Category Archives: The future is scary

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.

Xe’ra should learn the meaning of "consent"

Screenshot 2017-08-29 19.51.56.png

Why so Handsy?

You may have seen the  cinematic that deals with “The Fate of Xe’ra”.  Here’s a link if you want to watch. Note it contains spoilers for the Argus campaign, which you may wish to experience in pristine purity of the pure. In which case, close this article now and come back when you have been pristinely enlightened purely.

We’ll wait until you leave …

Okay, here we go.

 

Read the rest of this entry

Six Weeks a Scribe

Illume400After six weeks, I’ve got a bit of a handle on Inscription as it stands.  It’s definitely not the old profession we used to have. But is it better, worse, or indeterminate?

 

In Summary

Here are the bullet points.

  • Glyphs are no longer permanent. If someone wants to re-use a glyph after purging it out, they’ll have to buy it again.
  • Glyphs no longer provide necessary improvements to your skills or talents – all they do is change appearances. That’s it. They have no real purpose, and anyone eschewing them will perform exactly the same as they would if they were fully loaded.
  • Older glyphs cost all of three Roseate Pigments, the “common” pigment of Legion.
  • New glyphs, or NuGlyphs as I like to call them, cost varying amount of Roseate and Sallow Pigments – Sallow being the “uncommon” pigment of Legion.
  • Pigment drops vary vastly between different herbs.
  • Roseate Pigment is the Palmetto Bug of Legion herbalism. You can’t get rid of it, and it’s everywhere.

Yield

So first I’ll address the yield rate of the different herbs. Observe:

herb-yields

Fig. 1: Pigment Yields by Herb

  • The first thing I will point out is that Roseate and Sallow yields vary widely between different herbs, and an herb that yields a lot of Roseate may be crappy for Sallow.
  • Sallow Pigment is the real limiting factor for NuGlyphs.
  • Secondly, from a strictly Herbalist perspective, and with the previous in mind, Dreamleaf is the way to go for glyphing. At a .23 yield, it’s a couple of hundredths ahead of even Starlight Rose.
  • Roseate pigment yield isn’t really much of a factor.
  • Dreamleaf yield rates do not reflect the addition of Nightmare Pods. These pods can yield a lot of Sallow pigments, and are the after effects of Dreamleaf milling. So Dreamleaf may have a higher effective yield of Sallow than the chart reflects. I will be working on gathering more info on this statistic at some point, but off the cuff it seems like it’s almost a 50% boost.
  • I have more data on some herbs than other. Which brings me to …
  • I have zero data on Felwort. Do I look like I’m gonna spend that kind of money on something so expensive to get data that nobody in their right mind would use? No matter how good the yields you get from this bonny jewel, it’ll always be better to sell it on the AH.  Oh, all right, some day when I’m fat and buttery I’ll prolly blow a few Gs on a stack. But today is not that day.

Regardless, strictly for herbalists, Dreamleaf appears to be the clear winner.

Profession Switch

But for Scribes, maybe not.

Let’s be clear: most Scribes are going to burn a lot more herbage daily than they can gather in a day. So that means they’re going to have to buy herbs from someone – either the AH or private channels, it matters not at all. Coin is coin.  And that takes us to the more complex level of this equation.

herbage-profit-matrix

Profit Matrix by Class and Herb

Here you see three data tables. On the upper right is a breakdown of the prices for all but one of the herbs.  To the left of the prices is a breakdown of the general price for each pigment as based on the yield rates of each herb.

The data are clear. Regardless of their inferior yield rate, Aethril’s much lower cost produces a much lower cost per pigment. Looking at the table to the left, you can see a calculation of price per glyph by class. As I said, mat requirements for each class varies. For example, Paladin and Priest only require 2 Sallow pigments, while Warlock requires 15.

The final table in this image is a little selector that changes the “Sallow” and “Roseate” values for the table on the left based on what herb you choose. Easy enough … right now, at this point in the game, on my connected realm, Aethril is the clear choice for purchasing off the AH.

