WoD Pre-Alpha Info – EU/KR Press Tour

Press Tour1

On Friday (2/21/2014) we received some pretty big teasers into what will be coming with WoD via the EU/KR press tour’s conclusion. For everyone’s benefit, let’s discuss some of the things we learned as well as how the few new features join together with the band.

Item Squish!

The first thing discussed was the item squish and how it affects the character. It was described to be pretty severe, but I’m sure even with this people will still find a way to complain. Here are the numbers mentioned:
Level 91 Protection Warrior had 63k Health.
Common monsters around the level had about 100k healthpools.
White swings as Protection varied from 1-5k hits, with 10k critical strike of Shield Slam being the largest noticed.

With these numbers in mind we can extrapolate a bit from the results given a few assumptions.
Let’s approach it as a 575 non-tank to a 575 tank first.
Standing still, I have 694k Health while a tank would have about 950k in equal gear. We assume this is normal.
Given the footage we have seen, it’s very likely the character being tested was nowhere near 575 ilvl, so we will assume 600k health was the pool the character was standard at pre-squish at level 90. With one level up, and after the squish we arrive at 63k health, meaning 3k increase from 60k roughly for the first level.
Logically, one can then say it is simply 1/10th of everything we see today on live, and that may very well be the case. This would mean I would have 70k health, and our tank would have 95k. This would also very likely mean that our DPS would be doing around 30-35k DPS, and Syiler could expect burst near 100k if lucky.
Furthering the train of thought, if we expect 3k health increase from 90 to 91, an exponential rise after this I find it logical to assume 50k extra health just from leveling, leaving us at around 100k for fresh level 100 toons. Of course, the big issue with MoP was the crazy gear scaling as the tiers came out, so provided that does NOT happen, we may see 100k each tier from gear, leaving us around 400k when the expansion ends.
The same extrapolation can be made for DPS, assuming 100k to be the norm for fresh 100, and 200-300k being towards the end. It’s important to note this is hardly different at all, and IN MY OPINION does not merit being called a “squish.” But it’s all speculation at this point… let’s move on.

Questing EXP!

The next thing we learned is the differences don’t just persist in actual stats, but also in questing. It was described to us that 579k XP was needed to go from 90 to 91and 640k to then get to 92. A third point of datum would be needed to extrapolate the exponential curve for EXP, but we can make a non-scientific guess just assuming the difference expands by half its previous each time as it approximately did in MoP. With that, we have the following curve.
EXP

While this makes sense, it’s quite obvious that once again the numbers are getting out of control and barely different than MoP, especially considering the 10 level gap instead. Either way, still dealing in speculation purely, especially without a third point of datum, so it’s best to move on to less subjective matters.

New Quest Type?!

The term “bonus objective” was hinted at before at Blizzcon and is now officially discussed, and described as:
New objectives might randomly appear in your quest list. Completing the objectives will reward you with extra experience.
This is a pretty foreign concept for WoW, especially with how much effort they put into the quest system, but shades of its theory can be see with the Champions of Pandaria rare mobs that gave as much exp as a Quest did and were hit-or-miss to find. This will likely be the same concept, this time just random world events akin to Rift or even the concept we have seen in Wildstar. Regardless, things like this really break up the questing monotony and make the zones feel alive. Here’s hoping it comes with a crisp interface so you know exactly when or where, and is more than just randomly generated NPCs. Would be amazing if it was a part of the zone!

Shadowmoon Valley 2.0!

This isn’t the SMV you remember from TBC! It’s quite the opposite really, being described as containing “lush green plains lit by the moonlight.” That quote alone makes me want to have a lucid dream, not sure about you guys…

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Anyway, the mobs in the zone seem to be quite invigorated as well, and while I don’t have images of each, it’s been said that the typical BC roaming mobs were updated to look even better and more buttery/majestic. The main ones that seem to have people’s attention include the Talbuk and Sporebat models!

In terms of architecture, we learned that the zone will have Draenei Cities, Naaru areas, Iron Horde strongholds, and obviously “Black Temple.” The zone is filled with rich colors and forests, and as we have seen in the screenshots from Blizzcon, perpetual moonlight blankets it all. Should be really interesting to see finished!

Vegetation was also discussed, along with a new visual implementation that makes the grass sway and be depressed as we walk through it. There is always one awesome change we see in the visuals each expansion and this one does not disappoint. This furthers my belief that WoW’s graphics are really impressive working with a 10 year old infrastructure.

In terms of lore of the zone, Ner’zhul is the primary antagonist, and Maraad, Velen, and other characters are your protagonists. As Jade Forest did before it, this zone contains a HUGE ending that really gets the expansion underway, and really makes me worried for my character going into it. This is a MASSIVE spoiler, so I won’t include it in the article, but either way it’s certainly taken a turn for the dramatic even after the first zone.

The final point to bring up is the most important to the expansion. The zone feels entirely different, looks entirely different, and has entirely different lore than previous SMV. For some reason (likely retard) people continue to say that this is just a re-used expansion and nothing will change. From what we have seen today, it’s pretty obvious that this is the furthest thing from truth, and many testers have described the zone as “entirely new” and “doesn’t give you a feeling of deju vu.”
This is REALLY good to hear, because if the zones were too similar it would be pretty immersion breaking for me. I have no doubt Blizzard knows what they are doing, but understand that if this isn’t done the best it can be it completely defeats the purpose.

