Warlords Home for the Holidays

Warlord Holiday

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

 

The Custom Home

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

 

Communal Living

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

 

The Holy Grail of Virtual Housing

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

 

Blizzard’s ‘Dream Home’

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

But I digress, this is about the Garrison!

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

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

Warlord Holiday Level 3 Garrison

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

 

Discipline Priest – WoD

Discipline Priests

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

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

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

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

Spell Changes

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

 

Some other changes to Discipline Priests are:

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

*New* Level 100 Talents

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

40yd range   5,040 mana   2.32 sec cast

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

Passive

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

40 yd range   4,800 mana 1.39 sec cast

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

cinematic

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

Enough time?
Good. Let’s rock.

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

Dark Portal Intro and Outro:

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

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

I give these two 6/10

 

FrostFire Ridge Finale:

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

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

I give this a 7/10.

 

Shadowmoon Valley Finale:

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

Plus shes damn cute.

I give this a 9/10.

 

Talador Finale:

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

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

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

I give this 5/10.

 

Nagrand Finale:

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

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

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

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

I give this a 100/10.

 

Can not wait for this expansion…

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

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

khadgar

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

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

Khadgar’s Task:

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

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

khadgar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Challenge Modes:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Old Character’s Names Removed? – Metro Explains!

name

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

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

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

1. Forcing People to Resub to Protect their Name.

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

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

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

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

name

2. Forcing People to Buy a Name Change.

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

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

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

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

3. Reinvigorating the Name Pool.

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

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

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

Having more to choose from is always preferable.

4. Why 2008?

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

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

 

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

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

News Recap – 10 Year Anniversary and Free Face Changes!

news

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

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

10 year Anniversary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

new

Courtesy of WoWhead!

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

Free Face Changes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Complete Tank Transformation – Classic to WoD Walkthrough!

tank

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

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

Classic -

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

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

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

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

Burning Crusade -

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

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

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

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

Wrath of the Lich King -

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

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

Model: 50 percent threat, 50 percent survival. tank

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

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

Cataclysm -

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

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

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

Mists of Pandaria –

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

tankModel: Active Mitigation Survival and Vengeance DPS.

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

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

Warlords of Draenor -

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

Model: Active Mitigation 100 percent.

tank

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

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

Metro’s Summary and Favorites -

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

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

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

Developer Q/A Discussion – Garrisons, Legendaries, Professions!

preview

One of the final expected actions on each Expansion’s promotion list are the developer interviews and questions and answers segments. In expansions past, fans and news sources like our self thrive of these questionnaires, as we are able to ask hard hitting questions about topics that may not be already in the mix…

Well, that was not the case this year. I’m not going to solely blame twitter, but the fact that its so accessible by so many different types of players, we got a LOT of wasted space in the question’s answered. Which is unfortunate, and not to say I had 100 questions that were better asked, but it still is a real shame to see such an important even squandered by such useless and paltry questions such as if Magtheridan will make an appearance…

There are a handful of semi-interesting talking points, so let’s go over them briefly and discuss the implications!

- No long grinds associated with the Legendary Ring this time

garrison

I already gave my thoughts on the Legendary situation this expansion, and will stick to them. Frankly, no long grind tells me that everyone can get this either before raiding even opens (which would be retarded) or not to long into progression. I understand they are trying to make expansions shorter and more compact, but some of the things they cut just really adversely effect the game in my eyes. I’m not a nostalgia fanboy, but the item is called a Legendary for a reason. Sure, a 0.01 percent drop on the bindings isn’t more interesting, but surely the original model of Legendary items can teach of something right?

My biggest complaint with the cloak was that everyone had it and it really effected progression. Now the idea looms that it will happen again. Blizzard are no longer learning from their mistakes, which is worrying to me. Oh well, its just an item. Let us move on!

- DKs can get Death Knight Guards / Smaller = More customizable.

DK lf work, unemployed since WotLK. pref guard, pst.

DK lf work, unemployed since WotLK. pref guard, pst.

Cstocks says something along the lines of “The first iteration was too big, and didn’t feel fun.” I immediately disagree with that, but when we learn that a smaller garrison may mean more custom stuff it sways my mind back the other way.

To me, the larger scale the cooler the thing is in this game. Time, money, effort – which ever. The more it takes and the bigger in scope, the more impressive it is. That’s the fundamental part of an MMO!

But, if a smaller scope leads to a larger scope in customization, then I am all for it. Hearing that Death Knights who are exalted with the Ebon Blade can recruit Death Knight body guards is an amazing touch, and considering no on has heard of this before, it makes me believe that its either extremely out of the way (or maybe its not in yet lol.)

