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Filed under: Raiding

Warlords of Draenor: Tanking and the future

One of the things I'm thinking about lately is how tanking is changing in Warlords of Draenor. In at least one major way, it's not changing - Active Mitigation established itself in Mists, based in part on DK tanking in Cataclysm, and it's going to be front and center in Warlords of Draenor. But right now, AM tanking heavily relies on four stats (depending on the tank class) and all four of those stats will be gone come Warlords, meaning that we're looking at a pretty significant change depending on the class. The remaining stat, mastery, is probably going up in value, and in addition, we'll have crit, haste, readiness and multistrike to consider. But stats aren't the whole of the game, and they're not the whole of the changes, either.

In addition to new stats, there are the abilities each tank will see affected by readiness to consider. There are also Draenor Perks for each tank spec, granted randomly as we level from 90 to 100. There are changes in what abilities exist, in what specs get them. Vengeance is gone, replaced with Resolve, buffing our self heals and absorbs. In short, while the basic idea remains the same - generate resources via attacks to spend on damage reduction in one fashion or another - how we go about it, how it interacts with us has so many changes that it's worth discussing in length. There's so much change coming in that I don't pretend I'll catch all of it, which is why we have comments, after all.

So what do I expect to see out of tanking coming 6.0? It should be noted, this discussion is based on the Warlords alpha patch notes and such datamining as I've looked over, and I freely admit I only tank on one class, so while these are general observations I may be missing key class specific factors.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Garrosh Heirlooms have Bad Luck Protection

Garrosh has been killed captured many times over, thanks in part to the heirlooms that he drops. Everyone wants one, and players are frustrated at what is seen as a very low drop rate. I am among those players, so Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas' tweets are music to my ears:


This is great news, and indeed, on my tenth kill of Garrosh on my shaman, my 14th kill across all characters on that account, my bad luck was finally protected, and I got my first heirloom. The message to keep at it is a good one, and maybe in time, as the expansion wears on, the game's tolerance for bad luck will be adjusted. Or people will have killed him so many times that they're drowning in heirlooms.

I'd love to know a little more about how bad luck protection works, too. How unlucky do you have to be, does getting one drop completely reset its count no matter how long that drop took to happen? How's your luck? For clarity, these heirlooms only drop from Flex and above.

Filed under: Raiding

Dark Shaman pull from anywhere

My Horde guild recently discovered something interesting about the Dark Shaman encounter, as you can see detailed in the video above. This interesting something is the fact that the Dark Shaman will, in fact, teleport to wherever you pull them from--including the roof of the Orgrimmar auction house. This could be a little challenging in a fight where positioning is actually quite important. Oops!

Filed under: Humor, Raiding

World Bosses no longer tap to faction

Lead Encounter Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has posted on Twitter confirming what some players thought was a bug. Several players have noticed that, when an opposing faction group is attacking a world boss, like the Celestials, they are able to hit it and still get loot and credit. Watcher confirmed via Twitter that this was not a bug, and actually a hotfix that went in recently. That hotfix, he also notes, caused the boss health scaling with larger groups to break. This, in turn, has been fixed.

He also later added that this was not just applicable to Timeless Isle bosses, but to all of them. So presumably, that's every boss from Galleon and the Sha of Anger, through Nalak and Oondasta, right to the Celestials, and Ordos.

What this means is just as explained above -- if the opposite faction pulls a boss, you can punch it and still get credit and loot. You'd have to be a little brave or foolhardy to do so alone on a PvP server, unless you're a stealth class, but the opportunity remains. It'll be interesting to see whether this change has an impact on the use of the Raid Finder and oQueue for Celestials groups, or not. Given the convenience of those methods for finding a composed group, I suspect they'll prevail.

Filed under: News items, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

Dragon Soul LFR changes possible in 6.0

Transmog addicts may have some good news for patch 6.0. When LFR was introduced with Dragon Soul, the last raid in Cataclysm, players flocked to the content and gathered armor and items that had their own unique color schemes. After Mists of Pandaria was introduced, players leveled to 90 -- and the ability to run Dragon Soul on LFR difficulty disappeared. While players can still farm the raid on Normal and Heroic difficulties, the unique color sets released specifically for LFR were no longer available to those max level characters.

