legion

Final Tier Lengths: Still a WiP?

Final Tier Lengths: Still a WiP?

Are Blizzard doing any better at shortening the lengthy raid tiers at the end of every expansion? The evidence is damning…


Have a look at that header graphic. I’ve reproduced it below, along with a bar chart for your edification, courtesy of @elvinelol on Twitter:

raid_pies

CgZeSBJW8AERgaL

435 days for Hellfire Citadel, by the time Legion launches, 6 days longer than the 429 days of Siege of Orgrimmar.

Since Vanilla, and with the exception of Dragon Soul, expansion end raids have consistently increased in duration, from 209 days (7 months) to the now 14+ months of recent expansions:

  • Vanilla: Naxxramas – 209 days (7 months)
  • Burning Crusade: Sunwell – 230 (8)
  • Wrath: ICC – 364 (12)
  • Cata: Dragon Soul – 301 (10)
  • Mists: Siege of Orgrimmar – 429 (~14)
  • Warlords: Hellfire Citadel – 435 (>14)

Blizzard, as we all know, have been promising to increase the production speed of expansions since at least Wrath. However it appears that promises like this are putting more pressure on the devs, which, ironically, ends with results contrary to the initial promises.


Personally, I much prefer a 2 year expansion cycle, with 3 raid tiers:

  • x.0: Launch Day – Raid Tier 1.
    • x.1: Three months later – 1st Minor Patch for features & systems
  • x.2: Eight months in – Raid Tier 2.
    • x.3: Three months later – 2nd Minor Patch for features & systems
  • x.4: Sixteen months in – Raid Tier 3.

That leaves a final raid tier as current content for 8 months, 2 of which would be pre-patch for the following expansion.

I think that would work perfectly fine. The clamour from players for faster expansions I think is actually more of a desire for regular content both across and between expansions, not faster expansions per se.

If end tiers were 6-8 months long, including pre-patches for following expansions to give players a then familiar raid tier to bed class changes in with, then I think players as a whole would be pretty damned happy with that.

2 years is a solid time to spend in an expansion. It doesn’t rush raid tiers, it allows the lore of the expansion time to develop more naturally, whilst giving plenty of time for minor patches to bed in with additional system changes or features.

Most importantly it means we’re not stuck with final raid tiers that last 14 months or longer.


With World of Warcraft aging and getting towards that final expansion, it’s high time for Blizzard to throw in the towel and settle on a rational release schedule, such as the one I’ve suggested above.

It would serve Blizzard as a developer better in the long-term with regards to player retention and income stability, and would hopefully minimise the sort of population crash that Warlords saw over the course of 2015, falling as it did from 10m+ players to less than 4m.

Posted by Sar in Gaming, Legion News, News, Patch News, RPGs, World of Warcraft, 0 comments
Legion: Coming 30/08/2016!

Legion: Coming 30/08/2016!

So, only 3 weeks prior to that “On or before 21st Sep 2016” date….nice.


So Legion is coming in 4 and a bit months from the time of writing, so that means the systems patch should be with us in early July.

After a bit of thought, calling the pre-patch dates as 5th – 6th July. That’s the week after the film comes out on June 30th.

That pre-patch date gives us 11 weeks (or 19 wks to expac release) from today to:

  • Hit gold caps (I should get this one done!)
  • Fill bags with transmogs for the Wardrobe feature to get a headstart on that “…the Fabulous” title!
  • Clear Normal/Heroic/Mythic HFC.
  • Level and/or Gear any remaining alts.
  • Play your classes before they change irrevocably (Hunters, you know dem feels, amirite?)
  • Spend time with your loved ones.
  • Spend time above ground and see daylight.

That also means of course, that Legion pre-purchasers get to play with their new Demon Hunters about August 23rd onwards.

And of course we should get Gnome Hunters at the start of July with the systems/pre patch!

Posted by Sar in Gaming, Legion News, News, Patch News, Transmog, World of Warcraft, 0 comments
Choosing a class for Legion?

Choosing a class for Legion?

Or, what happens when an Atheist joins the Clergy…


So, with Hunters seemingly still in a rather disturbing place on Alpha, you’ll probably already be aware that I’ve begun to look further afield for my next class.

I’ve decided that I wanted to give full-time healing a go, as it’s the only role I’ve never main specced with during all my years in Azeroth (it’ll be 8 years this year).

I’ve obviously done the whole DPS & Tank thing, even at one stage thinking of playing all 5 tank classes.

Then I realised how boring Warriors & Druids were to tank with…

giphy (1)

By Grab’thar’s Hammer, what a sav…zzzzzz

As I’d tanked so long, familiarity it seemed had bred discontent. Even tanking on the Paladin had become too easy, boring even, which is why I switched to my Hunter a month or so prior to 6.2 landing.

