Counterpoint: The Valor Point Grind

Last week, Ana posted some thoughts on the valor point grind.  She and I have been discussing this topic on and off for the better part of three weeks, and for the most part I agree with her.  There is one issue, however, that we don’t agree on despite each of our best efforts at persuading the other.  And that particular topic is, “How much valor should we get from raiding?”

Quoting the relevant section of Ana’s post:

For the record, I am NOT asking for raiding to completely cap VP. This is a very important point, because I know the devs are quite tired of hearing from raiders who want their VP handed to them on a silver platter. I don’t think raiders should get a completely free pass. I accept that as someone who desires to cap VP, I have to put in a fair amount of effort.

To make sure I’m presenting Ana’s opinion fairly, let’s clarify some of the details.  We both agree that it would be more convenient if we could cap valor through raiding, and that we’d be happier if we could.  Her stance is purely that we shouldn’t be able to, because it’s better for the game if we can’t.  The principle is that by forcing raiders to do dailies, it gets us out into the world and interacting with other players, which is a good thing.

Counterpoint: valor isn’t the prime motivator

Certainly it’s good to get people out into the world.  But it’s not clear to me that valor has a significant effect on that.  First of all, dailies are an abysmally inefficient way to grind valor; any reasonably talented raider can do far better by running heroics via LFD, LFR, or challenge modes.  So a raider who’s time-limited (or just efficiency-minded) won’t generally opt for the long, slow daily grind instead of getting a few other guildies together and choosing one of the more efficient routes to their weekly valor.

There are plenty of other reasons to do dailies though, reputation being the most obvious.  If you drew a Venn diagram, I’d be willing to bet that the set of raiders has a pretty healthy overlap with the set of achievement hounds.  So we’re doing them anyway, and would be whether they granted valor or not, simply because we want to max out our reputations with the factions.

And of course, there’s also the gear that becomes available at revered and exalted.  Most of the factions provide ilvl 489 epic gear for valor points once you reach revered, and the Klaxxi and Golden Lotus each provide a free epic at exalted (ring from Klaxxi, amulet from Golden Lotus).  The other nice part about these items is that they’re competition-free.  There’s a great expertise/haste option from Klaxxi, and we don’t have to feel guilty about taking it from a DPS.  As I joked on twitter, there’s also a dodge/mastery option, “but I don’t know what that’s for.”

So between reputation and free epics, we’d all be doing dailies anyway.  And once we reach exalted with a particular faction, we’re still going to stop.  I’ve already quit doing the dailies for the factions I’ve gotten to exalted – Klaxxi, Golden Lotus, Anglers, and Cloud Serpents.  Which is a relief, because it’s turned a miserable 2-hour grind into about 30 minutes of (still miserable) Shadopan dailies and (significantly less miserable) August Celestial dailies, along with a few tillers dailies to finish out my budding social network at Halfhill and spending some quality time down home on the farm.

So, what is valor for?

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that we do get valor points for doing them.  I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t, either.  In fact, quite the opposite, they should probably reward more valor given how much time they take, so that they’re more competitive with challenge modes, heroics, and scenarios.  Especially since the latter were just buffed.

But we have to consider that, given the myriad of sources of valor points, the currency is basically just a reward for “time spent in-game,” doing almost anything.  So if you can cap valor with 12-15 hours of dailies, or much faster via challenge modes, scenarios, LFR, and heroics, then why can’t you cap with 12-15 hours of raiding?  What makes that time spent raiding less valuable than spending an equivalent amount (or less) time doing other things?  It’s certainly no less challenging, and I think you’d be hard-pressed to make any argument for the situation based on skill.

Of course, one argument might be that you get gear drops from raiding.  Though I’ll note that you get gear from heroics, scenarios, and LFR as well.  The dailies also unlock gear at certain reputation levels, so there’s a gear reward there too.  And while challenge modes don’t drop useful items, they do have a long-term reward that encourages people to try them, which is – you guessed it – gear.  So I’m not sure the gear argument holds much water either.

