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

Inside the Item Squish – Comparisons, Math, and Stats!

squish

With Warlords of Draenor patch 6.0 fast approaching, its time to sit down and take a look at exactly what the item squish has done to our characters. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the squish dramatically effects the face of the numbers, but there are quite a few differences that I didn’t expect when the concept was proposed and discussed so many moons ago.

It was originally hypothesized to be about a 10 fold squish, and even with the outliers it still comes very close, but as any good math and science collaboration, you need to understand the results and why they may or may not be flawed.

 

squish

Right Click and Open in New Tab!

So let’s walk through this so we can all understand exactly whats happening. Step one, right click the image above and open either in a separate window or tab so you can follow along as we go through it piece by piece.

Health Normalization:

The first outlier we come across is the Health Pool and despite its admitted difference its actually not as abnormal as we would expect. For those not aware, Blizzard purposefully doubled health pools after the squish to facilitate the new Healing and PvP Models, but as of this test, it appears that they weren’t actually doubled. Perhaps “doubled” is just what everyone assumed, and its more realistic to think they had said “increased.” Either way, without sources, its all hearsay.

Its also possible the 10x squish then 2x increase could have came only at level 100 along their projected curve, as its also been said that the goal is the create a linear pattern for the game to follow from level 1 to level 90. This is, in my opinion, of course a mandatory progression we must occur, but it certainly makes this a whole lot more difficult to decipher, and may end up leading to complications for the month of 6.0 Mythic SoO we will undertake.

All in the name of balance, I suppose!

Primary Stat Variance:

The second outlier is without question the most bizarre. Highlighted in red is the difference and percentage of Strength changed in the squish. For those not well versed in mathematics, ITS A POSITIVE NUMBER. I went from having 256 strength on live, which seems impossibly low for how crazy the numbers are currently, to having 406 in 6.0!?  A net gain of 150 of a stat I barely have ANY of while all around it others are being chunked down to 10 percent or less.

To illustrate this point even further, examine the ratio of the stats in both patches.

Patch 5.4:
Strength : Intellect
256/35825= 0.7%

Patch 6.0:
Strength : Intellect
406/1807= 22.5%

So what does it mean? Frankly, I have no idea. Its very likely that I am overlooking some strange passive like “Intellect gives strength for Holy Paladins” or something like that, but even if that is the case, whats the point? Does this mean that other specs have this enormous increase in stats the gain no benefit from? At least I can now melee the boss off the pull and contribute a bit more!

Crit and Spirit+Regen Differences:

The final real outlier we see here is the massive swing in Critical Strike Chance as well as how Spirit and Regen are handled now.

Take a good look at the numbers pre and post squish and you can probably already tell something is very off, especially the spirit to mana regen correlation.

A sufficient explanation is that the relationship between the two has obviously changed, but there is more then just that happening. What you are seeing is the first indicator of the linear stat progression scaling, and the blatant difference is because of the previous exponential model.

When the squish happened, so does the adjustment of where level 90 is in the overarching stat continuum, and when the new max level becomes the norm, this correlation will likely find its place in the standard distribution, but as of right now they both are outliers above and below the curve.

Spirit is easily explained, however. Simply put, my gear set went from containing every single piece with spirit to now only having 1 ring, a cloak, a neck, and a trinket that will proc spirit. This is not a part of the item squish, just a change in the way gear will operate.

The same thing can be said then about Critical strike. As nearly every peice I had was either haste or mastery + spirit, all the spirit on the gear previously has been changed to Crit. Especially reforging gone, this leaves me with a great deal more critical strike then I would ever want, but hopefully optimization of this 4 week gear set isn’t something I need to be concerned with!

In terms of definition, the fact that I have less spirit is simply because of the lack of it on gear, and the dramatic increase in regen is because they places us in a lower part of the curve to help prevent mana issues while leveling with potentially no gear.

For the record, this is typical and happens every expansion. Just seems weird because the squish and its interactions.

Conclusions?

As you can see, the average reduction is about 21k, which can’t be considered relevant on its own without refering also to the percentage of fixation, being just shy of 10 percent. For the record, the outliers are omitted in percentile calculation, otherwise it would be an absurd number, but since crit and spirit are inversely correlated, they must either be both included or committed. I chose to include both.

Regardless, the original approximation was that 10 percent would be the output goal, but seeing 8 percent seems even better. This proves the squish to have done its job in my opinion, as any lower would be absurd to consider, let alone calculate a trend to follow out of. People constantly clamor about wanting to see 7 intellect on a chest piece again, but in reality, if they did that, it would break the entirety of the previous game. Its just in no way feasible. A 8-10 percent squish now means that even as the numbers begin to creep into the exponential range again, we can sit comfortable for some time before needing to worry about health pools being so large that they have to break the fight up into 10 phases.

squish

Looking at you Garrosh!

WoD Travel Time – Metro’s Fact and Opinion.

travel

By this late into the cycle, it should come as no surprise to any of you that travel in general will change in WoD with the lack of Flying mounts at max level. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing isn’t going to be something we discuss in this article, but its removal does carry very real implications along with it.

In the video shown below, you will see just how tangible this issue is, and despite significant but miniscule change, it can certainly be said that the time will add up over the length of an entire expansion (or perhaps patch if flying is reintroduced.)

In the video, you will have seen me time exact travel from the Horde Garrison to both of the first tier raids for WoD and compare it to similar from MoP. The function of this is to demonstrate a point, backed up by the math that is in the description. As you can see:

Highmaul Flight path: 1.22
Ride Afterwards: 1.19
Total: 2.41

Foundry Flight Path: 2.13
Ride Aftwards: 1.30
Total: 3.43

MSV Direct Flight: 1.20

HoF Direct Flight: 1.42

 

Based on what we all learned in statistics, those differences are indeed significant by definition. In fact, I was quite surprised to find that traveling to MSV took less then a minute and a half. When I look at it that way, it really makes the continent of Pandaria feel small. Even to Heart of Fear, we see a very brief travel time.

