Warlords Home for the Holidays

Warlord Holiday

It’s the holidays. People are rushing about getting shopping done, decorating homes for the season, scrambling to get the best of the best before it disappears – but not in Azeroth. World of Warcraft players are exploring the Warlords of Draenor expansion – finding all sorts of mounts, gifts, toys, pets and followers while expanding their collective immersion experience with Garrisons. That’s right, a quasi-housing situation has been introduced to this popular game that so many didn’t think could be done! With requests going back as far as 2006 and possibly further, players of Blizzard’s flagship game have been champing at the bit for something to call their own! Somehow, the devs have done it. Think somewhere between between the customizable ownership of Ultima Online (UO) and the collaborative ownership in Guild Wars (GW).

 

The Custom Home

Warlord Holiday Ultima Online Custom HomeIn UO, an individual player is able to collect enough wealth, purchase a house plan, then plant it wherever there is space. Buildings range from the smallest 7-tile-square customs situated in the remotest areas all the way to gargantuan pre-fab castle layouts nestled tightly betwixt neighbors. If there is a clearing, a player will plop their home down. During the height of the housing rush in 2007 (when Trammel was ‘discovered’) – the land grabbing got vicious! Longtime friend actual rez-killed one another to procure prime real estate! Not to mention the uniqueness of the houses are limited only by player imagination: from square, black boxes to fountain-houses of waterfall walls (yes, we know some players just adore the damp). Take a quick jaunt across more populated shards today and you’ll be hard pressed to see two homes decorated alike.

 

Communal Living

Warlord HolidayIn GW, guilds and factions work together to earn their property – and it belongs to them all with the leaders managing resources and “diplomacy”. Of course, the group could lose their holdings to competitors, its happens time and time again from what I’ve witnessed. Each group takes the holding from another group – some banners and flags change, but essentially its all static. The conquering group gets private, added access to specialty features, but that’s really it when it comes to “housing” in that game.

 

The Holy Grail of Virtual Housing

Game developers are looking for the perfect balance of allowing players to have a sort of uniqueness, yet not overload servers and staff with the creation, maintenance and updating of everything involved. As special as UO is, the involvement necessary in updating the graphics, positioning, x,y,z axis, the effect of lighting, viewing position and ambient coloration of items looks to be a nightmare! Not to mention collision with a custom home plopped where it probably shouldn’t be (see any trees poking through walls?) and other abnormalities that have become famous (the 7×7 on the roof of a large tower is my favorite). Is it any wonder the venerable game is still using an isometric view? Imagine all that in 3D? Wait, someone is! Portalarium is getting close (of course, their core dev team are the same people that created UO in the first place) with pre-fab houses that can be decorated in Shroud of the Avatar (SotA) – including player-owned, static towns customized by players (if you have the money).

 

Blizzard’s ‘Dream Home’

I believe Blizzard has found a nice, happy medium to the problem of utilizing a customized living situation in a fully-dimensional virtual space without bogging the servers, or players. Garrisons in WoD are unique. The individual player is “awarded” the responsibility of developing a fort in historic Draenor, before the Dark Portal was created! Yeah, that threw me for a moment, too. I mean, if we (collectively) succeed in defeating the Warlords who created the Dark Portal, what will that do with present-time Azeroth? Will the Alliance and Horde be eternally united? Will I have to share my holy bread with an Orc?!? 0.o

But I digress, this is about the Garrison!

Warlord Holiday FollowersAs you progress through levels, quests, and continuously harder tasks, you can develop and grow your Garrison from a few measly tents to a robust castle complex, including all those ammenities normally reserved for the king! You can pick and choose which buildings go into your Garrison, reap the benefits of developing those buildings, and when you are ready for something else, rip it down and build a new one. You get NPC “helpers” which I’m finding to be really nice touch. You basically tell the NPCs what to do, when to do what, and you can even have them accompany you around Draenor as your bodyguards. And you’ll need them – the upper level mobs are not anything to scoff at.

In the coming weeks, Stratics will be presenting “WoD Garrison Guides” for our readers. These guides will help you learn about the buildings, what benefits you may (or may not) want to reap, and how the Garrison itself is an integral part of the world in WoD. Check back and don’t forget to jump into our forums to share your thoughts! What is good for this Proto-Pali might not work for you Warrior-Orcs, and definitely vice-a-versa.

Warlord Holiday Level 3 Garrison

If you are interested in contributing your World of Warcraft experiences, drop us a line! Stratics is always looking for a few good pens! Visit our Forums and send a PM to Ron Bron or Kirthag.

 

Discipline Priest – WoD

Discipline Priests

A lot has been changed about Discipline Priests from the last season on Mists of Pandaria moving towards the first season of Warlords of Draenor. The Discipline Priest has always been a specialization that heavily relied on its absorbs. This is still true with the release of WoD as several of Disc’s spells have been changed or removed. Blizzard wanted to have healers make decisions as to what spell they are going to use rather than pressing one or two keys to top off the tank every few minutes. With Draenor, they are purposefully forcing players stay below 100% health. Blizzard has deliberately made heals less potent than the damage of the monsters. Direct from the Blizzard website, “We want healers to care about who they’re targeting and which heals they’re using…” Blizzard is looking to make healing more interactive than the previous expansions by making healing more of a challenge while still allowing players to have the time to make decisions.

Here you can watch as I heal through the bosses of The Everbloom Heroic Dungeon as a Discipline Priest. There is not much but spamming Flash of Light when it comes to healing as a Discipline Priest since the release of WoD.

