Active Mana Regen Trashed – A Return to Classic Healing!

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Hey. This is a rant about mana regen. Now that we both understand this, let’s talk about why this is a rant, and in my opinion, why making regen completely passive is a lazy and silly decision.

It’s important to understand Blizzard’s train of thought with any expansion and its changes, and this one is clear as a bell to me. Essentially, it is a facet of ability pruning that effects core mechanics of not only a class, but the entire holy trinity meta and game itself.

When they decided they were going ahead with ability pruning, they were actively seeking a few goals. The first goal was achieved quite easily, in the removal of spells people VERY rarely used. For paladins, this included Hand of Salvation, while another example is Scare Beast for Hunters. Personally, I love this decision. It kind of sucks losing a few abilities just because they didn’t work that well, and it does feel like “dumbing the game down” but in the end I am happier to have the free key binds, and people learning specs (especially for CM!) will be able to focus more on their core mechanics instead of their estranged utility spells.

The band Mana is also upset. It's not just me.

The band Mana is also upset. It’s not just me.

The next goal was to consolidate a lot of abilities that had two similar uses but were often used together. This was also very easy to attain, as we saw abilities like Avenging Wrath – Divine Favor, Recklessness – Skull Banner, as well as Rune Strike – Death Coil, all merge into a new shell. Once again, I see this is an advancement for a specific reason. Having abilities that differ slightly be combined clears up a LOT more room for other important key binds. This is especially important while tanking, but can also be a great benefit to healers who do a lot more than just heal.

The final goal, or at least the one we stop at, was to make healing and tanking more active and controllable. Those two words are very important: “Active” and “Controllable.”
This was a much taller task for Blizzard, but it appears they hit a home run with Tanking especially. The “control” aspect of tanking is that you now have stats to directly increase your survivability, along with abilities. On top of this, they have removed Vengeance and replaced it with Resolve, which is essentially the exact same thing, only it doesn’t effect your dps at all, just your self preservation.

In order to make it more “active,” we learn that while tanks lose essentially zero active mitigation abilities, while seeing some even get buffs. On top of this, the Resolve change is massive to an individual’s play style. A Brewmaster Monk tank now is the poster child for this system. They take a LOT of damage in 3+ mob packs, but because of the scaling with Resolve, their healing and absorbs are absolutely ludicrous. Keep in mind, this is level 90 – 92 experience, so its extremely likely this will not be as severe at 100, but regardless, it should still be relative.

So in summation, tanks have their golden generation, and seemingly both changes are quite enjoyable. But what about healers? Time to go full rant mode.

 

The “Control” of healers is known as “triage healing” by everyone who has been following the game. This means that heals are very tightly controlled with fixed variables to counteract the tanking damage on equally fixed intervals. The best way to describe this is if you heal some one with your basic healing spell 100 percent of the time, then they will be constantly healed enough to stay alive when taking normal circumstances of damage. However, when taking extraordinary amounts of damage, you may have to supplicate the basic heals with some high-throughput spells. This crosses over into the “Active” category here.

When discussing the “active” side of Triage Healing, you quickly understand exactly what is at stake. For a healer in 5 man content, its extremely likely there will be 5 targets to heal constantly, especially in higher difficulties than the ones I have tested thus far. Knowing this, you now have to make a very active choice. Who get’s what type of heal? Perhaps the mage can handle an instant cast Holy Shock, while the tank needs a quick Flash of Light, but I can spend Holy Power on some AoE healing.

Its all very decision oriented, and I personally see my self LOVING it, especially in raids. Maybe not so much in small group content where you are alone, but my favorite thing about healing is working together as a team.

But wait, you say? Oh yes, I did miss something, didn’t I. There is another side to the coin than simply pressing heals in WoW. Or at least, there was in previous expansions. Not anymore!

Blizzard has officially confirmed their intent to effectively remove mana bars from the game again, but this time go even further off the deep end. Why I relate it to Classic, is because in 40 man environments with literally no way to regen mana other than not casting for 5 seconds, you just chose your weakest spell and spammed it 100 percent of the time, and never relented unless strange circumstances existed. This was very important at the time, because it assured you did as minimal overhealing as possible, but helped you maximize your mana pool as well.

Now, its the same flavor, just with a few different toppings. Instead of having to be ultra conservative about your spell usage to prevent mana loss, you will do so to maximize mana regeneration. Currently in the Alpha, if you just cast your weakest spell 100 percent of the time, you actually gain mana! And thats at FIVE HUNDRED ITEM LEVEL! Obviously, there is a lot of tweaking to be done there, but why this is so off the chains is that it gives you way too much wiggle room in a model that is supposed to be all about control. Instead, now each spell cast that consumes mana needs to be 100 percent effective, especially in raids, otherwise you wasted your time. In 5 healing Mythic situations, the niche that will most certainly will be carved travels the path of BC healing. You simply have healers select a target and heal them with your most efficient heal every global. When there is more healing needed, you use your best heals, and then regen. In this case, regen means going back to using your most efficient heal every global.

The system they elected against, in case you aren’t aware after reading the Blue Post, was that you regen very little mana natively, but have 1-2 spells that cost an important resource and regen large chunks of mana. So instead of making healing decisions about healing, and giving globals dedicated to regen, they have now combined the two into one watered down system where spell selection is chosen by default based on the encounter’s damage.

Phew, OK sorry. Had to get that off my chest. Its very likely I am being far too critical, but what I fear the most is the end tiers just being a complete disaster. I mean, if we are able to regen our entire bars in a few seconds now, won’t the end tiers just fall prey to the same issue as we had in Wrath? They will have to FORCE us to use our best throughput spells constantly to make up for the difference in spirit. This will lead to tanks getting crushed, and the Triage concept once again completely out the window.

I hope this isn’t the case, I am REALLY looking forward to trying this in a raid environment. I love the concept of keeping many people alive but never really having everyone topped off. But if my mana bar isn’t moving while doing so, then I can’t say it would be nearly as exciting.

To close, I will give a current example of the situation they elected against, and how it has worked for years.

Potion of Concentration and Potion of Mana. This is the pillar of success for this concept and its been in the game for 7 years! The choice is whats important. You have to make a decision whether to use the Potion of Mana, regen a little mana, but continue throughput – OR – use the Potion of Concentration, regen a good amount of mana, but sacrifice all spells for 10 seconds. Every healing guide I make includes discussion of where the two potions fit into the equation, and I was REALLY looking forward to regen sections as well.

