Category Archives: The future is scary

Talented

Prayer of Mending

Following up on some mock-ups, Blizz has started releasing information about the new talent trees for Dragonflight.

The first one that got my interest was Priest – I suck at the first two that they released, and that’s okay, folks, try not to be so judgey.

But I truly perked up and came into my own when they released the specs for Hunter – and WoWHead added it to their simulator (1).

This is not your daddy’s talent tree

First of all, let’s be clear – the talent trees of Cata and earlier are not going to happen. This is a new thing.

There are four key differences.

  1. There are actually two talent trees, with two “pools” of talent points to draw from. One which is just $class, and one which is relevant to your designated specialization – for Hunters, that is Beast Master, Survival, and Marksman, for example.
  2. In case it was not clear, each Specialization has its own talent tree, plus a generic $class tree.
  3. As you may have gathered from (1), there is none of this nonsense of going into a different spec’s talents for a specific talent.
  4. There are a LOT more talents to choose from, roughly 30-ish for each talent tree (class and specialization), for a real possibility of some fine-grained differentiation(5).

Okay, let me ‘splain (2) a bit. Let me ‘splain it in BM Hunter terms.

Back in The Old Days™, we’d go into the Survival spec to get a specific talent (Clever Traps, if you’re interested) and otherwise focus on BM talents.  In the case of Dragonflight talent trees, this is not a possibility – you can’t ‘borrow’ talents from Survival. However, since several talents have been mainlined as simply “hunter” this may change things a bit. Though I don’t see Clever Traps as a talent in the generic pool, that doesn’t mean that that won’t be the case at release date, or that we can’t effectively reach that same outcome with what we have in the “Hunter” tree.

The same applies to other classes as well, though the only one that I am interested in so far is Disco Priest. Yes, I do run an Outlaw Rogue, but since I suck at Outlaw Rogue, I am going to keep my big mouth shut on that topic and stick to what I know.

Disco Priest

To start with, Disco has the Disco again, baby. Prayer of Mending has become a baseline Priest ability, and I am all a-tingly over this. I mean, it’s not even an OPTION, you just get it as a priest. I don’t care if I have to share it with Holy and Shadow(3), I am just happy to have it back.

Long-term Beef Time. Ever since they relieved Disco priests of the ability to fling the Frisbee(2) around, I have been pretty emo about it. Disco without the Disco is just wrong.  Disco priests should be flinging the frisbee around, and if you don’t agree, feel free to go play FFIV or whatever that’s called. I’ll be here to accept your apology when you come crawling back. And you will.

Anyhoo. I’m sure at this point that there is someone out there dunking on me mentally because I am sooooo hyperfocused on Disco. And that’s fine. I am. Get over it. There was a time that I found Disco / Shadow to be an interesting and provacative dual spec, but once they made Disco survivable on its own, Shadow was kicked to the curb. Good luck being third-tier DPS, guys, I feel ya, but only a little bit since if you wanted to play Afflock you shoulda rolled Afflock. Which I did.

Cutting Cookies

I am not gonna prognosticate on the One True Way for Disco priest or BM Hunter. Not at this point. It’s clear that these talent trees are changing based on feedback, which is as it should be. But, also, I have little in the way to offer until I can actually bring up toons with these talent trees and test them.  I am not a mental theorycrafter. I am a grinder. A person that just grinds away at the work at hand until it is done. This was recently presented to me as a compliment, and I accept it in full appreciation of the perspective that informed it. There are people that excel at the theory and make it work for them, and there are people that try the theory out and iterate on it until it works.  That’s me. Put me in front of a training dummy, I’ll start to give you some decent real-world feedback. Show me a chart, I’ll tell you it’s pretty.

But I will say this. There will eventually be identified specific cookie cutter talent specs for every class. In some cases there will be multiples. I recall deeply the Destro Warlock variations of yore, which, I must be honest, basically were all the same on the combat logs, but it was great to  me to see that there were so many paths to excellence for Destro Locks at the time.

Let me be a bit less apocryphal, in the form of BM Huntery which I am the most invested in.

In the past, there were a couple of different routes to maximum effectiveness for BM hunters. One was a pure DPS spec. I’ve always been of the opinion that that spec was a poor substitute for a MM build that focused more on DPS than anything else, and was less effective. You wanna go MM, go MM, man. Ain’t no thang.