Vantus Very Little

A word on Vantus Runes … I have no data.  These runes require you to have defeated a boss before you can get the recipe, and I have not raided even a bit. Given that Jas is hogging all the glory, I imagine I probably never will without running LFR – which I look forward to as much as my next tax audit.

For the Profit

So, what is happening in terms of profitability?  Before this expansion, Inscription was my cash cow. Slower at times than other, but still a steady source of income.

Now, it’s hard to say. I’ve suffered a massive loss of cash getting ramped up – at least 300,000 – but the treasury is starting to grow once again.  Having said that, the sell rate is starting to fall off. So I’m not sure I can draw any solid conclusions yet.

Finders Keepers

There are around 20-30 glyph techniques – recipes, basically – that are drops out there in the world, making your ability to perform somewhat random. If you get some good luck in drops, you’ll be able to produce product that few others can.  If you get bad luck, your stock will be limited.

Not saying we have a trend here, but from level 100 to 109, I’ve gotten exactly two – two – technique drops.

Side eye

Gonna throw a little shade, here.  Most other professions, you have “ranks” for items that you can produce.  The higher the rank, the fewer mats required to create the item. These ranks come from various sources, such as drops in the world, world quests, experience, and so forth.

Guess which profession doesn’t have this mechanic?

If you guessed Inscription, you get a no-prize. Our recipes cost the same no matter what. There is no potential for improvement no matter how many of the darned things you make. I am not exactly pleased about this.

In Closing

As I watch this profession for further trends, I have to wonder where we’re going with it. I see exactly zero motivation for people to buy my wares, and have to wonder which profession will be next to be hit by this sort of nerf. Enchanting? Alchemy? Hard to say.

I hope it swings the other way. That the person that thought that this was a great idea gets transferred to Diablo and never comes back. That we see a return of Inscription as a profession of great interest in the next expansion.

But I have a hard time thinking that Blizz is going to go back now that they’ve taken the first step on the voyage of “making professions fun again.” Which seems to be a euphemism for “make stuff for yourself, but not so much any one else.”

You know, “Fun.”

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.

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 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

logo Welp, Gamescon is a week gone and we have the name and quite a few details about the next expansion of WoW. Missing the most vital answer, of course – when’s it releasing? – but I sure didn’t expect to hear that quite yet.

The Legion

A lot of people are unhappy with the subject of this expansion, and I suppose they have some cause.  But from a lore perspective, the Legion IS IT.  I mean, that’s our Big Bad. Sargeras may be the final boss, but his army is The Burning Legion.  This entire franchise has been about The Burning Legion.  Even Wrath (The Lich King was a construct of The Legion).  Even Cataclysm (Deathwing was created as a byproduct of the Legion’s first invasion). The only part of this franchise that was not about The Legion was the parts about the Old Gods and Pandaria, and I’m not entirely sure we can’t pin at least a couple of those on Demons in some way.

Point being, the Legion is a loose end that hasn’t been tied off yet, and we’ll need to tie it off or we’ll keep coming back to it. Just like people are complaining about. Though in this case, we never finished it.

The (Iron) Horde

Part of the original storyline was how the Horde got sent our way thanks to the demonic influences of Mannaroth, who we’ve now seen killed three times canonically (and many more times on WoWLogs.com and their ilk). Warlords was a revisit of that, and, when it comes down to it, appeared more of a conspicuously gratuitous effort to placate the metalheads in the artists shop than a real story.  It had no place in he canon, and introduced more questions than it answered.  Legion, at least, connects that crazy train and the jumble of moments that pass for canon before and during Warlords. How we get to the third Legion invasion is now revealed.

Learning to Stop Worrying and Loving the Plot

(or at least put up with it, because ye cats, these guys are pretty ham-fisted and, as my company commander used to say, as obvious as a five-dollar hooker.)

Okay, so from within the framework of the appropriateness of the setting, how it connects with the past, how it connects with the present (we’re told that this is ‘present day’ Azeroth), harmony with the lore (Pandas didn’t), and so forth; I’m personally pretty good with this theme.