Now here comes the fun part. Let’s discuss what these times mean and could mean, and how I feel about it all.

Significance?

There are two schools of thought that should be validated here. travel

The first one would be that of an individual who feels any increase in travel time makes this whole thing unattractive. They would argue that the extra 1-2 minutes spent on any sort of travel, especially to raids, builds up far too quickly and slows the game down immeasurably. This type of person is typically one that claims they have precious few hours to play the game, and the fact that flying’s removal has cut down on their fun makes it a viable grounds for reintroduction above all other points.

The second one would be that of an individual who recognizes the significant increase in travel time, but also can admit how much time the actually play the game and how little travel happens or matters to them. Unlike the former individual, they don’t claim their “hours” to be precious, and realize that the time in the game is all the same. Its likely these people can also recognize the fact that most of the game is spent in dungeons for multiple hours, where as the travel to them takes multiple minutes.

Let’s explore the notion a with a greater width:

We raid 8 hours a week, 2 days a week. Highmaul is our first target. Our players will spend 2.41 minutes getting to the instance, and 4 hours in the raid.
4 hours = 14400 seconds
2.41 minutes = 161 seconds.

161/14400 = 1.1 percent NOT SIGNIFICANT.

That’s the way METRO looks at it. I recognize the fact that travel is much longer then it used to be, but its still TWO minutes. The places I am traveling to, even if I’m just collecting lumber or ore, I am spending a lot more time in. Eventually, it adds up, but considering I can still get to the raid on time if I show up 3 minutes early makes this less of an issue on this account.

Circumvention?

Everyone knows that WoW has slowly become a game within a game, where people try to use every tool at their disposal to beat the system. I don’t regard this as an opinion, frankly.

travel

Ornithopter from the Thran building? ez

What’s important to take out of this is that there is a way to entirely circumvent travel, all contained within the garrison. Previously, the Goblin Workshop seemed to contain the supreme method, but after seeing it was possible to reach beyond highmaul in the same amount of time as it takes to go through the portals, they may have removed the item. Not 100 percent sure, but it appears its gone.

Either way, the new flavor of the month for travel officiants is going to be Spirit Lodge for Horde, or Mage Tower for Alliance. The power the building contains even just at level 2 is unfathomable.

The building grants you a portal to any zone of your choosing, as well as a default one to Ashran that everyone gets. At level 2, you select a second zone for a second portal. The brilliant part of this is their location. Not even sure where the ones in the alternate zones are, but for Goregrond and Nagrand, they are ridiculously close to the raid entrance! The nagrand portal is so close, it took me less than 30 seconds to load in and travel into Highmaul. How nuts is that!

How Should This Be Addressed?

So here is the final answer. What should be done? Well once again, I feel there can be two legitimate schools of thought.

The first being that flight paths are the major issue and travel has simply changed. If you’ll recall the math we displayed previously,

Highmaul Flight path: 1.22
Ride Afterwards: 1.19
Total: 2.41

MSV Direct Flight: 1.20

In these numbers, we come to realize that the sheer time on the flight path was longer then the entirety of the flight to MSV. Alongside this, you notice the raid afterwards is nearly just as long. The logical explanation of this is that the world is just considerably larger. We go on to compare that in the video to

Hof Flight path: 1.25
Ride Afterwards: 1.00
Total: 2.25

This illustration demonstrates that the world really isn’t that much larger, its just that flying on a mount is ridiculously faster. Thus the claim that the game has changed. A person who displays this school of thought would also agree it could be fixed by simply sheering up Flight Paths. If they are cut in half, then the time is much closer to relevant.

The second school of though, is simply to get good bro. Use the portals, problem solved. People will complain about “Mandatory” garrison content, but I just don’t understand that argument. Its a feature in a video game. If you want to travel fast, you can. If not, you can take 2 minutes instead of 30 seconds.

But ya, that’s pretty much the long and short of it. In the end, I would be satisfied with more brief flight paths, but feel that the portals are just going to be my go-to solution. Despite flying being removed, these things actually make travel even more faceroll then it was previous. ;)

travel

Try using this button?

Hellscream by Bobby Brooks – A Recap and Review

amWoW-trailer

Before anything happens here today, you need to understand two things.

1. This article WILL spoil the story for you.
2. The Short Story Hellscream is FREE. Go read it first here.

hellscream

The final released chapter of the tale of Garrosh is the one we have all been waiting for. The entire puzzle created by Warcrimes – where we see Garrosh released from his captors selfishly – finally comes to a close. It is the prelude to the comic The Stranger, for many reasons, and Hellscream certainly sets the stage for the passionate display Grommash gives in the cinematic. Truly, what we have been gifted is the key to Draenor’s main lore and now that it is firmly in my hands I couldn’t be more pleased.

We pick up the tale of the estranged Garry Hellscream in Nagrand along a different time-way. Kairozdormu, his defender and eventual savior in Pandaria, is not far behind and the tension immediately starts to mount. They bicker about how either will server each other’s purpose and in the end the familiar Hellscream comes out again, attacking Kairoz. Its frankly good to see Garrosh back in his native environment, especially his underestimation of how powerful even a mortal Bronze Dragon can be. Kairoz gets the better of him by using the remainder of the artifact they used to travel back to Nagrand with as a loop, and ends up with Garrosh in chains.

