Category Archives: Expansions

New Associate Races!

Allied_races

Oh hai! The good news is that I’m still around. That is also the bad news. I just haven’t had a lot to talk about since the BfA announcement – that goes a while back, I know, but there ya have it. What was that, BlizzCon?

I’ve started a number of posts, but ran out of gas before I got them up to our usual low standards of publishability. I haz opinions, but really haven’t felt like any of them were worth your time.

I’ve even gotten in on the Alpha – hard to say who hasn’t – though I haven’t actually done anything with it.  Matters of theorycrafting and so forth seem to be beyond my grasp – I’ve barely figured out how to properly use the Best in Bags tool at AMR.   That’s assuming I am, of course. AMR agrees with my own calculations enough to earn extra side-eye.

So anyway, watching all the news about BfA and our new Associated Allied races has me wondering about future installments on this already popular feature.  We all know about the Zandalari Trolls, some sort of Orcs from Outland (?), Dark Iron Dwards, and Big Chin Humans from Jaina’s Home Island.  What else might they be cooking up? Here are some ideas!

Leper Gnomes

I think that we’ve all seen this one coming from a mile away. The only thing holding them back has been the rather insensitive-to-lepers name, but now that we’re in the second year of the Trump administration, sensitivity is for the birds!  Bring on the possibly radioactive Gnomes!

Probably still won’t end up in the next cinematic, though.

Vrykool

Similar to the Big Chin Humans, but these folk trace their roots back to when the Curse of Flesh was first weakening the races of Northrend.  Smart folks, these relatives of the Vrykul got out of there before it got too bad, and also stayed hidden for thousands of years before revealing themselves. They’re cool like that.

Racial Bonus: they use regular sized humans for shoulder gear.  Cool.

Crimbo Elves

Somewhat related to the Really High Elves, these folks only appear in Winter, spending the rest of the year in communes in Northern Kalimdor.

Obviously if seasonal Associated Races don’t work out, this will be the only ones we ever see.

Nasty Orcses

Nocturnal by nature, Nasty Orcses have a racial bonus when fighting stupid hobbitses. Precious.

Limited to Warriors and Paladins. Obviously.

Mostly Dead

A somewhat embarrassing chapter in The Lich King’s campaign in Lorderon; these are the people who’s relatives gave up on them before they were actually dead.  Arthas took them into the Scourge and never heard the end of it.

Made for some awkward war councils, too.

“I remember you. You told them I was dead!”

“Didn’t turn out so well, for me, either.”

“If you think that makes it okay, let me tell you …”

“People, can we focus on the counterattack from Alterac?”

Gitauren

An offshoot of the Highmountain Tauren, these folks really rock.

Probably hinting at the eventual introduction of the Bard class. You know how Blizz is.

Panteran

I’m guessing this offshoot of the Pandaran race will line up directly opposed to the Gitauren.  This might even be the basis for the conflict in the expansion that introduces the Bard class. I’m calling it now – “World of Warcraft: Battle of the Bands”.

Furbolgs

There’s no sound reason, lore-wise, for this to ever happen. Therefore it will happen.

You get a Furbolg, and you get a Furbolg …

Gobwins

The perfect cross-over from Erfworld, these highly avaricious and clever subterranean creatures will replace the mobile auction house.  Their native resource, Juice, will replace Mana / Energy / Rage / etc for all supported classes.

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Battle for Azeroth

Jaina (TCG)

(Image from the WoW Trading Card Game, whose body is buried in Hearthstone’s back yard)

It’s a bit more than a week since the big reveal at Blizzcon – Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth will be a thing.  The theme to this expansion will be that of faction warfare between the Horde and Alliance.  I, on the other hand, just call it The Jaina Expansion.

Jaina (BlizzCon 2017 Key Art).png

(Image from Blizzcon 2017 key art. Cosplay by Taylor Swift)

The theme of this one is that for some reason, the Horde has decided, after working with us for some time to save Azeroth from countless nasty things, that the time has come to wipe  us out.  Word has it that Sylvanas has a thing for Stormwind, which is why she turns around and burns down Teldrassil.  You’d expect Silvermoon’s finest Ranger to have better aim than that, but there ya go.

(By the way, it’s been officially confirmed that Sylvanas shot first.)

As a result, the Alliance strikes back at Lorderon.  I won’t spoil it for you, but who won this one has also been officially confirmed.

(I’m not a member of the undead night elf fetish club, but the way, but the vice actor for Sylvanas has one of the most interesting voices in the genre.  I could listen to her read the phone book.)

Aw, hell, I can’t get away from giving it away a little … the upshot is that Alliance ends up with exactly one base in Kalimdor – the Exodar – and Horde with one in the Eastern Kingdoms – Silvermoon. Sorry, haters, but it’s kinda fundamental to discussing what we know, ya know?

Jaina (WotLK Ulduar)

(Image from Ulduar announcement cinematic. I always liked big-nose Jaina the best.)

