Category: Patches & Changes

Jul 28 2016

Quick Summary of Legion changes

As with any expansion, a lot of changes have rolled out in patch 7.0.3, the Legion expansion pre-patch.  For full comprehensive patch notes, you should check out the full patch notes here.  For the quick and dirty summary, here is what you need to know:

Classes
Note: There were also a number of class changes as part of the overhaul, but for those you’ll want to read the official patch notes to get all the details on your particular class. 

  • Gnomes can now be hunters.
  • The hunter Survival spec is now a melee spec
  • The rogue Combat spec was removed and replaced with Outlaw, which is pirate-esque thematically.
  • Demonology walocks lost metamorphism and have many new demon-centric spells.

Talents, Specs, & Glyphs

  • Specs and talents have been totally reworked, and a lot of spells removed or limited to particular specs.
  • Major glyphs were removed.
  • Minor glyphs are now applied directly to the spell in your spellbook.
  • You can now change your spec or individual talents on the fly.  Changing is free when in a rested area like a city, or can be done with a scribe-crafted reagent when out in the world or in an instance.

Buffs & Stats

  • Raid buffs are gone.
  • Multistrike was removed.  It was replaced with crit on existing gear.
  • Spell power was removed.  It was replaced with intell on existing gear.
  • Spirit and Bonus Armor were removed.  Both were replaced with versatility on existing gear.

Gear

  • Legacy (pre-Warlords) tier set bonuses no longer work.
  • Plate-wearers now start in plate from level 1 (previously mail until 40).
  • Mail-wearers now start in mail from level 1 (previously leather until 40).
  • Legendary ring chain is now unavailable to pick up fresh.

Transmog

  • Transmog gear is now account-wide, with some restrictions.  See this video for details.
  • You can now hide your shoulders!
  • Hat, cloak, and shoulders are turned off at the transmog NPC rather than in the Interface settings.

Toys

  • A ton of things were added the toybox. This includes many engineering items (teleport items, mailbox, blingtron, etc) but they still retain a profession restriction.

PvP

  • Honor and Conquest points are gone.
  • Gear is now purchased with Marks of Honor which are obtained in BGs, arenas, etc.  Old school PvPers might remember a similar type currency long ago!
  • PvP gear is now normalised when in a PvP instance.

General Changes

  • All regular mobs are shared tap with up to five players now.
  • You now have 12 character slots per server, to make room for the incoming Demon Hunter class
  • The gold cap has been increased to 9,999,999 gold.
  • Garrison gold missions removed.

User Interface

  • Character stat pane has been pared down and now only displays stats relevant to your character.
  • New optional resource bar can be displayed under your character
  • Max zoom script disabled :sadtrombone:

Now that you’re ready to jump back in the game – renew that sub, dust off your character, and prepare for Legion!

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.
Dec 14 2011

LFR Tool: Raiding Lite™

The new Looking for Raid (LFR) tool is a new avenue of advancement introduced in 4.3 for characters.  Out for a few weeks, the feature has had enormous popularity with players.  For those of you who haven’t experienced it yet, here is an overview based on my experiences using it.

LFR is raiding with training wheels.  To compensate for throwing a bunch of strangers together, many of whom will be inexperienced or underskilled or just bad as following directions, the fights are stripped down and tuned to be very, very easy.   They are designed to be successfully done provided at least half the raid is conscious and capable of following basic instructions, a difficulty level that is arguably necessary to ever get anything killed in such an environment.  As a result of their ease, they offer low quality loot — just slightly better than the new heroics — and lack the perks of regular raiding like achievements, epic gems and Valor-points-per-boss (LFR awards VP only for completion), or the ability to work on the tier’s legendary.

To use it, one queues through an icon on the menu bar like with random dungeons, and is automatically matched up with 24 other players.  It can be done multiple times a week (although you only have one chance at loot), and will not lock you from doing the raid on normal mode.

Organisation

The group is composed of two tanks, six healers and seventeen DPS.  The fights are designed to always use this same comp, so there is no need for dual spec or talent switching during the raid.

Raid leadership is on a volunteer basis.  To queue as a potential leader, one must check the box on the queuing window along with their usual role – same as is done for the LFD tool.  If the raid leader leaves, a new one is assigned from amongst the other volunteers.  Raid leaders get no special perks or powers and mainly exists as a way of saying “yes I will give any new people instructions if they want them.”  Unlike with a real raid group, here the leadership rarely is required to do anything different than any other raid member, although you shouldn’t volunteer for the job if you’re not interested in explaining the fight mechanics.

Players are in and out of the raid group constantly.  It is not uncommon for people to leave mid-fight, or to start a boss down a few people.  The tool is very efficient about replacing these people the instant a group leaves combat, but the fights as also easy enough that the empty spots are rarely a problem.  For this reason, no player should feel intimidated about having to bow out before a run is finished; it is possible no one would even notice.

Niche

LFR has such a huge scope of utility across all spectrum of players, that it’s hard to just pin as “raiding for casuals,” although this is the thing it is typically billed as.

