Archive for the “Wrath of the Lich King” Category

Posts specifically related to the prelude to the Wrath Expansion Pack. Shall be considered moot after release.

The end of Wrath is just about here and most of us are tying up a few loose ends in preparation for Cataclysm. For some this may be finishing off some last raid achievements and for others it could be getting an alt to 80 so that you can switch mains come the expansion. With the end of the expansion rapidly approaching, I thought it might be fun (if not entirely over done) to look back at Wrath of the Lich King from a couple of different angles and see what I did and did not like about it. Today, I’ll be taking a look at the new dungeons and that shipped with the expansion and at the change in philosophy they brought with them.

Anyone who played WoW during the Burning Crusades expansion should be very familiar with the bulk of instances we had to play with. From Hellfire Ramparts to Magister’s Terrace, I think it’s safe to assume we all spent a good deal of time in each and every one of those instances. In my opinion, it was probably too much time. I remember on more than one occasion spending upwards of two hours in any one BC instance due to the size and complexity of the trash mobs within. I absolutely dreaded running those dungeons and I was left with such a bad impression of them that I flat out refused to run a single one when I leveled my Death Knight through Outlands. Having to spend an hour in an instance carefully orchestrating trash pulls for little to no reward was not my idea of a good time. This is to say nothing of having to run an instance multiple times on regular mode to grind the faction reputation necessary to unlock heroic modes. Needless to say, instancing in Burning Crusades required a crazy amount of time commitment.

Wrath of the Lich King saw a totally different approach to dungeons. While at first, many of us were indeed taking the time to mark targets and organize crowd control, it would not be long before each instance would become an AOE pullfest that could be completed in under half an hour. Dungeons in Wrath were drastically smaller than the ones in BC. Even if a group were to take the time to organize crowd control, a Wrath instance could be completed in half the time of one in BC. For those of us with limited opportunities to play, this was a very welcome change. It became very possible for some folks to log on during their lunch breaks and crank out a quick five man dungeon. This also made it possible for small groups of friends to run multiple instances in one night and experience a variety of different environments.

This not to say that instancing in Wrath was not without its faults. As I alluded to earlier, once you got past a certain gear level there was very little thought involved in clearing a dungeon. Grab yourself an over geared tank, have him grab up every mob in sight, then fire up your AOE. Repeat a few more times and the dungeon is cleared. Many veterans were left wanting more of a challenge out of the dungeons and had to wait until patch 3.3 and the introduction of the Icecrown dungeons to get their fix. Wrath also brought us one of the most hated instances in the history of WoW with The Oculus. The Oculus was so hated in fact, that Blizzard had to introduce additional rewards at the end of the instance just to keep the majority of players from dropping the group should they have had the misfortune of being placed into it using the dungeon finder tool.

Give me the choice of which expansions dungeons to run and I’ll pick Wrath’s everyday of the week and twice on Sundays. Wrath had easily the most visually appealing dungeons in the game to date. I still get all wide eyed at all the beautiful Celtic and Norse imagery in the Utgarde Keep and Utgarde Pinnacle. The introduction of achievements gave me a reason to continue running the same dungeons over and over despite out gearing and not needing badges from them. Cataclysm looks to build on everything I feel Blizzard did right by dungeons and improve upon them. There have been numerous posts from the developers about toning down AOE and bringing back the crowd control element into dungeon runs. Should Blizzard be able to find the right balance between the strategy of Burning Crusades and the speed of Wrath of the Lich King, I would consider dungeons in Cataclysm to be a huge success.

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I was beginning to write this all in a comment as a response to your comments on the last post (which were all fantastic by the way, and I thank you all from the bottom of my blackened heart that you read this… even if some of you may not anymore).  However, I was talking for WAY too long, and I thought it might just be easier to knock this over as a post while my internet is cooperating and life is good.  So, as you read, keep in mind this is basically a glorified comment on the last post, which can be found here, and which some people have interpreted to be directly related to my badge post, which can be found here.  Hell, I may as well publish it as a series, and say “Sar rants and raves about shit being too easy and badges being handed out like candy and RAAAAAAAAAAAGE!!”

The thing is, I really don’t care that people get their shinies.  I’ve said it in the past, and I’ll say it again – loot is just bloody loot.  Sure, I’ll drool over a piece here or there.  I’ll feel a little sad when someone else beats me on something I really really want.  But, eh, it’s just loot, and clothes do not make the man (to a certain extent, but we will touch on that later). Not to mention, this post was not even about badges, it was merely inspired by some comments I have seen justifying the badge change.  As a quick reminder, although it is irrelevant here, I do not like the badge changes because:

1.  It makes no logical sense to be rewarded in heroics with Conquest badges.  I have seen so many better ideas around (a logical trade up system was one good one… where is the logic in a 1:1 ratio?)  Imagine what people would say if ‘Naxx bosses now have a 10% chance to drop a piece of Ulduar quality gear’.’  I can guarantee the level of QQ would be much higher than it is here.