It’s not clear to me why raiding is such an inefficient way to get valor points.  Raid content has for the majority of the game’s lifetime been the end-game content.  It’s what patch cycles have been scheduled and built around and what guilds use to gauge their skill and dedication.  A good raid tier gets lauded and remembered for years, and a bad one gets decried for an equal length.  The simple utterance of “Ulduar” or “Dragon Soul” elicit a wellspring of memories for most raiders, and it’s hard to think of other activities in the game that are similarly evocative.  Raiding is the heart and soul of World of Warcraft.

And yet, by giving such meager valor rewards for raiding, Blizzard is basically saying, “Yeah, we understand that you guys love this content, and we love to produce it, but we don’t think that the 12-15 hours you spend raiding is really all that important.  We’d rather you spend more time not raiding.  Why don’t you try this busywork daily content we’ve implemented?  Or better  yet, run through the LFD tool so you can kill bosses you’ve already done 100 times while you were gearing up for raids and drop loot rewards that you’ve already outgrown?”

It’s sort of backwards, in a way.  Wrath and Cataclysm emphasized the philosophy that the player should be able to progress their character in a variety of ways, based on what content they like.  So the raider could cap their valor by raiding, while another player could do daily heroics.  And while that dynamic is still here in MoP, it’s being stifled.  Because the valor reward system is basically saying, “Hey, it’s great that you like raiding, but you’ll also have to do some other stuff you don’t care about to be maximally effective.”

And note that I’m not thinking about the last few weeks here.  We were all doing dailies and running heroics anyway, just to gear up and grind reputation.  But in a few weeks, when all the rep grinds are over and we’re working on the new instances, that’s content we’ll have outgrown.  Maybe there won’t be as much need for valor at that point, since we’ll be getting better gear from the new raids.  But if the proposed plan for turning valor into an item-upgrade currency goes through, it will become relevant in a hurry.

Let’s play “what if…”

For a moment, consider what would happen if we could cap valor through raiding.  What if raiding gave 100 VP per boss instead of 25?  It would take 10 bosses to cap, which is still a decent number.  Once guilds are working on heroic progression in Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Springs, they may not even be killing 10 bosses a week depending on their schedule.  Mogu’shan is likely to be dropped from many raid schedules in favor of heroic progression.

And, really, so what if they do cap through raiding?  What does it mean in the broader sense?  Fewer people queuing for LFD out of boredom and necessity, perhaps.  That might even decrease queue times, very few guilded healers and tanks bother to queue up solo.  Fewer jerks in LFR complaining about how bad everyone else is and trolling, because they’re only in the raid for their weekly valor?  I don’t see how that hurts anyone either.

You might say, “fewer people out in the world doing stuff.”  I’d challenge that assertion.  For one, we’ve already concluded that valor is not the incentive that gets you out doing dailies, unless you’re not the fastest monk in the monastery.  And in fact, I’d even argue the opposite – that there could be more people out in the world if you could valor cap via raiding.  Because for every person that would prefer to log on for their 12 hours of raiding a week and never touch WoW outside of that period, there’s 3 or 4 like me who would be using that time for leveling alts, grinding reps, tending my farm, hunting rares, etc.

In other words, that time that we’re spending shackled to the valor grind is time we’d be spending in-game anyway, and we’d be spending more of it out in the world than we do when we’re stuck grinding efficient valor.  Every extra hour I spend grinding valor in LFR or LFD is an hour I’m not out in the world doing something else.

So, in short, I don’t think there’s any fundamental reason that raiding can’t or shouldn’t cap valor.  It’s a design decision by Blizzard that it doesn’t, but it feels like a completely arbitrary one, and completely out of line given the effort-to-reward ratio involved in the different activities.  You probably shouldn’t be able to cap valor with just 6 bosses, but it really ought to account for the majority of a player’s valor for a week if that’s what they spend the majority of their time and effort thinking about and planning for.