First things first. We don’t know yet how much this affects contended areas like Gadgetstan or Booty Bay, but I seriously doubt it will affect them at all. They were contested before, they still are now. Fine.  That also means that I suspect that little outposts, such as what’s left of Theramore and Revantusk Village, will remain largely unchanged, though security might get beefed up.  I doubt there’s a good lore-related reason for this, but in terms of game mechanics, I imagine it would be a lot more work than they have time for, unless release date is sometime in 2020.

They already have enough to do.  The losses of two major capital cities is going to likely re-arrange the political geography of much of the two continents.

Teldrassil’s loss will likely lead to the loss of Darkshore and Ashenvale.   Which is a shame since it seems that all that Horde does with woods  is cut them down. Don’t get me started.

Lorderon’s loss will likely lead to re-integration of the two Plaguelands (already partially integrated, but maybe they’ll remain contested), Hillsbrad, Alterac, Silverpine, and Tirisfal. It is also likely that Gilneas will be fully restored, and I suspect that this will become the new capital city of the Worgen and Night Elves, since the Night Elves hosted the Worgen up to now. I have no idea where the Forsaken will end up hosting, but I suspect they might be pushed into the Ghostlands (somewhat appropriate), thought that might involve Blizz having to rework a BC zone, which they seem very reluctant to do (which is probably also why the Exodar and Silvermoon are left alone in this expansion).

Jaina (BfA Reveal Vid)

(Image from BfA announcement cinematic. Is it just me or has she been working out?)

As always with these expansions, there must be land to … expand into. This time around, it’s Kul Tiras – Jaina’s homeland – and Zandilar – home to nasty trollses. As you can imagine, the former has me more interested than the latter, but there are a few things that the announcement cinematic revealed about both.

We know a few things with regards to Kul Tiras. (1) It’s Jaina’s homeland. (2) It’s nautical. (3) Jaina’s dad is dead (Jaina sorta let that happen). (4) Jaina’s mom is still alive, and they have probably had “one of those talks”.  (“Jaina, have we learned not to let ravening Orcs have their way with our parents now?” “:: sigh :: Yes, mother.”)  I really hope they don’t go for the all too predictable trope of “Jaina’s mom is mad with loss and will be a raid boss” or something like that.

Speaking of expanding, Stromgarde Keep is coming back, being rebuild, just in time to be repeatedly attacked by the Horde. This seems odd since I could swear we were kicking the bums outta our turf, but maybe Hillsbrad turns into a pocket of resistance or something?  Hard to say, but the fact remains that without a foothold, it makes zero sense to see Horde attacking someplace that is so far within the heartland. I mean, sure, there’s a pirate cove nearby (not gonna be touched, I can pretty much guarantee), so Southshore is the next closest point of entry.  (I wonder if there is a corresponding Alliance stronghold in the middle of Kalimdor?)

And this brings up the main gist of this expansion – the two factions fighting.  There will be a lot of focus on PvP-like activities, but there’s good news for us care bears.   All the PvP-like activity is against (apparently) NPCs. So they might be flying the flag of the enemy, but they’re really just innocent bots that take pleasure in being slaughtered by the thousands by us god-like players.

Jaina (Blizz Website)

(Image from Blizz’s old fan art site, no attribution provide by them, sadly.)

And that brings me to what I don’t like about all this.  We’ve spent a couple of expansions now being told that we are the greatest thing since sliced bread by every friendly NPC that we meet. In Draenor we were elevated to military commanders, up to Admiral / General in the end.  In Legion we were given command of our entire order.  Set aside for the moment the massive danger there is in granting one supreme authority in both the military and religious spheres (that’s as close as I can come to describe what we are to our orders). The real issue here is that we keep getting more and more preposterously powerful amongst our peers.

And now – we’re foot soldiers in a number of PvP skirmishes?  What a downer.

The whole theme of this thing, really, comes across as some seriously weak tea. Even the reason is weak. Why would Sylvanas suddenly want to go after Stormwind? And why would she then go after Teldrassil instead? Seems kind of random. The Alliance’s motivations seem more obvious – looks like they’re retaliating for this random violence on their shores. But Sylvanas has never, even once, come across as being a randomly violent entity?  Did we get it wrong all along?  Is Sylvanas the Dreadlord instead of Jaina?

The more I look at the set up – and I concede that “set up” may be entirely too accurate – the less engaged I feel.  Many on the interwebz have called this a “filler” expansion done by “the B team”, and there are times when I have no ammunition with which to refute that. This seems to be rather drab and uninspired (even the logo is washed out).

I dunno, what do you think?

Jaina (nap time)

(Image from naptime (sometime in 2012))

Yeah, I’ll probably play, and hopefully rejoice in the restoration of our lands after all this time.  On the other hand, visiting Kalimdor is likely to be heartbreaking.

Jasra’s Excellent Legion Intro Adventure

Screenshot 2016-08-30 17.55.48.pngOne of the probable requirements of our guild raiding in this expansion is that I bring Jas as my main once again, so I’ve gone as far as to rearrange my login screen to reflect the reality of the situation. For the first time since I ever logged into WoW, Grimmtooth is no longer the first entry in the login screen.

