@BlizzHeroes Announces New Hero Week

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 11.06.18 AM

Heroes of the Storm (HotS) Blizzard team announced via their Twitter handle (@BlizzHeroes) that this week will feature the new hero Li Li. Labeled, #LiLiWeek, HotS will release all news based upon this new hero.  I will be breaking down the unveiling of Li Li all week, so check back later this week for more information!

~Krushed

Heirlooms Removed + LFR No Longer Has Raid Gear!

heirloom changes

More coupled news today, and this time a bit more serious as we approach a patch 6.0 and look towards the actual release.

Garrosh Heirlooms Removed with 6.0

The Perisian Torpedo continues to be our main butter and egg man, but still can not resist breaking big news over twitter. This weekend, we learned via this post from Ion Hazzikostas that Heirlooms from Garrosh would be removed with 6.0, as its trivializing the difficulty. It says Flex+ so I assume that’s all difficulties, but even more of an assumption is that they will significantly nerf this place beyond belief. Why would they do that, you might ask? Because they would have to. If you haven’t read my healing guides you may not realize exactly how Thok, Juggernaut, and Malkorok operate, but there is no possible way that they can remain the same as they are now, especially Thok, once spirit is removed from most our gear and all the other healing coefficients change.

Now, at face value, a lot of people may fail to understand whats happening here. Examine some of the responses to Ion’s tweet and you will realize this yourself. Christ, look at them as well. People complaining left and right about everything under the sun, having the nerve enough to say something so idiotic like “More like punishment for not being in a raiding guild.” How clueless can ya be! Hell, maybe you are one of them as well?! OK, OK, let me enlighten you!

Gimme' back my Heirlooms. Put 'em right back where they belong.

Gimme’ back my Heirlooms. Put ‘em right back where they belong.

Start to finish, these heirlooms were our reward from the raid to carry on into WoD. This isn’t rare, so to act surprised when things get removed like this shows you don’t pay much attention. Examine the mounts from Firelands, ICC, or Dragon Soul. All essentially the same thing, just not equip-able. Of course, those were actually guaranteed rewards, where as now these are rare from the start. You can’t make them more rare, so the only option if you are altering them is removal.

That is the first thing to understand. The next part that another select few special butterflies don’t seem to realize is that 6.0 means 5.4 is over. Not sure how its possible to overlook this fact, but it is indeed fact. Once a tier ends and the next one begins, that’s it for special rewards such as this. Some people look at 6.0 pre-release as a continuation of the previous expansion, but its just not the case. EVERYTHING will be different, so its best to examine the tier as closed. I for one just hope the mount isn’t nerfed too heavily, as I’d like to get it out to as many people as possible before the expansion hits.

The third and final thing to realize is that these are actually meant to be good pieces. Its mostly guesswork, but a lot of signs point to these being BIS pre-raid in WoD by a considerable margin, and it may not even be relevant whether they were obtained in Flex or Heroic. Time will reveal that answer, but the point is, if that IS the case, they have to remove it. Otherwise people will spend time doing Flex Garrosh instead of actual WoD content, and that just can’t be allowed to happen again.

So, I’m sorry to those that got unlucky but this tier will likely be at least 10 months old when this patch deploys. You had your chances, so don’t blame anyone but your own luck. I have not nearly maximized my chances, yet I have both the mace and the shield for my main spec after doing only our progression raiding each week. Never took any alts in anywhere, but I know people who did and have 8-9 pieces. Its all a gambit, but if you actually raided you have one. For most classes that’s all you need.

LFR Raid Loot-viability Removed?

This one is less of an announcement and more speculative (as usual!) but it does appear to be the case. This weekend, MMO-champion discovered pictures of gear sets tagged for LFR distribution and posted them via their armor level sets. Now, when we are breaking down gear sets by “Cloth” or “Plate” and its labeled LFR, this can mean only one thing! Well maybe it can mean other things, but for the purpose of this article, we will be narrow-minded.

If this truly is the case, and LFR will no longer reward raid gear, then I can say with a smile that this is a major step forward for the raid system. When Flex difficulty was announced and implemented, they should have just removed LFR. Flex is what was needed from the start: a weak difficulty that has actual mechanics that matter, and can be done easily with pugs using an in-game group finder system. Albiet its just the queue up system, but you can still find a group by going to the raid browser function and be raiding within minutes. That’s the way it should be, and that’s the option players not looking to do progression raiding should exercise each week.

This became blatantly obvious once the 90 boost was released and all these morons were crying about how LFR got so much worse. Of course it did, because people doing it are clueless as it is! You shouldn’t be doing LFR to get gear unless you are either partially AFK or really need a certain trinket or set bonus, thus having to maximize chances. Those are the only two reasons in my mind, because Flex is EASILY doable at 515-520 item level, especially the first part. Anyway, back on topic.

So ya, how it looks now is that both 5 man heroics and LFR will yield the same results. They will get you the same type of gear, potentially even the same quality and item level, and will prepare you for actual raiding, which has its lowest difficulty now set to flex. Previously, LFR was the lowest, and five man heroics (463 ilvl) were precursor to the 476 they dropped or above. Of course, this is pretty much irrelevant a few weeks into actual progression, but one of my favorite times is pre-raid gearing especially through 5 man content. I LOVE challenging five man content, almost more than I love raiding honestly. The fact that its not going to be overshadowed by LFR tells me they are really going in the right direction. They have already said that the WoD Heroics will be more challenging, and now that they wont be immediately trivialized tells me that they will make big plays to revive 5 man progression. Can’t wait to see them, especially in Challenge difficulty!

 

Anyway, thats it for this round-up of news. Unless we want to discuss Donald Sterling and how his comments effect WoD. We can, you know. Just let me know if you want that. I will make it happen.

Stay tuned as WoD approaches.

[Discuss This Article!]

New RaF Mount + Flying Blog Post?

mechanicalHorse

This week’s news has been rather slow comparatively, but we do have an interesting pair of topics to consider as we wait for the official Beta announcement for the upcoming expansion, Warlords of Draenor.
mechanicalHorseWhat you are seeing above is what is speculated as the “Fiery Mechanical Warhorse,” featured as the new RaF mount. Now there have really been some cool mounts introduced with this system, and they seem to get less exciting every time a new comes out, but regardless, its a great way to add incentive to the program. Especially now that they have the instant 90 one-off, less people would probably consider RaF, and just say to new friends “pick your 90 wisely” as they will all get at least one with WoD anyway. Another concern is that RaF has been a long-time source of character boosting for players flush with money but not time. I myself have done it twice, you simply make a new account, RaF it, then dual box two characters up at the same time. The first time I did this, I leveled my Druid and Shaman together, then transferred my Druid over from the new account to mine, which is easily done especially now. The second time I used it to level my Monk, and side-by-sided with a Mage that I had no intentions of using again, and just let the account expire when time came.

Regardless, the fact is, that with the instant 90 boost, less people would consider it something useful, so why not make an amazing mount that will stir the hearts of all the collectors. Its quite pretty as well, and of course since its only a still, we can’t be sure how exactly it will operate. Can’t stop us from having a guess at it though! What do you guys think? Ground Mount only? Both Ground and Flying? How ’bout passengers? Yes or No to another on your back?

I personally think it will be another Flying 2-seater mount, but I would really prefer to see it grounded only. There is something that bothers me about seeing a horse trotting along and then suddenly lift off airborne with no real animation to show why. Its the old Flying Reindeer concept, and sure it works at Christmas time, but makes no sense to me in a video game.

