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.

free

WoD Raid Release Clarification – Metro Discusses!

raid

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.

raid

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!

raid

Grom and Legion Involvement? Hmm…

11.13.14 Announced – Amazing Cinematic, Worst Decision EVER.

thursday

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.

level

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.

level

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.

level

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.

level

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!

3.2 Million Subscribers Lighter – Why MoP is STILL the Best Expansion!

wow_group_by_lye1-d4s13v0

This is prompted by the quarterly results Blizzard publish regularly, and some of it may be less then precise. I apologize if this piece is based too much on opinion, but I feel there is a compelling argument to be made and relish a chance to lay my mind out on the paper. I hope you can follow along and enjoy!

This week, it was released that with Quarter twos departure, so went another 800k subscribers. This leaves World of Warcraft at 6.8 Million subscribers, despite starting MoP with 10million.

It is no real surprise that these 800k exoduses have happened, so let’s start there and build the case as we go.

You can see this as evidence all around the “fan” sites that are popular. So many people fail to see a reason to play MoP when there is no new content planned. Among them, there are likely many people who very much enjoy World of Warcraft, and are simply burned out doing Siege of Orgrimmar for week 1024. Those people, I wouldn’t blame, although I am sorry to hear where these cases end up effecting your love of the game more then they should.

Regardless, among these 800k people is a very definitive type of person. These people manage to keep themselves just informed enough to be grossly misinformed. These people manage to play the game vigorously, but do nothing within it. These people manage to critique the game’s difficulty and interest level, yet have 4 digit achievement points. These people… are the majority that play WoW now.

jadeforest4As mentioned, the perfect microcosm as to why 3.2 million people unsubscribed from an expansion that brought you Brawler’s Guild, Connected Realms, Challenge Modes, Proving Grounds, brand new PVE end game ideas (eg timeless isle,) an entirely new type of group content (eg scenario,) the list can go on for the rest of this article. Point is, MoP has featured more content added to the game then the rest of the expansions have put in combined, yet people still make these hollow comments about the game and its direction.

Realistically, it may feel like too little, too late. Hopefully, most people don’t see these patch notes and list of features and think they are bad. Hopefully they just can’t find the interest to try them all, and don’t have that enchanted spark any more.

But for as many people that quit that have made their claims public, there is always that group harping on things they feel that should be added that already have been.

Now why this mentality has developed is another issue all together. It was around Cataclysm that I first ran into it, but I doubt it started there. That’s just when “popular” faces added their names to the lot. I’m not going to be naming names, but in my mind I can name a huge contributor of it, and realize immediate that him and so many others fall into this same pool. Asking for challenge when they are dead on the floor. Asking for more content when they aren’t even max level. Claiming the game has changed negatively when they haven’t even tried any of the new content.

All it takes is one influential voice to plant this dastardly seed. And boy are its roots deep by now.

Unfortunately, this is the landscape we reside in. The best route around it is to ignore it. I am not this passive though. I fancy myself a crusader of sorts, playing an active role in stirring the pot to help those people unwind their foolish arguments and expose them to be the weak, ill-conceived notions that they are. Very rarely do I expect to obtain anything positive, but so many people follow the mass notion blindly, that when they receive resistance, they quickly fluster and backtrack.

Thinking linearly on this matter should be quite revealing, especially when you can trace a source. Thinking rationally should do even more, especially when you understand where I am coming from.

So here we are, back at the start. In an era that featured these types of changes we find ourselves behind the 8ball, trying to discern what happened and sift through the rubble. In reality, the rubble is all there is and ever was. It was never concrete, and no one ever appreciated order. People love sporadic, and they love spontaneous, and as soon as the opposite notion gets twisted into their conscious, they immediately believe their happiness to be over.

Knowing this, let’s conclude precisely on why this expansion lost so many players, and gained something that could never be surpassed.

dark-animusFor a start, when this many people quit especially when the expansion has been so thorough, you know that a LOT of casuals have been among them. I’m not talking about people who don’t raid. I’m talking about people who do NOTHING. They do nothing in the game, and still have a sour taste in their mouth. Whether they left with regret or hatred, it is best for them to go. It hurts Blizzard’s pocket no doubt, but they are not contributing to the game. If those people ever come back, it proves they didn’t leave for the right reasons anyway. If it were up to me, I would want to expose them for the ungrateful saps they are and do everything I could to remove them actively.