Instead, all our choices are just secondary traits of our actual healing spells. In an act of going to far on the side of “control,” we have lost some very important “active” concepts that will very likely come back to haunt us. Mark my words as you read them. This will change. It may not be in the Alpha, it may not be in the Beta, but it will not carry out as it is currently before the final tier (6.4.) Its the oversimplification that many people cry about, and for the most part it makes sense. Here is the one case where it does not.

Now mana can stay in the pool, where it belongs!

Now mana can stay in the pool, where it belongs!

Dramatic Visual Upgrades – Metro’s Opinion!

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Graphics and visual fidelity are a known sticking point for me, but I wont say I predicted or called this. No, there is no reason to be this smug or proud. What I will say, however, is that in the later years of Blizzard’s development, I find myself placing more and more trust in their work and getting more and more rewards. Some may say the point of this article can be summed up in that sentence, and they may indeed be correct. Regardless, follow me on an extended trip, continuing from where we left off in the previous article. I have a feeling you will be just as excited as I am!

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Its times like these I wish I had an even wider monitor! As mentioned last time, I said how important picturesque and panoramic scenery was to me, and they did not fail to deliver early. There is no question that they are a lot more interested in scenery and fidelity than they were in Wrath and below, but now with the zones being so much more expansive, as well as the prospect of no flying through out the expansion, you can see they really went all in. 1

Here we see another breathtaking view of a main Horde Quest hub. As if the gameplay surrounding it wasn’t enough, the titanic fortress is protected on all sides by sheer cliff faces, and has one incredible bridge that leads you to your destination. You will be utterly speechless as you approach, mostly because of the magnitude of the fixture. It is so much larger than the player that being able to fly around it would be so disproportionate. I wasn’t necessarily against flying in WoW prior, but after seeing this map and this location specifically, I hope it never comes back. Seeing these things from the ground is so much more poignant when you realize the scale you are a part of.

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The next thing to examine is one that can NOT be overlooked. Aside from the typical scenery and landscape changes you expect each expansion, this is likely one of the most underrated points of an expansion, topped only by revamped questing with Cataclysm. New character models change everything. This is not an exaggeration. At first, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about playing with a model that potentially may not look like my original character, and although I haven’t been able to test Blood Elf yet, I can say with 99 percent certainty that there is absolutely nothing to fear. The fact that everyone is running around with improved models AND animations is part 1 out of two parts as to why I feel like its an entirely new video game.

I can talk about it all day really, but you will need to see it for yourself before your mind is set. I ask only that you realize there may end up being a few slight changes, and that you don’t get hooked up on minor details. The world is so large now, and the players look so spectacular that I would be satisfied with an entirely different character if it meant this coming to fruition. You can also turn them off, if for some reason you are that concerned!

Regardless, its not just the players that make the world sing. Essentially every Orc in Draenor has a brand new model as well, including old favorites and main characters like Thrall. I won’t weigh in on if Thrall’s new look suits him quite yet, but its irrelevant. He looks so good in the new landscape alongside the brown skin orcs that there is nothing to discuss. When this is all said and done, it will be such a crazy comparison between even just MoP and WoD, let alone WoD and Classic! Couldn’t be more excited!

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Look carefully, as this one is part two of why I feel like Warlords of Draenor is an entirely different video game. This screenshot is a culmination of everything we have spoken on previously, with one big addition. The selection glow! There are a number of different colors and functions for each, but the point is that this, alongside entirely new models and a gorgeous new landscape really solidifies my love for this expansion early. There is something about the bevy of things we have discussed here that really resonate to me and make me proclaim my stance on this game’s Renaissance.

Even players that have been playing as long as I have seem to agree with my initial impression. The first thing I said when I was finally able to log on to the Alpha was “I seriously feel like I am playing an entirely different game.” This was meant with overwhelming confirmation, even from players I would never expect to be impressed by this sort of thing.

When a few graphical changes make the game feel this different, its pretty obvious where we have been as players in the past. It wasn’t always the most beautiful game, but between MoP and WoD they have easily tripled their fidelity, if not more.

I have never been so impressed with a progression of changes as I have so far, and even though I was excited by MoP’s content features, I think I am even more excited about WoD’s behind the scenes changes that seemingly do even more! It is truly becoming complete now .

I’ll leave you with one last change to cap the whole discussion off and hopefully win over any purists that still don’t agree with me. Watch the short video and you will see grass react as you step in it. Keep in mind, this is only in Jade Forest as well. That should speak volumes of their dedication, when you realize that they have implemented nearly all of these graphical changes across the board, not just for new content. I for one, can not wait to see some thick fields of grass get parted by my characters, and just know that if it looks like it does last expansion, it will be so amazing in content its designed around.

I’m not one to express my giddiness very openly, but that is pretty much the only word for it currently. Its been a privilege and an honor to be able to test this expansion this early, and all I can say is amazing things about it.
Can’t wait to see the raids! Can you imagine!?

Questing Alternatives – “Timewalker” Events?

Timewalker Events

Let’s start with an apology in advance. Before you say anything, yes I realize this will be the fourth article I have made using “timewalker” as a descriptor, and yes I realize that this may not even be the name of these events. I just don’t know what to call them otherwise! At least not yet, as it is so early in the Alpha. I imagine we will all know sooner or later though.

Anyway, now lets actually discuss what we came here to discuss!

In MoP we began seeing alternative things to do while questing, including the “treasures of Pandaria” and random items on the ground that you could loot to gain exp and gold. These made MoP feel like a living, breathing world, with a lot of interactions to be had.

It was pretty basic, but I can say with confidence it was the foundation for what we are examining today. And there is far more than just this!

While questing in WoD, you will find many alternatives to simply killing mobs for a quest or looting items off a ground. There are many rare creatures to be killed, world events to be completed, random chests and boxes to dig into, and apparently these time loop events that place us in a situation between both worlds.

It appears that when we enter, we blur the line between our time and theirs, and for some reason, everything is stopped. It reminds me of Prince of Persia, and you’ll see why if you take a moment to check out the video.

There appear to be various “objectives” to these, that are indeed character specific one time loots.