A thought about “content”

It’s sort of ironic, in a way.  Blizzard has been touting the sheer amount of content they’ve put into Mists, and in a sense they’re correct.  There are so many things to do that it’s hard to do it all in a week, especially if you have a job, family, and other things that take time away from gaming.  And a large chunk of that content is dailies.  But I have yet to talk to anyone who claimed to really, truly enjoy dailies.  Almost everyone tries to group up and get them over with as fast as possible, and most treat them like chores they have to do – stuff they need to finish before they’re allowed to start having fun.

And it’s sort of a shame, really.  Some of the daily quests are pretty fun.  I actually rather like the tillers kite quest (Water, Water Everywhere), and there are a few others that are quirky and interesting.  But instead of looking forward to doing 5-10 interesting and fun daily quests every day, those good quests are lost in a sea of “collect 12 MacGuffins” or “kill 4 elite insects that don’t spawn anywhere near frequently enough to keep up with the number of players doing the quest, so on second thought just camp a spawn point for 10 minutes waiting, because that’s enjoyable and engaging content” (yes, The Bigger They Come.., I’m looking at you – seriously, why aren’t these elite insects “quest-taggable” mobs yet?  When people within your own faction are fighting over spawn-tagging, there’s a serious problem).   So instead of looking forward to dailies, everyone ends up despising them.

Which raises an interesting question: Is it really worth having loads of content if a huge chunk of it is content that your players hate?  Is it a good thing that players are looking forward to the day they can stop doing chores and start having fun with their time in-game?

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27 Responses to Counterpoint: The Valor Point Grind

  1. ahticp says:

    If there’s one thing that I think the game has demonstrated, it’s that players (and particularly raiders) derive their “fun” more from progressing their character as quickly and efficiently as possible, rather than from any particular activity. It’s why we all put on those ugly tabards and ran 5-mans back in Cataclysm, and why we’re doing dailies instead now.

    It sort of annoys me that this is true, because it demonstrates that frankly on some level *what kind of content* Blizzard builds for us to progress is less important than that there IS content. (Within reason, of course – if stabbing yourself in the eye gave 200 VP/stab, presumably many people would opt to run heroics instead.) The bar for just how unenjoyable something has to be for raiders to say “You know what? I don’t really care that this is the best way to progress my character. It’s not worth it” is astonishingly high.

  2. Zaephod says:

    I’m going to chime in here as a player that can only manage to play 6-8 hours per week. A quick check of my armory will reveal I’m not even able to run LFR yet. I finally hit 90 a week ago, and the first question I got asked after hopping back online: So, how are those dailies going?

    I saw how much people were “enjoying” the dailies and how little reward there was for doing them and concluded they simply aren’t worth my time at this point. If I have 30-60 minutes to play, I’m going to do something I like doing. It’s rather obvious, given where I’m posting, that I enjoy tanking stuff, and there isn’t a daily out there whose objective is “Hold {Mob X}’s attention while others kill it”

    The only regrettable part about the decision to forgo dailies is missing out on charms of potential free loot. That might be enough motivation to do them…if there’s any time.

    PS. Lore’s comments about the valor grind vs. dailies was also quite compelling. He, thanks to math, concluded you only need to reach revered with a faction once every 5 weeks to keep up with the valor cap. And that’s assuming you’re going to purchase every piece of valor gear available to your spec. If you’re buying offspec items too, the rep grind can go even longer because the valor cap will just get in the way.

    • Theck says:

      That math seems suspect to me. Most valor items cost 1250, 1750, or 2250 valor. The valor cap is 1000 a week. Thus, in theory you’re buying approximately one item every two weeks if you’re capping valor (ex: one 2250 item and one 1750 item in 4 weeks). That would suggest to me that you’d be needing to reach revered with one faction about every 2 weeks, not 5.

      But I haven’t seen his math yet, either, so maybe there’s something else he’s considering. At any rate, the fact that you get free epics from Klaxxi and Golden Lotus at exalted pretty much nullifies the valor point issue anyway. Those are rewards that are independent of valor, and give you an incentive to grind those two factions as soon as possible.

      • Theck says:

        Also, Jesus Christ that sentence was bad. “To me, that suggests you’d need to reach revered with one faction every 2 weeks, not 5.” Sheesh.

