Artifact Power and Patch 7.2

7.2 PTR General Discussion
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Artifact Power has been a hot topic lately, both around the community and within the development team. With Patch 7.2 on the horizon, introducing both new artifact traits and additional Knowledge levels, we have been reflecting on the way the system has unfolded during the first months of Legion, and evaluating changes based on the lessons we have learned thus far.

First off, a look back at where we started.

From the outset, Artifact Power was intended to serve two intertwined purposes: First, it offered max-level progression that was not entirely item-driven, along with choices and elements of character customization as players traversed their trait trees; second, it was meant to serve as a universally desired, consistent reward from all types of content.

In crafting the systems that delivered Artifact Power, we weighed the merits of hard caps versus a smoother system of diminishing returns. We had extensive experience with hard caps, through multiple past iterations of currencies like Valor Points and Conquest Points, and wanted to avoid several of the downsides of that approach. For example, a cap inherently feels like more of an expected quota, where missing a week or falling short of the cap puts you clearly, and potentially permanently, behind the curve.

Instead, as everyone knows, we settled on an open-ended system of diminishing returns. Without any hard caps on how quickly players could earn AP, it was essential to have some sort of limiting mechanism on the gap in power between players of different playstyles, and different levels of time investment. We accepted the admittedly complex design of Artifact Knowledge because it solved this problem, effectively reining in the size of this power gap. Players trying to progress past the expected artifact level for their Knowledge would run into those rapidly diminishing returns, while those who played less than that would have Knowledge as an accelerator to help them catch up to the cutting edge. When Emerald Nightmare was new content, while the average raider was at 20 or 21 points, the most dedicated might have been at 24 or 25 – a relatively modest gap.

Now, where things went wrong…

We feel that we made two major missteps with the Artifact Power system that increasingly manifested themselves as we got deeper into Patch 7.1 and 7.1.5. And both of them served to undermine that core goal of ensuring that the gap between players with different levels of time invested into the system could not grow too large.

First, the cost of ranks in the 20-point final trait remained relatively flat, as opposed to the rapid exponential scaling up to that point. This meant that someone who spent twice as much time gathering AP as I did would have roughly twice as many ranks as me. Instead of the 24 vs. 21 gaps we saw in Nightmare, a number of hardcore raiders entered Nighthold with 54 points, while others were just beginning that final progression and found themselves with nearly 10% less health and damage, equivalent to being almost a full tier of gear behind. Players who switched specs or characters along the way found themselves in a similar position. The power gap was larger than ever before, which created a sense of obligation and a number of negative social pressures that the system had previously tried to minimize. In short: We’re not at all happy with how this worked out.

A common suggestion is to simply reduce the amount of Artifact Power required to fully unlock the artifact in 7.2. This would not solve the underlying problem, but would rather reduce its duration while heightening its intensity, as competitive players sprinted to finish their Artifacts in order to be “ready.” But then we would inevitably tune around that completed power level, and other players would simply be playing catch-up the entire time. And in the long run, Artifact Power would not be serving its intended purpose of ongoing parallel progression. A capped-artifact player who goes a week without getting any item upgrades ends the week literally no stronger than before. Part of the value of the artifact, both for personal progression and guild progression, lies in ensuring that everyone is at least a bit stronger next week than they are right now, and a bit closer to overcoming whatever obstacle stands in their path. Our goal is for Artifact Power to always be of some interest as a reward, whether from a World Quest, or as a consolation prize when failing a bonus roll.

Instead, we are focusing on fixing the mistake of flat cost scaling at the end of the progression, and instead keeping the increases exponential throughout, while also strengthening Artifact Knowledge as a core pacing and catch-up mechanism. These changes should be visible in an upcoming PTR build.

This is done with the primary goal of reducing the power gap based on time investment, while preserving Artifact Power as an endgame reward that everyone values. If the leaders in Artifact Power were only a few points ahead of a more typical player, rather than crossing the finish line when most were just leaving the starting blocks, players with less time to commit would not be as disadvantaged in competitive activities. If a Warlock were choosing between having 48 points in a single spec or 44 points in all three specs if they’d split their efforts evenly, the barrier to playing multiple specs would be significantly reduced. We are still tuning the curve for 7.2 trait costs, but we’re currently targeting scaling such that someone who earns twice as much AP as me will have an artifact that’s only ~1.5% stronger; someone who earns four times as much AP as me should only be 3% stronger. On the whole, this should be a massive reduction in the power gaps we see in the live game today.