As you enter, you may see lights that help boost your speed, and may serve as an additional source later in development. Seemingly, the main goal is to loot all the NPCs that are present, and make it to the end for a more substantial reward.

For the initial testing I did on these events, I found the Ogres present to all carry the exact same loot each time I went through it on subsequent characters. There were four total.

The first gave a vendor grey that sold for 4~ gold.
The second, falling from the roof, gave nearly 10 gold straight
The third, tumbling down a rafter, gave a few gold as well as a vendor trash item that sells for 5 gold.
And the final gave a Rare Quality neckpiece that was the same each time it was looted. The item was an intellect piece that had higher item level than quest rewards from basic quests in the zone.

Here are some stills from the video that may pique your interest even further:

Timewalker 1

timewalker2

As an event, I say personally that these are nothing short of spectacular. I love the concept of keeping the world big and giving options to explore and find things you wouldn’t expect. The current zone we are testing is an amazing example of this, and I can’t say anything but good things when discussing it. They have really done a spectacular job with making the starting zone feel huge and expansive.

Looking further into these events though, what do we think?
At first, I thought they were separate groups of ogres trying to fight the one at the top, but this does not appear to be the case. Looking even closer at the second displayed image, we see that even the Ogre at the top is cowering, and there are fireballs reigning down all around him.

What could this mean? If this is truly a bridge between the worlds, perhaps its a peek into the future? Perhaps, when the future unfolds, this is Guldan’s doing, and the fire reigning down is the destruction of Draenor?

Only “time” will tell, both figuratively and literally in this case.

Hopefully Blizzard will officially label these events so we can speculate even further, and hopefully they are indeed meant to be references to futures that come and go, or may not happen at all.
I can’t shake the feeling that we have a LOT more to do here than simply play a role back in time. I imagine, as we find more and more of these events, it will become obvious that we are viewing a world that will escape certain peril, and it may end up to be because of our work!

Stay tuned for more Alpha coverage and feel free to check out the video below. It details the extent of the event!

Previous LFR and Scenario Queue? – Issues Abound!

methodInterview

As the Alpha continues to sizzle, we learn more about a topic speculated on and discussed since Blizzcon. In the latest build, it appears that the option to enter previous versions of LFR and scenarios is accessible via a specific set of NPCs. Whether their presence, dialogue, or models are expectant of a release has yet to be seen, but what is resounding is the ability to do so, given a new set of rules.

First of all, if you don’t get around much, lets explain what the previous system was all about and then we can relate it to the new means of entrance.

Starting with it’s invent in Dragon Soul, LFR allowed players to queue as a role and be entered in a massive pool of hopefuls, being paired with 24 others, with 6 healers, 2 tanks, and the remainder DPS. The queue itself became notable quickly for its extreme length, especially as a DPS. This only got worse with the onset of Flex difficulty, and when this return feature was announced, I assumed it would be even more impossible to find enough people. On top of this, I wondered just what type of player system they would seek to control, and whether or not there would be a cap to enter.

With the announcement and testing in the Alpha, we learn that this is all a thing of the past for the equally past LFRs. Now, they will simply operate as any other dungeon, just instead of being able to walk in you will still queue. A bit of a vestigial structure is this system, at least in my eyes, but I suppose its no surprise. This is really nothing more than fan service when you examine exactly what LFR has been and is meant to be in this coming expansion.

However, it will give those who missed an interesting coloration, especially in Dragon Soul, a chance to return to the past and collect their just rewards. Or maybe not.

The next question posed by myself and the community is how loot will work. Let’s once again discuss it in its current state for completion’s and comparison’s sake.

Currently, when you enter LFR and complete a boss you roll against yourself to see if you shall be awarded loot. This is a system known as “personal loot” and was implemented with MSV Looking for Raid. Previously in Dragon Soul, the system was as it always used to be. When thinking about 25 man raiding, you can understand why this was a mess all around, especially for pieces of the tier set gear that was acquired in the form of a token for up to 3 other classes. Having 25 people all roll for 6+ pieces of gear every boss got very confusing quickly and elicited some changes as the tier went on.

The first change we saw was a system to help people rolling for main spec gear have an advantage over those looking for off spec or perhaps simply to troll. This system was quite archaic, but effective to some degree, allowing an extra 100 points to each roll when it was for a piece you were currently speced into. This marked further issues, as a lot of people only did LFR for off spec gear, but they had to be in that spec when the loot dropped, otherwise they would not receive the bonus. Obviously, if any one player needed on it as it pertained to him, no off spec player could win it, so it quickly devolved into people just sitting in the wrong spec for the entire raid. After there were enough complaints about 6 tanks or 2 healers, it became obvious this would not work going forward.

Eventually, we come to the world we live in today, where you can select your intended specialization as well as loot preference, AND can avoid the mess that was DS LFR loot, rife with trading, trolling, and high rolling!

So, back on track here, we then finally come to the answer of how the current loot system will be implemented across legacy content that requires an NPC to queue for?

Our buddy Ion, the Perisian Torpedo, answers it for us via twitter.

We learn a few things from this set of tweets, but alongside this, a few more concerns arise.

Ion confirms that the current system would stay, but does this mean that the DS loot will drop 6 pieces as it did back when it was current? Had the personal loot system actually been implemented by 5.0, or did that not make it in until MSV? I honestly cant remember. Feel free to reply if you know this answer.

Either way, the next set of concerns become obvious from there. Often times, being able to transmog pieces of gear require access to loot tables not relevant to your class.

I, for one, don’t see myself up in arms about this, but that doesn’t mean that thousands of people wont be. Currently, given the personal loot system, it is absolutely not possible to get pieces other than your that applicable to your available specs. The best example is that a shaman can not acquire a tanking mace or axe, no matter what they do, given the current system.

This can be address one of two ways. First of all, and the least attractive of the options, you can allow trading of the items. This sees to be something a lot of people want, which makes sense, especially for the LFR MSV and higher. Its unlikely average players will be able to solo them, so if personal loot stays it would be extremely beneficial to be able to trade any loot you get amongst those with you in the party, especially considering it will be likely that on most bosses with 2-4 people, no one will get anything.

Just thinking about that alone makes me cringe. Part of soloing old raids is the fact that a high amount of gear drops each time. The fact that you can often get two pieces of each boss that you are after is a huge attraction. I feel if they are going to stick with personal loot here, they better make it so you always get at least one piece, as well as a chance to get two. Something has to happen either way, otherwise soloing these places will feel very unrewarding if you come out with nothing but the miniscule amount of gold they offer comparatively.