Return to Classic No-Fly Mode

The other big piece of info we received this weekend was a massive blog about the philosophy behind the limitation of flying in WoD and its subsequent usage through out the expansion. Before going anywhere, I would encourage you to read it. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s discuss what this really means.

First of all, to all the idiots who think they are avoiding the question or sidestepping in some way, understand that this expansion is in internal testing. They literally do not know, and at no point should you expect the decision to be made until as close to launch as possible. Asking these questions now are just showing your inexperience with how patches and expansions work, and especially since they have confirmed no flying in the launch patch, we may not know the answer until 5.1 PTR. Stop asking, and get off your high self-entitled horse. You don’t deserve answers when you act like you do. You will get them in due time.

Ahem, anyway, back on topic. Flying. Ya.

So in this post and response we learn a bit about the actual philosophy, and it really shouldn’t be surprising at this point. Think back to Classic (if you were born yet) and you will remember the model well. In the post, it is said that they want you to have to carefully clear mobs and deal with the world as it is, not just fly over it. Of course, this is how Pandaria was, so its not so foreign. Where it gets strange is at max level, but I think it will be for the best, especially for those who do PvE. Now that pretty much everyone has Epic ground riding (unlike classic) traveling the world really isn’t that slow on the ground. Obviously flightpaths will be useful, but when we are talking about getting to a raid or challenge mode dungeon, its way more fun to consider going by ground than simply flying in. Another thing to mention is the summoning stone put back in usage! The long-forgotten stone outside of raides and challenge modes has been unfortunate, but now that there isn’t direct flying, it will behoove people to actually meet up at the stone like in the old days. Along this path, you will be able to take in the intricate architecture as well as the local wildlife and inhabitents. If its anything like AQ was, I am really looking forward to it. There was a direct path from the town we all started at, and very epic gates and scenery to travel through. Really only the AQ raids and ZG had this, and every other one was unceremonious to the point of boredom.

I promise you, you will like this. It seems weird at first, but actually getting to see the world and taking in the sights instead of just flying over all the ground adornments and epic gates that are put there will really be an eye-opener.

They also speak about max level questing and things one can imagine is relatable to the Timeless Isle. Nothing but speculation at this point though, but either way, that didn’t turn out so bad did it? It feels the way the game was meant to be played, and I for one and fully in support of the change. REMEMBER: 90 percent of the game is played in instances, so the only thing this change effects is travel and world bosses. How often do you actually have to stress out over either of those? Extremely rarely, is my answer. Hopefully yours is the same.

Stay tuned for more coverage and opinions on all the latest WoD News!

Blizzcon 2014 – Tickets Worth Paying For?

Blizzcon

I’m going to say “no” off the bat, and I’ll tell you why. 200 dollars for a ticket is a lot of money, even for both days, but let’s examine why its so much.

At PAX East, a day pass was 40 USD, so if you wanted to go to the entirety of the event (which was 3 days, not 2) it was 120 USD. That seemed like a lot as well, but once it was announced that there would be free beta keys for WoD and likely equally cool stuff for the hundreds of other titles there, it quickly became less of a price tag burden.

At Blizzcon, you do get some cool stuff no doubt. Regardless what the doorbag is though, there wont be anything equatable, at least for World of Warcraft. Obviously the game will be out by then, and even if for some reason its not, there won’t be anything exclusive to give out for it. No beta key that people are selling for hundreds of dollars, or anything on that level.
What will they even discuss at Blizzcon, come to think of it? Let’s break it down by title.

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor should be just weeks old, but honestly if it comes out too close, its just a waste of time. No one wants to take a weekend off a game release like that, so for their sake I hope its at least out for a month or two before then. Realistically, we will get some big announcement about patch 6.1 and 6.2. An early vote goes to the Timewalker dungeons, which they are again testing the technology for in this upcoming Beta test. Quickly, if you haven’t heard you will get scaled to level 100 even if you aren’t already for any raid or dungeon testing. Back on topic! What else will there be for WoW? Likely just a bunch of screenshots, recap of how successful WoD’s launch was or was not, and introduction of one big upcoming feature.

Diablo 3 will likely have some big patch or expansion to discuss as well. By then, Reaper of Souls will be about 9 months old, and while I wouldn’t expect too much, they will certainly have something in the works. I don’t follow the game much, but I’d say it to be slightly bigger for the game than what WoW announces, but still nothing worth 200 dollars to hear with your own ears instead seeing online.

Heartstone will absolutely have something in the works. This is a title that has potential for an expansion every few months, so there is no doubt in my mind the first major one will be around this time. Issue is, it seems rather long, but I suppose that depends when the Adventure mode patch comes out. Regardless, I wouldn’t expect any other title to have more information divulged than this one. Especially considering the world championship, this would be the big draw for me, if I cared about the game as much as WoW.

Heroes of the Storm will likely use this to announce a release date. Its not uncommon, as we saw with the Hearthstone release date set at 2013 blizzcon. It wasn’t very accurate, but still happened. Aside from that, what else might there be? Who knows! Hopefully new maps, new champions, and other big innovations and plans. Its a game that has the potential to be released early, but I see being in “testing” phases for at least a full year, if not longer, so November lines up pretty well with when they will begin talking about a finished project.

Starcraft will likely announce its new expansion or something along those lines. This game literally didn’t even have a booth during Blizcon 2013, and for a good reason. They had nothing. Now, that WoW effectively has nothing, it shouldn’t be surprising to see their other titles toss some big info around casually. Expect nothing less.

Potential new title? Something we have all mired over, by the name of “Titan.” I don’t think its happening any more though. This was all before Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm, so if they release another big budget title, its not gonna be any time soon. My vote and hopes would go towards seeing another Warcraft RTS. Blizzard’s CEO stated that Warcraft 4 is not off the table just because WoW has the persistent story, but wasn’t being discussed in 2013. Now, come November, we will likely have some big mystery title they are working on. This may be the main facade of why to go, but I still can’t justify it.

On top of these mediocre title announcements, the hotels in that area are hilarious. Last year, I had purchased the ticket, and when I had calculated the airfare, hotel, and expenses, it came to nearly 3000 USD. FOR TWO DAYS! Unreal, I could do so much with that money its not even funny. The main draw to go is to mingle with other WoW players and associates. I’d love to spend time in real life with Syiler and Meoni and the others from Stratics, and I would also love to see some of my Guildmates that I’ve been playing with for nearly 5 years now, but no way is that worth 3000 USD. I can literally use that money to pay all expenses for both Syiler and Meoni to visit my area for the week instead and still have about 1000 dollars left over! The only way I see this worth the price is if you live in the area and either don’t need a Hotel, or can cut out the costs on the airfare. If you only have to spend the 200 dollars to be there, then its likely worth it.
Regardless, the hype is real, don’t get it twisted. This is the penultimate Blizzard party of the year, and to miss it pains me every time. It really does. But two days after its over, and I’ve watched every second of it on the Virtual ticket, I realize how much time, effort, and money I saved. Every year, a few of our guildies end up there, and always say how difficult it is to find each other, how overpriced the beers are, and how loud it is for no reason. These things are all very party-like, but in real world scenarios, I’d much rather my first meaningful contact with these people I’ve spent so much time with online to not be at a rave.

So what do you guys think? Is it worth all this effort just to live up to the party hype assiociated with it? Will you be going? [Discuss it over at our forums] I’ll join you shortly in the conversation!

6.0 Battle/Combat Resurrection Changes!

combat rez

What a better time than Easter to talk about Battle Rez changes! Hope you all enjoyed your holiday, because the people at Blizzard were hard at work furthering the news dissemination that has been happening since Alpha’s notice.