You may be asking, what is there to offer in a DPS spec, other than DPS? And the answer is, utility. This is an ill-defined term that can be used – or misused – in several ways. My own experiences in Karazhan are a good example, as exemplified by BRK’s own example. Basically, one of the things that classic BM Hunters excelled at was utility. You can see this in BRK’s video, which showed him using his pet as an off-tank for the sub-bosses in the Moroes encounter. Using his trapping and pet, he was able to occupy one of those four adds while assisting the rest of the team in burning down the others one at a time. As I mentioned earlier, Clever Traps figures into this largely. BRK was my BM daddy, I admit it. I was nowhere near as competent at this dance as he was, but, given his example, I volunteered to fill that role in the raid, and I more or less fulfilled it. (we will not discuss That Time Grimmy Pulled The Whole Room)

So like I said, there are some cookie-cutter aspects to this, Fer Shur. But I ask you, in the current system,  how is that not also true? The whole cookie cutter thing is a red herring. 

PS: A few days after I started writing this, I saw one of our “premier” MMO blogs posting about why the new talents were Bad and the tiered talents were Good. Ignoring, of course, that if something with 45,000 possible combinations could be cookie-cutter’d, then something with 30 possible combos could, as well, and would be 10000x more likely to be.  But I is not a Big Time Professional Blogger so please ignore me.

Can’t Get There from Here

One thing I’ve noticed from the talent trees is that you can’t get all the top-tier talents, at all. You can get, generally, two out of six or so, maybe three but I’m thinking that won’t happen unless you’re super-focused on those top-tier talents. This in a way simulates one of the features of the Classic trees, in that you had to make some choices along the way and that pretty much set your “specialty”. Nowadays, Blizz is more “tell don’t show” in their approach so rather than having your choices determine your specialty, your specialty determines your possible choices. Funny ol’ world.

I like it

At this time, in this place(4), I like what I see. Sure, there are many unanswered questions, such as:

  • Fluidity – as in, right now, the talent trees presented may change. That’s fine. Alpha is kinda like that, troopers.
  • Changing specs – will WoW preserve our builds, or will we need an addon?
  • Will we be able to save and swap out builds, or will an addon be required?
  • Will Specialization be a thing in 11.0? Okay, maybe that’s a long game question. But with the new talent trees, maybe we just chuck that concept. Specializations are, after all, an artifact of the tiered talents we currently have.
  • What’s the 11.0 game? Will new talents be added or will the current trees be re-scaled in a form of “level squish” sort of operation?

Some of these questions are abstract, others more relevant to our upcoming experience within the next four and a half months. Most are along the lines of “will I need an addon to get around this possible issue?”, I guess.  There’s actually a lot of room for a good addon here, I suspect.  I doubt I have the skill to write it myself, though I can see its outline in my mind’s eye.

But overall I feel like this is a step in the right direction. A way to make talents interesting and applicable again. I mean, you can trot out all the arguments in favor of the “tiered” approach, but the relentless unremitting response will be, and always will be, NOBODY CARES. Imma go to Icy Veins and grab my talent specs and that’s the end, because there’s nothing there to tinker with.

I have in the past been critical of “the illusion of choice” vis-a-vis the Legion weapon trees which were not trees and really were not choices other than in what order you went. This here is a different animal, and, while it may devolve down to cookie cutters, there is still the potential to be an individual and blaze a trail, no matter HOW WRONG it might be. As a BM Hunter, Disco Priest, and Demo Warlock, I’m used to people choosing wrong, and forgiving them. It takes all kinds, folks.


  1. Be aware, there are pending changes to all specs. What you see is not what you get.
  2. Apologies if I got the link wrong. As previously stated, these things are fluid. Trying to link to future abilities is dicey. Always in motion, the future is.
  3. I am somewhat intrigued at what a Shadow version of the Frisbee might do.
  4. As of July 14, the alpha launched, and we are getting, as they say in Mexico, mucho feedback.
  5. There are actually more than 30, but you get more or less 30 points to spend in each tree.

Tick tock, motherfrakkers

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It is currently July, 2022, and I am concerned about Blizzard’s sense of time.

Let me set the stage.

The next expansion was announced in April, 2022.

Given past performance, everybody with most of a brain expected a 2023 release date.

Yet, apparently, they posted Dragonflight to the Blizzard Store with a “released no later than December 31, 2022” date.

What does this mean to us?

Well, first of all, a little math.

Dec 31, 2022 release date means that the pre-release for Dragonflight, aka version 10.0, will be pushed to accounts around November 26, 2022. That’s right, a full six weeks before the commercial release date. Which is (does fast math) around four and a half months from now.

fast math

I am beyond belief that this is achievable.  Sure, they’ve bought an entire company. But, as of this date, July 11 2022, they have yet to roll out Alpha.

As of the date of this writing, it is mid-July.  If we were expecting a release by end of year 2022, I would expect the Beta to be in full swing. Blizzard’s past performance simply doesn’t jibe with this proposed release date. The only way I can see this working out is that there is yet another wrinkle that we haven’t yet perceived. Maybe they’ve changed how they do things for the testing cycle and we’ll see a game far closer to complete when Alpha rolls.  I have no idea. I am well known for having opinions, but in this case the tank is dry. I got nothing.