The second option is (when ruling out simply removing personal loot) to make it possible to select roles you aren’t able to fill as well as make these pieces BOA. If they did something along these lines, it would be near the same chance to get any piece in the game, and then you could trade it to which ever toon you prefer. This is very unlikely, however, as there has been very few cases of BOA transmog opportunities, but it seems plausible to think the out side role options may make it.

Ion reminds us that changing these LFR loot constraints is no small task, but I think implementing them with the current issues is simply backwards. There are far too many drawbacks to soloing a raid where you may not even get a single piece of gear drop, let alone the ones you want, as well as none of it being pieces outside your class’s specializations.

I look forward to following this feature as it develops, but for now be sure to stop by our forums and discuss this or any of the other features of the Alpha you are interested in. Feel free to suggest anything you would like to see as well. It will be our pleasure to help our fans out!

Check out Meoni’s Alpha look at the concept:

New Mage Spell Graphics – WoD Alpha

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Recently I had the fortune to check out some of the new Mage talents and abilities on the Warlords of Draenor Alpha, and whilst not actively playing a mage as a progressional character, I did find the changes to be obvious from the outset, regardless of my play style and previously stated distance from the class itself. Filling my screen with fire and ice is something I will never complain about, so let the lag-inducing experience begin!

The graphical fidelity of World of Warcraft has been somewhat of a backseat in recent years some could argue, with many graphical changes in recent expansions being more akin to literal patches applied on an old leather coat, rather than a new coat entirely. This is not a bad thing, as much of what makes that coat unique and interesting is shared with World of Warcraft for me personally. With many changes, including those to the actual races and characters we play comes wonderful revamps and opportunities to implement visually stunning effects for various abilities. Mages are considerably livelier than most classes with their abilities, often filling the screen with fire or frost based explosions, so it makes sense to up the graphical quality of those effects primarily as to not make other changes look alien in a relatively old game. The character models themselves are owed this attention to detail, especially after how ridiculously good they look in comparison to the older models, on that im sure we can all agree.

The first Mage ability I looked at was called Supernova; an interesting talented replacement for the spell Frost Nova. Specifically for mages of an Arcane disposition, Supernova allows the caster to place a pulse of energy around either another player or the enemy, which then pulses for 112% of the casters spell power as arcane damage to all enemies within 8 yards of the target. This ability also causes the target to be knocked upwards, if the target is an enemy that you originally placed the ability on, then that enemy will take 100% extra damage whilst the effect is in place. The ability itself seems rather useful and adds extra utility to the level 75 talent choice. Im not a mage on the live game servers, as I have mentioned before, however I would feel that this seems to be a rather exciting and powerful choice that will likely be extremely useful in both PvP and the PvE situations with a large amount of additional creatures. Graphically the spell does exactly what you would expect, as it says on the tin. A large purple explosion of energy protrudes from the targets I placed it on, circling out in waves of pink tipped fire. Nothing short of extraordinary and certainly a pleasant selection of colours from what I would say usually remains, in my opinion very samey for many mage abilities.

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Secondly I looked at ‘Evanesce’, despite my first time reading the ability as ‘Evanescence’ and unfortunately expecting Amy Lee to pop out and serenade me to sleep; I was still pleasantly surprised when presented with another visually appealing, if not slightly ‘over-pink’ palette. I shrugged this off as possibly a theme suited to mages and read that it replaces ‘Ice Block’, immunity ability, which is extremely useful in PvE and PvP. What this talent choice (available at level 15 on the first tier of talents) does then is actually replace it with a shorter duration immunity lasting 3 seconds, only this allows the mage to actually continue moving AND can be used as an immunity WHILST casting other spells. Situational events where a full duration immunity do exist, however I still feel that the majority of the time, at least in PvE the choice may remain fundamentally towards Ice Block, rather than a heavily time sensitive replacement.

Thirdly, and lastly I got my hands on the level 75 talent choice, this time for Frost Mages only. Again replacing Frost Nova, this ability, dubbed ‘Ice Nova’ places a whirl of ice and snow around the targeted friendly / non friendly player or enemy monster and deals 95% of the mages spell power as frost damage, again if the primary target is an enemy, then that enemy takes 100% additional damage whilst the effect is in place. As stated before, I know little to practically nothing about mages anymore; however it seems like a particularly strong choice for the level 75 tier talent and actually looks the best out of the spell effects ive seen thus far. Unfortunately the place I tested this ability out in the video you will see below was predominantly the same colours of the actual spell, i.e. ice, however rest assured the visual fidelity and quality of the effect is sublime.

As much as the abilities which I have talked about today are interesting, it would seem there are even more mage abilities available only to level 100 mages which I hear are sublime and put these three to shame. I wait with baited breath then to be able to test out those potentially lag-inducing morsels of entertainment. I honestly want to see Blizzard address more spells for more classes, especially other magic users, as I find that if you increase quality in one place and not all, sometimes you can end up with obvious old versus new side by side comparisons. Warlocks are set to possibly get the same treatment, and my mind can only dream of what explosive options Blizz has up their sleeves.

Until then enjoy the various other changes to World of Warcraft, that honestly are making Warlords of Draenor look to be the most promising advancement the game has ever undertaken, a worthwhile leap forward in a sea of competitors, which are honestly put to shame by this aging, yet beautifully designed and evolving videogame. We intend to cover as much as possible over here on WoW.Stratics and personally in video form over on www.youtube.com/acegamestv.

If you have enjoyed my article, please feel free to continue the discussion over on our forums or leave a comment below. What are your favourite changes so far? What do you want to see from our Alpha coverage? Let us know!

 

Long Awaited Bank and Void Storage Upgrades!

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As the last remnants of the Alpha Quality of Life changes continue to trickle in, we examine quite arguably the most definitive. Bank space and void storage room has been a huge issue, and while there are many solutions, I agree with Blizzard’s stance and accept this as a suitable response.

Many people wanted the Diablo style transmog, and of course, that would be ideal. It seems to make sense, especially in a game with so many items, but the one point I have against it is that the game has always been around collecting gear, not just seeing it. There are a lot of pieces that I am glad I still have, knowing that if the model in quest were implemented, I would have vendored them years ago.