Today, the aim is to first explain the Warlord’s Battle rez model, and then give my opinions on it and help give examples of fights today that this could be amazing or horrible for.

So for those of you who haven’t heard, with nearly all difficulties being flexible, (and Mythic being uncharted waters in general) we now will be operating under a new model that can be

You weren't Soul Stoned..?

You weren’t Soul Stoned..?

quite difficult to understand, but once implemented should really help things along. The current model has evolved along quite a patch. In the old days of Classic, there was no cap on rez in combat, but only Druids could perform the action. Soulstone was merely wipe protection, but if some one did take one in combat that of course didn’t effect anything either. So realistically, if you have 40 druids or locks, you could have two shots at the boss per player on average, if not more. This was a fact on some of the more difficult encounters Classic offered, forcing guilds to level alts then get soul stones to them before pulls in order to facilitate progression.

Fast forward to the present day, and we see a much different model. A well planed “1 per 10, 3 per 25.” This was quite fair considering how many more mechanics happen in 25 man, but the true upgrade was giving Locks and DKs an option to rez as well! On top of this, Holy Paladin with Symbiosis could also find themselves with a Battle Rez. This took the guess work out of the equation, but often lead to things like every player in the raid using their rez at the same time on the same person who is afk, and now they are all on CD! This will all become a thing of the past in Warlords of Draenor, however!

The new model will take a bit of getting used to, but let’s explain it in basic terms.

First of all, this is only applicable to raid encounters, so elsewhere I’d imagine the old rules still apply.
So during an encounter, anyone with the capacity for a battle rez will have a new raid-“wide charge” pool that changes over time. When the boss is first pulled, there is only one charge, so no matter who attempts to rez some one, it can only be done one time off the bat. This charge pool will accumulate another or refresh itself over a fixed interval derived using the following equation:
1 charge per 90/X, where 90 is an arbitrary formulation and X = RAID SIZE. So let’s explore real possibilities before we delve into the other features.

10 man (lowest difficulty)  – 90/10 = 9, thus 1 charge every 9 minutes. Effectively, one charge per encounter, as a 10+ minute fight will nearly never exist outside of Mythic.
14 man (common flex size) – 90/14 = 6.4, thus 1 charge every 6 and a half minutes. Effectively, one charge early, and one charge at the very end on some encounters, but likely just 1 per on most lower difficulties.
20 man (mythic, end game difficulty) – 90/20 = 4.5, thus 1 charge every 4.5 minutes. Effectively, one charge early, and at least one more in the middle of the encounter. Depending on how encounters go, there is a real possibility of a third rez used towards the end, as the 9 minute mark approaches. This makes sense, as Mythic will be the hardest difficulty, and likely have 10+ minute encounters like we see now.
40 man (potential top end for flex, unlikely) – 90/40= 2.25, thus 1 charge ever 2.25 minutes. This is where things get pretty silly, as if they do actually allow for 40 man flex, having a rez every 2 minutes is disproportionate to the previous trend for that many players. Its likely 5+ players will die every encounter, if not 10, so only having 3-4 rezes is just too few. Unlikely to see 40 man as a potential option return though either way.

OK, so now let’s examine the second half of this change and how it will effect the raid!
The UI for this will be much more intuitive, as hinted at earlier. Since they all share a CD and pool of charges, everyone will see the charge spent only if the player takes the rez successfully. This means those silly DC battle rezzes won’t happen, and if it some one dies, gets a rez but doesn’t take it, you can simply use it again on the next death. On top of this, there will be a debuff on players that have a pending resurrect. This alleviates the issue that happens now summed up as: I DID REZ HIM DUDE HE JUST ISN’T TAKING IT.
Now there will be no grey area! Only thing that needs to be done now is remove the runic power requirement on Raise Ally, and we will be in heavenmode.

 

Not related.

Not related.

So anyway, let’s discuss how this can immediately be amazing and its opposite based on SoO. Of course, fights are likely getting a huge overhaul given 20 man and the healing changes, so don’t take this too far. Its only really relevant as a showcase, and not as a prediction.

Best case scenario: Paragons 25 man Heroic – 12 minute enrage that has the potential to extend. Typically, a player may die early to something silly, but since its such a long fight, there is potential for 3 resurrections used easily.

Worst case scenario: Norushen 25 man Heroic – The only time players ever die in this fight is right after the first 5-6 adds spawn from those returning from the trial. If you are going to use three resurrections, they will all be within the first minute, but now they can not be.

These are just two examples of how this can effect us, but in short its obvious that this benefits a longer fight time. If the fights are less than 5 minutes as there were in ICC, then expect only 1 rez to be used effectively. Only time can tell how this will play out, but I immediately like this concept much better than the previous. If you guys have any questions or want to discuss your thoughts on this change, we encourage you to head over to the forums at http://stratics.com/community/

See you in the next article!

Latest Healer Mana Changes – Regen THIS!

mana cds

As of April 17th, we see Blizzard going back on their word already, and instead of removing all the Mana CDs current to MoP they are just COMPLETELY remaking most of them. Its possible this could be another late April Fools joke, or gets reverted quicker than I can type this article, but I can’t see the future, so for now let’s discuss!

We will start where is most logical, and discuss each potential strength, meta usage, and give opinions.

Holy Paladin
Divine Plea-  Instantly regain 4.5% of maximum mana. Paladin – Holy Spec. 3 Holy Power. Instant.

Probably the singularly strangest thing I’ve ever seen as a component of a healing spec in the game. I’ve played this game for a longgg time and healed for more than 80 percent of that time, and never seen something this strange. Maybe other games are doing this? Regardless, if it operates as it states, this will be a spammable Mana Regen ability with no cooldown or cast time that can be used every three globals if necessary. Where it gets really strange is that building HP quickly (at least right now) would equate to much more mana than this restores, but the 75 point tier makes this right back into a concentrated CD depending on selection. If you pick Holy Avenger or Sanctified Wrath, you can pretty much control a massive income of mana, and if you choose Divine Purpose then you will often get free mana for no reason.
The meta strategy behind this spell immediately seems, given the current model, that if we have HP and have to move, use it on Divine Plea. If we have a Purpose proc, use it on Divine Plea. And if the fight is too long, use Divine Plea instead of the ludicrous cast time spells known as Word of Glory and Light of Dawn!
Overall, I see this not making it live. Having a Holy Power spender regen mana on no cooldown is just way too strange given the Holy Paladin spell kit, but I’ve been wrong many times before. We shall see.

Mistweaver Monk
Stance of the Wise Serpent – While in Stance of the Wise Serpent, Crackling Jade Lightning costs no mana and refunds 2% of maximum mana if channeled for its entire duration.

Much less strange the the Paladin option, and much more recognizable to the Shaman’s Lightning Bolt option that already exists. The biggest issue I see here is that it has to be channeled for its duration to receive the mana, and there are a lot of reasons right now that doing this can be more for difficult. Either way, it should work nearly identical as LB for a Shaman. in down periods, you use this and regen some mana. It’s important to note that the channel time has gone down to four seconds, from six.
There is no real meta strategy to be perceived for this ability, but may be some application with “stance dancing.” It seems as if the new stance and its associated play style will make for many opportunites to switch between, and one special purpose may be to be able to use this free of charge + regen some.

Resto Druid
Innervate – Causes the Druid to regenerate 2.50% of maxmimum mana every 4 sec for 8 sec. This effect is cancelled if the Druid spends mana on a healing spell. Druid – Restoration Spec. 30 yd range. 2 sec cast.