This has been noticeable over the years, and has been talked about many times, and is honestly a feature I would pay thousands for. When we first started this guild, we were bombarded with people who had no gear, no knowledge, and zero clue asking about joining and getting hostile when we said no. This confused, immature player type is slowly being eliminated, and while it means less people overall, it equates to a higher percentage of player you want to be around.

You see, when the fat is trimmed, you are left with a much smaller, more lean selection. And with features like the cross region premade group builder, the community comes closer and closer together. Gone are the days of sifting through the millions of children in trade chat. Sure, those children are still there, but every “quarter” their numbers are trimmed even more.

Every expansion, I grow more and more attached to the features of the game, and grow more and more invigorated as the community progresses from a rampant daycare to a cultivated garden Newton would be proud of. Selective breeding at its finest, as only Father Time could muster.

Its unlike Blizzard shares the same sentiment as I, but I’ll say it one last time to prove how happy I actually am.
This expansion lost 3.2 million people. Some of them were great friends of mine. Most of them couldn’t be missed if I was their mother.

And every single post about how the game is “dead” makes me more and more sure of this. 3.2 million people left a game because they heard some one say it was featuring a kid’s theme and no challenge. 3.2 million people fled a game in droves because everyone else alongside them were doing so. 3.2 million people may come back, but they will fall to the same cycle again, because they do nothing regularly, and have built up no community within a guild or otherwise.

3.2 million people have unsubscribed, and I could never have been happier about it. See you in Draenor.

screenshot_immerseus6

Apexis Crystals – Form and Function as the Superior Valor!

apexs

Before we begin, I would recommend checking out the accompanying video to this article on the WoWStratics Youtube channel!

So for those who haven’t been exploring the beta as I have, it appears with the removal of Valor Points, we see ushered in a new system known as Apexis Crystals. For the record, these have nothing to do with the Apexis shards and crystals from the BC rep and vendors, so don’t you worry!

What they function as is a replacement for Valor along multiple frames, and I am here to explain to why they will do so successfully.

To fully understand, when I discuss their usage and parallel with Valor Points, I am referring to how Valor at one point was used as a raid gear equalizer. Starting late in the Burning Crusade and continuing on until Cataclysm, we saw Valor points award as a turn in raid-viable pieces used mostly as catch up for those unlucky, or substitute for those not keen on raiding.

In TBC especially, this idea truly thrived. They were obtainable from killing any important boss, including Raid Bosses but also Heroic 5 man bosses. This allowed those raiding to get a significant advantage in gear income, but also allowed those only interested in 5 man content to also still improve their gear sets.

In Wrath and Cataclysm, the system was elaborated on, but was beginning to deteriorate into poverty. Once Cataclysm was in bloom, we saw the final fall, making it so only the end of dungeons as well as raid bosses dropped them, and awarding gear that was suboptimal in the scope of the current raid.

In MoP they took this concept to extremes and all but eliminated the casual grind option for players looking to supplement their current sets without much raid interaction. By first mandating reputation requirements upon spending, and then removing gear at all, Valor turned from its once esteemed vantage point to wallowing in the muck. Slight revival came in the way of the Gear Upgrade system, but this too was fleeting and after Blizzcon 2013, it was announced that Valor had served its last purpose and would not be following us back in time.

RIP

RIP

With the death of valor, comes the birth of Apexis Crystals, filling the exact same niche we just ventured through. They will be available seemingly from a daily that rewards a large chunk, but can also be looted in small quantities from regular mobs, select rares, and other objectives. As shown in the video, they can be turned in in large quantities for gear that comes in three stages.

Stage 1 is 630 item level blue gear, equivalent to Heroic 5 man pieces. The price on these cost between 10k – 14k Apexis, which will likely take two weeks or more to obtain.

Stage 2 is 645 item level epic gear, equivalent to LFR or World Epics. The price on these is an additional 4-7k Apexis and a turn in of the previous item.

The final stage is 655 item level epic gear, equivalent to Progression epics. The price is an additional 4-7k Apexis with a turn in of the previous piece.

