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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Gnomes, the inheritors of the future

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 gnomes are one of two people of modern Azeroth who can lay claim to being the most intelligent, most adept with technology, most innovative of the mortal races. Unlike their goblin rivals, however, the gnomes are not materialists in the sense of always seeking a means to profit - their mindset is far more exploratory. A goblin looks at a situation and bends her mind to determine how best to exploit it, while a gnome seeks to learn how it works. And in a way, the gnome is far more dangerous, because they're never satisfied.

Consider this - the gnomes invented a weapon so destructive it rendered their own city unlivable for years. Even today, Gnomeregan isn't fully recovered. This radiation bomb (the work of Sicco Thermaplugg, the ambitious madman who once ruled Gnomeregan in its fallen state after Gelbin Mekkatorque led those gnomes he could out of the city) is proof positive of just how terrifying gnomish ingenuity can really be. Unlike the mana bomb Garrosh Hellscream used on Theramore, the radiation bomb doesn't destroy building - it kills without ruining structures. Furthermore, the mana bomb was a discovery, created by blood elves serving Kael'thas Sunstrider who had the chance to study naaru technology in Tempest Keep, but the radiation bomb was entirely a gnomish invention. From their origins as a titan created construct race, the gnomes have persevered through to the modern day as a clever, resourceful, inventive people. But Sicco Thermaplugg also shows that gnomes can be treacherous, deceitful, arrogant and even contemptuous of others.

Now, following the Siege of Orgrimmar, is there any limit to what the gnomes can achieve?

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

Who I want to see in Warlords of Draenor: Griselda Blackhand

No, this is not actually a picture of Griselda.
If you don't know who Griselda was, that's not really your fault - she was a character who lived and died during the original Warcraft game. But to my mind Griselda is a perfect example of the way you can make use of the parallel world of Draenor we're going to visit, a character who can highlight the ways that things have changed.

Originally, Griselda was one of the three children of Blackhand the Destroyer, and like her brothers Rend and Maim, she was artificially aged to adulthood via warlock magic and trained to fight. But unlike her brothers, her father denied her the blood of Mannoroth (so, ironically, she was spared the blood curse) and would not give her a position of authority like the ones he'd given Rend and Maim. This was a colossal act of disdain on his part - he'd stolen her childhood from her, turned her into a weapon, and then refused to make use of her. Why he did this is unclear - it's often said it was a punishment for her insolence, but we don't know what that insolence entailed.

Her fate in our timeline (turning against her father, running to the Deadmines alongside an ogre named Turok, assassinated by her father's warriors) isn't what I'm interested in, however. It's how the Griselda of this Draenor could turn out that interests me.

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

New WoW Source: PvP and Class Changes

WoW Source has made a return, with Senior PvP Designer Brian Holinka Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas, and Lead Class Designer Kris Zierhut. They're talking PvP and Class Design.
  • Diminishing Returns categories have been cut from thirteen to five.
  • Fear's PvP duration has been reduced from eight seconds to five.
  • CC needs reduction, but without it the game would be boring.
  • In WoD every PvP item will have two item levels, e.g. 550 for PvE and 590 for PvP. This will be effective in the world too.
  • We saw an early map and description of Ashran -- looks like a League of Legends style ARAM-esque back-and-forth with other activities around the main central run.
  • There was some more information on Skirmishes, they may drop Conquest gear, and will drop bags containing Honor, Honor gear, or gold.
  • Tanking will not go back to being about Threat
  • Button Bloat has focused on redundant or duplicative abilities
  • Sometimes cutting or simplifying buttons has made class flavor/fantasy better.
  • They do want to give players new things where appropriate, but they need to free up some space to do so.
  • The devs do their best to avoid different spell behaviors in PvP.
  • The devs endeavor to make classes fun to play without affecting their numbers.
  • The devs are listening to feedback and nothing is final.
You can view the video above or on Battle.net.

Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

What's going wrong with tanking in five player content?

