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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

The struggle between gear disparity and good play

Okay, truth time - I can solo any five player heroic dungeon in Mists of Pandaria, as long as it doesn't have mechanics that prevent me. If I'm even concerned that I'll take too much damage and die, I'll pop on my tank set and go prot, but many times it isn't even a concern. Blow all my DPS cooldowns, blow my defensive cooldowns when I'm at about half health, boss falls over. Done it in Mogu'shan Palace and Scarlet Monastery. And I'm hardly the exception here - the fact is, the Mists of Pandaria dungeons were introduced at the beginning of the expansion and tuned so that players in ilevel 450 gear could complete them.

I'm at around ilevel 576.

Even players who are just in flex or LFR gear out gear these instances immensely. If a DPS player in full SoO LFR gear goes into Mogu'shan Palace and decides to pull more mobs than the tank was ready or waiting for, he or she can probably DPS them all down before dying themselves, especially if they get a few heals. Meanwhile, even the tanks can often put out enough damage (while taking so very little and having various means to heal it up) that they can basically solo the whole place if they want to, leaving absolutely everyone in the group feeling very little need to actually play as a group. As many, many people point out to me on twitter, it's just assumed that everyone is going to pull like crazy, so even undergeared players in a specific role often assume it's going to happen and react. Maybe your tank doesn't want to pull like a fiend, but they saw your gear and thought they had to in order to keep control of the dungeon. The lines of group communication have broken down into a silence that masks intent - runs are zoned into and pulled with grim efficiency.

Into this veil of silence enters you, the player. So what can be done about it?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

The puzzling problem of professions in endgame

I have a confession to make: There are five jewelcrafting mounts and one engineering mount that were introduced with Mists of Pandaria, and I have yet to make any of them. I have a tailor at max level tailoring, but she hasn't made a single Royal Satchel. I have a leatherworker who hasn't even touched any of the patterns introduced this expansion. In fact, the only things I seem to be making with any kind of regularity are cut gems, and glyphs for my alts.

Why? Because the return on investment for any one of the mounts introduced is too low. I don't have the gold to randomly fling at things like mounts that will be used once or twice and then forgotten about. As for the tailor, the pattern for the Royal Satchel is locked behind the absolute, hands down, worst reputation grind in the new expansion -- and there's no way to get around that. I either have to log on every single day to grind out dailies that give an absolute pittance of reputation, or try to solo Warbringers, which is next-to-impossible for several classes.

In short, none of these things are worth my time or gold. As a result, the majority of my professions have been completely unused for the majority of the expansion. And I have a sneaking suspicion I am far from the only one, here.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Gear requirements for leveling dungeons to be removed

It's one of the weird artifacts of content being moved from current to a legacy role - players queue for dungeons in the dungeon finder as they're leveling up, only to find that the dungeons have a gear requirement that they don't meet. With the speed that heirlooms and guild bonuses can bring, it's easy to find yourself level 83 and unable to enter any Cataclysm five mans because you don't meet the gear requirements (something because of those heirlooms) and it can be very annoying. But now, there's good news - Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas recently responded to the idea that those gear requirements could be removed with the stat squish with an affirmative.


This would be a very positive change in my opinion - it was easier for me to just level via quests than it was to try and queue for Cata dungeons when leveling up my tauren. Not that I miss all the dungeons we had back then, but it would have been nice to see a few places.

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

Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: What Storms May Come

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.

This one isn't your usual Tinfoil Hat edition - it is going to be one of the weirder ones. Why, you may ask? Well, it's because of Heroes of the Storm, the upcoming Blizzard DOTA style game. And specifically, how that game interacts with Warlords of Draenor. You see, I'm starting to believe that our travel to Draenor is only the beginning of a much longer, much stranger trip that will have us dealing with the consequences of actions we undertook long before - a travel through a crisis point of unimaginable, unfathomable extent.

The defeat of Deathwing in our world, the breaking of the future we saw in the End Time instance may have had further reaching consequences than we could have guessed. Our choices were simple - allow ourselves to die at the Destroyer's talons, or fight - but we still saw Nozdormu, the Aspect of Time, charged with maintaining time make choices that seem almost unfathomable. He chose to send us back to ultimately steal the Dragon Soul, to help us use it against Deathwing.

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

Changes to Honor earned in certain Battlegrounds

Blizzard Community Manager Lore has posted today in the official forums about some changes to honor earned in several different battlegrounds. His full post is, as ever after the break. The devs have concluded that players are earning too little honor in various different battlegrounds, specifically Arathi Basin, Battle for Gilneas, Eye of the Storm, Silvershard Mines, Warsong Gulch, Twin Peaks, and Strand of the Ancients. All other battlegrounds remain unchanged.

While these aren't huge changes, which is to be expected given that they're arriving via Hotfix, every little helps. The jist of the changes is that the periodic honor earned in points-based BGs in the list above will be earned faster, so you'll get bonus honor every 130 points as opposed to 260. This is altered for Silvershard, where it's every 200, as opposed to 265. The flag capture battlegrounds will see the Focused Assault debuff applied faster in an effort to make them shorter, and there's a bonus for capture prevention. Strand will give a bonus for destroying gates, or preventing their destruction.