2.  I giggle in absolute mirth when people say this will make getting Naxx runs easier, especially for new characters/undergeared alts.  Seems we all forget the Kara farm days of "LFM for Kara.  Must be in full epics/have over 1000DPS".  Sorry, your newly levelled alt isn’t going to be getting Naxx runs unless they are guild runs.

3.  Seeing the content is fine.  The big end of BC nerf helped my guild at that time a LOT… we went from 3/5 and 4/9 to into Sunwell.  In my opinion, that was kinda a nice way to do it – I know at the time it felt a bit over nerfed, but it did help people see content.  People were happy with that too – sure, some people still might not have made it into Sunwell, but they were happy to make the next jump.  It was a fun, giggle filled time, just like going to the circus.  However, nerfs/things to make life easier/etc should happen at an appropriate time.  Many people feel that this will be too early.   Fair enough, Blizz wants all the playerbase to see content.  I am down with that.  However, does it mean we all need to keep well within range of each other at all times?

4.  For me, the best part of seeing new content is a) the work it takes to get there, and b) the challenge of getting there.  Handing out badges likes this removes challenge.  I remember it making life a lot simpler when I saved up my many hundreds of badges (easily obtained through a daily heroic and a weekly Kara run) and got myself significant upgrades from the new vendor as soon as it was unlocked.  As the rest of my guild did the exact same thing, we suddenly downed a couple of previously tough bosses like rolls of squishy toilet paper.  I felt robbed of a big chunk of progression.  We didn’t win because we could play any better.  We won solely based on gear.  Where’s the fun in that?

5.  Elleiras (although she disagrees with me in the end) raises an interesting point.  Many people are claiming the gear one can equip off badges will not be comparable to the current BiS.  Elleiras, being much more logical minded than I am, does a direct comparison.  Her post in its entirety is well worth a read.

6.  Another thing which makes me giggle is the hypocrisy between valuing gear as a hardcore player and valuing it as a casual.  It is the ultimate in heinous evilness to value gear for the sake of gear as a hardcore player.  Admit it, most of us think this is true… hell, this is what people are firing back at me for thinking the badge changes are whack! You just don’t want anyone to have your gear!  Your gear makes you think you are special!  etc etc.  Well, we can say that’s unacceptable… but we can’t then go and say this is fine for the casuals. (Quoted, again, from Elleiras) “My mom has no desire whatsoever to raid, but she still gushes over each new epic because obtaining it was an achievement in and of itself".  Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing that Elleiras’ Mum feels that way… but how can we simultaneously applaud it in the ‘casual’ player base and decry it in the ‘hardcore’?

OK, so there’s my 2c on badges right there.  I don’t think ANY of those reasons relates to ‘OMG Noobs getting shinies!!’  Hell, it’s not like I am the best geared Warlock out there and have nothing better to do than bitch that ‘everyone else is getting what I got, but they are getting it more easily!’  I just think this is way too much, too soon.

Now, on to responding to my last, actual post.

OK, so I may have slightly understated the difficulty of Ulduar.  Natch, 1 point to you guys in the stands right there.  However, Ulduar being difficult does not mean that the game itself is not easy.  However, the rest of the game was horrifically undertuned, and that was a HUGE mistake which in effect makes the game, wait for it, too bloody easy!

Not everyone wants to raid.  The game is way too easy for those of us who do not raid.  Who would be happy doing the occasional 10man, but mainly hanging around in heroics and doing other odds and ends.  My old guild here is a case in point.  These are the people Blizz is (in my opinion) aiming the game at and changing the game for: the small guild that generally only has a handful of people on.  The guild who may have the numbers online for a raid, but not the right classes.  The casual players who still want to play a lot but just aren’t that in to progression raiding… hell, who treat raiding as casually as the rest of the game.  These were the guilds that were hit HARDEST by this sort of thing.  First they hit 80, after a fun whirlwind ride of levelling.  Huzzah!  Then, they venture into Heroics… and are sorely dismayed.  This is where I saw a lot of my old guildies saying ‘I’m taking a break, the game is too easy now, it’s not fun anymore, and I miss my trapping!’

How is making loot more accessible going to help this part of the player base?  Not to mention, according to statistics and what people say, it is actually a HUGE part!  They are saying the game is too straight forward for them.  They are saying ‘Blizz, we don’t want to raid, but we would LOVE something challenging’.  So, we give them better gear?  Is this meant to make them get into raiding?  If you are the ‘supremo casual’ who doesn’t want to raid, well… you’ll get a little pleasure out of getting something nice and shiny.  Hell, we all do.  Then you’ll do more DPS, down things even more quickly… and be bored again.  Making things EASIER is not a good response to undertuning the game in the first place.

