Category: Mists of Pandaria

Jan 15 2014

Glory to the Orgrimmar Raider [Guide]

The Glory of the Orgrimmar Raider is the raiding meta achievement for Tier 16.  Unlike prior tier’s metas, this one does not require any Hard Mode kills and can even be completed on Flex mode for ease and speed.

Completing it rewards the very badass Spawn of Galakras flying mount.


Boss:  Immerseus

Achievement:

No More Tears
Defeat Immerseus after killing 10 Tears of the Vale in Siege of Orgrimmar.

How it works:

If you manage to keep the corrupted blobs away from Immerseus’ pool while he’s submerged for the entire phase, they will turn into Tears of the Vale.

The way to do this achievement is to have particular people in the raid responsible for chain CCing the blobs for the full 30 second submerge, using roots, snares, stuns and knockbacks (and deathgrip). As soon as the boss reappears and the blobs transform into Tears, the raid needs to quickly nuke them.

It is recommended that DPSers unequip their cloaks for this fight because the procs will kill the blobs they are working on.

You can do this across multiple phases, so be careful not to kill the boss until you’ve gotten all ten down.


Boss:  Fallen Protectors

Achievement:

Go Long
Transfer the Mark of Anguish to at least 5 unique players over a total of 200 yards or more during a single Desperate Measures phase, and then defeat the Fallen Protectors in Siege of Orgrimmar.

How it Works:

This achievement is completed during Desperate Measures, cast by He Softfoot (the rogue).  During this time, he will cast Mark of Anguish on a raid member and your goal is to pass it around the raid, covering enough distance and unique people to meet the criteria.

There are several different ways to complete this achievement.  You can form an actual ring or a chain around the room, or you can just make sure everyone spaces out as best as they can, and then each person try to pass to to the person furthest away from them (such as melee to ranged, back to melee, etc).  The range on passing is 40 yards so unless everyone is exactly 40 yards apart, it may take more than five passes to complete.  You may want members who have already taken the Mark to stand in the middle of the room so people know not to pass to them, and  stick to passing to the people at the edge of the room.

Note that there is a five second cooldown on the passing ability that will slow its movement through the raid.

 


Boss:  Norushen

Achievement:

None Shall Pass
Defeat the Amalgam of Corruption without allowing any unleashed corruption to fuse with it in Siege of Orgrimmar.

How it Works:

The small adds that spawn from the DPS completing their challenges throw little orbs at the boss which must be avoided t to complete the achievement.  You can either intercept these orbs, or just prevent them from occurring.

The easiest way to complete this achievement to just avoid sending any DPS into their trials, instead sending only tanks and healers, and having the DPS tunnel the boss.  This will prevent little adds from spawning entirely, and you will not need to worry about intercepting the unleashed corruptions as a result.

Alternatively, just make sure you have one person assigned to stand in front of each little add to make sure that they are between the add and the boss, so any orbs thrown hit them before the boss.

 


Boss:  Sha of Pride

Achievement:

Swallow Your Pride
Defeat the Sha of Pride in Siege of Orgrimmar after no player has gained Pride from Manifestations of Pride while Norushen is alive.

How it Works:

Manifestation of Pride is the large add that spawns in the back of the room during this boss fight.  It applies Pride to players in two ways:  with Mocking Blast and again when it dies.

The way to avoid Pride and complete this achievement is twofold: One, make sure that all Mocking Blast casts are immediately interrupted.  The second way is to make sure that when the add dies, the two nearest players are the ones  with the buff Gift of the Titans.

 


Boss:  Galakras

Achievement:

The Immortal Vanguard
Defeat Galakras without having allowed a single friendly NPC to perish in battle in Siege of Orgrimmar .

How it Works:

This achievement is really easy to get incidentally.  Just make sure you fight the boss away from the little NPCs to prevent them from joining the fight and getting themselves hurt and you should get this achievement by virtue of successfully completing the encounter.


Boss:  Iron Juggernaut

Achievement:

Fire in the Hole!
Stomp on 6 superheated Crawler Mines and then defeat the Iron Juggernaut in Siege of Orgrimmar.

How it Works:

Crawler Mines become superheated when a laser is kited over them in the boss’ second phase.   Just make sure the person responsible for mine stomping during this phase prioritises getting the Superheated Crawler mines (and those kiting the laser make sure to hit the mines).

The boss’ berserk timer allows for three of these phases before he enrages, so need at least two per phase, and you need to make sure DPS doesn’t kill him before you’ve gotten all six.


