Gating and Time

First note. My monk tank ended up with his first legendary – Archimonde’s Hatred Reborn.  It’s a decent defensive cooldown.  Funny that.

Back on track though. This post is going to cover the 2nd signature item of Legion – Artifact weapons.   Specifically, it’s about artifact knowledge and power.  Related, Ion’s post about 7.2

First off, the concept of AK and AP makes sense.  AP as a currency that’s valued the entire expansion and that’s used to increase your weapon’s power.  Makes sense.  AK as a gating mechanism, ensuring that folks can’t super farm the currency and get exceptionally powerful.

AK was based on time. You could only gain increases if you waited, and the increases themselves were non-linear.  Not exactly exponential mind you, but enough that the increases in rank were dramatic.  This meant that for most players, they were 1 or 2 AK behind the front runners.  The catch up mechanic, where AK gain was increased if you were away, helped shrink that gap.  My monk is at AK 23 (of 25), and my Pally is at 16.  From my math, the Paladin will require about 5 weeks to catch up with the Monk. So there’s something to be said about how the catch-up actually works.

The core reason that this system worked for so long was that the AP required for new “artifact points” also increased at a near similar rate as the gains in AK.  It was an ever increasing scale.  When AP no longer scaled, this system broke down.  And AP did stop scaling once people had 34 points invested.  This meant that it became relatively “easy” to increase overall power.  People with identical gear would have a near 10% increase in health, armor or damage.  That’s a fair chunk when it comes to any raider.

So the system worked until people maxed out AK.  It also meant that any alts needed to max out AK, otherwise they’d be dramatically behind the curve.  Once AK was maxed, then things got worse.  Points stopped scaling but power didn’t.  The AP system broke down because it was built on a concept of scaling.  Scaling was gone, AP was no longer filling it’s intention.

To recap, Artifacts had multiple goals:

  • continuous character power growth across the expansion
  • a currency to increase that power, that always has value
  • a scale on that power, so that it took more investment to get smaller gains (diminishing returns)
  • a catch-up mechanic for people who might be slower
  • Regardless of the process, the power gap should be within 3-5%

What went wrong

  • scaling stopped working once AK was maxed
  • the time-gating catch-up mechanic wasn’t fast enough
  • alts felt severely punished
  • maxing out a primary artifact had much more value than splitting point between other specs

What could be fixed

  • removing AP gains past the maxed AK
  • adding more AK levels, and continuing to scale AP
  • making AK account-bound
  • capping out artifact weapons

From what I can tell, they are doing the 2nd item in this list.  They should also be tweaking the catch-up mechanism, so that alts aren’t so severely punished.

I’m rather content that Blizz is aware of the issue and willing to fix it.  I think the concept of artifact weapons (or just the horizontal growth) makes sense.  The system worked relatively well for the first few months (alts not so much), and it’s only a few tweaks required to get it back on track.  7.2 is looking to be an interesting patch from a design perspective.

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