleground, dating back to the earliest years of WoW and consequently full of sidequests, reputation grinding, and time-consuming “do this in order to unlock that which’ll summon an NPC who’ll make it marginally more likely that you win” content. Apparently, back in the day, Alterac Valley was hog’s heaven, with matches taking whole days to resolve one way or the other. To me, that sounds like a lot of poopsocker hogwash, but I digress.
The point is that Alterac Valley, in the here and now, is a poster child for the quick-and-drop culture introduced by random groups for battlegrounds, raids and dungeons. Forty people come in, charge willy-nilly up the map, if you’re lucky they might stop to eliminate a few key targets and thus some of the opposition’s resources. What’s meant to be a slow, crawling battle essentially turns into a race to see who can steamroller to the enemy boss fastest, or at least who can be the first to induce extreme tilt in the opposition and cause them to throw the game. The way that the game is played, in the here and now, means that much of Alterac Valley might as well just… not be there.
Ashran is built for the modern MMO environment. It has a very similar structure, with a long road between two bases. There are sidequests, which unlock a very significant buff or additional NPC for your faction if completed, but which aren’t absolutely mandatory to win the game (unlike the take-and-hold-the-bunkers part of Alterac Valley). It rattles along as a series of bite-sized encounters at varying stages along the road, each lasting a few minutes with a couple of minutes’ breathing time in between, rather than forcing you to stick around for a half hour’s foregone conclusion if you want your participation reward. You lose nothing by dropping in or out as you please, although you’ll be wanting to press on for an enemy boss kill now and then for loot.
In theory, it ebbs and flows in favour of one faction or the other; it’s been more of a pendulum swing on Earthen Ring at the moment, as one or the other faction’s more serious PvP guilds pile in to farm honour and bones, but it’s been as much fun farming the Alliance as it has been heroically defending the Horde’s gates. My favourite moment so far – alas, not screencapped as to cease button-mashing would have been death – was standing Gar’shúl on the bridge outside the Horde camp, Alliance charging him en masse, hurling out Conflagrates and Immolates and Rains of Fire and his Infernal minion. There were other players farther behind, but I’d ended up at the front and had to pull back into their range, and so I did; backing up one step at a time as a score of enemies were snared and burned. He died, of course, but for a good ten seconds he stood alone on that burning bridge and defied an army.
It’s all been so much fun that I’ve taken on the Sanctum’s quest-line. The Nemesis quests are a series of kill counts. Kill 500 of a given playable race, and you get a neat title. Kill 500 of all the enemy faction’s playable races, and complete the unlockable Highmaul Colosseum, and you become a Warlord of Draenor.
I might just turn off my Black Harvest title for that. Maybe.