Once you hit level 100 the real test begins. To do heroic dungeons you are now required to have at least a silver ranking in the role you are queuing for. So if you are healing you have to enter the proving grounds and pass both Bronze and Silver rankings. When I went into Heroic dungeons fresh from hitting level 100 my first heroic dungeon was more stressful than being locked in a room with my mother for three days. Healing as a Discipline Priest has taken a new turn, and the difficulty in some of the dungeons is very real. I had not read about how Blizzard wanted players to sit below 100 percent health, and I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why I couldn’t keep anyone topped off (it really didn’t help that our hunter was pulling extra mobs and standing in the fire). Healing had really become more of a challenge, and even today when I have a substantial amount of gear healing is still difficult and I really have to think about what I’m going to cast before I cast it. I personally had become so used to Pandaria healing where you could stand in fire and not worry about a thing. Now in Draenor dungeons, the mechanics really need to be followed or your group will be in for a world of hurt.

In my opinion playing discipline priest is a lot more challenging, but also feels empty. With a lot of removed and changed spells I think the Discipline-spec is now missing a lot of the spells that once made it more fun. Renew used to be a big spell when playing the Discipline Priest. You would throw a Power Word Shield, and an Renew on the Tank. Next, you would do the same for all the other players in the dungeon. Lastly, you topped off the tank with a Penance. Halo, Cascade, or Divine Star could be used when they were off cool down in order to get out your area of effect heals without slowing down the use of absorbs and Flash of Lights. The fast pace of Prayer of Mending (PoMs) could be used every chance you got. Now healing has definitely slowed down in pace. Healers watch the health of the Tank and DPS; while quickly glancing down at Penance to see how long you have left on cool down and filling the time with Flash of Lights. Mana is your greatest enemy in dungeons as you have to watch it carefully so you can make it through the fight. I do love the new challenge that comes with healing, but I miss the other spells that made this spec my favorite when I played my priest.

Spell Changes

Removed Changed:
Renew Cascade has a 1.5 second cast time
Inner Will Halo has a 1.5 second cast time
Inner Focus Prayer of Mending has a 1.5 second cast time
Void Shift Divine Star has a 1.5 second cast time
Hyme of Hope Renew is now only for Holy Priests
Heal Greater heal has been renamed Heal
Silence has been added to the Discipline Spec
Focused will is triggered by any damage taken

 

Some other changes to Discipline Priests are:

  • Dominate Mind now shares diminishing returns (DR) with other mesmerize effects.
  • Psychic Scream is now a level 60 talent and replaces Psyfiend, and has a 45 second cool down up from 30.
  • Void Tendrils now will break after the target receives sufficient damage.
  • Holy Nova is now learned at level 20 and the mana cost has been lowered while the healing has been buffed.
  • Evangelism no longer affects the damage or mana cost of spells.
  • Spirit Shell is now a level 75 talent replacing Divine Insight for discipline priests.

*New* Level 100 Talents

Clarity of Will: Shields the target with a protective ward, absorbing 23,608 damage within 20sec.

40yd range   5,040 mana   2.32 sec cast

Words of Mending: Your healing and shielding spell casts grant you a stack of Word of Mending. When you gain 10 stacks of Word of Mending, your next targeted healing or shielding spell also casts a prayer of mending at them.

Passive

Saving Grace: Heals a friendly target for 23,275. Reduces your absorbs and healing done by 10% for 8 sec, stacking up to 10 times.

40 yd range   4,800 mana 1.39 sec cast

[SPOILERS]In Game Cinematics Revealed! – Metro’s Review!

cinematic

Before we go anywhere, only continue reading if spoilers aren’t something you mind. I’ll wait. Think it over if you must.

Enough time?
Good. Let’s rock.

If you’d like to see the full post, check it out here.

Dark Portal Intro and Outro:

Its intriguing to see all the legendary characters fight a bit, but what I really love is seeing Thrall come face to face with the Iron Horde’s leadership. Especially when he sees Grom, he must be heavily burdened with emotion. What do you guys think about that? An individual who he once saved and has gone through great hardships with, now in an entirely different situation even down to the skin color. How would to react to something like this? It would be sheer fright for me. Its hard enough to look at Grom knowing what we know now. And I’m not even thrall!

These scenes set the tone, but they are a bit too short. You can tell there has been some cut from them and the edits themselves are a bit too sharp for my taste.

I give these two 6/10

 

FrostFire Ridge Finale:

Powerful stuff, especially when you consider the characters involved. Seeing Drek’thar in action is good enough for me to love this one, but when you see Thrall with his father and realize it very well could have been Durotan who gives his life for his people, a tear has to be choked back.

Unfortunately, I just don’t feel that strongly about his brother. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure who this was at first. I’ve known about Fenris, but I actually had to look up Ga’nar. Its a great scene, and a powerful battle, but the loss of a character so minor doesn’t really make me feel as strongly as the Alliance equivalent.

I give this a 7/10.

 

Shadowmoon Valley Finale:

I don’t even play Alliance and I love this scene. Its probably my favorite in game moment, and I really don’t even know what’s going on. I’ll assume that Velen is passing his crazy godmode powers on to her, but frankly I don’t know. And it doesn’t even matter. I know this is their world’s Velen, but either way the scene shows an actual main character in the game sacrifice himself, unless this mediocre Horde equivalent. The look on Yrel’s face is just too emotional not to give this a second watch.

Plus shes damn cute.

I give this a 9/10.

 

Talador Finale:

This one would easily be the best if it weren’t for the repetitve cheesy one-liners all these major characters keep going on with.

Blackhand is a certified Bad Ass if there ever was one, and honestly I fear him more then Grom, mostly because of what he wears. Meanwhile, Yrel gets saved by Maraad, who we have seen to be a pretty cool dude as well, going as far to give up his life to save hers. And then the cheeeeese.
“What do you want?”
“Your Head.”

“Your will all die!”
“Just you!”
Come on man. How lame is that. The scene is redemed when she hit Durotan with the brez, and pops wings to burst down Blackhand, but then takes a silly turn again when they fire the iron star into the boat and it literally kills no one. I mean we all know Blackhand is the boss of the first tier… Whole thing just seemed weird to me.