If you REALLY want to give out Emblems of Conquest in 5mans, well, that’s cool I guess.  But, if you are doing that, un-nerf (is there such a thing?) the content.  Tune it to be just a little more difficult.  Sure, people will whine at first, because we get scared when we can’t do things like we used to be able to.  But you might lure back some of those “I miss CC, so I am taking a break’ people.

Now, unless someone comments and inspires me otherwise… I think this might actually be my final say on the matter.  Yay!  Now I can get back to benting my rage at my incompetent phone company/ISP/whoever keeps breaking my internet!

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I have spent my weekend frantically levelling (my version of frantic that is -  a level a day), which has meant a lot of soloing.  Soloing of course generally means that I don’t have much to talk about – I just plug my way through the quests steadily, and have fun while I am doing it.  I was lucky enough today to meet no real jerks in the course of my playtime, although the guy who told me to ‘hurry up’ was slightly irritating, since I had said 2 seconds before that I would be a little while since I was at the bottom of a mine when I got the group invite, and had to fight my way out.  To compensate for that though I met a delightful Tauren DK who was appropriately named Cowface (or something similar).  He was soloing a group quest, and I could see that he was having some difficulty with it (it was a quite difficult quest – I can’t remember what it was called, but it’s the group quest in the Emerald Dragonshrine) so I helped him kill his mob. He paid me back by sticking around (for a few minutes, I might add) while I waited for the last party member to arrive and tanked him when we killed him.  Common decency is a great thing.

I have to say I have been getting a kick out of all the dragons that I have been seeing.  Yes, I squealed like a little girl when I saw Ysera (my favourite Dragon) and Alexstrasza.  I have always been fond of the Dragons in Warcraft, especially since they are imperfect creatures.  They make mistakes all the time!  I just hope nothing nasty happens to Ysera – bit it doesn’t look promising.

And Wrathgate!  Oh my God!  How incredibly awesome!  I have to admit, I got teary at the end of the quest chain (I won’t spoil it for people who haven’t done it yet).  It has now well and truly usurped Jailbreak as my favourite quest chain.  I actually got into a heated ‘discussion’ with Kalf at the end of the whole shemozzle about Varian Wrynn – I don’t feel so comfortable being a SW girl anymore, that’s for sure.

Finally, the cutest perk of the day?

Make sure you log in and get yours today!

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Well, NaBloPoMo has been well and truly ruined for this year, as I am sure some of you noticed.  I was away for a couple of days, and the internet connection there was so truly horrible that I was unable to post anything to the blog – it just outright refused to work.  Let’s just say that is the last time I go away for a launch of a game!  I was looking very forward to playing heaps of WoW when I installed Wrath, but alas, that was not meant to be.  I guess I am well behind the levelling curb as well.  To say I am incredibly annoyed is an understatement, but clearly it was just meant to be that way.

However, my time that I have been able to spend in game has been very enjoyable.  I decided to start off at the scenic Howling Fjord, and the quests there have not been disappointing.  Being killed by the Lich King was well and truly worth the death as well.  I didn’t know before that the Lich King was a Shaman!  At least, that’s what he professed to be when he was toying with my body.

I had also forgotten how very different the playstyle is for everyday questing compared to raiding.  While I have been questing in a group with Kalf the whole way through (who betrayed his resto roots and went boomkin), I still have to adapt to the fast paced, mobile questing playstyle.  Admittedly, the insane latency and poor framerate haven’t helped a great deal on that one.

I also have to admit that in some ways I am jealous of everyone who was able to race to 80.  I am still plodding along slowly at level 72, but honestly I don’t think that I would enjoy myself if I was levelling any faster anyway.  As I have said many times, I find questing to be a huge grind, and the more I push myself through it the more I hate it.

One moment which I enjoyed in particular (for no other reason than it highlighting my own stupidity!) was completing the Meditation quest.  The quest itself was fairly simple – trek to the top of a mountain, meditate for a brief period of time, and then kill the nasty side of yourself, since it objects fairly strenuously to being evicted.  Afterwards we proceeded to climb back down the mountain, and jumped a little bit of the way off… and kept drifting further and further outwards.  We were certain that death was coming our way… and then we noticed the slow fall buff that we got after completing the quest.  Duh!

We finished up in Howling Fjord (getting the 140 quest achievement), and made our way out to Dragonblight.  I have fallen in love with the Tuskarr – they are so adorable, roly poly and huggable!  While Dragonblight looks just a touch more… gloomy than Howling Fjord, it does look like a lot of fun.

Quests Which Are Bugged

‘I’ve Got A Flying Machine!’ – only one of the bags is able to be retrieved by the flying machine.  It is still very difficult to do.  I would recommend skipping this until a hotfix is in place.

