PvP has gotten quite slow around where I am, and even though the end of a season would usually see a flurry of activity, people seem overall fairly burnt out on Arena. My own teams have been relegated to 10 games a week due to work, school and other completely valid reasons. On one hand, I'm glad that I'm getting alot more sleep than in the past, but, on the other hand, I haven't had any exciting nights such as last night when our 3's team burned through some pretty strong and well coordinated teams, sometimes by the skin of our teeth.
One such match was against a strong Warrior/Ret/RestoDruid team with Season 4 weapons that had just taken 13 points from us. They swapped targets quite well and at one point I was down to <1k mana and my Warrior (I run Warrior/EnhShaman/RestoDruid) was down to <500 health. With some lucky dodges/parries and shield block, I had enough time to Innervate myself, stack lifeblooms and cyclone the warrior to allow Mortal Strike to fall off. Amazing luck, indeed! I'll take those 20 points any day!
With my time not being taken up by endless hours of grinding Honor (which I will be doing soon to cap out before WotLK) or grinding rating in the Arenas, my little facemelter alt is now at level 67. Yes, we worked hard over the weekend. I will probably try to grind BG's like crazy on little miss mindflay once I hit 70, but with no gear and no desire to spend honor for gear, she'll be an impressive liability in BG's. It may be a reasonably productive venture to get to honored with all of the BC factions so I have a starter set of craptacular gear just to survive longer than 3 seconds. I apologize in advance to whomever is unlucky enough to be teamed up with her, but I'll try my best! As for right now, she'll stay shadow until level 80 whereupon a decision will be made on her future spec and role.
Most of the spec/role decision depends on comp domination at level 80, which is where I anticipate all of the excitement, theorycrafting and fun will be centered upon. As of right now, at level 70, we know what works and what doesn't work. Why? Because we've been refining strategies and comp make ups for four seasons. However, with level 80, a pseudo gear reset, and a whole slew of new talents, abilities, and in some cases, class redefinitions (zug zug, my new Ret overlords), arenas will be full of turmoil as people adapt and learn. The other aspect of this decision are the various tiers of PvP gear: Savage, Hateful and Deadly. Savage gear will be pretty cheap to acquire and with the spellpower changes, I'll be able to test things out pretty easily.
I am definitely looking foward to the impact of the tiers of PvP gear and I believe that this implementation will give players an alternative method for gearing up. With the reasonable requirements to purchase this gear, ranging from marginal arena/honor points and no rating required to a 2200+ rating requirement, players of all calibers will have something to shoot for. I'm hoping for a renewed interest in the arena, pushing the arena population higher and higher.
On that note, I think the Season 4 rating requirements are a failing point on Blizzard's part due to the average player's inability to hit 1700. With the rating requirements this season, a good percentage of players never got their S4 helm and boots and simply gave up. Let's be realistic here, WoW is a loot centric game and the only way to build the participating population is to dangle the colloquial carrot on a stick in front of their faces. Of course, in this case, the carrot is some shiny purple epic. The failing part of this S4 scenario lies upon the prevalent apathy in the lower brackets. These players, unable to reach that next rating requirement simply gave up their will to participate in the arena. Unfortunately, the rating system, being a zero sum system (theoretically), doesn't benefit from a shrinking population.
By being a zero sum system (theoretically), this means that for every rating point that is won, someone else loses that much rating and rating doesnt just 'dissapear' or 'appear' (although this does happen with creating and deletion of teams). What this also means is that when a whole segement of players stops playing due to apathy or whatever other reason, everything else 'shifts' downward. Fewer <1600 players means that there are fewer points being fed up to the 1600-1800 players, which means that fewer points are being fed up to the 1800+ players. And so on and so forth. It's a pretty vicious cycle, especially on smaller BG's. Hence, the string of Gladiators that seem to be everpresent in the mid 1800's and above. Weren't you guys 2100+ last season? What gives?
Sure, this sounds like a pretty big sloppy QQ from an average player (ok, ok above average), and it is, but I'm glad that Blizzard has recognized this discrepency and has rectified it with Season 5. What's better than a carrot on a stick? Multiple carrots on a stick! I'm also tentatively excited about a blue mentioning a future Personal Rating system that won't go away when you swap teams. Of course, someone's going to figure out a way to beat the system, but it shows that the developers are watching, and that's always a good thing.