Its at this point that Kairoz reveals they are indeed part of a Multiverse, and that this world is “back in time” but it is not a linear path. He warns Garrosh that things will be slightly different here, but assures him that its the perfect avenue for their plan. Kairozdormu, in is infinite wisdom, forces the submitted Hellscream to hold the shard of the artifact that once remains, and explains in create detail exactly how they will take over this world. How they will use this Horde and then travel to other planes to cultivate more and more armies.

Well Garrosh wasn’t happy about this. The first major twist (and contrivance in my eyes) comes with a second, more spirited attack by Garrosh, ending the now mortal Kairoz’s life with the shard of the artifact he was mean to lug around.

The second act in this gruesome play is for Garrosh to go face to face with Grommash and convince him that he can assist him. It happens exactly as you would expect, which I am a bit disappointed with, but frankly its written beautifully. Garrosh goes 1v4 orcmode, and wins, which REALLY helps establish just how strong Garrosh really was. I mean it has to be this way doesn’t it? I feel Garrosh is still the strongest creature on Draenor, even knowing Grom will end up as the final encounter of this expansion. Regardless, he gains his attention with his power, and then impresses his with his knowledge.

The face to face discussion between the two is bittersweet at first, and leads Grom to have painful memories of his wife. Garrosh, known only as the Stranger to the Warsong clan, asks about his apparent mother, and Grom bats the question away time and time again. Eventually, Garrosh realizes a key difference in this time way is that he himself was never born, and Grom was never a father. This has changed Grom as we know him, and leaves a lasting resentment in the death and culmination of his wife and clan’s fortune.

hellscream

We’ve come a long way Grom!

Regardless, Garrosh presses on discussing how important the Iron Star technology can be, and doesn’t shy away from using the artifact as his trump card. He assures Grom that if he doesn’t listen to him and see what could become of his people, then they will all be doomed and both Hellscream’s efforts would become futile. From this, we already know the outcome given the Cinematic, but it does a great job building up the event even more.

2x Hellscream travel to the Ring of Elements and bring their timey wimey shard with them. Garrosh emplores Grom to see for himself, and he does. This is where things start to really pick up, especially in quality of description and passion with which things are laid out. It becomes painfully obvious to the shaman tending the area that the visions Grom is witnessing are extremely painful and a train of protests come raining out of everyone involved.

For the record, Grom sees everything. He sees the Demon’s Blood at the Throne of Kil’jaeden, he feels the blood haze and the power it grants him. He sees the might of a united Horde but feels the Burning Legion’s influence when they dispatch their enemies and force them to become their army of grunts. Eventually, he even sees Thrall and the progression of Azeroth after the Horde’s failure. At this point. Garrosh realizes this is too far forward, and needs to make sure Grom doesn’t see anything that could compromise his position. He kills the shaman and forces Grom out of the vision without a final question answered.

Grom wants to know how how it ends, specifically how his story concludes. Garrosh can’t admit the truth other then in generalizations because it will effect his status here, but Grom is satisfied to know that the struggle is not worth the sacrifice.

At this point, the cross over between the Cinematic and the Short Story comes to its climax. The most powerful moment of the cinematic for me, is when Grom challenges Gul’dan and learns he must sacrifice “Everything” to become this god of a killing machine. The line, along with Gul’dan’s slow removal of his hood to reveal the green skin and red eyes, quickly became legendary among the social storm of interest. And now, fully realized is the truth of the matter. Not only does that scene have impact knowing what it implicates, but now it becomes even heavier, as Grom knows he must sacrifice everything before even encountering Gul’dan.

It’s so much sweet when Gul’dan responds EXACTLY how Grom expects. It really proves Garrosh’s involvement and solidifies the bond between the two. And frankly, solidifies my love for this story arch and expansion based around it.

My opinion of the short story, as well as the animated comic that takes place some time after this, is 99 percent positive. The one single moment that is a disappointment to me is seeing Kairoz go out so meekly. A optimist would say it proves just how strong Garrosh is, which makes sense, but the fact that a Bronze Dragon who COMPLETELY ruins Pandaria’s sense of accomplishment by helping Garrosh escape, just dies 100 words into a short story is a bit silly. I’ll go so far as to say its a complete cop-out by Blizzard. They clearly didn’t have room for any more characters in this storyline, and considering even Garrosh even loses power, its no surprise.

hellscream

We’ve come a long way Garrosh!

Regardless, there couldn’t be a smoother transition coming from Pandaria to Draenor. There is no better way to tell the story then in the parts as it was done, especially when you leave the keystone for last.

If, for some reason, you still haven’t read this literature, go do it now.

Start with Warcrimes, then read Hellscream. Read the Stranger next, and finish by watching the Cinematic. Its all picture-perfect and magnificently done.

WoD Legendary Situation – Metro’s Ideas and Discussion.

GorehowlModel

After a long weekend at Gamescom, Tom Chilton had revealed quite a few snippets of information that make our mouth water for this expansion. One of the most interesting in my eyes, would certainly be the info on Legendary items come WoD. For those who missed the info dump this weekend, I’ll briefly summarize:

legendary

Early Datamined Ring Model.

Immediately, there will be a quest chain everyone can work on from level 99 to obtain a Legendary Ring. This ring will have custom animation, and change with your spec so you don’t need to buy multiple. Afterwards, its likely there will be other Legendary items that are more elusive and specific. Ideas batted around was Gorehowl and Teron Gore’s Staff.

The strange part of all this is the whole 2-tier notion covered in my previous article. In fact, this makes that idea even more confusing, and leaves a LOT of questions as to whether or not any of the things said on these topics are going to happen. The way I see it, it appears as if the second legendary idea will only come into play if there is a third tier, which I am still sure there will be. Regardless, let’s discuss why this idea is a very good one and compare it to the previous situations.