The second problem with our initial implementation was that repeatable sources of Artifact Power (Mythic Keystone dungeons in particular) dominated time-limited sources such as Emissary caches and raid bosses. The fact that a large portion of the community evaluates their Artifact Power needs using “Maw runs” as the unit of measurement is ample evidence of this failure. We very recently deployed a hotfix to increase AP earned from Nighthold in order to make raiding, with a weekly-lockout, better compare in efficiency to repeated Mythic Keystone runs. And in 7.2, we’re more thoroughly addressing this issue by adding a significant amount of AP to the weekly Mythic Keystone cache, while somewhat reducing (and normalizing based on instance length) the AP awarded by repeated runs. These changes are being made to narrow the gap in AP earning, and thus power, based on time investment.

All of the above changes are aimed at allowing players the freedom and flexibility to decide how they want to spend their time, and which goals they wish to pursue, while limiting the difference in power between players who arrive at different answers to those questions.
will be interesting to see how this turns out
The case of a main spec falling behind an offspec its my main concern. I upgraded felomelorn to 54, but i only have 42 traits on frost, so right now, even on pure single target encounters, i do better with fire. Im a big fan of frost since always, but at a mythic raiding situation, i cant just go with what i like most. I have to go with what performs best.
Thanks for posting this watcher,would like to see similiar post about class balance/mechanical issues and legendaries in the future.
i really dislike the current AP implementation and would much prefer a simple cap. it doesn't have to punish people for "missing a week", you could just implement the catch-up cap system you had for the pvp conquest cap during mists of pandaria and warlords of draenor.

say weekly cap is 1000 AP, if i only earn 500 AP that week i'll have a weekly cap of 1500 the week after.

alternatively i would like the whole paragon traits scrapped or limited it to 1 level. artifact power is way too time-consuming and i don't think it's fun. if you could just do the grind to 35 and be done with it that'd be better because it would be out of the way. having reached 54 in my main spec now, the game feels a lot better because i don't feel pressured to keep farming artifact power. knowing that grind is coming right back for me in 7.2 is making me look forward to it a lot less.
Diminishing the power gain from grinding AP also diminishes the reason to have AP to begin with. What is the point of a system that basically gates your characters power and gives it back to you based on a time-gated AK system? I see absolutely no gain in this system. My character's power is only limited until I unlock the traits, and my ability to unlock the traits, with this new system, seems to inherently be through AK increases.

The whole system is flawed.
I welcome anything to help people feel less obligated to spam mythic +.

16/02/2017 19:00Posted by Watcher
while somewhat reducing (and normalizing based on instance length) the AP awarded by repeated runs


How much of a reduction are we talking about here, and what do you consider repeated runs? Just the same dungeon, or also the keystone level?
Thx for the great and insightful post Watcher. It is good to hear, that Blizzard is having the same discussions as we the players are having :)

You talked about having alot of the AP gained from mythic+ be focused on the weekly chest, which is a good thing, but what about players who don't enjoy doing that much mythic+? Can we somehow we more AP into raiding and PvP maybe? Right now, even with the 100% drop chance of AP on bosses, you are still not getting alot of AP in raiding compared to if you used that time in Mythic+.

Can we in the future see raiding give a weekly bonus, such that you won't have to go into mythic+ just to get your artifact lvl up to max. I think that we are quite a few number of people in the raiding community who likes raiding and not mythic+, but feels like we are pushed into mythic+ just to keep up with artifact lvling.
Well Written post as always.

16/02/2017 19:20Posted by Retier
say weekly cap is 1000 AP, if i only earn 500 AP that week i'll have a weekly cap of 1500 the week after.


this system would only be beneficial for players that have been there for the start of the implementation, while newer players would forever be locked far behind the veteran, creating an even bigger power-gap than what we see now, with no way for the newer player or perhaps returning player to lower it, unless someone hits the top.

a capped AP System would truly be a terrible idea.

16/02/2017 19:20Posted by Retier
lternatively i would like the whole paragon traits scrapped or limited it to 1 level.


I personally like the Paragon system, but then again I don't really do alts and is more of one character active guy.