But I’m okay with that.

So the story of the Legion launch is the story of Jasra and her excellent adventure.

A new home

The first step in the process is getting in touch with Khadgar and getting him to put Dalaran into warp drive to The Broken Isles. I have to say here that “we have to go to the Broken Isles” is the Captain Obvious moment of the expansion so far.  Good sleuthing, Khad. I bet you were the pride of your Hogwarts class.

While I was in Dal, I had to wander around to see what changed.

  • The Auction House is gone. Not a big surprise. Blizz associates auction houses with … something incredibly unfair in favor of auction house barons. I’m not sure what they are bringing to this table other than GOLD BAD POVERTY GOOD but at least all other auction houses are one portal away.
  • The good news is that the capital portals are back!  Instead of a single portal to your faction capital, you have portals to all of the major capitals for your faction.  This is a welcome move away from the Org / Stormwind bias of Cataclysm.
  • Speaking of which, the Dalaran Must Move quest rewards you with a Dalaran hearthstone. This is in addition to your Garrison and regular Hearthstone. This is massive, folks.
  • The Sewer is apparently a PvP area, and just entering will flag you.  I mean, yah.
  • And while doing the Monochrome Marathon back to my Sewer corpse, I lost internets when a massive lightning strike occurred nearby. No matter how smoothly the server team rolls out the new expansion – and they did a massively good job, by the way – mother nature always finds a way to put you in your place.

Anyway …

Assembling your Staff

The first order of business is the artifact quest.  Now, I have no idea who this Faol guy is, but I bet you Hordies are full of the loves for this guy.  At any rate, he was The Guy for the Light’s Wrath quest line.

This quest line, without throwing too many spoilers out, required all of your Disco toolkit, though in many cases in a very contrived and blizzard-like manner. The hand of ham, it was very evident.

Screenshot 2016-08-30 21.51.17.png

Azuregos was the token DPS in this run

But the fun part is that it took you back to Northrend and some old familiar stomping grounds, even if it’s somewhat difficult to associate the Blue Dragonflight with Discipline priesting.

Screenshot 2016-08-30 22.07.18.png.jpg

It isn’t … awful looking, at least

Kids in the Class Hall

After getting the artifact in your sweaty Disco hands, it’s time to do the Class Hall thang.

The neatest thing about the Class Hall was who the avatars of the three disciplines were. Miora for Shadow, which I had no idea. Valen for Holy, because DUH.  And Faol for Disco, which, being Alliance to the core, all I have to say is WHATEVEVS, DISCO PRIEST GOY. I’m sure he’s a big deal for Horde. Good for them.

Screenshot 2016-08-30 22.18.11.png.jpg

Naaru child, please don’t start quoting nursery rhymes.

The oddest thing is the voice of Saa’ra, a Naaru that we rescue with my magical fucking staff. She sounds like a cross between a sci-fi movie computer and a horror movie angel. Creepy as FUCK.

Also, Faol addresses me as “Cardinal”. Why the everloving HELLS is that not now a title for my character. BLIZZ U DISAPOIT MEH.

Starting the Levelling

Remember that lady from the Illidan graphic story thingy that questioned the difference between Demon Hunter and Demon?  Well, according to the lore nerds, her name is Kor’vas. And then you start questing, if you’re in Azsuna – and what Elf wound not be? (silently judging Elves that started in a different zone)

Screenshot 2016-08-30 23.04.09.png

Guess who’s coming to dinner

And Then

Remember that earlier wandering around Dal?  Well, one thing I learned is that your profession providers will be providing entry level quests so you can start gathering stuff off of your victims and level up your crafting.

The neat thing about first aid was that I was able to accumulate recipes from all levels from Cataclysm forward. As a priest, I really didn’t need any of those, but it was neat seeing that they have a compensation process for, at least, secondary skills.

A nice new addition to Dal^2 is a transmorgrifier living in the Enchanting shop.

And finally, once I entered “the world”, I found that the Draenor “bonus objective” thing has been carried over, and, in some cases, incorporated into the main questing scheme. Good luck with that.

Also, don’t forget to visit your primary crafting trainers. They have fairly straightforward quests for you to fulfill before you can gain your new crafting skills.

Going forward

I like the job that Blizz did in forming a conduit into which you pour your toons’ essence. The moving-dal to artifact-weapon to class-hall progression makes perfect sense as you go along, and the point where you finally choose your entry into the Broken Isles is flawless. Four starting zones versus two, or, even, one, is a great idea and I approve with all of my thumbs.

Time to get some rested XP. Night all.

Legion’d

Login

The Invasion event is almost over, and I’m glad for it.

Not to say that it wasn’t fun and productive, in a limited way, but it wasn’t three weeks worth of fun and productive in a limited way.

Sure, I only have all six pieces of warforged gear on one toon, but all of my 100s have at least four.  More than that is just a grind.

