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Month: November 2015

Legion Hunter Changes Pt 1: Building a Spec Fantasy

Disclaimer: As this is discussing Alpha/Beta information, any or all of this is subject to change. We’re still a *very* long way out from Legion launch, so bear that in mind as you read these posts.


Legion is bringing with it a concerted effort on Blizzard’s behalf to re-imagine and reinforce the fantasy of all the current classes and their specs.

Where nostalgia was the shtick behind Warlords, class & spec fantasy seems to be one of several shticks used by Blizzard in the new expansion.

Take Priests for example. They have 3 specs, 2 healing and 1 dps. 1 heal spec is outright healing (holy), whereas the other is more shield and preventative protection and healing (disc). Then you have shadow with its dots as the priest’s dps spec.

The three of these never really hung together as a triumvirate of specs too well. But in Legion, Blizzard have given (re)definition to the specs of the priest class:

Holy: Devout and faith based Healing, power derived from the Light.

Shadow: Dark and malevolent pain infliction calling upon the power of the Old Gods.

Discipline: The spec that walks the line between the other two specs. Practitioners must have the discipline to walk the thin line between the light and the dark.

I love that. I think they did a great job at properly defining the priest class and its specialisations.

Blizzard are looking to do something similar with all current classes in the game, however Hunters are going through one of the biggest changes to specs in the game’s history…


bm5The Call of the Wild…

This spec is the only Hunter spec that’s not seeing massive changes. If anything it’s going deeper into the premise that BM is all about controlling beasts and having them be the primary source of both DPS and resources.

BM will have no passive focus regen. All of the Hunter’s focus will be generated by the Dire Beast ability, which is baseline, and will be used on cooldown during a fight. 4 Focus will be generated each time the Dire Beast deals damage.

From the Class Blog:

To give you an idea of the Beast Master Hunter in action, here’s a basic look at their core combat abilities:

  • Cobra Shot

    • 30 Focus, 40 yd range, Instant
    • A quick shot that causes moderate Physical damage.
  • Dire Beast

    • 40 yd range, Instant, 10 sec cooldown
    • Summons a powerful wild beast to attack your target for 8 sec. Each time the beast deals damage, you will gain 4 Focus.
    • Summoning a beast reduces the remaining cooldown of Bestial Wrath by 15 sec.
  • Kill Command

    • 20 Focus, 25 yd range (from pet), Instant, 6 sec cooldown
    • Give the command to kill, causing your pet to instantly inflict strong damage to its target.
  • Wild Call

    • Passive
    • Your critical strikes have a 30% chance to reset the cooldown of Dire Beast.
  • Mastery: Master of Beasts

    • Increases the damage done by your pets by 45% (with Mastery from typical gear).

Additionally, to provide a glimpse at how some talents may build upon this, here’s one example of a Beast Mastery–specific talent:

  • Way of the Cobra

    • Passive

    • For every pet or guardian you have active, Cobra Shot deals an additional 5% damage.

So BM is going to be relying even more heavily than it does presently on pets for damage. And multiple pets most of the time at that! Those of you who wanted to manage or use more than a single pet as a hunter, well it looks like your day has come at last!

BM Hunters be all like...
BM Hunters be all like…

The anti-thesis to all these pets however is…


marksLone Wolf forever…

Marksman’s Lone Wolf ability in Warlords is going to be the baseline status for the spec going forwards. MM will be a completely petless spec, with 100% of the player’s damage coming from their own personal abilities.

Blizzard seemed to think that because Lone Wolf was the de facto standard for Hunters in HFC that it was “popular” and as a result that players liked it. It was only “popular” because it gave the best DPS. Most raiding hunters I’m fairly sure would’ve preferred some sort of pet in use…

From the Class Blog:

Here’s a basic look at the core combat abilities for Marksmanship:

  • Arcane Shot
    • 40 yd range, Instant
    • A quick shot that causes moderate Arcane damage, and generates 5 Focus.
  • Seek Vulnerabilities
    • Passive
    • Targets hit by your Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot have a chance to be marked with Hunter’s Mark for 6 sec.
  • Marked Shot
    • 30 Focus, 40 yd range, Channeled
    • Rapidly fires a shot at up to 3 targets affected by Hunter’s Mark, dealing strong Physical damage. Usable while moving.
    • Also exposes vulnerability in the target, snaring them by 15%, and increasing Aimed Shot damage done to the target by 25%. Lasts 10 sec, and stacks up to 3 times.
  • Aimed Shot
    • 50 Focus, 40 yd range, 1.5 sec cast
    • A powerful aimed shot that deals strong Physical damage.
  • Mastery: Sniper Training
    • Critical strike damage and range of all shots is increased by 12.5% (with Mastery from typical gear).

Additionally, to give you an idea of how some talents may build upon this, here’s an example of one of their Marksmanship-specific talents:

  • Lock and Load

    • Passive

    • Attach an explosive charge to Aimed Shot, dealing strong additional Fire damage to the target and all enemies within 4 yds.

    • Your ranged auto attacks have a 5% chance to trigger Lock and Load, causing your next 2 Aimed Shots to cost no Focus and be instant.

So Marks will not have the ability to even call a pet at all perhaps? I’ve seen more than me mention to the devs about the possibility of some form of cosmetic pet, one that is visible, but contributes no damage. I’d love that, as the one thing I’ve missed while raiding in HFC has been my pets.

Jennifer Lawrence has sadface because she has no pets...
Jennifer Lawrence has sadface because she has no pets…

survivalLaying down the bow & gun…

Survival is seeing the biggest change, not just of the hunter’s 3 specs, but of all the classes in the game. Instead of a third wheel ranged spec that never really hit the heights of BM & MM, it’ll be converting to a melee only spec, concentrating on traps and melee combat with pets.