But each to their own.
16/02/2017 19:00Posted by Watcher
If a Warlock were choosing between having 48 points in a single spec or 44 points in all three specs if they’d split their efforts evenly, the barrier to playing multiple specs would be significantly reduced.

it doesn't solve the problem with being unable to play offspecs in legion, though. even if i woke up tomorrow and was 54 in both my offspecs, i wouldn't be able to perform up to par with them because of the legendary system. i have 5 legendaries, it takes ages to gather each one at this point, and picking up 2 solid legendaries for a spec is a very tall order.

you don't expect me to gather 3 tier sets even though it would actually be a lot easier, so why do it with legendaries? i don't think there should be any spec specific legendaries. for example rogues have 3 legendary boots and 3 legendary bracers, why not have 1 of each and have the effect change with spec?

this system would only be beneficial for players that have been there for the start of the implementation, while newer players would forever be locked far behind the veteran, creating an even bigger power-gap than what we see now, with no way for the newer player or perhaps returning player to lower it, unless someone hits the top.

a capped AP System would truly be a terrible idea.

no it wouldn't because like i said it would have a catch-up cap. this is not a new system, it was present from the middle of mop through the entirety of wod in pvp. towards the end of a pvp season, a fresh max level character had a large enough conquest cap to get the full gear in one reset.

anyone behind the curve would have a larger cap to have the opportunity to catch up with everyone else. in fact it makes it easier for them to catch up because everyone else is locked to a certain amount of AP per week rather than being able to pull ahead just as fast as the other guy tries to catch up.
It's good to see the system continue to be iterated upon, but my main concern with the way AP has played out -- one which seems like it's going to be exacerbated by these changes -- is that artifact progression feels like a system predominantly limited by time passing, with the most efficient way to progress being simply to wait for more artifact knoweldge.

Obviously incredibly hardcore players will always push for that bit of extra power, but for a more average player like me, I quickly lost interest in farming AP once I realised that I might as well just wait on my AK cap before starting in earnest, since a single quest at rank 25 would reward me with what might've taken many hours of play at lower ranks.

Catch up mechanics are critical in a game like WoW, but when they are persistent and keep updating week after week, I feel as though it undermines the importance of doing anything right now. Artifacts do, at least to some extent, feel like they level themselves without any player input beyond feeding 500 order resources to the appropriate NPC every few days.

This is not a problem that I think can be effectively solved in Legion, but I think it's a systemic issue with the idea of artifacts as a source of ongoing player progression, and, more importantly, with AP as an "always desirable" resource. I don't care about AP anywhere near as much as I did about justice or valour points, since I knew those weren't going to diminish in value until at least the next major content patch (and even then, they had secondary uses such as buying old gear, trading for resources, purchasing a few other cosmetics etc.).

Artifacts are an interesting experiment in end-game player progression, but I don't think they are ultimately the best way of keeping players engaged with content. What I would like to see in future expansions is a truly universal end-game currency that has multiple uses, without running into the problems a tradeable currency like gold does, or devaluing over time as quickly as AP.
How is keeping the increases exponential going to solve this problem? All it means is that people will grind more. Unless there is some form of a cap you will still find people grinding out to max before other people have hit the new traits.
I had big hopes for legion fixing the problem of gear being such a big factor in pvp but then came the replacement with artifact power being a necessary grind. Im happy that it is in the game for pve players but it should not be a factor in pvp.
AP atm just feels pointless to me.

two players of the same class.

one has max AP the other doesent.

the only diffrence is ones spells are more effective than the other.

a flat stat boost.. is this the best you can do?
So you are not doing anything to lessen the grind? And still keep it open forever?

Wow. Got it. You want us to keep grinding forever, and this time, for even more of these diminishing returns.
I sincerely do not entirely understand how this is supposed to work.
16/02/2017 19:00Posted by Watcher
A capped-artifact player who goes a week without getting any item upgrades ends the week literally no stronger than before. Part of the value of the artifact, both for personal progression and guild progression, lies in ensuring that everyone is at least a bit stronger next week than they are right now, and a bit closer to overcoming whatever obstacle stands in their path.

In what way is the reduced power from more AP going to make sure that everyone is at least a bit stronger the next week?

For each case of player-type;
The crazy-grinder: Hits the diminishing returns point early and often, essentially gaining a lot of traits early and then reaching a point where the next trait will be many weeks away despite AK, as he or she is ahead of the AK curve. Was able to go into offspec traits prior to 7.2. Might (?) be able to do so again after 7.2. Mythic progression raiders will be forced into this category.

The mediocre grinder: Might hit the diminishing returns point, but from one week to the next the AK increase removes the diminishing returns point for that week. This is the player that is the targeted audience(?) of this change. Still weapon-locked; Not enough AP to be competitive in several specs, and if you go the route of splitting, it still feels bad that you *could* have been some traits further in mainspec, regardless of the relative power gap between the two. People strive to complete, and putting effort into something else feels bad.