(By the way, I have one prediction, and it isn’t about this expansion: when, inevitably, we revisit the Scourge, I suspect that those complaining about retreaded content will be extremely welcoming to the concept. See if they don’t.)

Class Changes

It’s obvious from early information that Blizz is looking to shake up the classes to a great extent. The most amazing news so far is the change to the Hunter class.  We’re headed for:

  • Beast Mastery – Ranged DPS with pet (Artifact = Gun)
  • Marksman – Ranged DPS without pet (Artifact = Bow)
  • Survival – Melee DPS with Pet (Artifact = Spear)

Did you catch that?  This is exciting! BM is basically becoming the One True Hunter Class by virtue of serving the original concept, but I have to say that Marks without a Pet is basically the fulfillment of many a Forum Poster wet dream.  And the return of the Melee Hunter is unexpected.  Unbelievably, I have been granted a win in the ultimate discussion of the destiny of the Hunter class, and I am for once not appalled at my victory. This is amazing!

Aside from the Demon Hunter specs (Two specs only! Wuuuuut?!), we’ve heard precious little about other class changes. Well, we’ve heard that they plan to make Warlock’s Demonology spec more Demoney and less Metaphorphos-ey. If it follows the same pattern as the Hunter class, I approve.  Well, actually, anything that diminishes the role of Meta is good in my book.

I’m not sure what I mean by that, but I promise to take full credit for whatever it ends up being. Unless it sucks. In which case, Ghostcrawler did it.  Ooo look, is that a baby wolf!?  /scurry

Artifacts

The other really big thing, for many, was the announcement that there will be no weapon drops in this expansion. Instead, each spec picks up a unique artifact weapon that they continuously upgrade during the expansion. For hunters it’s bow for MM, Gun for BM, and Spear for SV (which was our first clue about the melee spec).  I am constantly amused at my joke predictions for character weaponry in comparison. What I said in jest, is almost exactly what they’re doing for real.

There are many unanswered questions about this, most pointedly, what happens when switching specs? And where do current Survival Hunters get starter weapons to bridge the gap? This is gonna make the gear grind kinda weird.

Professions

They have said diddly about professions, but we can infer a few things from peripheral facts.

First peripheral fact: well, rumor, really. Word is that the professions team has swole hugely, with one source claiming more than 2x increase in seats. This implies that there are major changes inbound, but we’re not yet informed what they are.

Second peripheral fact: the Garrison concept is not coming forward with LegionPraise Mammon for that! I cannot go into how many ways that Garrisons failed us without violating some secret blogger’s creed restricting article size to one gigabyte per page, so I’ll just say it’s a pretty sad story and leave it at that. Most people I know will be happy to see it go.

But there’s a problem with that for professions, since professions got tied to garrisons so tightly. All professions are going to have to progress without Garrisons to support them. Some, such as the lumberyard, are probably not going to make it into Legion at all.  Well, at least, I hope not.

Ultimately we’re either headed back to pre-Warlord crafting (hardly something we need a huge Professions team for) or something new is coming down the pike.  Honestly, as far as professions go, going back to the Vanilla / BC style of crafting is just fine with me.

The only thing I will say that I like in WoD’s crafting is how crafted armor / weapons fit in.  You can basically meet or exceed the quality level of normal Hellfire Citadel with crafted items. This is, as far as I can remember, something we haven’t seen since Vanilla, and maybe not even then. Sure, Heroic and Mythic raiders  will get better stuff, and I’m extremely good with that. They’ve earned it.  But the fact that you can make crafted gear that is actually relevant is pretty unusual, and I’m hoping we keep that in some way in Legion.

Final peripheral fact: PvP is being totally revamped, which will shake up the talent trees for everyone, and this will likely revamp the spec tiers completely, as well as glyphing. As a result, expect to see Inscription getting a lot of changes, at the very least, to support these changes.