This gives me hope for other class specific entires, like perhaps Paladin’s exalted with Argent Dawn or whatever they are now can have something. Mages with Kirin Tor? Monks with Lorewalkers? Druids with the Shendralar? jk.

Either way, if they build on it, I am sold.

- 5.1 style story quests through your garrison.

This was probably the biggest reveal in the entire interview. Obviously not having payed attention religiously to the Garrison quests and their appearance, I would never have known this on my own. It was said in the interview that the first 8 or so weeks are just building up your pressence within your own garrison and this world, but then the 8 weeks after that are intense story-driven assignments. In total, these 16 weeks must equate to something big, because if the Dominance offensive line was anything to keep your eye on, they have big shoes to fill.

Not sure what we may be seeing, but I am looking forward to the story this time around. Frankly, MoP’s daily concept with 5.0 and even 5.1 was extremely off putting. Hopefully, this “weekly” quest isn’t something that needs to be done over the course of the week. What I mean by that is, hopefully it can be done in a single day and doesn’t require constant repetition. If it does, I simply won’t participate, as excited as I am for the story. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do story stuff and get prepared for raiding.

- Profession buildings: Don’t have = craft basics, Do have = accelerate CD and make best for you.

The final topic to discuss here is the most poignant, and not because of the interview or the answers given. Frankly, I had no idea this was an issue, but after watching this live as it happened and then checking out the forums, apparently professions are in some was a “train wreck!” Who knew!
You see, on my main that I leveled 90-100, the profession building must not be doing its full job or something. Either way, or I don’t have the tier three blueprint where others do, but they claim is that profession owners simply don’t make anything themselves anymore. They option, according to these individuals, is that you can either have the JC folks make you a 650 ring in the time it takes to complete the work order, or you can spend the 10 days getting the CDs to make it yourself.

This sounds like an over dramatic look on something that likely is a bit different then expected, but assuming for the sake of this conversation that is the case, does it really matter?
Why would it, other then you can get good gear quicker into the expansion. You can STILL only have 3 crafted pieces, so if you don’t have those by the time raiding opens you don’t deserve to have your voice heard. It makes no difference for actual gear progression, as by the time it matters its equated anyway.

The one thing I will agree with is that 5 man heroics are just going to be trivialized YET AGAIN by these silly changes. Oh well, at least CM will be something to explore.

 

That’s everything from me and this recap, so if you guys have any questions about anything discussed here, or potentially omitted material please feel free to ask! Otherwise, see you in WoD!

What is Triage Healing? – Classic, MoP, WoD Comparisons!

triage

In the upcoming WoW Expansion Warlords of Draenor, we will see the healing model once again completely overhauled to that of a Triage state echoing Classic’s foundation. In this article, I’ll be start by discussing Triage dynamics, and conclude by making some 1:1 comparisons between the model as well as answer a few common misconceptions about the changes. Let’s begin!

What Triage actually is:

Since this is a strange term, it is best to first define its usage in the English language. Knowing the actual word will help you better understand the new model.

Triage: the assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties.triage

So from the definition we can already surmise that decision making skills are at the forefront. But what this means for the healer may not be abundantly obvious.

The most simple way to describe what is happening with 6.0 would be to say that all damage taken is much more proportional and in more regulated chunks. Imagine a boss that hits you for half your health but only does this ever 5-6 seconds. A fluent Triage situation would be this example, but with raid damage happening as well.

This makes your job as the healer simply keeping the tank with enough total health to survive each large strike, while keeping the raid out of danger.

What Triage means for WoW:

As described in the previous example, this completely flips the focus of healing on a 180. From my experience as a 14/14H 25 man raid leader who players a healer, the only way to describe healing now is “terrible.”

Essentially, if anyone takes damage they are near death, and the rest of the encounter is just spamming heals on full health people to try and do competitive HPS.

This is an oversimplification and a degradation of a model that worked pretty well at one point, but once again, we find our selves at the end of a tier just completely laughing at any damage that doesn’t one shot us. In my opinion, this is absolutely terrible, and a mockery of what healing has become.

In response, we have Triage healing, a model where there will ALWAYS be damage that matters, and its very likely that you will never get a full raid topped up in terms of health.

This is the GOAL. Whether or not it happens has yet to be seen, but for those doubters, I can say with confidence that the system worked 10 years ago, so I believe it can work again.

Triage Model in Classic WoW:

The best form of Triage I have experienced came in Classic World of Warcraft, most specifically in 40 man raiding, but also in a lot of 5 to 20 man content.

