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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

What is the average?

People make assumptions. We all do it - even when we know they might not be warranted, making an assumption is an easy shorthand, a way to skip a few steps. One of the things we as players often do is assume that our peer group - the people we play with, the people we know who play the game - are in some way representative of the game as a whole. We assume our personal experiences are universal. I bring this up because of this recent tweet from Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas.


What Watcher is pointing out here is that for many of us, our group of peers is the game. We only see the game we play. Any assumptions we make about the game (such as, the difficulty of the raids, the quality of our fellow players) can be hampered by the assumption that what our group experiences is what all groups experience. The tweet that Watcher responded to argued that the Cataclysm launch raids weren't overtuned because his peer group, which he considered 'below average', was clearing them. Watcher's response points out that it can be difficult to define what the average is, much less whether or not you're there.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Raiding, Raid Guides, Mists of Pandaria

Cloud Serpent Riding no longer needed in patch 6.0

Sometimes, it's best to let things speak for themselves.

So there we have it -- in patch 6.0, you will be able to ride a Cloud Serpent without Cloud Serpent Riding, meaning that at last your alts will be able to mount up. This seems to contradict an earlier post, but it's not anything I'll be complaining about. Going back to Pandaria to get this seemed kind of odd considering Warlords is all about getting people to the new content as fast as they want, so I'm glad for this change.

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

Legendary quest boosts on the way?

Wowhead dug up some interesting new information this past week, largely in regards to the legendary quest chain offered by Wrathion. These changes are not for patch 6.0 -- they are for patch 5.4.8, which should be coming to the PTR soon. Two new spells of note have been added to the PTR -- one, called Gaze of the Black Prince, increases your reputation earned with the Black Prince by 100%, which might sound a little like the Grand Commendations for other Pandaria reputations that unlock bonus reputation for all characters on your account.

But that doesn't seem to be the case with this particular spell. In fact, Gaze of the Black Prince also increases the chances of getting a Secrets of the Empire, Sigil of Power, Sigil of Wisdom, or Titan Runestone from enemies. How much of a chance isn't directly stated, but frankly, gathering the needed drops is far more time-consuming than simply earning the required reputation with Wrathion, so that's fantastic, right? Well ... there's more.

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Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: Kairoz and his plans

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.

You'd better believe there's going to be spoilers for War Crimes and Warlords of Draenor in this one, folks. If you're still reading, I can only assume you're absolutely fine with this. Because man oh man, are they coming.

If you played World of Warcraft during the patch 5.4 period, and you did any of the Timeless Isle, you probably know who Kairoz is. Kairoz, or Kairozdormu, is a bronze dragon that we first met on that aforementioned Timeless Isle, where he enlists players to aid him in the creation of a device known as the Vision of Time. After helping him do so by collecting mysterious Epoch Stones, which are infused with the bizarre magical power that keeps the Timeless Isle from being affected by the normal flow of time, Kairoz sends you to use the artifact in the very midst of the conflict between those forces loyal to then-Warchief Garrosh Hellscream and those seeking to depose him.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Christie Golden, Micky Neilson discuss newest novel, War Crimes

War Crimes, Christie Golden's latest Warcraft novel, officially hit the shelves today. The novel details the trial of Garrosh Hellscream for his crimes against Alliance, Horde, and Pandaria alike. We were lucky enough to get a chance to sit down and chat with Christie Golden, as well as Lead Story Developer Micky Neilson, about the novel, the feedback, and even some upcoming projects that are on the way.

War Crimes is a different kind of book -- it features a gigantic cast. Can you tell us a little about the challenges involved in writing and keeping track of so many familiar faces?

Christie: It definitely is. I had kind of done a run at something like this with The Shattering, that was my first experiencing writing for both Horde and Alliance, trying to weave in various characters and their story lines and still make it fast paced and entertaining. This really was a chance for me to, with the Vision of Time at my disposal, to kind of go through and not just address Garrosh, but sneak in some of the history of Azeroth. What made these factions who they are, how they thought of each other, and a lot of old hurts, as well as new things. I actually just posted on Twitter a picture of the colorful index cards that I laid out on my dining room table at work at one point just to keep track of it!

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Filed under: Lore, Interviews, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Siege of Orgrimmar changes in patch 6.0

So if you're raiding Siege of Orgrimmar, there's some news to be had - namely, some things are going away, and other things are becoming a lot easier to get.
  • First off, if you haven't gotten the Kor'kron War Wolf for the 'Ahead of the Curve" achievement, it will cease to be attainable once the patch drops.
  • Garrosh Hellscream will no longer have a 100% chance to drop the Kor'kron Annihilator mount on the new Mythic difficulty, once you can level past level 90.
  • If you have not already gotten an heirloom off of Garrosh Hellscream, you will have a 100% chance to get a specialization appropriate heirloom, and your chances to get an additional heirloom will be increased. But once you can level past 90, you will not be able to get heirlooms from Garrosh anymore.
  • Group finder will be available.
For all this news and more, check out this post on the official site.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Loot, points, bonus rolls, and other options

Before The Burning Crusade, there simply wasn't any other way to get gear for your character but for it to drop past a certain point. Sometimes you could buy a BoE piece on the auction house - my first epic was a Brain Hacker my wife bought me on the AH. But in general, if you wanted a piece of gear, you farmed for it. You ran dungeons over and over again, hoping a piece would drop, and hoping you would win the roll - and if neither of those things happened, you just kept running. It was possible to run the same dungeon every day, over and over again, and never get that drop you wanted - one friend of mine never completed his dungeon set, even when he was working on raiding Ahn'Qiraj, because the shoulders simply would not drop.