So far, everything I have seen is amazing. Can’t wait to see even more.

Orc Female Character Model Revamp Revealed!

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As if a gift from the fates themselves, this Wednesday (Feb 19th 2014,) we received yet another look at the upcoming character model improvements to be brought in with Warlords! The last we saw was the Human Female, and now we see her Horde counterpart, the Orc Female. As per last time, we discussed first the comparisons, but also the implications of the models and what they bring to the game and the more we examine, the more we are hopeful.

RTJ1K5F4H2ZW1391792056642As you can see, there is an immediate difference in the latent facial features, making the Character feel much more alive, and less like an animated being. It is obvious to me that this is a tone they are wishing to replicate across each race; the logical response to critics of the art style claiming it to be “childish.” Other features that stand out are sheer muscle definition. We noticed this when examining the Human Female model, but its even more prevalent in the Orc. The core alone is impressible, but what catches my eye is the neck and arm definition, as well as the legs. The Human Female model had more definition put into the legs than the Orc, but when looking at this model’s upper body you really get the idea that an Orc is a ferocious being, no matter gender. It is mentioned in the article released that they are looking to go beyond the “doe-eyed” female orc and get down to a feeling of a warrior beyond gender. I dare say she looks as much like a warrior as anything I have seen! I’d be scared to run across that Orc!

As is only reasonable, we can look back at the new orc models introduced with Cataclysm via Thrall and Aggra and find these to be an ever larger step up. Many people assumed those models would be the actual ones we received for each respective Orc gender, but now that we see this is not that case, I find it even more impressive.

Aggra_Fireland_Trailer Take a moment to compare Aggra on the Left to the newest female Orc model and you will instantly notice the facial definition as well as the neck and upper body points we have already discussed.

While the actual stand-still model is impressive, I find even more so the look into the facial expressions. An image of these can be found below. Take note of the emotion put into each, and notice the differences in mouth and eyes with the variety shown. This proves that they are taking the time to not just animate our character models, but truly bring them to life, and make them feel as if they are living, breathing creatures with us as the pilot. This is a clear trend in the previews we have seen thus-far, and I can NOT be happier with the improvement. Despite literally never being zoomed in far enough to notice these things, it is extremely important to the graphical fidelity and feel of the game, a topic near-and-dear to my heart as of late.
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The final thing to take out of this week’s announcement is that Chris Robinson, Senior Art guy thingy, is responding to the mistake he made a few weeks back before the garrison preview. I have already written an entire article on that topic, which can be found here http://wow.stratics.com/edit/games-too-easy-resource-distribution-and-quality-yield/
The point is that he claimed the resources were limited and many people took it out of context to extrapolate that Blizzard were stingy with their art team and had no intentions of listening to the feedback of the community to influence such.

In this Model preview, we see the following quote:
…staying focused and keeping the scope reasonable (while still ambitious) helps us stay on track and avoid having to make painful cuts later on down the line. We really wanted to prevent that with the player-character revamp, so we made the decision early on to stay focused on improving what already exists in-game, and making sure we really nail it.

That said, we’ve also read your great ideas and feedback about features that you’d like to see as character customization options. Your collective voice matters to us, and we’d love to bring some of the coolest ideas to life someday if we can.

This is important to me because I want people to understand what is really happening with these previews. This is not something that they need to be wasting time on showing off, especially when they aren’t finished. What we are seeing here is small teasers, leading us up to what potentially may be the most explosive expansion of a game that is 10 years old come the autumn. When you keep it all in perspective you truly realize how much Blizzard as a company has matured, and can fully appreciate how much greater these models are from the ones we have played for the past 9 years. Its unfathomable to think about what the game will look like, but hopefully with all this in mind any one claiming that the art resources are being squandered gets their reality check in the mail.

Compare anything in this video game from MoP onwards to anything from when people consider the game at its peak, and you will laugh at how far its come. Today, Chris Robinson and the rest of the art and animation teams take one step further into the immortality the character models permeates, and get us even more excited for the upcoming beta!

WoD PvP Plans & Patch 5.4.7 Aftermath

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Purchasable LvL 90 Boost News

For a brief moment on the World of Warcraft US servers, as they came back online after the planned 11 hour patch / scheduled maintenance for 5.4.7’s inclusion into live servers, players were able to browse the new Blizzard store on the character select screen. At this screen it could clearly be seen that the price of the 1-90 purchasable character boost was listed as costing $60.

Image Courtesy of MMO Champion forum poster 'Zheo'

Image Courtesy of MMO Champion forum poster ‘Zheo’

During our recent podcast here on WoW Stratics, we speculated as to the planned price of this service, agreeing that it would have to be more than some of the current character services already on offer by Blizzard. To bring it in-line with the character faction changes and transfer costs, we guessed anywhere from 30-50 Dollars, there abouts. $60 is perhaps slightly more than we originally expected, yet it becomes clear to me if you think about that for a second that this is a direct reflection of the intended use of the service.