Best example I can give is Dire Maul: West. Inside the main area, there where ghosts that, as you pull them, they shoot an AOE of frost damage out to everyone in the group for about half your health. This seems very daunting at first, but when you realize that they only do it once in their expected lifespan, you get a glimpse at what we can expect coming with WoD.

This was also heavily prevalent in Raiding. There would often times be a massive AOE damage that forced healers to react quick enough to get everyone healed up before the next, but it was unlikely to be for a good 10-15 seconds.

Even more important was the lack of any real smart or AOE healing. This forced players to single target heal multiple people consecutively, and was the root of the “healing assignments” that were once such a mandatory part of the video game.

Comparison of Classic to WoD Triage:

There are a few MAJOR differences, but in my opinion, the heart of the matter is the exact same.

The most noticeable changes the model will present is simply that every healer has multiple sources of good AOE healing. This presents what I view as an inherent flaw in the procedure, especially coming off a model where spamming your smart heal meant topping the charts, and blind healing was the only way to play. triage

Another key difference is the tuning. Back in Classic, health wasn’t present on a lot of people’s gear. Resistances where what you needed to survive, and classes that couldn’t sufficiently accrue, would take a LOT more damage from sources. At the time, this really forced the hands of healers, and caused a lot of strange gimmicky mechanics like keeping all the cloth wearers out of LOS of the boss whenever he would do the damage. Literally, stop dps and run. This will NOT be happening in WoD, so those undergeared or unprepared will have an incredibly tough time surviving.

Key similarities in my eyes include 1 major factor: Spell selection.

Back in Classic, it was often pertinent to downrank your spells to conserve mana, then use the max rank when there was high damage need. At the time, Paladins only heal option was Flash of Light. You would use a 3x downrank to remain near mana neutral, and use max rank when the damage picked up, then go back to conserving when it was stymied.

This is exactly how the model is shaping up to be in WoD, especially for Paladins. We have a cheap heal, and an expensive high hps heal. That is a gross oversimplification as well, but for comparison’s sake, it is pertinent. In times of low need, you can just spam targets with Holy Light, but when things heat up you will dump your mana with Flash of Light or Holy Radiance.

Some Hurdles and Misconceptions:

To conclude, let’s discuss some of the biggest obstacles I have seen people come across since playing the Beta. I am going to directly quote the best example I’ve seen and discuss its misgivings:

Dungeons aren’t hard. Healing “is”. I understand that this was the intention of the healing change, so allow me to explain.

Example -The giant robot boss in Skytalon as a paladin. The AoE damage is -massive- and I got no good AoE healing tools. Ontop of this, ALL tanks are taking massive damage.

Misconception #1 – Healing has become more difficult. This is extremely false. What has happened as a side effect of the change, however, is that healing now requires you to think instead of letting Smart Heals handle 90 percent of your job. Healing’s difficulty has always been maximizing your role as Support, so now, it will be less about placing spells, and more about when to use what.

Misconception #2 – Damage is “massive.” This term makes no sense in the new model, as the model is built around damage per second incoming. A “massive” burst of damage is usually followed up by a complete lull, and it is your job to catch up afterwards. If the damage one-shots the team, then it is massive. Otherwise, its just damage you need to deal with.

Misconception #3 – You need AOE to heal in Triage. In my opinion, especially as a Holy Paladin, triage will reinvigorate the single target heal. As of MoP its pretty much useless unless you are healing a tank. Especially in Five Mans, the days of just tabbing through and healing every person have returned. There is no reason to be trying to cast AOE heals on 4 targets, especially in this new model. If all else fails, use your CD!

 

So that’s everything. I feel I have done a good job explaining Triage as well as helping dispel some myths about its concerns. If you guys have ANY questions, please do not hesitate to ask! See you in 6.0!

triage

Boredom Busters – 6 Weeks or Less until 6.0! What Should I Do?

boredom

Many of you are in the same boat in terms of boredom with WoW. Its the healthy response to something that effectively hasn’t changed for a full year. Think about how this time last year we were getting hyped for SoO and Blizzcon…

It indeed has been quite the long ride, but today I am here to tell you guys about how I have avoided beating boredom on WoW. Your first impression may be along the lines of “Those aren’t things I can do,” but read on my friends! With each topic, I will provide a very real way for even “casual” players to enjoy this content before it becomes a thing of the past.