Boss:  Kor’kron Dark Shaman

Achievement:

Rescue Raiders
Rescue a set of caged prisoners, a group of unwilling combat participants, and Ji Firepaw before defeating the Kor’kron Dark Shaman in Siege of Orgrimmar.

How it Works:

This achievement actually involves Dark Shaman’s trash rather than the encounter itself.   The goal is to clear all the trash in the area without killing any of the caged prisoners or unwilling combat participants (which will be neutral orcs and theramore citizens).  Ji Firepaw will be credited automatically just by killing the mobs around him.

The easiest way to do this is to CC the neutral mobs and pull the hostile NPCs far, far away so you don’t accidentally kill them.  They only have a small amount of health points and can die from anything from incidental AoE to cloak procs.

Kill the Jailer in the Orgrimmar bank to get the key to release all the caged prisoners.

Once every one is free, you are safe to kill the boss for the achievement.  It will be credited after the Shaman die.


Boss:  Nazgrim

Achievement:

Gamon Will Save Us!
Defeat General Nazgrim while Gamon is alive and participating in the battle in Siege of Orgrimmar.

How it Works:

This achievement is another that is very easy to earn incidentally.  Free Gamon from where he is chained up by the catapults before the Drag after you’ve cleared trash and are ready to fight the boss.

Gamon will join you in the boss fight.  He takes very little damage from anything except War Song.  All you need to do is beat the boss normally, doing your best to avoid War Songs, and healing him as much as possible when you do get them so he can survive any subsequent ones.

Note that if you wipe on this boss, Gamon will die, and that is your chance for that raid and you will either need to wait until next week (for normal/heroic) or requeue for flex.

 


Boss:  Malkorok

Achievement:

Unlimited Potential
Transform a Corrupted Skullsplitter into a Corrupted Amalgamation and then defeat Malkorok in Siege of Orgrimmar.

How it Works:

The Corrupted Skullsplitter is a mob you will normally pass on the way to Malkorok’s room.  Instead of killing it, carefully skip it and clear the rest of the trash on the way there.  Once the route is clear, grab the Skullsplitter and pull it into Malk’s room.  Once there, CC it or offtank it to the side, being careful not to kill it.

When the boss casts Breath of Y’Shaarj, make sure the mob is hit by it.  You will know it worked because it will transform into a Corrupted Amalgamation.  As soon as this happens, nuke the mob and then kill the boss as normal.

 


Boss:  Spoils of Pandaria

Achievement:

Criss Cross
Complete the Spoils of Pandaria encounter in Siege of Orgrimmar without any raid member defeating both a Mantid and a Mogu enemy.

How it Works:

This achievement requires the raid to be split into Mogu and Mantid teams instead of Left/Right.  After completing their assigned room, the teams must cross up using the chains and drop down on the other side so do the same chest type again.  The chains take a full 20 seconds between each person (10 to pull up, and 10 seconds to drop back down), so it takes a lot of time for the raid to switch sides, so you need to split up that time between each timer.

Put the melee on the Mogu team and ranged on Mantid.  Kill the green boxes and the one boss first (using hero/bloodlust), then work on the mediums and the smalls.

When you’re nearing the end of your boxes and just have smalls left, start sending up players from your team on the chain to wait in the middle.  It’s probably better to send the lower DPS first.  Leave at least one DPS in each room to hit the lever, but wait until you have <5 seconds left on the timer before pulling it, giving yourself as much time to transfer as many people as possible to the middle.  Once the levers are hit and the timer is reset, people can drop down on their new sides while you finish transferring the remaining raid members, but DO NOT open any boxes until everyone s on the correct side.

Once everyone has switched sides safely, open the boxes normally and finish the encounter.

 


Boss:  Thok the Bloodthirsty

Achievement:

Giant Dinosaur vs. Mega Snail
Open the Thrice-Locked Cage during the Thok the Bloodthirsty encounter in Siege of Orgrimmar, and then allow its inhabitant to feast upon Thok’s corpse once you have defeated the encounter.

How it Works:

In Thok’s room, there is another cage that is usually ignored containing a large snail.  It is found on the leftside of the hallway as you venture towards Thok’s arena.  It must be opened three times before the snail is released.

When the first Kor’kron Jailer dies, instead of opening the usual cage, open the snail one instead.  An additional Jailer will spawn, which is killed, and use that key to open the correct cage to proceed as normal.  Do this during each kite phase, so you are effectively killing two jailers each time.  Get the boss as low as possible.