Now, let’s get down to why this is a much more suitable concept, even as it stands right now.
In the current beta build, the only real option comes from a daily quest as mentioned. Its very likely there will be addition ways to obtain these, but either way it appears to be taking about two weeks or more to get the first piece of 630 gear.  I can see reasonably reducing this to one full week for a single blue item.

From there, it would take the same amount of time to upgrade it from that blue to a 655 epic piece. And this is where the magic comes in…

By doing this, you prevent invalidation of raids by bots or heavy farmers within the week where there are none available, but also allow those interested in putting forth the effort to have a nice reward after some time.

You see, the reason the Valor concept was so popular in TBC was because it gave players an option to obtain gear outside of their progression target, and fostered work towards this goal. This kept five man heroics and previous raids populated.

Now, this will keep the open world populated, and very likely other places as well depending on what they do to augment the drop situation.

If it were up to me, I would do the following:

Offer a small amount (50 – 75?) from completing a Heroic Five man once a day, and offer an even smaller amount for subsequent ones (10-25). This mirrors the current valor strategy in MoP.

Offer a large amount from Challenge Modes in general, but perhaps as a daily boon and then smaller amounts afterwards. I feel 200~ awarded per CM would be suitable, but would understand 200 per daily, and 100 or less after that.

Offer a moderate amount from each raid boss killed. Maybe 50-75 per, making old raids viable. Of course, limit it per raid, not difficulty.

What this would do:

Foster good players having a use for 5 man Heroic content past week 1. They boast their difficulty is increased, so the more skilled and geared players the better, especially knowing most will be completed using LFD.

Foster Challenge Mode expansion past cosmetic rewards. This was a HUGE issue with MoP. CM was easily the greatest feature added to the game at any point (aside from connected realms for longevity) but suffered from a distinct lack of interest from most players. They represent a true challenge, and for those not interested in timers, this creates an even greater usage. I can see it now! “LF 2 DPS for CM Apexis run pst!” Perfection!

Foster old raid completion. One of my favorite things about Classic, TBC, and Wrath was going back to raids I overgeared and doing them either to help others, or to obtain some secondary benefit. Achievements and the like were a fine addition, but realistically, there is nothing in MoP that makes anyone want to do ToT. I’d do LFR, but no one appreciates you like they do in a premade group. Making Apexis drop in there means people will consider it something they would like to do.

inv_misc_apexis_crystal

Finally, the discussion of a cap is important. Currently its 20k. Meaning you can never hold enough for 2 single pieces, but can upgrade 3-4 at once with the same stash. I find this a suitable idea, and makes much more sense but am worried about the 5k limit that is displayed on the item on the Beta. Is this a weekly cap!? If so…

NO NO NO.

They need to remove weekly caps entirely, and if they do so, they will have achieved the results I have discussed. If they do not, then the system will falter just as Valor did.

Let’s hope they understand this, because if its done right it can really work very well hand in hand with more difficult 5 man heroics as well as the in-game premade group finder!

Facial Customization + Death of Blood Elves!?

blood elf fate

Mr. Chris “Disco Ball” Robinson is at it again folks! He has recovered from his major hand injury and is back to the grind of dishing out magic through digital graphics. Why just yesterday he announced that the original idea to implement multiple races over post launch periods was not a reality! He also put the law down on the facial issues people were constantly complaining about… and I must say he did so in a big way.

Full artcraft post: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/15029247/artcraft-updated-facial-customization-7-30-2014

After reading you see just what I mean. Its quite a spectacular option, and despite knowing negative amounts about this type of art, I can immediately say I am impressed. From what I imagine, it means we will all be allowed to make a custom face with its own unique skeleton and design.

The immediate concern people bring up however, is that this needs to retroactively fit the characters we previously have. I assume it will, but of course this wouldn’t be 2014 if people didn’t take a great addition and find a way to complain about it. The prime comment is “if there is this much diversity in changing exact faces, we need to be able to access it in game for our already-made characters.” They suggest the barber shop as that solution, which I can get behind.

The only thing I could possibly find disappointing is if they did not retro-fit our characters, and we had to pay to make the face we wanted. I HIGHLY DOUBT this will happen, but its one realistic way it could turn into a negative experience.