Tanking is not always easy, mind you. But tanking can be an incredible amount of fun, and I hope that it'll make a real comeback in terms of popularity when Warlords of Draenor goes live. Right now, I feel like a few problems really keep tanking from being as universally popular as it could be.
  • Difficult to get starting gear - For most people, it's hard to get started as a tank. Gearing is an issue, because some tanks (DKs, warriors and paladins) need specific tanking gear, while even the leather tanks still generally use different stats to some degree, different enchants, different weapons for tanking than DPS or (especially) healing. This is a problem the gearing changes in Warlords should really help with.
  • Where can you learn it? - Tanking requires a different skill set from DPS or healing. While proving grounds exist, they don't really teach the most important part of being a tank - reacting to other players. It can be hard as a new tank to walk into a dungeon having never done it before. That leads into the third difficulty of picking up tanking.
  • Dungeons don't provide any sort of experience right now - With the wildly disparate gear levels on people running random dungeons, you can have a tank in 450 gear trying to hold aggro off of players in 580 gear. While it can be nice to be the tank in 580 gear, even you might have trouble when groups don't cooperate, run ahead of you, pull mobs half way across the zone, and generally simply refuse to act like any kind of groups at all. This is something I'm hoping the gear squish and ten levels will do away with - we'll all basically be on the same page when Warlords dungeons are being run.
While there are still a lot of places where tanking is both fun and rewarding - raiding (especially in a guild group, be it heroic, normal or flex), challenge modes, even in LFD or LFR if you get lucky - I do think it can be a lot to ask a new tank (whether or not she or he is a new player or just new to the role) to grow a thick skin fast enough to deal with the toxicity possible in the current random queue environment. Which is a real shame, because tanking is fun - it can be stressful, and oftentimes groups have an expectation of a tank doing the work of knowing how every fight works for them, but that's not always a negative.

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

Expansions, introductions, and the rails


I was reading through twitter (like you do) when I came across an interesting conversation involving Jeremy "Muffinus" Feasel - he asked the question how long is too long for an expansion intro? Well, he asked it better than that.
But it still amounts to the same question, and it got me interested. Some expansions had extremely minimal introductions - The Burning Crusade, for instance, basically shoved you through the portal, handed you a few breadcrumb quests and said you figure it out, while Wrath basically had two starter zones so four different starts (two per faction) but still got you into the questing fairly quickly. Ultimately, though, those expansions had new races or classes, so you still got an introductory experience, just not necessarily for your max level character. Rolling a DK, blood elf or draenei, you had a more involved introduction to the expansion than you did as a formerly max level character embarking on the new climb to max level.

Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria continued this to some extent - if you were a level 80 character, you didn't get much more introduction than 'bad stuff is happening, you can go here or here' but the two zone options, Hyjal and Vashj'ir, were very detailed and had extended sections of on-rails questing. Cataclysm also had two complete starting zones for worgen and goblins that served as introductions to the meat of the expansion. Mists had the pandaren starting zone, but it also had the Jade Forest which had an outright introductory feel that was a lot stronger than any zone introduction had ever been, combining elements of the DK starting zone and the Vashj'ir start.

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

Warlords of Draenor: Cooking reagents

Cooking? Maybe not the most exciting profession ever, nor the most exciting thing to datamine. However, I have a strange love for seeing what gross ingredients will be going into the food our characters will be eating in a coming expansion. The latest patch to the Warlords of Draenor alpha included a number of those items.

Rylak Eggs are used in many recipes and, for now, appear to be the base of most Warlords cooking. Fishing continues to be heavily involved based on items like Sea Scorpion Segment, Blackwater Whiptail Flesh, and so on. Each type of fish indicates that a special form of bait can be used to catch them -- or perhaps, must be used to catch them.

Certain complex foods even require you to combine basic foods to create them. For example, Calamari Crepes require both Rylak Crepes and Fiery Calamari. Interestingly, the crepes also require something called a Nagrand Arrowbloom, gathered with herbalism. It seems to me that if you're hoping to be a chef in Warlords, you'll need access to either fishing or herbalism, if not both. Remember: your garrison can give you limited access to certain professions even if you do not know them yourself.

The stats on some of these items seem incomplete, with some complex recipes restoring less health or mana than the base recipes from which they're made. That will surely change in the relative eternity we have before launch. If you want to look at all of the currently datamined recipes and reagents, check out Wowhead's extremely convenient list.

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Periodic effects changes

Warlords of Draenor is about to make some sweeping changes to the way we play World of Warcraft -- in a way that is elegantly reducing those tiny little annoyances that we've dealt with for so long, we've nearly forgotten they were there. One of those items on the streamlining checklist has always been the matter of Damage over Time and Healing over Time spells. Unlike flat casts or attacks, DoTs and HoTs distribute both damage and healing evenly over a brief period of time, through periodic ticks of either damage or healing. These can be layered over direct damage and healing spells to deal more damage and boost those direct cast damage and heal spells to greater effect.