After the third transition, unlocking the snail’s cage will this time release the snail.  It will beeline for Thok – make sure you stay away while you kill the boss.  Once the boss dies, the snail will eat his corpse and credit will be granted to the raid.

 


Boss:  Siegemaster Blackfuse

Achievement:

Lasers and Magnets and Drill! Oh My!
Defeat Siegecrafter Blackfuse without destroying each of the following weapons in Siege of Orgrimmar: Deactivated Laser Turret, Deactivated Electromagnet, Deactivated Missile Turret, Disassembled Crawler Mines

How it Works:

This achievement is exactly how it sounds, and can be completed over multiple kills.  The quickest way to do it requires just two kills: First, do one kill where the conveyor belt players kill nothing but Missiles — which is a common strategy — netting you credit for Magnets, Lasers, and Mines.  On the next kill, keep the Missiles alive by instead killing either the Mines or Lasers.

However, if you are completing this achievement on Flex mode and have good gear, you can instead opt to earn the achievement in ONE kill by ignoring the conveyor belt entirely.

 


Boss:  Paragons of the Klaxxi

Achievement:

Now We are the Paragon
Defeat the Paragons after assuming the mantle of three different Paragons in Siege of Orgrimmar.

How it Works:

This is a personal achievement and requires three separate kills.  The three mantles each person must earn are the buffs received by clicking on the dead Paragons.  Each buff is only available to particular roles, can only be picked up by one raid member at a time, and only one buff can be picked up per player per fight.  There are four options for DPS, two options for healers, one option for tanks, and two paragons whose buff can be assumed by anyone.  This means that over the course of three kills:

  • Your DPS will need to pick three different DPS mantles.
  • Your tanks will need to get the tank buff, as well as the two generic ones.
  • Your healers will need to do both of their’s, plus one of the generic ones.

Work out in advance who needs which buffs and try to assign people Paragons so everyone gets a new buff for each encounter.  If you have multiple people with offspecs for other roles, you can have people swap roles to increase their options.

Note that if you do this on flex, you can complete this achievement on the same night by just re-queuing for that wing three times.

 


Boss:  Garrosh Hellscream

Achievement:

Strike!
Kill 18 Kor’kron Warbringers with a single Iron Star and then defeat Garrosh in Siege of Orgrimmar on Flexible, Normal, or Heroic difficulty.

How it Works:

Kor’kron Warbringers are the adds that spawn in phase 1 of this encounter.  Typically they are cleaved down by the DPS and finished off by an Iron Star, the large fiery wheels that roll across from the edges of the room.  All 18 of the adds must be killed by the same Iron Stars.

To complete this achievement, you will need to hold off DPS until you have built up 18+ Warbringers.  This will be a lot of damage on the add tank, so cooldowns may be required.  Get all the adds to low health (~20%) to ensure the star wil kill them, and make sure they are hit and killed.

Once you have successfully killed all 18 with a single Iron Star, you complete the encounter like normal.  Credit will not be granted until the boss is downed.

Jul 20 2013

Proving Yourself in Proving Grounds

This PTR build of patch 5.4 introduced a long-awaited feature to the game: Proving Grounds!  Proving Grounds are solo scenarios where a level 90 player can test their skill in their chosen role against wave after wave of enemies that get progressively harder.

•  As a DPS, your job is to kill the mobs before the next wave spawns.  It’s just you and your toolbox of spells and abilities to burn them down, interrupt their heals, and keep yourself alive.

•  As a tank, your job is to protect your NPC healer by picking up the mobs as best you can, interrupting them, and using your own cooldowns to survive.

•  As a healer, your job is to keep your party alive.  Your party is a team of NPCs – a warrior tank, an assassination rogue, a hunter and a mage.  The AI is pretty smart — they are good about interrupting and focus firing — while still being realistic in the sense that they are occasionally being slow to get out of fire or meandering out of your healing range.  You’ll need to do a lot of healing and dispelling here.

If you fail in your role objective, you get a failure message and the mobs despawn and you have to talk to the NPC to start again at wave 1.  If you get “killed,” you are actually just reduced to 1 healthpoint – so no death repair bills!  You do take wear-and-tear durability damage, though, and there is an NPC inside the instance who can repair you.

Healer PG

Goals

Proving Grounds can serve several useful functions:

  • First and foremost: it is something fun to do!
  • It gives new players a safe but real-time environment to practice their skills and improve their play.  Whether you’re new to the game or just new to a role, PGs are a wonderful place to hone your skills without worrying about irritating or — worse — killing four other players in the process.
  • If gives players a place to test out particular talents, glyphs, as well as fiddle with their addons and keybinds.

