Since the very first months of “vanilla” World of Warcraft, back when Molten Core was the end game, and Black Wing Lair still a developing whisper, there have been Twinks. A twink is a low level character that is reaping the benefits of being an alternate to a max level character, in that the receive loads of gold and items to help make them abnormally powerful. As long as there has been WoW, there has been twinks, and as long as there have been twinks, there have been people begging for them to go away.
A Solution to the Twinking Problem?
On proposed solution to what many would term the “twink problem” is to cause players to earn experience while participating in battlegrounds. This would certainly eventually force twinks out of their current level brackets and into ones they are not so highly tuned for. In truth, this has been alluded to many times over the years. When I started playing, sometime around patch 1.6, there was a repeatable quest that would allow you to turn in battleground tokens in sets of three to obtain reputation and experience. Of course, after the first turn-in you no longer got the XP, just the rep. Even then though, there was definite talk of making each turn in give XP to encourage twinks to move on - or to just assign XP at the end of the battleground based on whether you won or lost.
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
It never happened, though. Eventually even that one quest was done away with, with marks of honor being assigned a different role. In the Burning Crusade, it seemed like twinks actually received a boost, when low level dungeon items were revamped to be more powerful, and more well suited to the existing classes (no more strength on cloth, for one).
No twinking “buff” has been more clear than the introduction of Bind on Account items in Wrath of the Lich King. These items can be purchased with Emblems of Heroism and mailed to any of the players lower level characters, where the stats will scale to the characters level, and are unmatched by other items available to them from other sources. While this did nothing to discourage twinking (quite the opposite), it did encourage more high level players to get into the practice by making battlegrounds a little bit more evenly matched. This, however, far from helped players who just wanted to do a little bit of PvP while leveling up.
Twinking in 3.2 - Part 1 of the Solution
Finally, after so many years of complaining, the “problem” of twinking is being addressed. The solution is three-fold. To encourage players that are leveling up to participate in PvP along the way, XP will now be rewarded for participating in the objectives of each battleground. For example, capturing the Lumber Mill in Arathi Basin will award experience points. However, killing an enemy player (or 50) has no experience reward. The goal is to complete the battleground, not endlessly farm eachother for experience (honor kill farming is already a big enough problem). This change alone would likely completely destroy twinks, forcing them to level up from doing the only thing their character is designed to do.
Twinking in 3.2 - Part 2 of the Solution
However, in addition to XP being awarded in battlegrounds, the option to completely shut off XP gains is - finally - being introduced. Other MMOs have long had this option, but it has always been something WoW lacked. It is nice to see the developers responding to this player request. Perhaps they waited so long because twinking was already such a contentious point. Players of any level will be able to pay 10 gold to completely shut off XP gains from both PvP and PvE. Paying another 10 gold will re-enable XP gains.
But wait, doesn’t this completely counteract the twinking “solution” of forcing them to gain XP? Yes, it does. The reason is, no doubt, because Blizzard likes the twinks. In a game where most things progress in a predictable manner, ie: players of the same class or spec end up with the same armor, they do the same dailies, they fight in the same dungeons, twinking allows a little bit of fun individuality. In the old days, finding ways to get your twink one slight advantage over another was the entire twinking game. Perhaps you had a friend summon you into the Stranglethorn Vale Arena so that your level 19 Warrior can unfailingly log in every hour and attempt to get the Arena Master’s Trinket! Or perhaps you spent hundreds or thousands of gold getting the very best enchants, or spend hours upon hours in dungeons waiting for that one drop you needed. In other words, twinking was a considerable challenge, and just a little bit unpredictable.
Twinking in 3.2 - Part 3 of the Solution
This brings us to the third part of the twinking solution. The good news is that twinks can still twink, and players casually leveling will now be able to enjoy the battleground experience a whole lot more. How so? It is assumed that, for the most part, only twinked characters will disable XP gains. It is hard to see a reason why one would do that otherwise. Working off of that assumption, when players queue for a battleground they will be divided: Those who have XP enabled in one, those with it disabled in another. Doing this will increase the chance that twinks will only ever fight other twinks, and casual levelers can have an enjoyable experience.
New Bind on Account Chests in 3.2 - Making it Even More Convenient
We’ve discussed in detail how twinking is going to be a completely different monster come 3.2 do to massive changes in XP gains and battleground assignment. No doubt this is going to encourage even more max level players to roll some twinks and see the fun that can be had by spamming three abilities faster than the next guy to achieve victory - or cleverly arrange all 9 of your talent points for the most brutal of level 19 attacks! Regardless if the twink flavor you choose, bind on account items are going to make it easier. Weapons, shoulder armor, trinkets are already available, meeting a significant need at lower levels where weapons are scarce, and shoulders and trinkets haven’t even been introduced. Come 3.2, however, new Bind on Account chest armor is also being added, making twinking even a little more convenient.
Like the BoA shoulders, these chestpieces are going to give a +10% XP bonus in addition to incredible stats. Of course, if you’re an established twink you’re not going to be worrying about the XP bonus so much. While leveling to 19, or 29, or 59, for that matter, they’ll certainly come in quite handy.
Non-twinks will be happy to know that these BoA chests are not only going to match their shoulder counterparts in appearance (both being based on the classic Dungeon Set 1 models), the XP bonuses are even going to stack.
Players have been patiently waiting (some, not so patiently) for years to see a solution to the twinking problem. Twink characters often complained that drop rates were so random that it was often impossible to get the drops they wanted before they accidentally leveled out of the bracket. Non-twinks endlessly moaned and groaned that the PvP experience was horrible, as they could never kill anything and spent the entire time being camped by a stealthy rogue with enthralling glowing daggers. Finally, there is a solution that can make everyone happy. Has it been worth the wait? You decide, when World of Warcraft Patch 3.2 finally releases.