- ‘Gambling Debt’ – To complete this quest, you need to do the four quests Silvermoon Harry gives you first.  When I completed the four quests, it still did not want to work for me.  Oddly, after trying several times and giving up and walking away, he aggroed to me 5 minutes later.  Confused me for a bit – I wondered who the heck could be casting Scorch on me, turned around and there he was.  He was still easy to kill, despite him getting half my health off before I realised what was happening.

Other Quest Tips

Falcon Versus Hawk – I found that making a macro helped a great deal.

/tar Fjord Hawk

/cast Trained Rock Falcon

- Scare the Guano Out of Them! – make sure you set the crackers off right below the bats.  It helps to have shadows turned up.

- It Goes to 11… – Ensure that you aim for the spines of the roofs.  You need to hit the very top centre of the roofs for this to work.  Also ensure that you don’t bomb too many buildings in a row – you need to survive the attacks that come after bombing a building.  I bombed 2, killed the defenders, then bombed the third and killed a couple of defenders to get my 8.

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Just sharing some happy snappys from the release day!  The Flickr thing below has all the photos I took on the day, including some photos that I took along the way because I was bored.  They show the riveting scenery along the freeway, and then the stupid traffic in Sydney, and a couple from the actual release.  I know this post is a few days late as well… the internet where I was staying was completely borked and evil.

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The Trip

I left for Sydney after work yesterday, which made it a rather long day. The trip took about 3 hours altogether, not including a stop along the way.

13112008020 I had to grab some snack food to hold me until dinner. I’m sure TJ would have approved. The Frozen Coke unfortunately didn’t stay frozen for too long – it was a boiling hot day and it melted faster than I could drink it. My lil buzzbox vehicle has no air conditioning, so it was like an oven.

Of course, when I got to Sydney the traffic was incredibly snarly. I looked at my watch as I excited the freeway and noticed it was right on 5 o’clock. Dang. The trip through Sydney (about 20km to where I was going) took almost as long as the trip down the freeway (well over 100km). My poor clutch foot was dying, and the car didn’t get out of second gear for most of the time.

Fortunately, by the time I arrived in Sydney I still had plenty of time to catch a fast nap and have some dinner.

The Event

All in all it went very smoothly. EB opened their doors at 10pm to allow people to pay for their pre order, so when midnight hit we just had to show our docket and pick it up. This gave us lots of time to sit around. I was disappointed at the lack of conversation between the people who were waiting – everyone basically stuck in their little cliques and didn’t talk to anyone else. I was shocked that a couple of people brought their very young children – I suppose it would be difficult to get a sitter on a Thursday night, but the kids didn’t enjoy it too much.

There weren’t as many people apparently as there was for the Burning Crusade launch, which could explain the lack of free pizza.

By 12.30 I had a CE in my hot little hands!

14112008046P.S: Anyone who asks me if I am pregnant in the photos gets slapped silly!  No, I am not pregnant – just getting fat!!  People keep asking me when I am due, and it’s getting annoying.

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So, it’s nearly time for me to go and pick up my copy of Wrath of the Lich King.  While most of you already  have your copy in your hot little hands, Australia has been left until the last minute (again!), so I haven’t had a chance to formally explore Northrend.  Never fear though, I have been using this time to reflect upon Burning Crusade, where I have been and where I am going.

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Burning Crusade was my introduction to end game, and I have to say it was an enjoyable ride.  While there was much about raiding that I did not enjoy, there was even more that I did.  Raiding is going to be an aspect of the game that I will miss very much come Wrath, especially since I have no idea whether I will be raiding again.  I guess it means that I can be one of the ‘I raiding in BC, ner ner nerner ner’ types in Wrath though :)

I also established closer friendships with people in BC, as I had the opportunity to spend more time with them doing (quite frankly) useless stuff.  We ran around like idiots killing old world dragons, running through low level instances naked, and fishing in moonwells.

WoWScrnShot_052708_110946 I could go on for a heck of a long time about all the things that I have enjoyed through Burning Crusade, but long time readers of the blog will already be familiar with them all, and new readers would find it boring anyway after all the posts covering the topic.  Besides, it is time for me to go and get my copy of Wrath!  Especially since I just won the coin toss to see who got the Collector’s Edition.  Suck on that Kalf!  Besides, you are all probably having too much fun in game to read this anyway.  Pictures from the long night’s wait tomorrow!

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Warning – yet another massive wall of text!  Tried to put my opinions in italics, may have missed something though sorry.

7.35am Gameplay Panel

How are you going to improve professions (including repairs by crafters)? – Blacksmiths will be able to socket people’s gloves and belts as an example of all professions having an endgame use.

Will we ever see Deathwing again? – Working on it, yes.

Sunwell Plateau had dailies and things for people at 70 who couldn’t get into Sunwell.  Doing something similar with Arthas? – Arthas will be accessible to all people.  Want to have a lot of solo content and daily quests, and perhaps some Arthas interaction.