Crushingly, if Hunters had been left as they are right now on live, albeit with the normal expansion-launch-sized tweaks, I’d probably still be maining a Hunter in Legion.

But, that didn’t happen, so to the class roster I go!

Roll Call

Rogues are dull to me. I can’t get any excitement out of them at all, and, in fact, I deleted my level 90 rogue (please, it was a boost, I wasn’t levelling that up all the way!) for a 3rd Hunter.

Mages? Been there, done that back in Wrath. Ditto Warlocks even further back (my first ever class back in 2006 history nerds!), and more recently at the back end of Mists.

Shaman don’t really vibe with me too much, although they’re fun enough to play, and at least have varied roles across their specs.

Warriors are too bland, too vanilla for me. I like a bit of mysticism, some magic, some flair, a certain “je ne sais quoi” to my class, and Warriors really don’t fit into that theme.

That said, Hunters got a bye on that front simply because of the pet collection aspect.

Death Knights…hmmm.

DK’s are hard for me to quantify. For a pure melee class, they don’t feel particularly visceral, or weighty like a melee class should IMO. A lot of their abilities are more “swish swish swish” and less “smack bash thump crunch”, and it doesn’t sit well. Plus that and I’m godawful at, and in awe of well played, Blood DKs.

Druids are fun, I enjoy playing mine, and for a while a Resto Druid was up there, but I decided against it. No real reason, but I’ve played my druid plenty, and have no real desire to main it. Maybe one for a future expansion?

Holy Paladins are sadly boring as well. If Warriors had a healing spec, this would be it. There’s no…spice to the spec? IMO at least. It’s all single target heals with very little flair. It’s hard to explain, and I realise my thinking could quite easily be countered, but that’s how the spec feels to me. I’ve off-specced as Holy in Mists just for laughs during the long long Siege of Orgrimmar, but it never really felt like an exciting spec to play.

The other side of the coin, Retribution, to me seems like a perennial under-performer. Never regularly topping DPS sims, it always seems very middle of the road at best.

And I’m not touching Demon Hunters other than as an alt as new classes tend to undergo massive changes the expansion after, similar to the clean-slate approach to Hunters in Legion. I wouldn’t want to get too attached again…

Cheer up Toby, you only ruined 1 Spiderman film. Yes Andrew Garfield, I'm looking at you here...

Cheer up Toby, you only ruined 1 Spiderman film. Yes Andrew Garfield, I’m looking at you here…

So it really came down to the two classes left: Monk & Priest.

Monk

This is a class I’ve played as both Brewmaster and Windwalker. Mainly WW, because as I’ve recently been forced to admit, I’m a terrible Brewmaster player. For similar reasons as Blood DKs, mainly that when the shit hits the fan it always seems to end up with me as a puddle on the floor, rather than doing what I did on my Prot Pally, and surviving through sheer determination and ability.

Maybe the toolkits didn’t gel with me all that well.

Yeah, maybe that’s it.

giphy

*cough*

Anyway, having made the decision to main a healer, first up was Mistweaving. I enjoy Mistweaving, but presently on Live it has a real problem with gear. Unless you’re at the “I’ve cleared Heroic several times” level of geared, your ability to heal is very limited in terms of sheer throughput. But when you are geared to that level?

You rocket through the HPS meters, even beating out the seemingly unbeatable Disc Priests. It’s not for no reason that a MW was the first spec to solo heal Mythic Archimonde (seriously though, that’s a real fucking thing). MW really bloom late game, and unless you’re a Mythic raider, then it’s easier and quicker to get better results from other classes. So at least until Legion, I’m left with one class.

The Priest.

Feckin Disc Bubbles!

The quintessential healer. The original healing class. The healers’ healer. The grand-daddy of them all. The only class in the game with 2 (count em, 2!) very different healing specs, and I went into this one and completely changed my mind about my intentions.

I loved faffing about with Atonement on my Priest, Sarenity, in previous expansions. Nothing too serious, maybe the odd dungeon late expansion etc, but I loved Atonement style healing. Probably why I love Mistweaving so much, that choice of the optional play-style of dealing damage to smart-heal your allies.

Atonement is back big style in Legion, and I was all set to main spec a Smite bot…

Then I tried Holy, and I fell in love.

priest_hero_shot_text

This is the first time I’ve ever really gelled so totally with a healing spec. It seems like it’s the Swiss Army Knife of healing toolkits, with something in the drawer to handle any situation. And they don’t need tonnes of gear to do their job, unlike WoD-era Mistweavers.

One great aspect of Holy is that it’s just so damned efficient on Mana. Seriously, unless shit really hits the fan, I leave most fights on 100% mana or thereabouts. At worst, I’ll either have 50%+ mana at the end of an intense fight, or I’ll be dead. And that’s spamming flash heals and AoE heals aplenty.