Of course, I could simply hang on to them for posterity sake, as we did before Transmog, but this is a conversation for another day.

Let’s one again examine a few images courtesy of MMO Champion and discuss what we see and why it will effect the game in a way worth talking about!

reagentBank

Now while its easy to sum up the changes, it may not be so easy to understand why they are so prolific. Immediately, this should catch your attention as a HUGE bag-type storage that has a ton of slots available. What you are looking at is a separate tab of the current bank, likely unrelated to the previous and free of charge, that will act as “reagent” storage only.

But there is more than meets the eye to this image!

On top of simply giving us a billion slots of storage for this type of thing, it also ushers in an even more important quality of life change, being that stacks now can reach 200, instead of 20! This ten fold increase is enough to make me jump for joy, and likely will elicit the same response from any other person in charge of organizing their guild bank. This alone will allow herb storage to sky rocket, as our current herb tab is always overstocked early, and understocked late.

It gets so bad in the beginning of the expansion, when everyone is playing all day every day, that we would sell the excess because we simply had no room. Now, this would be ludicrous, as having that much room PLUS stacks of 200 means we have essentially been given infinite space to work around.

Besides all this, another thing that jumps off the page to me, but may not be obvious to you is that there are bandages in that tab as well. Of course, it may not actually be bandages, it may simply be some new reagent for something I have yet to understand, but if it is bandages…

Well would you typically consider bandages a reagent? I wouldn’t. I would consider them the output of reagents, ie craftables.

Other things I would consider as craftables would include Pots, Flasks, Enchants, cut gems. The list can continue, if needed.

So, if you are following my train of logic here, would we agree that it would also be possible for flasks to stack to 200, as well as be stored in this? Same goes with potions?

Now THAT is interesting news as well. Having stacks of 200 potions saves a TON of space as well for us, especially in the early goings.

Either way, this is such a great change that its sad people wont recognize it past the damning label “Quality of Life.” This is a real part of the expansion for me, and I am looking forward to it as much as anything else.

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The other topic we are discussing here is Void Storage and its future with transmog. In the image, we see that there is now an entirely new tab, the exact same size as the previous. Its very likely all the charges of prior will apply to this one as well, but either way this has been something people have been begging for.

I know quite a few people who have had theirs filled for a long time now, and in honesty, its on Blizzard to remedy this. The whole concept boils down to keeping everything even remotely interesting just in case some day you wish to use it to transmog to or perhaps use as novelty. If the storage is limited, then the system is flawed.

In my opinion, I see no reason this needs to stop at 1 tab. What function is that? Are they actively saying they are happy to give us another tab for this expansion, but its your fault if you run out of room again now?

What’s the point behind gating it, especially now that you proved interest in expanding it?

Back to the previous conversation about transmog, do we think this system does the job? As mentioned, I think it does, because I like seeing items that I have saved, but in an ideal world, its utterly flawed start to finish.

The fact that you even have to save the items to be able to transmog to them makes little sense to me, especially after seeing other title’s approach to the system, but coupled with them being each a single slot in a box now smaller than the reagent tab of your bank…

You know its bad when people are deleting the challenge mode gear sets after transmogging to them to avoid having to use up another 9 slots in the void storage!

 

Anyway, I believe this is everything that falls under the quality of life changes seen in this first Alpha build. As a recap, I’ll include the other articles so you can see any you may have missed.

http://wow.stratics.com/news/wod-quest-interface-changes/
http://wow.stratics.com/news/dungeon-journal-changes/

I am really looking forward to all these changes, as well as the Toybox, which is in, but not quite working as well as it should be yet. That will be a target of my interest for sure.

So stay tuned, as this will likely be a whirlwind test cycle, and I imagine by the end of this week, there will be another 10 topics to discuss!

Must See WoD Quest Interface Changes!

Wod questings

Another of the many quality of life changes coming with Warlords of Draenor is supplement to the questing UI as well as general improvement to questing as a form of leveling! At Blizzcon we learned about the new bonus options, as well as world objectives appearing sporadically that many players could participate in. After quite some many months, it appears that not only these changes have made it in, but alongside them is a list of UI featurettes that should add some really nice elements to what is commonly considered a grind.

Once again, we will check out all that is available to us, via imagery provided courtesy of MMO Champion.

It will be my honored privilege to walk you through what you see, as well as layer on my opinions about this system and give my regards towards its future.

Quest UI1

There is a lot happening in this first image, as well as a lot of differences from what we expect to see, so let’s take it slow.

First of all, this is labeled as “Map and Quest Log.” So does this mean that there is only one button for either? What about when we have completed all quests in the zone, or if we currently have none to pick up? These are all questions that immediately race through my mind when I see this.

The next thing that my eye is drawn to is the actual quest text and rewards. Literally, it appears as if they two have been photoshopped together. It is an exact merger to the finest point, even including the exact XP with a new icon for that. I love this concept, because it means that you will be able to immediately see how much EXP and gold you will gain after a chain of quests. But this raises another question in my mind, being what happens when you have multiple quests?

Another supremely interesting thing to note about this image is the small icons on the map itself. If you can’t see this, take a moment to open the image in full screen. While I can’t confirm exactly what this appears to be, I would image it is the zone events that can be completed by players that are lucky enough to be around them when they happen. This is a common feature of many other games, and how it typically works is in the form of a large event that many people rush towards to take down. There will undoubtedly be a good amount of EXP from this, and maybe even a gold or gear reward as regular questing would entail. If typical, it will also be superfluous to the zone’s experience flow and lore. They will simply be isolated events that make sense, but in no way impact your ability to level linearly or follow the story. A great addition overall.

The final thing I see there is the Reputation bar at the bottom. This insinuates that each rep associated with a zone will be featured there, but of course its almost never this simple. The starting zones have historically had their own rep, dating as far back to Thrallmar, but what about other zones? Will this be a feature of many, or just one. Only time will tell, yet again!

Regardless, I really love this new map mode. Its great to not only see the quest and objective markers, but also see the quest text and rewards. Looking forward to seeing what this does to old zones as well as the max level content.

quest UI 2

This next image answers as few of my previous questions. This is clearly an image of what will happen when you appear in a zone with no quests complete and none picked up. Besides just the quest progress, it even appears to display the achievement associated with the zone, which of course goes hand in hand with the progress itself.