Some classic abilities like Mongoose Bite and Lacerate see a return, having been excised from the game several expansions ago.

From the Class Blog:

Here’s a basic look at the core combat abilities for Survival Hunters:

  • Harpoon
    • 5-40 yd range, Instant, 15 sec cooldown
    • Hurl a harpoon at your target and pull yourself toward them, rooting them in place for 3 sec.
  • Raptor Strike
    • 20 Focus, Melee Range, Instant.
    • A vicious slash, dealing moderate Physical damage.
  • Laceration
    • 35 Focus, Melee Range, Instant, 10 sec cooldown
    • Tear a wound in the target, dealing heavy damage over 12 sec.
    • Developer Comment: We promise it will do good damage!
  • Mongoose Bite
    • Melee Range, Instant, 10 sec recharge, 3 charges
    • A brutal attack, attempting to sever the enemy’s limbs, dealing strong Physical damage.
    • Each consecutive Mongoose Bite dealt within 3.5 sec of the last will deal 50% increased damage, stacking up to 6 times.
  • Flanking Strike
    • 20 Focus, Melee Range, Instant, 6 sec cooldown
    • You and your pet attack the target simultaneously, each dealing strong damage.
    • If the target is attacking you, your pet’s attack will deal 50% increased damage and threat. If not, your attack will deal 50% increased damage.
  • Wing Clip
    • 30 Focus, Instant
    • Maims the target, reducing their movement speed by 50% for 15 sec.
  • Mastery: Hunting Companion
    • Your pet’s attacks have a 20% (with Mastery from typical gear) chance to grant you an additional charge of Mongoose Bite.

Additionally, to provide a glimpse at how some talents may build upon this, here’s an example of one of their Survival-specific talents:

  • Snake Hunter

    • Instant, 1 min cooldown

    • Instantly grants you 3 charges of Mongoose Bite.

      Rumours that Blizzard have forgotten to design Survival tier gear gather pace...
      Rumours that Blizzard have forgotten to design Survival tier gear gather pace…

As you can see, things are changing quite a bit for Hunters in Legion, and dps performance aside, choosing a spec will be an easier choice than ever based on your preference.

Like Ranged DPS as a hunter and like pets? Beast Mastery.

Like Ranged DPS as a hunter and don’t like pets? Marksmanship.

Hate Ranged DPS as a hunter and like pets? Survival.

Hate Ranged DPS and hate pets? Roll a tank 

Needless to say I’m still deciding between the two ranged specs for my hunters in Legion. Suppose it depends on DPS balance, yet again. But moreso than ever, Blizzard are going to have to balance specs within a class due to Artifact weapons and the levelling up needed for them. It won’t be as simple as switching specs and changing a few enchants and gems about, you’ll have an entirely different weapon to think about and “level up”.

I intended to do all this as one big post, but it’s working out way too big for one post, so expect the next few posts on different areas around the spec changes, including Artifact Weapon choices and looks.

Next time however, we’re talking Talents!


 

Legion signals WoW entering its endgame: Here’s Why…

Ahh Syndrome. Poor misunderstood, appropriately-ginger, Syndrome.

Whilst the Incredibles is one of my favourite films of all time, it was Syndrome that really made that film for me. He managed to leave a lasting impression as a villain on me, with a simple, single line of dialogue:

And when everyone’s super, no-one will be…

So, right about now you’re probably asking yourself why I’m waffling on about an 11 year old Pixar classic, when I could be making a point. Well I am.

Once upon a time, Blizzard were very frugal. Downright stingy in fact. So damn stingy as it happens that they used to only give out very special treats to maybe one or two classes or specs every expansion.

In Wrath it was melee DPS and some tanks. In Cataclysm it was the turn of the casters and rogues. In Mists, well, as much as I loved Mists, that was the point where Syndrome…er…syndrome started kicking in.

Welfare Legendaries. Not my term, but it’s one that’s been bandied about by the special snowflake department of the WoW community care system since Mists beta, and again in Warlords with items of legendary quality that could be attained and used by everyone, regardless of Spec, Class, or indeed luck or ability as they’d have it.

Personally I’m a fan of this model of legendary item. Yes, it does of course mean a lot of mindless grinding, and baby-jebus-lord have mercy if you decide to switch mains mid to late-expansion (oh wait, been there done that), where you’ll have to restart that expansion-consuming grind over afresh.

But it means long-term effort equals substantial reward; You don’t have to be part of a top 10 raiding guild on your server in order to have a crack at getting your shiny orange item(s).

There is a counter-argument of course that if you’re not in a top 10 raiding guild on your server, then why the hell do you need a legendary cloak/ring/weapon/nipple ring/ or whatever?

The counter-counter-argument to that of course would be, well patently, no-one really needs a legendary in order to complete any content, including the hardest content the game has to offer in Mythic Raiding. If there were no legendary items, then Blizzard would simply tune the content accordingly and everyone would once again be on a level playing field.

Legendary items are merely there to make the player feel special, like they’ve achieved some measure of success and reward for effort expended. Even simply just for bragging rights, or as a measure of perseverance.

So, to get back to the statement posited in the title: Legion signals WoW entering its endgame: Here’s Why.

Whilst legendary items in the past were either very rare, or indeed low in number, or required a huge amount of effort put in doing busy work over the course of an expansion, Legion signals a significant shift in attitude by Blizzard.