Gear Scaling

To make sure Proving Grounds are a challenge of skill and not of who simply has the best gear, all equipment is scaled down in a similar fashion to Challenge Modes.

  • Gear scales to 463
  • Gems do not scale
  • Set bonuses do not count

Unlike Brawler’s Guild where players can hit a ceiling on their success because their gear is subpar (or get further because great gear gives them more margin for error), the equalised equipment means ranking accurately reflects true skill.  Of course, if you’re exclusively a tank or healer, you can’t do Brawler’s Guild at all!

You can use flasks and foods, but not potions; they didn’t want you to have to bring stacks and stacks of pots just to make it through.  There is a soulwell for health cookies, though!

There is also a reforger NPC in case you need to make any gear tweaks, and a vendor who sells  Tomes of the Clear Mind so you can tweak your talents and glyphs as much as you need.

Tuning

First the obligatory disclaimer – All of this can change!  Proving Grounds are a brand new feature and it’s possible Blizzard may shift their goals with what they want with them.  Additionally, right now the tuning on the PTR is really easy — far below what I was told was intended (and what I outlined below). It is likely untuned right now, but being the PTR I imagine they will be tweaking them quiet a bit over the next month or so.  Give them a try, leave feedback on the tuning whether you prefer it harder or easier!

You begin with bronze mode.  The plan is for bronze to be tuned to a player ready to step into heroic 5-mans, so this should be easy for just about everyone.

After you beat bronze, you can step into Silver.  If you’re a normal mode raider, you should be able to make it through this level, with maybe some difficulties in the final waves.

After that comes Gold.  Beating gold is intended to reflect comparable skills to a player that is ready to raid heroics.  Expect to use your whole toolbox to make it through Gold.

After you beat Gold, you are eligible to try Endless mode.  Endless mode, as the name implies, has unlimited waves of increasing difficulty.  Each wave does a percentage more damage and has an equal percentage more health than the one before it.

Your furthest wave will be tracked so you can come back try to beat your high score later, and so you can compete with your friends.  Although there are no in-game leaderboards like for Challenge modes, this information is tracked in your character statistics and can be pulled up in the armory, so expect third party sites to run rankings eventually.

Rewards

There are achievements for reaching each rank in each role, as well as surviving 20 waves into Endless.  There will be titles, as well.  “[Name] the Proven [Healer / Tank / Damage Dealer]” probably earned by completing Gold for a given role.

Perhaps later other rewards will be implemented, but that’s it for now.

I got the opportunity to test Proving Grounds a couple weeks early thanks to an awesome dev, but now they are a little more polished and available for everyone to try.  Just speak to your class trainer* or the NPC in the Temple of the White Tiger in Kun Lai Summit to be sent in.

 

* NYI this build – go to Kun Lai

Outside Resources

 

Mar 14 2013

Tziva’s Guide to Hoarding Dinosaurs

Patch 5.2 is out and it offers a lot of fun new content for players.  I think I speak for everyone awesome when I say that the most pertinent of these new things is: dinosaurs.  We get a lot of them, which is good, because there is no such thing as too many dinosaurs.  So this is my guide to acquiring new dinosaurs because if you are even remotely cool, this has now become the most urgent goal in your life.

If you’re just looking to chill with some prehistoric badasses, but suspect you can’t handle the coolness of owning your own, Blizzard has given us an entire island full of nothing but dinosaurs of all sizes and varieties: The Isle of Giants.  It is covered with elite adult and young triceratops direhorns, tyrannosaurus rexes devilsaurs, and pterodactyls skyscreamers in a rainbow of colours.

Okay, but now on to the important question: how do you cash in on this stuff?


Dinosaur Mounts

So of course you want a dinosaur mount.  Everyone wants a dinosaur mount.  Lucky for you, there are a lot of new dinosaur mounts to choose from.

Direhorns

The easiest direhorn mounts to acquire drop from the elite Zandalari Warbringers that spawn around Pandaria.  At around a 5% drop rate, you will likely need to kill a bunch of these, but luckily they spawn pretty regularly (around every 30 to 60 minutes) and drop other awesome things to soothe your poor, dinosaurless soul.  These Warbringers are trolls riding the dinosaurs you’re trying to steal, and come in a slate (pale blueish), amber (greyish yellow), and jade varieties (bright greenish).  The mount on their loot tables matches the dinosaur they are currently riding; you won’t ever get a slate mount from a dude sitting atop a jade.  Don’t be distracted by the Zandalari Scouts that patrol nearby; they don’t drop the mounts.  Bring a friend or two to help you with these tough elites; the Warbringers can be duo’d if you know how to handle their abilities, but are very difficult to solo if you’re not a well-geared tank or a pro hunter.