I give this 5/10.

 

Nagrand Finale:

Now this… This one is a keeper. A perfect ten if I ever saw it. The fight was brutal. I felt like I was watching Oberyn fight the Mountain all over again. It captures Garrosh’s strength and insanity in 15 seconds of fervor perfectly. I’ve watched the part where he breaks Thrall’s beads or whatever the necklace is meant to be and starts crushing his skull at least 5 times since they came out. Its just not something you expect to see in a game like this, and honestly makes me a little sick as did the Oberyn scene.

But then when we see thrall cast lava blast you know its over. Makes me wonder why Garrosh didn’t keep a shield in his bags for spell reflect.

The fact that this is a culmination of a story line dating back from Cataclysm is just purely spectacular. All the angst thrall had for the decision comes raging out and comes to a head.

Just too bad Garrosh didn’t learn how to redirect lightning.

I give this a 100/10.

 

Can not wait for this expansion…

If these cinematics are any indicator this is gonna be great!

Final Beta Additions? – Khadgar’s Legendary Questline + Challenge Modes!

khadgar

Finally, the day we have all waited for is here! As of Wednesday, September 17th 2014, all the content that is meant to be in the beta for Warlords of Draenor is finally available and fully testable.

Even more surprising is that, in the case of the Legendary quest line, it appears to be damn near finished!

Khadgar’s Task:

The quest itself, which apparently starts at level 98 to give you a head start, begins in your garrison with the all too familiar Khadgar’s Server elemental creature. You’ll recognize this studly ele from the TBC days where Khaddy G would send you on a jaunt around the town with his petty servant as host.

It appears, even now, the archmage is too busy to address you directly, even though he is happy to freeload near your garrison’s campfire.

khadgar

What’s stranger yet is that, despite the fact that the man is standing 100 yards from his “servant,” I have to fly all the way across the world to get the rest started. I suppose we are still in Beta for a reason, but there just seems to be a lot of inconsistencies in where these major characters are meant to be. I frankly don’t see why you would even try to have them in the garrison at any one point. I know each player’s story is meant to be seperate from everyone else’s but how is it possible, even in these crazy situations, that Khadgar is in my garrison while I level 10 times? Surely he has somewhere more important to be, no? Helping oversee the Ashran hubs? Helping the Alliance? JK hes chillin next to the fire with Drekka. ezmode life #khadgar.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. Once you pick up the quest from the Servant, you’ll head out to Khadgar’s secret hideaway in an area known as Zangarra, which certainly resembles Zangarmarsh in every way, even in location. Despite sitting in my garrison, he has apparently had the time to order an entire tower built for his studies.

When you reach him, you realize his greatest concern is a looming threat unnamed at the start. He claims we need to work together on this matter, and in order to do so we need to establish a link. He originally suggests creating an amulet, but apparently our character turns down the offer and decides a ring is the best option. Just flavor, nothing more.

Anyway, the telepathic ring that he will channel his energy through must be created using a number of items from 5 mans. In order to get the band for the ring,we must take one from the Arrakoa, specifically the final boss in Skyreach. It doesn’t specific normal or Heroic here, so I’d imagine this is meant to be done on normal, and the later parts on Heroic. I can’t verify one way or another, as the servers are down YET AGAIN, but I’m going to stick to this as the way it is, assuming they want the legendary part to be gotten by those capable of completing Heroics. khadgar

Regardless, the band comes from Skyreach and once you turn it in, you see a wrathion style cutscene where he explains the whole of the trouble and its root: Gul’dan. No surprise, but I am a bit shocked to see the blatant similarities between the way the two lines starts. The scene is already fully voice acted and animated, so expect videos to come.

After you get the first step, which is the Epic 640 ring, you then have quite a few tasks set in front of you. In order to complete the legendary portion, it appears you then need to loot items from 3 of the last bosses of heroic 5 mans. Core of Fire from Slagmines, Core of Life from Evergrowth, and Core of Iron from Iron Docks. There is also a Apexis component, that is currently set at 986, a very odd number likely not intended. I’d expect it to be a large enough number that will impact the first few week’s gathering, but if its that low, that can be gained in 1 day.

After that, it appears the ring will be granted to the player, something I will personally be testing out whenever they decide to keep new builds up for more then 10 hours.

Challenge Modes:

Even Khadgar wants nothing to do with CMs! What a noob!

The current talk of the town is the lack of strange niche items like the Battle Horn to be used in CM. Personally, I prefer a slower pace, and now with the removal of Vengeance, I feel there is a LOT less importance placed on pulling 20 mobs at a time. You see, in the MoP model with Vengeance, it was actually much quicker to pull more mobs, because it elevated the tank to a level of DPS higher then the DPS themselves. Now, a tank does equitable damage through out, and if they use their CD’s properly they can still do a great amount of AOE, but it will increase because it hits more mobs, not because more hit them.

Items and strategies like this are fun, but I’d MUCH prefer one pack at a time with some preparation and maybe (dare I say it?) Crowd Control placement. That was part of why I enjoyed TBC five mans, because no matter when you did them, they always required CC. This was partially a product of threat though, so I can’t imagine this mechanic to return too greatly. In the beginning, people will CC some, but once they see people do without, then there will likely be a lot less caution and a lot more big new strats.

Especially with the advent of a separate health potion CD, I see this being even more prevalent.

Either way, when I get in there, you can bet you’ll hear all about them! Stay tuned!

 

The Great Guild Contest VI – ONE Invitational Rules and Clues!

contest

For those not participating in the contest, but still interested in seeing what its all about, the event will be streamed live at http://www.twitch.tv/syiler and starts around 630EST!

Welcome Grand Contestants to the sixth official contest, but the first official Scavenger Hunt!

If you are new to the concept, I will explain exactly how it works. The top 6 will advance, and in order to do so, you must collect the three items corresponding with the three Clues below in order. You will “collect” the items by opening trade with the “NPC” at each location. The “NPC” will award you the item, and you can be on your way to the next spot!