The more I look at this, the less strange I find Divine Plea for Paladins, but still even this seems more real. Either way, read what that says and let it soak in. First of all, its a two second cast… Why the hell would this need a cast time? That seems ridiculous given the fact that it can only potentially give you 5 percent of your maximum mana back after EIGHT seconds of not casting. You might get that much back just from not using spells! The even crazier stipulation is that you can’t spend mana on heals. They did take the Omen of Clarity and clearcasting requirements away from Nourish, so to meta game this spell you would use it before using that proc and hope to get lucky, but either way it seems like a huge pain.
What may not seem obvious the first time you see this is that there is potential to dish these out to other healers. You are the only one who can’t cast, and this has no cool down, so what you can do is take Heart of the Wild, cast it, do as much DPS as you can, and keep refreshing it for whomever needs their whole mana bar back. By the time you are finished DPSing (which won’t break the mana restore, as it much be mana cast on heals) that person should have received a HUGE chunk of their mana back, provided you were able to give them it on CD. Another annoying thing about this is that the druid will need something to monitor exactly when its been each 4 second interval. Immediately it seems like this would be quite difficult to track without a weak aura, but hopefully Blizzard recognizes this and incorporates something. I don’t know though, maybe I’m missing something, but this just seems like an insane ability to have all of a sudden. Can’t wait to see what happens with it.

Discipline Priest
Penance now costs 2.9% of Base Mana, down from 3.1%. Now also restores 2% of maximum mana when damage is done,
Atonement no longer works with Penance.

First of all, let’s have a moment of silence for Penance. There will likely be no more cast-while-moving as it is, and now it doesn’t even do healing :(
Either way, now its a mana restore, nearly identical to the MoP Lightning Bolt, but has a small CD. Not much to discuss here, except what this may do to atonement healing, especially in five mans. Maybe the spell will retain its movement, but either way, it went from being dealing crazy damage, healing for high amounts, and being usable on the move… to this. RIP.
Better go Holy. jk

Holy Priest
Chakra: Chastise – Increases the damage done by your Shadow and Holy spells by 50%, grants a 10% chance for Smite to reset the cooldown of Holy Word: Chastise, causes Smite and Holy Fire to cost no mana and refun 0.75% of maximum mana, and transforms your Holy Word spell back into Holy Word: Chastise.

The underlined words are whats new, and to no surprise! Welcome back to “stance dancing!” Of course, there are many options for making use of this, but since it regens so little mana you’ll likely have to sit in Chastise Chakra for quite some time. They have already changed the way things operate revolving this mechanic, and much to my dismay. I expect to see it go away entirely, but I suppose this makes things a bit more interested. Now, you have to make better choices, and hopefully see high rewards on down periods when you can afford it. This also makes you do a lot of damage while restoring mana, so nothing wrong with that! Should be cool in progression raiding, just pretty much useless in 5 man content.

Restoration Shaman
Telluric Currents – Your attunement to natural energies causes your Lightning Bolt spell to restore 1.25% of your maximum mana instead of costing mana.

This is the “zero” if you understand me. This was the baseline for every other change that we have seen. Some were strange, some were awesome, but they will all take some getting used to. Meanwhile, nothing changes for shaman. They removed the fact that it costs mana and restores mana, likely to bring it in line with the other spells. Either way, now that this can’t be cast while moving, even this is a huge nerf. The spell was such a great filler for moderate movement.
*On top of this, you should also be aware they have reduced the base mana cost of nearly every heal in the game by some amount.

That’s a wrap then. Care to take a vote on what will change and stay as is? I imagine none of these, honestly. Given the fact that they first said they would all be removed, anything can happen!

Where We Are So Far? – WoD Alpha / PAX East!

wod beta thumb

As of April 14th, 2014 we have seen many things. We have seen the announcement of WoD Alpha along with a Sandbox connection patcher to allow players to host the game to stream and explore. After a few days of that, we saw the start of PAX East along with an unexpected announcement. For those attending and able to brave the lines to test the game, they would receive a WoD Beta key usable in upcoming testing sessions. At this point, we don’t know when that will be, what phase of testing it will be for, or how much content will even be available at that point. One thing we do know, is their timeline and considerations have been quite abnormal so far. Examine this information, as we learned in a recent interview from Celestalon and Zarhym.

  • The expansion has been in internal alpha for “quite a while”.
  • The alpha is currently an employee take home alpha. It will remain alpha when friends and family are invited, as well as when a small amount of players are invited. After that some opt-in players will be invited and it will be beta.
  • The ramp up of invites will be slower than Mists of Pandaria beta, as there is the new filesystem to test.
  • The Warlords of Draenor beta will also have a more limited number of people invited compared to the Mists of Pandaria beta. There is no Annual Pass this time, so Blizzard isn’t obligated to invite more than a million players as fast as possible again.
  • The alpha patch notes were delayed in order to not step on D3 and Hearthstone’s news. The alpha builds being produced were also somewhat unstable.

So with all this in mind, let’s discuss where we actually are and what we should expect from the next few weeks and months. Based on what we saw in the Alpha Sandbox, there are some mixed bags to dig through. We saw well developed areas like Nagrand and even instances, but in the same light we saw not even half complete Tanaan Jungle. When we shift over to those actually able to participate in the Alpha testing during PAX, we learned that while most of the starter zones were fully functioning, half the mobs drop no loot or have no audio files associated with them. On top of this, major features like the in-game group finder and the toybox are not even implemented yet, despite being features that should enter the game before the expansion even deploys. This is worrying honestly, especially when we realize how few character models are complete, and see things like the “Arathi Snowbasin” and the “Heroes of Warcraft” battlegrounds. When I see things like this, it makes me realize that they have spent time, albiet little, on features that wont ever be used, yet have not worked on even an alpha-worthy toybox or group-finder feature! But just when all seemed darkest, we see what looks to be a completely finished Alliance Garrison selection of imagery. We learned that NPCs in Garrisons will react to your presence and recognize you and others as important people. We learned that they will move around you to not bump into you out of respect, and even share emotes if you initiate such contact. So where are we really? After all this, can we conclusively say? Hearing things like “been in alpha for quite a while” yet most of the main features set to launch with 6.0 not even in yet is very confusing. Regardless, we also hear things like “limited number of people invited” despite giving out potentially thousands of free beta keys for those at PAX? A lot of contradictions seems to be the mile marker for this WoD Alpha test, hell even the name is a contradiction. At first, the client was labeled Beta, now its back to Alpha, and they even said that we are further than most Alphas, yet still no news about Beta even after distributing all these keys! Only one thing can be certain in these trying times. When all seems murky and unrefined, WoWstratics has your back. When the landscape as we know it crumbles and reality falters, WoWstratics is there to put the pieces back together. During an era of impatience, we wait idly for WoD Beta (or Alpha or Gamma or whatever) and when we have it, so too shall you. Stay tuned for more and enjoy some screenshots telling this tale.

WoWScrnShot_040814_211453

Seemingly Finished Nagrand.

 

Garrison Image from PAX.

Garrison Image from PAX.

New Elekk Model.

New Elekk Model.

Unfinished Portal Area.

Unfinished Portal Area.

Potential WoD Five Man.

Potential WoD Five Man.

Snowrathi Basin.

Snowrathi Basin.

 

Play Like a Pro! – Resto Druid Weak Aura / Information!