 

#5 – Exploration

Easily the best boredom buster I have ever gone through in this game, as it can be done at your own pace. You set the tempo, direction, and levels of interest. Now its not something you do for any specific reasons, but if you must have one, I would encourage you to make a game out of it. Take your least experienced alt and send him all around the world. Have your goal be explore every inch of every zone in either the game, or wherever you are interested in seeing.

Personally, I don’t need any inspiration to be injected into my brain. Its already filled up with the splendors that is Jade Forest, and to some degree, the rest of Pandaria. The thing about Jade Forest, is there are a LOT of areas that you simply never see while questing, and as soon as you hit 90, you will never see them again because the canopy of trees is blocking them as you fly over.

I would encourage you to get on a ground mount, and just walk the whole zone. You’ll see spectacular architecture, little villages you wouldn’t have explored otherwise, and some interesting shrines and locations. Its been quite breathtaking!

boredom

#4 – Achievement Hunting

A while back I would have listed this much higher, as I was really interested in getting close to 20k achievement points. Unfortunately, I no longer count that as a goal of mine, but the point is that boredom can EASILY be busted if you can find even remote interest in this topic. I understand its not something a lot of people are keen on, but let me take a moment to explain why it has grown to rapid importance in my eyes.

There are two key reasons really, the first being that I have played this game for 10 years and barely know half of it. All I have ever done is pve and specifically raiding, so getting out and trying Loremaster, or pet battling is a very refreshing pace. It actually really goes hand in hand with the previous and next topic. You get to see the world in a way you may not be used to, and also get some epeen points along the way.

The second reason is the competitive nature in me. Recently, I have noticed its much easier to tell an accomplished player by their achievement points and gear overall. Its not infallible but achievement points in 90 percent of cases can tell you what kind of player the person is relative to their gear. For example, Syiler’s US account has 6k achievement points but is 585 item level. You can immediately tell this is an account he only raids on!

It became most noticeable on the Beta forums, where people constantly whine about topics that affect their gameplay, despite having 5k achievement points and 500 item level. Sorry, but those people don’t have a voice in my eyes. Play the game at your own interest level, but don’t complain about topics that you don’t participate in please!

#3 – Playing the game in Unconventional Ways.

This one is easy and everyone can do it. Long story short: play the game without taking shortcuts.

Try leveling a character where you use no heirlooms. Too easy? Try leveling without gear? Too easy? Try the Ironman Challenge.

Sick of live? Try leveling or playing on a Classic or TBC Private server. You’ll quickly learn that the current version of the game may offer a lot more then you initially realized.

Only play with guildies as I do? Go out of your way to help those less fortunate. Their respect goes a long way in my eyes, and often I find carrying a group through flex 1 is just as rewarding as doing it quickly. Its so nice to make a positive impact on other players within this game.

boredom

#2 – Green Fire / Achievement.

For those not aware, the Green Fire line will have an achievement and title tied to it that goes away when 6.0 launches. There’s no reason not to get this, so don’t act like you can’t do it. Very little of it is about DPS and min/maxing this would-be alt, so read into it and give it a shot. Especially if you can get gear from flex and timeless isle, you will find it to be an equitable challenge. Not too difficult, not too easy. The way things should be!

#1 – CHALLENGE MODES!!

The penultimate level of content for me recently, for a number of reasons. Let’s take the time to go through a few major factors into why CM is quickly growing to surpass every other portion of the game for me, maybe even rivaling progression raiding!

– Always a challenge. This reminds me a lot of why I loved Dark Souls one and two. The game is ALWAYS a challenge, and so are CMs. You can’t out gear it, and even though people claim the extra sockets push you over the edge, its still not nearly as easy as people make it sound. Its very unlikely that you’ll be doing them with people in this situation anyway.

– Help those less experienced! This has been something I have wanted to do for a very long time now. I hate seeing people buy runs. Its just silly. Anyone can do these, no matter experience level or class. I promise you this. If you want them hard enough, it can be done comfortably. If you are inexperienced, then become experienced. I would ever help. Just add me (Metrolol#1195.)

– Daily CM? I honestly forgot this was even a thing until recently, but with this being a very favorable way to gear up come WoD launch, I have started getting into the mindset of doing it now. The way I go about it is I tank, and pug the rest in trade chat. Tanking is the hardest role for sure, and helping others see the content behind a skilled tank is the most reasonable. Especially because I know how important this will be come mythic pre-raid BIS, its good to get people used to seeing your name in trade now.

 

So those are my top five boredom busters while we wait for 6.0. If you guys have any questions, I would love to hear them. If you want to try some content, or just hang out, feel free to add me on Horde US! In the end, playing the game with friends is what its all about!

boredom