Some question about Pandas I didn’t quite catch but was apparently amusing.  Encourage the Panda love!  No killing pandas!

Are you guys adding resilience to PvE gear so there is a point to doing PvP? – continuing the system of tokens being exchanged for lesser PvP gear.  In my opinion an interesting question which went bad when he said ‘to give doing PvE content a point!’  Eeeesh… PvE greater than PvP anyday ;)

What abilities will be able to work indoors? – Ooooh, ground mounts will swim after the first Wrath content patch!  Then dodged the actual question :)

Will we be able to experience old-world bosses with PvE arenas? – Difficult to move bosses over to arenas and have the same impact, and how would the rewards be itemised?

Championing system – will you extend that to be able to be used for old school rep? – Want to see how championing works out, and also looking at adding new ways to get old ‘boring’ reputations.  Thank goodness, grinding rep sucks.

Will we be able to customise moves at all? (casting, etc) – No.  I agree with this, I think it would really take away some things which define a class.

How will you balance gear (no more PvP in raids) – Trying to give people balance and allow them a little bit of a headstart to cross over.

Are you looking at making legendaries scale similar to heirloom items? – No, because it makes it difficult for people when they are gearing up (feeling compelled to go back and get them from old raids).

Are you going to make the different gear look different? (10, 25, PvP) – We would like to, a matter of how many different sets we can create.  Always a matter of how much they can do.

Why have you ruined Arcane Blast? – They disagree, it’s fine.  Want to make it so that you aren’t using it as your ONLY spell.

11 point talents have always been class defining.  Some talents are no longer class defining.  What are you going to do about this? – Trying to make sure that we can find something unique and exciting.

Holy Paladin complaining about not having any offensive PvP abilities.  Trying not to tune out from Pally QQ – they agree, and are trying to help them out.

WARLOCK QUESTION! Fel Domination – do you have a plan to reduce the cooldown or replace it? – We would like to have Warlocks using all different types of pets.  However, they want it to be about utility, not because your pet is about to die.

When are you going to make Omen of Clarity non-dispellable? – Considering making it impossible to get rid of beneficial buffs.

Arms Warriors – being able to switch weapons specialisations easily? – Probably not, don’t feel that you change your weapon enough to worry about it.

Are there any other plans to make all crafting professions equal? – More that we screwed up with the Frozen Shadoweave than meant it to be that powerful.  Plan to continue to give you access to plans and patterns in each raid.

Where is our WoW movie? – working on it, working on it, story is pretty cool, ‘I will be shot and that is bad for me’ if I give out spoilers

Will you be bringing Holy Paladins back into the melee line of the class? – ‘We gave DK’s Death Grip to keep them in melee’ ;)

Missed the question – It is always going to be a judgement call as to what is iconic to each class.  We are always trying to come up with new abilities but it is difficult.

Paladin – Are we going to get a single target taunt? – hope not, but we will if we have to.  Players are concerned about homogenisation.

Priest – Why do I put 13 points into Discipline? – Where would you like to put them? (Holy).  Feel like we have gone a bit too far into the ‘single tree’ spec, and want to encourage cross tree talenting.  However, we don’t want to make some talents ‘mandatory’ for everyone.  Mana regen is a hard thing to judge on feedback, everyone wants more mana, and sometimes people who run out of mana quickly just aren’t good players!

Why do hybrids have so much damage now, threatening pure DPS classes – trying to ensure that pure DPS is still competitive, but making it about player skill.

Are you going to do any more encounters like Kael’thas where you have to wait 10 minutes for the fight to start? – We weren’t, but we will now!  Trying to come up with a ‘wrap it up’ button

Will you be able to use achievement points for T9 epics? – No, which is great.  Points can be used to get tabards and titles instead, to recognise your achievement.  Points will be spendable at next year’s Blizzcon store ;).

How are you going to flesh out the combat tree for Rogues who prefer swords? – Tried to get rid of dead spots, believe that combat might be better scaled than the other trees, working on it.

What’s the likelihood of getting a ring or something for dailies with items to save clearing bag space?  Also, dailies get quite dull and repetitive – Looking at randomised dailies (like fishing and cooking).  Also looking at a quest interface, wont come with Wrath.

Can Aspects be taken off GCD? – Hunters want EVERYTHING off the GCD!  I wouldn’t rule it out completely.

We are taking over Northrend, what’s next? – Southrend!  Something else.  Starcraft II!

Will the next hero class be revealed? – the Bard!

Where do you want a damage based DK to stand? – DK’s will be about level to Prot Warriors in tank spec.  Will be like Rogues and Warriors otherwise.

How are you going to keep people involved and active in boss fights without recycling old encounters? – No shortage of ideas, a shortage of time!  Siege weapons and buildings.

Can you make bear and kitty form female? – ‘Are you asking if we are going to add genitalia to the bears?  Teen rated game!’