But during BC the Badges of Justice were devised, and for the first time players had a way to get around the luck of the draw. Over the course of the expansion, new gear was placed on vendors, gear that could be purchased for Badges, and this meant that players kept running as much content that dropped those badges as possible. It's fair to say that the badge system kept Karazhan going as a desired raiding location - people would bring their geared mains, even, just to get the extra badges. When the Isle of Quel'Danas vendor opened, all of my friends and guildmates (who were raiding TK and SSC and moving up into Hyjal and the Black Temple) picked up gear from the IoQD vendor, because it was easily as good if not slightly better as the drops we already had. It filled weak spots (those pants or boots or belt that never dropped) or provided us with weapons absolutely as good as drops we hadn't even seen yet.

The badge system got ever more complex in Wrath, with each new raid tier also seeing the debut of a new type of badge and new gear that badge could be spent on. As a result, the two tiered point system (justice and valor points, honor and conquest points for PvP) was introduced in Cataclysm (technically, during the tail end of Wrath) to simplify everything. It worked, to a point. Now, in Mists of Pandaria, we've seen justice and valor points be superseded by the bonus roll mechanic, one that will be revamped in Warlords of Draenor. One could argue that the bonus roll system puts the emphasis back on whether or not an item drops as opposed to simply collecting points to buy an item - it removes the certainty of reaching enough points to make a purchase, as well.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Patch 5.4.7 hotfixes for May 2

A small batch of hotfixes for patch 5.4.7 were released and posted to the official website yesterday. The hotfixes primarily concern the Garrosh Hellscream encounter on Flexible difficulty -- specifically, breakpoint concerns regarding the encounter should be alleviated with the new adjustments.

May 2

Raids, Dungeons, and Scenarios
  • Siege of Orgrimmar
    • Garrosh Hellscream
      • [Requires a realm restart.] Garrosh Hellscream now only targets 2 players with Touch of Y'Shaarj and Empowered Touch of Y'Shaarj regardless of raid size on Flexible difficulty. Previously, the number of players targeted by the ability scale from 2 to 4, resulting in a harsh breakpoint for groups with 17-18 players.
      • [Requires a realm restart.] Touch of Y'Shaarj and Empowered Touch of Y'Shaarj cast times have been increased to 3.5 seconds (up from 2.5 seconds) on Flexible difficulty.
Battlegrounds and Arenas
  • Resolved an issue that was causing Battleground queues to report incorrect wait times.

Filed under: Hotfixes, Mists of Pandaria

Breakfast Topic: The panic sets in

I can't do the Timeless Isle anymore. Not on my main, not on any of my alts, not even the ones that could use the gear. I simply can't do it. I mean that - even attempting to go there makes me decide to do something else. Anything else. I'd rather spend four hours farming away on the Isle of Giants gathering dinosaur bones (or letting my wife collect all of them) than go to the Timeless Isle.

There are other things I can't bring myself to do in game. I can't run Sunken Temple. Every time I go in there it's like my brain forces me to come up with a reason to leave. And I'm beyond terrible at playing a paladin - every time I try I end up getting myself stuck at some random level, and often, I end up deleting the character. I recently started playing a paladin I'd left at level 50 since vanilla - he's since been deleted. I have friends who simply cannot play Horde, or Alliance.

So, let's ask the question - what can't you make yourself do anymore? What couldn't you ever do?


Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: The Trolls Ascendant

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.

The Darkspear Trolls are, as of the end of Mists of Pandaria, the most powerful tribe of trolls in all of Azeroth. Their leader, Vol'jin, sits atop the Horde as its new Warchief, the first non-orc ever to hold that title. In their time with the Horde, the Darkspears have weathered many challenges - the initial travails of their escape from the Sea Witch and the death of Sen'jin to the rise of Garrosh Hellscream and the reclamation of the Echo Isles, and most recently the ultimately successful Darkspear Rebellion that deposed Garrosh.

Once, the Darkspear were the smallest and least respected of all the jungle trolls - cast out of Stranglethorn Vale by the more numerous and aggressive Gurubashi, they came to inhabit the islands of the South Seas, where Thrall and his orcs encountered them. It's amazing to think about how these bedraggled, oppressed trolls managed to become so powerful a force. In part, it must be credited to Vol'jin. Following Garrosh Hellscream's attempt to assassinate the Darkspear chieftain, it was Vol'jin who ultimately united and led the Horde against the warchief.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Could WoW have an expansion without raiding?

