Today, we’ve temporarily closed the Hardcore PTR realm and opened a new PTR realm that only allows template characters for testing the major update version 1.14.4 brings to Classic Era PvP.
Before we dive into the system and how it’s changed, here’s glossary of terms for those who are less familiar with the current version of the system on 1.14.3 Classic Era realms:
|Rank||The rank of a player in a given PvP season. Ranks range from 1 (Private / Scout) to 14 (Grand Marshal / High Warlord)|
|Honorable Kills (HKs)||Awarded when killing opposing-faction players or NPCs that are near or above your player level. Killing higher-ranked players awards more Contribution Points (CP). Players receive honor points based on however many honorable kills they earn in a given week.|
|Dishonorable Kills (DKs)||Gained by killing opposing-faction NPCs with the “Civilian” tag in their tooltip. Dishonorable kills count as a penalty against the player’s end-of-week Honor points.|
|Contribution Points (CP or Honor)||Awarded to the player based on their HKs and DKs. While CP is often used interchangeably with Honor, it is not to be confused with “Honor points”, which is also what many players call “Honor” as shorthand. An HK may be worth more or fewer Honor points depending on whether the HK came from a lower or higher ranked player. CP is rolled up and used to determine a player’s rank, during weekly server maintenance.|
|Honor Points||These are earned from HKs and battleground objectives and are converted to CP to determine a player’s ranking progress for the week.|
|Rank Bracket (Bracket)||Each rank requires participants in the Honor system to be among the top X% of all participants in the system for that week, and ranking up into the next rank/bracket is not possible unless you are at or above the correct percentile for the rank you are trying to reach, regardless of the amount of Honor/CP accumulated that week.|
|Rank Points (RP)||RP was awarded based on the player’s CP and the number of players in the bracket. RP was awarded mostly linearly compared to CP, however the difference is that RP took other players into consideration to form ranked standings or a leaderboard of players ranked based on their participation in the system. This aspect of the system has been removed from the game.|
|Decay||This is the removal of RP from players who do not participate as Decay much as expected for their rank and thus could not keep their rank in a given week. If their expected RP is less than their actual weekly total, it is decayed at 20% of the expected value, up to a maximum of 2500 points of CP decay.|
When setting out to design a new system we looked at some of the primary problems with the old system and used these as a basis for what we felt needed to change for the new system to be healthier:
There’s a lot of pressure to grind HKs nonstop - Since players are being ranked vs. other players in their same faction, taking a break might mean that you lose your desired spot in a particular rank bracket. Decay also contributes to this somewhat, though not nearly as much as how RP is awarded.
Since players are ranked based on a percentage of how many PvP participants there are, some players will engage in an activity called “pool boosting” - Pool boosting refers to the process of artificially inflating the total pool of players in the system so that each rank bracket are larger and allow a larger number of people within each bracket to rank up. This is often done through the use of automation (bots). For example, someone will run bots that will kill one another repeatedly until they reach the minimum required number of kills per week to become a part of the ranking system. They then switch to new characters, and repeat.
Bracket fixing becomes the meta - Some players work together to take turns in a top percentile bracket, which allows them to increase the number of people who earn top-tier rewards and lowers the Honor ceiling for each bracket. This isn’t strictly a bad thing as players of the same faction often work together to ensure there is a pecking order and that, over time, more people earn rewards with less grinding needed by effectively capping the amount of Honor each rank needs to earn each week. This isn’t really in the spirit of the old system. Ideally, if players put in the effort, they should be rewarded, and shouldn’t feel pressured to be part of the in-group to earn top PvP rewards. This also often leads to conflict among players on the same faction, when players break the fixed bracket limits for their current rank and essentially raise the amount of Honor everyone else in the higher ranks needs to earn that week to not stall out their ranking efforts or even decay and lower their rank progress.
The old PvP Honor system script is complex, takes a long time to run, and is error prone - Honor is updated each week via a script run against the database which performs various calculations to convert each players contributions to CP and rank players against one another based on their current rank, expected CP, RP, and other factors. This script is essentially unchanged since 2005, and while it is mostly functional, it can become stuck or hit unexpected delays based on various conditions and cause the weekly Honor update to take many hours, or in some extreme cases, days to complete. This makes the entire system stressful for those who are eagerly waiting to see where they landed for the previous week’s contributions. We wish to overhaul and replace this script with a more performant and modern solution.