        • Balzaque says:

          You get some items unlocked at honored, considering you can get to honored with the klaxxi without doing dailies you make it even faster to start using your VPs.

          if im not wrong Golden Lotus also unlock some item at honored as well also making it faster, i did everything from the start and im almost exalted with everyone, only missing algust celestial, and im sure i got a lot more rewards unlocked then i had valor to use and im really sure that if you didnt rush to do your dailies you would have unlocked enough to use your valor without being burned out..

      • Zaephod says:

        His math is based on buying all available items for your spec from one rep which would cost 5250 valor points.

        • Theck says:

          That seems rather misguided. 5 weeks in, you’ve already got upgrades from raids that make the majority of those items irrelevant. What matters is that you pick up the biggest upgrades you can every two weeks in the first month or two. Three months in, valor gear will be irrelevant.

          • Paul says:

            The vast majority of players will not have upgrades from raids that make those items irrelevant, since the vast majority of players have (even now) not downed a single boss in normal or heroic raids.

  3. Discipline says:

    I think that a major factor that gets overlooked is that WoW is a subscription based game, if things where too efficient you would be able to complete the majority of your goals in a short amount of time and would spend more time offline. Now some myself included would probably create alts, rep grind etc etc, but some would not, and speaking from experience if you are not playing WoW as frequently the more likely you are to make other plans outside of the game. Soon you find yourself logging on less and less, now sure this is not the case for everyone, but given enough people in that mindset they may quit playing, OR try a different game. This all leads to the bottom line, Blizzard is a game company that makes great games we love to play, but they are a company, one that is owned by a corp that has stockholders that only care about the bottom line; how much revenue is being generated, people quit playing, that’s a loss in profits. It is in the realm of possibility that Blizzard MAY include some content that keeps people “busy” such as rep, dailies etc, and may not make things work the most efficiently to keep people playing as well.

    • Theck says:

      That argument doesn’t make sense in this context. Someone who is raiding weekly and takes that raiding seriously is not going to cancel their subscription just because they don’t have dailies to do.

    • cybernoid says:

      TL;DR version: Need more flexibility, less repetitiveness. We already have one job during daytime, don’t need another.

      Wall of text version:
      I guesstimate, sourced from friends, acquaintances and WoW buddies that most of them -mostly people in their mid-20s to early-30s with jobs and other societal affairs going on- would be happy to reduce their weekly playing time, yet still be willing to pay the monthly fee.

      This reduction in /played would involve not having to go through the aforementioned daily chores that are there not to make the game deeper, harder, sophisticated or more intriguing. Actually it makes the game shallower and brainlessly repetivive when the NPC asks you to re-kill the mantid miniboss just like you did a few hours ago, to nib a little piece of the rep carrot in exchange. Such chores exist as a stone wall to limit your minimum online time, in order to have an average gear progression based on how fast the devs are able to put out new content; a stone wall that happens to aggravate most people I know, who are far from hardcore raiders but do care to see the content. And no, more damaging bosses with more HP and a couple more abilities don’t make the content different, to my eyes. But I digress.

      So we came to realise how much we enjoyed the then taken-for-granted freedoms of either dungeon-grinding with a rep tabard or doing some PVP (as a very secondary but enjoyable gameplay element) to later on convert Honor to Justice or Conquest to Valor. The new logic of “if you want PvP rewards, you have to [melt your braincells] doing PvP alone” is nonsensical. Both are gameplay features, I might play one more than the other, but there’s no reason not to mix rewards from both grounds. Resilience gear alone won’t make you a BG god or push you to 2200 rating anyway.

      Anyway, off to nib the rep carrot now before the reset. :)

    • Paul says:

      For me, the game has crossed the other line: the ratio of fun/effort is so low that I have cancelled, even though I have not exhausted gearing from the grind content. There’s no end goal that justifies keeping doing stuff I don’t like.

  4. Benebarba says:

    I get the impression that someone at blizz HQ basically heard ‘we don’t have enough to do’, along with ‘there aren’t enough players out in the world’, and the seemingly intense focus on dailies is the result of them basically saying ‘challenge accepted’.