At Blizzcon this year during the panels, it was mentioned that there would be a chance for some items to drop from world bosses, and that these items would have a chance to be legendary in quality. Not only that, but the reason they were Legendary in quality to begin with was due to the sometimes quite astonishing, bordering on OP, on-use or equip effects bestowed upon the player as a result of their use.

This to me seemed like a nice twist, where maybe a handful of items would have a chance at dropping in this manner, then I saw the still-incomplete list of orange items today on MMO-C, and frankly I was shocked:
[su_spoiler title=”Click for details…”]

Level Type Slot Name
940 Other Head Collar of the Lifebinder
940 Other Feet Nochtadh, Footpads of the Deft Assasin
940 Other Feet Aman’Thul’s Stride
940 Other Wrists Thornbraces
940 Other Wrists Nightmare Strands
940 Other Neck Star of Norgannon
940 Other Neck Earth-Warder’s Scale
940 Other Shoulders Tidecaller
940 Other Shoulders Stormwing
940 Other Shoulders Gilded Wings
940 Other Shoulders Amice of the Dreamweaver
940 Other Shoulders Dreamboughs
940 Other Chest Smolderweave
940 Other Waist Cord of the Nightborne
940 Other Wrists Storm Tempests
940 Other Wrists Timeshifters
940 Other Back Shroud of Ysera
940 Other Back Not Used – Stormtide Drape
940 Other Back Soulweave
940 Other Back Cursed Burden
940 Other Back Platinum Repose
900 Neck Neck Vermuund’s Beads of Great Convergence
940 Finger Finger Helztstone
940 Back Back Mantle of Ashildir
900 Back Back Mantle of Flames
940 Neck Neck Eyir’s Tear
940 Neck Neck Martyr Chain
940 Neck Neck Soulcaster
940 Neck Neck The Arcen Star
940 Neck Neck Nether Prism
940 Neck Neck Star of Norgannon
900 Cloth Head Wilfred’s Hood of Superior Summoning
900 Cloth Head Halo of the Ebon Martyr
940 Cloth Chest Vestments of the Wo-Chi
940 Cloth Chest Fatebender
940 Cloth Wrists Coiled Ley Lines
940 Leather Head Bramble Helm of Shala’drassil
940 Leather Head Draugr, Helm of the Everlasting King
940 Leather Waist Essence Accelerant
940 Leather Waist Cinidaria
940 Leather Waist Cannibal’s Fervor
940 Leather Feet The Haugbuir
940 Leather Feet Grovewalkers
940 Leather Feet Destiny Drivers
940 Leather Wrists Verjas, Protectors of the Berserker Kings
940 Leather Wrists Shackles of Bryndaor
940 Leather Hands Guillotine Grips
940 Leather Hands Ceann-Ar Gauntlets
900 Leather Feet Boots of Wondrous Rapidity
900 Leather Feet Hidden Master’s Forbidden Handwraps
940 Mail Feet Sparklight Stompers
940 Plate Head Crown of Helheim
940 Plate Hands The King’s Hands
940 Plate Hands Maelstrom Gauntlets
900 Plate Feet Pauldrons of the Golden Val’kyr

Above table courtesy of MMO-C – check out dem bonus effects!

[/su_spoiler]

That’s a pretty significant step up in numbers of different legendaries being offered to players. Heavily significant in fact.

In addition, consider the fact that our weapons will be artifact weapons, which will themselves carry substantial power and level-ups right across the entirety of Legion’s duration, as well as the fact that we will once again have an expansion-long legendary of some description to work towards, as per Blizzard statements at Gamescom earlier this year.

It’s actually conceivable that by the end of Legion, the luckiest and hardest working players will be decked out in quite a number of legendary items.

And, if we recall & paraphrase our opening paragraph, when everything’s Legendary…?

Nothing is.

Where else do you go in terms of power creep?

This process happened in Vanilla with epic items, where the luckiest players would have a few purples mixed in amongst all their blues. Time went ever on and into the following expansions, purples became the new blues, and raiders would expect (or in some cases demand) epic items for each and every slot, otherwise they would feel “left out”.

Snowflakes, they’re so very delicate dahling. Didn’t you know?

Now, with some of the lore-spoilers I’m seeing coming from Legion (again, no spoilers printed here), I can see Sargeras on the very distant horizon for the very first time in the history of WoW.

Hell he may even make an appearance either in person or via his Avatar in Legion itself. We are, after all, still awaiting news on this coming expansion’s Big Bad. We know it won’t be Gul’dan, he’ll be dispatched pretty early on in Legion, albeit with a bit more player agency over his demise. Certainly in comparison to that of Garrosh in Warlords. Feckin’ Thrall, in my base, stealin’ my kills *grumble*.

So with Blizzard now starting to shower everyone with items of a quality that was once long-ago, a once in an expansion treat for certain classes, from the get-go…

With players taking up the weapons and mantles of the heroes that we’ve fought under and alongside for over a decade…

With the expansion’s Lore starting to align with long-foretold prophecies…

Could it be the beginning of the end of the World of Warcraft?

The future’s bright, the future’s orange…

Legion: Alpha is Live!

So, Legion beta alpha has gone live, and so far the only people with access are those that are either chummy with the devs, have loads of viewers/subscribers on Twitch/YouTube, or have tonnes of readers/followers on Twitter.

Obviously I fall into none of the above categories, so no Alpha here as yet 😛

So far though what I’ve been seeing from others who are in the alpha are limited. Alpha itself is limited to creating Demon Hunters at the moment, but datamining has pulled out both massive lore spoilers (none here), and some nice shots for the various class halls.