This does two things.
First, it helps you know EXACTLY where you left off. No more having to ride around or even google quests in the zone to know if you have completed them or not! What a great addition!
The second thing is it helps you track an achievement that you otherwise may not have interest in or even know exists. There are a lot of quest achievements like this in the game, so if this gets backwards implemented it can dramatically help with those looking to complete Loremaster. As stated previously, not knowing where you left off is a HUGE drawback of such an expansive achievement.

On top of this, it may also help you distinguish “story” quests from filler or those events. This is just speculation, but it does seems logical.

It should be obvious to gauge my opinion on this one, but if not let me state it clearly. Amazing change. This has been needed since Wrath. My first article was on how much the questing in this game has developed, and this is another piece to that argument. Can’t wait to see it at its completion!

Quest UI 3

This appears to be the on-screen tracker that has changed a lot over the years as well. In the early days, this didn’t even exist, and was only functionalized via a variety of Addons. Having this as a feature added with 2.0 really changed the questing scene, and this 6.0 additions furthers the trail blazing.

There are a variety of icons, likely dependent on type of quest, but a bit confusing regardless. Based on what we know now, the circular icon typically is associated with just your run of the mill quest, and the number inside it denotes the order in which you should complete them. The question mark symbolizes that it is already complete, and in the current order, should be turned in after you complete the first quest.

But then we get the new icon! Perhaps this is representative of the world events, or maybe this is part of a new system to organize story v non story quests? I can’t be sure, unfortunately, but it certainly is fun to ponder. Regardless, it looks much more regal and beckons attention.

Even more so does the new header! The text of “Quests” is commanding, but the fact that there is a cogwheel present indicates you can adjust the settings surrounding it. It scatters the imagination!

wodQuestLog

The final look we have this evening is on what appears to be a different machination of the previous. Perhaps answering my previous question, it is logical to believe that the new icon for quests may indeed be the new type of quest. We also see the Bonus Objective feature that likely increases the reward!

I would have a guess in saying that when you enter the area, this bonus objective pops up and lets you know what you can do if you choose. Perhaps there is more than meets the eye with this feature, but all we have to go on is what we see.

No matter the outcome, everything appears much nicer and much more compact. This is extremely important and honestly quite the innovation for a game this age. To think back when doing a quest meant staring at every NPC just to see if they had one for you, and then compare it with these images…

Breath taking, truly!
I for one, can not wait to get my hands on some Warlords of Draenor!
Stay tuned for more!

 

Dungeon Journal Changes – Role Specifics Update!

DJ 6

One of the new changes to WoD, recently see on the Alpha, is the Role Specific Dungeon Journal change. At this time, I’d like to go on the record again and say that again they are stealing my thunder! They already did when they started doing youtube videos of class guides, but now they are stealing my Healing guide idea! Well, rest assured this wont deter me, but for those looking for a much more basic outline, it can now be found in game!

Let’s examine the change via a few imagines and then discuss exactly whats happening. Once again, these images are courtesy MMO Champion, as we eagerly await our own personal account’s access to the Alpha.

It's my world, you can't have it!

It’s my world, you can’t have it!

Alright, so this is the way the Dungeon Journal reads as of 5.4.8 on June 6th. Its got all the basics, but of course they are laid out as a raid group, and not for individuals. The big change you will notice in the subsequent imagery is the overview tab, which is the first one featured, being removed entirely. Instead, this overview will exist as a whole new tab, with three individual role-specific markers.

New Overview Tab!

New Overview Tab!

The second image we see indicates what I was just speaking on. The previous installation’s “Overview” portion was copied and pasted into this new tab, and below it are three role specific guidelines. This should, in theory dramatically help players new to the encounter understand everything that needs to happen from their perspective. Of course, this is what I always wanted my Healing Guides to be, but they are MUCH more in-depth than is likely needed for your average flex player, or the like, so its good that they got what they needed as well.

Now we will check out each individual entry and comment on their usefulness and imagine what the future might hold when the new raid’s DJ gets added.

DPS or DD, which do you use?

DPS or DD, which do you use?

 

So the first thing that immediately throws me off is that there is FOUR bulletin points. Are we even talking about the same encounter? I’ve honestly never done this fight as a DPS, but I suppose these are the important things. Realistically, the Touch of Y’shaarj is the most important thing that can be messed up, so if its handled properly then their job can be considered done but there is sooo much more to this encounter! I am excited to see what it might read for the new encounters though, and also what will happen with the Mythic journal. Obviously, Garrosh is much different on Heroic than he is on Normal or Flex at the present moment, so are they taking the time to explain the differences, or are they not going to edit it. To save time, they could easily say “Refer to previous difficulty for basics. New on Mythic is ____”
I feel that would work quite nicely, and would actually be useful for everyone. Regardless, things like aoe rotations on the adds in first phase, as well as group coordination for the transitions is 100 percent vital to the strategy, so if this is where all it were to say for Heroic as well, it would be completely useless. Only time will tell though! Let’s keep moving.

dk Tanks

After rationalizing through the DPS portion, the tanking one makes a lot more sense to me now. While there are a LOT of nuances in this encounter, they are all individual strategy elements and implementation, so thus the basic strategy is of course this. If you were to understand nothing else, these three points would be enough to recognize the fight’s purpose. But of course, this is far too little to go on, even in lower difficulties. Things like boss positioning, how many stacks to taunt off, and who is doing what role in terms of add clean-up, are quite vital to the encounter as well! But those couldn’t be placed there, as you are assuming individuals are reading these, not raids.

All well and good, now that I understand the concept a bit better, but what does the future hold for tanks? They have already confirmed a hundred times that tanks will no longer be getting hit for 100 percent of their health in one global every 4 globals as they do on a lot of encounters now and in the past. Does this mean that there is going to be more mechanically heavy focus for tanks? I wouldn’t mind it honestly, especially mechanics such as Iron Juggernaut, where tanks are meant to run around and soak mechanics as well as actually worrying about the boss. The more I think about it, the more excited I become!

wodDungeonJournal

Expecting to see something different still? JK, same basic principle. And I was worried about being out of the market for Healing Guides! Once again, if you understand these things, you understand the damage output, but even in small groups and lower difficulties this is nothing compared to the remainder of the encounter. Most of the damage you incur, especially in Heroic, will be from other sources, and will test your ability as a healer to not only sufficiently use CDs, but use your mana wisely.