Sounds good, right? Yes and no. There are a few weird quirks with periodic damage spells -- casting a DoT while under the effect of a buff like a trinket proc currently means that every tick of that DoT will be boosted by that trinket proc -- even if the actual buff for the trinket has worn off, an effect called "snapshotting." In addition to this, haste modifies DoT and Hot uptime. The more haste you have, the faster your DoTs will tick. In some cases, stacking enough haste meant that your spell would actually get an additional tick of damage or healing -- which led many players to look for that mysterious magic number of haste that would allow this effect to occur.

A lot of this is changing in Warlords.

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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Combat resurrection system overhaul

Combat resurrection is one of those mechanics in World of Warcraft that seems to change far more than others. Personally, I remember in vanilla WoW where it was possible for a player to remain out of combat on a raid boss, and you could designate a paladin to resurrect your raid members indefinitely as they died. Of course, no one considered that legitimate gameplay, only a ... creative use of game mechanics. Those days are long gone. We moved from there to a system where legitimate combat resurrections were able to be used without limit, and every expansion (and many content patches) afterwards, the number you were allowed to use in any given fight changed often. Now Warlords is bringing another overhaul.

Warlords of Draenor is not only refining the number of combat resurrections able to be used in any given boss fight, it's also bringing some transparency to the process. The relevant excerpt from the patch notes is below.

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Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Itemization changes on the way

According to the latest round of alpha patch notes from patch 6.0, we're in for some major itemization changes in Warlords of Draenor. While we've had bits and pieces of information regarding itemization and stat changes in the upcoming expansion, we didn't really have a lot of clarification or detail on exactly what those changes are going to be. The latest iteration of patch notes has cleared that up considerably, and expanded on what little we knew.

Hit and Expertise are both gone, replaced instead with a universally useful secondary stat. Three new secondary stats have been added -- Bonus Armor, which simply increases armor; Multistrike, which grants attacks and abilities a chance to fire an additional time for 30% effectiveness; and Readiness, which reduces the cooldown of several class abilities with long cooldowns. Multistrike works for both damage and healing abilities, making it useful for all classes and specializations. In addition, the amount of role-specific stats is being reduced. Tanks will use Armor, which replaces both Dodge and Parry, and Spirit will be useful only to healers.

But it's the changes to items themselves that sound absolutely intriguing.

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Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor Alpha Patch notes for April 17

A new round of updates have been released for the alpha client of Warlords of Draenor. Included in the patch notes are new sections covering changes and adjustments with Itemization, Movement Speed, Raid Utility Balance, Reforging, and Combat Resurrection. There have also been updates to existing sections as well - many class sections have received a lot of updates and adjustments, as expected for such an early build.
  • Haste % and Crit % bonuses have been streamlined -- no more spell/melee/ranged, it's a universal Haste and Crit % bonus for all.
  • Druids, rejoice -- Ravage no longer requires you to be behind the target.
  • Many glyphs have been removed, and a lot of new glyphs have been added, with some glyphs now being exclusive to a specialization.
  • Movement speed enchants now increase Movement Speed by 10% -- up from 8%.
  • Hunters, there has been a comprehensive sweep over pet abilities -- it's a major list!
  • Paladins, there have been some major tweaks to both Holy and Protection specs.
For the full list of updates, check out the official Battle.net site for all the details. New updates are denoted in red for easy reading.

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

The Queue: I really have no idea what this means

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

Look, blame Scott Leyes. All I know is, with Azeroth Choppers debuting yesterday, I couldn't in good conscience not feature this today. Samwise Didier absolutely is so fluffy, we just have to accept it. He is the fluffiest. His beard is a thing of wonder.

Okay, let's get started on the over 800 comments in yesterday's Queue. That sound? The one that sounds like me sobbing? That's me sobbing.

Kameron Hoffs asks:

What changes are needed for Warriors in WoD?