Slate Direhorn

The other direhorn mount is a cobalt blue, and is a rare drop from the new world boss Oondasta.  If your heart is set on this one, grab one hundred of your closest friends and cross your fingers.

If you’re a raider, check out the second boss in Throne of Thunder named Horridon.  Not only is he absolutely adorable to look at (little periwinkle feets!), he has a rare chance to drop a blue & white direhorn mount.

Finally, if you love dailies or at least are willing to slog through them for a triceratops, you can look forward to snagging your own crimson (if you’re Horde) or gold (as Alliance) direhorn for reaching exalted with your new faction on the Isle of Thunder.  The new factions are the Kirin Tor Offensive for Alliance and Sunreaver Onslaught for Horde.

Raptors

The new raptors come in black, red, green and white.

Most people will probably want to focus on the black, red, and green varieties, as these do not require insanity and huge amounts of time to acquire like the white one.  Elites mobs on the The Isle of Giants (all of them except the Zandalari Dinomancers) have a small chance to drop the Primal Egg you are seeking.  The smaller elite dinosaurs on the island can be solo’d by most classes, although the bigger devilsaurs and triceratops may require a couple people, so getting your egg should just be a matter of getting enough kills under your belt.  Three days after getting your Primal Egg, it will hatch into a Cracked Primal Egg and inside will be a random raptor mount in one of these three colours.  The mount is guaranteed from the egg, but it may take you awhile to get all three types since you can get duplicates.

While you’re farming your Primal Egg, you will find that all these mobs also drop a few Giant Dinosaur Bones with each kill.  Save these, because for the low, low cost of only ten thousand bones (okay, 9999 actually) you can purchase a bone white primal raptor mount from an NPC hiding in a cave on the island.   As an added bonus, people will be able to more easily identify you as crazy when they see you rocking this painful-to-farm raptor.

Skyscreamers

Right now, there is only one flying dinosaur mount in the game: the Armored Skyscreamer.  This guy is the reward for completely the Throne of Thunder raid meta, so if you’re not a hardmode raider, you may need to wait a few tiers to pick up this sweet ride.

 

Pet Dinosaurs

Of course, simply riding a dinosaur is not enough.  I mean, it is awesome, but not nearly as cool as riding a dinosaur, while your tamed dinosaur runs alongside you, keeping company with your battlepet dinosaurs, right?

Hunter Pets

If you’re a hunter, The Isle of Giants is where the magic happens.  Stable your active pets so you have lots of space for dinosaur shopping.

To tame a direhorn you will need to acquire an Ancient Tome of Dinomancy from the many Zandalari Dinomancers wandering about the island.  The mobs can be solo’d by the hunter, but you will probably want to pick up the Silencing Shot talent, as the heal they cast will put them back up to full health, making them a pain to kill without (they stop casting it once they reach 50%).  Once you get your book, though, you’re set: you can now tame any of the triceratopsy young direhorns on the island, regardless of your spec.

To tame a devilsaur, you just need to be Beast Mastery spec, no book required.  There are quite a lot of different colours on the island, so just find a young one in whatever shade you desire, and tame away.  Easy!

To tame a skyscreamer, whine to Blizzard because right now you can’t.

Non-combat Pets

While you’re on The Isle of Giants looking for your hunter book, you might be lucky to find one of the four new vanity/battle pets from the Zandalari Dinomancers:

Zandalari Kneebiter
Zandalari Anklerender
Zandalari Footslasher
Zandalari Toenibbler

Zandalari Kneebiter

These are little armored baby raptors.  They are super cute and completely unique from the old raptor vanity pets.

New in 5.3:

•  Stunted Direhorn – Unfortunately, it looks like you’ll need to win 250 PvP pet battles to get this cutie.
Direhorn Runt – Is a rare drop from the Direhorn mobs found on The Isle of Giants.
Pygmy Direhorn – Is now a rare drop from Horridon!

Jan 02 2013

Symbiosis

Note: This spell was removed from the game in patch 6.0.2 for being too complex/convoluted.  Considering that I was able to make an entire blog post just out of explaining what one single spell did, I think this is a reasonable claim.