You will collect these clues on a character that starts off as Level 1, prepared in any way you deem fit, provided it stays level 1 as the contest begins.
Your character will then be invited and summoned to the starting location, where all contestants will begin the race. After all contestants have been summoned, there will be a grace period of preparation, once again, in any way you deem fit, before the run begins.

Before you view the clues, understand this. You will die, likely many many times. But don’t give up! The prizes at the end of the tunnel are worth it! This year, the prizes from full completion include the Lightbringer’s Tabbard, The Frost Dwarf Transformation Item, Jaina’s Lockets, TCG Items, a Sky Golem, and ONE rings for the top three participants.

Also, take care to familiarize yourself with the rules, as once you start, any violation is grounds for immediate dismissal.

RULES:
No Guilds,
No Grouping,
No Intentional Leveling,
No outside help killing mobs,
No outside help with travel or flight paths.

If you have read this far, I assume you understand the rules and are ready to see the clues and begin your Scavenger Hunt. The clues will be presented in audio format as well with one visual aid to help you along the way. Please check the video, listen to the short riddle, and use your wits to figure it out. DO NOT tell other contestants about your ideas!!

Clue #1

Video #1.

contest

Click to Enlarge!

The otter skims across the seas
as war ignites and burns the trees
Garrosh has failed with more at stake;
here pets you tame and fame create.

Clue #2

Video #2.

contest

Click to Enlarge!

Hearthed away, this seems to say
Now climb the path we must this day.
Past black money and the prince
We go by stream now to convince
The seldom seen pandaren team;
their hidden home and rare esteem.
Once were through, we see the goal
the final leg of this great stroll.

Clue #3

Video #3.

contest

Click to Enlarge!

Legends rest atop this hill,
where incense burn and hatred fill
The hearts of Orcs and Man a like
But now their time has passed through the night.
Here upon where it began
Here is far, where we have ran.
Now the end can come to pass
I’ve made the trip, at long last!

 

That’s all the information for the first leg of the contest, being the Scavenger Hunt. The final leg will take place on your main characters, and be discussed privately with each participant who advanced!

Good luck and HAVE FUN! That’s what its all about, after all.

Old Character’s Names Removed? – Metro Explains!

name

For those of you who haven’t seen already, take some time to check out what Blizzard just posted.

The long and short of it is that any character, on an active account or not, that hasn’t been logged on to since November 13th, 2008, will get a free name change and the previous name they had will be up for grabs. As you can imagine, there are a TON of implications surrounding this, so let’s go through them all quickly and hopefully we can be on the same page about this… charitable event Blizzard is hosting.

Before we start, realize that November 13th 2008 is the day Wrath of the Lich King launched. Its hard to believe honestly, especially looking back to remember that it came out right before Thanksgiving and there WASN’T a forbearance period to avoid guilds raiding through the holidays. A lot has changed my friends, and some people’s character names are about to be among them.

1. Forcing People to Resub to Protect their Name.

It sounds silly, but this is a major implication of this event, and certainly not something Blizzard passed over when thinking about this. The counter-argument is that people unsubbed since before Wrath came out obviously aren’t coming back, but it doesn’t matter if it only gets 1 person to resub. Its worth it.

In fact, I would argue (without proof) that there will be a sizable portion of people who fall into this category for a number of reasons. Reason #1 is that I know quite a few people who played the game back then that are simply “waiting” for the right moment. They say things like “This expansions might save WoW, I’ll check it out again,” or “Meh if Steve and Frank played again, I’d resub in a heartbeat.”

Things of that nature. So they are already considering it, they just have reasons they don’t want to pay for everything. What this person does not want to happen is have their legendary name taken from them before they get the chance to return. An easy 15 dollars for the shot as saving something they cherish.

Its a brilliant play on their part, and I expect they receive a few thousand resubs and a few thousand dollars while simultaneously handling the rest.

name

2. Forcing People to Buy a Name Change.

Before I even processed what was happening, I immediately considered paying the 15 dollars on this service to change from Metrolol to Metro. Then I realized that’s the reaction they want you to have! If you look at all the comments on the thread I linked, you’ll see the exact same sentiments there shared by everyone. People saying “lots of cool names are freed up.” Yes they are, but why would I want to change the name of a toon I have had the same way for 5 years. I wouldn’t, but many people would and will pay money to do so.

For every 1 person who will pay to resub for the first time since Wrath Launched, there will be be two more that pay to have a shot at the names that become available.

And just to sweeten the pot, think of some of the names that may be available. Lots of 2-3 letter names were eaten up on launch, same with names of real life people. Matt, Brown, Clint, Yawn, Light, Go, Age, Run…name

List can go on infinitely. Maybe its time to start a new chapter in wow as “Star?”

3. Reinvigorating the Name Pool.

The first two were slightly underhanded and borderline greedy implications, but that doesn’t mean that everything surrounding this topic has to be. In fact, reintroducing names like this to the mix is a REALLY healthy thing for the game.

I’ve said this for some time now, but there is simply too big of a barrier to entry for this video game. Having to buy 6 games, then level 100 times, and figure out what name you want to pick that isn’t already taken is a massive challenge. The introduce the “New player” realms periodically, which is great because it allows those people to not have to worry about what is already going on with the realm, but its just not very likely that people actually congregate there.

Either way, naming a new character now-a-days is a task in creativity. Its nearly impossible to come up with something short and original, so you pretty much need to either randomize or make a variant on your previous decisions. For example, all my toons are Metro- followed by some laugh acronym: Metrolol, Metrohaha, Metrorofl, Metrotehe, etc.

Having more to choose from is always preferable.