To prevent miss-use and an incredibly large amount of fresh level 90’s being present in the game, which would hamper the efforts of those who level through the actual content is obviously the highest concern. The price is of course at the date of this article un-confirmed, and comparative conversions between currencies are particularly unhelpful as to the possible cost for EU players either. The general feedback across social media was majorly fixated on the cost compared to the price of the actual game ($40), leading to many people to be outspoken and generally concerned for the path that Blizzard could take with this first move towards paying for player advancement in game. However unlikely it may be, the concern is stiall particularly very real, especially with many other MMO’s out there switching to a Free-To-Play model with microtranactions, which many believe is a step towards ‘Pay-To-Win’. As much as i would like to agree that this move does pose the question of wheather in 3-4 years we could see gear purchasable in-game on the store, i have to believe that this concern is out-weighed by the fact that Blizzard and World of Warcraft are still holding on to the most played, and popular franchises in the industry, and as such any decision that would endanger any subscriber numbers, nor the experience of those who play their games would be highly against their own ethical and practiced standards. Time will tell, butat this point it’s too early to be grabbing the pitch forks and forming outside Blizzard HQ in California.

PvP in Warlords of Draenor

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All this over-dramatised, unconfirmed, yet still likely information unfortunately overshadowed the actual Blizzard reveal of the day, which regards the plans in Warlords of Draenor for changing PvP.

Originally the ‘Trial of The Gladiator’ system was referenced back at Blizzcon 2013; a system that would reward players based on closer competitive arena gameplay, where upon individuals would adorn special ‘ToTG’ Gear, used only for this system to create a level and equal playing field for combatants in the competition. This it was confirmed today has been scrapped in consideration of the accessibility of the feature and the mentioned lack of incentive for new players to experience this side of PvP. As this system get’s pulled, Blizzard go on today to mention a new system which allows for players to also queue for unranked arena both with friends or alone for additional rewards such as Honor or a small increase in Conquest points for the session. The focus on PvP and its more broad appeal is key to the plans for WoD’s PvP, and allows for some interesting opportunities within the E-Sport scene.

The planned ‘Arena Skirmishes’ System, as it’s dubbed is a potentially much more positive addition to the PvP within World of Warcraft than the Trial system would have been. To further extenuate the focus on more competitive, yet accessible Arena in WoW, Blizzard’s last additional Paragraph on today’s press release mentions the importance of E-Sport involvement and private tournaments, and as such are working towards implementation of a ‘Spectator Mode’, which will allow extra members to join a skirmish match as spectators, giving Add-on developers the opportunity to create delivery methods based on internal infrastructure. This is definitely a long awaited, and asked for addition, which it would seem will now further not just the PvP scene in general in game, but also increase the E-Sport’s availability and accessibility worldwide.

beforeandafter

LIVE PvP Changes in 5.4.7

Further PvP news today saw changes to Alterac Valley, in a rather strange, and somewhat unexpected series of changes, Blizzard have actually altered parts of the Alterac valley Battleground to feature both raised ground on the Horde side of the map near to Drekthar and the bunkers around that area (see screenshots) and also added an extra piece of wall to an area near a tower, presumably to prevent access from the rear and bottleneck teams against each other in the central courtyard without worry that they are being secretly flanked. This is one of the few actual physical changes to the game in this patch, but nonetheless worth mentioning.

 

522 Item LVL pieces for Honor

522 Item LVL pieces for Honor

Additionally, MAJOR PvP implications come with the Patch in form of purchasable 522 Item Level gear for honor. The previous season has ended, and as such what previously cost Conquest points. The gear iteself does require a certain amount of Honor to have been earnt this season, however this does crush the item level entry requirements for PvE’s LFR system and indeed allows people to aquire enough Item Level to get into Flex groups. This is a negative, and obviously troublesome inclusion, as it will reduce the quality of players within those arguabley difficult to exectute encounters. Unless raid leaders inspect each person individually to confirm the quality of the gear they are wearing, it’s extremely likely that this will cause confusion and unwanted stress within the comminity, which until now had aquired a simplistic way of confirming if somebody would be an addition to your group or not. Many players will certainly do this now, as it completely circumnavigates the older LFR raids that you would need to otherwise gear through. Many of my alts included would be foolish not to grab a few pieces of the last seasons gear to allow them to queue into Siege LFR. It’s fairly certain that this unseen implication will no doubt be raised in discussion in the near future, especially with the continuous argument of weather PvP gear and PvE gear should be usable outside their respective environment, a discussion perhaps for a future Podcast episode.

That about wraps up today’s news, along with the aftermath report on Patch 5.4.7, if you have any questions or opinions you would like to share with us here at Stratics, you can continue to conversation over at our dedicated WoW forums.

Thank you for reading, keep up to date with all the latest news as it unfolds as we float towards the beta of Warlords of Draenor by bookmarking our site today!

 

Further, additional information and patch notes for the latest patch can be found here:

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/12592415/547-ptr-patch-notes-february-11-2-11-2014

Game’s Too Easy? – Resource Distribution and Quality Yield!

Resources

Hello and welcome to the series “Game’s too Easy?” Within, Metro will sarcastically discuss any number of assorted topics in an attempt to dispel myths and hearsay surrounding such. The focus of today’s discussion will be a direct response to people claiming resources are being spent in the wrong places and that Blizzard is using some content as a cop-out to avoid negative criticism of other content. The goal of the article will to help people understand that there is nothing to doubt in terms of the game’s quality, and that the Garrison art truly would require huge investment.

The topic began when the Art Team released a statement revealing some plans they had for Garrisons, and things they did not plan to implement. The big statement was made when, in answering a question, the following was said:

Certainly there will be updates and changes as the expansion progresses, but I don’t believe there’s any current intention to add full sets of additional buildings. If we were to work on those for an expansion patch it would quite literally come at the cost of a raid tier. That is where that work would come from. We have to make decisions on how to spend our time.