I have raided in World of Warcraft since the beginning. Raiding has always been a big part of why I play the game. If not the reason I play, certainly a reason. So when I was sitting up last night and it occurred to me that I've never gone an entire expansion without raiding, I didn't initially think anything of it -- to me, raiding is what you do in WoW. But then I started really thinking about it. Because lots of people don't raid. Before the rise of LFR and flex, a lot of players -- the majority of players, really -- never set foot in a raid at all. They had 5-mans, and that was basically it for group content for them outside of PvP.

So I started asking myself if it would be possible to release an expansion with little to no raiding content at all. Would players accept it? It's a cliche (and an overused one among the community) that Blizzard didn't do this or that 'because it would cost us a raid tier' but let's really consider -- what if we could have the expansion next month, but it wouldn't have any raids? Would that be an expansion people would be willing to play?

One of the reasons I consider this a more controversial question that it would have been at the end of Wrath is because now, raiding is far, far more accessible than it was even then. With the advent of LFR and the recent development of flexible raiding, it's never been easier to raid than it is. While Warlords of Draenor is changing the raid game, those changes will only make mythic raiding in any way more restrictive -- the rest of raiding will remain very accessible.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Blizzard, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Raid design evolution from Cataclysm to now

Horridon header
Yesterday Lead Game Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas published a fascinating Dev Watercooler blog that discussed the history and evolution of raid design in World of Warcraft. That article was part one of a three-part series, and looked into the way that raiding developed from WoW's original release through to Wrath of the Lich King. In part two, published today, Watcher discusses the ways raid design has changed, and stayed the same, through Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria.

The article focuses primarily on difficulty levels and raiding. Watcher discusses in detail the problems inherent in the "10-man is easier, 25-man is harder" approach, as well as the ways that making 10- and 25-man raiding more equivalent in difficulty led to new problems that hadn't existed before. From there we learn about the origin of both the LFR and Flex raiding options from the perspective of how different raiding difficulties serve different portions of the WoW player population. If you've ever wondered about the thought processes that went into developing the different types of raid systems we see in the game today, this is an excellent article on exactly that.

Check out the full blue post after the break.

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Filed under: Raiding, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Review of Christie Golden's novel, War Crimes

It's time for Hellscream to pay.

Or at least that's what everyone in War Crimes would enjoy seeing, to varying degrees. Christie Golden's latest novel, War Crimes, is due out next week on May 6. It tells the tale of Garrosh Hellscream's trial, an event many players have been waiting to hear about -- and it also serves as a bridge novel, of sorts, between Mists of Pandaria and the upcoming expansion Warlords of Draenor. If you'd like to know how Garrosh wriggled out of his presumably inevitable death and got to Draenor, this is the book you want to read.

But it's so much more than that. In War Crimes, the focus is much less on Garrosh, and much more on the people around him -- those called to the witness stand, and those simply observing the trial in progress. It's a sweep of almost every major face in the Alliance and Horde, and their unique individual reactions to what happened during Hellscream's reign. In that, it's a very different kind of novel -- and I think it was just the novel needed to bring this expansion fully to a close.

Please note: Because War Crimes has yet to be released, this will be a spoiler-free review. Please refrain from talking about spoilers in the comments -- any spoiler information posted will be deleted.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Patch 5.4.7 hotfixes for April 28

A new round of hotfixes for patch 5.4.7 have been released and posted to the official site. Once again, the list is pretty short and addresses just a few small changes that have been made. However, players that have been dealing with the headache of trying to get Warforged Seals from a dead vendor may be particularly pleased with one of the changes.

April 28

Creatures
  • Elder Lin and Elder Liao now have significantly more health.
  • [Requires a realm restart.] Elder Lin and Elder Liao will now respawn much more quickly.
Raids, Dungeons, and Scenarios
  • Siege of Orgrimmar
    • The Fallen Protectors
      • Resolved an issue where movement-freeing abilities incorrectly forced Mark of Anguish to transfer to another player.
    • Garrosh Hellscream
      • During the Garrosh Hellscream encounter, Eternal Flame no longer generates threat during stages 2 and 3 to address an issue that was making the encounter more difficult than intended for raid groups with Protection Paladin tanks.
Battlegrounds and Arenas
  • Matchmaking Ratings for Rated Battlegrounds has been increased by 100 for all players. Additional details for the change could be found in the forum thread titled: Rated Battleground MMR Hotfix.
UI Resolved an issue where players continue to be listed on the Raid Browser after accepting an invite from someone in a Flexible difficulty raid.


Filed under: Hotfixes, Mists of Pandaria

Blizzard on raid design evolution

Lead Game Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has written a very extensive blog on the evolution of raid design, the first installment of which went live this morning. In this first part, Watcher covers the history of raiding, from the launch of the game in 2004 all the way through to the end of Icecrown Citadel in 2010.

For many, these were the glory days of raiding and World of Warcraft alike, well, if you believe the forums at least. Watcher talks about the developers' aims to make raiding more accessible, and to improve the gameplay of groups by reducing them in size -- one healer in a group of fifteen healers can't have as big an impact as one healer in a group of five or two. He also discusses the introduction of varying difficulties in raiding, and looks back over all the patches of some of the game's greatest raids.

Hit the break for the full post.

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Filed under: Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

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