Invasion Gear Ain’t All That

If you get all of your invasion gear up to iLevel 710, you’re on par with some of the less well-developed WoD raiders, but I have to ask how long it’ll be good for. Traditionally, my epics are chucked just as fast as I can find superior questing greens when the expansion starts.

Broken Isles Event was Cheap

I won’t spoil the “surprise” but …

I don’t mean in the form of no expenses spared.  I instead mean, Blizz generated some tension between Horde and Alliance in a cheesy way. Instead of laying down a solid story that explains to you why you should be pissed (Alliance) or feeling REAL misunderstood (Horde), they chose to hide bits of the story behind the Iron Curtain, as it were.  And the joke of it all is that all you have to do is go up to YouTube to see the other side of the scenario, and that tension is instantly negated.  Hordesplainers be like “well actually” and this time it’s actually a valid defense.

Had the story been more expertly laid out, I would have given this event full marks. Having said that, it was still pretty damned good.

Getting Tired of Jaina’s Shit

In fact, the whole “Kirin Tor Takes Dalaran on a Field Trip” series of events is pretty thinly plotted, but the bitterest pill of all to swallow is how they have reduced Jaina to a whiney little jerk that spends a lot of time doing the Kylo Ren Stomp all over the place. So much so that I think most people were glad when she /ragequit the Kirin Tor – and not just on the Horde side.

Let’s go for extra points and point out how sleazily that Khadgar basically manspreaded right into her old spot in the council. I gotta say, people upset that Khadgar has basically preempted Jaina’s rightful place as the Mage of Mages in the past two or three expansions MIGHT be onto something.  And as a guy that named his cat after her, I’d like to see better.

I hope they redeem the character with some solid storytelling in this expansion, but I’m worried we’ll get the ragey version of “*sniffle* just proud of my king …”  (gag). I’d love to say that I know Blizz can do better … but I can’t.  The major character arcs seem to be in the hands of someone that really can’t tell a story that well (cough cough Metzen). They need to hand that over to Kozak.

Invasions were good for one thing, anyway

Getting out there and learning your new rotations is a good thing. For those of us not raiding, the only way to really test your mettle was against the major demons in at the Throne of Kil’jaden.

The invasions provided new and useful targets. They also taught me that melee in that sort of environment is no fun.  Let’s just say I’m glad for the opportunity to learn defensive cooldowns on an Unholy DK, but I would have preferred not to.

You’re gonna say “But Grimm, the Invasion Event was also good for leveling toons!”  Gonna say it again: I’m not getting why you’d bother playing a toon you don’t want to level in the first place. Let’s agree that that argument will never, ever carry water with me.

But this is from a guy that hasn’t used either of his boosts yet. So whatever.

Speaking of Raiding

Our GM has been getting more active in game and has actually canvassed us to see if we’d be interested in raiding this expansion.  Might have to bring Jasra for this, as we look to be replete with DPS, but that’s fine, I like to be useful.

I’m also seeing some old friends I thought I’d never be playing with again, and that makes me very excite.

I don’t know if we will actually get there, but I think we’ll at least be able to cobble together some consistent 5-mans. Jas made an attempt at that last night and brought the house down with her screwed up keybinds.  So we’re working on that. Smile

Cautiously Optimistic

At the start of WoD, everyone was like OMG Cutscenes and proclaiming the storytelling to be the star of the expansion.  At the end of this content drought called 6.2, nobody’s wondering where the five million people went to – the answer is: away. They got bored and let down by the rest of the expansion not living up to the start of the expansion – or its price.

So, while I am hearing good things about the expansion so far, I’m also mindful that Blizz has a lot to make up for once again. Maybe they’ll deliver on the promise of a more content-ful expansion with a lot more to look forward to. You have to play to find out.

Tomorrow in the US, they roll out the demons in force. As always, I’m here first to have fun. Here’s hoping the rollout goes smoothly and it lives up to the hype.

I’ll see you on the Isles, fellow WoWheads.

Gaming Invasions without being a Jerk

Hovering slackers

Nobody notices, sure….

Been to any demon invasions lately? Notice anything odd, such as a virtual carpet of slackers hovering over the site of the invasion on mooses they got through charity runs?

It’s true. You can be totally useless and still get rewards for just being around and breathing (or not breathing) during a Legion invasion.

mountain slacker

The Hinterlands finally proves to be useful.

Your natural and noble disdain for such crotch-rubbing weasels can be retained and yet you, too, can exploit a certain weakness of the invasion mechanic, earning you progress in an invasion event without having to, ya know, exert yourself for the entirety of the event. And yet hold your head up at the slackers meetings.

Here’s the deal – progression in Phase 1 of an invasion starts more or less when you enter a zone, not when you first engage.  Progression of Phase 1 starts as soon as you’re in the zone.  No matter what you do.

So the longer you are in a zone under invasion, the further Phase 1 progresses without your involvement.

The trick, then, is to maximize your time in an invasion zone prior to actually having to be involved.  In short, finding the longest traverse across an invasion zone to your target flight point.