    I personally will grind what I need to, and those like OOCS and Lorewalkers because I want to. I think I should now be able to cap valor through raiding, 5-man heroics, challenge modes, scenarios or dailies alone (now estimating how much time one needs to spend in each may be the hard part). The reason is basically because of what you said: valor is now a reward for time spent doing *stuff*. We’ve long since left the idea of badge gear as a conciliation prize for unlucky raiders, but I can’t help but feel the game is trying to act like they still are.

  5. Wrathblood says:

    I think, for a raider, VP being irrelevant 3 months in is shooting too high. I’m about 2 weeks away from using VP on my off-spec gear, and that could drop by a week with lucky drops in HoF next week. Other than gearing my off-spec, I’ll be done with VP as a source of gear before I’ve maxed out all my reps.

    • Tim says:

      It wouldn’t make VP irrelevant. Sure raiders may be out of gear to buy, but as has been stated by Bliz VP should soon turn into a method to upgrade gear we currently have. Additionally, even if I were to cede that VP would be irrelevant given the proposed method I still don’t think that would be a bad thing. The game doesn’t become less compelling for raiders if VP is no longer relevant. VP still has value for those who haven’t progressed as far in raiding.

    • Paul says:

      VP is not going to be irrelevant once 5.1 hits, since VP will enable you to upgrade your raid drops. Fully upgrading all your slots will take nearly six months of valor caps.

  6. Nooska says:

    Hello, I’ll introduce myself as one who enjoys the dailies.

    Or I shoudl say, enjoyed the ones where I’m exalted now, and yes, I’m finding it a problem capping vp. I never enjoyed grinding dungeons, and stayed well out of them untill just over 1 week ago – of course that also has something to do with the entry barrier to dungeons (I feel I need to know what to do, and can’t be bothered spending a lot of time to read up on that particular content, so I usually wait for a guild group that knows it so I just have to follow their lead and comments), as well as having switched to dps this expansion, I never enjoyed queues.

    After having done the daily grinds I find myself not wanting to do them on my first alt (who was 90 within a week of MoP launch) – not because I dislike the dialies, but because I dislike how many there are and how long they take (I still have a main I need to prioritize, after all), so I’ve taken up pet battles – on my alt.

    But yeah, I enjoy the dailies – I agree that some of them are annoying because there are too many people around, but I don’t think the dailies are at fault as such (requesting splitzones for the daily areas, please)

    All that being said, I agree with the main point, that VP is not what had me do the dailies, though I did do some extra for VP because I didn’t want to queue up in LFD – and letting us cap VP through raiding alone, or almost enough through raiding would be an improvement.

  7. Gorbag says:

    In cata, we had a variety of options available to us to get VP. Doing a bit of each, or lots of one, capped you out. In MOP, we have a variety of options available to us to get VP. Doing ALL THE THINGS is required to cap out. It’s not really a choice if we have to do all of them.

  8. As a casual player I get 6-9 hours a week to play, typically broken into blocks of 3 hours. Frequently in that 3 hour block I need to take a break or help the family. That means no running Instances, leaving Dailies and sometimes Scenarios and perhaps the odd LFR. It is faster/better for me to farm gold or mats and sell them to buy gear than get it through Valor. That is depressing. I get that valor is not a gearing path, but an alternative to gearing…but when the other pathways are difficult it becomes something to look at.
    I do the dailies for Klaxxi due to the reward at exalted, but mainly for the gold. Tillers to get the rep to unlock the Motes, and Golden Lotus to unlock the other hubs and the reward. When I am done with Klaxxi it will be rare for me to return to that daily hub.
    I don’t buy the reason that Blizzard wanted people in the world, that sounds like marketing hype.

  9. Anonymous says:

    It is interesting that neither this post nor anafielle’s touch the issue of “Lesser Charm of Good Fortune”. This second reward from dailies seems much more attractive to me than the valor I get.

    While at the moment I have quite a few stashed away (~ 4 weeks worth I think) it looks like there will be a time when I will do dailies just to get charms. This clashes with the “players can do whatever they want” policy since at least 45 dailies a week will be pretty much required. A nice alternative would be to literally farm charms, it would require 5 days (at exalted) and eat up a lot of resources that could have been used for “Mote of Harmony”.