4. Why 2008?

nameThe way I see it, this is the most important decision of all. Essentially, they are trying to get people who haven’t played since TBC interested once again in the game. Why do they think it would work? Well maybe because there are so many similarities? The fact that both expansions happen in the same place just under much different circumstances is enough for people to have interest. I’ve seen it already on TBC private realms. People make those passive aggressive claims that you can tell are uttered out of interest purely.

And why not? This is a cool idea executed at an extraordinary level. If you haven’t seen the zones yourself yet, you’ll really be surprised at how great the game looks. Just the character models and the few visual tweaks such as the highlight around targeted items or creatures honestly makes the game feel like a whole new beast.

 

Either way, its obvious Blizzard is in repair mode. They realize that if they can stymie the losses now, they can keep building even more and more product. The issue that I have with that, is the likelihood that any actual skilled players come back is just miniscule. Obviously its good to get any person paying again, but for the community, the only type of people that quit in 2008 that are worth having back are simply not coming back.

As an aside, it mentions this name liberation will happen the say 6.0 drops. MY PREDICTION is that it will be September 30th. MMO-champion seems to disagree, but Ion said they wanted the patch to be out for 6-8 weeks before WoD, so not sure why they would think we still have over a month.

The Last Days of Pandaria – Top 5 Best Countdown!

best

Hello my friends and welcome to Metro’s final look back at Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft’s fourth expansion set! With the new calendar year of Warcraft approaching rapidly, its time to wrap up our affairs and say our final farewells to Chen and Li Li and wish Taran Zhu a speedy recovery.

By all accounts, the expansion has had its ups and downs, and despite my own exuberant love for some of the features, there is much dread to recall alongside.

This article is part two of a two part series where I go through the top 5 best and worst features. We start with the worst in order to frame the best, as I frankly feel despite there being 5 of each, the 5 best far outweigh the 5 worst.

If you would like to see my top 5 best/worst of cataclysm, you can do so here.

Part one has already been release on wowstratics, and the link can be found here.

Let’s get right into the list! Drumroll please!

Best #5 – Timeless Isle Concept!

bestAfter placing Dailies as my number 5 Worst feature, I’d be foolish to not mention their fix in the Best list. Without question, the timeless isle is the preferable method for me, especially in terms of gear and catch up mechanics. I’d much prefer 5 mans for the pure catch up situations, but the fact that this promotes group play out in the world is a very healthy thing for the game.

The concept borrows ideas from Diablo, Dark Souls, Guild Wars 2, and the best of WoW’s previous attempts and bakes them into one area where everyone congregates. The atmosphere is electric and hostile, but there is truly something for everyone here, from gear to pvp to achievements to battle pets.

In WoD, they are furthering this idea even more by having rotating areas that you cycle through. Couldn’t be more excited!

Best #4 – Legendary Questline!

If you aren’t aware of this or haven’t seen it through start to finish, you likely missed your chance to do so in game, but its not too late to experience it. I strongly urge you to check out this playlist. Within, is every step’s story and completion, as well as full ambiance.

The story and scenes were truly exceptional, and it was actually quite a challenge start to finish. The collection was a bit dull, but this was just half of the whole, and the solo scenarios and dialogues really made you feel like you were a part of Pandaria. Its magnificence will likely go underrated, but I will always look back at the expansion and remember it fondly for this quest line.

Best #3 – Tanking, Active Mitigation, and Situations that Enforce It!

bestI have always been partial to tanking, as you can surmise after reading my latest article on the topic, but this expansion really smashed it out of the park. To be clear, I do not play a tank in Progression Raiding, but my passion with the role lies in 5 man and smaller situations outside of raid bosses.

The number 1 situation where tanking shined this expansion was Challenge Mode dungeons, but it was mostly because of Vengeance scaling. However, this was the ideal situation to implement into Active Mitigation, as it allowed exceptionally skilled players to make their mark on the dungeon and show how far they can push their character.

A runner up in terms of reinforcement would be a boss liek Ra-den. Not a boss a lot of people saw, and the mechanic was used again in paragons of the Klaxxi, but regardless of its state, it helped make tanks feel relevant again. During Cataclysm, the tank role was very much gear related and strategy sufficient. Now in MoP, a tank can make your runs through anything from 5 mans to heroic raiding 10x easier or harder, depending on how they do.

Best #2 – Scenery and Theme!

The theme and especially scenery of this expansion was second to none. I usually enjoy the high fantasy style of a major city in European fashion, but there was something about the ancient Chinese theme that captivated me, especially out in the world.

Jade Forest is easily the most attractive zone I’ve ever seen in a video game, and architecture including bridges and small towns you wouldn’t visit normally really make you feel like you are in a living and breathing world.

If you are reading this and don’t know what I mean, I urge you to take a stroll through the zone ON THE GROUND. By flying over the zone, all you’ll see is trees and some monuments. The true splendor comes in the delicate craftsmanship that it took to create such a place.

This is present in every zone of the expansion, and when you open your mind, you begin to realize just how great this expansion really was.

Honestly, this is the reason I can not wait to be on the ground in WoD. There are so many hidden treasures to be seen, and when you fly everywhere, it really cheapens things.

best

Best #1 – Challenge Modes!!!

By far the best content ever added to the game, in my honest opinion. This is something that should have been fostered from the get-go, and wouldn’t mind seeing the concept introduced for Raiding as well, provided it didn’t interfere with progression.

Something about the fact that everyone’s gear is regulated makes it an equatable challenge unlike anything in the game thus far. Even more fun is the eventual mindset you find yourself in when thinking on the clock.

Before you say anything, I will tell you that I have always had a phobia of timed events, but after doing these you begin to realize that there is nothing to be scared of or nervous in. Its turns into a friendly competition, first between you and the content, and eventually between you and others doing the content.

This, coupled with #3 (active mitigation) has easily given me enough enjoyment even in the year long patch 5.4.