If you’re a player that plays the long game, you are going to have some decisions to make real soon now. In my case, I have a lot going on in the AH that will change when we hit a certain point before the pre-patch, as will hundreds of other Goblins. There is a point where you shift from “current patch” to “outgoing patch” mode.  A large part of that involves dumping things you were saving for use in crafting and so forth. As an example, Jasra keeps one full stack of each kind of cloth, dumping the rest on the AH.  Soon that will need to change to “just dump it all” until expansion rolls, at which point we shift that to a legacy mode because we’ll be collecting DragonCloth and Super DragonCloth.

So there’s a dance of sorts that will play out. The interesting part will be, do you bet on them rolling the pre-patch on time, or do you bet on them missing the date completely?  To a goblin, this is about maximizing profits, and the discussion about the expansion is only in terms of financial opportunities.

The next two months are going to be so very interesting, because if there aren’t significant events between now and then, the Scandal will be something around the lines of Suspected Missed Deadlines.

People that habitually generate drama wear me out. But apparently game companies doing same do not.  Go figure.

Deja Vu All Over Again

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If you play this game long enough you start to see things repeat themselves.

I don’t mean in-game, but in the Blogospheric Echo Chamber(1) that we all operate within. There are themes, observations, and opinions that keep coming back. Sometimes, even on the same blog.

I’ve been hard on myself, trying not to be one of those blogs, where occasionally I circle back onto a topic and retread it. Though, of course. when you’ve dropped as many words as I have over the last dozen or so years(2), you’re bound to hit on similar things eventually. Hell, I’ll wager that I’ve used the title of this article before(3).

That being said, one does expect other long-timers – as few of them left that still blog –  to also remember how things were and not start going on about how this is neat or that is bad without realizing that it’s nothing new.

The same can not be said for players that aren’t, exactly, new, but haven’t been here for the duration. Say, that guy that started playing as a Panda rogue and just now discovered something that old timers would recognize as a riff on Reforging, for example, but which they feel is a Significant Discovery.

It is hard not to be cynical about this. How it seems that the only thing that you can count on is that someone else is getting mileage off of something that you’ve seen others – or yourself! – writing about years ago.

But how can this be avoided? You can’t just yell at people to do better research. First of all, how would they? Are we literally expecting them to go back and re-read all of Big Red Kitty before having an opinion on Beastmastery Hunters?  I mean, assuming it was possible, which I don’t think it is?  Heck, you can’t even point people to go read back-issues of WoW Insider’s Guild Watch column to get an example of “your guild’s not as bad as you think, this shit was happening long ago.”

I don’t really have an answer. It’s not really feasible to take on the mantle of “rememberer of things” if nobody actually wants someone to do so. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen someone on The Internet say “Boy I sure wish there was somebody around that remembered how things actually were.” People are more invested in providing their own interpretations of how things were and will actually argue with someone that was THERE about how wrong they are. Talk about “alternate facts.”

Now, with some of the new features for Dragonflight, we’re getting Deja Vu. The new talent trees, as an example, are going to present some of the Same Old Problems and these are going to be run up the flagpole as Fresh New Scandal. As an example, I’m sure we’re going to see “cookie cutter” specs come out of this change, where people look up a spec on Noxxic or Icy Veins or WoWHead even, and use it rather than do the thinking for themselves.

Us Olds are gonna say yeah, seen it, done it, and it was fine. And besides, how were the previous tiers any different?  But yeah the kiddos not going to get it, or appreciate it, and, likely, resent that we’re even saying that.

Another thing, as @Marathal pointed out, is how some of the features of the new crafting resemble nothing less than the old Reforging feature, and remembering the big bruhaha over Ask Mr Robot’s role in demystifying that feature(4).

Nobody cares. Not that it happened before, nor that we remember.

Pepperidge Farm Remembers - Album on Imgur

Yeah yeah. Go back to sleep, old guy(8).

All that aside, there’s meat in them oysters, and I’m limbering up for some – at least personal – theorycrafting. I will not be competing with these young whippersnappers in that regard. They fancy with they slicked back hair and backlit keyboards and solar calculators. I can’t compete with that.

But maybe I can apply a bit of perspective as compared with what we had before. Though, as I’ve said, I doubt it will matter. If they’re too lazy to rez up a toon in TBC-Classic (or Wrath-Classic later this year) to see For Reals what it used to be like, then they’re not going to be interested with someone deconstructing their carefully constructed constructs of How It Was, I Just Know It.