There are very few smart heals in Holy’s bag of tricks, Prayer of Mending and Cascade are probably the only ones. All the other healing you do is utterly reliant on either single target or AoE heals, specifically and purposefully cast by the player.

Even spells like Circle of Healing require you to select the target based on their physical location, as it will heal up to 5 other people within 30 yards of where they’re standing. Put it on that Hunter standing out by the door? You’ve wasted 80% of the heal. Derp.

As a plus for me, there’s the whole Religious iconography associated with the class and this spec in particular, even moreso in Legion.

Yes, I am a hardcore Atheist, and will be until I die (but not after! :P), but this is one of the many reasons why I chose to stick with my Paladin for nearly 7 years as my main. The main reason of course was their sheer survivability, but the religious overtones and imagery the class evokes was great to me.

So it looks like Holy Priest is going to be The One.

giphy (2)

Turns out? Neo was a sneaky Disc Priest all along…

Only thing now is deciding a race and faction for Legion!

I still have nagging doubts about Thunder’s ability to get back on our feet come Legion, purely because of the length of time off, and I sincerely hope those doubts are not well founded, but if the worst does come to pass and we go purely social?

Then all bets are off and it may not necessarily be a Horde-only future!

That said, she looks great as a Belf, doesn’t she?

priest_volmar_reading

Let me see here, “Holy Priest Guide – Chapter 1: What is Healing?”

Posted by Sar in Monk Stuff, News, Priest Stuff, World of Warcraft, 0 comments
Hello, from the other side…

Hello, from the other side…

And now you have Adele in your head. You’re welcome.


So my Orc monk was sitting wasting away Horde side, doing nothing much of anything, lazily languishing at level 93 and barely being touched.

Given my well publicised female Gnome fetish, I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and faction change her to Alliance, and go Gnome! 🙂

Bear in mind that it’s quite likely that Blizzard are going to completely screw up the hunter revamp*, I’m looking to see which other classes or specs might tickle my fancy when it comes to being my main in Legion.

*Yes it’s early Alpha, and yes, lots can and will change between now and then. Suck it pedantic fanboys. The changes as-is atm on Alpha are terrible, and change everything about a Hunter that we now know.

So I got her levelled over the weekend, and within 2 days of hitting 100 she is now sitting at a gear level of 665/667, high enough to get into HFC LFR.

I’d levelled her as a Brewmaster, but I’ve had to be brave, and admit that as much as I loved tanking on the Paladin, and as good as I was on her (and I was excellent, which is why it got so boring, #humblebrag), I absolutely suck a fat one at playing Brewmaster.

Darn it.

So, that meant going back to main spec Windwalker, a spec I loved in Mists, and actually got pretty good with.

That said, if Hunter doesn’t work out, I’m given of a hankering to go main spec healer in Legion, as it’s the one role I’ve yet to main-spec as during an expansion.

I main specced as ranged DPS (Mage) for half of Wrath, before tanking out the final tier of Wrath, all of Cata, Mists and the first half of WoD, then obviously moved to the Hunter for the last half of WoD.

So Healer is the only one I’ve yet to devote myself fully to, outside of off-spec faffing about during expansion downtime on my Paladin.

Mistweaving is pretty fun. A mix of HoTs, direct heals, AoEs and absorbs, yet played in a fairly relaxed manner, and with a unique mana-return mechanic in Mana Tea.

I ran through a few Hellfire LFR wings last night, and while I wasn’t brilliant, I was able to experience the playstyle first hand.

Obviously I have yet to setup keybinds, VuhDo or cooldowns correctly, and I’m still missing a few key pieces of gear, namely healer rings, a trinket and a decent ilevel helm and chest, so I’m missing a decent chunk of spirit as it stands.

All that said, it’s nice to have a max-level (non-boosted) Alliance character, even if I don’t have a guild just yet. Mind you the lack of a guild is a nice change of pace, as it’s nice and quiet and I can just go on about my business solo.

Mind you, the lack of activity in Thunder atm may just as well mean a lack of guild either side of the factional divide, as we only have about 5/6 people on at even the busiest times of the day/week.

My hunter may remain though as my main PvP character, even if it gets fucked over royally.

But it looks quite likely, and very tempting, to say I’ll be main speccing a Mistweaver Monk next expansion. Will she still be a Gnome?

We’ll have to wait and see…

🙂

Posted by Sar in Gaming, Monk Stuff, News, World of Warcraft, 0 comments
The Power of Choice vs the Impact of Change

The Power of Choice vs the Impact of Change

Or…

If it ain’t broke, don’t try to “fix” it…


All classes in WoW have seen revamps at some point in the life of the game. Sure, some have been a bit more drastic than others, but it happens.