Consider for a moment the Northern Barrens.

northern barrens.jpg

Cribbed from WoWHead

If you choose Ratchet as your embarkation point, then it makes sense to fly across the zone on its long axis. In one case, I was able to get all the way to Phase 3 before landing. The trick was to fly from Southern Barrens to Ratchet on the way to the Crossroads invasion.

There are other similar examples. For example, Alliance should fly to Sentinel Hill manually rather than take a flight path for the simple reason that you spend more time over Westfall that way, and thus more time in Phase 1 in transit to the site of the invasion.

westfall

Also cribbed from WoWHead

You could even maximize it further by taking the gryphon to Moonbrook first, then flying to Sentinel Hill manually.

Basically, this is all about plotting your entrance. I’m only surprised that Blood Elves aren’t involved in some way – they do love a good entrance.

Is this gaming the system?  Well, in this case, Blizz has created the system. They have deliberately set things up this way in order to waste your time and make your grind for Nethershards and Fel-Infused armor as long and tediously as possible. As far as I’m concerned, this is a response in kind.

Contempt breeds contempt.

Glyphageddon

Illume400“Back in the day” there was an event that Scribes around Azeroth fondly remember as “Glyphmas”. During this time, it was impossible to make a glyph that didn’t sell. And the money for said glyphs was being trucked in by the wagon load.  It was a heady time, and Blizz killed it with their dirty “game mechanics”, but it happened just the same.

Now we’re quickly approaching an apocalyptic cusp in the history of Inscription.  Legion is changing glyphs in a big way, or I should say many big ways. But, as glyph mongers1, only a few of these ways concern us at the moment.

By far the biggest changes that affect glyph mongers are thus:

  1. All Major Glyphs are being discontinued. Period.
  2. All minor glyphs that do anything are being discontinued. Period.

This leaves us with just (roughly) 45 out of 425 glyphs, plus 61 new ones for a total of 104 Glyphs to sell2.  All of these glyphs are cosmetic only. Heck, some of the purely cosmetic glyphs from WoD didn’t make it – they were very selective!

legion glyphs

Click here for the full spreadsheet

(Note: click on the little arrow in the header to open filter options. Filter out “Charred”, for example, to just see the glyphs we’re gonna have in Legion.  You can also filter based on class, which is useful if you’re only interested in your class’ glyphs, though I have to say, if that’s the case, this is not the blog post for you.)

Now, the good news is that these cosmetic glyphs will have a higher demand, because Glyphs are once again consumable.  Right now, in WoD, when you use a glyph, it adds it to your permanent Glyph book, as it were, so these cosmetic glyphs would  have a very low throughput. But now, they won’t be permanent. Once replaced, they go away, and the only way to get that effect back again is to use another glyph.  Hooray?

There are a couple of other items that are of interest.

  • Tome of the Tranquil Mind allows players to change talents wherever they are, such as in an instance. This is new since one may only otherwise change spec / talents in a “safe” location, such as Stormwind or Dalaran.
  • Codex of the Tranquil Mind does the same thing, but for entire groups, so will bring quite a bit more on the AH.

I feel these may be a bit of a sop to Scribes to make up for the decimation of our glyph inventory.

Recipe ranks

Not entirely related to commerce, but kinda is. If this makes final implementation, then we’ll be able to craft things more efficiently as we gain recipe ranks. Not clear on whether this is per recipe or per profession.

Unlearned Tab in Spellbook

One thing that always bugs me is that data mining just doesn’t cover it when it comes to telling if you know all the recipes you can … so this is a welcome addition to the trade skill panel.

Shoulder enchants

Aside from Boon of the Scavenger, rumors of the return of shoulder enchants seem to be somewhat rumor-ish.

Equipment

From what I can see, Artifact weapons have removed a few sources of income (staves, wands, off-hands), but we still have our Tarot card trinkets.  In WoD, those wore out fast because you were allowed max 3 items of crafted gear, and anyone with a calculator could figure out that head + chest + weapon (or pants) was the best bang for the slot.  Does Legion change that limitation? If so, these guys will regain some popularity, like they had in previous expansions.

Waiting with bated3 breath

There are a lot of unanswered questions before I know my comfort level. How difficult will our mats be to get? Will recipe ranks have any real effect? Will the consumable nature of glyphs compensate for the fact they’re only cosmetic? Will the Tranquil Mind items take up the slack? Will the three-crafted-item limit be lifted?

I watched in horror as Alchemy and Enchanting and Jewel crafting got gutted in the past expansion, with the offerings of each reduced to a sketch of previous expansions. Looks like it’s our turn now, and I’m kinda hating it.

Plan of action

Forewarned is for-aremed, they say. Whoever “they” is.

At any rate, be aware that 380 or so of your current glyphs will be junk by the end of August, and adjust appropriately. Getting 1 GP for a glyph now is better than getting 1 SP for a  Charred Glyph after the pre-release patch hits.