The most annoying thing about this, if there is to be an annoying thing(5), is the possibility that Blizz is counting on this.  That there exists a Machiavellian intelligence at Blizz that thinks that, if only they get enough “churn” in the playerbase, they can pull off a revisit to old game systems without anyone calling them into question, because the ones that remembered that have either moved on to other things(6) or are so few in number that nobody really pays them any attention(7).  To them, it isn’t about loyalty – it’s about numbers. They don’t care that there are 1,000,000 loyal customers, only that there are 1,000,000 customers. Done and done.

You won’t find me in the “Blizz has a Machiavellian Intelligence” camp because I don’t think The Suits are that smart, but they’re good enough at Faking It that they will claim credit for anything, be it good or bad, just to make it look like they’re smarter than a lump of coal. You can go along with that if you want, but I’m voting for the lump.

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  1. You’ve seen it a lot even if you don’t know what to call it. One blog espouses something, then another riffs on that, and then another riffs on that, and so forth. Eventually you have fifty blogs all talking about the same thing, only different.
  2. Not gonna look, not gonna look …
  3. Not gonna look, not gonna look …
  4. Called out by some as “cheating”.
  5. And there always is, isn’t there?
  6. /waves to FFIX players
  7. Hi.
  8. Hey!

Viva la Revolution!

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Today was a pretty shit day, with the death of some significant individuals, but there was some good news as Raven Software’s QA team has unionized. Now, this is not the end, but the beginning of the story.  Blizz has hired a Union-busting firm to combat just this very sort of thing, and it is unlikely that Blizz will recognize the union without a fight.  They know, as do I, that if they do, there will likely be a cascade effect as more and more teams join this local.

Now, more than ever, they need your help. A strike fund has been set up, and you can help by going here and contributing. I personally am not swimming in money, but I felt it important to contribute as much as I could last month. This is important, folks! If you support the rights of workers at Activision-Blizzard to go up against the C*O suite of managers, this is your opportunity to make a direct difference!  These 43 employees are going up against a company that just sold for around 70 BILLION dollars to MicroSoft, but we as a community can make a significant dent in that armor if we all help out.

MicroSoft, I should point out, is an anti-union company, and has proven this in the past. As I said, NOW, MORE THAN EVER, we are required.  Phil Spector says he is blissfully unaware of the entire Blizz unionization effort – let’s make him “aware”.

I honestly hope that this unionization effort begets more unionization across, first, the gaming industry, but, ultimately, the entire software industry. It is high time this happened. The concept of “crunch” and other such stupid concepts is not limited to gaming, and we need to take that over and change the entire face of the software Development / QA industry.

If the opportunity arrives in my court, you can bet your ass I will be in some way involved. That’s a promise.

Legion was a Bad Idea

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Okay, hear me out.

Throughout WoW, there was no big bad badder than the Legion. We were told, this was the ultimate goal.  We were even teased that the war against the Legion would continue into Anduin’s old age.

And then came the Legion expansion, and we chumped Sargeras and, somehow (?) the Legion was rendered moot.

Now, we’re in a strange place where instead of hopping world too world after Dem Legions, we’re fussing around with Fancy Trolls and Thicc Bois and blowing each other up. And something something Teldrassil, and “anticipating” an adventure in the land of the dead.

It’s weird. Pursuit of the Legion had enough built in content to keep this game going for decades, with a wide diversity of possible worlds, multiple opportunities to switch things up, and ample opportunities for engaging new races and characters and maybe even classes.

Compared to this, Shadowlands feels – to me – like flailing about wildly for “what’s next”, a Dr. Strangesque excursion into a place that we didn’t really feel compelled to go in the first place.

I’m not sure who’s idea Legion was at the point that occurred, but I really feel “don’t schedule the endgame until you’re ready for the endgame” seems to be fairly rational advice, and I can’t believe nobody gave this advice to that person.

I’m surely giving Shadowlands a fair shake. But I feel somewhat less than excited to do so. BfA at least stirred my blood with the burning of Teldrassil, but this time I feel like, “can we just close the gateway and leave her in there?”

Hey, there are a few things I am truly looking forward to, starting with (and primarily) the new appearance options we’ll get for our characters. But everything else I’ve seen so far leaves me feeling flat.

I wonder how others are feeling about it.  I imagine the hardcore raiders / pvpers are indifferent, as long as they get new raids and stuff. 

That Water Strider business; it’s all about control.

Imma not gonna lie, I never got the Water Strider mount  until BfA, and even then it was the Welfare Water Strider.  I was in no hurry, but until I got it I didn’t realize why so many people wanted it.

Take yourself back to Burning Crusade and the massive effect that flying mounts had on day to day questing. Now, there was a big difference between then and now. Then: you had to gain the flying ability per toon. Today: one toon gets it, all toons get is.

