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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Warlords of Draenor Beta: Changes coming for DPS warriors

Count nothing in the beta done until the beta is itself done. It's the modern equivalent of 'count no man happy before he is dead' (at least it when it comes to betas) and it's especially true for warriors this time around. Arms has seen huge changes, fury has seen a backlash over the loss of Heroic Strike, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria. Now we get to see what the intended direction for warriors is, thanks to a forum post from Celestalon.

So what's the haps? I'm glad you asked. The usual caveats (it's all still subject to change, it's the beta, don't get too worked up) apply, of course.

Celestalon - Fury Feedback
So, we don't often share our thoughts on upcoming changes this early, as plans can change very rapidly. Please keep in mind that none of the following is set in stone – it hasn't even been developed yet – and there's any number of issues that could cause us to decide to take a different approach. That said, we definitely agree that Arms feels a bit empty at the moment, and want to fill it out a bit more, and we want to add some talent choices to both Arms and Fury that provide options for more involved gameplay. Here's what we're thinking:
  • Rage generation increased by 25% for Arms.
  • Rend returns for Arms. Costs 10 Rage, deals damage over 18sec, with a burst of bleed damage at the end. Total damage is similar to a Mortal Strike.
  • Thunder Clap is usable in any stance. AoE damage and snares, 6sec cooldown. 30 Rage cost for Arms, free for Protection.
  • We're replace the level 45 talent row (Staggering Shout / Piercing Howl / Disrupting Shout) with:
  • Varies by spec:Arms –
    • Taste for Blood: Passive. Rend ticks grant 3 Rage.
    • Fury – Furious Strikes: Passive. Reduces the cost of Wild Strike by 10 Rage
    • Protection – Heavy Repercussions: Passive. Shield Slam deals 50% additional damage while Shield Block is active.
  • Sudden Death: Passive. Auto attacks have a chance to trigger Sudden Death, making your next Execute free and usable on targets above 20% health.
  • Varies by spec:
    • Arms – Slam: Active ability. Costs 10 Rage. Deals 100% weapon damage. Each consecutive use increases Slam's damage by 50% and Rage cost by 100%, stacking up to 5 times.
    • Fury – Unquenchable Thirst: Passive. Bloodthirst has no cooldown.
    • Protection – Unyielding Strikes: Passive. Devastate reduces the Rage cost of Heroic Strike by 6, stacking up to 5 times. Lasts 10 sec. No longer refreshes while at 5 stacks.

Again, this is all very much in the formative stages. Any or all of the above could end up changing in any number of ways. But we are listening, and are doing our best to make Warrior gameplay awesome in Warlords.


Some of this I don't expect to see last very long - Unquenchable Thirst in particular strikes me as an ability that will become wholly abused if it goes live. No cooldown on Bloodthirst? So, what, you just hit Bloodthirst constantly in-between Colossus Smashes? Now, I personally like that kind of rage generation option - it's very Barbarian from Diablo III really, constantly filling up the rage bar. But I don't expect to see it actually get implemented. Still, it's very interesting to see Slam as a talent (even if it is an Arms only talent - frankly I'd like to see fury get a bite of that apple).

Still, arms really is desperately in need of some more attacks, so overall I'm curious and interested.


Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Man at Arms makes Frostmourne

If you haven't started watching Man at Arms, the awesome webseries where weapons from movies and video games are recreated by master blacksmith Tony Swatton, I have to wonder why not. The real draw of the show is that they go out of their way to make functional replicas, even when that's impractical - the weapons Swatton and his team create actually can be used, and usually are used at the end of the episode.

This week, after a round of voting, we finally get to see Swatton's take on Frostmourne, the infamous runeblade of the Lich King. Now, as far as I can tell they haven't mastered the necromancy that made Frostmourne so dangerous, but they did make a sword you can cut stuff up real good. Keep your eyes peeled at the end for a guest appearance by Michele Morrow at the end.

I won't lie, I'm still a little bummed we didn't get a Gorehowl. But this is a heck of an impressive build. I really think Blizzard should commission an Ashkandi from Mr. Swatton. And then give it to me.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Arts and Crafts

Most of Ghostcrawler's ideas were terrible, and that's awesome


Greg Street doesn't work at Blizzard anymore, but that hasn't stopped him (at all) from talking about game design and general product building concepts. As a industry nerd I find what he has to say incredibly interesting. A particular exchange recently happened:
Greg Street
My humble suggestion is that if you're not on board with a change, explain why, not that it was "promised."