This response was made on the 8th of February, and since then there has been non-stop complaining about Blizzard holding content hostage to leverage other forms. This should come as no surprise to anyone, as 90 percent of the people who make these comments obviously have never actually played the game at any high level or even looked at the world we received in Mists of Pandaria.

Of course, Chris Robinson, Lead Art Designer / Lead Noob Publicist, could certainly have chosen his words a bit better. Even if it’s the truth, the statement leads one to believe that

You can tell by his front image that he is new to social media!

You can tell by his front image that he is new to social media!

Blizzard makes no plans of doing anything further with Garrisons, makes no plans of listening to feedback on them or surrounding their improvement, and has their plan set in stone with no room for deviation. Once again, even if this IS true, you don’t say it.

Despite this huge blunder, it should never have come to this sort of reaction, because we know just what we received with Mists of Pandaria, and we have seen the art released at Blizzcon… unless…

Wait… is it possible that these people lashing out HAVEN’T actually taken the time to explore the world and raids, or check out the amazing zone and concept art released with Blizzcon? Yes. Yes, is the answer, obviously. Unfortunately for all parties involved, this was just one huge misunderstanding created by someone who is clearly still adjusting to having a voice that has influence, and responded to people who are critics of a game they haven’t truly played.

To prove this, we will examine the two fundaments of the argument and debunk both. Step one is addressing the fact that Blizzard holds content hostage in order to create other content. This is evident in the argument when people claim things like:

That said, their constant “…at the cost of a raid tier…” excuse is getting old. We should just call their bluff and say sacrifice the raid tier and give us race-specific buildings for our garrisons.

The quoted person obviously believes this to be true, which is laughable to me coming off the MoP expansion. Perhaps in Cataclysm this was evident, but any notion should have been thrown out the window when looking back on all we received. Let’s break down every addition to the game that immediately comes to mind via patch order, shall we?

5.0 -
4 Huge Daily hubs,
3 New Raids,
Challenge Mode 5 man Dungeons + Amazing gear and Mounts along with,
Pet Battle system + hundreds of unique pets and quests,
“Farm” system – foundation for the Garrison technology,
Hundreds of open world exploration points – Achievements and otherwise tied to nothing else but to foster exploration,
Scenario System.
Epic Lore-driven Legendary Questline.

5.1 -
Brawler’s guild,
Phased Dominance Offensive Daily hub and months’ worth of  storyline.
Gear Upgrades via Valor Points
5 Additional Scenarios
“Raid” requirement removed from old raid, battle pets dropping from Classic raid content.

5.2 -
Expansive new Raid – Throne of Thunder,
Isle of Thunder – Dynamically changing Daily Quest hub,
Two new components to the Legendary Questline, including solo-scenarios and much more lore,
New World Bosses + new global tag system,
Tons of class changes and new abilities.

5.3 -
New Battleground – Deepwind Gorge,
New Arena – The Tiger’s Peak
Four new scenarios
Heroic Scenario concept and rewards,
New Questline and Area: “Escalation” and “Battlefield: Barrens,”
Whole new teirs in Brawler’s Guild,
Massive overhaul of Pet Battle System and abilities.

5.4 -
Expansive new Raid – Siege of Orgrimmar,
Entirely new “flexible” difficulty allowing easier difficulty raiding with any number of people,
Timeless isle – replacement for Daily hubs with tons of achievements and ways to explore,
Proving Grounds,
Redesigned Arena System,
Expansion of the Legendary quest story,
Crazy story elements that wrap up an entire expansion.
And not to mention… CONNECTED REALMS!

So I think it’s pretty safe to say that obviously they aren’t cutting corners here, especially when it comes to art. The Timeless isle and SoO are enough to solidify this for me but when you look at all the other things we received with each patch it’s truly amazing how much we receive for our subscription fee. I mean Connected Realms and Flex alone are HUGE features that equate to more than a patch worth of resources. How can anyone who has paid attention to this laundry list of changes make a comment saying that “it’s getting old” if Blizzard says they have too much on their plate as is… These people must not remember BC patches, when all that was added was new raid content and class changes!

The second piece of this puzzle is that Blizzard is claiming the Art Department to be in too deep as is, and can’t spend any more time on Garrisons, otherwise it would make the quality of raid content and its surroundings suffer. People counter-claim that Blizzard is simply being lazy and mishandling its resources, and copping out of their agreement to create great content.

Once again, I find people claiming this to be utterly clueless and obviously having lacked any real experience in the content released with the expansion. For this section I will let pictures do the talking. Take a look at some of the scenes we received with MoP and tell me if you think they are slacking in any way.

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Entrance to the Throne in ToT.

Terrace-of-Endless-Spring

ToES Panoramic View

 

 

 

 

 

Pandaria 2

Example of how beautiful and detailed a zone can be now-a-days!

 

 

timelessIntro03

Timeless Isle World Boss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now if you still aren’t convinced let’s have a look at the actual Garrison preview that was released a few weeks later. Any man with eyes should immediately realize just what kind of time and resources have been put into this project, and hopefully by now have retracted their previous statements on this topic. If these images don’t help you realize that the amount of time to make this IS actually equatable to a new raid, I don’t know what game you are playing!