But there was a gate, and flying was that gate.

Before flying, you had to slog your way through any number of BC quests (flying didn’t apply to, well, anything on Azeroth), and that taught certain values about the value of flying in landlocked environments. Most importantly: quests that were difficult for landlocked toons were cake for those with flying mounts.

For some time now I have been ruminating on how water striding mounts fulfil the same role that flying mounts did, only instead of flying they offer the means to move freely in areas that water constrained the area of free movement.

And in the course of those ruminations, I have come to realize that water striding mounts fulfil the same role that flying mounts did on areas that relied on the behavior of ground mounts to restrict and control movement in a zone.

You see, this is all about control.

Control, and the complete lack of foresight on the part of software developers that are paid well to foresee such things.

The whole point of controlling flying in zones is to control the flow of the activities in that zone. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is bullshit. The design of a zone that has flying as a factor must take flying into account, or the zone design itself is a failure.   So far, every zone that Blizzard has presented is a failure when it comes to flying. Flying overcomes all constraints designed into the zone. No zone designers thus far have designed with flying in mind. And as a result, we end up with artificial constraints on where you can and cannot fly. Shame.

shame

Water Striders are the next generation of this shit-show of design. When they were introduced in Pandaria, they were a cute little end-game perk for players that endured an endless shit show of a rep grind. The short-sighted designers of these mounts failed to foresee how useful they would become in future expansions, for the design didn’t have any level constraints.

And then all of the zone designers after Pandaria worked water into the constraints of the zones that they designed, because somebody had already removed flying from the constraints until endgame, and, surprisingly, nobody had notified them that someone on the MoP team had designed a mount that would blow right by any water-based constraints. I mean, they can’t be expected to play the game and, well, read WoWHead, right?

And, unpredicted by anyone except us filthy casuals, water striding mounts became the most popular mounts in the game. Why? Because they broke the constraints imposed by the Master of the Universe Top Men programmers of all zones after  Pandaria. The Top Men said “you can’t go here unless you fight through zillions of aquatic assholes” and we were like “lol I water stride the fuck over your heads motherfucker.”

I mean, this was the deal no matter your level. If you were able to earn enough rep to buy an Azure Water Strider (about a month’s work) then you had the ability to bypass a large part of any zone’s constraints that were based on water. You could just “fly” over the aquatic mobs’ heads and call yourself a mf’ing hero.

Listen, I’ve been doing. So don’t trot out any holier than thought bullshit. No time, no patience. It’s a thing that happened, and any player that employs maximum efficiency will do the thing. it’s natural.

What I’m getting at is that the changes to water striding in the 8.2 patch are kinda predictable. WoW isn’t about making game mechanics more fun, it’s about maximizing the amount of time the can keep you playing and Water Strider mounts don’t really help with that.

Now. Changes to the Water Strider mount are kinda weird in that light. What we’re getting right now is that the mount won’t be able to do the thing it was bought to do  – walk on water – until the character that uses it is level 100.

Okay, I get that, if the max level for the current expansion is 100, that makes perfect sense.

But it’s not. Current max level for BfA is 120.  So if you are level 100 and playing BfA, you are not in any way constrained when it comes to water walking mounts.

So I am in many ways questioning the changes to water walking mounts in 8.2.

Listen, I’ve been of the opinion that water walking mounts blew the level design of all zones since Draenor. But I’ve always envisioned a solution that … addressed the problem. As in only applying to max-level zones, not zones of the past.

The current solution is bullshit. Wrong. Punishing people other than the intended audience.

Though I have to say, if your mechanics design hinges on punishing people, maybe you’re in the wrong line of work.

Or I’m playing the wrong game.

Getting close to option B, friends.

So about that thing

If you’re not up with the latest happenings of the past hours (i.e. the commencement of War of the Thorns Pt. 2 and the animated Sylvanas Warbringers story) and care deeply about spoilers, close this tab now and come back when you’re caught up.  There will be no further coddling.

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I want to say first of all a few words about some peoples’ reactions.

One rotten development of this is that a lot of people have been harassing Christie Golden and others associated with the writing of this game, the shorts, and related media. I don’t care if you don’t like the direction a character is taking, harassment is out of line.   It’s one thing to analyze the story without mercy, to call shit out, and express even disgust with the proceedings. Fine. Be as dramatic as you want about a video game.

(I don’t care how many years of your life you’ve “invested” in it. That just makes you look bad when you couch it in those terms. Stop making a fool of yourself).

But personal abuse of any sort is way beyond the pale. Take it down or get the Bitch Slap of the Apocalypse for your troubles.  That’s my personal promise.