-----

And even if it was a promise, you should still be thankful if bad ideas get killed.

-----

To underline even more: most of our ideas will be TERRIBLE. You don't want them in the game! Some will survive.

I absolutely love this. Designers fail, they're not perfect -- far from it. They're much like the artist who tries different combinations of things dozens of times until the music is perfected. And even then the song could be just a little bit better with just a little bit of a tweak. What Greg says here is entirely true and relevant, especially with today's issues the community is having with Blizzard.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Editorial: Change is hard, but not changing is even harder


Warcraft isn't what it used to be. There's been a lot of changes to everything over the past decade. While the base of the game is there in some regards, it's hard to say that the experience of WoW is anything like it was when some of us first picked it up. In 2004 the game was, quite literally, your second life. Now? It can be a casual companion, one that you can come and go from with ease.

This fundamental change doesn't sit well with some people, but with others its something that's allowed the game to keep with their lives after all these years. I fall into that category -- there's no way I'd be able to enjoy the WoW of 2004. I can't farm mats forever, and I can't spend five hours every night raiding. Some days I can only log in and play for 30 minutes, others I can binge for hours and hours. WoW has evolved as my life has evolved, and I love it for that.

Lately there has been a lot of unhappiness in the community. Changes that people don't agree with, things that have happened that make little sense to a lot of people. I'm in that group too -- I don't like everything I've heard out of Blizzard lately. I don't get the change of the capital locations. I don't understand the mass removal of abilities. And even though I'm happy about something like the auction house combination, I don't feel like we have all the answers and it leaves me wanting more details.

But, all that is secondary and needs to be put into some context -- and this context is something that the community needs to come to terms with quickly.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

The Queue: Spikes

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

We have a number of quickie questions today. Some longer ones, but a lot of quickies, too.

BoltzmannHatchling asked:

Talking about Gorgrond, where all the spikes in Blade's Edge Mountains? I thought it was a remarkable and unique orogeny of that place, but Draenor lacks the "spikes" and can't seem to pin point them on the alphabeta maps. But if they are gone like my pools and volcanoes of green lava, then I understand...

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Queue, Warlords of Draenor

Sunday Morning Funnies: Weeds and black roses

WoW, eh?
Sunday Morning Funnies is your weekly list of WoW-related web comics.

This week, in comics: A teddy bear collection, a face nerf (or two), a lesson learned and an insufficient explanation. Plus: Just a few skeletons in the closet.

This week, we have not one, but two reader favorites that don't often update. Be sure to check out Kibble & Bit and WoW, eh? (pictured above). Plus, make sure to read the text beneath WoW, eh? (which is a belated Father's Day post) for some extra Cadi history.

However, you will also notice a number of excellent comics missing this week. As a reminder, From Draenor With Love is taking a one-week break, and will be back for next week. Contested Territory will be back two weeks from now (it is scheduled to resume July 8). Sara & Kleeyo and Chat Channeling are on hiatus, but there is no word yet as to when they will be back. Fox Rain is also missing this week.

But despite the missing comics, there's plenty on the list this week to get excited about. Theron (Experience Boost) is called on his choices. The murder mystery storyline wraps up on Gratz. Dark Legacy Comics mocks players who complain about every single change. Plus, both Gnomeregan Forever and Trigonometry Comics feature new content.

Finally, be sure to check out the Extras section for Gratz. There's a Horde Chopper-themed drawing up!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Humor, Comics, Sunday Morning Funnies

Blizzard's vision and player choice

Temple of Karabor assaulted
This past Thursday, Cory Stockton (aka Mumper) answered a simple question on Twitter. He told players that the faction hubs would no longer be located in the Temple of Karabor and Bladespire Fortress, but on the island of Ashran.

The firestorm of controversy that followed seemed to take Blizzard by surprise. Lore took to the forums to explain the change. He gave Blizzard's reasoning, including the lore explanation for the new hubs. Far from mollifying the player base, it only served to inflame those who disagreed with the shift in locale.

My response is this: Why not both? Why must one city or the other be the One Hub to Rule Them All? Why can't we, the players, choose which city to bind our hearthstone to -- without being punished for it? Why does there have to be one "right" answer on such a basic quality of life issue? Let us choose and use phasing so we only see our own choice as a hub.

Although I don't condone the extremely negative way that some reacted to the announcement, the anger didn't surprise me at all. It points to a problem that has loomed over WoW for a long time: lack of player options and personalization.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Warlords of Draenor

WRUP: The Unpredictable Beta

Azshara rocket path beta
Waves of targeted beta invites are going out. Will there be more? Who can say? Predicting beta waves is like predicting the ocean. The only thing you can be sure of is that you'll probably get wet.