Armed with the knowledge I have, I’m going to start dumping glyphs around June 20 or so. I plan to have all of the “Charred” items sold off by the end of July.  Don’t forget, the expected launch of Legion is the end of August, and the typical pre-expansion patch usually occurs 4-5 weeks prior to the expansion.  So the actual drop dead date is when patch 7.0.x will occur.


  1. My own term: those of us that make and sell glyphs for profit, ignoring all other aspects of the practice that aren’t reflected in Auction House trending.  We don’t care about what glyphs are most potent or what mechanics are in place. All that matters is how much gold we can get for the least amount of gold expenditure.
  2. The current count of new glyphs is incomplete, because there are many that are currently missing, or apparently so. So while most classes have 10 or so glyphs available, some, like Mages, only have 7. Gonna go out on a limb and say that’s not where Blizz wants to land.
  3. If I see one more person with “baited” breath I might fireball them right in the face.

Everything Old is New Again

Though I am loathe to link them, wowdb has a pretty decent Artifact Calculator up. This is our first glimpse at the progression of our new main weapons in Legion, as well as some spells and abilities associated with specific specs.

Without chewing too long on any particular weapon, I do notice one big thing, which is this.

Old-school WoW players that enjoyed the pre-Cata talent trees (such as, me!) will probably like the look and feel of this new feature.

To wit:

If you go over there and click around a little bit, you’ll see what I mean. All talents Artifact traits are constructed in a very familiar way: start out here, which enables you go go here or here, possibly after you select this many of this talent artifact trait. They usually (as far as I can tell) offer two specific paths to follow, so you can emphasize in what area you like, or homogenize as pleases you.

Let’s look at the Frost Mage artifact, Ebonchill, as an example. You’ll see that two fairly distinct paths are offered – one heavier on defensive, one heavier on offensive, with some common traits and crossover paths between them. This is a very familiar mechanism to us old-schoolers.

And I kinda like it.

Given, these are all very early beta / late alpha stuff, i.e. datamined stuff and some speculation, which the underwriters of WoWDB excel at (the speculation that is). So take with a grain of salt. But the overarching way that the Artifact traits will be implemented and/or controlled.

It implies that there are realistic choices to be made, and that those choices will be dictated by your toon’s chosen lifestyle. For example, I can see a Questing toon go for the higher defensive path and later emphasizing offensive / DPS. \

I’m also assuming that there will be a respec / reset feature at some point available.

What’s interesting is that we’re losing a lot of “choices” in our glyphs – Major glyphs are going away, for example – while gaining many choices here.  It’s apparent to me that character modification is moving into an area that is more blatantly relevant to the player, without providing the endless mini-game that was the WotLK talent trees.

I personally liked that mini-game, in that it gave me a lot of flexibility. But Blizz’s contention was that for most specs, there was one, and only one, true build for maximum raiding performance, so they normalized those non-choices out and left behind only “real” choices in the three-lane talent … trees we have today.  Mind  you, I’m not sure I agree with the terminology they use, as I continue to see cookie-cutter specs take over raiding and PvP as applies to the user, with the only real “choices” being between talents that nobody cares about anyway.

Normalizing to irrelevancy is not, IMO, a good thing, which is why I’m both excited to see the new Artifact designs, and apprehensive about the ultimate outcome.

It will be interesting to see where this is going, but for the time being it looks like it will take a predictable path, different from Vanilla in only the form which it takes. By the first week of beta, there will be just a few optimized configurations that render the maximum effect for each spec.

One last thing.

Datamining has revealed a Fishing Pole Artifact. Ain’t that a hoot.

 

Legionary Everything Else

While I have moderately informed opinions on Hunters, Warlocks, and (Disco / Shadow) Priests, I’m less well-studied on the other classes.  I have characters in all classes, but most of them are simply so I can walk a mile (or a few levels) in the shoes of my fellow travelers. With that in mind, my opinions of these classes are far less meaty and/or informed than my opinions with regard to my main three.

You can find the full catalog of class previews on Blizzard’s website.  My comments on these changes (other than Hunter, Priest, and Warlock) take no particular order.

Mage

Though my mage started out as Fire (my first PvP kill was, in fact, as a fire mage) and dabbled in Arcane, I’ve settled in on Frost as my favorite. Just looking at the overviews, I’m feeling fairly good about the changes, which both further differentiate the three different specs and improve on their abilities and rotations.

A lot has been made about the removal of Frostfire bolt, but I feel a lot of people lack context on that spell. To wit: that spell came about in Wrath because there was, at the time, a lot of ‘resistance’ mechanics in place, and FFB was seen as a way to give Frost and Fire mages ways to be effective against bosses that had resistances in their primary schools.

In the modern day, with switchable specs (and apparently a third spec slot in Legion), and with no fights that actually have clear resistances of this sort implemented, FFB is a relic of a time when you had to pay attention to that sort of thing. We lost frost/fire resist enchants (etc) a couple of expansions ago. Getting rid of FFB just marks the end of the final throes of a living fossil – whether you liked that kind of mechanic or not (I actually did, except when it annoyed me – looking at you, Viscidus).