And usually only to a single spec of any class at a given time.

However something is changing about Blizzard’s philosophy regarding class and spec revamps, and it’s not necessarily a healthy change. Least of all for the players. Especially for those that play Hunters.

Once upon a time, Blizzard’s philosophy was that change should be incremental . Change over time, so that eventually the spec you played was perhaps made completely unrecognisable over the course of 2 or 3 expansions, yet was still familiar to regular players of the spec and class.

The reasoning behind this philosophy was that too many changes in too short of a timespan led to players being left feeling confused or burnt out and more likely to quit playing the class or the game as a whole through dissatisfaction.

This was a great approach, as it allowed Blizzard the opportunity to tweak specs, to tighten them up, and basically to tinker in order to ensure a spec was both competitive against other specs/classes but more importantly was also still fun to play.

What this approach allowed the players on the other hand, was the chance to retain a familiarity with a spec or a class. Even if Blizzard makes changes to a spec that means you don’t get the same enjoyment out of it anymore, there are 2 to 3 other specs to play that you will have at least a passing familiarity with and can maybe segue into.

There are 3 types of class in WoW:

  • Pure DPS classes, for example Hunters, Rogues, Mages, and Warlocks, each with their three DPS specs.
  • Semi-hybrid classes like Warriors (2 DPS/1 Tank), Priests (2 Heal/1 DPS), Shaman (2 DPS/1 Heal) and DKs (2 DPS/1 Tank).
  • Absolute Hybrid classes such as Paladins, Monks & Druids, where a change in spec equates to a change in role.

Obviously the further down that list you go, the greater the Impact of Change will be on players of those respective classes.

For example, for players of Pure DPS classes, changes to a spec will mean either gaining familiarity with the new changes, or at the very least a change in spec to another more familiar one. A change in spec for these players will not require a change in role. Pure Ranged DPS is Ranged and Rogues do it from behind regardless of spec.

On the other end of the spectrum, unsatisfying changes to a spec for Absolute Hybrid classes will mean either gaining familiarity with the new changes, or a change in role or class. The Impact of Change to players of these classes are the greatest.

Obviously the Impact of Change will occur with Semi-Hybrids to varying degrees, dependant on the chosen spec, where it can mean either a change in spec or a change in role.

Regardless of which of these three categories your chosen class falls into, the vast majority of players will have that passing familiarity I mentioned earlier with the other specs and/or roles within their chosen class.

In short, players of any given class will have some sort of refuge in one of their class’s other specs, even if it means a change in role.

However, Blizzard seem to have abandoned that philosophy when it comes to changes to the Hunter class in Legion.

No Safe Haven

Current players of the Hunter class, will in short, have no safe haven come Legion.

For Survival players, they will be seeing not only a complete change in role, switching from ranged to melee (itself not a wise change, as melee is already a crowded gamespace), but this will also see and mean a fundamental change in the abilities used by the spec. No more Black Arrow, Lock & Load etc, and hello again to the likes of Mongoose Bite and Wing Clip.


For MM players, they will see not only fundamental changes to the abilities used by the spec (no more signature Chimaera Shot for one), but they will also completely lose the ability to use a pet, one of the most fundamental and basic abilities of the Hunter class since Vanilla. MM will permanently lose part of the class aesthetic, fantasy and flavour that has been baked into the DNA of the class since its inception.


Beast Mastery players will see not only fundamental changes to their spec, how it plays and the abilities used, but they’ll see their own importance in gameplay de-emphasised in preference to becoming the logistical manager that I alluded to in a previous post.

They will lose the ability to generate their own focus, and to a large degree will also lose the ability to deal significant damage directly. BM players will be utterly reliant on their summoned beasts for both focus and the vast majority of their damage.


Of course both BM & MM will lose the ability to use any sort of trap, as they will become the exclusive territory of Survival players. Because of course melee players need to kite and CC mobs all the time…


A Lost Fantasy

Sarcasm aside, this loss of utility for BM and MM players, not only in the lack of traps for both, but the lack of pet for MM to boot is galling.

But more galling than that?

The entire fantasy of a lone Hunter with only their loyal, chosen Pet by their side,  doing damage from range while their pet goes into melee to protect their master?

Gone entirely.

  • Survival will be melee only, no longer a ranged role.
  • BM will sacrifice the lone, chosen pet playstyle for an endless crowd of random animals.
  • MM will lose the pet altogether.

Current players of the Hunter class will know no familiarity with the class that they used to know come Legion. There will be no familiar spec, no familiar role, no familiar playstyle.

Hell, no familiar class.

