Of Twinks and Changes in 3.2

(fair warning: Long post, about twinks, what they are, how they work and what 3.2 means.)

With the release of patch 3.2 came the ability to toggle xp gains on or off, with the only proviso being that you would only go into battlegrounds against others with the same toggle. Those that can’t gain xp will only play against those who similarly cannot gain any experience, while those who are leveling will continue to play against all others who are like them.

Before I continue, let me define what a twink in WoW is… it is a character who is exceptionally geared for his/her level, most typically for the purpose of battlegrounds. The most popular twinks are level 19 and exclusively play Warsong Gulch. When we say “exceptionally geared” we don’t mean this half heartedly. My warrior has 1500 health at that level and crits for 400-500 damage. Rogues crit for 600+, Druids run around with almost 3000 health in bear form, and mana users have pools of 2000 mana. Remember, this is at level 19. There are usually twink guilds once these characters are carefully created just to give a sense of community other than being the lone 19 out of the guild’s end-game 80s.

Twinks have to be carefully planned with a gear “program” laid out for them. They need to farm dungeons for the specific drops required to “twink themselves out”, and then spend hundreds if not thousands of gold at the AH getting the proper enchants and pots. Just as raiders min-max, twinks min-max as well. The ilevel of their gear restricts which enchants they are able to get, and their level restricts a lot of item bonuses they’re able to attach. Let me show you, for instance, what my warrior twink has for a support team to fund her twinking:

-Latus making gold
-a DK parked at UC’s mailbox, with Alchemy up to 150, making batches of 40-50 elixirs and potions (Lion’s Strength, Minor Defense, Health, Swiftness, mostly).
-a troll Shaman alt, Inscription up to 150, making batches of 50 Scroll of Stamina II, and Blacksmithing up to 150, making sharpening stones.
-Alevia herself with Engineering up to 150 and Skinning temporarily at 150, but moving up to max level soon.

This is a veritable industry to fund a single level 19 twink properly. The amount of gold I spent on enchanting mats, on tipping enchanters with the old world recipes, on pots, on mats for my other professions, on BoE gear, is in the thousands.

BENEFITS OF TWINKS

For something to be a true “benefit”, it has to positively impact other players and the community at large. In this sense, I see one major benefit in the existence of twinks: as just mentioned, twinks are driving the low level market. Nobody would pay 250g or more for a pair of blue level 17 boots unless they were making a twink and those were best in slot. Thanks to them, people with these drops make a pretty penny. Rare items are actually reflected in their price, unlike at the 60-79 range where they go for less than their dis-enchanted materials are worth. This goes for all the possible brackets, not just 10-19. Twinks usually have other toons on the account equip them, much like I do with 2 other toons who had to level professions I would otherwise not touch on my main toons. So people who create twinks create a demand for low level items, and join the masses of people levelling professions.

PROBLEMS CAUSED BY TWINKS

Much as the previous paragraph, for something to be a true “problem”, it has to negatively impact other players and the community at large. I see this as very simple to guess: twinks steamroll everyone in their bracket BUT other twinks. Since the average level 19 will have anywhere between 400-700 health, that means hard hitting warriors, rogues and hunters will destroy anyone who is not similarly geared. Even my warrior goes down pretty darn fast to two hunters twinks. This creates a situation where twinks among a typical group of non twink players ruin it a bit for the other side. At least that is the argument presented. But even a non-twink level 19 will utterly destroy a level 13 or 14 who joined the battlegroup. Nonetheless, the community perceives this as a problem. Also on the agenda of problems is that twinks will often behave very badly. They will camp the graveyard and not cap the flag for a win, thereby creating a situation where they are literally “farming” players for honor kills and honor points. I’ve been in those situations even as a twink myself. With 50+ deaths in a single battleground. I learned my lesson, when I see this has happened, I /afk out and take a 15 minute break. Many people don’t. The counter argument, of course, is that this happens at any level with twinks or without them. People who want to be jerks will be jerks. Every twink guild I’ve joined has always clearly stated that it’s members have to behave honorably on the field of battle. No graveyard camping, no kill farming, no bug abuse, no emote spamming.

BLIZZARD’S RESPONSE

There has never really been an official stance of Blizzard’s regarding twinks. They have not said one way or the other if they like them or not, although the community at large is horribly passionate about it. I never understood just WHY people are so passionate about hating twinks, but I suspect it has to do with the good old fashioned jealousy that causes most passions. Twinks take a lot of time, effort and resources to bring up, and some people just can’t manage it. This creates resentment for those who do, and the naysayers will instantly come up with noble reasons why they oppose the practice.

Blizzard’s patches usually inadvertently nerf or buff twinks, since low levels are really not what the company worries about in their game decisions. The most recent one seems at first glance to help twinks, as the ability now exists to turn off experience gains. Anyone can now become a super twink, because they can run and run and run the same dungeon until they get all the best in slot gear for their levels. The caveat is that those without experience gains will only go up against others without experience gains in battlegrounds. Essentially, if you’re a twink, you will only queue up against other twinks.