Back to the story.

We’ve known for a year that Teldrassil would burn. We’ve known that likely Sylvanas would be the burner, and that Azerite might in some way figure into all of this.

Blizzard assured us that Sylvanas wasn’t going full on evil, saying the world was “gray, not black and white”, or words to that effect.

Aaaand Sylvanas then turned full on evil.  She burned that tree down for spite’s sake.

I don’t want to hear how she was better off not fighting a Resistance so it was a good tactical move. She had full on planned to capture until Delaryn Summermoon sassed her, telling her she would never defeat hope. And Sylvanas, morally grey Warchief of the Horde, who until then had other plans, ordered the tree burned. AND forced Delaryn to watch it. Deliberately, sadistically.

This is not me RPing angry Alliance, this is me saying that the character they depicted shows all the signs of a sadistic, evil creature not too far removed from Garrosh Hellscream himself. Cruel, capricious, and, from what I can see, just plain greedy. She’s missing a moustache to twirl, but so is Elon Musk.

And that’s a problem for Horde players that have been “we’re not evil” for all these years.  Granted, this is the same Horde that Pearl Harbor’d Theramore and Scourged Gilneas, but otherwise a peaceful, pastoral group of people that were just trying to get by, farm grain, murder elves, same as everyone else.

The Horde now have a maniac in charge again, and I think this time it’s breaking them.  I have seen a LOT of people revolting. (I’ve seen some revolting people too, which we’ll speak of in a moment). They are not happy and they are making themselves known.

In a way it’s kinda comforting to know that some people, when confronted with what their nation has become, will not, in actuality, go along with it.  It feels like maybe we’ve learned something from the Nazis after all. Refrains of “Not our Warchief” reflect the real-world cries of “Not our President”. In a way, I wonder if Blizz isn’t making some sort of statement here.


jas and teldrassil

Sliding back into the story … it’s hard to take it all in.  I have two Kaldorei toons, both noob’d on Teldrassil back when getting to Stormwind was a harrowing journey through high-level dangers. I have a lot of memories associated with Darkshore, Teldrassil, Auberdine, and points beyond. A big chunk of my WoW history is literally up in flames now. Others are taking it even harder. Some people are tremendously attached to their gentle elvenfolk and feel as betrayed as the Hordies that can’t cope with their murderer-in-chief.

Right now the Kaldorei and Gilneans are camped out in Stormwind Harbor (seriously, Anduin, can we get some housing here?) and presumably they will be in search of new digs after all of this settles. Though, personally, I think, after they fill in that nasty basement, Lorderon would make a fine new home for our displaced friends.  And maybe they’ll team up and take back Gilneas as well – that’s a huge waste of a beautiful city otherwise.

Maybe once the Sindorei disavow the Horde and join the Alliance, they will reunite with their sylvan relatives, we can fire up the jets, and Kaz Modan can fly off to Mars like a rocket ship.

Hey, you never know. Haven’t you read ElfQuest?

How to Disco: BfA Prepatch Edition

anduin-poseToday, WoWHead released a guide to changes that will take place in each class in the BfA pre-path on July 17. Not all guides are created equal, and by that I mean that the rest of the guide owners are probably PISSED at Bendak, who pretty much overachieved on all levels for the BM Hunter guide.

The Disco Priest guide is a little less thorough.  I’m not hating – Bendak sets a high bar to clear on any occasion. That aside, I feel like a little bit of fleshing out is in order.

Say Goodbye

Light’s Wrath is gone, of course (I actually approve of this as it means we’ll get more choices on weapons and stuff), and with it are its abilities.  That means that our massive healing nuke is gone.

The other biggest change you will notice is that the Global Cooldown now applies to a number of spells. What this means is that you won’t be able to cast a spell on Global Cooldown until the Global Cooldown cools down. This is not true for all spells, so pay attention to the spell descriptions.

Spell Changes

Another significant change is that only three spells will lay down Atonement now.  We also lost one spell (Plea) that applied it instantly.

Before this expansion, my favorite rotation was more or less this:

  • PW: Shield on myself; then PW: Radiance to spread out Atonement; then again, to get another 5 people covered, then Evangelism to extend Atonement for all 11.
  • Keep DoTs up on the boss (SW: Pain and Shadow Squid), hammer the boss with Penance and Smite until it was time to lay down PW: Radiance again
  • PW: Shield where it was needed, mindful of its cooldown.

It was a pretty simple rotation, but it got me through LFR fairly well.

The new rotation will be changed due to changes in the various spells used.