Change for the sake of it, especially overwhelming changes to an entire class like this is not healthy, and is certainly not conducive to player retention.

Hunters did not need this complete overhaul. Ok, the changes to Survival may see its use increase somewhat, at least initially. However BM and MM were both largely (80%) fine as they were.

So what should have happened?

If I was the Hunter class designer for Legion, these are the changes I would’ve made to BM and MM:

Marksmanship

Make the T18 4-Piece bonus baseline for the spec. Instant Aimed shots made the balance between pooling and spending focus an engaging mini-game, and enhanced the play-style of the spec immensely.


Balance Lone Wolf (with its array of buff choices) vs the other level 100 Talents a lot better. Make it actually viable to NOT take Lone Wolf for those that prefer a pet (like me). For those that enjoy the petless play-style? Carry on using it! Knock yourself out!

Make it an option to use a pet or not, but give players that choice.


Kill Shot. Keep it. And while you’re at it? Keep Traps too. CC in solo play is important too.


Three to four small changes. That’s it.

Honestly? It didn’t take or need that much effort or work.


Beast Mastery

Give players a talent to allow them to call a 2nd, permanent pet. Give them the ability to mix and match with this 2nd pet to give players a greater ability to create an identity and enhance spec fantasy.


Make the pet abilities at the player’s control, like Kill Command, Bestial Wrath, Focus Fire etc, all apply to the 2nd pet as well. No need for an uncontrollable throng of random animals that, let’s be honest, no-one really wants or cares for that I’ve heard so far.

I don’t think any current BM players have ever fantasised about being Ace Ventura, or Snow White…


Leave Stampede as-is. It’s fine Blizzard, seriously.

If you’re so concerned about crowding the melee space for a whopping 40 seconds every 5 minutes, then why the hell are you converting one ranged spec and forcing it into the melee area, while simultaneously introducing another entirely new melee class in Legion?

The new Stampede? Well heaven help you if the boss moves, given that it’s a 10 second AoE effect now (eurgh).


Have Growl make the enemy focus on whichever Pet has least threat, allowing for easier pet maintenance and healing.


Keep Spirit Bond. FFS.


Keep Camouflage. Jesus wept.


Kill Shot and Traps. Again.


And with that?

Both BM & MM players would retain familiarity with their chosen spec. No massive overhauls required, no changes in play-style necessary.

Evolution, not revolution.

Minimise or negate that Impact of Change.

Easy.

Posted by Sar in Gaming, Hunter Stuff, News, Patch News, RPGs, World of Warcraft, 3 comments
The Identity of the Final Titan…

The Identity of the Final Titan…

This post is going to talk about the Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1 that’s going to be released in March, so if you’re lore-spoiler sensitive then look away now.

Mind you these aren’t really spoilers in the in-game sense, as this has nothing to do with Legion, but this will be talking about a few ideas that crop up within the early part of the expansion.


Screenshot_2016-02-20-18-08-46-1-1

deadpool-shocked

Yeah, that’s right Deadpool: 0_0

Ok, some of us had thought about this previously, and thought that this may be a far-out explanation about why Azeroth is so special.

But not only was it a far-out, crazy thought, but it’s now officially lore!

Azeroth is, or at the very least was, a TITAN.

Whoah.

More specifically, I think I know which Titan. Ready for this?

Elune.

Aka the One True God of Azeroth

Yes, that Elune. The Night Elf and Tauren deity? Yeah that one.

ELUNE

Elune

Or Mu’sha, as she’s named by the Tauren…

Now, why am I coming to that conclusion? What makes me think Elune is a Titan to begin with?

Well, and this is where some small Legion spoilers come into play: In Legion’s levelling experience, we’re searching in each zone for pieces of the Pillar of Creation (echoes of Deepholm here!).

All of these pieces are named after the Titans we’ve known about for ages, like The Hammer of Khaz’goroth etc.

However, curiously, one of them is named Tears of Elune, found in Val’sharah. With all the other Pillars named after known Titans this more or less confirms she/it was in fact an actual Titan, rather than a Naaru, which others had previously posited in the past.

Right, so park that train of thought for a wee bit.

Remember Pandaria? Remember in the Mists legendary questline when Wrathion ate Lei Shen’s heart, and… well have a look for yourself:

We must rebuild the Final Titan…

Remember C’Thun? And Y’Shaarj?

Well Titans fought both, and while the Titans killed Y’shaarj first, a Titan fell during the fight with C’Thun. Remember, this all happened waaaay back millennia ago in Warcraft history, long before the War of the Ancients, long before the Sundering even.

That’s the Titan I think we need to “rebuild”.

But why do I think that it’s Elune specifically?

Well, Elune has been known to communicate with the Night Elves and Tauren directly in the past, which led to them worshipping her as a deity.