Resto ss

Hello and welcome to our newest series inspired by our third Podcast (http://wow.stratics.com/interviews/wow-stratics-podcast-3-spotlight-disadvantaged-gamers/) where Metro discusses how simple UI elements can make a world of difference and helps players looking to take their character to the next level do just that. As mentioned in the Podcast, if you aren’t playing with proper Keybinds, Macros, or Addons, you might as well be missing a hand compared to players who are! These guides will be focused on players who already understand the class/spec and are looking to elevate their game to the next level. The experience I have with each spec is almost purely through Challenge Mode dungeons, and can say these design elements can make or break your play and will tell you if / when you are ready for that next step. Let’s get started!

Today we will examine Restoration Druid and show how a few simple indicators can take your play from moderate to exceptional.

To understand Druid is to know that your most powerful healing is done over time and on the move. While it typically a cliche to “set it and forget it” this is VERY much the case, especially in large group content. It can easily be said that a druid who uses things like Rejuvenation and Wild Growth with nothing else can do a fine job in 25 man raiding, but when we delve into 5 man content such as Challenge Modes, or even 10 man progression raiding, you won’t be able to just sit around and toss hots at players!

With this in mind, let’s examine the screenshot below.

Druid full UI

Click to Enlarge!

In this screenshot you will see multiple spells and timers, all aiming to take the guess work out of the Restoration Druid spec. In this article, we will discuss the individual contributors, and break down each section piece by piece.

Main Cooldown Tracker

As a Restoration Druid, especially in 5 man challenge mode content, or even raiding, its extremely important to maximize Tree of Life, Ironbark, and Innervate. As per usual, I will preach that having a visual indicator on the screen should reliably help control their usage, and with a ticking CD, you will know exactly when they become available. If you are doing progression raiding, this will help your brain recognize patterns through out the encounter, and eventually you will be able to judge time without looking at a clock or timer, just because you know how often you are able to use your abilities. If there is one thing that’s important about 25 man heroic progression, its this aforementioned level of understanding and optimization. Lets’ examine the screen shot below and discuss exactly what you are seeing here.

CD group

You will immediately notice two rows, and some variety in each. Beginning with the top left, we see Ironbark. This is a simple visual indicator to help plays recognize the spells availability. When its available, its on the screen. When its not, its gone, to help prevent clutter. With a 1 minute cooldown, this should be something that you can get used to using consistently, with a helpful reminder from our friend Mr. Aura :D

Next to Ironbark, still on the top row, we have the same type of indicator for Innervate. The icon will be present when the spell is available and disappear when its not.  This one is even more vital, and should help you get into a habit of using it early and often. Its by-in-large the main reason Restoration Druid can spend mana as much as they can without worry.

Jumping now to the bottom row, we see both Battle Rez and Barkskin. These should be regarded as personal trackers, and will give you an immediate indication whether you can battle rez a dead player or pop a CD to survive some predictable damage. They will both operate the same as the two discussed previous, and with Barkskin being only a 45 second cooldown, its easy to forget about. With these auras, you won’t have to worry!

The final four spaces remaining are the most important. With this in mind, we have two separate trackers for each. On the bottom we have an indicator for its availability like before. This will tell you its usable, and after you use it, the icon will shift to the top row and tell you the remaining CD. This is extremely important for both these spells as knowing exactly when they come up can mean life or death for your raid team. In challenge mode content, Tree of Life is your most important CD, so once again, not knowing its exact CD can be the reason your tank dies or lives.

You can find this Weak Aura string here!

Minor CD Group

Its not uncommon for healers best spells to have small CDs, and that is certainly the case with Swiftmend and Wild Growth. Without a doubt, the go-to instant single target heal and aoe heal, and arguably the best in the game, especially when examining heal per mana. Originally, I attempted to operate these spells on the same mental clock I discussed earlier, but the facts are that they are just too short a CD for my brain to wrap itself around so I was constantly having to check and see when they were available, or be trying to cast them when they were still on CD. With these strings, you will see that problem dissipate, and you will gain a better understanding of when to use each spell. Let’s check out the image below and discuss what else we see.

Minor CD

As mentioned, you will recognize the Swiftmend and Wild Growth icons. You can see their CDs will appear when applicable, but the icon will disappear when otherwise. This is something I prefer, as it helps me realize that if there isn’t an icon always there, I am mismanaging these abilities. They are ALWAYS worth using. Maybe hold on to them for a second or two, but the blank void should scream at you that you have amazing heal per mana spells with an instant cast just sitting there waiting to be used.

Now the final one may take you somewhat by surprise, but I will explain why its there and what its used for. First of all, if you don’t recognize the icon, its for Cenarion Ward. It operates the same way the other two do, so if you don’t have it talented, it will simply never appear. When it is talented, it should ring loudly as the other two did when there is that empty space where its timer should be. This should be your best tank heal and IMO rivals Earth Shield (without the set bonus) and even Beacon to some degree. Having another hot is never a bad thing, but of course ysera’s gift can really be strong in most cases. Let’s discuss why you SHOULD NOT use it in Challenge Modes though!

Ysera’s Gift vs. Cenarion Ward

Ysera’s Gift is an amazing ability in raiding, especially 25 man heroic progression. On a fight like Malkorok, where people constantly need healing anyway, this spell will dominate. Its a no-brainer really! But, in Challenge Modes, it will be quite the opposite, and for reasons you may not predict.

The spell is essentially a ticking threat modifier! Of course, any AOE threat anyone else does will over ride it, but there will be a lot of cases where your tank will want to pull mobs quickly and gather them all up, and THEN do threat. With ysera’s gift constantly ticking, you will be the number one on the threat table while these situations arise, and thus destroy the well laid plans of your tank. Especially since its uncontrollable, this is a real big issue. The biggest example of where this will destroy you is the Shado-pan mount skip. Some people employ a controlled wipe, where you simply run allll the way from the second to the third boss, but if you have ysera’s gift on, all the mobs will focus you 100 percent of the time, and you will get all the debuffs, get sha-punched, and die before you get half way there.
Couple that with the fact that “Your most nearby injured ally” will likely NEVER be the tank, and this spell is really useless. Its strength comes with the high healthpool and high demand for aoe smart healing 25 man heroic progression demands, but is weak here, and neat unusable because of the threat issues it presents.

So I’m not saying Cenarion Ward is amazing, or even better in most situations. But it is a reliable hot for the tank, who always needs healing, and can be controlled. Make use of this spell, and its associated weak aura.

You can find the minor CD string here!

Harmony!

The Restoration Druid Passive that has been the subject of much debate is known as Harmony. Whatever your take on this mastery, understand this much. The usage of it dramatically increases the healing Regrowth does, and keeping it active in small group content like Challenge Modes is default, so it makes your hots that much more effective. That’s all you need to know for now, because thats the important part. When you are spamming Regrowth as your primary ability, it doesn’t matter if you like the passive or not. Its active all the time, so its effectively a full-time passive buff!
Of course, in actual raiding, you can’t afford this type of spending. You will need something to track its usage so you aren’t just haphazardly casting spells to try and meta-game your hots. And boy do I have just the thing to do it!

Harmony not Active!

Harmony not Active!

Harmony Active, with remaining Duration!

Harmony Active, with remaining Duration!

These two are pretty self-explanatory, but to be brief, the yellow symbol will be your alert to its non-activity, and the green bar will tick its duration before you need to cast again, should you wish to keep it up.

Both of these are individual, so if you don’t feel you need either, don’t feel obliged.
The Yellow activity indicator can be found here!
And the Green duration tracker can be found here!

Other Remarks

Now that you have all these tools, you should feel well equipped. The only thing other than these that you will need to monitor is your hots and their duration on the target, especially Lifebloom. For me, this is done via Healbot, and is by default. Hopefully you are choosing to equip yourself with a clickthrough addon such as Healbot or Vuhdo, and if you are, it should be defaulted. If not, you should really consider it. Otherwise, you’ll have to find another way to monitor your hots!