As of now, you have less then three weeks to complete these if you want your set, but beyond that try to enjoy yourself. Don’t ever considering buying them, especially now. Any class or spec can compete in there if you skilled, and 70 percent of the challenge is knowing the strategy.

This is what the game has needed for a long time, and I’m looking even more forward to seeing the second generation in an environment without ridiculous gem scaling and vengeance cheesing. Can’t wait!

 

Honorable Mention goes to Proving Grounds and Brawler’s Guild.

These miss the cut for me because I have no toon with adequate gear to consider Brawler’s Guild passable, and Proving Grounds has far too many mechanics that aren’t realistic in the world of dungeons and raids.

Regardless, they are exceptional content, and a great fill for a great expansion. Its been such a great ride, and there has been so much good to come of MoP. I truly can not wait to do it all again in WoD!

Don’t forget to check out the top 5 Worst!

If you prefer to listen to more detailed rants on these topics, you can find a full video here below:
(when its finished).

The Last Days of Pandaria – Top 5 Worst Countdown!

worst

Hello my friends and welcome to Metro’s final look back at Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft’s fourth expansion set! With the new calendar year of Warcraft approaching rapidly, its time to wrap up our affairs and say our final farewells to Chen and Li Li and wish Taran Zhu a speedy recovery.

By all accounts, the expansion has had its ups and downs, and despite my own exuberant love for some of the features, there is much dread to recall alongside.

This article is part 1 of a two part series where I go through the top 5 best and worst features. We start with the worst in order to frame the best, as I frankly feel despite there being 5 of each, the 5 best far outweigh the 5 worst.

If you would like to see my top 5 best/worst of cataclysm, you can do so here.

Part two will be released on WoWstratics shortly, and the link can be found here.

Let’s get right into the list! Drumroll please!

Worst #5 – Daily Quests!

worstLet there be no mistake. If you have any love for daily quests, you ruined this expansion for me. Apparently, there are people out there who demanded Blizzard take away rep tabbards, forcing us to grind rep through dailies. If this wasn’t bad enough, they made the rep award Raid Equivalent gear for a raid that wasn’t to be released for over a month!

The start of Cataclysm was an abomination for me for this one reason alone. As a Guild Leader, how can I attempt to force people to get pre-raid BIS and be prepared when even I couldn’t stomach the grind. The big issue for me however, was my spec choices. I love healing raids and I love tanking 5 mans, so there are little options on my Paladin. I was not about to respec every day as some of our players were doing, and it eventually just became hatred out of spite at how difficult it was to get anything done as a Protection paladin early on. To this day, I look at this as one of the worst decisions Blizzard has ever made. Thank god its gone for good.

Worst #4 – Absurd Boss Mechanics!

Blade_Lord_Ta'yakAnother personal vendetta, but its my list after all! There are two bosses that absolutely infuriate me in this expansion and it comes down to one single mechanic in each of them.

First of the expansion is Blade Lord Ta’yak. Aside from the asinine name (should have been wind lord and vice versa) this boss features the single mode retarded mechanic I have ever done in this video game. There certainly have been a few, but this boss takes the cake as the worst boss in the video game.

The mechanic is known as Unseen Strike, and can be explained easily as a frontal slash that must be split evenly with enough people so the damage is survivable. However, it just simply did not work this way. On Heroic, the damage was intense, and the phase dictated spread with movement, so it was often times a scramble to get enough people in it. Furthermore, for some reason unbeknownst to me, there was no definitive directional component to show which way the cone would hit. This caused CONSTANT (IE every single time) deaths of people because we simply didn’t know where to stack or stand. Even times when it hit the group correctly, one person would die from full health as if it didn’t split properly. The fight was entirely trivialized when I switched to my shaman healer in blues and lfr gear to come in and drop Spirit Link every other. It was that easy. Boss died first night after that. Worst fight ine game imo.

Other one that makes the list is Tortos, but no explanation needed. If you ever did the fight you know why a healer would hate it. Here is to actual predictable mechanics coming back in WoD and these getting buried next to daily quests!

Worst #3 – Length of Raid Tiers!

HURRY TOT IS OUT OK SOO IS OUT KK SEE YOU IN A YEAR.

All you need to know.

By the time ToES and HoF were even available, ToT was in the works. We were able to finish 6 heroic bosses in the first tier (mostly because we were bad) before ToT came out, meanwhile on the other end of the spectrum we have been farming 14 heroic bosses in SoO for months now. How is it possible to have a 4-5 month tier and a 13 month tier in the same expansion? A true blunder, and no matter how amazing the raids were, this can not be overlooked.

Worst #2 – Limited Time Legendary Buffs!

Keyword is Limited Time here. What on God’s green earth possessed them to do this? Jay Wilson said it worked with Diablo guys lets try it for WoW!

If your goal is to nerf the legendary quest, then just do so. There’s no tangible benefit to alternating them weekly and making the valor one only happen on the weekend after all raiding is over. Its just stupid and really cheap if you ask me. It sounds like something a company with low standards for their game would do and really makes me worry about the direction Blizzard as a company is headed if these ass-backwards ideas is their idea of prevent sub loss. How bout you put the 6 purchases everyone has to make into one video game geniuses?

If anyone has insight into why this is this way, please let me know. As of right now, this is IMO as cheesy as it gets.

Worst #1 – Community and Stigma!

worstThe fix was in from the start. Literally the first official interview about this game started with these words:
“This is NOT a joke!”

When you have to say that, you’ve made a horrible mistake. Me personally? I loved the asian theme and the art. It was breathtaking. But you will NEVER convince the halfwits who dominate this game that it makes sense or can be done in a non-childish way. Even to this day, there are still people who talk bad about the expansion purely on the out-of-context theme Pandaria featured, and it absolutely ruined the expansion for me. If I have to read one more time about how pandas ruined WoW, I’ll cut my eyes out. Thank god this is over. It turned the best expansion into a running trade chat joke.

