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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Scenarios, daily quests, and events in Warlords

It's true that scenarios still exist in Warlords of Draenor, but it's also true that their existence is radically altered - no more the easy three person content you can queue for at max level for easy rewards. Now, you may be trumpeting this as a grand thing, and in some ways you may even be right, but scenarios and heroic scenarios served a purpose in Mists and I'm starting to be concerned about their removal and the change in dungeons. One of the things to keep in mind is, with the removal of valor points and the conversion of many items to costing gold, we're essentially taking out the mechanism that once served as a consolation prize when it was first introduced back in The Burning Crusade. Furthermore, by removing scenarios as content players can essentially run whenever and wherever they wish, we're winnowing down options at endgame. The Timeless Isle model for endgame content has its flaws, and converting all of Warlords to it has some potential pitfalls.

For starters, the heavy de-emphasis on daily quests combined with the lack of scenarios and the placing of heroic dungeons behind the proving ground barrier removes a solid amount of low pressure, easily accessed content. Considered separately these ideas aren't an issue, but when you put them all together you can start to see one problem - they remove choices for players, and in doing so offer no replacement. This may be by design. Some players lament that there's too much to do in Mists of Pandaria's endgame. Starved for choice is a real phenomenon, and it may be a good move to thin out those options. But it may not.

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

Will running five player content be viable in Warlords?

I actually really enjoy five player dungeons. One of my disappointments in Mists of Pandaria was that we never got any five mans beyond the start of the expansion and that they basically became just a means to farm some valor - since no new fives were introduced, they couldn't be tuned to in any way keep up with gear from Throne of Thunder much less Siege of Orgrimmar. They became laughably easy unless you were running them as Challenge Modes, ultimately.

And this bothers me because I'm one of those people who feels like five player content never really had lived up to its promise in World of Warcraft. Especially now that raid dungeons have become so accessible, with LFR and flex making it easier than ever for almost all players to get some level of raiding if they want it, I've always felt like fives need a refocusing. Having normal and heroic difficulty fives really separate with better rewards for fives is a good start, but where Challenge Modes didn't grab me was in their completely cosmetic rewards. I always felt like CM's should offer gear on par with at least normal mode raiding - a group that decided to focus exclusively on Challenge Modes or some other form of very hard five player content should be able to progress their character not just visually, but actually as well.

Why do I feel this way? Well, I'll tell you.

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

How will Warlords affect low-level characters?

It's something that's fairly easy to forget in all the talk of item squishes and character boosts, but Warlords of Draenor is going to make a lot of significant changes to how it feels to play a low level character and level up. That's why forum threads like this one interest me so much, because it's important to get that low level balance right. Yes, we have the boost, we have things like heirlooms, but in the end the game has to function at low levels for people without them. If it doesn't or can't, then people who try the game on trial or who decide to start an alt after using the boost are going to end up feeling lost, and that's a feeling that leads to people not playing at all.

So I decided to roll a low level character and level him without heirlooms on the beta, just to try it out for myself. And so far, I feel like they've made pretty decent strides in balancing things out - I'm at level 7 now after a half hour and I could probably get to ten after another 20 minutes. I am, however, concerned with what Kalyeatrish says about the level 8-9 relative weak spot in leveling. If players can't get stuff done at those levels, it'll be a hard slog to get to 10. And most people who try out WoW don't get past 10 - that's a barrier to entry you don't want to imbalance when you make game changes.

Hopefully it's something Blizzard keeps watching, and I hope everyone in the beta manages to find time to roll a character and test it out at low levels - it may seem like a waste of time, but it's actually incredibly important for the game long term.

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

Breakfast Topic: So Many Feelings

This is a spoiler free post about spoilers. And how those spoilers can make you feel. I'm warning you, even though I intend to spoil nothing at all, so you can avoid the post if you'd rather.

This has been the expansion beta test where I constantly find myself forgetting that the Horde storyline exists. I say this having played it. It's not that the orcs of Draenor aren't interesting or cool, it's that I simply just do not care because there's draenei lore to explore, draenei settlements to visit, draenei to watch being awesome in cinematics. If you watched the recent cinematics Blizzard released, you'll know what I mean. If you didn't, you'll have to take my word for it - there are some awesome draenei moments to be had. It's gotten me so pumped I resumed work on my draenei-themed transmog, which you can see above on the beta. Having watched the cinematics, I'm now incredibly ready for Warlords, but I have no idea if I'll even bother to play Horde. As cool as the Frostfire Ridge ending is, the Shadowmoon Valley one dwarfs it, and Talador? Talador actively made me upset, something that hasn't happened to me in World of Warcraft in a very long time.