The first ones I’ve really liked the look of were the Paladin and Priest halls:

OJFMa2I

Paladin Class Hall
Paladin Class Hall

The paladin class order hall is really lovely. It’s probably my favourite so far from all of the ones I’ve seen. It’s really classy and evinces a very holy and devout atmosphere. Great job by the devs and art team so far on this one.

nyXpzhT

Priest Class Hall
Priest Class Hall

I like the Priest class hall for pretty similar reasons as the Paladin one. It has an appropriately designed aesthetic and looks pretty cosy as well.

I’ve seen the Hunter Class Hall, and tbh, I’m getting Horde Garrison flashbacks:

Outside
Hunter Class Hall: Exterior shots

P8RfyiX N3bSDMV h7kYdGk FqIetgu brOFVpW BE8RuUK 750C3U9

That said, the interior looks ok:

VLNzfft 9cPe6OL bzNHr6U

Hunter Class Hall: Interior
Hunter Class Hall: Interior shots

Could be worse though, could be the Warlock one, which I have a feeling will look very similar to the Demon Hunter one.

I’ll be avoiding printing any major lore spoilers here, and if you’re looking to avoid reading any I strongly advise staying the hell away from MMO-C, WoWhead etc over the next few weeks…

#friendshipmoose – Bringing the WoW Community together

The WoW community on Twitter is a wonderful and amazing thing, y’know?

Mooooose is a deferred drop from Heroic Archimonde. Deferred in the sense that he drops a quest item that leads directly to the Mooooose itself.

People on Twitter have taken it upon themselves to organise runs to not only get players their mount, but to also get people geared up enough to be able to partake in an Heroic Archimonde kill to get it.

The typical players that will be looking to make use of this are players that never see Heroic end-game, and in some cases barely ever see normal mode end-game that are being brought along and given a shot at the mount. I say shot, but it’s a guaranteed drop since 6.2.3 went live, and will only be hanging around until Legion. Once Legion drops, in about, oh say 10 months from now, it’ll presumably be gone for good, just like the Garrosh heirloom drops in Mists.

This is why the WoW community on Twitter are so great. Regardless of faction, region, class or spec, the community has come together to organise these runs to get anyone their gear and their mount.

If you’re interested then you can contact the following peeps:

Some of the signups are temporarily closed due to high demand, but keep an eye on the relevant twitter feed for your faction & region for signups opening up again!

6.2.3 is now Live!

Well 6.2.3 went live this week, and with it several things of note:

  • Cataclysm Timewalking dungeons.
  • One additional dungeon for Timewalking during TBC and Wrath events.
  • Valor Points, for…
  • MoP-style 2/2 item upgrades boosting items in item level by 5 per upgrade at a cost of 250VP per upgrade.
  • Grove Warden Moose* & Infinite Dragon Mounts (Heroic Archi & Timewalking bosses respectively).
  • Mythic HFC is now Cross Realm.
  • Mythic 5 mans now have item levels of 685 to 725.
  • Tanaan Baleful token drops can create items that range in item level anywhere between 655 and 695.
  • Felblight drops have been increased from gathering professions by about 20%.
  • 4-15% damage buffs for DKs, Druids, Paladins, Shamans and Warriors.
  • PvP season 3.

One little oddity I noticed:

  • Mirror of the Blademaster now summon magical blades as guardians, instead of mirror images of the caster.

This is probably a log issue, as the mirror images used to be targetable and carried the caster’s name.

All in all not bad for a minor (x.x.x) patch, and on a par with the so-called “major” (x.x) patch that was 6.1, which brought Heirloom Tab & Belf Model updates and…not a lot else from memory?

Already run my 5 TW dungeons for the event quest, and got my first batch of 500VP. I used that to upgrade my gun, but as yet the armory or ingame are not updated behind the scenes to handle displaying the increase in ilevel on the item itself.

Someday Blizzard, someday…

Oh, and watch out for the Fel Reaver in Warspear/Stormshield! 

*Further post about getting this coming in a bit!

Why I love… Blogging (vs Vlogging)

Apologies for the WIL… delay this week, Blizzcon articles, gnomes and work got slightly in the way a bit 


I’m a fairly old school kind of person in some regards. I’ve always been someone who has preferred writing over talking, blogging over vlogging, considering my words carefully before committing them to “paper” so to speak.

I’ve been blogging for nearly 20 years now, starting in 1997 on various temporary websites for 4 years before deciding to purchase my first domain name, www.the-yarn.net, to host my wafflings online.

I’ve been blogging in one form or another on and off all those years, and since then, obviously vlogging (the video version of blogging in case you were wondering) came along and has somewhat supplanted it’s parent form of personal thought divestment.

Yes, sure, I have a YouTube channel, but you’ve more than likely noticed that I’m way more likely to sit down and write a blog post on a subject rather than create a video.

Not only is this for the reasons highlighted above, that I’m a bit old school in that regard, but also because production of a video on the matter I want to talk about is a long-winded and time consuming process to get a video to the level of quality that I’m happy putting out there.

This involves recording of the audio, getting enough relevant video material to cover the subject at hand, and compositing all this material together in Adobe’s Premiere Pro CC.

That can, and does in fact, take hours to put together even a 10 minute video, and leaves me precious little time to do much else on a day I decide to put a video together.

The other option is of course lowering the quality of the videos to a point where the audio’s not edited and the video is hastily put together. I um and ahh quite a lot whilst gathering my thoughts on a subject when doing a voice-over, which is why I massively prefer writing to sitting in front of a mic and umming my way through a topic.

This has as much to do with my personality type as anything. Whilst I’m not by any means a shy person, I am definitely introverted, and other aspects of my personality in conjunction with that lead me to be the sort of person that prefers the written word over the oral.