Certainly the Night Elves (or Dark Trolls as they were back then) at the Well of Eternity communicated with her quite a lot, believing that she resided within the Well itself during daylight hours.

This interaction lead them to understand Titanic (the language of the Titans), their own history, and the history of Azeroth itself. Meanwhile the powers of the Well were physically evolving them from their nascent Troll forms into the more graceful, lithe forms we come to recognise today as Night Elves.

This surely wouldn’t have been possible if Elune hadn’t been on Azeroth to communicate with them in the first place?

Elune has to have been present on Azeroth and directly guiding the Night Elves. However she hasn’t had a physical form for as long as the Night Elves have been aware of her, present merely as “a calming spirit that abhors violence”.

The Titans

We know that the Titans themselves are physically gigantic, metallic beings.

How I think they come to possess physical form, is that the world-spirit that is born within what otherwise looks to be a normal planet, is imbued within this constructed, or artificial physical form. This form can be destroyed, certainly, but the spirit lives on, able to be re-imbued into another physical body.

That’s why we have to rebuild the Final Titan: Azeroth, aka Elune.

That explains why Sargeras has such a burning desire to destroy Azeroth, because it houses the one thing capable of destroying him: another Titan.

I believe that this massive incoming lore dump, one that answers so many long-standing questions, is yet another indicator that Warcraft is tying up loose ends. Tidying up lore answers in preparation for the true end-game: Taking on Sargeras.

Things on the Warcraft to-do list:

  1. Create the Army of Light, led by Anduin, as foretold by Velen.
  2. Rebuild the final Titan.
  3. Utterly destroy the Burning Legion once and for all.
  4. Seek out and destroy/redeem Sargeras.

By the end of Legion, I strongly believe we’ll have taken care of #1 on that list. Why? Well, that’s neck-deep into Legion spoiler territory:

[su_spoiler title=”MASSIVE Legion Spoilers within!“]King Varian Wrynn dies (or at the very least goes missing (again?)) very early on in Legion. This leaves an older Anduin Wrynn as the new King of Stormwind.

It is from this position I believe he will end hostilities with the Horde fully, and both factions will come together to form the Army of Light.

Anduin has been positioned over the past several expansions as the new Jaina. The Alliance character who knows Azeroth’s only chance of survival against the Burning Legion is to work together, not against one another.

This means the formation of the prophesied Army of Light.

Possibly a third faction? Or perhaps the removal of the faction system altogether?

Who knows, but we’re getting there![/su_spoiler]

So, both in-game and out, we’ll be seeing major strides forwards in terms of the storyline, and making progress towards the true Warcraft finalé: The battle with Sargeras.

By the way, interesting tidbit of info: Do you know what the original name of the Tomb of Sargeras was, before it became known as that?

Answer: The Temple of Elune.

Yeah. Whoah, indeed.

Posted by Sar in Gaming, Lore, News, RPGs, World of Warcraft, 0 comments
Legion Alpha: A Stampede of Hunter problems

Legion Alpha: A Stampede of Hunter problems

Now that BM is now live on the Alpha, we now have access to all 3 Hunter Specs, and it’s not all rosy…


So Alpha has returned and it’s brought with it a new build or two, and opened up more specs for testing.

This includes Beast Mastery for Hunters, which rounds out the entire class for testing.

From looking at the BM spec as-is on Alpha (remember I don’t have Alpha access, so this is all based on what I’m seeing on YouTube and reading from elsewhere), there are a still growing number of concerns that began with MM/Survival changes, and BM is only adding to that pile.

New Concerns

Dire Beast for example, is designed to be used on cooldown, and it now has a very short cooldown of 10 seconds. Add in the chance for Dire Beast to get reset with Wild Call and its use is going to get very spammy.

Similarly Bestial Wrath is going to see more frequent use, despite the fact its cooldown has been increased 50% to 90 seconds, beast summons will reduce that cooldown, and it will probably be up for longer than it’s on normal cooldown, given the frequency you’ll be using Dire Beast.

Stampede as it exists on live has been essentially removed, and replaced with an AoE with the same name and icon. Now when it’s used, you carpet an area in front of you with, well, a stampede of pets (not your own pets, these are randoms!), and this lasts for 10 seconds.

Think Barrage, but with animals rather than bullets, and in a box shaped AoE right in front of you, rather than a cone.

This of course means no more cool screenshots or showing off with your active pets anymore…

RIP Stampede

All these random pet cooldowns with BM lead me to think that Blizzard are trying to de-emphasize me as a player in direct control of the damage equation.

The whole direction BM appears to be headed in makes me think we’re going to be less of a hunter, and more of a logistical manager for random pets while playing whack-a-mole with our cooldowns on the side.

