Editorial MMO

There’s Only So Much Time in the World (of Warcraft): AP & You

From pet battles, to PVP, to end-game raiding content, there’s always something to do in World of Warcraft. But is that becoming a problem? The new artifact power system has hindered a longstanding past-time in-game, namely, alt-play. Have you felt the burn?

It all seems well and good. Each new artifact weapon is laden with lore and excitement. You’re encouraged to explore every avenue of story (even if you don’t fully read it) as you progress your character. For lore buffs and altoholics, this makes alt-leveling seem all the more APpealing. But that, of course, is before you see the endless sea of grinding that you have to do to get them up to snuff in the current grind that is artifact power.

Hello, fellow gamers. I’m Shebalo, and I’m an altoholic.

I’ve had alts for years. Ever since Wrath of the Lich King and some untimely real-life issues, I spent a great deal of time in front of the screen. I’ve continued to roll over each of my alts to the next level cap as a new expansion became available. Some expansions have seen easier alt progression than others, but for the most part, getting them to max level and caught up to a useful amount of power wasn’t all that difficult. I have fond memories of how easy it was to gear freshly minted 90s with Mists of Pandaria‘s Timeless Isle gear. Bind on Account bundles of joy helped make even the meekest alt into, well, at least a slightly less meek creature. Some 500 days played across this one server (not including alts which have been deleted over time), and I might finally be reaching my wit’s end. As you can see, I currently have five level-110 characters, with none seriously contending for sixth place. Why is that you may ask? Namely, artifact power and catch-up difficulties.

Catch-up mechanics do exist, but they’re not as helpful as you may think.

I gained access to the highest level artifact research available pretty quickly when the option was released in Patch 7.1.5. All of my alts were happily whisked away to the land of high levels of AP gain, and it was wonderful…for a time. While the initial boost of AP gain is great for alts to catch up to basic levels of talent tree progression, the fact remains that there’s still quite a distance to be covered to get beyond the 30~ talent range (pre-7.2). Additionally, the current patch has changed such that the next set of traits and artifact knowledges decrease the incentive to grind out AP, making it even harder to catch up in a shorter period of time. While there are certain AP “chunks” available (Mythic Plus 10 or higher, some World Quests, Broken Shore special table quests, etc.), most of us are left wanting for a better method of AP acquisition before reaching to the new research levels. As of right now, in short, it just doesn’t feel worth it.

AP scaling before 7.2 source

While we wait for more artifact research to be available on our mains, many of us are finding ourselves farming for a resource with very minimal return for the time invested. While this will improve with time, there’s more going on with the AP requirements than just a lack of return for what we’re putting into it, and that’s player burnout. One of the main reasons I stopped curating my alts this expansion was the inundation of grinding I’m facing on my main. As a mythic raider, it constantly feels like I’m behind on things I need to stay on top of in order to squeeze that extra percent out of my weapon or gear. While the need to farm Mythic Plus dungeons isn’t there yet so far this patch, I know the time is coming. The fact remains that I, like so many in my guild and others that I’ve spoken with, faced that grind in the previous patches in order to attain the coveted 54th point. We slaved for weeks, for hours, often neglecting more “fun” things to do in game, in order to achieve min/max success. Was it worth it? I don’t really know. Bosses die, parses are had, but in the end, many of us look at a new grind with disdain—whether it be the new traits on our mains, or the original ones on our alts. When rolling an alt in Legion, you need to re-grind your AP (with some tome help at least if your main has high research completion), your reps, your gear, and your class campaign. While endless content is great for mains, it puts alts in a chokehold, and there’s very little to help alts out in categories outside of basic AP assistance and easily acquirable but Bind-on-Pickup items on the Broken Shore.

Some people just want to watch the world (of Warcraft) burn.

My alts, like your alts, will live on in time. While the daunting tasks of AP farming and alt catch-ups are ominous at this time, if you like alts, chances are you’ll eventually come back around to them. This could happen during the inter-expansion lull, during a guild hiatus, or even perhaps due to class-breaking changes on your main. Alts exist for a reason, and even if you may just be exploring them for the first time this expansion, there is hope. Blizzard continuously cites a desire to help alts this expansion, after repeated requests from the playerbase. Let’s hope they continue to listen, and continue to help. I have a lot of lore to soak up through my alts this expansion, and I’ll dance my way through the burnout, even if it kills me.


How are you dealing with AP requirements and burnout? Do you feel like it’s still relevant to farm, or are you biding your time doing other things until artifact research catches up? Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook, Twitter, or Discord!

About the author

Jenn Rickert / angel1573

A gamer since childhood, and a writer since high school, I love all things RPG, action-adventure, and FPS. An anthropologist by education, and a gamer by choice, my ramblings sometimes find their way to the internet.

I also stream on Twitch! (twitch.tv/angel1573)

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