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Old v New

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Notice the detail of the spill of the fine material next to its container!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Notice the level of work gone into not only the structure but the grass and trees around it!

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Horde sneak-peak!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, there are still some stubborn enough to disagree, and it would be foolish to expect otherwise. All I can say is that seeing these images, and playing MoP for as long as it’s been available has been a HUGE step up from Cataclysm or anything before it.  We are receiving shorter patch cycles and far more content per patch, so no matter what the plan is for WoD I am entirely behind it and cannot wait to experience the world of we will step in to. After all we have seen, it is sure to be the best yet!

Threads Involving Discussion:

http://blue.mmo-champion.com/topic/293810-you-get-x-or-a-new-raid-tier/

http://blue.mmo-champion.com/topic/293879-artcraftbuilding-a-garrison/

Patch 5.4.7 Out this week!

thisweek

That’s right! Long awaited news of anything progressing us one step closer to Warlords of Draenor came earlier today, featuring information data mined from plans to deploy the patch this week.

So what does this patch contain? :

This patch brings with it the end of PvP season 14, preparing the game for season 15, which is said to contain similar modelled gear to 14, but with slight recolours. If you want to do some last minute achievement hunting for this season, you need to get it done now! For those of you more concerned with Blizzard’s recent announced feature of the level 90 boost service, those elements are indeed contained within this patch, weather or not the option to actually use the service on patch day or not, still remains a mystery, however it’s very likely that many of the features of the patch simply lay the groundwork for more well announced releases of this and other features prior to the pre-order stage of Warlords of Draenor, expected within the next few weeks.

Old players, now is your time to come back to the game! Following the planned addition of the ability to boost characters via the in-game store, Blizzard are taking out Scroll of Ressurection. SoR was a valuable tool, used for returning old players who haven’t played since the older expansions back to the game with rewards such as a free boost to level 80 for a character of theirs and a mount. The service will be defunct with the new boosting service and so is the last chance to possibly get the spectral Gryphon and Spectral Windrider mounts, faction based respectively. This follows the pressure on account trading issues which also unfortunately came with SoR, and the removal and improved replacement of these services only go’s to clean up the game for everyone a little bit more.

Lastly, but hardly least on the glorious additions data mined from this patch is confirmation that the pre-order of Warlords of Draenor and subsequent proof that the pre-order will be very, very soon. The Collector’s edition mount, and pet are within the patch files, which means that we could see beta access within the next month at the very latest!

Featured here are images of both the ‘Dread Raven’ CE Mount for WoD, and the CE Pet based on the same model. Both of which you aquire via the purchase of the Collectors edition version of WoD:

dread-raven-exclusive-wod-mount

Again all of the main features of the patch are subsequent to announcements from Blizzard themselves, but with the patch definitely coming out this week with the weekly maintenance, you can be sure that the WoD news here on Stratics has just begun!

3rd Stratics Level 1 Treasure Hunt!

WoW_Warlords-of-Draenor_06-buffed

What’s up guys, Stratics here!  With another Level 1 Treasure Hunt for you! Things have changed slightly from the last one but the general rules are still in place, you will be creating a Level 1 Troll of any class you prefer. No using any gear apart from the basic gear the character begins with (No Heirlooms etc), no using level one mounts such as the riding turtle, no getting someone to help you during the race. Basically you are on your own and you run and die! Thats the goal of this event so no meta gaming it!

The Even will be hosted on Twitch.tv/syiler

You will need to collect four items from four “NPCS” once you collect those four items you must reach the final NPC where you will trade your four items for your prize item! Each of the NPC locations will be posted via a screenshot on this page so make sure you keep it open! When the first NPC has been discovered the second image will appear here!

Good Luck!

 

The first-place winner will be awarded 20 GBP Stratics Credit on the Blizzard Store! With this, you can choose any combination of items that equate, such as:

1x Mount,
2x Game Time,
1x Game Time + 1x Pet,
etc.

 

First NPC Location

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Second NPC Location

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Third NPC Location

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Four NPC Location

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Fifth NPC Location

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World Of Warcraft Ingame Memorials

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There are many examples of homages and tributes to real life friends or family of the developers and other staff members of Blizzard. Almost all are a  memory of a loved one who left the world suddenly, but now live forever in the world that they were in some way part of.

Crusader Bridenbrad

Lone warrior in the cold and windy Icecrown. He has been infected with the plague and knows he will die. The player’s task, is to do anything in his/her power to save the brave and noble crusader. But even with all the effort, we are unable to save him. This takes place in the Lich King expansion and is an homage to the brother of Robert Bridenbecker, Vice President of Online Technologies, Bradford C. Bridenbecker. He died from cancer in 2007 and the quest chain was created as a tribute to him.

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Ahab Wheathoof

Almost every Tauren has met with this old farmer, he is standing next to the wooden bridge, looking for his dog Kyle who is running around the Bloodhoof Village. The quest and the character are the creations of Blizzard and young Ezra Chatterton, who visited Blizzard with Make-A-Wish Foundation. Ezra also helped to design the Merciless Gladiator´s Crossbow Of The Phoenix and was the first person ever, to receive the Ashes Of Al´ar. After his 20 month long bout against brain cancer, Ezra passed away in 2008, and starting from 2009, during the Lunar Festival, Blizzard renamed one of the NPC´s from Elder Proudhorn to Elder Ezra Wheathoof in memory of Ezra.