    • Theck says:

      I think we honestly both forgot about them because they’re almost irrelevant. I have 5 or 6 *stacks* of them in my bank. That’s enough to go 3 full months, and I’m still getting more every day from August Celestial, Shado-Pan, and Tillers dailies, amongst others. I highly doubt I’ll run out of them before we have new sets of dailies to do (ex: with 5.1).

      • Would be nice if we could get more than 3x greater charms per quest hand-in. At the moment I have a heap of lessers, and will be burning them in LFRs and hopefully a normal run.

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  11. Tim says:

    Okay so I just found this a little funny. From Ana’s post if she said that 500 VP would come from raiding that would make each current boss in Vaults would be about 83 VP where in your example it would be 100 VP per boss. I understand that this argument can be extended to when the next raids become available but at this point the debate is over about 17 VP per boss.

  12. Saazel says:

    Is it just me or is a lot of this problem related to the worthlisness that is JP? I have been mostly casual in dungeons and raids and more into PVP but Cata certainly seemed to have a place for JP that MOP lacks. If JP gear were worth more maybe they could inflate VP rewards more.

    • benebarba says:

      At this point, I’m not entirely sure why JP is still in the game (as opposed to lower level gear just being cheaper in VP), but that may change in the next patch when the VP gear presumably becomes JP gear and possibly not gated. if it’s still rep-gated and the VP is still rewarded from dailies, then JP really cease to be useful.

      I am pretty sure that at the moment, I gain *way* more VP than JP – because I’m not grinding 5-mans. I imagine for many that’s the case (though maybe I just run fewer 5-mans than others): my main JP source was cata hold-over/currency swap.

      maybe a full set of JP gear will become the rare thing ;)

  13. Onestarwonder says:

    I read the answers to the topic kinda fast,so I am sorry if this was mentioned.You didn’t touch another significant part of the daily grind.Coins.

    Why dailies it the only resource for the coins?As far as I know you can only do the /roll in raid bosses,be it the world bosses, LFR, normal or heroic raids.Why currency that can only be used inside a raid, cannot be earned when you also down a boss?I am afraid the answer is rather simple.To lure raiders into the daily grind even after they got all the rep vendors unlocked.

    As this is a personal /roll and has nothing to do with how the guild distributes loot (mainly dkp, epgp), a person might get a lucky streak with the coin rolls and not only gear up faster but have enough points to outbid someone who was not so lucky with the rolls or does not do the grind for whatever reasons he may have for not grinding.I raid with 2 ferals in the 25man.One was lucky enough to get 4 items from either normal or heroic bosses via coin roll.When the weapon from Spirit kings dropped he easily outbid the other feral who was forced to spend dkp to gear up to be on par with the content we are doing,because he has work and family.(I am a warlock, not a feral in case anyone is wondering, but I cant just pass something like that who in my opinion is completely wrong).

    A fix to this would be that raid bosses also drop coins.It just does not make sense that someone who is able to pick up and deliver feathers from the ground each day, can outbid someone over a heroic raid weapon.

    As for why dailies is the way of things in MoP?I will let our beloved GC to answer that:

    Q: Any plans to eventually unattach Golden Lotus rep from Shado-Pan and August Celestials? 5.1? Because I’m not going to lie, the current setup for dailies is terrible and smacks of
    “desperate for longer subs from players”.

    A: We can’t make content faster than players can consume it. Repeatable content is the best solution we’ve come up with. Nobody says I want to do Westfall before Elwynn. Think of
    Shado-Pan after Lotus as the same thing, but at max level.

    This is what he answered via tweeter at some point in summer.

    The whole convo and the exact text can be found here : http://www.mmo-champion.com/content/2918-Ghostcrawler-Joins-Twitter-The-Swarm-Begins-MoP-TV-Spot-Blue-Posts-Blizzard-News

    Inability to deliver content fast lead to the daily grind.Simple as that

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