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Ask the Devs Round 8 answers your Firelands questions

The Ask the Devs question and answer series continues with Round 8, where Blizzard devs answered user-submitted questions about patch 4.2's raid content, the Firelands. Players are anxiously awaiting the next tier of raid content, and Blizzard has had a lot to answer for due to the changing nature of patches in the months to come.

Blizzard answers some pretty good questions this time around and even addresses the melee DPS problem in many of the tier 11 raid fights. Some answers are a bit cryptic, however. When discussing the planned Abyssal Maw dungeon (we thought it would be a 5-man, but apparently, raid fights would have taken place there as well), Blizzard says that it believes that the Neptulon story is wrapped up fine with Throne of the Tides but doesn't make mention of the Abyssal Maw dungeons making a return. They only mention "for now," so hopefully the complete Neptulon story will be told in the depths of Vashj'ir.

Another interesting point that the devs make is that they don't really understand the complaint that some aspects of the raid game are too easy, when they look at the number of people who have completed the 25-man heroic encounters in relation to the normal content modes. Also, the devs wanted to stress that they were not trying to turn 25-man raiding guilds into 10-man raiding guilds and actively tried to make the 10- and 25-man versions of encounters similar in order to stress that point.

I am very excited for a new Lady Vashj bridge in the Firelands, though. WoW always has the coolest bridges. Read the full Q&A after the jump.

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Q: What happened with the Abyssal Maw dungeon that was supposed to come with Firelands? – Maryjanee (EU-EN), Espiritu (NA)

A: Our initial plan for this raid tier was to have fewer bosses in Firelands and a small number of bosses in the Abyssal Maw. As we looked more closely at Firelands, though, we realized that it deserved more bosses. We also got excited about designing item art (and set bonuses!) that were very fiery in nature, and the Molten Front questing area was turning out to be really cool, so we ended up piling more resources into Firelands. That led to the decision to focus on one strong theme (fire), rather than a more diluted fire-and-water theme.

The case for Abyssal Maw pitch was that we could reuse a lot of existing assets (the fights were to take place in a giant shelled demigod like Nespirah), and while we are willing to do that, we thought Abyssal Maw would just pale in comparison to the magnificence of the Firelands. So, we put all of our eggs into that one basket. We've decided for now that the Vashj'ir quest line along with the Throne of the Tides dungeon does a pretty good job of finishing the Neptulon story.


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Q: A majority of the fights in T11 favored having little or no Melee DPS. Are there plans to fix this? – Merissa (NA), Espiritu (NA)

A: We view this more of a class problem than an encounter problem. It used to be the case that casters really suffered whenever they had to move, which was the penalty they paid in order to make up for the fact that melee took a lot of extra damage. Nowadays, melee classes don't really take that much extra damage, and we've also given casters a number of movement-oriented tools designed to keep their DPS from dropping as much as it used to when they are asked to shoot-and-scoot.

Whenever there are situations in an encounter that encourage grouping, the ranged often move into melee (with the occasional exception for hunters), but melee never move to ranged. Any of the fights that punish clumping also tend to punish melee more. We recognize all of these problems, as do many players, but it's challenging to address them quickly. For example, without compensation, casters would suffer a lot in PvP if their movement tools were suddenly stripped away.

In the meantime, we don't want to over-constrain encounter design, or worse, make it feel very formulaic by getting to the point where players expect the "melee fight" to be followed by the "adds fight," followed by the "Patchwerk fight," then the "ranged fight." We're making sure that melee have some fights where they can shine in Firelands. To use just one example, the Sons of Flame on Ragnaros tend to be better handled by melee than ranged.


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Q: When Tier 11 content was first launched, the majority of fights in 25-person were explicitly easier than the 10-person version, such as Nefarian and almost every Heroic encounter. Do you have plans to make content for 25 players more appealing in patch 4.2? – Wynter (EU-DE), Nisana (EU-FR), Espiritu (NA)

A: The supposition that easier content is less appealing in the question is a bit puzzling given how few guilds have been able to finish the heroic 25 encounters. In any event, it wasn't that we set out to make sure 10s and 25s were different. If anything, we wanted to make sure that 25s weren't significantly harder, since many of the 25-player guilds were convinced we were trying to force them to become 10-player raiding guilds.