But what about the community? Now that the world at large will be getting more of their collective eyes upon the not-time-travel of WoD, how do you think they'll react? What do you think the zeitgeist will be about the beta in the coming week?

Also, WRUP.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Warlords of Draenor: More details on the Ashran faction hubs

So in case you didn't hear, this morning we learned that in Warlords of Draenor, the faction hubs will be moving from Karabor and Bladespire Fortress to Ashran. Now CM Lore has posted to the official forums with a more detailed post explaining exactly what's entailed in the change and why it was made.
Lore - Hubs no longer Karabor/Bladespire
Okay, there's a LOT of misunderstandings and misinformation floating around, so let me try to clarify what I can.

Warlords of Draenor's story is about the people of Azeroth (namely, the Alliance and the Horde) venturing into an unknown world and building up a force strong enough to take out an enemy stronger than anything they've encountered before, on that enemy's own turf. While there are certainly some alliances to be made along the way, and those are definitely major parts of the story, the core theme is about you and your faction fighting for survival.

So, as development continued, we came to the realization that it just doesn't make sense for the Horde and Alliance to spend so much energy and resources building up a stronghold on Draenor, only to base their efforts out of someone else's city. We're not helping the Draenei or Frostwolves fight off the Iron Horde – they're helping us. The Alliance and Horde both have major bases of operation on Draenor. That should be where they're working from.

That, along with the continued development of Garrisons into the overall quest and story flow of the expansion, led us to the decision to develop the Horde and Alliance bases on Ashran into the major faction hubs instead of Bladespire and Karabor. Promoting the world PvP area on Ashran is a nice perk, but it wasn't a factor in making that decision.

That said, the Temple of Karabor and Bladespire Fortress are still there. We haven't removed them or anything like that. You won't be able to use your bank or check your auctions there, but they're still fully built home cities for the Karabor Draenei and Frostwolf Orcs, respectively. You'll still be able to explore them in their full glory.

As to the Alliance and Horde staging areas on Ashran, allow me to lay out a few key facts to hopefully allay some concerns:
  • They're located on Ashran as a geographical location on the map, but they're not part of the Ashran world PvP zone. They won't be subjected to the realm coalescing we're using to keep Ashran's PvP area populated, and they won't flag you for PvP on non-PvP realms.
  • We've also made some major improvements to the way PvP flagging works on non-PvP realms that removes "accidental flagging" from mistargeted abilities or ground effects. Unless you manually flag yourself by typing /pvp, you will simply not be able to attack enemy players, or heal friendly players who have flagged themselves.
  • They're populated with guards, and the only land-based entrance is directly through the Ashran world PvP zone (including a major fortress). It's certainly possible for someone from another faction to attack it, but it's not any easier to do so than it is to attack the enemy faction's shrine in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms.
  • There will be a fast travel option between the staging areas and your Garrison. You can pop over there quickly, conduct your business, and leave again if you like.

This isn't a question of whether or not Bladespire and Karabor are cities. They are. It's just a question of whether the portals to Orgrimmar or Stormwind are there or somewhere else. You'll still be able to explore them, they'll still be fully populated, and they're still going to be every bit as beautiful as they would have been with a Transmog NPC. We're looking forward to them ourselves!


This is a well thought out and cogent explanation of the process behind the decision. However, as a player, it's not a decision I personally like -- one of the real draws for me as a player was the idea of getting to have Karabor as my home city, with the portals and vendors mentioned above. I want the freedom to never see Ashran, if that's what I decide to do. I understand the reasoning, I simply don't agree with it, and I hope it's rolled back.

For now, though, Ashran is where the Horde and Alliance home cities will be located in Warlords of Draenor.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor Beta: New in-game Character Copy

One new feature worth mentioning in the beta is the new in-game character copy option. Enabled currently only in North America (sorry, Europe) this feature allows you to directly copy a character from the live realms to the beta without using the website. Simply click the button to the side maked Copy Character and then a box pops up (like the one in the header image) with a list of your eligible characters and the servers they're on. Then select one and it copies over to the beta server. I've used it twice (on warriors, of course) and while there were some issues with it, it did work.