Honorable mention goes to 5 man heroics!

Here’s to you! I soloed you at 480 item level. Hopefully we can have some actual challenging ones in WoD.

Don’t forget to check out the top 5 best!

If you prefer to listen to more detailed rants on these topics, you can find a full video here below:
(when its finished).

News Recap – 10 Year Anniversary and Free Face Changes!

news

With 6.0 two weeks away, its not surprising we are going to see more and more types of info dumps such as these, it just is a matter of what they pertain to.

In the WoW news this week is the specifics of the 10 year anniversary event, as well as a subtle yet important tweak to the barber shop that has everyone jumping for joy. Let’s go through both topics and discuss whats new and why its important!

10 year Anniversary:

Just this week, two new specific announcements were made in terms of the event, both of incredible importance!

If you would like to read more yourself, you can do so here.

If you have, you’ll immediately notice the dates on the event being quite different then we all expected. Historically, the anniversary would have started on the 17th of November. As a reminder, the expansion releases the 13th, so that would mean only 4 days from launch. Considering the horrible timing this expansion comes with, there was no question they needed to address the anniversary.

I’ll stick by my statement of saying having three events like this back to back to back weeks is undoubtedly the worst business decision the company has ever made, but by extending the start date and length of the event as they have, it at least breaths new life into the interest people will have. It also likely helps extend the hype around the expansion’s launch, as a big part of it will be this event.

So to recap, the anniversary events begin on Friday, November 21st and ends Tuesday, January 6th. That’s 46 days of LFR Molten Core, 100 man death match in South Shore, and general celebration.

We also get precise confirmation that December 2nd will be the launch of Highmaul Progression as we expected. Remember, this is to negate the Thanksgiving Holiday, and give people enough time to complete the raid before the Christmas one as well. I’ve laid out the full expected schedule based on Ion’s comments in this article.

Another interesting piece of news we received is LFR quality helms will drop guaranteed from completing Ragnaros. This may seem trivial, but its a HUGE deal considering it will likely end up pre-raid BIS and can be used for either spec! Its the original crown of flame model as well, check it out!

new

Courtesy of WoWhead!

This also begs the question about other potential gear options from there. Will we end up seeing this be a more lucrative way of getting gear then Challenge Modes. I really really hope not, but I suppose if anything, promoting this celebration is better then nothing. Only time will tell!

Free Face Changes:

Since last year’s Blizzcon, people have had the fix in from the start on this topic. Everyone immediately complains along the lines of “WHAT!? They changed my character’s model? Well I demand a free fix for this then.”

Blizzards initial response was to say that they would make the appearance as close to its previous face as possible, and frankly, I haven’t seen any evidence against this, but I suppose this is still the logical answer to the problem no matter what. You can’t please everyone, but now there wont be riots of people demanding a free service that they frankly don’t deserve.

If you are on the fence about this topic, remember other expansions. Panda is introduced as a new race with the epicurean food buff. Especially as a tank, this was widely considered overwhelmingly the best racial in the game. This forced players who played the game serious enough to care about these things to pay for a change. There was no free alternative then, unless you wanted to level up an entirely new character in the 1 week you had to prepare. Its a bit of a different situation, but to be worked up about a face change just seems as petty and shallow as it gets in a game like this.

Anyway, it doesn’t work how many people would expect. A lot of individuals would have likely rode a free character customization service, which currently offers a Name, male to female, and full face/skin change.

Instead, this becomes integrated into part of the Barber Shop. It allows only to cycle between the 5 or so faces each race has available for 30 some gold cost.

I’ve made a video on how it works below, but frankly, this is the preferred choice for me. Its a win-win all around, and I’ll tell you why I say that.

Originally, I was concerned this type of service wouldn’t find its way to the game because of the amount of money they could make on race and character changes. 90 percent of the issue is the face differences between the old and new models though, and its pretty obvious that’s on Blizzard’s side, so to charge people to look different because they couldn’t hold as true as they said is really bad business. So now, we have free face changes, perhaps not permanently, but at least for when it matters, but still have to buy a race or even male to female switch, something that should never be free. There is still a ton of money to be made from people who want different races or maybe to go female after they have seen a preferred change.

Either way, I think this is the charitable thing to do, and dare say that both the face change and the 10 year anniversary are being handled as well as they could be.

You must understand my skepticism when I first heard about the expansion coming out 4 days before the anniversary, but now that they have addressed it, it just seems to fit for me.

The Complete Tank Transformation – Classic to WoD Walkthrough!

tank

Welcome everyone, I’m making this article specifically for two reasons. The first of the two is because a lot of people I speak with make comments such as “Man I can’t believe how much tanking has changed” and its inevitably returned with “Has it really changed that much?” The second person is who this article is for, as after that conversation progresses even further, its obvious a LOT of people don’t have clarity on this topic.

The second of the two reasons, is because I’m frankly getting sick of people complain about tanking changes on the WoD beta. You guys simply don’t understand the change, which is fine, and I’m sure this one article won’t change that, but at least its off my mind. So let’s begin.

Classic -

First thing to recognize about classic is that there were three specs that could even tank for any reason whatsoever. Protection Warrior, Protection Paladin, and Feral Druid. The issue however, is that only Protection Warrior had a taunt, so as a Paladin you could only ever tank something that would never need to be taunted (ie nothing.) Feral had a different issue, that being a lack of agility gear that was relevant. Pretty much all leather gear had weapon specialization on it, or things of that nature (the stat that eventually became expertise.)

Model: tank
In general, the model can be summed up by one word – Threat.

You can tell that Blizzard wanted there to be more to it then that already, by giving them an ability like Shield Block, but it was simply too infrequent and not enough in a pseudo triage healing model. Shield Wall was also a 1 hour CD originally, but became 30 minutes at some point through out classic!