Either way, the sheer magnitude of design depth this process carries is impressive enough. I find it really hard to say anything remotely negative about the new character models just because of the sinking feeling I get that my own words insinuate these 6 months of work from the art team WASN’T worth the time.

It obviously is, and anyone who says otherwise is living in dream land, or perhaps is legally blind! In fact, nearly every “issue” you can find with them has either been meticulously addressed and solved, or is just an issue of comparisons.

WTF her eyelashes are so pointy...

WTF her eyelashes are so pointy…

For example, the trendy thing to do now is complain about the running animations. Everyone is all “OH EM GEE these are so bad wow.” But that suggests that while using the previous models for the last 10 years, you had said at least once “OH EM GEE I love the current run animation.” Which you did not.

Listen folks, you can’t have it both ways OK? You can’t dislike the old to the point they innovate it and then complain about the innovations. I could see if they weren’t such massive improvements, but to be upset with ANYTHING about the new models is just slapping the art team in the face. I can’t even begin to imagine what this expansion was like for them, knowing that MoP was easily the most attractive visual product to date, and WoD Landscapes have dramatically improved as well as all the effort into the character models.

I am very impressed.

Well… I was…

Until Disco Ball posted this…

Now, if you don’t know me, know this. I play Blood Elf. My Main Paladin is blood elf, and pretty much any other option is as well. I love the interrupt, and I loved the extra mana. That’s going away now, regrettably, but this news is particularly damning.

After speaking so highly, it seems I get snubbed indirectly. But ya know what? I don’t mind at all!

Truthfully, it does kind of disappoint me, but I have known from the start Blood Elf would not make it in. Around Blizzcon, they stated that there would be a lot of races added in over patches, but now it appears as if EVERY race other then Blood Elf will be ready. So that is a huge consolation for me, and its hard to be upset knowing that they are actually doing a better job then they anticipated.

Even the explanation as to why Draenei seems reasonable to me.

Realistically, the only actual disappointment is the morons attached to these tweets. Amazing example is on the first one I linked down here.

Mornmagor: 
Till 6 months after WoD release? I hope you’re joking.

Where is that said? These subhuman illiterates are the ones who ruin the community, especially considering the original plan was to have multiple races not make the cut.

And so we return to the original issue. People find a way to complain about things that are blatant upgrades from the previous situation. They complain about minute features of a model that is not even comparable to the previous in terms of quality. And now they find a way to generalize an argument against Blizzard’s work ethic.

That is the most despicable form of insulting one could muster, in my mind. To insult some one or some thing for choosing to do a poor job, when in reality they are actually doing a much better job then they were previously is just wrong on a hundred levels. Its ignorant, bull-headed, misinformed, patronizing, and just plain dumb.

For anyone who even remotely thinks that because Blood Elves aren’t making it in launch this expansion is now some how worse off, please just keep your mouth shut and go outside for 2 minutes.

I can’t say enough about how enraging it is to hear this around every corner, especially when none of it is even remotely accurate. As I said, I have played a Blood Elf since TBC. It has been my main for that long now, and even I don’t mind hearing this. I don’t mind it because I ALREADY KNEW IT. When they said “some races will be patched in later” you assume TBC races are on that list, do you not?
Maybe these people don’t. These people who want to look at Blizzard posting about Chris Metzen’s Birthday celebration as a reason for the downfall of the video game.

Either way, it is what it is. I couldn’t be more excited for WoD and really look forward to seeing the facial options for my Paladin when the time comes. Don’t forget, 5.1 was only 2 months after MoP’s launch! I’m sure we will see them shortly.

Gamescom WoD Special Event – Juicy Speculation!!

gamescom

This has gotten more and more exciting over the weeks, and now seeing that Blizzard (for the first time) has actually declared they will be livestreaming a “special announcement” at a games convention that isn’t their own…

Well you gotta believe this is gonna be a big deal. How could it not be.

For those who haven’t seen, here is all you need to know:
http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/blog/14963904/blizzard-at-gamescom-website-and-live-stream-29-07-2014

Click to Enlarge!

Click to Enlarge!

The image and the link above it say it all. A four day game’s convention beginning August 14th, opening with a “Special Event” has never been anything other then major and it lines up PERFECTLY with what I have been hinting and predicting at for a month now. Let’s summarize why, with certainty, this will announce the release date shortly after.