I'm not quite arrogant enough to think I am in possession of all the answers in terms of warrior design for Warlords. I know what I would like to see, but I'm hardly unbiased - I identify with warriors to closely to even pretend that I'm not invested in the outcome here. That said, there are a few things I think we haven't heard much about yet, and which I think need to be absolutely there in the future.
  1. Headlong Rush needs to actually work and make warriors like haste at least a little bit. Especially when it comes to protection, a spec that currently gets absolutely nothing from haste.
  2. If not Titan's Grip for protection (letting us use 2h weapons and shields) then it's long past time for Blizzard to design 1h spears. Yes, this isn't just a warrior deal, but it's important.
  3. Warriors have lost a lot of flavor. We're losing two of our three banners (the only really unique thing we got in Mists of Pandaria) and a host of other abilities. I get that we needed to lose them for ability purge sake, but we're losing things like Sunder Armor, Cleave, Berserker Stance and in general we're suffering from a lack of coolness factor. It's time for something iconic and viscerally awesome to be added to the warrior toolbox.
  4. We need to hear some details about how rage is going to work. I can't really speculate more on this one until we hear some details, but we just lost any way to get rage from damage taken, a way to generate rage on demand, and a way to get enraged on demand. Are we just expected to Charge and use our rage generation attacks and that's it for rage? Is haste expected to fill the gap? It's time for this design to be explained to us.

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

Warlords of Draenor: Wowhead digs up Garrison models and more

As a new alpha build hit servers last night, the datamining began again. Wowhead has already turned up a plethora of new models, weapons and more, and has now turned to one of the most hotly anticipated features of Warlords of Draenor, Garrisons.

They've put together a detailed list of 70 buildings, along with what exactly all of them do, and what size plot they go on. There's a lot of interesting information one can glean from this data, such as how follower gearing might work and what mission rewards might be, as well as how you get various vendors into your Garrison. Of course, this is datamining, so shouldn't be taken as 100% fact, but it's still really interesting stuff.

There's also information showing off small images of the Garrison buildings, and a map. It seems like these may be UI elements that allow you to design your Garrison and set up its layout, but of course, this is just inference from the data that's presented. There is, however, even more information on each building type, that ties in with the aforementioned list. We're slowly getting an idea of what the Garrison progression might look like.

Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

War Crimes novel release date details

So if you're wondering when War Crimes (the upcoming Christie Golden novel about post-Siege of Orgrimmar Garrosh Hellscream and his trial) will be released, we have the details straight from author Christie Golden's Twitter account.
So not only do you know that the book will be released on May 6th, but if you just can't wait that long, you can go to Denver to the StarFest convention and snag a copy there three days early. I'm not saying you have to do this, nor am I saying to get me a copy while you're there, but I wouldn't mind it, either.

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

Warlords, models, and performance

We all know that Warlords of Draenor is bringing a much-desired and long-awaited feature in new character models, and understandably, there's concern about the impact on PC performance. WoW Insider reported on EU Community Manager Taepsilum's post on the forums, which has since been updated to indicate that there is no requirement to run the game on Low settings to use the old models. Instead, the toggle which has been seen in the Alpha is set to remain.

Taepsilum's assertions that you won't need a new computer are, perhaps, bold. Gamespot has picked up on them for an article, and asserts that you "probably" won't need a new machine. This is accurate, with the key word being "probably". If you're currently only able to run the game at 8FPS on Low settings, it's pretty likely that Warlords of Draenor will push your system over the edge.

Let's be realistic here. World of Warcraft has pretty amazing performance on older machines. A little while ago I asked on Twitter about players running it on low-spec systems, and it will let you run the game on some pretty archaic specs. Performance is about what you can do with the game, and is subjective. I'm happy with the graphical quality I get out of WoW on my machine, but to friends with higher level systems, it looks awful.

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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Watch out for Warlords of Draenor phishing scams

With another expansion looming on the horizon, there's another round of phishing scams and emails designed to trick you into giving up your account information. With this kind of scam, you get an email or visit a website that's so much like Blizzard's that you wind up typing in your login information, which the scammers then use to pick your account clean. Though you may think this is the sort of thing people only fall pray to when they aren't paying attention, phishing scams get more sophisticated -- and harder to recognize -- every day, so you need to keep your guard up.

Take this Warlords of Draenor phishing scam reported by Malwarebytes as an example. It starts off with an email that's formatted like a message from Blizzard saying you've won a free copy of Warlords -- which is really where you should get suspicious. Once you click on the link in the email, you're sent to a perfect copy of the Battle.net login screen where you're asked to enter your login information as well as your secret question and answer before you can redeem your free copy... but of course the scammers just run off with your info without giving you a thing.

To avoid being had, always check the header to see where an email has come from -- Blizzard emails will only come from an @blizzard.com address -- and if an offer sounds too good to be true, contact Blizzard directly to ask about it. For more tips on avoiding phishing, check out the support page on phishing scams.

Filed under: Account Security, Warlords of Draenor

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