So in Mists of Pandaria there turned out to officially be 2 legendary items – one was a meta gem, and the other was the cloak. The two were linear, in that you couldn’t have the gem without the cloak, but more importantly, they were available to every single player who put the time in. Taking LFR and non-raiders out of the equation, what this means is an entire guild SHOULD have the items while progressing. I’m of two separate mindsets on this topic, so lets go through them both.

Raid Leader – Pro Equality: As a raid coordinator, I couldn’t be happier with this idea. Personally, the decision over who to give the legendary items to has been an age long issue with our guild. We gave Shadowmorne to our DK (and great friend of mine) and then weeks later he broke his hand and couldn’t play for months. We gave the Legendary staff to our current GM, and two other long time raiders. The two raiders both quit, and the GM joined the army! We gave daggers to the only rouges we had, and 2 out of three of them were absolutely terrible. So you see, these things alone make the equality legendary MUCH more attractive. Even if we could only see 1-2 given out, but choose whomever we wanted. Ya know, like if the “item” wasn’t a specific one, and no matter who was chosen they could benefit greatly. That would be acceptable to me.

Progression Raider – Pro Unique: As some one who has raided for 6 years straight and all through Classic, this part of my mind absolutely HATES the equality legendary. It just is soooo silly to walk around and see a hundred people with it a day. It makes no sense to me why you would even call this a legendary, but it WAS a legendary questline so I can’t say the means weren’t exciting. Just at the end of the day, when you sit in shrine and see everyone around you with it, it cheapens everything a bit.

 

So having both of those opinions, what a pleasant surprise it was to me to learn that they are actually considering doing both options! Realistically, if the ring is strong for the first tier, and everyone in our raid can get it, then it doesn’t feel as bad picking and choosing who gets the other items. I am really excited about that prospect, and even more excited about some other speculation revolving around the Ring.

legendary

Legendary Blank Stare!

Also at Gamescom, it was revealed that you would be able to begin the quest at level 99. This tells me (for some reason) that this item is going to be a pre-raid option, or at the very least have great involvement in Highmaul. Its realistic to think that it will progress as we do, but after seeing what I have seen, it gives me great hope.

You see, there are three legendary items that have dropped so far from the end of Heroic five mans. These pieces mention Khadgar and obviously come from the renewed difficulty 5 man heroics. The first thing that comes to mind is that we will be able to obtain these pieces in those 3 weeks we have with no raiding, and maybe even have an epic step-one type piece going into Highmaul.

The other thing that is really exciting to me is the prospect of Khadgar being involved. Wrathion was an enigmatic character to say the least, but Khaddy G is a man’s man. This dude is a monster, and anything he gives us should be just as interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing the “lore” around the progression of this, as well as his actual involvement and how it transpires around him.

Frankly, I am excited. After going nuts over the November Thursday release date, I now couldn’t be more excited, knowing we have 3 weeks of no raiding to explore the world, get some pre-raid BIS going, and maybe even work on a legendary item! If only they can implement it to tie in Challenge Modes, I would be sooo happy.

Regardless, this is a pretty polarizing topic for people so I am looking forward to seeing what transpires. Do you guys feel strongly about any certain model for legendary acquisition? As you can tell, I feel both sides of the argument are quite valid, so I’m happy to hear your thoughts as well!

Free MoP Copies!? – Blizzard’s Plan Moving Forward.

tomchilton

Let’s get right to it boys and girls. Some very strange tactics Blizzard is employing recently, and its time to discuss it. When Blizzard gives something free away, you know they mean business!

Free Mists of Pandaria Copies:

Otherwise unheard of in the World of Warcraft universe, Blizzard must have been spending time around Twitch, because they decided to do a random giveaway of Mists of Pandaria to accounts that aren’t currently subscribed.

Honestly, this is the smartest thing they have EVER done. So many people quit this game in cold blood and for the dumbest of reasons, so how better to warm their spirits? Free stuff! Although honestly, its timing is all part of the plan from Blizzard, as people coming back now of this mindset will likely have a few months to try MoP and then either abandon the game again, or be sucked in and by WoD.

The stranger part is figuring out if it was legitimately “random” or not. The way I look at it is, they probably had some feedback and statistics that these players were good targets, and they just spun it off as random. I probably am thinking WAY too much into it, but that’s the way I like it!

I mean, think about it. You aren’t just gonna pick some random 13 year old kid’s account who can’t even subscribe and buy the game himself anyway. You are going to pick 18+ people who quit and cited a sensible reason when they went. Its gotta be people who left for fair reasons, and not: “Other: Pandas suck.”

Well either way, if you don’t have Pandaria by now you aren’t the stand up citizen of the wow community. The only example I know of this was our previous GM Dioxx, who joined the military at the end of Dragon Soul and went to Korea for the entirety of Pandaria. He did actually end up purchasing the expansion around Christmas last year, but realistically, hasn’t played it since. Examples like this would have been a great target to reward, but we shall never know likely.

Anyway, check out the image you would have received in an email if you were selected:

free

Click to Enlarge!

And the poorly written blue post confirming this.

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/13840244156?page=2

How do these people get this job!

Plan moving forward:

Now I told you that to tell you this. The expansion sweepstakes was part of what Blizzard believes to be their master plan and rebirth. Its obvious to me after reading and hearing all these interviews with Tom Chilton this weekend. They sound primed and very confident about their new abilities, and despite WoD being a road block for them, they are apparently ALREADY planning the next expansion…

Seems extremely over zealous to me, and I’d go as far as to say the have abandoned making this one the best it can be, but of course you wouldn’t hear that out of their mounts. The fact that Celest confirmed proving grounds aren’t getting a new home confirms it for me.