3.2 AND THE FUTURE OF TWINKS

I am worried. I love twinks. I think they make the game fun. I loved going up against them as I leveled Latus. Why? For the same reason I push Latus in PVE content these days: the greater the challenge, the better. There is no fun in clearing regular UK. There is a lot of fun in downing Yogg. The tougher fight is always more rewarding. I played a lot of battlegrounds on my way up, in every bracket, and the best fights were always when there were mostly level “x9” on both sides. Nobody in their right minds (people not in their right minds would be 80 rogues who camp new players in Elwynn Forest, oddly they are the ones most likely to make twinks to camp graveyards, go figure!) wants to destroy other peoples’ fun.

We create twinks and want to go up against good players, similar twinks, with healers on both sides and really duke it out mano a mano. Originally, when the announcement was made of twink only battlegrounds, I was excited. I thought that finally we’d really have 10 players who have put time and effort into their toons go up against 10 others similarly geared and finally, finally, FINALLY we would have epic showdowns of skill and not just “who has more twinks on their side”.

But let’s break down a typical game of 10v10 WSG in pre-3.2:

-twinks
-level 19s who are not twinks but who are BGing a bit before moving on
-regular people who just saw a battlemaster or found their “H” key on the keyboard, ranging from level 10-19.

I have no hard statistics, just personal observation, and I would say that the higher levels were definitely prevalent. People under level 17 would join once or twice and realize they should join again when they level up a bit. I think the greater majority were the level 19s who weren’t necessarily twinks but who were BGing for some time. I did that at every bracket on Latus, usually waiting to get most if not all pvp rewards for that level, and move on. In fact, I was exalted Frostwolf Clan thingie at 60 before I ever continued my levelling.

So with the separation of “no xp gain” and “xp gain”, those at level 19 have to define themselves as hardcore twinks or as casual PVPers. The casuals will not want to go up against full teams of twinks because they themselves are not geared out the bum hole, so they will throw caution to the wind and just let themselves ding from the new experience gains in battlegrounds, then when they hit 20 they will go on and level to 25 or 26, and repeat the process of joining battlegroups. They’ll enjoy their role as kings and queens of the battles when they’re 28 and 29, and then move on to 30, repeat ad infinitum (or ad 80!).

The level 10-17 fillers – i’m sorry but that’s what they were, at best – will continue on playing while gaining experience, and will in fact be surprised that they’re suddenly doing much more work in the battleground and having more success at staying alive some.

The twinks who enable “no xp gain” will find themselves playing only with other twinks. While in theory this was good, I can see now that the majority of the 10-19 WSG population will no longer be part of their battleground, and so the queues will jump dramatically. My queue was instant on Alevia up until the patch. Since then, I’ve sat in it for over 30 minutes without finding enough players in the whole battle group, Horde and Alliance, to fill out a wsg roster. There were not 5 twinks on each side queued for a fight for over THIRTY MINUTES.

It’s early to truly say if this will impact the game in any way, but on a complete hunch, I’ve decided to post and think about it way too much. In my mind, this will kill the twinks. Sure, there will still be premades and pre-arranged meetings between groups and between guilds, but spontaneous logins on a whim just to play one or two WSGs will no longer be viable due to the lack of participants. Twinks will have put so much work into their toons they will refuse to have them level and lose all that work, but there will no longer be an opportunity to play like they did before. And what happens when someone can’t play something? They find other things to do. Twinks will lose their appeal to current twinks, and that will have the effect of not motivating or enticing any new people to join the twink ranks. Without that, there will be even less of a pool of players to draw from and there will not be any newcomers, so… essentially, we’re going to see a downward spiral of death for twinking.

And when that happens, we will slowly see a devaluation of all items used by twinks. I paid 250g for my boots because I intended to use them as long as I played WoW. If my estimated timeframe of use of the boots was about 30 games of WSG, I would at most be willing to pay 10g, maybe 20g because I’m so careless with my money!

I don’t like this change. I don’t play to grief, I don’t play to drive people away. In battlegrounds that look outmatched, I purposely went out to grab the flag to prevent someone on my team from just running around with it forever and farming kills. I felt I fought my opponents honorably, going for their twinks and leaving the low levels alone unless I absolutely had to. I played the game to win, I played hard, and I played fair. I had (almost) the best gear possible, and Blizzard decided that was unfair.

Is Blizzard going to restrict level 80 battlegrounds to certain arena ratings and below? I don’t see any restrictions on how good someone’s pvp gear is to disallow them from participating in the fun, and forcing them to play in some kind of “Gladiator Rank Only BG” group.

This change is stupid, this change sucks, this change fails. Give me back my hours of fun on Alevia!

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1 Response to “Of Twinks and Changes in 3.2”


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