Whether this will be enough to replace the most efficient methods of farming honor -- Krasarang rares, Isle of Thunder PvP dailies, Grizzly Hills quest and JP conversion -- remains to be seen. I suspect not, but it's at least a step in the right direction. Hit the break for Lore's full post.

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Filed under: News items, PvP, Mists of Pandaria

Do connected realms render CRZ irrelevant?

When CRZ first appeared, I was excited. I thought it would re-invigorate places like Halaa, I thought it would bring world PvP back into the game. I thought the mixing of servers would strengthen my own server's community, to oust the invaders in "our" Halaa, in our Shrines, in our Goldshire. I thought Blizzard would sort out the spawns and the drop rates and the questing issues, and that we would see more and more players around, and be glad to understand the multiplayer nature of WoW. I even wrote an article about it where commenters were less than kind about my optimism.

But it turns out, 18 months later, that I was wrong. I'm happy to say so, too, I was flat wrong, misguided, incorrect in my optimism and early happiness. Where CRZ have added world PvP back into zones, it seems to be pretty universal ganking without consequences. There's no point going to get my main to flatten that 90 who killed all the level 20s time and time again, because I'll probably end up on a different shard where he isn't. And while I'm leveling, the spawns are so slow that it's a case of waiting and frantically clicking to get the first tap on a quest mob or node. CRZ is not doing good. In fact it's doing quite the opposite, it's encouraging players to try to avoid it, to work around other players. If WoW was designed so you were happy to see other players, it'd be great. Alas, the opposite is true.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

World of Warcraft: War Crimes novel front cover released

While it's still not up on Amazon, the folks at BlizzPlanet have the cover to Christie Golden's War Crimes and they're showing it here. Our own Anne Stickney covered the book during BlizzCon, talking to Christie Golden about the book and its themes, and it seems pretty clear that those themes are reflected in this cover - while Garrosh is there front and center, we get a series of Horde and Alliance luminaries (I count Sylvanas, Baine, Vol'jin, Tyrande, Velen and Jaina) all reflecting in one way or another the situation of Garrosh's downfall.

It's a very striking cover - can't wait for the book to finally come out.

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

Blood Pact: Demonology 101 at 90 in the end of Mists

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology, and destruction warlocks. This week, Megan O'Neill finishes out with demon form.

You just boosted your warlock to 90, and now we have all basic warlock at 90 laid out for you: Long-time readers will know that demonology AKA "demo" isn't my favorite warlock spec, but as I admitted to a friend recently, I can't recall seeing a "bad" demo warlock in organized raid. Demo 'locks are such well-oiled machines that once it clicks in your mind how to play, it's hard to not rock the meters.

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Filed under: Warlock, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore Tinfoil Hat Edition: How is flesh a curse?

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.

Please don your tinfoil hat - all that follows is speculation based on in-game evidence. It is not canonical lore endorsed by Blizzard.

One of the big reveals of Wrath of the Lich King is the Curse of Flesh. Upon our arrival in Ulduar's Halls of Stone, we escort Brann Bronzebeard to the Tribunal of Ages, a repository of Titan knowledge. After a fierce battle with the Tribunal's defense systems, Brann manages to access the Tribunal's information and learns the history of Azeroth, including how the Titans created Azeroth and how the Old Gods came to infest it, and how the Titan's creations of stone and iron were infected by the Curse of Flesh, making them more easily assimilated by the Old Gods. After defeating and imprisoning the Old Gods, the Titans re-engineered their creations to ensure they were no longer susceptible to the Curse... leaving the ones they'd already created to suffer it, and slowly change into the dwarves, gnomes, humans, troggs and their offshoots. Thus was Azeroth peopled in many cases.

It sounds plausible enough. But there are some problems with it - namely, not all of the Titans information sources agree with it. For instance, the first Titan trove accessed by the mortal races of Azeroth was in Uldaman, in the Badlands. This Titan complex, lying in the heart of the Eastern Kingdoms, is potentially the source of the dwarves and gnomes who live nearby in the mountains of Khaz Modan.

The Lore Keeper of Norgannon we meet at the end of Uldaman tells us that the Titans deviated from their normal plan when creating seed races.

A cross-section of Azeroth's crust was used as the foundation for the Earthen's synthesis rather than the typical biomass construction foundation used by the Creators.

Research on the world's composition led the Creators to theorize that an enhanced being could be synthesized that would epitomize the resiliency of this world's essence. This was accomplished by choosing to use a blend of Azeroth's various stone core compounds as the foundation.

What does this mean? Rather than the typical biomass construction foundation used by the Creators implies that the use of stone and other materials in the Titan constructs of Azeroth is not standard. This is not what the Titans usually do. Why did they do it on Azeroth, then? They appear to have done it quite extensively as well - the Earthen, the Mechagnomes, the Vrykul, the Mogu, the Tol'vir - a whole host of inorganic entities, using 'a cross-section of Azeroth's crust' to construct them. And why is the resilience of Azeroth's essence so remarkable?