It's very handy. Perhaps eventually all character services could be available in this manner. Right now you can buy the level 90 character boost, but you can't buy a faction change or server transfer via the in-game client -- this seems like it could lead to that kind of functionality.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Warlords of Draenor

First wave of Warlords of Draenor beta invites out

If you've been waiting patiently (or impatiently) for access to Warlords of Draenor you should check your account - you may have been invited to the Warlords of Draenor beta test, starting this Friday, June 27th, at 2:00 PM PDT. Emails are already being sent out, but remember, you don't have to do anything with those emails - don't email back anything, just check your account at battle.net and if you're in the beta, you'll be able to proceed from there. And if you didn't get in, don't panic -- as Rygarius tweeted, there will be more beta invites.
I'm really happy to see the Beta test commence - it makes the game feel more solid and getting ready to launch. I'm very excited. Let's all be good beta testers, guys.

Update 1:00 p.m.: The beta is also live in Europe.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor Alpha: Transmog changes

On live servers you can't transmog polearms over swords, axes or maces (and vice versa), but on the Alpha it's a totally different story, as you can see in the header image above. No idea if this is an intended change or not (I hope it is) but it's certainly a welcome one for those of us who happen to carry a Hellreaver in our bags.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Transmogrification, Warlords of Draenor

Poll: Are you purposefully taking advantage of the Black Prince buff?


As I mentioned on the podcast last week, I'm not a fan of the way that Blizzard is handling these micro-buffs. They seem, to me, like little party favors to get people back in the door, versus serious attempts at making better content or changing the way content is released.

That said, my opinions are often just that -- mine alone. I don't pretend to have everyone agreeing with me, so I want to know with this here poll what you all think of the black prince reputation buff. Are you taking advantage of it? Or are you just ignoring it?

And by taking advantage of it, I don't just mean letting it happen. I mean actively farming and using the buff to its fullest advantage. So with all that out of the way... Gaze of the Black Prince? Yay or nay?

Using Gaze of the Black Prince?
Yes, I'm farming my cloak now thanks to the temporary Black Prince buff1702 (29.1%)
No, I'm not doing anything different4153 (70.9%)

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Why I started WoW, why I continued with it, and why I'm still at it


My journey in the World of Warcraft started much like everyone else -- I picked up the game shortly after release, having heard that it was turning out to be a good MMO. I had bought EverQuest 2 right away after it came out, and while I still have a soft spot for the game, it never lived up to its potential. WoW was much larger and had a much richer story to it. More so, the community was amazing.

It took me all of a month to get hooked, WoW was more fun than boring college classes (although they're much more important, of course). It is, by far, the longest game that I've ever played. Sure, there's been some breaks now and then. Sometimes work takes me away from it for weeks at a time, but my toons are still there waiting for me. Safe and sound in the virtuals of Azeroth. My first character, my warrior, still has his Tier 6 look and is ready to onslaught at a moment's notice.

While I got into the game via looking for something fun to do, I kept with it because of the community. I found that not only were there similar people playing the game, but that the vast majority of them were nice and just wanted to team up to kill some internet dragons. I grew up reading The Hobbit and the adventures of Drizzit Do'urden. Suddenly I was able to stand face-to-face against the mighty dragon, and stealth around my weaker enemies while blade-dancing my foes to death. In life I was but a lowly college student, trying to find his path, but in the game I was a hero, committed to a quest of grand proportions.

Of course, as with all fantasy, reality struck and I was suddenly faced with options in life.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Know Your Lore: Three Mages of Azeroth

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

Last week, we talked about mages. This week, we talk about specific mages. Because for better or worse, mages have changed the very face of Azeroth and much of its history has been in reaction to them and their eternal quest for knowledge and power. And certainly, not always for the better.

After all, it was the Highborne, specifically the cadre of Highborne mages under Xavius who served Queen Azshara who tapped into the power of the Well of Eternity in a mad effort to bring forth Sargeras into Azeroth. They weren't warlocks or priests or druids - they were mages, the rulers of a mage-ruled society (Azshara herself was terrifyingly adept with the art of the mage) and their desire to understand had warped into an obsession with control. They wanted total mastery over the Well of Eternity and the potent arcane power it loosed into Azeroth -- understanding it was no longer enough when dominance seemed within their reach, and it drove them mad.

The path of the mage is, in its way, the most demanding of any because it requires the discipline of a skilled warrior and the flexibility of mind of the greatest sage. You must dominate the self, control your own inherent desires rather than be controlled by them. Even mages as great and powerful as Aegwynn failed because they lost the battle between the personal and the universal.

Today we'll look at mages throughout Azeroth's history and discuss their role in events.

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Filed under: Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore

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