  • PW: Radiance is relatively unchanged.  It is one of our Atonement spreaders.
  • Evangelism is relatively unchanged.
  • PW: Shield doesn’t have the limitations we had before; it is now our defacto spam. It applies Atonement to whatever it shields. In effect, Rapture got baked right in.
  • Shadow Mend is relatively unchanged.  It also applies Atonement.
  • Penance is relatively unchanged, however, is now generally better spent as a direct heal than Atonement healing. Unfortunately, it does not spread Atonement when used directly.
  • SW: Pain (or Purge the Wicked) is relatively unchanged, and I think that Penance still spreads it when used for damage. This of course will also increase your Atonement healing.
  • Smite is still Smite, with its damage component and its shield component.
  • Halo is unchanged, and is still an optional damage / heal AE spell.
  • Holy Nova is now also a Disco spell, giving us a ‘native’ AE spell that relieves us of having to choose Halo over something more interesting. It also applies to Atonement healing, but only the FIRST target struck does so – additional targets struck by Holy Nova do not provide Atonement healing.  I think this is rather shabby.
  • Rapture now increases the duration of all bubbles by around 7 or so seconds. In my opinion, this improves it massively.

So basically it boils down to:

  • PW: Shield on myself; then PW: Radiance to spread out Atonement; then again,
    to get another 5 people covered, then Evangelism to extend Atonement for all
    11.
  • Keep DoTs up on the boss (SW: Pain and Shadow Squid), hammer the boss with Smite until it was time to lay down PW: Radiance again
  • PW: Shield where it is needed. Cooldown isn’t so relevant now, so anywhere you see a need, drop it.  Use Rapture on CD to extend that.
  • Save Penance for big heals unless fairly certain that it won’t be needed for that, in which case share the love via Atonement.

You may notice that Shadow Mend isn’t top of the list.  I tend to only use it in emergencies.  The long cast time and odd pain/pleasure dynamic makes it far less than a winner to me.

Stats

As before, Spell Power is the primary component of all of our spells.  Only PW: Shield varies on that, in that it also improves on Versatility. I’m pretty sure Crit will feature in a lot of the calculations, but those are your two main stats of interest.

Conclusionish

As has been the case for ever, my main concern is in how clumsy healing can be.  It requires a lot of direct or mouseover targeting, which means one hand mousing while the other is keying the commands required. During high-movement fights, healers are at a huge disadvantage when compared to others. PW: Radiance was a good step in the right direction in this regard, giving us a way to propagate Atonement without making it about as clumsy as an elephant on a high wire.

However, it appears that Blizz did not expand on that theme, and instead moved us away from that mode of operation. I mean, I’m kinda glad that we’re moving more towards bubblePriest mode, but it does require a lot of mousing around to get the shields distributed around, which is dependent on a lot of things, not the least the clumsiness of the wielder Smile

I am also bitterly disappointed that yet again, Disco priests don’t have the Frisbee.   I mean, what is Disco without the Disc? In my mind, I see the Frisbee as method #4 for spreading around our Atonement Goodness.

But overall, this looks like a very viable spec going into  the new expansion. As always, it will require a bit of play time to learn for sure where we stand.

Oh, and also? New expansion, new mog. While I loved the look of the silver haltertop and skirt I affected in Legion, it had a couple of real issues.

  1. It was a skirt, making running problematic. Remember, sometimes it isn’t whether you’re faster than the monster. But it matters if you’re faster than at least one other person in your party.  As Flora and Illume have proven before, nothing beats a good pair of jeans for adventuring.
  2. No pocketses, precious. What is this, anyway?

Tidying up Ye Olde Glyph Shop

Screenshot 2018-07-07 10.55.21.png

Five weeks from now, the new expansion will drop, and that means that somewhere in between now and then, we will be getting the “pre-patch”, which will introduce the new expansion and stuff. More importantly, it will introduce the new game systems to all and sundry, whether you buy the expansion or not.

During Legion, I’ve been keeping afloat partially on sales of glyphs, but also some other stuff.  This expansion hasn’t been great for Scribes, so I’ve supplemented with enchantments as well, but the upshot is that on the strength of glyphs alone I can play the game entirely on in-game currency.  With additions, I can buy other things in the Blizz shop such as time for my sweetie if she’s in the mood to play. But it hasn’t been raining cash.  You gotta hustle.

  • Legion glyphs are the main money makers, to a limited extent.
  • Older glyphs sell fine, but don’t bring in much cash compared to the cost to make them.
  • Vantus runes and other sops that Blizz tossed to Scribes were worthless.  I fire-sale’d all but Antorus a while back and it looks like I’m going to eat them anyway.
  • One herb was by far the best for this business model – Dreamleaf, which also generated Nightmare Pods, which yielded great quantities of Sallow pigment.  The Argus herb, on the other hand, was worthless for Scribes.

Overall, fairly lackluster.  I think that applies to most professions, though.