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Shrine Of The Fallen Warrior

If you are of the Horde, you have seen it, even if you’re a member of the Alliance, you have seen it, has been there for a long time, it was there when I started the game. The dead body of an Orc on the mountain, initials MK engraved in the stone he is laying on, next to him, a spirit healer named Koiter. This is a memorial to a young Blizzard illustrator Michael Koiter, who died suddenly aged 19 in 2004, while World Of Warcraft was still in development.

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Elloric The Hunter

In Pandaria, in the Seat Of Knowledge, stands a lone night elf, just reading a map, his name is Elloric and he is a tribute to Michael, a hunter from the guild La Familia De Stonewall who died from an asthma attack on New Years Day 2013 aged 29. His partner, friends and guildmates held an ingame memorial service a few days after his passing and the service was recorded and uploaded to YouTube. The map reading is not a random thing, it´s a part of Michael´s time in World Of Warcarft, as he was often lost and constantly reading the map for guidance.

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Owen´s Wishing Well

In the Jade Forest, in the middle of the thickest shrubbery, you can find a well, a wishing well, and if you drop a coin in, you will be granted a Made A Wish buff. The well and all things around it, were created by Blizzard for 16 year old Brian Wicks, a fan of the game, who had started playing at the age 8. He visited Blizzard via Make A Wish foundation. He was suffering from a bone cancer and in 2012 he passed away, but before he passed, his parents were able to show him the Well, in Mist Of Pandaria beta. His name will always be remembered in a game that kept him close to his family, gave him something else to think during his brave fight against cancer, in a game that he played for the half of life.

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WoW Stratics Podcast #2 ~ Pay for Instant 90 Boost?

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Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome back to the official WoW Stratics Podcast!
The project is a joint effort by everyone here at the WoW Stratics writing team, and challenges topics regularly with special guests, interviews, news, community integration and much, much more!
Our Hosts include:
Syiler, the Managing Editor of WoW Stratics,
Metro; a 25 player heroic raider and raid leader of the guild <ONE> at Firetree Horde US,
Samkos; A relatively new player to the game, and
Meoni, a fellow 25 man raider and resident timekeeper here on the show!


 

This episode features our varied opinions on the topic, and its implications specifically in regards to whom will be most effected and what it means for the game going forward. Without question, its a very diverse topic and we all had strong feelings on it going into the cast, so we opted out of a guest this week for the sake of brevity. Look forward to more guests to come with subsequent episodes!

The Podcast is available on the site as a stream and on our official Itunes channel, available free to download for your listening pleasure, no matter where you are!
So what are you waiting for? Go listen in today!

If you have any comments or opinions on the shows content please do head over to our forums for an in-depth discussion!

Treasured Memories : The Nightmare Dragons

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Many events in this game strike strong nostalgic responses from my brain, times with certain guilds, people I used to play with that since left the game. These memories make me look back on elements of the game with rose-tinted glasses, often forgetting terrible implementations and bugs that would ordinarily render the content incredibly awkward and time consuming to complete. One such event is the culmination of my own boredom and exploration, the discovery of the Nightmare Dragons scattered around the world of Azeroth.

Ysera, the great Dragon Aspect of nature had four powerful lieutenants; each one slowly became corrupted by the dark powers that have since plagued the Emerald Dream into a nightmare. The cause of the corruption is theorised to be closely related to a yet to be unveiled Old God presence, predicted to be that of N’Zoth, allowing for the idea that the original vision of a perfect world (one without mortal life) was not pure and as perfect as the Titans envisioned, and as such the corrupted reach of this old god forced the corruption to spread within the Dream as it could manifest itself into a wide array of mortals and in this case Dragons who meditate within this plane.

Nightmare

The four lieutenants each came into contact with this disturbing corruption through their meditation, Lethon; the mighty behemoth of an elder drake was changed forever in his exposure to an aberration of the Dream. His scales pitted colour and he was granted the ability to extract shades from his enemies, sapping the strength of those he extracts and returning that strength to his body in the form of healing. His appearance in one of the four world boss encounters in World of Warcraft mirrored this ability, and made for an extremely difficult move set to manage during his encounter, thus he was considered a rather high dps check.

Secondly was Emeriss; a once graceful member of the flight encountered a rather grotesque form of corruption upon his contact with the Nightmare. His scales became frail and his very flesh began to rot with disease. The encounter in game reflects his dying nature and those who die in battle to Emeriss spawn mushrooms, erupting from their corpses causing horrible disease effects and painful damage over time spells.

Third on the list is Ysondre; one of Ysera’s more entitled and highly thought of lieutenants. Ysondre’s encounters with the corrupted Dream caused her to look into the darkness and see only fear. Once her powerful healing magic’s were a blessing to her flight, but now through these changes she bestows only her darkest fears onto the world. Her horror spreads throughout her encounter in game as she casts ‘Smouldering Lightning’, an ability that summons other trapped druidic spirits from the dream to aid her in battle, swarming the player with countless adds and spewing actual fear effects throughout your raid group. Ysondre’s fearful encounter with the Dream twisted her mind and she mentions her blame of this corruption on Azeroth itself, believing that the very world itself cursed her in this torment.