This is in direct contrast to MM, where you can’t use pets at all, and the damage you bring is based entirely on your use of your abilities.

Overall Hunter Issues

I have quite a lot of issues with the current Hunter class on Alpha, namely in the areas of removal of: Customisation, choice, survivability and utility.


Camouflage is now a talent, on the same row as Binding Shot. It is now a 1 min lasting effect, but now has a 3 minute cooldown. No more perma-stealth in PvP, waiting to ambush the enemy, or ghosting through old instances for very long.

Plus, if you’re BM? You get no choice of Camo AT ALL. You get Intimidation instead. WAT?

This one irks me quite a lot. I love the stealth aspect of playing a Hunter, particularly in PvP. And I love pets. Now? Now I don’t have the option of utilising both. It’s one or t’other.


Lack of a pet in MM. Hunters are the best and original pet class, hell they’re THE pet class in WoW, and all 3 specs should use them. If Focusing Shot had been higher DPS in HFC than Lone Wolf, would we even be having this consideration?

As a side note, this enforced lack of a pet for MM means we’re going to spend a lot of time either kiting without any major CC, or we’ll be spending a lot more time face-tanking mobs.

Eurgh.


De-emphasis of your chosen pet in the only remaining ranged spec in the class that uses them (BM).

Stampede ushers in a throng of random pets, and Dire Beast also uses random pets. Not random pets from your stables, no, just random pet models from the zone you’re in (DB) or from the game as a whole (Stampede).

If only MM would let you call a permanent pet, and use only one pet (no Dire Beast or Stampede), that would still provide contrast against BM, emphasise your choice of pet, and solve the above issue with no MM pets.

As it stands, BM is now all about summoning a multitude of random, temporary pets that you have no connection to, and your “life-bonded companion” just gets lost in an ever maddening crowd…


The forced use of an 9-10 year old model in Hati that you have very little control over or customisation of. Yes, I get it’s tied into Ulduar/Titanstrike, but really? Using such an old model for the latest and greatest weapon/expansion?

Don’t get me wrong, I like the saber worg model, but it’s going to do 2 things: a 2007 model will look out of place in 2016/2017, and look very generic with every BM hunter having the same pet.
Again, de-emphasising your choice of pets for random/forced options.

Admittedly it is still early in the alpha/beta process, so it’s possible that this may change, but given that they’ve already introduced different skins for this saber worg in the alpha, albeit not implemented yet, suggests, but doesn’t confirm, that Hati will have different colours dependant on your artifact look. So even less likely that the choice of model for Hati will change.


Spirit Bond has been removed. In fact there is very little in the way of maintenance healing in the Hunter class now, as all we’ve got is the Spirit Beast heal (obviously BM only) and a now baseline Exhilaration with a 50% heal.

Combine that with the lack of CC, and the lack of a pet to tank for you in MM and there’s going to be a lot more downtime for MM hunters while we passively heal up outside of Exhilaration.


Removal of Traps from all specs bar Survival. More CC gone. Oh goody.


Kill Shot has been removed. No more execute ability, and no more big hits in the last 20-30% of the boss’s health.


No more Lone Wolf choice of raid buffs. Lone Wolf may be baseline for MM, but we no longer get the option to provide any raid buffs, AT ALL as MM.

Or BM or Survival for that matter.

In fact looking at WoWHead, Hunters will no longer bring any raid buffs to the table at all.

Unless Critical Strikes, a 10% crit buff you get from level 1, applies to the raid as well as yourself, IE: an aura. But it’s passive, so not manually applicable to a player, therefore giving potential issues where one section of the raid is phased (Nether Banish, Archimonde), and lose the buff?


Aspect of the Cheetah is now a 3 minute cooldown that lasts for a whopping 3 seconds at +90% speed and another 30% for 9 seconds. No more perma-speed boost outside of combat.

/slow clap

More utility (and fun!) gone.

At least we still have Posthaste.

For now.


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimaera is gone.


Deterrence is gone, and replaced by a 3 minute cooldown called Aspect of the Turtle. Admittedly it has a pretty cool shell shield style graphical effect, but it’s a one shot deal, no more second charge. More survivability gone.

Combine that with a lack of CC, no maintenance heal, and the inability to use a tanking pet for MM?

Yeah, you can see where I’m going with this…

DOWNTIME. GET USED TO IT.


The removal and outright rug-pulling changes to the class, this late into the game’s life cycle is not what I would consider a sensible move. Look what happened with Star Wars Galaxies when they did something similar with the NGE. Players exited the game in droves and the game nearly collapsed as a result. Arguably it never really recovered.

We lost a metric fuckton of players during WoD’s first 9 months, we can’t really afford to lose a lot more. Especially from the most popular class in the game.