This can be said for every encounter, but truth be told, I am glad they are taking the time to do this. I think it will be very healthy for those running pug groups and doing it for the first time, and may even help old veterans like myself get a fresh look at the encounter. The best use for this that I can see is for Beta raid testing! That will be huge, as knowing exactly what each role’s basic job is will help us build a strategy around it. That is one of my favorite things, and I look forward to simultaneously testing the new Dungeon Journal entries and the boss encounters in kind!

That’s everything, so stay tuned for much much more coverage of the WoD Alpha and all the new features that are trickling in!

Horde Garrison Preview – WoD Alpha!

WoWScrnShot_040814_203518

Whelp, as per usual WoD alpha launches the week after another “wow killer” mmo competitor. Today we will be starting the media storm that is this expansion with a look at the Horde Garrison, previously unreleased despite apparently being partially finished!

In this article, we will examine a variety of images obtained via MMO-champion that were taken from day one of the Alpha. Please understand that what you see here is likely less than half finished, and will continue to change many times. Each picture will follow with a description and Metro’s opinion on the state of the process as well as potential.

garrisonUI1

The first one we see demonstrates what appears to be a Horde Follower. Its even using the new Tauren model! On the right, we can see its abilities and gain some insight into the mini-game this appears to be developing into. We see that Taunt is its ability, but the word “Counters” appears beneath with another icon, resembling feline swiftness. This is an interesting concept to me, because it sounds very much like we will want to pick and choose which followers we gain, and then which we send on missions. Its too early yet to tell, but does this mean there are an infinite amount to choose from? Will this decision be made early in leveling, or can it be refined once we take our time at max level?

No one knows these things yet, but we all await their answers.

garrisonUI2

The next image we examine is even more telling and thought provoking. Let’s break it down piece by piece.

Starting on the left, we see the “in party” status. As the previous screen was the followers tab, and this is missions tab, there was likely a way to pick from the previous image.

Next, looking at the main portion, we see the name of the mission and its description. It explains where it will take place, and gives some brief hint as to what will happen. It appears a patrol around the garrison will reveal some unwanted intruders this time, and our pal Olin will taunt the hell out of them. Hopefully.

On the bottom of the main portion we see the “Rewards.” Its quite obvious that this is far from finished, but it leaves room for extrapolation. It appears that there will be some luck involved with the rewards, which I can live with, especially if the bronze reward is substantial. Experience and perhaps other resources don’t seem to make sense to me yet, but I am excited to learn exactly what their function is.

So what does this mean for the player? How many missions will we get? Is this going to be in the same fashion as Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm were we have to log in each day to get these missions? That doesn’t sound like a bad idea, but I’m hoping we see less of the rigorous 24 hour cycle blizzard seems to bank on. Regardless, it should work out that these missions coincide with zones and leveling, so we will learn more shortly!

garrisonUI3

The next image we have today is of the interface for selecting and building structures. First thing we see is that there is a sort between Large, Medium, and Small. This likely means that there will be a limit to how many of each you can have, or perhaps it will be to help balance cost and time.

Next we notice the Trading Post, when hovered over, displays that there is indeed a time and cost, and also yields a description talking about more missions; answering my previous question partially.

Now when we are talking about time of building these things, how do you think it will work? There are many of these small facebook type games out there that you have to deal in real time to get anything done, forcing you to have to check progress for months on end to ultimately achieve your goal. I’m hoping this will not be the case, but regardless, once each place is built, I can’t imagine there will be too much to worry about. Perhaps the upgrading will again take large portions of time?

The final thing to take notice of is the fact that there are multiple plots and multiple options. This is pretty exciting, as it means each garrison will be fundamentally different from the next. When you guys see some of the screens of the actual walk-around version, you will be as excited as I am about this! I can’t wait to see how much plays out!

garrisonUI4

I added this once just out of interest. Its what appears when a building is complete, but once again the time seems like the limiting reagent. Will it appear when elsewhere in the zone? Can I get an alert on my phone if it completes outside of my time in game? How cool would that be!

Garrison 5

This is the first of two looks at the actual Garrison lay out from the ground. I was impressed with the UI elements, but this is where the real magic happens. All of the NPCs and structures in here will be full interactive and customizable. The first image we have shows a peon, using a new Orc model, taking a snooze next to a closed up mines. Perhaps its in construction? Or based on the image showing the layout, it may be locked up until we advance to a further point in EXP gain. Regardless, the tents, logs, and even lighting is really good for this early in the process. I am excited to see what this area has the potential to transform into. I wont lie, I am not sold on Frostfire Ridge being the starting zone and the place we will build in. Jade Forest was so immaculate that this will really struggle to live up to my expectations, but over all the other zones seem to be even better, so I hope the Garrison gives this zone the boost it needs.

Garrison 6The final image we have to examine is a nice look at the complexity the Garrison presents, even on day 1. Front, we see a new model Orc Peon attempting to use his puny brain to build stuff. Work, work. Yes, something need doing. Get to it.

What I am most excited about is the fact that there is stairs and multiple levels and layers. It seems silly, but this level of design makes the Garrison feel that much better, and when we take a moment to examine the surroundings we realize that all the structures and NPCs will be intertwined and interacting. I simply can not wait to see images of one further along in completion, and hope I can get my hands on access soon!

I hate to say it, but I am honestly looking forward to this feature as much as I am anything else. I’ve been a top level raid leader since TBC’s end, but this feature is really captivating me. I can foresee myself spending hours in here each day just tooling around and making it look perfect to my standards. Hopefully I find time for pre-raid gearing ;)

 

Anyway, that’s everything. There are a lot of people who discredit this feature as minor and act like its not worth the effort or time. I wont say I was one of those people at one point, but I will say that when this was announced at Blizzcon those many months ago, I thought to myself “Oh, that’s neat. Let’s get to the real stuff though!”
Perhaps it was their fault for not being able to emphasize it more, but this really is the big new technology the expansion is centered around. MoP brought a LOT of new systems like Challenge Modes, Pet Battles, and the Tiller’s Farm. This expansion, there appears there will be more hours into Garrisons alone than all those features put together. And that is REALLY good news!

Stay tuned, as there will be many things to write about in the upcoming few days.