Are Holy Priests going to be threatened by the greater survivability of Disc and Shadow Priests? – No

Can we create DK’s on the next patch? – Comes with the x-pac, not the patch

Are we ever going to see out libram or relic slot items on us graphically? – We have been considering it.

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Ok, So I snored straight through the PvP panel.  Big oops!!!  On the plus side, I figure it would be well covered anyway.

5.30am: End of Jeff (Tigole) Kaplan Interview

Didn’t really hear much new here, the questions were disappointing and asked things we already knew (what will happen with the existing dailies, can we start alts at a higher level soon).  Caught a glimpse of a new arena, which looked really interesting, with more interaction with the environment.

Caught a glimpse of some of the Halloween masks, they look interesting!  Price range is about $75 each.

Kaplan’s favourite item at Blizzcon?  The plush talking Murloc.

His favourite part of WoW? The social experience -  sitting in Ventrilo (amusingly, he said Vent rather than the poor quality in game chat) and in guild chat with friends.

Commented on the honor point reset controversy – in my opinion he really struggled with talking about it, was probably more on the side of wiping them completely, and had trouble finding a word to refer to the uproar over it.

6.00am – Raids and Dungeons Panel

5 man dungeons

Halls of Lightning

– Level 80

– Ties in closely with the Titan Lore

– Creatures feel ‘epic’ with unique abilities

– "Epic Lore + Epic Gameplay = Awesome" – more unique boss fights with a lot more story to go with

– Every instance wants to feel unique

– Shorter Instance experience, but still feels epic

– Squee, cutscenes!

Ahn’kahet – The Old Kingdom

– Has indoor and outdoor terrain

– Fits in appearance with Naxx

– First boss – Yay for eggs and hatchers!  Not just killing the boss.

– Second Boss – Vampire who will occasionally stun someone on the ground and feed off them, have to attack your party mate to beat him off

– Third Boss – kills adds to gain buffs

– Fourth boss – Faceless one.  Puts players into their own phase where your party mates attack you.  When you ‘beat’ your own phase, you enter a party mates phase and help them.  Yes, it CAN detect classes and specs!

Raid dungeons

10 and 25 man versions of all dungeons (but hey, we knew that!!)

Obsidian Sanctum

Looking to not make the mistake they made with Gruuls and Mags (too difficult for their transition point)

Able to choose your difficulty and therefore your reward through choosing how many adds you kill.

One boss fight sounds remarkably like Kalecgos

Eye of Eternity

Epic fight – buildings, vehicles.

Multiple phase fight,

Itemisation

Higher quality loot from Heroic dungeons (thank goodness for that is all I have to say, because heroic loot itemisation was horribly bad)

Different currencies from each raid tier (so you can’t farm lower level content for high level rewards, a la farming Kara to buy a T6 quality robe).  An excellent change which reflects the concerns of much of the raiding community.

Mix n Match the 10 man and 25 man pieces for the set bonuses.

Questions

Is there anyway to be able to boot someone from raid instances? – Basically, not yet.

Legendaries in 10 and 25 mans – is there going to be equal distribution, and will they be quest based or random drops? – Looking to be quest related rather than random drops, which I think is good and increases the value of the item.

With dual specs, will people need to respec for encounters? – NO (very emphatic)

Any new content going to open in Azeroth? – Old content isn’t gone, just waiting for the right time for it to fit.  At the moment no.

Is there going to be balance to allow for 70% of the raid wanting caster weapons? – Provided the numbers don’t hate you, it should work out so that the ratio is fair.

Is there anyway to ensure that tokens didn’t drop for classes that aren’t in the raid? – The Emblems of Valor and Heroism can buy a couple of set pieces

Attunements in Wrath – Don’t really exist, tokenistic attunements by ensuring someone has a key for an event.

How viable will our tanking pets be in 5mans, or OTing? Your pet should be able to offtank (lots of boos at this question!!)

Will the progression ramp up to the difficulty of Sunwell in Wrath?  Not sure if we will get to the level of Sunwell raid.  Nice to see them acknowledge the immense amount of pressure on guilds from these encounters.

Will there be any 10 man with no ‘lockout’? – Not at the moment, because it devalues the gear. 

They love PuGs!!!

Will we see more creative skill usage in boss fights? – Yes, there are some fights where you use different abilities or abilities of things you need to interact with.

Will there be interconnections between different wings – passages between instances like DM? – Been talking about it and looking into implementing something like this in the future.

Are you intending to continue using the tier tokens, and if so, can you make one of each token drop? – 25 man bosses dropping 4 or more items to try and help with this.  You can also buy a couple of pieces off the vendor with tokens, as previously discussed.