Things like this really get on my nerves frankly. It was an amazing feature in MoP and they are meant to be even more important in WoD, meanwhile people still have to go back to Pandaria to do them with the same dopey AI and creatures. Its just a huge cop out which is clearly a product of how big MoP -> WoD really was. And that’s fine, but it just stings to see so many great features come in with WoD and just sit there like second class citizens. This better not happen with Brawler’s Guild!

But anyway, the real meat and potatoes comes in this single quote.

I am 100% sure we will do some new races at some point, in some other expansion that is coming up.

This is a quote about something that should be SO far off the charts at this point its just silly, but instead Tom makes it center stage news. One hundred percent sure. So that means, in my eyes, that he is that sure because its already begun happening. They are already working on a new race, meanwhile this expansion has Proving Grounds in Pandaria and no scenarios.

Their “plan” seems to be centric to this 1 expansion per year thing, and they have already made a declaration like that in MoP and failed MISERABLY. Beyond miserably. A single patch was longer then the entire expansion was meant to be!

What it says to me is that the higher ups and owners of the company want more expansions, and the team is struggling to adapt. Its probably what caused Rob Pardo to leave, and likely isn’t helping anything about any situation. If it happened smoothly, it would be great, but let’s face the facts people. It never will. Ever.

Playing a new expansion every year is just stupid for new customers as well. Only 4 more expansions to buy before I can level from 1-150! WOOW.

Maybe if they give more free expansions out! I’m sure we will find out all we need to know at Blizzcon. Should be interesting.

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WoD Raid Release Clarification – Metro Discusses!

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So after Thursday’s rage-inducing debacle we have received some answers to the many questions that arose. For the record, I was really upset by the Thursday release, as well as the timing, but in fairness, when you make a decision like that it creates more questions then answers. Thankfully, they actually answered them, so we are all good on this topic now. Let’s start by discussing some of the interesting new ideas that will happen around the WoD launch!

First thing’s first, my initial concern was that a Thursday release date was both abnormal, and very bad for our guild. The issue was that many of our players can only play during the times we raid each week (Tuesday and Wednesday nights), and since we would have NONE of those days during that 5 days of WoD, I assumed a sizable portion of the guild wouldn’t be raid ready for week one.

Let’s discuss why this is no longer a concern:

Thursday as a release date is certainly crafted by Blizzcon, but apparently also because of it being a world wide holiday celebrating the end of World War I, the first large-scale modern war that effected every person on this planet. Now, for those of you who don’t know, November 11th (the tuesday that the game should have been released on) is Veteran’s day in USA, and Armistice day all over Europe. This is a national holiday here, and likely even more important in a place like France, so releasing a game on this day is absolutely bad business. But even with that explained, the next bit of information takes any doubt out the window.

In order to facilitate everyone leveling and enjoying the 10 year anniversary properly, they have decided to delay normal and heroic (previously Flex and Normal) Highmaul for 2.5 weeks after the expansion launches. This is actually EXTREMELY important given the timing and its effect on the world first race. Let’s discuss actual dates and why its such a big deal.

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Time flies!

Expansion launch: November 13th.
Week 0.5 complete: November 18th.
Week 1 complete: November 25th.
Week 2 complete, Normal raids launch: December 2nd.
Week 3 complete, Mythic World First race begins: December 9th.

This avoids Thanksgiving entirely, which is November 27th, a very pivotal date that world first guilds from EU would exploit as US membership would have to miss time with their family to raid or miss raid and hinder progress. Huge concern completely bypassed.
To be even more clear, previously, Mythic raiding would have started the week of thanksgiving, so three days into raiding people would have to battle a holiday.

The future after Highmaul:

So if you were around for Pandaria’s launch, you would remember 1 week of preparation, then 4 weeks of only MSV with three weeks of Heroic at the time. This time, with the 2.5 weeks worth of preparation, we also get confirmation that the second raid of this tier will come even later. To quote:

He says 8 weeks seems reasonable, which I could agree with, but this brings up a major concern in my eyes. Just how long is this tier meant to be? Is it going to be like MoP where its 4 months total and we barely have 2 months of the hardest raid? It seems that way based on things we will discuss shortly, but if you give 8 weeks to highmaul, and 8 weeks to foundry you are really cutting the tier in half. I suppose it will depend a LOT on what the gear and progression are like, but as of right now, I am very excited.

To extrapolate on this assumption, let’s look at more exact dates. THIS IS ALL SPECULATION AT THIS POINT. Fair warning.

Mythic Higmaul begins: December 9th.
Two weeks in, Christmas: December 23rd (Tuesday) – December 26th (Friday.)
Three weeks in, New Years: December 30th (Tuesday) – Jan 2 (Friday.)
Week four, Previous Mile Marker for next release: Jan 6th.
Week eight, proposed Foundry Launch: Tuesday Feb 3rd.
Week nine, Mythic Foundry Race: Tuesday Feb 10th.

This follows the projections assuming 8 weeks is the goal, and especially with two weeks nearly lost to Holidays, I see it as realistic. This makes 6 weeks of typical Highmaul experience and seems very comfortable for my taste.

Quicker Expansions, 2 raid tiers:

And here’s where things get weird. Tom Chilton was interviewed at Gamescom before any of this even came out, and revealed some really strange topics for discussion. The rest is all out there, but the strangest of them was the following quote in regards to the “Patch Cycle”:

Some of it will depend on the time before the next expansion after Warlords. It is very possible that if we are successful and there is a shorter gap, then we won’t necessarily want to have multiple raid tier content patches. Each raid content patch needs about four months to breathe. Any less than that and it feels like you really rushed through the content.