Lastly, the fourth lieutenant was Taerar. This dragon was arguably more affected by the corrupting effects of the dream than any other. His scales were not changed like Lethon, but his entire body was forfeit in his contact with the corruption. He very literally became a spectre of his former self, a twisted, insane remnant of a dragon, cursing the world and wanting to bring his insane thoughts into existence in the real world. The encounter shows him capable of splitting himself into multiple copies, each one wielding powerful destructive magic. This works to his strategy, ganging up on players with multiple targets and extremely high damage from his multiple spell output.

The most unique thing about the Nightmare Dragons is their placement, alongside each of 4 world trees around the world of Azeroth, out in the open game world. Open world bosses had extremely awkward implementations into the game at the time, with many of the tactical approach simply negated by the sheer volume of participants in each fight. The entire zone would be instantly populated upon the spawn of one of the dragons, and guilds on each server would fight to tag the boss for their group. Failure to tag the boss would result in forced dirty tactics to try and wipe the guild or team that DID have the tag on the boss and in some cases taunting the boss and leashing it to reset the boss was a familiarised tactic.

Fortunately I never played the game at the time of the 4 dragon’s relevance; personally I entered the game half way through the release of The Burning Crusade. I still experienced the dragons before their inevitable removal in Cataclysm and have fond memories of grouping with some of my friends at the time and fighting them, still experiencing some of the pain and suffering that the abilities of each drake provided, but in a more controlled, less laggy environment. It’s sad their removal from the game came to pass, however it did allow Blizzard to learn from their mistakes, leaving world bosses almost completely out of the loop until they could properly develop technology to allow for a fix to the tagging and complicated, rage inducing problems that plagued that time of the game.

In Mists of Pandaria we were given such technology in game, and now tagging a boss for loot does not require you to be in a group, let alone one with the person who originally hit the boss at the time of its pull. So many quality of life changes now exist in the game, and many of them are possibly more underappreciated as they maybe should be, and adds a more polished experience than could ever be achieved in 2005.

Memories are one thing, but my understanding of what made content good is not based on what it is I’m playing, but rather who it is I play with. The dragons were implemented as well as they could have been for the time, but their removal was expected and understandable, but I would rather that time be forgotten and one day perhaps revisited with the improved technology at developer disposal. I will always have a token of this time in the extremely rare ‘Nightmare Blade’. A reminder like many in my guild bank, of a time I played with people I no longer can.

The Nightmare Blade

The Nightmare Blade

Please enjoy this attached video of another element of the Nightmare Dragon storyline, where the events talked about manifest in a world event, which was part of the Sceptre of The Shifting Sands storyline, and crucial to the opening of the gates of AQ 40. :

If you have enjoyed this article, please share it around and let me know what special Treasured memories you have had in the World of Warcraft universe!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTDupiVjRbQ

25H Spoils of Pandaria – Metro’s Healing Guide!

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Welcome to Metro’s 25 man Heroic Healing guides for the Siege of Orgrimmar! It is important to understand that these guides are first aimed at helping healers understand their role, and then helping them maximize their play. Each will feature a general overview of the mechanics that matter to the healers, and conclude with a class-specific discussion. Let’s begin!

Understanding the encounter –

Not quite the healing masterpiece we have seen here, Heroic Boxes (as I like to refer to it) will put you to the test for other reason, almost entirely centered on the Mistweaver buff box.

I’ll assume you guys understand what this is, and know the importance of opening those boxes, but you likely didn’t realize just how over powered the buff can be! It’s known as the Staff of Resonating Waters, and buffs the player to shoot out a wave of water that heals anyone in splashes, but more important damages any mobs it comes in contact with! There is an 8 second internal cooldown on this proc, but when it hits, it delivers. The buff itself will have the healers doing well into 100k DPS ranges seen in the picture below. You’ll see an actual DPS shaman (without the DPS buff) doing barely 70k DPS less than myself and Vicario (two healers). More importantly, look at the uptime! If that hit every few seconds we would easily be doing more DPS than most actual damage specced players.

Two Healers doing more DPS combined than 1 actual DPS!

Two Healers doing more DPS combined than 1 actual DPS!

The next concern is the Spark that spawns with each box killed. This is a job for the DPS and you if you have the buff, but most importantly be aware if one is about to explode. With a CD timed well, you can easily recover and it’s not the end of the world. You can even plan on having some explode and simply healing through it, but I wouldn’t recommend that.

The only other thing to understand about the fight is the order the boxes are being open. I’ll add this information for the benefit of your raid and preface it by saying we tried the strategy accomplished by most of the first kills of it. The original strategy was to avoid the second large box and simply open everything else constantly, allowing the DPS requirement to be bent by using the buffs and AOE to a maximum. However, the current strategy we switched to is sooooo much easier to heal and deal with, so it’s simply on the DPS to get their jobs done.

Mantid-

1 Big 2 Smalls – Kill
2-3 Mediums until all dead- stress dispels
1 Big 2 Smalls

Mogu-

1 Big 1 Small- Kill
2 Medium 1 Small- Kill
2 Medium 1 Small- Kill
2 Medium 1 Small- Kill
1 Big

Total per side-

2 Large, 6 Medium, 4 Small

Understanding the Healer’s Role –

On this fight, your role is very straightforward. No matter what strategy you employ, if you have the Mistweaver Staff buff, you are a golden god, carved from the image of Zeus. You will carry this encounter if you do what I say, so listen up.