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

Blood Pact: Affliction 101 at 90 in the end of Mists

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology, and destruction warlocks. This week, Megan O'Neill wants Drain Life filler back despite knowing it won't happen.

So you just boosted your warlock to 90 and... You decided that playing destro at 90 isn't for you, but you still want something easy to pick up. As of patch 5.4's changes to Soul Swap and the boost to DoTs after the KJC change, I'd argue affliction is easier to pull off than destro. Due to Soul Swap, everything is a single target to an "aff'lock."

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

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Filed under: Warlock, (Warlock) Blood Pact, Mists of Pandaria

Ion Hazzikostas press tour interview with Battlenet.pl

As part of this week's press junkets, Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas (who I may or may not have a shrine to in my office) conducted this interview with Polish fansite Battlenet.pl. There's quite a few interesting details to pour over here. Some standouts I noticed:
  • We're going to see world bosses again, including one described as a giant ancestor of the gronn named a Fomor, with powers over earth and stone. I'm surprised it's named Fomor and not Grom, but the name's mythologically sound enough. I find myself wondering if they're big enough to build a town in, like that dude up there.
  • The first raid open (about a week after Warlords launch) is Highmaul, an ogre raid open in Nagrand. Blackrock Foundry will open a few weeks after that, and LFR will be gated as it was in Mists of Pandaria.
  • We're not fighting Garrosh in Warlords. "Garrosh will be around but I don't think... we have really no plans to fight Garrosh again. That's the fight the players have already had and they have won. I don't think there's really much appetite for Garrosh to be a boss you face off again."
  • Ion mentioned the linear aspect of raiding as the biggest down side of raid design in Mists of Pandaria and that they're hoping to make raids less linear in Warlords.
It's a very informative interview, so head over to Battlenet.pl and take a long read for yourself.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Interviews, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

What to do in a raid while waiting to raid

My guild is moving right along through heroic 25-player content -- we're 10/14 currently, and happily working on Thok. Part of the reason I enjoy the guild is the progression, but the other part is that no matter how bad things get, nobody ever takes things too seriously. To us, raid nights contain endless games within games to be played while groups are being set up and in between wipes. If there is something weird to be done in the Siege of Orgrimmar, something that has nothing to do with the actual killing of bosses at all, we've either done it, or we'll discover it soon.

But before you get started raiding, why not get some fishing time in? The other day we discovered that the small pool of water right in front of the instance portal is just deep enough to allow fishing -- something we thought removed with the destruction of the Vale. To our knowledge, you aren't going to find any fishing pools in the little puddle of water, but you can still fish. Not only can you fish, but there are Jewel Danio still lurking in the water.

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Filed under: Humor, Mists of Pandaria

Do not panic about paid character boost prices

As of this writing it appears that the paid character boost will be priced at $60. Since this was taken down quickly and with no comment by Blizzard, it seems fair to say the following:
  • This was clearly not intended to be visible yet.
  • No announcement has been made officially about the actual price.
  • The pre-orders for Warlords of Draenor are not even available yet, so it's unlikely that the paid option will be sooner than those.
In a general sense, this is a non-issue: no price for the feature has been established. We don't know what it will cost, only that when servers briefly came up Tuesday morning, it was visible at $60. I know this because I personally saw it. But that's all we know - that price might have been an internal joke, a default setting, or potentially the price we'll end up paying for the service. Until the actual price is announced, it's not worth getting upset over.

In fact, even if the price was announced at $80, or $100, or even more, it's still not worth getting upset over. Here's why.

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

Patch 5.4.7 hotfixes for February 20

The first round of hotfixes for patch 5.4.7 have been released and posted to the official blog. The majority of the patch notes concern various bugs that have popped up since the release of the patch, most of which should now be resolved. While the Armory still appears to be a work in progress, players can rest at ease that their lost companions have apparently found their way home.
  • Battle pets and mounts that disappeared since the patch launch should be restored when you log in.
  • The Key to the Palace of Lei Shen should now be properly dropping from rare spawns and golden treasure chests on the Isle of Thunder.
  • An issue that allowed Death Knights to attack NPCs of their own faction if they did not complete Where Kings Walk or Warchief's Blessing has been resolved.
Read on for the full list of hotfixes.

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Filed under: Hotfixes, Mists of Pandaria

German guild Casuals 5-mans Garrosh Hellscream

German guild Casuals, who killed Garrosh on 10-man heroic back in early December, putting them in the western top 80 guilds, have taken the expansion's end boss on in normal difficulty with a team of five, and won. Even more remarkably, given recent history, none of them was a blood DK.

The kill is filmed from the perspective of a DK, though, frost DPS Cize, and shows the entire kill from start to eventual finish. What's surprising is that they don't seem to hit the apparent enrage timer, with the fight lasting 14 minutes and 27 seconds. Their team was Cize, ilvl 576, as well as Lyzian, a prot paladin (572), Vayce, a discipline priest (575), Vranis, a fire mage (569) and Depression, a combat rogue (573). The armory is having some issues which are preventing me from seeing the characters today.

The kill took them 30 attempts, and the logs can be found on World of Logs.

[Thanks for the tip, fate47!]

Filed under: Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

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