So now you see why I mention the 4 month thing, and agree that their immediate plan will be 2 months of Highmaul and 2 months of Foundry. Also, this statement is even more confusing knowing what we know about blizzard’s development. To me, this says they already have two raids planned and finished conceptually. One set is launching with the game. The other, contains Grom as the end boss with heavy legion influence, also confirmed in the interview. Adding a third somewhere in between doesn’t ring with a sound business plan, but it certainly doesn’t prove anything.

Either way, if they DO manage to pull this off, it means that they will be close to sticking to the plan they addressed at the 2011 Blizzcon, stating they wanted to release a new expansion every 10-12 months.

This fits PERFECTLY with their raid schedule, but assuming everything can follow this path is absolutely silly. They have to actually develop the content properly and in that time frame, and we all know this is very unlikely. So take it all in perspective. They said the SAME thing about MoP.

The first two tiers of MoP were perfect length, and then WoD was a nightmare for them. Its obvious a FULL year of SoO was never intended, especially knowing they entertained a full year of the entirety of MoP.

Tom is saying they want it done this way to motivate the group and set the tables. We all know what Tom wants unfortunately isn’t always what Tom gets!

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Grom and Legion Involvement? Hmm…

11.13.14 Announced – Amazing Cinematic, Worst Decision EVER.

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Don’t worry, you won’t have to wait for me to tell you why either.

Its a BLEEPING THURSDAY!?

thursday

I refuse.

Why the hell is the expansion releasing on a Thursday? Can some one tell me this? I’m sure by the time the dust has settled I’ll have my answer, but at the time or writing this, understand how frustrating this is.

Let’s recap and discuss how after all signs pointing to a single answer, they manage to pull the wool over our eyes and debunk my grand prediction.

First off, November isn’t a horrible date, but I guess its inevitable with Blizzcon where it is. What’s more upsetting is the fact that the other games Blizzard are working on are going to steal the spotlight, and instead of what potentially could have been a massive 6.1/6.2 reveal, we now will likely see a count down to release…

Second off, Thursday. Thursday. Let me say that one more time so it can sink in for you guys. THURSDAY. Why? Well would you have guessed it! Its because Blizzcon, no doubt.

How can they have a weekend event that people come from China to see, and then release the expansion 2 days later? It wouldn’t be possible, because half the people around the world wouldn’t come. Another great idea throttled by a pointless meet-up that will likely feature nothing but things we already knew about WoW.

Let’s talk about WHY a Thursday is without question the worst day for a title release period (at least for me.)

First of all, the raids in this game reset on Tuesdays, in case you guys weren’t aware. This means week one starts 2 days earlier into the expansion. This means that we have 2 less days to get 30~ people to max level, 2 less days to get them all 630 item level, and 2 days less to figure out where we stand. I personally LOVED the week off in MoP, but now two days less makes me feel like I was cut vacation days that I was promised.

So all this does for me is now pretty much forces me to do 90-100 in one sitting and not care about any of the lore or anything else. Those two full days have taken that from me, oh but hey at least we get one more SoO farm in the day before the expansion comes out! Woopdeedoo!!!!

Unreal… a Thursday.

Wow…

Also, this completely derails the ten year anniversary. That might as well just be cancelled, because if it starts FOUR days after the expansion comes out, no one is going to bother.

As of right now, its datamined to start on the 17th of November, and end the 1st of December. This is three weeks, sure, why in god’s name would you add this on top of a release and raid-ready-race?

“Hey guys, you have 4 days to get ready for progression. Also, the 10th anniversary is in, but make sure you are doing 5 mans instead.”

Literally couldn’t have been worse news in my eyes. Its absolutely dumbfounding. Any other Tuesday of the year would have been a better choice. Even if it was Tuesday July 7th 2010, and we had to travel back in time and fight mannoroth and kill orcs and be Dr. Who, I would prefer it. I would literally prefer building a time machine to play this expansion then it come out on a Thursday, 4 days before the 10 year anniversary.

That’s like if my birthday was the day after Christmas. No one wants that. It just cuts the enjoyment of both events in half.

Meanwhile, Blizzard chose for their birthday to be on Christmas, because they already booked the Anaheim arena for Blizzcon!

I’ve never been so flustered. Should be a funny read looking back at it.

Oh well, at least the cinematic was spectacular. Bit different then I expected, but seeing Grom and Garrosh work together was breathtaking.

Wonder if they did that on a Thursday?

24 Hours Until Gamescom HYPE – Metro’s Final Prediction!?

gamescom

This is it boys, the moment you have all been waiting for draws ever nearer. Gamescom is less then one day away, and it is now time for coming to terms with final predictions, looking towards what can potentially be the most exciting or devastating day of the year for us. It will all happen live for our enjoyment, and at the very least, it will come with what already appears to be an amazing cinematic.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can catch up here. The event is taking place live at Gamescom in the heart of Europe, but for those interested, you can watch and attend blizzard’s official screening at an actual theater.

gamescomIts known as the Theatre at Ace Hotel and that is a real picture of it! How nuts is that!

Might be a little over dramatic for an event like this, but regardless I know if I was there I would be fully enthused when the lights dimmed and the trailer began playing.

This is all set to start happening at the following already translated times:

6PM CEST – Cologne, France time.

5 PM GMT – United Kingdoms

12 Noon EST – East Coast USA

9 am PST – West Coast USA

So set your alarms! Unless you live on the West Coast, then you better just stay up all night. No way anyone is waking up for 9 am rofl…

Predictions:

So here we go. Since the Fourth of July, I have been making casual predictions based on events that were transpiring, and for once in my life I have been right the whole time. I only hope I can land the grand finale and accurately call these two final predictions. Before I officially make my statement, let’s recap what has gone into it, and discuss why it leads me to believe the answer is plain as day.