The entire class seems to be changing outright, and a lot of what brought me to the class is being dispensed with between expansions.

Prefer playing as Ranged DPS? There goes 1 spec. Cya Survival!

Pet collector? There goes another spec. Buh-bye Marksmanship!

Hope you like whack-a-mole with a crowd of mainly random, no-choice selection of “animals”.

I can’t even bring myself to call them pets. The term “Pet” implies a choice, a bond, a story, a history.

Not BM. Not anymore.

Now? Your choice of pet now merely makes a guest appearance on a crowded stage filled with randomers.

In fact it’s less like logistical manager, more like a raid leader for a group of mindless, minimum-effort randoms in LFR.

Oh, and you also have to put up with no chance to use camouflage.

Yippee.

Posted by Sar in Gaming, Hunter Stuff, Legion News, News, Patch News, RPGs, World of Warcraft, 2 comments
Legion Alpha: A nightmare for lore fanatics

Legion Alpha: A nightmare for lore fanatics

With Legion possibly not due out for another 7-10 months, and Alpha now entering its 3rd/4th week, I’m wondering at the moment if having public access this early is ultimately a good idea, specifically for story & lore reasons…

Now I say this as a person that doesn’t really mind spoilers, and I do think that the community at large has done a pretty decent job of keeping lore spoilers to a complete minimum. Usually you’d see threads on the MMOC forums screaming them right up front in the thread title: “Varian to marry Sylvanas? WTF BLIZZTARDS>!?” etc etc 🙂

But I wonder how long the community can reasonably be expected to keep a lid on major plot points and NPC character progression? Particularly for those that reasonably don’t want to be spoiled ahead of time, and experience it for themselves?

In terms of testing mechanics, systems and new technologies, yes, an early Alpha/Beta is undoubtedly a great thing. The more fingers prodding the sooner they’ll find something to break! 🙂

There are some systems coming in Legion that will really need thorough testing before hitting live, such as the scaling tech out in the world, the transmog wardrobe, survival hunter rotations etc, and these are ideal for alpha/beta testing.

But should lore and plot progression really be in the alpha at this very early stage? And I mean MAJOR lore and character changes that would have been best kept for later beta stages.

As it stands, I really feel sorry for the spoiler-phobic lore junkies amongst you in the community, because the next 10 months or so are going to be an incredibly nervy time for you… 

Posted by Sar in Gaming, Legion News, News, World of Warcraft, 0 comments
50th Article: LF Alliance Guild

50th Article: LF Alliance Guild

Since the re-launch of the website in February this year, this is the 50th article I’ve written on this site!

Just something I thought should be noted, it means I’m definitely updating at least once a week on average, which is better than normal!


Currently on the lookout for an Alliance guild for my current druid (level 92 and not counting!), and future Gnome Hunter. I’m keeping my free level 100 boost from my pre-purchase of Legion for her. Not particularly fussed about server, just that it must be some form of PvE server, RP or not, no PvP servers please!

Nothing more annoying than being attacked when trying to go about your daily business, that would make me lose patience with the game very quickly indeed

Most of my characters are Horde, naturally, and they’re all on Kilrogg EU. However I’m quite happy setting up a home for my Alliance toons on any server in the EU. Preferably a medium-high pop server, with a good raiding environment.

The guild itself should be a more mature guild. This means a fairly stable guild with older players. The one problem that has always plagued me when trying to find an Alliance guild is the ones I’ve previously joined seemed to be full of kids recruiting for the sake of recruiting, to amass the largest guild possible.

Problem is the guilds that form as a result are either completely dead in guild chat *tumbleweed*, or if /g is active, it’s full of kids and idiots that think trolling any channel with a /number is the height of comedy.

/facedesk

I know raiding with a hunter is going to have hard competition in Legion, given the sheer numbers of other hunters out there, but I do love my hunters, and a Gnome hunter is definitely going to get a very significant chunk of my time.

However given the changes to 5 mans in Legion, and the fact that they’ll be competitive with raiding () in terms of gear drops and difficulty, there could feasibly be 5 man dungeon raiders in Legion. I wouldn’t exactly be averse to that TBH!


So further Alpha invites have gone out over the past couple of days, and yours truly has yet again managed to avoid an invitation.

I only wish my avoidance & dodge capability was this good when I was tanking!


Just a quick snippets post this one, and I now have access to write from work, which will be handy. Most of my days in work are reactive, waiting on work coming in, so it should lead to some more frequent posts…

Maybe™

Posted by Sar in Gaming, Hunter Stuff, Legion News, News, Personal, World of Warcraft, 0 comments
Legion Hunter Changes Pt 1: Building a Spec Fantasy

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!


 

Posted by Sar in Hunter Stuff, Legion News, News, World of Warcraft, 2 comments