There were some fights at launch where 10s were too challenging (and some fights where the opposite was true), but we view those as nails in a board that need to be either beat down or pried up until they are more even with everything else. Progress in NA and EU on the 25-player content was faster than on the 10-player content, but this was probably largely because most progression oriented guilds in those regions were already focused on 25-player raids. This is also a regional difference. In Korea for example, there are a lot of hardcore raiding guilds focused on heroic 10-player content.


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Q: Will we see anything of a sympathetic view of why Fandral Staghelm changed allegiances before he meets his demise? – Lorinall (NA)

A: Not every villain in World of Warcraft gets a chance at redemption. In Firelands, the new majordomo will show you no mercy, so we don't recommend holding back. However, one of the final quest rewards available from the Leyara quest line in the Molten Front daily quest area will give you a chance to see another side of the former archdruid.


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Q: It can be anticipated that mana regeneration and maximum mana will increase from gearing up with the new Firelands equipment. Isn't there a possibility that healers can spam big heals again (and more quick heals) just like in WotLK? If so, is there any plan to handle this without class nerfs? – Whitewnd (KR)

A: As damage increases, healers will need to use their largest, most inefficient heals more regularly to keep up. That's fine and was all part of the design. We just didn't want players to opt out of mana regeneration too early in the content because then Spirit (and mana-related procs) on gear wouldn't be attractive, and because we'd have to balance difficulty by making the tanks die in a couple of GCDs if not healed continually. Most progression-oriented healers still want large amounts of Spirit, often in every single slot. As they get more comfortable with their mana, they'll be able to replace some of that Spirit with other stats, but the Spirit will still be valuable; more Spirit on a set piece for example might mean being able to use a different enchant or reforge on another piece.

This is still a much better place to be than we were with Lich King content, where mana stopped mattering in the first raid tier. Aside from the mana changes we've already made to Innervate, Mana Tide Totem and paladin heals, we don't think an overall regen nerf is necessary.


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Q: Do we have any plans to include events similar to the Wrath Gate? – Mushik (LA), ??? (KR)

A: We have a short cinematic or two, but nothing on the scale of the Wrath Gate cinematic for 4.2. We enjoy that kind of epic spectacle and we'll do it when it makes sense; however, we also received plenty of feedback from the Cataclysm questing experience that we occasionally took control away from players too often, especially in Uldum, in order to tell the story, so we want to be very careful when we do that in the future. That said, there are some very cinematic moments in 4.2 such as watching the druid trees on the Molten Front grow or seeing the bridge form to Sulfuron Keep.


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Q: Will there be weekly missions in the Firelands similar to Icecrown Citadel in where the players were required to alter the dynamics of each encounter in order to complete them and receive rewards such as promordial saronite and gold? – Orisai (LA)

A: We aren't doing these types of quests for the Firelands raid, but that doesn't rule out us doing them again in some future tier of content.


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Q: In Cataclysm, it has been hard to find unique raid mounts such as Siege Engines in Ulduar or Drakes in The Eye of Eternity. Can we expect to see battles using unique mounts or other objects among the Firelands raids? – ?????? (KR)

A: We were worried players might be suffering from a little bit of encounter vehicle fatigue. We'll do it when it makes sense for an encounter, but we don't want players to get sick of seeing fights on vehicles.

There are several fight mechanics in Firelands that depart from usual "don't stand in the fire" or "interrupt important spells" routine. For example, you can fly during part of the Alysrazor encounter, you climb webs during the Beth'tilac encounter, and you steer Lord Rhyolith around in a manner very different from standard kiting. (http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/blog/2219880)

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Q: Is Ragnaros gonna have a speech about setbacks? – Gerox (NA)

A: TOO SOON, GEROX!


Check out our coverage of the previous Ask the Devs Q&A sessions:
The news is already rolling out for the upcoming WoW Patch 4.2! Preview the new Firelands raid, marvel at the new legendary staff, and get the inside scoop on new quest hubs -- plus new Tier 12 armor!

Filed under: Blizzard, Raiding, Cataclysm

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