Now let’s look at the high-level goals for the new system:
Eliminate ranking points - Competing against your own faction for standing is interesting in principle, but in execution has a lot of problems based on the points listed above. The system is easily meta-gamed and encourages many weeks or months of high levels of play. Our goal for the new system is to grant ranks based on whether players hit specific Honor milestones with an increasing level of participation and challenge needed to maintain their progress as the weeks go by and the player moves through the ranks.
Grant Honor and Honor Points at the time the HK (or DK!) is earned - In the old system, this occurs at the end of the day. Players would prefer to see their progress towards Honor milestones in real time.
Move the weekly honor updates to a more efficient and performant method of updating individual player ranks - Without RP, we can move to a model where you see your rank changes right when you log in after the weekly reset, rather than waiting for the Honor script to process all participants on your realm.
Remove de-ranking - Decay is still something we wanted to maintain, but de-ranking down to a lower rank is especially punishing at higher ranks when you need to maintain a constant and high level of play to keep up. The need to take time off could greatly hinder the progress of someone ranking, and in some brackets taking even a few days or a week off could cost the player multiple weeks of progress.
Now that we’ve established what a few key terms mean, gone over the largest problems with the old system, and defined some of our goals; here’s a rundown of behavioral changes between the old and the new system:
|Behavior||Old System||New System|
|What is the minimum number of honorable kills necessary to earn CP each week?||15||15|
|How Are Honor Points Awarded?||Based on player level and PvP Rank||Based on Player Level and PvP Rank|
|When does honor decay happen?||When the player does not meet the expected honor for their rank for a given week||When the player does not meet the expected honor for their rank for a given week|
|What is the maximum amount of CP a player may lose due to decay?||2500||2500|
|Are HK’s, DK’s, Honor, and Highest Rank Displayed in the UI for Today, Yesterday, This Week, Last Week, and Lifetime?||Yes||Yes|
|Is player standing displayed in the UI for last week?||Yes||No, as players are no longer compared against one another on their realm|
|How is a player’s rank determined?||Based on the amount of ranking points the player has earned||Based on the amount of CP the player has earned. Ranking points no longer exist.|
|How do DK’s penalize players?||DK’s cause an immediate loss of CP and displayed rank progress.||DK’s cause an immediate loss of CP and displayed rank progress.|
|How often are ranking points awarded?||Weekly||Never. Ranking points no longer exist.|
|Will honor decay indefinitely?||Yes; this means the player may be demoted to a lower rank if their honor decays below the minimum threshold for their current rank||No; we now only decay until the player reaches the base amount of honor for the current rank. This means that a player will not be demoted, unless they earn a demotion via Dishonorable Kills.|
|How are honor points converted to CP?||Using an algorithm based on the player’s expected honor for their rank, a hard-coded change factor, minus any deductions from DKs||Based on a curve which maps honor to CP. For example, ~750k honor equates to 65,000 CP (numbers are NOT final). The amount of honor you need to hit each week is static and fixed and does not fluctuate based on what other participants on your realm are doing.|
|When do the stats for This Week and Lifetime update?||Once per day||Immediately|
|Can a player see their standing vs. other players in the UI?||Yes||No; players are no longer compared with one another, so standing has been removed from the UI|
Now let’s take a look at the new User interface:
It should look and feels nearly identical to the previous system’s interface, with the only major difference being the omission of “standing” from the “Last Week” section.
We encourage PTR testers to participate in Battlegrounds there to get a feel for how earning HKs and Honor in real time works, and also to populate our database with PvP data to help us ensure that everything is working correctly under the hood. The total Honor needed to hit the highest CP level is currently set to 750,000 honor, meaning that if you get at least 750k honor for the week, you will earn the maximum amount of rank increases for that week. This is subject to change before the system goes live with patch 1.14.4.
There’s also a hard cap on how far you can progress in a given week, and the minimum number of weeks required to hit rank 14 is currently set to 8 on the PTR.
This was a very dense explanation, mostly due to the fact that the old system is very complex. The TLDR here is that ranking up is now much more straightforward. You will simply need to hit specific milestones of Honor Points gained each week to progress through PvP ranks.
Thank you for testing with us!