 

Well that’s everything, so if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the forum attached to this topic, or contact me in game.
As always, I am not fluent in the program, and usually find people who ARE fluent and modify their work. The original source of this came from searching the internet and finding multiple threads discussing this topic. I then pieced them together and placed them in a comfortable spot for my playstyle!

It’s important to remember that you are the best person to help yourself improve, but with tools and help from those already experienced you can transform yourself into a top-tier player near instantly.

Discuss this Topic at:
http://stratics.com/community/threads/restoration-weak-aura-set-up.314517/
See the set-up in action:
Youtube Video!
Check out my Druid’s Armory:
http://us.battle.net/wow/en/character/firetree/metrohehe/simple
Download Weak Auras Two:
http://www.curse.com/addons/wow/weakauras-2

MoP Recap & Checklist – Feature Guide for those Returning!

Re players

*Check out the playlist with video accompaniment for all of these separate patches here!

As we count the days to WoD, I see more and more faces I used to know and faces I’ve yet to see return to the World of Warcraft universe. Much to my delight, this game truly brings people from all over the world together to revel in the mysticism a fantasy experience like this delivers.

Unfortunately, while it is of great amusement to me, it can be quite overwhelming to those on the other end of this conversation. It is with this in mind that I bring you my detailed recap of everything you have missed in World of Warcraft: The Mists of Pandaria! Look at this article as a “guide” of sorts, to help understand just what has been happening while you are away, and what you can look forward to working towards while you prepare to relaunch the game for the first time in a long while.

For the individual’s benefit, I will list features per major patch, so if you quit part way through you will have some timestamp to utilize! To make the best use of this guide, examine the concepts and read my small description. Then, if you find interest in one of the topics, explore it more in game and elsewhere! This will be quite lengthy so I recommend using the “Find” feature (Control + F key) and typing in the patch you want to focus on.

5.0 – Launch of MoP

Daily Hubs and Progression – This was a major feature of the expansion when it launched, but wasn’t everyone’s favorite. As of now, these contain outstanding lore and background into what’s happening with Pandaria, as well as mounts and tabards at their finale. They can also be a tremendous source of gold income!
The hubs encompass the storyline of the Golden Lotus, Shado-pan monks, August Celestials, and Klaxxi Paragons as primary targets. There are also fishing dailies associated with Nat Pagle that is the target for those looking for the water-walking mount. The other desirable target is the Cloud Serpent dailies in Jade Forest. These are by far my favorite and conclude with an amazing scene, so if you are going to do anything, do these first. Their ultimate goal is to teach you cloud serpent flying, unlocking many of the expansion’s mounts.

Challenge Mode Dungeons – My personal favorite feature added in all of MoP. These are essentially a timed-challenge 5 man dungeon akin to the “heroics” you would run, but MUCH more difficult. They have to be flown to, will require 5 people with coordinated vocal communication, and scale all your gear down to 463 to preserve the challenge! Look more into these if you love challenging five man content and their rewards. They feature amazing mounts and sets of gear, but are being removed with the 6.0 patch so act now!

Pet Battling – an often over-looked or misunderstood concept that should be regarded as a major addition to Mists of Pandaria. There are thousands of achievement points tied to pat battling alone, and really get you involved in a three-dimensional world with a Pokemon-style backdrop. Of course, the parallels are too hard to miss, but the point is that it can be done on your character, in the game we all love, with the assortment of hundreds of pets out there. There are also many rare pets that can be collected as they used to be pre-MoP that will do quite well in the battles!

Scenarios – Effectively 3 man dungeons that don’t require tanks or healers, but can be done with even just 1 person if needed. All the mechanics on mobs in these will be dodgeable, interuptable, or survivable in some other capacity. Rewards are outdated, but worth doing each of the original ones for the lore and experience alone!

“Farm” system – A daily source or renewable materials of your choosing. It starts in Halfhill and encompasses the Tiller dailies, and at the end will leave you with 16 plots to place seeds that can yield you anything from cooking materials, to enchanting dust, or even herbs. Any material you need can be found here, and can result in a great source of income!

Legendary Quest Chain – This chain persists over the entire expansion, and will be pretty useless early on now-a-days, but its true splendor comes not from its rewards, but from its amazing voice acting and character development. I have done a video on every part of the chain if you’d prefer to just watch, but I beg you… DO NOT walk out of MoP without experiencing this. It’s far too well made to let pass. (Check it out here if you prefer to watch https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLezAEu8shuO6_8rHYHpto3zO8Gw9FqoRt)

Raids and LFR – In 5.0 through 5.1, there were three raids of progression. Mogu’shan Vaults was the entry raid and dropped the lowest ilvl of the tier. Its available on LFR, Normal, and Heroic, and features lore about the mogu and the trolls involvement in restoring their King.
Heart of Fear is the next raid, containing the highest item level gear of the tier, and featuring lore related to the Klaxxi’s former queen gone mad via sha corruption. Available in LFR, Normal and Heroic.
The final raid of the first tier is Terrace of the Endless Spring, without question the most beautiful setting we have ever raided in. It’s a small four boss raid that features the penultimate Sha that has been behind the corruption of the Mantid and the protectors of the Spring. This raid is available in LFR, Normal, and Heroic.
I would suggest skipping LFR of these raids unless you really want to see them, as its gear is trivialized by catch up mechanics discussed later.

5.1 – Landfall, minor content patch  

Faction War Daily hub – The previous hubs and patch was to give us the feeling that we arrived in a place devoid of our interference. We followed the lore of the land, but it was only a matter of time before the Horde and Alliance arrived, and when they do they bring war with them. These dailies feature progression based lore than takes you many weeks to complete and ends with a scene or scenario explaining what sets the stage for the final raid of the expansion. Extremely important if you wish to understand all the lore the expansion travels upon!

Brawler’s Guild –  Continuing the trend of personal challenges, this is essentially a solo-test based on the concept of the film/book Fight Club. You fight NPCs with unique and specific challenges, but sadly this is really harshly trivialized by gear. Regardless, it’s extremely fun to sit around and watch your friends brawl, and at the end of it all there is some really great rewards including a mount. I would highly recommend this if you like to be challenged as a player and as a class.

Battle Pets Added to Classic Raids – A small feature, but an important one for collectors and pet-battlers. AQ, BWL, and MC have had rare quality pets added to certain bosses that can also be sold, for those looking for profit. To facilitate this, the “raid group” requirement has been lifted from everything pre-MoP, so you can just walk in alone and solo it. Before you ask, everything in MC and BWL is EASILY soloable at 90. AQ 40 may present some select issues depending on class.

Gear Upgrading via Valor Points – One of the biggest systems’ changes ever implemented in the game. This allows us to use Valor points to literally make our existing epics better by whole item levels! Can be of tremendous use for getting the item level you need for LFR etc. This vendor is near the transmog and reforging guys!

5.2 – Rise of the Thunder King

Isle of Thunder – New daily hub, where Horde and Alliance meet to tear down the walls of the newly awakend Thunder King. This island featured AQ gate style unlocks that your realm had to complete together, but by now it’s all finished. With these unlocks, there was a solo-scenario that explained the lore and showed you taking on each challenge, eventually opening the raid instance to everyone involved.