By the way … a week after Gamescon, and glyphs are flying off the shelf. The inscription market is extremly brisk at the moment.  The prices ain’t tremendous, but quantity is making up for it. Illume is burning through mats like there’s no tomorrow. 10,000 a day is the norm. Tell me the game is dying. Please. I need a laugh now that Jon Stewart is gone.

larry no

WoW 7 Reveal LEAKED. You won’t believe what they have planned!

Our Leper Gnome spymaster at Blizzard has plumbed the depths of the Blizzard Corporate SharePoint server and mined data relevant to our interests. Now, I admit that Dave Kosak’s not super-high up on the corporate ladder, but his account was easiest to breach (Really, Fargo – “flintlockeRulz0rz?” Lame password, dude, guessed it on my third try.) and was stuffed to the gills with intelligence, or what passes for intelligence in Fargo’s neck of the woods.

Presented without further comment: the new expansion.

carnak the magnificentDungeons

  • Pretty much everyone agrees that Blackrock Depths was the most awesome dungeon EVER. We agree! Starting in this expansion, EVERY dungeon is BRD!  Even the old expansions! The way it works is this: any time you enter a dungeon, you’ll be ported to BRD. Cool, eh?

Raids

  • Pretty much everyone agrees that Karazhan was the most awesome raid EVAR. We concur! Starting in this expansion, almost EVERY raid is Karazhan!  Even the old expansions – except Draenor, in which the raids are all Karazhan with more spikes!
  • New endgame raid. This raid will consist of five wings. The first four rings are Blackrock Depths. The final ring, with the new endgame boss, will be Karazhan.
  • New end boss: Khadgar! Everybody agrees, Khadgar is unusually spry and has been acting very unusual for a twenty-year-old man trapped in an old man’s body. Clearly, he’s up to no good!
  • Raid difficulties were getting out of hand, so we’ve simplified the whole thing. Raids are now available in two flavors: L33t (40-man, Heroic difficulty) and N00bsauce (10-man, LFR-difficulty).  All Noobsauce instances will have zero boss mechanics – every fight is Patchwerk!  We also put a healing dummy in each room for the healers to keep alive, so they don’t feel left out.

Game Features

  • Dance Studio has been implemented for battle pets.
  • The game will feature a Glitch / Techo soundtrack produced by Daft Punk.
  • A new continent has been discovered south of the equator. Oddly, it is the same size as all the northern continents combined. Nobody can explain why nobody noticed it before, but mist is suspected as somehow being largely responsible.
  • New race: Mega Orc: Large Orcs. With Spikes REALLY large Orcs. REALLY large spikes.
  • New race: Murloc! You’ve been secretly wanting to play these for the last 10 years. Live the dream!

Factions

Alliance

  • Varian Wrynn has been elected Warchief of the Horde by a huge margin.
  • Anduin Wrynn has been coronated King of Stormwind and appointed head of the Alliance.
  • However, he does not get leadership of the Alliance by default.  Moira Thaurissan attempts a coup! When the coup fails, she falls back to Shadowforge City.
  • The expansion will open with a pre-launch event as Moira attempts her coup and falls back to Shadowforge, and the players must enter Blackrock Depths to bring her to justice!
  • Malfurion falls asleep. Nobody knows where. This will form the basis of a dungeon based on the Emerald Dream. The event will take place in Blackrock Depths.
  • Velen isn’t dead. He’s just really tired after defeating the Balrog. He’s hanging out at the Grim Guzzler in Shadowforge City.
  • Jaina dumps Kalecgos and moves in with Yrel in a cozy apartment in Dalaran, where they open a private investigation service. It’s awesome.
  • Fargo Flintlocke has been elected by unanimous consent as King of Ironforge, for some reason (note: this was in the margins of the documents we found, and we’re not entirely sure it’s canonical.)

Horde

  • Orgrimmar has been equipped with more spikes.
  • The Forsaken have relocated to Northrend.

 Other

  • DHETA has set up an outpost and offer a bounty for dwarf ears and beards.
  • The Tauren have formed a new faction with the Worgen and Pandaren, because they can’t stand any of you.