I’m an IT educator and analyst by profession, and I have no problem standing in front of a bunch of people showing them how to do a certain thing, be it use a computer, programs like Word & Excel etc, so shyness is definitely not a thing I’m prone to these days, although I used to be when I was younger.

So that’s why I prefer blogging over the more modern version. I may still do the odd video here and there, but looking at the average number of views my videos get I sometimes wonder if it’s worth my while in all honesty.

Oddly enough, it’s my guide videos that tend to get thousands of views, which lends more weight to the fact that me ending up educating people may in fact be the right job for me. With an increasing and developing interest in Psychology, it may not end up being IT related 100%, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Anyhoo, I just felt like writing something this morning, and this has been knocking around in my head for a while as something to say.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming 😉

Gnome Hunters confirmed for Legion!

GNOME.

HUNTER.

GNOME + HUNTER = HUNTERS THAT ARE GNOMES.

GNOMES THAT ARE HUNTERS.

CONFIRMED.

GNOME HUNTERS PEOPLE, THIS IS NOT A DRILL!

GNOME HUNTERS!

*ahem*

Mechanical Chicken starter pet as well, as per the above image, recreated here for your convenience:

FUCKING GOD RACE/CLASS COMBO!

Seriously though, can you tell I’m excited about this?

Can you? If not, get your eyes checked, seriously.

Demon Hunte…who? Sorry Illidan, you’re yesterday’s news.

It’s no secret I’ve been a not-so-secret gnome lover since I began playing WoW. In fact my first ever character was, you’ve guessed it, a Gnome.

A Gnome Warlock in fact. Named Saroth, on Kilrogg in 2006. He’s long dead and buried now, deleted long ago when I came back to WoW in March 2009 (continuous sub since fact fans!) to be replaced with a server full of horde characters, given my guild of choice was Horde as well. That was Thunder, where I still reside and play to this day.

However, Gnome Hunters… man they’re making it really fucking difficult for me to stay Horde if they keep going like this…

I shall go and start thinking of appropriate names right now.

Blizzcon Day 2: Warcraft Roundup

So Day 2 is mostly done and dusted, and we had the final half of our televised WoW panels.

First up was the Game Systems panel, and here we learnt quite a bit, including some massive news for transmog junkies!

No cross faction chatter in Class Halls

This is a big one. And an amazingly dumb decision to boot. The fantasy is that you’re the leader of your entire class, the head honcho, the boss, the guvnor. A leader of considerable power and repute, fresh from commanding a successful force on Draenor.

But you can’t talk to those guys over there. Yeah, those guys, the other faction. They have cooties. Eww.

Despite, in lore, both factions being able to communicate freely with each other (see any cutscene featuring Horde & Alliance such as the end cinematic for Siege of Orgrimmar), you, as the leader of your entire class, can’t.

Yep, that’s right, you won’t be able to communicate with 50% of the class you’re meant to be leading.

Sigh…

Demon Hunters will rule them all

Demon Hunter mobility, if it wasn’t already ridiculous enough, seems to have gotten even more OP. Not only can you double jump, but you can glide in mid-air and shoot yourself forward mid-air at will. If you thought DK’s were overplayed in Wrath, man you ain’t seen nothing yet…

Class Changes

Some good ones here for me.

First up, DK runes are being changed to all the same type of rune. No more death vs frost vs blood vs unholy runes. Nope, they’re all going to be the same rune type, thereby simplifying the DK playstyle considerably and making cooldown usage a lot easier. This for me is a great change, because the current rune system is something I’ve never really gelled all that well with tbh. How will current DK players will react? Probably negatively, as I’m sure that complexity is something they’ve come to appreciate over the years since Wrath.

Arcane Mages now have Arcane Charges as a secondary resource in addition to mana.

Shadow Priests are changing quite a lot. They no longer use mana, and instead their new resource is Insanity. The story is that their power comes from the old gods IIRC, and the more they use their power, the more insane they go. The more insane they go, the more powerful their attacks become, and when they hit full insanity they go all hentai and sprout tentacles. This only lasts a short time before wearing off however, so Japanese schoolgirls the world over can breath a sigh of relief.

Disc Priests are also seeing a change in their play-style, albeit one they’ll already be familiar with. In Legion Disc is going balls deep back into Atonement. They’re going full on smite mode, and this is going to be their play-style going forwards, and considerably less waving of their bubble wands.

Demo Locks are going to be all about demon summoning, getting back to the classic vision of Demonology Warlocks. No more Lock tanks.

Guardian Druids, big and bulky as they are, somehow became about dodging incoming damage? Doesn’t fit with common sense, so they’ll be the tanks with high health as they are now, but a lot more armour and straight up soaking damage.

Subtlety Rogues are becoming fucking ninjas bitches. Zip, zip, zip STABBY STABBY STAB….zip. Rinse & Repeat.

The big change though, it gets its own section…

NO MORE RESPEC! TRI-SPEC! QUAD-SPEC!

You get a spec, and you get a spec, everyone gets a spec!

Yes! Finally, after years of pleading and begging, having to make a choice of specs and having to re-spec at the trainer if you wanted to go from Resto/Guardian to Resto/Boomkin, no more! You’ll be able to use any spec available to your class at any time. For most classes that will mean tri-spec, and for druids it means quad-spec…

Professions get *some* love. Finally.

While there was no news on improving the levelling of professions in a similar manner to that seen in Engineering during Warlords (see my 1-700 Engineering guide in under 6½ minutes here), what is there at the moment is going to see some improvement.

Recipes won’t all be learnt from your profession trainer, but will instead be picked up out and about in the world. These recipes themselves will have 3 levels, and the higher a level you are in making something, the more efficient you are at making it.

