Blizzard's Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas, a.k.a. Watcher, has taken to the forums a few times lately, along with Community Manager Zarhym, to provide clarification on Challenge Modes.
With all the bad air swirling around Blizzard from certain minority groups within the WoW community about catering to casuals, challenge modes are something they seem very keen to stand firm on. When asked if challenge modes would ever be nerfed, Ion replied as follows:
Zarhym also weighed in with his own input on the nerf question.
Zarhym's point about gear scaling is key to understanding why challenge modes are such exciting and enduring game features. The gear level for the first tier of challenge mode dungeons is set as 463. This is the number Ion specified in his earlier clarification of challenge mode gear scaling. If you jump straight into a challenge mode dungeon once your gear is item level 463 or above, your gear will be scaled so it's all 463. If, at the very end of the Mists of Pandaria expansion, your item level is 563, the very second you step into that same challenge mode dungeon, you're scaled right back to 463 again.
This, coupled with the intent suggested by both Ion and Zarhym, means that challenge modes will remain just as difficult throughout their lifetime in the game. I'm really excited about this!
Additionally, Ion has been clarifying instance lockouts in challenge mode dungeons, saying that
The normal daily instance limits will not apply to challenge modes, and furthermore, as Ion added,
Again, more great news! So, if you have a failed run at a challenge mode medal attempt, you can head right back and start again. Not only that, but every completed attempt will award you with Valor points up to the cap, regardless of whether you get a medal or ranking for it. So, if you head in, have a brain fart and pull 3 packs of adds, and wipe the group, you can use the party frame drop-down to reset the instance, and go back to the start. I'm assuming this feature isn't going to be available if you're in combat, but if it were, it could save you a ton of gold on repair bills.
Speaking of gold, the only thing I was slightly disappointed about was when Ion mentioned that there is no limit on the use of consumables for these dungeons. I fear, as some other forum posters did, that this will mean you have to use pots, flasks, food and the like to boost your speeds, and that those without easy access to such consumables will find it harder, if not impossible, to achieve the top times.
Looking at Ion's response above, well, specifically looking at the quoted question, I also worry that certain professions (engineering, mostly) will become almost vital to achieve top times in challenge modes.
One remaining question raised in the forums, which Ion did answer, but not in any great detail was the following. I should note that the original question has been edited in with Ion's answer for clarity, as the post he responded to referred to an earlier question, and as such, was rather unclear.
Ion's response here was uncharacteristically wooly. He seems to say that playing the timers won't be allowed, but that changing talents to suit the situation will be. However, he makes absolutely no attempt to clarify how exactly that will be achieved! I'm hoping, as I'm sure you are, that this is clarified sooner rather than later!
It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!