Player Classes

  • New player class: Melee Hunter. Two specs – Healy and Hurty. Healy can tame exotic pets, such as Spirit Beasts.
  • Level Cap has been raised to 120. Normally it would be 110, but we’re going to pre-nerf the leveling experience so we don’t forget to later. Therefore, we’re giving you 20 levels to enjoy the leveling grind.
  • The Talent “Tree” has been further simplified. We’ve found that three choices are too confusing to many players (not looking at you, Fire Mages. Totally not looking at you.). So we’ve reduced each tier down to two choices and named them more descriptively. For example, the Warrior tier 3 talent choices are now “More hurty” and “More angry”.
    • The exception is Druid, which has gone from four specs to five. See below.
  • Weapon mechanics will be revamped and simplified. Examples: Defendo warrior carries Sword and Board. Hurty Priest carries Club. Healy Priest carries Staff. Warlock carries Staff. Hunter carries Boomstick. Monk carries Cudgel.
  • New Druid form: Furby. Like owlbeast, but more fun with children.

Professions

  • All crafting mats have been super-simplified. There is now only one kind of mat for each profession. For example, instead of 130 different herb types, now all herb nodes in all worlds past, present, and future, will yield one kind of thing – “Flower”. Same for mining – “Metal”, leatherworking – “Leather”, tailoring – “Cloth”, and enchanting – “Magic shit.”
  • Jewelcrafting has been deprecated and will be deleted in the next expansion after this.
  • All crafting professions are merged into one. To make items, you have to use bits of the various kinds of items you can gather. For example, a robe might be consisted of “Flower” and “Cloth”. Likewise, shoes would require “Leather” and “Metal”
  • All gathering professions have collapsed into one – “Gatherer.”
  • Cooking has been removed. Roving taco trucks have everything you need.
  • Fishing is now a gathering profession for Archaeology.

History

guldan A lot has been made of the similarities between the current Alt!Draenor versus the previous Main!Draenor, i.e. that the course of events that took place in Main!Draenor is manifesting in Alt!Draenor now.  The general tongue-clucking conclusion has been that “you just can’t change history, even in an alternate timeline.”

That is, in a word or two, total felgercarb.

legion invasion Difference 1: The invasion didn’t happen.  You can say what you want about similarities between the two timelines in terms of the Orcs drinking the Blood of Mannoroth, but the fact remains that the invasion failed miserably

And don’t give me the weak tea reasoning of “Hey, there’s still a chance they might reopen the Portal and pour through!”  Two issues with that:

  1. There is no chance they can reopen the portal as designed since its main power source is at large and in charge and, given his general craven attributes, unlikely to lay it all out for the Team again.
  2. Pouring through requires something to pour. In case you missed it, we’ve decimated the Iron Horde.  The only way that any pouring will take place will be a massive retcon of the most recent two patches’ data.

lich king Difference 2: There is no newly minted Lich King.

Now … I will grant that the ultimate disposition of [REDACTED] is up in the air after what Archimonde did to him. And I’m pretty sure that the core Metal Head Blizzard Design Bureau has a massive hard-on at the mere thought of reimplementing the Lich King. But at the current point, there is no prospect for a new Lich King on Azeroth nor is there even a likely prospect.

I will speculate, though, that the two things that give the Metal Head Wannabee Squad the most massive thrills of all are The Lich King and The Burning Legion.  The plight of [REDACTED] and the questionable status of Khadgar points primarily at the latter, but I’ll concede that the former is still the most likely candidate for the next expansion’s theme. 

A reborn, refactored Lich King getting loose on main!Azeroth would play merry hob with things, give the Blizzard Metal Fanboy Squad something to stroke off to, and revisit the one expansion that most people like the most.  And it’d give them an excuse / opportunity to revamp Northrend if they felt so inclined, though I’d prefer to see at least a HINT of originality (not holding my breath).

It is important to remember, though that the Orcs were not the endpoint of the Invasion. They were merely the opening act.