Before we begin, I would recommend checking out the accompanying video to this article on the WoWStratics Youtube channel!
So for those who haven’t been exploring the beta as I have, it appears with the removal of Valor Points, we see ushered in a new system known as Apexis Crystals. For the record, these have nothing to do with the Apexis shards and crystals from the BC rep and vendors, so don’t you worry!
What they function as is a replacement for Valor along multiple frames, and I am here to explain to why they will do so successfully.
To fully understand, when I discuss their usage and parallel with Valor Points, I am referring to how Valor at one point was used as a raid gear equalizer. Starting late in the Burning Crusade and continuing on until Cataclysm, we saw Valor points award as a turn in raid-viable pieces used mostly as catch up for those unlucky, or substitute for those not keen on raiding.
In TBC especially, this idea truly thrived. They were obtainable from killing any important boss, including Raid Bosses but also Heroic 5 man bosses. This allowed those raiding to get a significant advantage in gear income, but also allowed those only interested in 5 man content to also still improve their gear sets.
In Wrath and Cataclysm, the system was elaborated on, but was beginning to deteriorate into poverty. Once Cataclysm was in bloom, we saw the final fall, making it so only the end of dungeons as well as raid bosses dropped them, and awarding gear that was suboptimal in the scope of the current raid.
In MoP they took this concept to extremes and all but eliminated the casual grind option for players looking to supplement their current sets without much raid interaction. By first mandating reputation requirements upon spending, and then removing gear at all, Valor turned from its once esteemed vantage point to wallowing in the muck. Slight revival came in the way of the Gear Upgrade system, but this too was fleeting and after Blizzcon 2013, it was announced that Valor had served its last purpose and would not be following us back in time.
With the death of valor, comes the birth of Apexis Crystals, filling the exact same niche we just ventured through. They will be available seemingly from a daily that rewards a large chunk, but can also be looted in small quantities from regular mobs, select rares, and other objectives. As shown in the video, they can be turned in in large quantities for gear that comes in three stages.
Stage 1 is 630 item level blue gear, equivalent to Heroic 5 man pieces. The price on these cost between 10k – 14k Apexis, which will likely take two weeks or more to obtain.
Stage 2 is 645 item level epic gear, equivalent to LFR or World Epics. The price on these is an additional 4-7k Apexis and a turn in of the previous item.
The final stage is 655 item level epic gear, equivalent to Progression epics. The price is an additional 4-7k Apexis with a turn in of the previous piece.
Now, let’s get down to why this is a much more suitable concept, even as it stands right now.
In the current beta build, the only real option comes from a daily quest as mentioned. Its very likely there will be addition ways to obtain these, but either way it appears to be taking about two weeks or more to get the first piece of 630 gear. I can see reasonably reducing this to one full week for a single blue item.
From there, it would take the same amount of time to upgrade it from that blue to a 655 epic piece. And this is where the magic comes in…
By doing this, you prevent invalidation of raids by bots or heavy farmers within the week where there are none available, but also allow those interested in putting forth the effort to have a nice reward after some time.
You see, the reason the Valor concept was so popular in TBC was because it gave players an option to obtain gear outside of their progression target, and fostered work towards this goal. This kept five man heroics and previous raids populated.
Now, this will keep the open world populated, and very likely other places as well depending on what they do to augment the drop situation.
If it were up to me, I would do the following:
Offer a small amount (50 – 75?) from completing a Heroic Five man once a day, and offer an even smaller amount for subsequent ones (10-25). This mirrors the current valor strategy in MoP.
Offer a large amount from Challenge Modes in general, but perhaps as a daily boon and then smaller amounts afterwards. I feel 200~ awarded per CM would be suitable, but would understand 200 per daily, and 100 or less after that.
Offer a moderate amount from each raid boss killed. Maybe 50-75 per, making old raids viable. Of course, limit it per raid, not difficulty.
What this would do:
Foster good players having a use for 5 man Heroic content past week 1. They boast their difficulty is increased, so the more skilled and geared players the better, especially knowing most will be completed using LFD.
Foster Challenge Mode expansion past cosmetic rewards. This was a HUGE issue with MoP. CM was easily the greatest feature added to the game at any point (aside from connected realms for longevity) but suffered from a distinct lack of interest from most players. They represent a true challenge, and for those not interested in timers, this creates an even greater usage. I can see it now! “LF 2 DPS for CM Apexis run pst!” Perfection!
Foster old raid completion. One of my favorite things about Classic, TBC, and Wrath was going back to raids I overgeared and doing them either to help others, or to obtain some secondary benefit. Achievements and the like were a fine addition, but realistically, there is nothing in MoP that makes anyone want to do ToT. I’d do LFR, but no one appreciates you like they do in a premade group. Making Apexis drop in there means people will consider it something they would like to do.
Finally, the discussion of a cap is important. Currently its 20k. Meaning you can never hold enough for 2 single pieces, but can upgrade 3-4 at once with the same stash. I find this a suitable idea, and makes much more sense but am worried about the 5k limit that is displayed on the item on the Beta. Is this a weekly cap!? If so…
NO NO NO.
They need to remove weekly caps entirely, and if they do so, they will have achieved the results I have discussed. If they do not, then the system will falter just as Valor did.
Let’s hope they understand this, because if its done right it can really work very well hand in hand with more difficult 5 man heroics as well as the in-game premade group finder!