This was in part due to the nature of LFR. The only way to raid LFR level content is to queue for it through the raid finder interface -- you can't simply change the dropdown difficulty on a per-character basis, as you can with Normal and Heroic difficulties. Once you've passed the level threshold for Cataclysm content, the option to raid Dragon Soul LFR simply disappears from the raid finder interface. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a problem -- but transmogrification addicts everywhere have been looking for a solution to obtaining those older, uniquely colored items, and Lead Game Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas just tweeted that a solution may be on the way in patch 6.0.

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Filed under: Raiding, Cataclysm, Transmogrification, Warlords of Draenor

Do we need Mythic raiding at all?

I've been talking to guild leaders getting ready for the new raiding paradigm in Warlords of Draenor, and one of the things I'm hearing is that a lot of guilds simply won't bother to do Mythic raiding. That they simply don't want to scale up. They felt that the current paradigm was perfect for them - they could raid, complete a tier on normal, then do a few heroic modes before the next tier or new expansion. This model worked in Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria for their guilds, and with it replaced by flexible normal/heroic (equivalent to current flex and normal) and 20 person mythic (replacing 10 and 25 man heroic modes) they simply have seen the end of their doing that content.

Now, I don't do a lot of 10 man raiding - I've stayed 25 pretty much since I switched guilds back in Cataclysm - but I know from experience how it feels to have that stress on your guild, and I find the idea that Mythic raiding will be out of the reach of some players not because of their skill, but because of the numbers game a little sad. To hear players that have been doing heroic content for two or three expansions now say "I guess we're done with that kind of thing" seems a bit off to me. And it dovetails into another idea I have, namely this - not all fights work as a hard mode in the first place. Some fights feel epic and really different with the addition of new elements that we see in a harder mode (Firefighter from Ulduar comes to mind) but others just feel like the same fight with more damage and health - and those fights to my mind don't need to exist.

This has me wondering - do we need Mythic raiding at all? Going into Warlords of Draenor, we're looking at LFR, Normal, Heroic and Mythic raiding. Four raid sizes, each aimed at different kinds of raiders. Yet all four of them present the same basic content, simply scaled differently - the same boss fights, just on a different scale of difficulty and (in the case of Mythic) presumably some different mechanics. What we're seeing right now in Siege of Orgrimmar is that for some players, this is contributing to burnout - saying 'hey, go do heroic if you're bored' doesn't help when heroic is the exact same content, just harder. Do we need more of this?

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

Watcher: Mythic raiding in Siege of Orgrimmar "for a few weeks" before Draenor

So, if you're wondering how raiding is going to look in the future, one thing's for sure - you'll get a preview of the Warlords of Draenor changes when patch 6.0 drops, because when it does, Siege of Orgrimmar will be converting fully to the new flex normal/heroic and 20 player mythic difficulties.

What this means is that we'll get a completely redesigned SoO with the class changes and other new systems in mind, but that older raids won't be changed, since they're considered trivial in comparison thanks to gear. It also means we know the 6.0 patch will be relatively shortly followed by Warlords of Draenor, and not well in advance of it, as some have speculated. So if you're wondering how your guild will fare with the change, patch 6.0 will be your test drive.

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

Siege of Orgrimmar and the waiting game

I've played World of Warcraft for the entire history of the game, since about a month after launch (my wife actually played in beta, and she's the one who got me into WoW in the first place) and I've raided for pretty much the entire time - I took a few months off after The Burning Crusade dropped, and had to catch up in BC raids. Since that time, though, I've raided - I was in my server's most progressed guild in Wrath, switched servers but ended up in the same situation in Cataclysm, and have settled down to a still well progressed but less aggressive heroic raid in Mists of Pandaria, cruising at 10/14H and working on Thok. We have one pally, so Thok's a bit of a gigantic cinderblock wall, but we're still plugging away.