- 4 bosses into Heroic (previously “normal) raid testing with an instant 100 server as well as 90-100 leveling functions.

- Accurately predicted start of Heroic 5 man and raid testing with insights stemming from vendors being placed as well as hints from Blizzard representatives.

- Missing link is 6.0 PTR and patch in general. Sticking by prediction that this coming week will see it’s launch. Mark your calendars!

- By August 14th we should have tested most of Heroic if not all, and will likely see near final class tuning based on frequency of patch note updates.

- Final major convention before Blizzcon. PAXeast held an incredible announcement.

- In France.

You might be thinking to yourself, what does France have to do with it? Absolutely nothing. Its just a coincidence.

But ya, so let’s talk about assumptions based on these previous predictions and upcoming facts.

Now to me, it seems all but certain a release date will come and not just any release date. You see, if Blizzard is to follow in their own footsteps, they are very likely releasing this expansion October 14th.

What this guess is based on is the 2 month release date announcement of MoP, Cataclysm, and Wrath. Each time, it has been as close to 2 full months previous, but never on a stage like this. For the first time, Blizzard will not only hype their own game on a world wide stage, but will break the hearts of all the morons clamoring about a “Last day possible” release target. This even gives a wide berth to prepare for Blizzcon – 3 weeks and a few days. Even more so, this aligns with the three weeks it took to receive the 5.1 PTR from launch of MoP. Its extremely likely that 6.1 will be in the works by then as well, so expect something big at Blizzcon!

Think about it logically, if you are still on the fence. Does it make sense for Blizzard to travel all the way to France, a land known historically for extreme crime and poverty – risking their own lives and well fare, just to announce the game is coming out 4 months from then?

Of course, maybe I am wrong and looking way too much in to this. If you are from the future looking back on this, feel free to call me out if I am wrong. But I honestly, have been feeling clairvoyant ever since July Fourth and Rob Pardo’s departure. Everything seems very sketched to plan for Blizzard and I feel I can see their steps before the make them.

Maybe people confuse this sort of “prediction” with a schedule, but upon any close examination you can tell its quite the opposite. If this was planned from the start, we wouldn’t be just hearing about the Gamescom hullabaloo 2 weeks prior to it. They wouldn’t have announced Beta Key giveaways at PAXeast just 1 week before the show, months after they were sold out.

Sure maybe the 2 month prediction is “scheduled.” Maybe now that we are this close to the thing, its easier for them to make timelines to follow. But the point and facts of the matter overall is that Blizzard does NOT operate on a schedule, but DOES have very noticeable habits. Being an observational scientist before all else, it is really resounding to look at any data series involving release timelines and the like.

So go ahead, mark your calendars. Don’t take work off quite yet, but I’m saying with extreme confidence that we see an early October release. The ripple of that means September 16th has to be 6.0 at the latest. It can be as early as August, but they said it will be out for at least a month if not 6-8 weeks prior.

If we assume September 16th, and know it will take at least a full month to test, we have to see the PTR this coming week. Realistically it can’t be anything but, especially if they push the 6-8 week thing as an option, unless the ptr cycle is abbreviated.

 

Back to Gamescom, you should also realize that if for some reason a release date ISN’T looming, it will most certainly feature the WoD opening Cinematic. I’m looking forward to a good one, but after comparing anything to Wrath of the Lich King’s, it is truly hard to compete.

Either way, I don’t envy all those people scuttling around that huge hall. For once, Blizzard is allowing us to take a part of the show from home instead of just read some dissertation about all the events transcribed in half-english.

For once, we will see an official announcement as epic as this one in the proper venue. For those that will be there, they get to see it live in action on the biggest stage. For those at home, we get to experience it together, live, with everyone else. Before I leave you, let’s talk about the announcement and its timezone implications.

From the image displayed, we see it takes place at 1800 live in Cologne, France. For those without a clock imbedded in your brain, that translates to the following:

6PM CEST – Cologne, France time.

5 PM GMT – United Kingdoms

12 Noon EST – East Coast USA

9 am PST – West Coast USA

Some retarded time – Korea

Boom get hyped. To all the non believers. See ya in Cologne.

CAN'T WAIT!

CAN’T WAIT!