On Proving Grounds as Gating: The ‘Jerks’ Argument

Ever since the idea of proving grounds as a gating system was introduced, the most widespread argument I’ve come across for why it’s not that great of an idea (beyond the balance argument, which I think is fair) is that it won’t do anything to solve the real problem with random groups. That is, inconsiderate jerks.

I think this argument is nonsense.

It is absolutely true that there are really skilled players with an attitude problem. Who enjoy belittling other people, or who refuse to account for what other people in their group might struggle with. But, guess what? Unskilled players aren’t immune to attitude problems.

Let me tell you a story. It was early in the day and I was doing my daily auctioneering and fiddling with my specs in preparation for raid, when I noticed someone periodically posting in trade chat, asking about gemming his character. He was getting no response, so after seeing it a couple of times and getting a tad bit irritated, I whispered him. Now, I’m no expert on prot pallies, but one of our tanks is a pally and I’ve done some research on them while trying to troubleshoot encounters. (Plus, I kind of love reading Sacred Duty <3; much math, such happy!) So while I couldn’t accurately answer his question, I could definitely point him in the way of sources that could. Namely, Maintankadin and Icy Veins.

His answer? Thanks, but I’m looking for someone who can tell me exactly what to gem.

That response had me rolling my eyes; but I’m stubborn, so the conversation didn’t end there.  Instead, I described the gist of what IV said and explained that gemming really depended on what build you wanted and what content you were doing and that, if he really wanted to raid (he mentioned this at some point), he really ought to go and read the guides so he could figure out the best gemming strategy for his gear (and -though I didn’t say it- how to actually play prot; his attitude didn’t exactly inspire confidence in his skill). 

He stopped responding at that point. I’m not sure if he just decided to ignore me, or if he actually decided to follow my advice. As an eternal optimist, I retain hope that he was tabbed out reading the basics section of Maintankadin. But If he didn’t, then I’m glad the proving grounds will serve as a gate for the next expansion heroics.

He wasn’t a jerk in the traditional sense of the word. He wasn’t mean; he didn’t insult me or laugh at me. But if you don’t care enough about the people you’re grouping with to take ten minutes and read through a webpage -even when being saved the googling by being specifially pointed in its direction- to make sure you know what you’re doing, then you are a jerk, and I don’t want you in my dungeon.

And he’s not the only one. My first WoW guild had quite a few skilled players, but it had many more players like that paladin; who couldn’t deal with the mechanics in Cata heroics, or put out half decent DPS, and didn’t really care to improve themselves. A lot of them were perfectly pleasant people, with whom I would’ve gladly sat down to have a drink and chat. But they were the kind of people I dreaded being asked to do dungeons with, because it meant three, four, five hours runs with nothing accomplished. And any attempt to help them was essentially ignored. Honestly, they were as bad as the tank that pulled everything and ran me out of mana, despite my protests.

I’m confident that Silver Proving Grounds is easy enough that the unskilled player who takes some time to do research and practice will eventually succeed. And that’s good. I don’t mind if your DPS is a little low – or if you’re having trouble interrupting or holding aggro -if you’re willing to learn; if you want to do better. But players like that paladin? They’ll be stuck at the gate, and I won’t have to carry them. And I will be happier for it.

Will the Proving Grounds requirement weed out all jerks forever? No. But it’s not a dichotomy. You don’t get either great asshats or nice newbies. At least, this way, you’ll weed out some of the terrible asshats.

Hearthstone! Hearthstone! Hearthstone! (And the cost of the arena).

I was going to write a post about priesting and proving grounds and whatnot, but then I got a beta key to Hearthstone (on the first day, too! – I’m pretty sure someone must’ve pressed a wrong key somewhere) and since I’ve been playing obsessively, and can’t seem to stop thinking about it, I figured I’d write a post about it.

Firstly, I have to say the game is awesome. I mean, I killed someone off with a sheep! How brilliant is that? But, in true me fashion, I’m going to go and whine about things. (Let’s face it, even the title of this blog is complaining.) And my complaint of the day relates to money.


I killed someone. With sheep. The greatness cannot be overstated.

First off, I know that Hearthstone is a free to play game, and that Blizzard owes me nothing. I’m not averse to the idea of paying some money every once in a while and will probably do so sooner than later (although my cheap self secretly hopes to be able to avoid it). That being said, F2P games do rely on people not feeling like they can’t do anything fun if they don’t pay and, personally, I’m kind of disappointed with how the entry to the Arena and how you earn gold work currently.

The Arena was, hands down, the feature I was the most excited about. I’ve been playing Hearthstone for two days and I’ve only gotten to play it once. If I hadn’t bought two packs (which I did because I was silly and didn’t really think about it) I would’ve been able to play maybe twice (three times if I’d gotten super lucky). The one time I played, it was free and, since I’d never done it, and I’m a relative newcomer to the world of card games (though I enjoy them a lot) I lost quickly and horribly. I got five gold, fifteen arcane dust and a pack for my troubles. (I also got my ego stomped on, but I don’t think that counts as a reward).

Here’s the thing, once you’re done spending your initial bit of gold, you can only do arena about once every four days (dailies give you 40 gold, while winning a match gives you just one sad piece of gold). Beyond those, it will take you about fifty hours of grinding to get enough gold to get into the arena (assuming 50% win rate and a ten minute match time – it’s significantly longer for me because I enjoy playing control-ish decks). If you’re good at arena, you’d be able to get in indefinitely -obviously- but the only way to get good at it is practising (well, and reading about cards and theorycrafting and whatnot – but I still think that knowing the bases and being able to apply them are two very different things), and you can’t really practise without playing, and you see what I’m getting to.

I realise that the Arena has to have a cost in order to have rewards. The part that irks me is that a large part of your rewards come in the shape of packs, which are sort of pointless if what you’re interested in is the Arena since you can’t convert them to gold. And, in theory, your winrate should remain about equal regardless of the power of your deck, so getting packs doesn’t help accelerate the winrate of gold in any way.

I think that the easiest fix is to increase the amount of gold you get per win. Even at five gold per win, you’d still have to play for about ten hours to get in, which is a LOT of time. They could also lower the amount it costs in RL money. Currently, trying to play a fresh arena daily comes out at around twice what I pay for my WoW sub (supposing you spend all your gold on getting into Arena, as well), which is a lot considering how much WoW costs to make and maintain and how much I can play (hint: all the time I want).

I suspect the biggest reason Blizz might not want to do either of those things is that it throws off the rate at which you can accumulate packs. This is easily fixable by converting the packs you get from playing Arena into gold and then adjusting accordingly.