New Raid, Throne of Thunder – This raid features the Zandalari early and explains their involvement on the Island and with the Thunder King Lei Shen. This is a large, sprawling raid that takes us from the gates, to having to sneak in through whats beneath the palace, then finally into the main chamber of Lei Shen. The lore here is spectacular, and continues when we learn that Raden, a fallen titan and Heroic-only encounter, had been captured by Lei Shen many years ago – as an explanation for his immense power. The raid is split up into 4 wings for LFR, and drops 502 gear, so can mostly be skipped if returning and looking to get right into the final tier. Worth doing just to see the amazing scenes and witness the horrible creatures Lei Shen has at his disposal.

World Boss / Rare Mob Faction Tag – A small feature in its scope of implementation, but extremely important and worth noting for players returning. Long story short, you no longer have to be in a group to receive credit for killing any world boss or rare mob! Enjoy.

5.3 – Escalation, minor content patch

New Storyline, Battlefield: Barrens – Picking up where we left off with the 5.1 storyline, the Horde has imploded because of Garrosh’s disastrous decisions. You find Thrall, Chen, and Vol’jin gathering their strength to assault Orgrimmar and dethrone the madman. I’m honestly not sure what’s left of this story or area, as it was further morphed into 5.4 content, but either way, the Barrens should still see the effects of the war preparation. Head out there and check it out!

“Heroic” scenarios – Further 3 man content that challenges the group beyond the previous. There are actually strong ilvl rewards from doing these, and you automatically get an upgrade for whatever your worst piece is when you complete the quest to do your first one. Commonly regarded as the highest valor-per-hour farm in the game as well as tremendous source of gold. Must be queued up premade, cannot use lfd pug system.

Battle Pets Added to TBC Raids – SSC, Karazhan, and Tempest Keep will feature even more pets for collecting or selling. You can really make quite a profit if you can get a few of these a week for the AH. Don’t forget, all the raid requirements have been removed for things prior to Mists of Pandaria, so you don’t need others to sit in a group with you while you solo it. Before you ask, all three of these places are entirely soloable, but you may have some trouble with Lady in SSC, so don’t be scared to ask a friend!

5.4 – the Siege of Orgrimmar! (Biggest patch ever, without question.)

Connected Realm Feature – If you are returning to a realm that was previous low or medium population, there is a high chance that you will be seeing many other people from other realms flying around you. This is because of the Connect Realm concept, where they have essentially “merged” multiple realms together to help facilitate larger groups finding each other.
This has literally saved realms from death, and has fostered a nice relationship from competitive players across the merged realms.
In order to understand the change, realize that you are still on your original realms, but now EVERYTHING you could do previously can be done with these other players, including joining guilds, using the AH, sending mail, etc.
Without question, this change is one of two that make this final patch the most important patch in the history of the video game, and solidifies the fact that MoP has been a tremendous success, even if you don’t like some of the features.

Flex Raiding – The second part of what makes this patch the most expansive ever. This feature allows for actual raiding to be done on a dynamic level, with as many people as you want. It scales all mechanics and bosses based on the number of people, and uses individual loot systems to ensure fairness and lack of exploits. THIS should be the goal, NOT LFR. Currently only available for SoO, and still broken up into wings. Drops 540 gear, and can be done easily with 515- 525 item level.
A great feature for those looking to do actual raiding with real mechanics, but not mess around with the LFR clowns.

Siege of Orgimmar – You know it’s been a big patch when the titular raid is third on the list!
This is IMO the most epic raid we have seen. Storming Orgrimmar is just mind-blowing, and really puts things in perspective when you break in through RFC and see just what Garrosh has been building under the city we all hang out in!
It’s quite an expansive raid, and absolutely of the highest quality, so even if you are forced to do LFR, make sure you get all four wings done.

Timeless Isle – The isle itself may not be the biggest thing, but the concept will transcend the expansion and revolutionize the way people play the game in the future. For now, its an AMAZING catch up concept. You can easily get 500+ ilvl just from the gear out there, so if you are returning to the game and need some gear, head out there asap.
For the future, this concept will replace Daily quests as the end game pve content that isn’t dungeons or raids. There has already been much discussion about this free-roam type discovery reward system, and all agree it’s far better than the previous model!

Proving Grounds – Essentially solo Challenge Modes. You will face trials specific to your sub-roll (DPS, Healer, Tank) with the potential for extreme difficulty. It starts off easy, progressing from Bronze, to Silver, and then Gold. After gold, there is Endless, which allows the waves to never stop coming and fosters macro-competition. This will be a TRUE test of your ability, and the further you get, the more bragging rights you can claim! There are even achievements and titles associated with your success here.

Arena Team Changes – I would say this is far from focused on PVP, but it’s worth noting this change no matter what type of content you play. If you haven’t played in a while, you will immediately notice there are no more Arena Teams, and thus no more team rating. This is great, as it allows you to play with anyone at any time, and not worry about creating teams and that whole thing. With this change, this has also made arenas fully cross-realm. You can now do ranked arena with friends from any realm and still gain rating.

 

That’s everything. Hopefully you have seen just how much content there is in MoP, and now have a good idea where you want to start. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the forums over at http://stratics.com/community/

Druids In Warlords of Draenor – Healing Discussion and Overview of 6.0 Changes

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druidy

Recently with the patch 6.0 Warlords of Draenor Alpha patch notes, Blizzard gave us a substantial amount of information as to the progression of both talent additions and changes to each class. Add to this the recent data-mined information from both MMOChampion and WoWHead forums; we can begin to piece together the possible state of classes and their functionality within Warlords of Draenor and Patch 6.0.

Druids in particular have seen some interesting decisions and changes which ultimately change the play style and quality of life for each specialisation.

Let’s take a short rundown of each specialisations changes and the talents within, looking primarily how they compare to current in game states and what exactly has changed. This article will however focus primarily on Healing changes and written from the perspective of a restoration druid player, so expect more lengthy details and comparisons in that area in particular.

Firstly let’s look at removals from the class. As a whole, across the board many classes have had many of their abilities cut out or changed so that they better represent their specialisations. Mages for example have seen changes to fire spells being more used and some only accessible to fire mages for example, this is pretty much the same theme across the board for all the classes in the game. This homogenisation actually specialises the player to a specific role and allows for unique benefits for bringing certain specialisations, rather than just the highest dps role in any given situation.

rippers

The Removals.

First on the chopping room floor to go is Innervate; currently in game used as a near endless tap of mana usable every 3 minutes, replenishing mana equal to 50% of the casters spirit every 1 second over 10 seconds. This particular ability was a primary cool down which would be used half way / towards to the latter phases of fights and would allow you to spend much greater amounts of mana than you would without it, knowing that you have the cool down if it was needed. It also allowed for use on other players as a resource for their own mana restoration in various situational fights or if the other player needs a cool down more than you later into fights.

The removal of the spell in my opinion is more of a removal of a utility than anything else, yet the idea is that the mana restoration effects it would provide will now be hard wired into restoration druids instead of a cool down to restore the same amount which would now be static additional regen.

This, however well implemented does alter the play style of a restoration druid, as much of the usability of Innervate was dependant on the gear level of the character. Many of the gear improvements I acquired later into Mists of Pandaria allowed me to use my Innervate on other players in our raids due to my regen reaching the point where additional cooldowns were almost un-needed. However early into the expansion the cool down was used more and more frequently earlier in fights, so it will be interesting to see how Blizzard implements that missing regen early on in a tier when the player is less geared.