What time frame do you estimate the top end guilds will have ‘beaten’ the expansion? – Naxx, less than a week :)

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9.30am : First things first, I am sorry that I missed the start.  I had full intentions of blogging the beginning of Blizzcon… and let’s just say the worst thing that I can imagine happening last night happened, which led to all sorts of nasty stuff (yes, I know I am being vague, sorry).  My coverage will probably be spotty because people do not want to leave me alone!  Doesn’t bother me, but it makes it hard to keep up.

Anyway, so I am coming to you from half way through instead.  Currently they are talking about SCII, and I am afraid my Starcraft knowledge is limited at best (seeing as, shock horror, I didn’t really play it).  The cinematics looked REALLY nice, and everyone was excited about Kerrigan.

10am: Alex (Missed the last name, please don’t shoot me!): Wrath

Phasing: "It has definitely made things possible that weren’t previously possible.  However, there is the danger of phasing as well" – can be confusing with grouping, if you are in different phases. 

World Bosses in Northrend: No plans for World Bosses, simply because of the issues with PvP, killing rights, debuffs, etc.

World event for Patch: A Very Big World Event (very vague), Northrend will be opened up with this event.

10.16: Chris Metzen: SCII

SCII allows them to really dig into the character of Kerrigan through the story mode. 

10.30: Recap of what I missed!

Mike Morhaine announced Wizard class for D3 (Might make me actually play it! hehe)

‘Is there going to be a secret cow level?’ ‘That’s a secret!’

Mage QQ: How are you going to make Mages a viable class to play (only used for tables and portals, cooks getting a table, only good ability is Mirror Image)?

‘They’ll be able to bring a respec table – problem solved’ Hehehe.

10.30: D3 gameplay panel:  Jay Wilson and Wyatt Cheng

Again, this will be kinda weird, I have played some Diablo, but not enough to feel comfortable making commentary on what is happening.  Looks promising to me, simply because they are making Battle.net better, and it sounds very ‘non-gamer’ friendly.

General Game Design Philosophy

Looking for ways to expand and improve Diablo in D3.

D2 took a lot of ideas and really blew them out of the water.

D3 Design Goals:

- Stay true to the Diablo experience

– Amazing moment to moment action – a very visceral game

– Expanded RPG experience – An action RPG, the focus is heavily on the action, but they want to take the action to new places

– Runeskills?

Spirit of Diablo:

– Powerful heroes engaged in epic large scale combat: A key goal

– Approachable gameplay, cooperative focus: doesn’t mean they don’t want a single player game, or that there isn’t a single player game, but want a game where people can jump in and out and work together.

– Replayability – randomness (random environments, monster encounters, generated items, adventures), Higher Difficulty levels

Epic Heroes:

Large Scale Combat – as many monsters as possible on the screen, then heroes to pound them into the dirt.

– Want a balanced game, don’t want to throw balance out.

– Strong and Unique Archetypes: a small number of unique and identifiable classes.

Things that had to be done better from D2

Approachable:

If you can click a mouse, you can play Diablo.  Simple to learn but deep, smooth difficulty curve.

Working on new version of Battle.net which is removing as many barriers as possible from people playing and communicating with each other.

More than just attacking – escape skills, control skills, without having a million buttons.

New Health System.

Monsters: new attacks, creatures which die easily and others which do not through the use of shields, creating unique systems.

They also worked on improving story, the player can get a feel for what’s going on but they have added a lot more depth and context for the players who love the story line.

Adventures:

Events that can be placed almost everywhere.  Things which have been added to any terrain, allowing scripted content in the randomness of the game.

Questions:

1.  Is there still going to be a hardcore mode? – Almost definitely.

2.  One of the biggest frustrations I had when playing a character is that there talents are set.  Is there a way we can have talent respecs? – Definitely want to have a talent respec system.

3.  How do you see the economy panning out? – In D2 the abundance of gold did mess with the economy, and items became worth more than the gold you could have (capped), creating a barter economy.  Being talking with people from WoW about their economy, about what works and what doesn’t, and taking those ideas.  Big emphasis on gold.

4.  Just wondering what sort of PvP aspects you would have – competitive play is something Diablo hasn’t moved quite up to yet.  In the core game, they don’t want anything that’s not mutual.  However, there is a group that want to kill each other whenever they want.  No solution yet, want to find one.

5.  A lot of players get attached to their players that they build up.  At end game there are abilities or immunities which monsters have which means they can’t kill them.  How will you deal with that? – Diablo is about focusing on making one or two abilities as strong as they can be.  Trying to make sure that each class has more than one ability – A wizard may have great electric attacks, but also missiles.

6.  In D2, when a monster died it was a free for all scramble to get the loot.  Have you fixed that? – Loot now drops on a per player basis for everyone.  You can drop items on the ground and other players can pick them up.

7.  Is the magic find system going to be completely changed?  It was very frustrating – Sounds like magic find will still be there, but also other ways to find abilities.