 

Symbiosis is a new ability granted to the Druid class in Mists of Pandaria.  When cast on another player by a Druid, both players are given access to one of each other’s spells for an hour, depending on both the druid’s spec and the recipient’s role.  The spells exchanged are not exactly like their original forms, but are similar (read the tooltips for details).  Both players still retain their granted abilities, as well (eg, you don’t lose spell reflect just because the druid gained it).

Because I often see people who aren’t sure what class or spec grants what (both the giver and recipient’s specs influence what abilities are exchanged) — including many druids — I thought I would offer a summary for people to use as a reference.  I have sorted by class for convenience:


Rogues

Gives to Druid
Redirect to cat
Feint to bear
Evasion to tree
Cloak of Shadows to moonkin

Receives from Druid
Growl


Death Knight

Gives to Druid
Death Coil to cat
Bone Shield to bear
Icebound Fortitude to tree
Anti-Magic Shell to moonkin

Receives from Druid
Wild Mushroom: Plague as Frost & Unholy
Might of Ursoc as Blood


Warrior

Gives to Druid
Shattering Blow to cat
Spell Reflect to bear
Intimidating Roar to tree
Intervene to moonkin

Receives from Druid
Stampeding Shout as Arms & Fury
Savage Defense as Protection


Paladin

Gives to Druid
Divine Shield to cat
Consecration to bear
Cleanse to tree
Hammer of Justice to moonkin

Receives From Druid
Wrath as Retribution
Barkskin as Protection
Rebirth as Holy


Monk

Gives To Druid
Clash to cat
Elusive Brew to bear
Fortifying Brew to tree
Grapple Weapon to moonkin

Receives From Druid
Bear Hug as Windwalker
Entangling Roots as Mistweaver
Survival Instincts as Brewmaster


Shaman

Gives to Druid
Feral Spirit to cat
Lightning Shield to bears
Spiritwalker’s Grace to tree
Purge to moonkin

Receives From Druid
Solar Beam as Elemental & Enhancement
Prowl as Restoration


Ma
ge

Gives to Druid
Frost Nova to cat
Frost Armor to bear
Iceblock to tree
Mirror Image to moonkin

Receives from Druid
Healing Touch


Warlock

Gives to Druid
Soul Swap to cat
Life Tap to bear
Demonic Circle: Teleport to tree
Unending Resolve to moonkin

Receives From Druid
Rejuvenation


Priest

Gives To Druid
Dispersion to cat
Fear Ward to bear
Leap of Faith to tree
Mass Dispel to moonkin

Receives From Druid
Tranquility as Shadow
Cyclone as Holy & Discipline


Hunter

Gives to Druid
Play Dead to cat
Ice Trap to bear
Deterrence to tree
Misdirection to moonkin

Receives from Druid
Dash

 

As a tip:  The new abilities will appear in their owner’s spellbooks under the name of the ability itself, not under “Symbiosis.”  If you put the gained ability on your action bar, it will stay there even when you do not have the buff for future (when you do not have the buff, it will say Symbiosis instead of the ability name on your bars), which can be helpful if you receive it regularly in your raid or because your spec grants a particularly appealing ability to druids in return.
Oct 23 2011

Monk Class: Blizzcon Preview

Blizzcon just finished and I’m sure we’ve all heard the new announcements by now.   New race: Pandaren.   New class: Monk.   Demo computers were available to see both the Pandaren starting zone and give the new class a whirl.

WoW fan sites have posted the details of all the new World of Warcraft announcements, ability lists, gameplay trailers, etc, but I thought I’d do something different and talk a little bit about how actually playing the new monk class felt and give my own impressions.

Remember, all of these details can change between now and when the expansion goes live, and probably will.

Basic Information

Monks are a new hybrid class; they have specs that will allow them to heal, tank, or melee DPS.  They are heavily martial arts themed, aiming for the archetypal monk class.  They are not a hero class, and will begin at level 1.

They wear leather and will share their gear with rogues and druids, depending on their role.  They start in leather gear from level 1.  They can currently use fist weapons, polearms, staves, and 1-handed swords or axes. As healers, they will use offhands rather than shields.  The current plan is for tanking to lead towards 2h while DPS and heals will use the 1h weaponry.

They will use stances, presumably similar to a warrior and based on their role.

They are available for every race except Worgen and Goblin.

Resource System

Monks use a unique resource system different from the current ones in game. They have an energy bar, called Chi, which functions similar to that of rogue and cat druids by refilling quickly to a hard cap.  This is paired with a combo points-like system, but this is where it departs from the familiar.  Monks get two sets of combo points — Light and Dark Force — and these are tied to the player and not the thing you’re fighting.  They do not appear to decay (although they probably clear at log out) so you can carry them from fight to fight.