Other removals include; Enrage, Mangle-cat form, Swipe-Bear Form, and Symbiosis. The removal of spec specific mangle and Swipe is understandable and works very much as I previously mentioned with the Mage idea, however some changes actually added to all specs of the class. Shred for example is now available to all Druids. Symbiosis is actually a pleasant surprise, the whole idea that situational events would require certain specs of certain classes to then gain a weakened version of an extra ability such as tranquillity from a Shadow priest for example. This idea, although good on paper actually forced confusion and far too much meta gaming and objectivity within raids, with many of the potential benefits being too weak or simply negated as they were not widely understood due to the complexity of setting up what does what where and how useful it would be in a given situation.

Nourish is also getting removed, a small filler heal for restoration druids that would amplify in its potency if the target being healed had a heal over time on them already such as Rejuvenation, lifebloom, Regrowth or Wild growth. This spell soon became less useful as we progressed through the expansion in favour of only slightly more costing abilities would heal for more and even hit multiple targets, which ultimately makes the spell an extra button that we could do without. One further, yet expected removal is the passive ‘Balance of Power’ for Balance Druids, which if you never knew is the name of the skill that grants hit rating based on the amount of spirit you have from equipped items or status effects, this is ultimately due to hit rating being removed completely from the game within WoD.

jews

Additional Changes to Existing Abilities / Spells

Many of the removals from the class are fundamentally to make way for the changes to other spells which help accommodate the class and rebalance it. One such change is to Cyclone, our Crowd Control ability, which presently cannot be cancelled by immunity effects such as a paladin bubble. This is changing in 6.0, with Cyclone finally being broken by Divine Shield, Ice Block and other immunity granting abilities. This change is long overdue, as it falls in line with other crowd control abilities within PvP that already break from such effects.

One of the most significant changes to restoration druids is one effecting the cast time of Wild Growth; a key healing ability that applies a heal over time to multiple targets and presently works as an instant cast spell. This is set to change with 6.0, with Wild growth now having a 1.5 second cast time. A change like this does alter the usability of such a spell, especially due to the fact that Wild Growth is currently an extremely viable filler and low cost way of AOE healing. Having to plan the use of this ability more doesn’t make it completely useless; it just means that you could have been healing a single target for more during that time. Many instant cast healing abilities from other classes have had a similar treatment in the patch notes and it’s no surprise that Blizzard want to make healing more defined and forward planned rather than sporadic and wasteful. Remember that Rejuvenation still remains as an instant cast past these notes, and that that along with improved Mushrooms we will still have the effective healing we currently do in my opinion.

Swiftmend remains in the game thankfully and has avoided the chop, however it seems that the glyph that added efflorescence to Wild Mushroom’s Bloom ability was seen as a success to the point that in 6.0 it will be the only way to cause the efflorescence effect and to spawn it at the mushrooms location. This adds more flexibility and positioning for this powerful ground ability, something that definitely makes for a more powerful and effective utility rather than accidently causing the effect on one player at range when all you wanted was to heal them up quickly.

Tranquillity doesn’t avoid the list of changes either, with Blizzard mentioning something about the spell being confusing to players (I would love to meet these confused players), regardless the spell is changing to heal every party and raid member within range every 2 seconds for 8 seconds total. It no longer places a periodic effects on each target either, weakening one of the strongest healing cool downs in the game. The total healing it generates should be the same as it currently is on live in raids, but to be honest I’m not sure how that could be the case, but I’m sure time will tell. The spell was never confusing to begin with, and saying it will be just as strong without its periodic attribute is hard to imagine, even with it now definitely hitting EVERY player nearby.

talents

Talent changes

The level 90 talents seem to be getting some changes, but more interestingly out of all of them is one of my favourite abilities; ‘Natures Vigil’, essentially a power button you would usually press in dire situations as one of your direct healing cool downs. Natures Vigil currently in game amplifies healing caused by healing spells by 25% and all single target damage spells to heal a friendly target for 25% of the damage dealt. In 6.0 Blizzard are planning to change the healing caused to only 16% but actually buff the damage to healing portion to 35%. This change is somewhat of a nerf to the part of the ability that I liked yet it still seems like one of the most viable of the tier of talents, with the damage to healing buff being useful in some situations, but perhaps not for general use in raiding. Many of the talent choices are options to add hybridity to the specialisation you are playing, something that doesn’t particularly make me too excited. Even though the plan was to add more flexible utilitarian options, I think that they end up just never being used. In my opinion, if I wanted flexibility with these talents they could tailor the way certain abilities heal, not add benefits to damage dealing abilities that I find a fairly wasteful use of mana that could be used to heal directly in encounters.

Changes are one thing, and no matter how you look at it all classes are getting cuts that may or may not make sense at this time, but we also got some information on additions to each class that make things more positive to imagine. The level 100 Talent ability choices were unveiled with some interesting functionality. The way we see talents in WoD will be dependent on specialisation within the class rather than see the same abilities and have to read tooltips on those abilities to see what they do for your spec. So below are the NEW talent options listed with notes dependant on spec.

 

Talents-

Left

Sunfall (Balance) – Entering Solar Eclipse will transform your Starfall spell into Sunfall and reset its cool down.

Lunar Inspiration (Feral) – Moonfire is now usable while in Cat Form, generates 1 combo point, deals damage based on attack power, and costs 30 energy.

Guardian of Elune (Guardian) – Savage Defence now lasts 4 sec, and increases your chance to dodge by 100%.

Moment of Clarity (Restoration) – Omen of Clarity now lasts 5 sec, instead of 1 cast.

Middle

Insect Swarm (Balance) – Swarm the target enemy with insects which deal XXXX Nature damage every 3 sec for 15 sec. Each time that it deals damage, it also generates 5 Lunar or Solar energy, whichever is more beneficial to you. May only be cast while not in an Eclipse. 2,688 Mana, 40 yd range, 1.5 sec cast

Bloody Thrash (Feral) – Thrash now also applies the Rake bleed effect to all damaged enemies and awards 1 combo point if it strikes your current combo target.

Pulverize (Guardian) – A devastating blow that consumes 3 stacks of Lacerate on the target to deal 500% weapon damage, generate 30 Rage, and reduce damage taken by 20% for 10 sec. Melee Range, Instant, Requires Bear Form

Germination (Restoration) – You can apply two Rejuvenations to the same target.

Right

Savagery (Feral) – Savage Roar is now passive.

Bristling Fur (Guardian) – You bristle your fur, reducing all damage taken by 50% for 3 sec. Instant, 1 min cool down

Rampant Growth (Restoration) – Swiftmend now consumes your own Regrowth or Rejuvenation, but has no cool down.

 

The new talent options from a healing perspective are very interesting and will be extremely exciting to test when we gain access to beta testing later in the process of development. For now when I look at prospective choices, I really like the idea of ‘Germination’ and its application of two Rejuvenation’s on the same target, I remember how in Wrath of The Lich King and to some extent beyond that Druids would ‘roll’ rejuvenation on as many targets as possible and with changes to Wild Growth and other Hot’s it seems like this will likely be a viable and very powerful option once again, especially with Genesis being used in conjunction. The other choices; Rampant Growth and Moment of Clarity are nice, Moment of Clarity seems the weakest link of the three for general purpose encounters, however Rampant Growth offers an interesting and possibly equally powerful way of healing as Germination, with the removal of the cool down being extremely strong.

It remains to see how these talents will change and what will remain throughout the testing processes before us, but I can only comment on what’s written before us on paper, which so far looks fairly promising for the playstyle of a resto druid, yet cannot be hidden that many of the changes feel like they have removed more than they have added to the class in all. As any of these changes alter throughout the Alpha and Beta process, you can be sure to stop by WoW.Stratics to see updates and opinions on all aspects of the changing World of Warcraft we play towards Warlords of Draenor.