Death Knight

The whole “class fantasy” thing has actually convinced me to change my DK’s spec. She’s been running around as a Blood tank spec.  But I realized that Faiella, the DK, was originally Faiella, the Survival Hunter (Experiential), who was slain and raised into service to the Lich King during the pre-WotLK event. My internal headcanon therefore inquires as to why she isn’t Unholy, with a pet. In response, I grunted “good question!” and reconfigured her in the new image.

I felt that Blood spec for soloing was kind of weird and unwieldy. We’ll see how Unholy fares. Honestly, I wouldn’t know a good spec from bad in this case.

Rogue

As much as I hate to admit it, the new Outlaw spec looks pretty interesting to me. My internal headcanon for my rogue has him as more of a Subtlety player than anything else, and my internal lore has pretty much put him on an  unsavory path. I’m wondering if I can work the Outlaw spec into a “redemption” story-line for my own internal RP. Or maybe kill him off and bring back Effington as an Outlaw Worgen.

Warrior

Even though I didn’t play it, I was very sad to see the Gladiator sub-spec go away. Such (seemingly arbitrary) decisions make me yearn for the old days of multi-layer spec trees that let you roll your own in terms of spec. A Protection build with DPS elements specced in would give us more or less the same thing.

Paladin

I’ve always felt the Pally spec’s rotation to be unwieldy. I’ve tried Ret and Protection with equal dissatisfaction. Removal of Holy Power as a secondary resource is a step in the right direction in that regard.

And then ….

I just don’t have enough experience to draw a conclusion on the Druid and Monk classes. My Druid is currently Boomkin spec, and I hope to pervert the new talents to make it even more boomkiny. I am glad, as all are, that the secondary resource is gone.

As far as Monks go, my Brewmaster (2H) monk feels weird, but I’m coping. I hope that the new BM spec makes the rotation feel more natural. Maybe it “feels” better in an actual dungeon or raid, but right now I’m working hard to level my level 38 Monk, and nobody wants to raid with me for some reason. So most of the changes are just noise to me.

The Gamer’s Creed

Here’s the thing for me. I’m a gamer. Present me with a game, and I treat it as a puzzle to solve. Every class in WoW is, in fact, a new game for me. So when you change things around? I’m all in. I love change, because it keeps the game fresh. Maybe Blizz digs this, or maybe it’s just me. All I know  is, I’m looking forward to the new New.

 

Legionary Priests

jasra-port-2.jpg

Blizzard released a preview of what Priests will look like on 2015-11-09, which you can find here.

Some Background

Jasra, my Priest, is not my main main, but has been my raiding main from time to time. Originally rolled as a Disco priest back when smiting and whacking things with a mace while keeping the shield up was the way to level. When dual spec came up, I embraced Shadow as the second spec.  I’ve had a hard time reconciling the Disco healy spec with the Shadowy DPS spec from a bad RP point of view, but recently I’ve started to warm up to the concept. The Insanity aspect of Shadow merges well with the Pain-oriented motif of Discipline when I look to Morticia Addams for inspiration. It’s working marvelously in my head if not elsewhere.

At any rate, my main gig with Jas has been the healy (and later healy-smitey) aspect of Disco, though I haven’t healed in anger for two expansions now. Even as DPS, Jas rarely gets called into action, though she has seen a little more action in that respect than as a healer.

An Overview

So, looking at the general concepts for the three specs — and good news, everyone, there are still three specs!, we get this.

  • Holy is the spec you think of when you think Healer. There is no hybridization here at all. Holy priests come to the party to heal, and you better be ready to be healed.
  • Discipline – Or, Disco, as we often call it. This is another healing spec, but one that addresses the task in an odd way. For example, it has a damage component that, while you damage your enemies, also heals your friends. In addition, there are things like damage mitigation and ways to help your party endure its trials without necessarily providing succor. While the article linked above does not specifically call out Pain Suppression, it’s pretty much part and parcel to the entire Disco idiom.
  • Shadow – A DPS spec that has strong links to The Void and the Old Gods, balance on the knife’s edge of insanity at all times, with greater insanity giving greater ability.

While the concept of “hybrid” healing is so four expansions ago, Disco kind of falls into that slot.

Disco the Hybrid

A long time ago, we had the concept of the Holy Hybrid, a kind of healing spec with damage components, as played by Holy priests.  Disco priests actually didn’t have a seat at that table even though today they kinda “own” the whole concept of damage-linked healing.

Which is to say, we have elements of both Holy and Shadow in our rotation now, in some cases the abilities are even named the same (looking at you, Shadow Mend).

My biggest objections at this point are twofold.

  • Smite-healing never seemed to have much of a natural flow, yet this new spec refresh really seems to be revisiting the Cata mode of healing that so many of us hated. I have to say it: there are those that like to heal, and those that like to DPS, but there are few that like to do both at the same time, or do one to do the other. I won’t say it isn’t going to work until I see it, but it really feels like it’s as charming as a road accident and twice as ugly.
  • What the HELL? Why is Prayer of Mending a Holy only spell now?  Is it just me, or is Disco kinda synonymous with the Healy Frisby?