Your basic attacks cost Chi but build combo points of either the Light or Dark Force or both.   You then spend those force points on special stronger attacks.  Unlike the finishers that rogues and cats spend their combo points on, these abilities don’t scale based on number of points – they cost a flat amount.  Because of this, you will not be capping your points and then spending them, but rather using a rolling priority system of using both as needed.  The playstyle ends up being very different than the usual “point-point-point-finish” feel of other energy classes.

Blizzard has said that when Monks are spec’d for healing, their Chi bar will be replaced with a Mana bar.   It was not explicitly stated but seems obvious based on their design goals that the class will still keep its Light and Dark Force bar for healing, allowing it to maintain its unique feel in all three talent specialisations.

Abilities

Here are some of the spells & abilities that were available in the demo:

Level 1 Abilities

Jab
40 Chi – Melee Range, Instant
Requires Stance of the Drunken Ox, Stance of the Fierce Tiger.
You jab the target, dealing 5 damage and generating 1 light force and 1 dark force.

Jab is your basic attack. This is the button you are hitting the most to spend your Chi and generate your Force points. I imagine you get different ones later as you level and based on spec.

Tiger Palm
1 Light Force – Melee range, instant
Requires Stance of the Drunken Ox, Stance of the Fierce Tiger.
Deals 10 Physical damage, deals 5 additional damage if the target is above 50% health.

Level 2 Abilities

Roll
50 Chi – Instant
Roll a short distance.

Roll is a mobility tool to keep you moving around the battlefield (and, when out of combat, to appease your pining for that mount that is eighteen levels away).  It costs only energy, so you can zoom around as often as your bar refills.  It’s very fun for getting quickly from enemy to enemy or just getting around faster.  You can roll in any direction, including backwards and sideways.

Level 3 Abilities

Blackout Kick
2 Dark Force – Melee range, Instant
Kick with a blast of energy, causing 28 physical damage to an enemy target. If the target is killed by blackout kick, you are returned 1 Dark Force.

Level 5 Abilities

Flying Serpent Kick
8-40 Yards range, 25 Seconds Cooldown, Instant.
Soar through the air towards a targeted enemy, knocking them down and stunning them for 2 seconds.

Spinning Crane Kick
Instant, 2 Lights and Dark Forces
Requires Stance of the Drunken Ox, Stance of the Fierce Tiger.
You spin while kicking in the air, dealing 23 damage every 1 second to all nearby enemies within 8 yards. Movement speed is reduced by 30%, last 6 seconds.

Some other abilities were loosely discussed at the various panels, but were not in game to try.

Auto-Attack

Monks do not have an auto-attack like every other class.  Blizzard developers said they wanted the monk to have a “street fighter feel” where each button press from the player is an attack from your monk.  This is very unique to the game, and it is controversial enough that this may end up not going live (in fact, I would predict it will be in and out of the beta several times before a decision is made).  There are some concerns about that, and I’d like to address them the best I can for a player who has only played the first six levels of the monk class.

The first worry I have heard expressed (totally justifiably) is that this will make playing the Monk very spammy.  I’m sure those of us with Warriors heard the announcement and were thinking old school Heroic “I eroded a hole in my keybind” Strike.  The good news is that it does not feel like this at all.  Your Jab costs enough that you are not hitting it a million times a minute, but fast enough that you don’t feel like you’re standing around waiting for energy regen (usually… more on that below).  You are also limited by your GCD, which is current the same 1.5 seconds of most players [note:  I am pretty sure Jab is limited by the GCD]. The playstyle is fast paced but far from overwhelmingly or spammy.

However, the lack of auto-attack does have some weaknesses that need to be addressed eventually.  It is annoying when you find yourself in a situation with neither Chi nor Force points and you’re up in some mob’s grill unable to do literally anything but stand there.  That might not happen often, but it can happen in numerous circumstances:

When moving quickly from fight to fight, the small delay before your opening attack could prove frustrating in those situations where you’re racing to tap a rare mob and have to stand there waiting for the precious energy to claim it as yours.

As a raider who currently plays a rogue, I can think of a lot of current situations in group play where I am swapping to an add and auto-attacking it until I have enough energy to use Mutilate.  This would be very frustrating to find myself in that position as a Monk, chasing an add but doing literally no damage.  I can think of a lot of situations where the add dies before I get enough energy for that special, making my only contribution my white damage (or perhaps I am pooling for when I return to the primary target).  For a monk, there would have been nothing.