8.  Would there be an achievement for doing something like completing the game on hell mode? – Sounds cool, sounds like us, don’t know yet

9.  How many players are you shooting for this time in co-op? *frozen* Well, my TV has frozen up.  Dang.

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First things first – I haven’t played every possible spec that there is for Warlocks in the beta.  I have had a VERY small tinker with Demonology to look at Metamorphosis, and have spent the rest of my time levelling as Destruction.  These are comments based upon my own and other people’s research and experiences.

Affliction will be the PvE king.

At the moment in beta Affliction is the most powerful Warlock spec by far.  Affliction Warlocks are currently topping the damage meters in Naxx pushing approximately 5200DPS, and are beating out the other two specs by large amounts.  Destruction is a mid range DPS spec with approximately 4500 DPS, and Demonology is down the bottom unfortunately with approximately 3900 DPS (see post on Elitist Jerks for tables).  Of course, this is also dependent on gear scaling as to whether it will hold true for later raids.  If Wrath is similar to BC, Affliction is very viable in entry level raiding and peters out further into progression.  Conversely, Destruction was rather weak at entry level raiding and grew stronger as people gathered the gear to support it. 

Destruction will swap to being a fire based tree.

This is based on the buffs that we received to our fire spells and the chance of a Molten Core proc.  Improved Shadow Bolt has been slightly nerfed, which has greatly reduced the strength of Shadow Bolt.   With Corruption becoming an instant cast spell untalented, Destruction Warlocks will keep Corruption up and running while casting Immolate, Incinerate and Conflagrate.  I am anticipating heavy theory crafting about the usefulness of keeping Curse of Agony up and running (GCD versus extra chance of Molten Core proc).  With CoA running rather than CotE, I had approximately 200 more DPS.

What spec and spell rotation will be best for Destruction PvE locks?

To be honest, I can’t guarantee that the spec which I have been using is the best possible spec.  However, I think that I have maximised the damage that I can deal through my talent choices, which aim for the highest DPS.  The points in ISB could easily be moved, as the spell rotation that I found to be most effective on test dummies did not have Shadow Bolt within it.  I merely put them there to advance further down the tree.

80statsI was practicing on a ‘Heroic Training Dummy’ (which is a level 83 dummy), so there were some misses involved.  My stats can clearly be seen in the image to the left.  My hit rating is clearly very poor, which would allow for some of the lost DPS.  I am also trying to be realistic – not everyone will be hit capped at level 80.  I was not hit capped until after I finished with Kara myself.

I experimented with 3 basic Destruction spell rotations, allowing for some basic principles:

1.  Corruption had to be up at all times to try and get Molten Core to proc

2.  Immolate also had to be up at all times

3.  Every Immolate had to be finished with a Conflagrate to proc Backdraft.

4.  My Imp was DPSing to try and proc Empowered Imp

5.  Only buff I had running was Fel Armor.

Unfortunately, Backdraft makes it difficult to have a stable ‘spell rotation’  I still have not maximised my spell rotation yet, as my two DoTs also finish ticking quite when Backdraft is up, which means that I am wasting the valuable time that I could be casting Destruction spells in.  I could have also been casting Shadow Bolts rather than constant Incinerates to try and force a Molten Core proc, but Shadow Bolt is a weaker spell now with the nerf to Improved Shadow Bolt (which had previously made it so strong).

Ultimately the strongest spell rotation I could work out was the following (please note this is not necessarily the best one, and I will keep testing):

Corruption, Curse of Agony, Immolate, Incinerate x 4, Chaos Bolt, Corruption, Conflagrate. 

After that point however, things became somewhat chaotic as I tried to maximise the value of Backdraft, keep Corruption up at all times, and keep Curse of Agony up WITHOUT cutting the end off the spell (because we all know that is bad!).  I could stick to the same basic pattern, but occasionally had to refresh my DoTs half way through the rotation.  Managing it would be much simpler if you were assigned to CotE in a raid however.  I also noticed that you suck mana like nothing else – at least some things never change!

Actual numbers for those who enjoy maths!

Please note – I have not done any calculations.  To be honest, I wouldn’t even know where to start.  These are probably the most accurate numbers from my many, many, MANY tests on the test dummy.  The image is the graph from my most successful testing, although I do have many more of the other spell rotations.  Feel free to email me if you are curious about any of the others.

 

immolate_CoA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Individual Spell Stats (Boss Dummy, 5/14/52 Spec)

Spell Name Hit  (Avg) Crit (Avg) Tick (Avg)
Incinerate 2597 5536 -
Immolate 1249 2523 484
Corruption - - 474
Curse of Agony** - - 304
Chaos Bolt 3177 - -
Conflagrate 1451 2641 -
Shadow Bolt*** 2441 5092 -

 

**  First tick of CoA at approximately 200, final tick at approximately 400.

*** Not from above test, but the numbers may be useful.  With CoA up as well, not CotE.  Spell rotation as above, with Immolate replaced by Shadow Bolt.

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