Each profession will also have a tab with all the unlearned recipes you’re missing. This tab will also have information against each as-yet unlearned recipe about where and how to get it. Nice, and excellent for completionists.

Engineering helms btw? Oh yeah. And as a bonus? THEY FIRE FUCKING MIND BULLETS GAIS! Seriously, they have an on-use effect that fires a bullet at your target.

Major glyphs are GONE. DEAD. NO MORE. Instead it’ll all be minor glyphs. However, you’re not limited to 3 glyphs any longer. Instead, you’ll apply the glyph directly to the spell slot for the ability it amends. Without limit. Awesome.

Itemisation

So, it looks like orange is not the new black, it’s the new purple. Well, to a degree.

Legendaries will drop in the over-world, and these will be items with awesome effects. Like HoT/DoT effects doing their remaining damage all at once? Yeah, ok, so big deal right?

Well when you have that big chunk of damage/healing tick, it’ll tick again, and again, and again on each further tick, for the full duration of the effect. Like I said, awesome. Nerf durids OP.

Duplicate personal loot can be traded. If it’s the same ilevel or worse than what you’ve got or had in the past (yes they track that, and that’s going to be mega-important later in this post, I’ll come back to it), then you’ll be able to trade it to anyone else that was in on the kill. Any reason to keep using Master Looter? Nope! \o/

Transmog

Ok, this is the big one. This is what absolutely sold me on this expansion. Even if the raiding’s shit. Even if the 5 mans are wank, I’ll still be buying and playing Legion. Why exactly am I so excited?

Ok, first up, the Wardrobe is definitely IN and working. Once an item is soulbound to you, it will be unlocked in the Wardrobe.

ACCOUNT WIDE!

Yep, if you unlock a piece of mail on your hunter, you can use that look on your shaman. Unlock the sweet DK helm in Heart of Fear on your Paladin? You’ll be able to use that on your Warrior. Or DK if you must.

You’ll also be able to save a set of trans-mogged gear as an outfit as well. Per spec! So you can have different looks on each spec!

They’re going to take everything in your current void storage & banks and automatically unlock those as well.

The kicker? The thing that had the crowd go absolutely fucking nuts?

Blizzard are going to go back through all the quest items you’ve ever had, and they’re going to unlock those and put them into your wardrobe too!

EVEN THE ONES YOU DIDN’T FUCKING CHOOSE!

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best-cry-ever
SO. HAPPY. RIGHT. NOW. I need a moment…

Seriously. That is one mega-sized shit-ton of work. Every quest you’ve ever done. On every character you’ve ever had. Unlocking every quest reward you’ve ever had and never had.

Whoah.

stop_penis_erect_archer

Q&A Panel Info

So after the awesomeness that was the transmog junkies wet dream above, we were straight into the Q&A panel. Let’s bullet point this mother:

  • Flight will be unlocked later in the expansion, not unlockable at launch. However Hunters get some awesome class-specific flight paths no other classes get.
  • The one reality-transcending Legion vs one Legion per-reality will be addressed in Legion.
  • No updates for the TBC races’ starting zones.
  • Running into Alleria and Turalyon will change the way we view WoW…?
  • Class Quests are pretty much the Artifact quest system this expansion.
  • Dalaran has some big secret protecting it from the Legion.
  • Artifacts will have catch-up mechanics for secondary/tertiary specs.
  • Karazhan may become a new 5 man dungeon at some point in Legion?
  • We will be running into the expansion-end boss throughout the expansion, similarly to Arthas in WotLK.
  • Bolvar will be making a cameo appearance.
  • Jaina is a dreadlord. They said she wasn’t, but we all know they’re lying.

So that was Day 2, and I’m finishing this Blizzcon a bit happier than I was going in, but I’ll process my thoughts and do a final thoughts blog post in a day or two.

Blizzcon Day 1: Warcraft Roundup

Ok, so day 1 is done for WoW, but given there were only 2 panels that didn’t take long…

First up we had the movie trailer!

Looks a lot better than I was fearing, so pretty relieved. Hopefully it turns out well and kicks off a full trilogy.

Anyhoo, first up for WoW we have the Legion Intro Cinematic! 😀

Pretty fucking epic, right?

Love the interpretations of Wrynn and Sylvanas, but just had to fit this concept artwork for her in here somewhere:

sylvanas
Cinematic Sylvanas: Beautiful

Honestly wasn’t expecting this cinematic to be ready today, especially in light of the news that we may have to wait another 10 months for Legion’s release…

Legion Release Date

Yep, pre-orders are now live and it has a latest release date (on or by) Sept 21st 2016:

legion_info
Click to open in a new window, and read the small print…

So that means we have a 3rd quarter 2016 release window clarified.

Anyway, after the intro cinematic we headed straight into the content panel for Legion.

Important points to note here are as follows.

Levelling up has no set zone to zone path in Legion.

They’re going balls deep with the scaling tech again, and will make the world around you level up with you. This was a terrible idea in Oblivion and was hated by players, so I’m not overly fond of this idea just yet, but Blizzard might pull this one off and make it a cool feature…

Each zone will have its own story as you try to recover the Pillar of Creation for each individual zone. Scaling means you’ll be able to either re-do your favourite zones first or last, depending on your inclination.

Suramar however will remain a level 110 only zone.

Also note that this scaling applies to the level up dungeons as well, so you can tackle them in any order.

Dungeons are being positioned as an alternative to  raids, not a pre-cursor.

There will be 10 dungeons altogether in Legion. Half will be played during levelling, while the other half will serve as the max-level dungeons.