Being that I've been raiding so long, I sometimes see patterns. There's one I saw in BC, and repeated in Wrath and Cataclysm - the end of expansion lull. Once we get into the last tier of content, there's a surge of interest and everyone leaps to get in there and work on it... and that lasts a couple of months. After that, however, interest starts to wane. Players get burned out, stop playing, need to be replaced. Each player who needs to be replaced causes tension as the guild slows down due to the losses. Recruitment means bringing in people with less gear, less experience, and even if you manage to get a player with both the gear and the experience, it doesn't always mean they know how you do things. I was once recruited, after my Horde guild had killed all of Heroic Dragon Soul, by an Alliance guild that was on Spine. I took the jump because I wanted to play Alliance again - and even though I was geared as well or better than they were, I still had to relearn the fights based on their strats, and make suggestions based on my own experience that meant delays as they learned these new ideas.

This can lead to a feedback loop - players burn out, leave, this stresses the guild, more players get burned out. It's always present in raiding - churn is inevitable, recruitment must be continuous - but the promise of future content to come creates a counter pressure. You don't just raid to see the current content, you do it to be ready to get into the guts of the new stuff when it drops. But when you get into the last tier of raiding, there is no new content to keep you interested. And so, when that last raid tier takes months and months - sometimes, as in the case of ICC in Wrath, over a year - it becomes very difficult to keep guilds focused on progressing through it. Talking on twitter about all this after reading multiple posts on the issue, I started thinking about how it works out.

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

Cross-realm raiding now enabled on all servers

Raiders, rejoice -- a new cross-realm raiding feature has now been implemented. In a blue post by Rygarius, it was announced that cross-realm raiding via BattleTag and RealID has been enabled not just for Flex mode, but for Normal and Heroic mode raiding on all servers. These cross-realm raids will be allowed to get the Reins of the Kor'kron War Wolf and all titles associated with the Siege of Orgrimmar, none of which were previously allowed on Flex or LFR difficulty.

Rygarius
We've recently implemented an often requested feature to enable cross-realm raiding for Siege of Orgrimmar. Cross-realm BattleTag™ and Real ID friends can now raid together and take the fight to Garrosh on Normal or Heroic difficulty. Players will be able to earn greater rewards such as Reins of the Kor'kron War Wolf or the title of Conqueror/Liberator of Orgrimmar; both of which aren't available to be earned within Flexible or Raid Finder difficulty.

This change is currently live.


If your cross-realm Flex group has been doing well and defeating Garrosh, now might just be the time to step into Normal mode, test the waters against the forces of Hellscream on a higher difficulty, and reap all the rewards for doing so. Good luck!

Edit: Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has stepped into the thread in question to clarify a few points. Read on after the break.

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Filed under: News items, Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

What will raiding be like in Warlords?

When discussing how the changes coming in Warlords of Draenor will affect raiding, we're of course looking at an incomplete picture. We don't know what new spells and abilities might come, we just know to an extent what won't be there - abilities like Skull Banner will be gone, as well many CC abilities, and healing will be greatly changed - casting on the move will also see a significant decrease. What we therefore need to consider is that raiding itself will have to change to embody these changing philosophies. It would be a disaster to alter class abilities and leave raids designed around the same high damage, high mobility kit we see in modern raiding.

But what will raid design entail? Well, I'm not a raid designer. If I was, I'd be super busy designing some raids. What I am is a guy who raids a lot, so I can give you my perspective as a dude who has seen every fight in the game at this point. What are we in for in Warlords, based on what Blizzard has said is changing, and what they intend to try and do?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Raiding, Warlords of Draenor

Level 60 vanilla guild 5-mans Razorgore

Yes, we know -- level 90s can solo Blackwing Lair's first boss, Razorgore, with ease, but we still think it's an impressive feat for five at-level players. The guild Molten Core Veterans is focused on vanilla-era raiding, with no death knights or monks; no characters above level 60; and no gear or enchants over level 60, either. With the mechanics of the fight -- more about managing adds than damaging the boss -- Razorgore may be one of the only vanilla fights that can be done with such a small at-level group. The next boss, Vaelestraz, takes a lot more DPS to down -- and so a lot more players.