For five mans, your job was to lead the group, mark for CC, and threat what you could. You CC mobs mostly because its impossible to keep threat on them, but in classic it was also very dangerous to tank many, because dodge, block, and parry (combat table coverage) are not what they are today. It was very very common to take unmitigated swings.

Burning Crusade -

In TBC, they gave Paladins and druids real taunts, and real gear options to tank from level 70 normals all the way through sunwell. Each tank had its ups and downs, but many people still considered a warrior to be the only option for a raid tank, because the others still lacked definite cds and debuffs.
Its at this point that people first start recognizing the important of Thunderclap, Demo Shout, Disarm, and Shield Block.

Model: Even more surely a threat based model, especially outside of raids. tank

In classic, there was very little to worry about in the way of 4-6 mob packs that weren’t just AOE trash, but TBC introduced this type of pull in a lot of its 5 mans. Historically, people remember these as a true challenge, but it lied at the heart of the tanking model, not the mechanical design. The tank simply could NOT get threat on them all unless they were a paladin with high spell power.

Towards the end of TBC we start seeing the new model surface, likely by accident.

Wrath of the Lich King -

Wrath saw the introduction (finally) of rotational defensive CDs. Divine Protection was the biggest one; the spell changed from a weaker hard bubble to a 2 minute 20 percent damage reduction and we never looked back.

Shield Block, shield wall, and last stand all became useable in rotation, and the birth of Combat Table Coverage caps (CTC) was born. With defensive stats readily selectable from gear options, the game had come a LONG way, maybe not even intentionally.

Model: 50 percent threat, 50 percent survival. tank

Honestly, I struggle to believe they wanted this to go this direction this quickly, but once people saw how easy Wrath five mans were, there was no turning back. But once again, you need to understand WHY this was the case. We went from 5-7 mob packs in TBC that simply COULD not be pulled without some dedicated CC. It literally was not possible to threat them all. In wrath, these 5-7 mob packs were just more heavy damage then a 3-4 mob pack. Every tank had a viable AOE, and with the introduction of DKs, we see the first real overpowered AoE to join a tank arsenal since Paladins got sorted out in Howling Blast. Frost DK tanks simply had no concerns with threat, and thus the model was shattered.

A warrior still had to battle, but Thunderclap’s threat was dramatically increased, so if you just charged in, tclapped, and then tabbed and cleaved, you would have no concerns either. The dawn of the new age has begun!

Cataclysm -

I consider this the dim hours for Tanking. They were crossed up between what happened with the abandoned threat model, and what was emerging as an overpowered reduction model, giving way to the submodel of DPS. Cataclysm five mans were considered among the toughest, but entirely because of the incoming damage being overwhelming. CC was used to prevent a tank death, but as they settled into this model tanks started to realize that if they simply just went ham AOE, they could do more dps then the actual players…

Model: 10 percent threat, 70 percent Survival, 20 percent DPS. tank

Long story short, the availability of stats like Critical strike on Plate gear since the advent of the specialization perks make warrior tanks (and others) really consider ditching conventional tanking ideas and become another DPS. If they used their rotational CDs properly, the stats on their gear became nearly irrelevant, however a full ctc capped paladin would essentially need no healing, so it was up to the raid on which direction they wanted to go. Regardless, this solidified the death of threat tanking, and would usher in the brilliance that we see in Pandaria.

Mists of Pandaria –

This is how tanking should have always been. Threat was a fun mechanic, but felt clunky. You are the tank! Keeping yourself alive should be what its all about.

tankModel: Active Mitigation Survival and Vengeance DPS.

With the advent of Challenge Modes, we see this model in its purest form. Every tank has an AOE stun, and between 3-5 rotational CDs with Active Mitigation tied in. A tank who can keep his active mitigation up simply can not be killed, and this allows the spec and class to be pushed to its most extreme limits. When you pull the entire room of Scholomance and see 1.5 million DPS as a protection paladin with 960k vengeance and 300k ticking hots from your own spell, you know you have broken the video game.

The active mitigation is amazing, and so is the defensive benefit of Vengeance, but the dps aspect is simply cheesy, and was far too abused in raid encounters where a tank would be the top dps by a mile. Lesson learned, let’s move on. RIP vengeance

Warlords of Draenor -

With 6.0 comes Resolve, the child of the deceased Vengeance. It is essentially the same thing, but it only effects your self preservation, and doesn’t last nearly as long. Its very akin to the DK blood shield concept, but now for all tanks.

Model: Active Mitigation 100 percent.

tank

At least that’s how its shaping up. It has yet to be claimed how it will transpire, but the way I see it, its all about you now. There is no super hero complex where a tank with 1.5m attack power can trump 5 dps, and there is no need for silly gear choices. All secondary stats, even critical strike, give some offensive and defensive benefit, while Bonus Armor and the tertiary stats seem to be your main difference between sets.

The point of complaint is the reduction of Shield Wall type CDs from 12 seconds to 8 and a general nerf to active mitigation, but this seems neccessary to me. 12 seconds is a long time, despite it being a 3 minute CD, and hopefully wont hinder the model too much in the long run.

Metro’s Summary and Favorites -

In brief, it has come full circle. From a pure threat model to a pure survival model. It took 10 years, but I feel both have their merits. What did NOT strike me as fun was the in between years. Especially in Cataclysm, tanking just made no sense. It was basically frowned on to do something other then try to be the top DPS, and even in the one “challenging” 5 man heroics, a fury warrior was a more capable tank then a protection warrior.

My preference is the two extremes without question. Tanking MoP Challenge Modes is the most fun I’ve had in the game, and tanking Classic five mans (and TBC five mans to some degree) is just one notch lower. The threat model was simpler but still engaging. The MoP model is far more complex, but far more rewarding when you can negate the panic.

Even with the ability pruning in WoD, there is very little lost in the way of tanking. Looking forward to a new season of CMs and the culmination of 10 years of tanking work. Can’t wait!