Blizz are intending these max level dungeons to scale in difficulty the more gear you get, the harder you’ve completed them previously etc etc. Gear drops will eventually be as good as those in raids, so 5 man content will be a real alternative to raiding. Given WoW’s severely dwindling population this is a must, given how hard it will be to get even a 10 man together for a full raid.

Endgame challenge dungeons will also feature mutators each week, leading to different effects, such as all mobs in the dungeon enraging at 30% health and doing double damage until killed.

Supposed to be less emphasis on the go-go-go mentality of the current variation of CM’s, and more about the actual challenge of playing in it. Still a timelimit, but more lenient than current silver level, so easily achievable.

Two (staggered) raids at launch.

The Emerald Nightmare raid instance will be available right at launch with 7 bosses, whilst the raid on Suramar Palace will launch later with 10 bosses, in a similar manner to how Blackrock Foundry worked in WoD.

One key boss to note: Cenarius will be one of the corrupted bosses in the Emerald Nightmare raid instance!

Cenarius
Cenarius in the Nightmare

Demon Hunters start at level 98.

Demon Hunters will begin their starting story just before the raid on the Black Temple from back in TBC, and will finish on the Isle of the Wardens, breaking out of the same prison that’s held Illidan’s corpse all these long years.

Day to day over-world at 110

The fact that the world around you in Legion scales means that content at endgame can be placed anywhere and still be relevant. Whilst not exactly daily quests (they will come and go at different times), they will appear on the main map and can be tackled at leisure.

Beta Launch

Closed beta launches in a few weeks! I fully expect to keep up my fine tradition with closed Blizzard betas and not get into this one too early as well.

Artifact Weapons

I’m not going to go into them all here, because WowHead has a great and complete run down on all the Artifact Weapons for all classes and specs. But I’ll copy & paste the Hunter info in here.

[blizzardquote author=”Blizzard” link=”http://www.wowhead.com/bluetracker?topic=19932655″ source=”http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/19932655/legion-hunter-artifact-reveal-10-23-2015″]

Originally posted by Blizzard (Official Post | Blue Tracker)Collapse

Blizzard

Legion: Hunter Artifact Reveal

Only Azeroth’s most seasoned veterans possess the fortitude to wield Artifacts of legend against the Burning Legion. Your myth-forged weapon grows in power as you do, and your choices will change its abilities and the way it looks, sounds, and feels in combat. Fashion your Artifact into the perfect instrument of battle, and guide your faction in its most desperate hour.

You have become one of the greatest Hunters in Azeroth, deserving of a weapon not only with power—but with a name.

Masters of the Hunt

Hunters have three distinct specializations: Beast Mastery, Survival, and Marksmanship. Each brings with it a unique identity that is reflected within the Artifact weapon choices.

  • Beast Master Hunters are uniquely bonded with the beasts they hunt, blurring the lines between predator and prey. To offset the dangers they face in the wild, they wield the rifle Titanstrike, a techno-magical engineering marvel, perfect for staying on target.
  • Marksmanship Hunters are at their best killing from afar. Having a trustworthy weapon in hand is vital, and no finer bow exists than Thas’dora, Legacy of the Windrunners.
  • Survival Hunters are masters of enduring in the wild, using traps and snares to bleed their enemies. With the Ancient-touched Talonclaw, Spear of the Wild Gods in hand, they can finish their foes with one final thrust.

Each Artifact is a symbol of the might of the Hunter that wields it. Names have power—learn those of these mythic weapons well, for they will be your constant companions against the deadliest foe you’ve faced yet.

Beastmaster – Titanstrike

A peerless example of techno-magical engineering, the Titanstrike was designed by Keeper Mimiron, a titanic watcher and brilliant inventor. Securely housed in the heart of the rifle, a relic known as the Thunderspark powers the Titanstrike, harnessing the essence of storms and focusing it into concentrated blasts of energy. The rifle’s power source can also be credited to Mimiron, who devised it for his comrade, Keeper Thorim, in ages past.

Marksman – Thas’dorah, Legacy of the Windrunners

A proud heirloom of the Windrunner family, Thas’dorah was carved from a bough of the mother tree of Eversong Woods shortly after the elven kingdom of Quel’Thalas was founded. Handed down to the eldest of each generation, the bow was last wielded by the high elf Ranger Captain Alleria Windrunner. It disappeared along with its owner following the destruction of the orcs’ homeworld, Draenor, and the subsequent formation of Outland.

Survival – Talonclaw, Spear of the Wild Gods

The Highmountain tauren crafted this spear, which predates the first demonic invasion of Azeroth more than ten thousand years ago. Talonclaw’s wielders have fought alongside many guardian animal spirits, also known as Ancients, to defend the world of Azeroth and its wildlife in particular. Over the millennia, these Ancients have bestowed their blessings on the weapon, imbuing it with a portion of their power.

[/blizzardquote]

So that was Day 1 in a nutshell. Started the day off on a bum note with the news/leak of the release date, but was overjoyed at how the trailer looked and the release of the full cinematic intro.

As mentioned above, still wary about the scaling up of the zones in Broken Isles, as it did not work well in Oblivion, but we’ll see.

Why I love… The Flash

No, not that one, this one:

Barry Allen is… The Fastest Man Alive!

The Flash as a TV show has just begun its second season in the US, but what I really want to talk about here is its debut season last year.

The first season of The Flash, starring Gustin Grant as the titular character was in my opinion very probably the best debut season of any TV show I’ve ever had the fortune to watch.

But let’s start with the set up.

Barry Allen is a forensic scientist working for the Central City Police Department, when an explosion at the local particle accelerator (what, there’s not one in your city?) causes him to be struck by a bolt of golden lightning while working late one night in his lab.