However incomplete that statement might be, though, it is still very much true.  With the difficulty level so low, even someone who has never played in a raid environment can stumble through it successfully.  The tool is an amazing way to let players see the raiding content they might have not otherwise dared to try.  The DPS checks are minimal, and even a few stronger players can balance out a handful of inexperienced ones.

Additionally, with the [currently] very short queues for DPS and healers, players who don’t raid due to lack of time may also find LFR to be an exceptional tool.  Not longer do forays into raiding content require regularly scheduled groups and hours and hours of attempts learning new bosses and farming old ones.  Instead, these players can opt for a limited “demo” version of the raid instance on their own schedule as an alternative to seeing nothing at all.  Currently, both wings of Dragonsoul in LFR take about an hour each and with so many players in and out constantly, it is not harmful to your teammates if you need to bow out even earlier.

Another advantage is that LFR provides a way for all players, serious or casual, to have an opportunity to try raiding on an alt that they wouldn’t have otherwise raided on.   Whether you just want to get more familiar with that class, or take a break from your main, or practice with them for a potential re-roll, the tool can fulfill this niche.

The LFR tool can also be extremely helpful as a tool to help seasoned raiders become familiar with the fights in advance.  Although the stripped down nature make it nearly useless for learning the mechanics themselves, seeing even the basic version of the fight can be helpful in figuring out position, learning spawn points for adds, what that special mob or ability looks like visually, and getting a general feel for the way the particular fight works.  Instead of just watching that tankspot video, now you’re immersed in it, and you can control the camera angle and zoom yourself. Paired with a written guide or a video, I’ve found the LFR tool to be immeasurably helpful in understanding a fight.

Finally, let’s not discount the huge advantage LFR provides for gearing up new players, alts and rerolls and for filling in gearing holes on raiding characters.  It also allows for main raiders to get their set bonuses faster and get small upgrades more often, and the nerfed tier pieces will still work towards completing a set bonus.  Lastly, as a source of Valor Points, you might choose to get the currency to buy those VP items through LFR rather than LFD.  Although its steeper item level requirement means you can’t just waltz in as a fresh 85, the requirements can still be met by doing the new heroics rather than raiding.

Success Ratio

Queuing at least once weekly on four characters, I’ve had very good luck in terms of success with my LFR groups.   Most bosses take just one or two tries to down, with ample forgiveness for mistakes.  Trash wipes typically only occur when someone facepulls several packs or the boss itself (or both in the case of the slime boss).  The worst group I’ve encountered spent 45 minutes just on the first boss of part 2, which is still a good deal faster than a real raid might take, and they still went one to one shot every following boss.  In the best group, I’ve cleared part 1 of Dragonsoul in just over a half an hour on my lunch break.  The raid is definitely succeeding it its goal to be painless and easy.

Loot

You can roll on loot for each boss in LFR once per week. Once you’ve already beaten that boss, you will be ineligible to roll on loot from that boss again during the week if you continue to queue.  Many of the items are now limited to particular appropriate classes (ie, a rogue cannot roll on a strength sword).  Roll bonuses are given if you are ‘need’ rolling on an item for the spec you are queued as, so if a piece of intel/spirit mail drops, the resto and elem shaman will have an advantage on it over the enhance spec’d one, but the enhancement shaman may still roll for their offset without worrying about the item getting dusted.

The system is far from perfect and is still peppered with bugs and oversights, but overall it is a large improvement over LFD.

Attitudes

Just as any environment in which anonymous strangers are thrown together and forced to interact, LFR certainly contains its share of jerks.  Every group has the one DPS who spams Recount after every attempt to brag about his numbers, and the other guy who spends more time bitching about the weaker DPS than he does doing his own job.  You do encounter those two people who get in a fight over something petty and insist on holding up the entire raid so they can bicker over it.  And yes, there is the guy who tries to publicly shame anyone who makes a mistake or taunt everyone who dies with “newb!”   There are also people who are abusing the system by joining then going AFK, and those lazy people that don’t want to help with trash or run back after a wipe.

However, I have been largely impressed by the bulk of groups.  For every asshole throwing a tantrum, there are three people telling him to shut up.  I have encountered players who have made special effort to explain the fights to the people that ask, who give helpful call outs and reminders, who present solutions instead of complaints.  There are those people who are cheerleaders and in the face of others bitching can say, “we were really close, we can do it, we just need to be a little more disciplined.”   There have been people who win duplicate loot and gracefully hand it out to the second highest roller.  I have seen more people booted for being a jerk than I have for making mistakes or doing low DPS.

Overall, I’ve found it to be a smoother and more enjoyable experience than doing PuG five mans.  The jerks are diluted in a sea of people, and the bad players don’t hurt the raid’s success and there are always at least a couple good and patient players to help teach the inexperienced what to do.

My conclusion on LFR is that it is a wonderful tool that many people will find useful and/or enjoyable.  Since it is only a few weeks old, I suspect that once the novelty wears off and people are capped on valor goodies, the demand for running it will decrease and queue times will grow.  Nevertheless, it is reasonable to believe it will still be one of the most popular game features Blizzard has ever implemented in WoW.   Love it or hate it, the thing is clearly a hit.