WoD Stat Changes – Tertiary Stats Explanation and Opinions

Stats

For those of you who don’t know, they are changing quite a lot with Warlords, and while it may not be as front stage like Pet Battles and Challenge Modes were in MoP, the item squish and stat changes are easily two of the biggest changes to come to the game.

Recently, blizzard released this post that I would recommend you all at least skim over if you have no idea what the topic of this article is. With this in mind, I aim to give a brief description of each change, as well as my opinions on how the stat will effect the game over all.

Secondary Stats

Multistrike:

This is a whole new concept being added for WoD, and really sounds quite interesting. The brake down is that whenever you deal damage with an ability, you have a chance to do a smaller portion of the same spell, roughly 30 percent of the original damage. It will visually appear as the mage Icy Veins glyph of current, where they just continue to fire out of your hands after the first spell was cast.

This type of stat seems like it could be extremely useful for those centered around burst dps. The fact that you are essentially getting extra globals for no reason is enough to say that a moderate amount of this state will increase your dps by flat percentages. Looking forward to seeing how this develops as we move into Beta.

Bonus Armor:

I LOVE this concept! Bonus armor has always been in the game, but now it will be the Tank’s version of Spirit in WoD, meaning only on select pieces like rings, cloaks, necks, and trinkets. Their claim is that it will be much stronger than other secondary stats as well, in hopes to make it the obvious choice to any tank with a brain.

There are not many implications to be made here. Its an amazing tank stat, and I am really looking forward to a linear stat that helps reduce damage. It will really feel good when you see mobs doing less and less melee damage with each upgrade.

Versatility:

This one is fresh off the presses, so lets examine exactly what it does. The goal is to improve everything your character does. 1 percent gained of this stat increases the damage, healing, and absorbs you do by one percent, as well as reducing the damage you take by o.5 percent. Now THIS seems amazing. They claim they wont over tune it, but they intend for it to be quite strong.

Now this is a stat I can get behind. Obviously not 100 percent sure how any of this will work, let alone if this even makes the cut into the game, but if it does it will be my BIS stat. I promise that, because I am a player that, as a healer, I recognize how important being alive is. I LOVE to be the person who soaks the big damage, especially knowing I can do so easily. I even kept mining in MoP just to have the health increase! Besides just me, if an entire 20 man mythic raid team all gets this stat, then not only will their damage increase, but so will their off healing, and so will our chances of keeping everyone alive during the big damage. Its just an extra level of comfort when your healers are already getting stronger.

Secondary Stats that didn’t make the cut!

Readiness:

This was the stat on the trinkets that simply reduced the CD of major abilities. This was far too strong and I am glad it wont make it into the final mix, but I will say its going to be hard for some to go back to their original CDs. I remember how hard it was to leave the MSV holy paladin tier behind and make Holy Shock a 6 second cd again!

Amplify:

This one was even less appealing and more OP. Essentially, the more stats you get, the better amplifying them is. I wouldn’t want to see a stat like this in the game, because early on it would be so incredibly weak compared to the last tier, that by then everyone would have this go from worst stat to BIS. Was fun, but good riddance.

Standard Deviation was also on the "Cut" line.

Standard Deviation was also on the “Cut” line.

Tertiary Stats, now called “Minor Stats”

If you haven’t been following, these stats have a chance to drop on pieces of gear, and wont effect the budget. I’m curious as to how this will effect challenge modes, but regardless, I LOVE the concept, especially since upgrading gear is going away. Seeing that tertiary stat you like the most on a BIS piece will be so comforting.

Movement Speed:

This likely wont be as cool as it sounds. They claim it will stack with every source available, but will have a low cap so people can’t build entire sets and then just kite bosses around the entire time. Rightfully so.

Aside from that, I would really enjoy this stat. Part of my mindset is being the role player to soak damage or the like, but surviving isn’t the only thing we have to do. A little movement speed helps not only getting to places, but also helps the lack of instant casts we are suddenly swimming in, especially as Holy Paladins.

Avoidance:

This stat works similar to the combat pet version, but will be in much smaller quantities. It allows you to take less damage from either damage on the ground, or AOE damage form certain sources.

Once again, I can see my self interested in this, as nearly everything I can do as a healer to mitigate the raid’s responsibility is revolving around these sources of damage. This, on top of Versatility, are taking an early place in my BIS stat list. The fact that its all speculative and based around your playstyle makes things much more interesting either way.

Indestructible (previously Sturdiness):

A stat that prevents the piece that has it from ever taking durability damage. But why? Seems pointless to me. Only point is to make the Disturbed song stuck in my head, I suppose.

The ONLY time I’ve ever seen durability become a factor was Heroic Spine of Deathwing, and slightly on Heroic Garrosh before we adjusted the strategy. The tank’s shield would break very quickly because of how many times he was blocking the 100s of adds there were on the encounter. So much so, that we would have to repair every single attempt, otherwise it would break mid pull. This is the one situation I can see where this would be useful. Otherwise, it will be the troll stat, but perhaps save a few gold?

Leech (previously Lifesteel):

At Blizzcon, it was announced to be a stat that gave you healing based on the damage you did, similar to how it was in Diablo. Of course, this would be one sided, so the function changed, along with the name, to Leech; giving healers health every time the heal as well.

I can see this being incredible for tanks, especially since vengeance is gone and they will always be doing a certain amount of damage. Compared to other options, this one seems too good to pass up honestly. I would enjoy it as well as a healer, because its nice to not have to worry about yourself when you are healing others for heavy damage.

Minor stats that didn’t make the cut!

Cleve:

This stat was meant to make your damage and healing also hit targets or players around your focus. This didn’t work for obvious reasons, as there are many times where there simply is nothing to cleave, yet there is also something to heal, so it would be way too good for Healers. I don’t find this a bad thing, but apparently Blizzard did so it has been scrapped. They claim it may make an appearance again at some point, but off the table for 6.0.

 

Well that’s everything. I was really excited to read all about these new stats, and I hope you were as well. As I said, these features are just as big as anything we have seen, so as to write these off is to show your inexperience. I am REALLY looking forward to what this means for Mythic raiders, and challenge mode stat levels!
Until next time, Metro out!

Where did "Stats" come from? Don't they mean Attributes?

Where did “Stats” come from? Don’t they mean Attributes?