Weapon skill and PvP

6th March 2009 – 10.17 am

My death knight has been heading in to Wintergrasp a often as she can recently, enjoying the open PvP zone with vehicles and buildings and the accompanying chaotic combats, whilst being able to return to the comfort of PvE at the end. Despite only 75th level and being up against predominantly 80th level opponents I still feel like I can contribute, although wanting to be on equal footing is a splendid motivation to reach the level cap.

Essentially a world zone Wintergrasp hosts node spawns for gathered materials and being an 80th level zone it is there I find my first titanium vein, which I harvest with a bit too much glee. I also manage to get some crystallised fire from the vein, which is just what I need to put my blacksmith skills to use to make a new two-handed axe for myself. The only problem now is that I haven't wielded a two-handed axe before, only swords and maces, so my weapon skill is lingering at 270 where my current skills are over 100 points higher.

I know that I cannot go to a target dummy in a city to improve my weapon skills so rather than being entirely ineffective in Wintergrasp I switch back to my sword. However, spending most of my time getting Sapphire's drake means that I don't get any opportunity to practice with my axe in-between Wintergrasp escapades so I decide to wield the axe anyway and do what damage I can.

It is a little surprising to come out of the massed combat and see that my weapon skill has not improved a single point, as I am sure I hit quite a few Horde during the battles. The conclusion I reach is that PvP, like a target dummy, does not increase weapon skills. A guild member confirms this, also adding duels to the list of combat activities that do not increase a character's weapon skill.

I can understand why these choices have been made, from the point-of-view of the game mechanics. It would be easy to stand next to a target dummy, or get a friendly player from the opposite faction, and go AFK with auto-attack engaged to level up a new weapon skill. This would bypass the mechanics of gaining weapon skill actively through combat and negate its purpose. However, it seems to me that by preventing weapon skill gains through such methods Blizzard is not so much solving the problem as completely missing the point. If players would rather walk away from the computer for half-an-hour whilst their character mindlessly pounds another inanimate object solely to improve their weapon skill then there is clearly a problem with that skill in the first place.

The problem is that weapon skill doesn't actually have a necessary function. There are game mechanics, certainly, but as soon as any player reaches the level cap—and World of Warcraft seems more centred around the level cap than ever before—the player's weapon skill also reaches its cap and the mechanic becomes meaningless, it cannot improve nor can it deteriorate. There is nothing that weapon skill accomplishes apart from wasting the time of a character whenever they equip a different weapon.

Weapon skill is not like other skills. No one trains a profession, like blacksmithing or jewelcrafting, just to get it to its maximum level, there are gains to be made once that level has been reached, uses to put your high-level skill towards. Even secondary professions, including fishing, have tangible benefits for improving your skill. But the only 'benefit' of improving your weapon skill is that you can be functional. Weapon skill gives drawbacks if you lack it, but offers no actual benefits if you don't. It is time to scrap this pointless time sink and assume that all characters can use any weapon they are trained in equally well.

  1. 4 Responses to “Weapon skill and PvP”

  2. Forsooth.

    By Melmoth on Mar 6, 2009

  3. Agreed - utterly pointless mechanic. Imagine the forum outrage if casters started at an arbitrary skill level of 1 (fire/frost/arcane for mages, shadow/affliction/fire for warlocks, etc) and had to grind up to 400 for each school of magic they use.

    While I'm at it, a similar annoyance - hunter pets don't get xp in pvp either (at least last time I tried it)

    By Varakkys on Mar 6, 2009

  4. Weapon skill is being removed as from the Cataclysm expansion.

    Weapon Skill - This stat will be removed from the game completely. Classes will start with all the weapon skills they need to know and will not need to improve them.

    By pjharvey on Mar 4, 2010

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  2. Aug 16, 2011: Killed in a Smiling Accident. » Blog Archive » Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it.

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