I can also see it being problematic from a tanking perspective, where one at least builds minimal threat in the seconds before or between breaking out a special, especially if you’re juggling multiple mobs at once.  Those white attacks can often be the difference between you or the healer tanking in those first microseconds of a pull.

There are also the circumstances of when a mob has a sliver of health left, and one would finish it off with auto-attack. A Monk would be forced to use its resources which perhaps it wanted to save for the next fight. At the very least, it would be a bit overkill.

The other thought that occurred to me is doing old content.  When I was working on Loremaster, I often had to bare-knuckle auto-attack mobs that I needed to get low but not kill for some quests.  If a Monk can only use specials, how would he do such quests?  A level capped Monk would surely one shot these low level mobs in a single Jab.

That may sound like a lot of problems, but they are very situational.  I actually like the feel of the gameplay and being in total control without the auto-attack, so I hope these issues can be resolved in a positive way that allows Monks to keep this unique flavour.  Perhaps a no-cost but super weak attack with a cooldown to use in those situations?  Still, I wouldn’t be at all shocked if Monks went live with auto-attack like everyone else.

Healing

My disclaimer here is that this is all based on Blizzard’s conjecture and will [very probably] not end up like this on live.

They want the heal system to be unique and involve damage reflected into AoE healing for friendlies, rather than the traditional three-cast-time-heal bread and butter for current classes.  For example, Blizzard envisions moves like this to be the means through which a Monk heals its party:

Statue of the Jade Serpent
5 Sec Cast
Summon a statue at the target location. Anytime you deal damage, a nearby friendly target within 20 yards of the statue will be healed. You can have up to 3 Jade Dragon Statues active at a time.

I have serious doubts that the class with go live with things like this as their primary means of healing.  It’s too different, too hard to balance and seems like the kind of thing that would end up overly powerful in some circumstances and too weak in others.   Statues radiating heals seems like it would be very awesome as a raid healing, but what about five mans, or high movement fights?   What about when the healer needs to keep up a tank taking a lot of damage?  What about when the monk is forced to move out of melee for whatever reason?  It’s a very big move away from the “we want all the healers to be able to do successfully do all roles” design goal that Blizzard just implemented, and against the homogenisation that all other healers faced in the last expansion.

The current design goal for healing is to heal through DPS, making the Monk the true melee healer.  This is something they’ve toyed with trying to achieve with Holy Paladins with limited success.  The difference is that Blizzard wants even healing Monks to do “massive” damage and for that to be the vehicle for their heals.

I’m not sure what the implications of that will be for gameplay if we have one healer who is able to contribute significantly to DPS while the others are not. The worry is always that the other healers will be less desired if a raid could instead choose one that helped with those tight enrage timers — a variation of this was voiced frequently when Death Knight tanks were doing a lot of damage and while it didn’t end up proving true, DKs did ultimately receive a series of nerfs in this area to bring them in line with other tanks.  I can see this also having negative PvP connotations if your arena player can both DPS and heal effectively at the same time.  And what of the shadow priest, whose passive raid healing was nerfed because it was too powerful in conjunction with strong DPS?

I suspect that when Monks are being beta tested and tweaked, we will find them being homogenised into the same foundation as the other healers, with the [fast expensive heal], [long, big heal], and [slow efficient heal] and the moves like the statues and vampiric-embrace-like abilities will be dropped to supplemental, expensive AoE heals like Prayer of Healing or Tranquility.  I think they will use melee attacks to add the flavour of their class and to earn the Force Points to do unique and different things with their heals in order to keep their very unique class feel.  I suspect they will not end up doing significant damage as healers, and may perhaps be more in line with a tank or smite-spamming Disc priest.

Tanking

We don’t know much about Monk tanking, except that it will probably involve using staves and polearms and the gearing will be about the same as current Bear druids.

Overall Impressions

Despite being somewhat similar to rogues (my primary reason for being uninterested in feral cat), I found the Monk to be fresh and engaging and am definitely interested in leveling one up in Mists of Pandaria.  Monk is definitely appealing to me a lot more than Death Knights did initially (the DK class and starting zone was amazing but I found the resource system cumbersome and the pace at which you get abilities as a hero class overwhelming).  I thought the resource system here was unique and fun but still very intuitive and user-friendly. The abilities are fun, simple, and well paced.  Roll is super cool.  That handful of levels I got to play in the Blizzcon demo was very enjoyable.

I love hybrid classes and I’m interested in trying both tanking and healing as this new class.  I’m already thinking about which races I will choose for each faction.