The none-to-low AP grinder: falls behind. Probably the majority of the playerbase is here. Gets all the drawbacks; no offspec, falls behind regardless, behind the point where specs are balanced (assuming balance, as hinted at, is at some point relative to the AK curve).

Alts / late-comers: Will have to do research from scratch. New comers are not even able to do the AK boost, and only get the benefit of sped up research timer. The AK research for the new AK levels is at the moment set at 75 days. It'll take new players 25 days to get to rank 25 AK, then they can start where current players are right now. They also have to grind the AP that players are currently balanced around having -- again with the balance to expected AK level problem, and will be inherently at a disadvantage in all situations; grind, throughput, stamina, and AK.

This also completely ignores other issues such as the WF / TF problem, and legendaries.
You know no one would play for a month so they could get lots of ap in one go.

16/02/2017 19:20Posted by Retier
i really dislike the current AP implementation and would much prefer a simple cap. it doesn't have to punish people for "missing a week", you could just implement the catch-up cap system you had for the pvp conquest cap during mists of pandaria and warlords of draenor.

say weekly cap is 1000 AP, if i only earn 500 AP that week i'll have a weekly cap of 1500 the week after.

alternatively i would like the whole paragon traits scrapped or limited it to 1 level. artifact power is way too time-consuming and i don't think it's fun. if you could just do the grind to 35 and be done with it that'd be better because it would be out of the way. having reached 54 in my main spec now, the game feels a lot better because i don't feel pressured to keep farming artifact power. knowing that grind is coming right back for me in 7.2 is making me look forward to it a lot less.
16/02/2017 19:00Posted by Watcher
a smoother system of diminishing returns.

Also known as a Soft Cap and Soft Caps are meant to deceive people into thinking that there isn't a cap, not calling as such helps with this too.

16/02/2017 19:00Posted by Watcher
All of the above changes are aimed at allowing players the freedom and flexibility to decide how they want to spend their time

It's impossible to have Freedom and Flexibility in a cap system
16/02/2017 19:00Posted by Watcher
Instead of the 24 vs. 21 gaps we saw in Nightmare

That's ^ the cap system they want.
16/02/2017 19:00Posted by Watcher
a number of hardcore raiders entered Nighthold with 54 points, while others were just beginning that final progression and found themselves with nearly 10% less health and damage

And here ^ is True Freedom and Flexibility.
I really dislike AP implementation.

Very low AP rewards from raids compared to all other sources of AP considering raids have a weekly lockout. Raids should reward at least 10x of what they reward currently.

Poor implementation results in weak or no offspec artifact. Why not consider something like "you get 500% more AP (on top of AK) when your main spec is maxed out"? Or simply making AP character wide.

It involves too much grind and artifact leveling takes too much time. 1-3 weeks for full artifact seems reasonable, while months definitely not.

And 7.2 isn't going to fix so far. There's also zero fixes to alts, they are still gonna be miles behind mains in terms of AP and artifact level. It's also impossible to reroll different class, system simply doesn't allow you catchup in reasonable time.
Thank you watcher for the post,

Actually the problem becomes even more realistic with players like me having 6 characters on max level, all are 880- 910 geared, and all have max ap knowledge. This expansion is by far one of the most alt unfriendly to play ( because i cant play all 6 at once), the struggle is real and I cant keep up with all at the same time and I play WoW daily 8-10 hours. Another thing are the order resources, I really just cant find words for the stupidness of it, right now I have 2 chars who can have 2 legendaries at once, and in all together I got 11 legendaries 4 of them on my main, it feels realy stupid to farm 200k order resources to unlock the 2nd legendary slot, and when I think of it that I will have to farm even more in the nect patch it feels like puking. And is literrally impossible to do so, just for the sake of players make ut aaccount wide or something. Another thing to mention is why in the hell on earth isnt there a daily chest for order resources to loot in class halls like ut was in wodville so we can actually do something on these chars( order resource wise, missions etc). And now the emissarys, well yea gl with it doing 18 dailys QUESTS which I hate to do so mich that I cant explain ( i hate questing personally) , so I decided to do them on only 1 char instead and again you are forcing players to do content which is completely !@#$ in order to stay competitive and keep their raid spot secure. All in all this entire expansion feels like a massive farm fest from start to end which is gonna generally cost you player subs because it is so repetive and eventually gonna end in endless borenes. I wish content would be back like cmodes where you dont have to do so much stuff in order to play it, limit players ilvl and ap lvl and gg go do it if you can and make it extremelly hard so easy to do and so fun where you need to outperform and not actually overgear it,

sorry for long post and some type mistakes im on phone

peace out Lelaa

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