As someone who fought through learning this fight during vanilla, I salute these guys. For all that vanilla raids have gotten easier over the years -- and power creep has even hit players trying their hardest to get the vanilla WoW experience -- the Razorgore fight isn't easy to master.

Filed under: Raiding

Why did we have to squish stats?

The item squish is a hotly debated topic on the forums. That's not really surprising. It's a pretty big change. Any time you're talking about any sort of reduction to character power (which, it must be restated, the item squish isn't, but it can appear to be) people get nervous. Part of the problem is calling it an item squish at all. It's not merely that, however - the squish is taking place across the board, to monsters and NPC's and encounters as well as our gear. And it's happening in a broad way, relative to the expansion endgame spikes of level's 60, 70, 80, 85 and 90. It's not a surprise that endgame play tends to introduce gear of escalating power, nor is it a surprise that as the next expansion comes out, we tend to see a gradual increase in mob health and damage and gear so that by the max level cap of said expansion, everyone's essentially shed most if not all of their endgame gear from the last expansion only to see a new cycle of gear escalation.

This isn't really in dispute. However, looking at the chart above, you can see that the steepness of the player power gain was getting ever sharper, and the projected 90 to 100 jump magnified the already high 80 to 85 and 85 to 90 curves. Why did gear start expanding in power so much more dramatically after level 80? Why were both the level 85 and level 90 endgames such steep climbs in power at endgame?

Let's take a look all the way back to Wrath of the Lich King to answer that question.

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

Warlords of Draenor: Flex scaling to 30 "still on the table"

I'm one of those people who hates leaving people on the bench. I hate it when I have to step out myself, hut I hate it even more when someone else sits for me - it just irritates me. So I'm very interested in this tweet from Ion "Watcher" Hazzkostas. When asked if the idea of flexible raiding going up to 30 people, he responded:

This makes me very excited, especially with the change to Mythic raiding (20 man total cap) meaning that some current 25 man groups are going to have to bench players once they make the step into Mythic - I do, however, hope a little downward flexibility is also introduced at some point to allow 10 player raids to progress when that one key player is unavailable.

I'd like to see this change actually get implemented - here's hoping we get it by Warlords of Draenor release.


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

The case for catch-up loot

I talked a while back about catch-up dungeons. Now, we'll talk about the more basic issue - why have 'catch up' mechanisms at all? Why have gear that exists so you can skip content? Recently Celestalon responded to this question on twitter and his answers are very, very interesting to me.
This idea of playerbase consolidation reminds me, as it always does whenever anyone brings it up, of the old days of Vanilla and BC raiding. That's how you can tell I'm crazy old - everything reminds me of something that happened years ago. But in this case it's apt. Back in Vanilla, there basically weren't any catch-up mechanisms. If you wanted to join a raiding guild that was clearing Blackwing Lair, if you hadn't set foot in Molten Core yet, you probably simply weren't getting in, and if you did, you'd likely end up being dragged through several MC and Onyxia runs (assuming you didn't have to get attuned) to get you caught up on gear. Often guilds didn't really want to do that, so if they didn't, you were basically out of luck. The 20 man raids Zul'Gurub and AQ20 served as stopgaps, with gear that could help, but it wasn't enough in many cases.

BC improved this to a degree. There were still attunements for a while, but guilds could at least rely on the Badge of Justice mechanic and get newer players geared up faster. I actually took some time off playing WoW after Vanilla ended and didn't start raiding in BC until my then-guild was working on the Tier 5 raids (Tempest Keep and Serpentshrine Cavern) and so, in order to get ready to join them, I ran a ton of Karazhan and heroic dungeons and bought tanking gear off of the Justice vendors - I ended up still having to tank in Zul'Aman with a green tanking ring and belt and a bunch of dungeon blues on, but at least I had some gear by that point.

Since those days, we've seen various mechanisms (Wrath and Cataclysm's patch five mans, Mists with justice and honor gear and the Timeless Isle) to allow players to get caught up to current content. And to my mind, while I'm not always on board with the specific way it's implemented, it's the best change imaginable for a variety of reasons.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Raiding

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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