As of today (and this week in general) the initial raid testing will be complete. That is a VERY good sign, and after seeing every boss once, its likely the remainder of the testing will fly by, perhaps within 2-3 weeks total for everything else that remains, including Mythic. For those weary of my saying this, I can’t offer concrete proof, but am nearly 100 percent sure that this is the norm. If you remember the ToT PTR, we had the notorious FOUR heroic bosses tested in one day! This is just how it goes.

As of today we also receive our final “artcraft,” this time showing both troll female and male. This isn’t an article about that, but you can take a look more closely at the featured image to see just how they look. Regardless, this proves we are done with the most time extensive feature, and the remainder will be spent on the customization and fine tuning.

And finally, as of today sounds have begun entering the game in a big way. This latest build, albeit small, has added the WoD theme music for every zone and likely for raids as well. They are quite spectacular if you are interested in that sort of thing, but the point is that this too is a HUGE sign pointing my way. The voice acting should come towards the end, but usually when you know the music is finished, the game is not far behind. Many people neglect this, but its easy to tell when a game spends a lot of time on music, and Blizzard clearly does, making this a staple feature to arrive as late as possible in every beta test.

So, the time has come to set on paper final predictions. Let’s do this!

gamescom

Cinematic Prediction:

When they reveal the trailer at gamescom, we will learn that the mountain featured above is the Throne of Kil’jaeden. This is the ancestral home to the corruption of the Orcs, and as alluded to in the recent webcomic, Garrosh plans to unite the tribes there. Grom will have the action here, and it will be epic. Expect to see Teron Gore and Gul’dan imprisoned and maybe shots of the nearby Portal. This takes place in Tanaan, and may likely be a major spot come 6.1′s Tanaan release.
As a final point, I’m going to say this one will finally be the trump of the LK cinematic for me. Wrath’s opener was breathtaking because its audio. It was so emotionally charged hearing Arthas’s own father, whom he had betrayed with his own hands, talk to him about ruling and success in doing so. Top this off with some amazing elvish singing and music, and you have an instant classic. This time, however, it won’t take petty tricks and double-meaning speeches. The Warlords of Draenor cinematic will be absolutely brutal, and in grand fashion. It will win me over with it’s visual prowess and likely rhythmic drums pounding. In the end, everyone will remember why this expansion is glorious and the release date to follow will be that much sweeter.

Release Date Prediction:

I am firmly sticking with October 14th. There have been many reasons this is so concrete to me, but the most important one is that its a trend for them. Blizzard does things nearly identically each time. Sure, this beta and “alpha” system was much different, but in the end, we were able to accurately predict them crushing Wildstar with it’s release, and we will be even more accurate in saying they wouldn’t be flying all the way to France to announce something thats happening 4 months from now. For the record, October 14th makes September 14th a very valid 6.0 release date, maybe even sooner. This leaves 4 full weeks for 6.0 PTR, and even that seems way too much. I think, with this announcement, we will also find out that 6.0 ptr starts the same day, and expect it to be less then 2-3 full weeks testable. The official claim was that the game will be live 4-6 weeks after 6.0 deploys, so we may be less then 3 weeks from Mythic!

 

Either way, I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll be writing an article tomorrow as well discussing the exact information, and likely crossover between Hearthstone and Heroes of the storm, so stay tuned. Even if we get a disapointing release date, I have this unshakable feeling that the cinematic is going to change my life for the better. After looking at that image you can already see hundreds of orcs, and these are household names. Imagine seeing Saurfang and Eetrig standing next to Grom and Kargath. How absolutely LEGENDARY is it to not only relive these stories, but see them in stunning cinematography.

Tomorrow is the day. Enjoy this last night of peace and quiet in MoP. Because once WoD and 6.0 are announced at gamescom, everything will change.

WoD Levels 30 Percent Longer? – Metro’s Leveling Review!

Stratics

On August 6th-7th, Blizzard performed their second character wipe meant for character leveling, specifically so they could make people retest 90-100 and its length. At the time, it wasn’t evident as to what the wipe was performed for, but after a full day of leveling, it became very obvious.

With the latest build, we saw an increase in raw experience needed by roughly 30 percent flat. This included 90-100… but also effected 89 to 90. We will discuss implications of this later on, but for now let’s discuss what 30 percent of a level meant for me after leveling 90-100 for the second time on beta. For those interested in following the comparison to the previous build, check out this article!

One thing that was peculiar that happened both times is that I start with some significant experience already in to the level. Is this something beta specific? I can’t be sure, but this time it was definitely less experience after the increase. Less percentage-wise anyway!

level

Regardless, Tanaan still gives nearly all of 91, and offered no change in pace or resistance compared to my first endeavor. After its completion, I took the fight to Frostfire Ridge. The first time, I was able to reach 92 before even completing the taking of Bladespire Fortress. This time around, after the Bladespire Fortress are I was still about 40 percent remaining to reach the goal. I had taken down some ogres in the surrounding quests and quickly approached the level after finishing my JC quest with my garrison. Official diagnosis of the first two levels is still incredibly quick. Realistically, if you do the entirety of Frostfire, you will likely be closer to 94. Its quite strange, but with tanaan I am easily able to skip more then half of the quests in Frostfire. I’d say this is not intended, and not healthy for the game. But either way, lets move on.