This had the effect of putting him into a coma for 9 months, but when he awoke he found he wasn’t quite the same man as he was beforehand. The explosion caused a wave of “dark matter” (buzzword du jour alert) to instantly sweep over the city, causing some of the residents to change in unpredictable ways.

In Barry’s case, he found he could run faster than a speeding bullet, and that as usual, with great power…well you know that old chestnut already.

Does whatever a spider…erm speedster can.

With the series premise set-up, the first half of the first season concentrated on his harnessing of his new-found abilities, as well as building Barry’s back story; That his father was put in jail for the murder of his mother 15 years ago when Barry was a 10 year old boy, and that something weird happened that very night that he has never been able to explain…

Jump back 15 years to after his lab accident, and Barry is being helped to harness his powers with his new found friends at Star Labs, led by Barry’s hero: Dr Harrison Wells, a brilliant physicist who was also paralysed from the waist down in the same accident that caused Barry’s coma.

Team-Flash
Caitlyn, Harrison & Cisco

Also on the team are the lovable Cisco Ramon and the brilliant Dr Caitlyn Snow, both geniuses in their own fields. Cisco with a penchant for technology and coming up with comic-book nicknames for the bad guys, whilst Caitlyn looks after the team on a biological level.

Barry and his team work on honing Barry’s abilities in order to help fight the new wave of meta-humans (DCU’s version of super-humans) who are causing crime and chaos throughout the city. And yes, while the first season features your typical criminal of the week motif whilst finding its feet, there is a grander story arc at play, all tied into the death of Barry’s mother all those years ago.

In fact Barry keeps getting flashbacks of another speedster, but where Barry’s suit is scarlet, this one is all in yellow. In fact some might say he’s dressed like the reverse of Barry’s Flash…

The Reverse Flash

As the season draws towards its mid-season finale, Barry not only starts to vividly remember what happened that night, that this Reverse Flash was actually the one that killed his mother, but he starts to see him. On distant rooftops at first, but then he begins to run into him in person.

And then things really start to get interesting.

It was at this point in the season that I really became a fan of the show. The mythos it was building week to week was gripping, the characters were likeable and fascinating in equal measure, and with only a few exceptions, I never felt cheated when screen time was devoted to any of them, regardless of our main characters.

Never was I so frustrated to get to the end of those 42 minutes every week, and never had I been so engrossed in a series since Babylon 5, 20 years ago! And don’t you believe Sheldon, that was one hell of a series. Well until the networks fucked up and screwed the pacing for the final 2 season, but I digress…

The pacing and plotting throughout that built to the big reveal at the end of the first half of the season was judged perfectly by the writers.

The Man in the Yellow Suit
The Man in the Yellow Suit

In the closing scene of the first half of the season, before it went on a cruel 6 week hiatus over Christmas & New Year, we saw Dr Wells entering a secret room in Star Labs, speaking to a very futuristic AI, and literally pulling back the curtain to reveal…the Reverse Flash’s suit.

Boom! Mic Drop! Goodnight Seattle!

Viewers then spent the next 6 weeks wondering what level of mind-fuck we’d just witnessed, and if this was in fact true. Was Dr Well’s this great nemesis from Barry’s past? Was this mentor, this hero to Barry in fact the man that killed his mother? Was this a different suit he had gotten from somewhere? If he was the Reverse Flash then why was he helping Barry now, rather than trying to kill him, as it turned out he had tried to do originally all those years ago?

Flash vs the Reverse Flash vs Mrs Allen

Well as it turns out, the Reverse Flash, just like Barry, can run so fast he can tear a hole in the space time continuum and as a result can travel back and forwards in time itself.

The Reverse Flash is actually Eobard Thawne born in the year 2151, and his family have had a long running grudge with the Allen family, which all began with Barry Allen. So he came back in time to kill young Barry to stop it all before it began.

However Barry eventually realised he could travel back in time himself, doing it accidentally one week whilst chasing a bad guy. He then decides to travel back to try to save his mother but ultimately fails. The Reverse Flash, foiled by Barry Allen once again, vents his frustration at his failure on Barry’s mother.

Mrs Allen’s last moments on earth…

It’s after this that he realises that in travelling back so far in time he has drained himself of his ability to access the so-called Speed Force, the source from which all speedsters in the DC universe gain their power and ability to run as fast as they can. And yes, there’s more speedsters than just the Flash & Reverse Flash, as we find out in Season 2.

The remainder of the season is occupied with Harrison Well’s intentions and his true identity being slowly realised by the team at Star Labs.

The Reverse Flash intends to use Barry’s speed to open a wormhole to allow him to travel back to his own time period, but that goes as well as you’d expect.

The season ends with the defeat of the Reverse Flash, at a great cost however that leads directly into the second season. But we’ll come back to that at a later date 😉

Overall I enjoyed the first season of the Flash immensely. Much more than any other series currently on television.

The writing, the plotting and pacing, the characterisation, the humour, the actors, the effects, the main villain and Tom Cavanagh’s pitch perfect tightrope portrayal of him. All of it tied together damned near perfectly, and it is firmly right at the top of my to-watch list every week, just sneaking ahead of Agents of Shield, Arrow, iZombie, Walking Dead etc etc.

The Flash is now firmly into its second season, and it’s beginning to pick up the pace heading towards its own mid-season finale, and again the writing and plotting are looking to be coming together once again to ensure that this series is definitely going to remain top of my weekly viewing list.

The challenge here is to see if it will it maintain its pace and momentum from here on in as well as its debut season…

game_on

Gotta love Mark Hamill in that title photo though…