With the buff active, keep as many incidental heals rolling as possible. It will proc from hots, so to maximize the 8 second ICD you need to make sure heals are rolling without casts. With that done, next step is pivoting the direction your character is facing. It’s important to realize that the buff is a frontal projection, and if you studied Geometry you will realize that it’s going to be very possible to hit every single target that can be hit if you are stood at the right location.

Learning positioning here is vital, and will be the difference from you doing 110k dps as I do, or 60k dps as others may. The first goal here is mastery over both your camera and your facing direction. Holding the right mouse button down and swinging the mouse around is the best way to obtain this. Using keys such as “A” and “D” is typically frowned on anyway, so you hopefully have mastered this long before this encounter. Regardless, using it allows you to quickly pivot from facing the boxes to facing the sparks.

The goal is simply to give yourself a position to hit the adds from boxes, the players in the raid, and the sparks with the same blast every 8 seconds. It won’t always be easy, but the more you attempt the encounter the easier you’ll find it and the more obvious the pattern will be. I CAN’T STRESS ENOUGH how important this is. It is your job to master this about anything else, and if you can execute it well, you will carve an EASY 30 seconds off the encounter.

The healing requirement is really quite paltry as well, but since we have an odd number of players, we choose to 5 heal, allowing the same amount of DPS on both sides. The Mogu box room is always in need of the extra DPS either way, so we opt to switch players in and out depending. Here is an example:

Green side marker starts on Mantid with 3 healers – Myself (Holy Paladin), Holy Priest, and Resto Druid.
Blue side marker starts on Mogu with 2 healers – Disp Priest, Holy Paladin.

When both sides complete the first half, I switch from one Mantid side to the other and one strong DPS heads over from Mogu to Mogu. This gives us good coverage on Mantid side, which has a lot of constant damage happening, yet enough DPS to complete the trial.

Let’s break down our healing strategy for each side in order to further elucidate the task.

Mantid -

The main concern is the Massive Crate add known as the Ka’thik Demolisher. It will permeate raid-wide pulsing magic damage to everyone on the side it’s on, so it’s very important to have a good rotation of CDs for the duration of its existence. This will happen twice given the strategy we explored earlier, so make sure you know when and where to use what. For the first crate, I throw my 1-min hammer CD down on the group of melee and mobs to double dip, then use Devo after that fades. Our Resto Druid uses Tranquility towards the 50 percent mark on the mob. For the second one, I pop DG and Divine Hymn comes from our Holy Priest, after a Devo from our Ret Paladin.

Another big source of damage is the Gusting Bomb and the Windstorm mechanics. Both are unavoidable to some degree, especially as melee, so it’s important that the three healers here work hard to keep them alive through spikey times. The tornado from the Windstorm will inevitably pass through the group, and it follows a circular path, so moving out isn’t feasible, whereas the Gusting Bomb will shoot our towards the ranged DPS, leaving a trail of damage for the melee to be stood in until they react.

Mogu –

The mogu side is far more rudimentary and brute-force. The only concern provided the mechanics are handled properly are the adds from the Massive Crates. There are four options, but they each do one giant pulse of AOE magic damage, that is telegraphed wildly. To deal with this, simply use a CD one each one, and provided your DPS is adequate, there should only be 2 casts per mob, meaning 4 total, 5 if unlucky. One Devo, spirit link, tranq, smoke bomb, or AMZ is more than enough, and will trivialize the one mechanic that needs healing.

The only other concern would be the Torment debuff, which does a fixed amount of initial damage, and stacking shadow damage overtime. Just monitor the stacks, and make sure you don’t dispel immediately. A few seconds is all you need, and the less dispels the better honestly, furthering the case for 2 healing this room.

Class Specific Tips –

Holy Paladin: Freedom/BoP the slow on Mogu side to avoid a dispel. Keep Eternal Flame on as many targets as possible to ensure the buff proc every 8 seconds. Use Light’s Hammer to ensure maximum DPS double dipping! Bubble around 2 seconds left on “Set to Blow” and then run around and clear whatever other bombs are left – be sure to not be near people when doing so!

Open the largest box first!

Approach Christmas as you would Spoils and you may find yourself having more fun!

Resto Shaman: Interrupt and Purge as much as humanly possible. Windwalk totem to remove all the slows on Mogu side. Spiritwalker’s Grace while running around dropping bombs to negate mechanic on Mantid side.

Resto Druid: Use Tranq preemptively on Mogu side to negate the explosion – prepare do not react!

Holy / Disp Priest: Lifegrip players returning from placing bombs. Use Divine Hymn or Barrier preemptively on Mogu side to negate mechanic – Don’t react, anticipate! Put feathers or Body/Soul on players opening boxes to make them even quicker to get between.

Misty Monk: Tough fight, as channeling snaps the character. Consider full-time fist weaving and double dip AOE cleave on to multiple adds. Massive downside to monks – either channel and cast at range and constantly snap away from where you need to face with buff, or be in melee and hit only half the targets.

TLDR Recap –

Number 1 priority is mastering the use of the Mistweaver staff buff, all else is insignificant to amount of healing and damage a healer can put out with its proper use. Consider 5 healing, and switching the extra healer between sides so there are always 3 on Mantid. Be preemptive with CDs to make the one healing mechanic trivial.

As always, this guide is from the perspective of a Holy Paladin in 25 man heroic raid leadership perspective. Experience is limited when it comes to priest and monk healers, so if you have input feel free to join the conversation! Otherwise, if you have any questions feel free to ask! Enjoy SoO!