Shadow the Dual Spec

We knew that the motif of Shadow was going to be insanity, which I dig. And most of the way through reading about Shadow, I was pretty happy. And then we got to this.

Reaching maximum Insanity will transform Shadowform into Voidform, giving the Shadow Priest access to stronger Void magic […]

[…]

When you reach 100 Insanity, you enter Voidform, transforming your Mind spells into Void spells, and increasing your Shadow damage by 30%.

[…]

Voidform causes your Insanity to constantly drain, faster and faster, until completely drained, and Voidform ends

Seen enough?

Looking this over, I was reminded very strongly that someone at Blizz stated that they wanted very much for Shadow to no longer appear as a poor cousin to Afflocks. And then they turned right around and turned Shadow into a poor cousin to Demonology Warlocks. I mean, the different forms is there (Voidform versus Demonform). The different abilities for each form is there (Mind Flay vs Void Flay, etc).

This, in my opinion, is not a great idea. In an era where they are trying to simplify things a bit, to reduce the button bloat, this is an extraordinarily bad idea. I mean, I’ve been campaigning vigorously for Demon Warlock to get rid of those alternate abilities completely, so in what universe am I going to be cool with doing the same thing to Shadow priests?

(Spoiler alert: NONE).

If asked, I would suggest that instead of adding new alternate abilities, they simply empower the base abilities during maximum insanity. And call it something other than Voidform. Call it, I dunno … “Maximum fun”.

Howls of Despair

While I am 80% happy with Shadow and 60% happy with Disco, there is a huge contingent of unhappy Shadow priests out there, and that’s surprising to me since until these changes were related, I didn’t know there were a lot of dedicated Shadow priests out there. But they’re out there, and they’re pissed. I’ve seen two or three of them announce that they’ll be using their boost to roll a fresh new Afflock and abandon their Shadow priests altogether.

A new look

The last change that surprised me wasn’t mentioned in that article, but instead at the panel that discussed the Artifact weapons. Turns out, Shadow priests will no longer be using a staff. Instead, they’ll be using a dagger (and offhand, presumably) as their main stat stick.

And of course, this is the weekend that Terestrian’s Stranglestaff dropped for Jas in Kara, completing her Insanity/Old God themed transmog.  The irony is inches thick and made of marzipan, it appears.

Legionary Hunters

Grimm

Blizz has spelled out that it plans on revamping all of the classes in WoW because they feel that the different specs are not distinctive enough, in many cases (agreed!) and to “improve the Class Fantasy” (whatevs.).  One of the first we heard of was the Hunter revamp which is kinda my thang.

On Sunday, 2015-11-08, they published a rundown of the Hunter class, which you can read here.

Let’s start with the basics

First of all, the three specs for Hunter remain, but have been significantly altered.

  • Beast Mastery now focuses less on the damage that the hunter does, and more on the damage that the beast(s) do. This is welcome news for me, as I have long resented that crack from Ghostcrawler about reducing the role of the pet in Hunter DPS.
  • Marksman now focuses on weapon damage, and in fact does not even have a pet, formalizing the Lone Wolf talent we now have as core to the MM spec. More or a Ranger than Hunter spec, if you get the reference.
  • Survival gets the most significant change in that it is now a melee spec, though it retains the pet as part of its mechanic, as well as traps.  Several talents / abilities that have long been gone are resurfacing as part of this spec.

Each spec has its own minor peculiarities, as well. For example, BM only gains focus through its pets, not as a passive resource accumulation or via abilities such as our current incarnation of Cobra Shot. In fact, Cobra Shot is more or less replacing Arcane Shot as BMs focus dump.

And therein lies the rub.

Differentiation by any other name

A VERY brief review of the Blizz blog post seems to imply that, while the abilities are totally named differently, they are functionally the same thing., For example, Arcane Shot and Cobra Shot basically do the same thing for two different specs.  It’s hard to see the point of naming them differently just of the sake of claiming “spec fantasy”. I mean, aside from the fact that the name “Cobra Shot” has ZERO resonance with the BM spec.  It’s been around, but I’ve always felt like it was an unwelcome house guest than part of my spec.  Like a Survival ability that had run out of places to go.

With this in mind, I am looking forward to see the entire ability spread for BM / MM / SV so I can see if everything lines up perfectly.  Because if that’s the case, they’ve failed to do anything for “class fantasy” other than the name.

There’s no point in claiming this is the case, yet, though, as we don’t have comprehensive data on this, just a blog post that hit just the high points and didn’t provide any real details, just a lot of 10,000-foot level overview.

Further Research

Unlike WoD, I’m actually hoping I get in the beta this time around. I’ll never be a pro providing detailed data on raiding strats or such, but when it comes to something as superfluous as “class fantasy”, I’m a friggin’ encyclopedia. I’m very excited about these changes, but am wary of market-speak taking over the spec designs to the point that identical abilities are simply not acknowledged as what they are.  I’ll be pretty aggressive on that if I get in.