On to new things.

New expansion, new inks

  • Crimson Pigment –> Crimson Ink
  • Ultramarine Pigment –> Ultramarine Ink
  • Viridescent Pigment –> Viridescent Ink – returning once again to a “rare” ink for certain items, such as Darkmoon cards, codices, Vantus runes, off-hands, etc.
  • All inks now require the use of Distilled Water.  All BfA inks thus have an additional 2s 50c tax.
  • Viridescent Ink also requires Acacia powder, an additional 2s 50c tax on that ink.

Yields, what herb gives what, and in what quantities, is not yet known.

New expansion, new herbs

  • Akunda’s Bite (Vol’dun)
  • Anchor Weed – appears to pop in all zones
  • Riverbud (Drustvar, Zuldazar, Tiragarde Sound) – found along rivers
  • Sea Stalk (Tiragarde Sound) – found along coastlines
  • Siren’s Pollen – found in trees in swampy areas.  In a way similar to Foxflower, picking one can create a swarm of them to pick up.
  • Star Blossom – found on the sides of buildings in Kul’Tiras and Zandalar.
  • Winter’s Kiss – found in snowy areas (Drustvar)

It should be noted that the locational information is far from accurate at this time.  Also, there are three levels for each herb for gathering, so similar to Legion in how it works this time.

There will also be three tiers to milling, and mass milling will become available for all herbs.

New Glyphs

Very few new glyphs have been added. In many ways this seems a lot like Cataclysm where we got one whole new glyph to use the pigments on – essentially, any pigments you grind will probably be exchanged for older inks or pigments at the ink trader, so find out who that is and go there.

The exceptions are, of course, the ones listed here.  These are all Druid glyphs.

  • The Dolphin – requires Revered with Tortollan Seekers
  • The Humble Flyer  – appears to be a discovery from Grumpy Grimble in Tiragarde Sound.  That doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s what I got.
  • The Tideskipper – drop from Corrupted Tideskipper in Stormsong Valley

There don’t appear to be any research-oriented tasks associated with this expansion.

Removed Glyphs

A few glyphs have also been dropped, no doubt due to class changes.  In total, we end up with fewer glyphs than we had in Legion.

  • The Blood Wraith (DK)
  • The Bullseye (Hunter)
  • The Skullseye (Hunter)
  • The Unholy Wraith (DK)
  • The Wraith Walker (DK)

My advice on these is to hang on to them until after the pre-patch.

In my experience, dead glyphs are transformed into something like Charred Glyphs which are usually worth 50s.  Dump them now, and get 1s. It’s worth waiting to see.  Of course, if you can dump them for more than 50s now, go for it.

Vantus Runes

I’ve seen one – Uldir – and that’s it.  I’m not sure if we’re going to see more or not, but right now it looks like they’re attuned per-raid, not per-boss.  If the latter, I don’t think it’s worth the bother. If the former, it MIGHT be.  Start slow.

Other Wealth-Enhancing Features

Inscription has picked up a plethora of things that may or may not be of value in the days to come.  Test each carefully.

  • Codices – As before, we can make a Codex of the Clear Mind kind of thing that will allow you to change your talents outside of rest areas. This does require the rare ink.
  • Contracts – A contract is with a specific faction, and while it is in effect you gain reputation with that faction, similar to how tabards worked in Burning Crusade.  I do like this mechanic, and also suspect this will be a small but steady income stream. I assume only one can be in effect at a time.
  • Scrolls – Scrolls are back as “War Scrolls” that can buff an individual or group. The odd thing is the wording of the description indicates that, say, an Intellect scroll affects all team members, not just the int-using ones. I suspect only one can be in effect. So this is very confusing.   They’re not too costly to make, but they may have a limiting factor that makes them unpopular.
  • Ink Wells – This allows your champions to bring back ink from missions.  This isn’t really a money maker unless you sell it on the AH to other Scribes – which might be the case because the darned thing requires some mats that drop from mythic bosses only.  The mats are BoP, but the Ink Well is not.

Conclusions, such as they are

We may see 8.0.x this Tuesday, or three weeks from now (I can’t believe they’d cut it any closer). Now is the time to prepare, because once the patch drops, in my experience, you run out of options to keep things operating.  For example, the ink trader usually stops accepting the previous expansion’s inks or pigments (i.e. Roseate and Sallow) and instead requires the new expansion’s stuff (Crimson and Ultramarine Inks or Pigments). At which point you will have to go flower picking all over the place to keep making glyphs.

The good news is that glyphs that sell now will probably continue to sell.  The bad news is that the ones that aren’t selling will still probably not sell.

Hope you did well this time around, it looks like more of the same, alas.

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.