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In Gorgrond, more of the same is found. You get a TON of experience from the first few quests, and it appears more and more that the bonus objectives are going to be your main source of supplementary exp. At last I checked there were nearly 10 available in the zone, and even if the number or the amount of experience changes, this should be regarded as one of the best ways to catch up. Towards the end of the starting chains, you get a quest from the main quest characters to take the fight, along with a powerful artifact to the Iron Docks in the north. This was around where I finished the experience I needed to leave the zone, but once again its important that you understand I got well over a full level just from the 10~ bonus objectives and random Vignettes that were present in the zone. Also for the record, you MUST take the lumber mill portion of the zone over the fighting one. The lumber mill allows you to ride in a mount that can fly over obstacles and deal a LOT of damage for 30 seconds every 10 minutes. If you are a super geared DPS, it wont be a better option, but there are a few places early where flying out of and over an obstacle is MUCH faster then running all the way around. Take this to the bank. It saves time in many ways. Final words on this zone is once again, do as much as you can. Things start getting tight later.

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Once you enter Talador, you can head north immediately and knock out the two bars from the Bonus Objective. At the point you get to choose your garrison affiliation for the zone, you need to take the bombardment option. Once again, it is WAY too useful. As of right now, it can kill any mob in the zone with one usage that isn’t level 100. It even does full damage to players, which will likely have to be adjusted at some point. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was nerfed for pve as well, but as of right now it makes any quest trivial. You can easily round up 5-6 mobs you need for the quest and kill them all in the one global. Past this, here is the first zone that starting giving me issues. Two of the most important quests – one that takes you into Shattrath, and another where you confront Terron Gore – did not work for me. They were major chains that perpetuate and complete the final of a slim number of paths, so without them I was in trouble. This also is the first time I notice the 30 percent kicking in. You see, during the first escapade I didn’t even reach these quests. I was 96 before even getting close to them. This far in 30 percent addition to the previous amount is likely more EXP then it took to get to 91. No joke, its a major step up, but luckily once the quests get finished up this zone FLIES by with the garrison ability. Last call for this zone would also urge you to stay as long as you can, especially with the ability at your disposal. I don’t have proof to back this up, but I speculate that if you do all of Frostfire, all of Gorgrond, and all of Talador, you should be well into 97. It might even be possible to entirely skip all of Spires of Arak with some dungeon quest and experience options, which I did not have on the beta.

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Assuming you are in Spires, get ready for a great jump in difficulty and a massive increase in time spent. I was able to get around 5-6 hours through as I entered this zone and spent at least 5 just on these two levels. As I said before, you start to realize how massive 30 percent is of the numbers we have to work with. Not saying this is a bad thing, just that it is noticeable. Anyway, last time I ran into a TON of bugged and uncompletable quests. This time, looks like things are much more stable. There is still the one Bonus Objective to the north east that doesn’t work, but other then that it was much smoother.

I elected to do the Garrison and Goblin components of this zone first, as they are much more stationary. The lore quests you’ll find here are absolutely spectacular in their story telling, but really brutal in the amount of travel they force you in to. There are is a high density of quest areas in this zone, so the travel isn’t too long proportionally, but having to ride places in between quests really starts to add up. Otherwise, it took me the entire zone to complete the 2 levels I needed. I came down to the last few quests available, and barely had what I needed to move on to Nagrand. In terms of the garrison affiliate here, I can’t say which is better. I took the Inn the first time, but it didn’t seem to help me in a tangible way at all. It should effectively double any experience you get from killing mobs, but didn’t feel like it mattered. This time, I took the NPC trader, looking to see what it offered. There were some decent pieces beyond the scope of this article, but in the end it may have been the reason it was so close. Further testing is needed for sure.

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Finally we reach Nagrand. Without question the most beautiful and well developed zone of the expansion, but currently the biggest pain! I’ll leave it at this… The quest indicators (!s and ?s) are not on the correct parts of the mini map. For example, you may be standing directly on a ? on your mini-map, but in reality the NPC in question is ten yards that a way. This was solely the biggest issue with this zone, and caused me to miss a few quests. At the time, I assumed they were simply bugged, and it wasn’t until today that a friend of mine had noticed this. Because of this, I missed at least 3 major quest lines in the zone, and was forced to do pet battles to get the last 7-8 bars of 99. In terms of garrison components, I tried the tank this time, only to find it really inefficient and difficult to deal damage with. It would have by default been better to just take the mount, even though I am a melee, if only to negate the combat clipping that happens with chain pulling mobs.

In the end it took me close to 20 hours to complete the entirety of it. This was with 99 taking nearly 5 hours because of issues with quests and finding alternative sources of EXP. Should be much closer to a 3 hour level on live, especially if you still have some dungeons or other options. I’ll say this though. The 30 percent exp literally doesn’t even effect the first half of the levels, and is such a huge difference for the second half that it felt like I was playing a different game. However, my unbiased opinion is that its still too short honestly, it took me MUCH longer to get through Mop’s zones not knowing what I was doing, and even now takes me nearly 10 hours on undergeared characters. Ten levels is just a silly idea if 90-91 takes nothing but the starter zone, but in the end this is irrelevant to me. I couldn’t care how long it takes or anything else about the process. Any time it takes to level is simply distracting me from getting into Heroic 5 mans and preparing for raids.

 

There is one other thing I’d like to discuss, and that is the apparent 89-90 exp increase. It doesn’t make a ton of sense why this would have happened, but I am willing to throw another speculation and prediction down for everyone’s enjoyment. Think back to the expansions where there have been 10 levels and you’ll remember that you could always enter the new content two levels earlier. This time around, we are talking about coming off an expansion that only featured 5 levels, so it all seems to make sense to me that the final level increase is to facilitate the final level being done in Tanaan or even the Blasted Land’s pre-intro. As of now, the quests still seem to require 90, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was changed in some way before too long. Stay tuned, and maybe I’ll tag another prediction on the nose!

As always, if you have any questions, just let me know!