This is the draenei expansion. The orcs? Well, they're here. They're villains for the most part. I'm not impressed. But the draenei? Oh yeah. Y'rel, just point the way. Let's go wreck the Iron Horde.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: The undeniable failure of Thrall

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.

Thrall, former Warchief of the Horde, came from a line of leaders, destined by his parentage to eventually take leadership of the Frostwolf clan -- but he ended up doing far, far more than just that. Through Thrall's efforts, the Horde was rebuilt anew into a different organization, one built not on the concept of bloody battles and victorious conquest, but instead on the ideals of freedom, liberation, unity. Family. With that goal in mind, he allowed a multitude of races to join as allies with this new Horde, establishing a home in Kalimdor.

But that Horde was not the Horde that the orc race was familiar with. It wasn't the same Horde of united clans that drank the blood of Mannoroth, ripped through the Dark Portal and stormed into Azeroth with the intent of conquering the planet. It certainly was a far, far cry from the Horde of Draenor -- the Horde from days not so long before the orcs first arrived on Azeroth, the Horde that thrived prior to Thrall's birth.

And perhaps it was that curious dichotomy between the two that led Thrall astray. Or perhaps it was simply that his parents, Durotan and Draka, were killed while he was still an infant, and he was raised in as a slave in a camp of humans that taught him human ideals, human ideas. They taught him to read, they taught him to speak, they taught him how to be. What they did not teach him was one very important thing -- how to be an orc.

Please note: The following Know Your Lore contains several spoilers for Warlords of Draenor, including the cinematics that were released last week. If you are avoiding spoilers, don't click!

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Breakfast Topic: Did you watch the Warlords cinematics?

One of the bigger pieces of news to come out of last week was the release of several of Warlords of Draenor's key in-game cinematic pieces. Now, normally we kind of expect to see these things at some point during the beta's lifetime -- but usually it's one datamining website or another that manages to dig the cinematics up prior to the expansion's release. This time, in a completely different move, Blizzard released all of the cinematics on the official website, clearly labeled as spoiler content and requiring players to click through a very blatant spoiler warning before actually showing any content at all.

It's a new approach. I'm kind of a fan of this approach, because we all knew that material was going to surface at one point or another anyway -- this way, Blizzard has control of how it is released, and guarantees that it's labeled so as not to take anyone by surprise. You can't get much clearer about spoilers than Blizzard did in their official post, and although some might say they went overboard with the warnings, I think that was perfectly fine, given the nature of the material. And of course I watched them. I watched them all, because I like to write about these kinds of things on a weekly basis and I wanted to see what would happen, to give some context to what I'd already seen in the beta.

But I'm wondering how many of you watched the cinematics, as blatantly placed out and clearly labeled as they were. Did you appreciate all the spoiler warnings? If you're avoiding all spoilers, did the clear labels and official post make it easier to stick with your resolve, or did it just tempt you into really wanting to see? Obviously, since we're talking about the nature of spoilers, rather than the actual spoilers themselves, please keep the comments spoiler-free. Trust me, we'll have more than enough articles where you can talk about the spoiler content to your heart's content.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Warlords of Draenor

Patch 6.0.2: Ordos cloak requirement removed

One of the unique quirks of the Timeless Isle, introduced in patch 5.4, was the means in which players accessed Ordos, Fire-God of the Yaungol and the world boss located at the highest heights of the Isle. In order to even get to the temple in which Ordos was located, players needed to either fly very carefully on one of the Isle's many flying albatross taxis, or have a legendary cloak that would glide them right on over the broken bridge that led to the Ordon Sanctuary. And even if you took the albatross, fighting Ordos required the legendary cloak -- you could not engage the world boss without it. But according to developer Jeremy Feasel on Twitter, that's about to change in patch 6.0.2.


Later tweets clarified that the cloak wouldn't even be needed to get over the broken bridge -- the Celestials will send everyone flying to the other side, regardless of whether they have the legendary cloak or not. For those that don't really do any raiding, Ordos has quite the loot table of gear. Every item he drops is ilvl 559, and although we won't be able to upgrade gear with Valor when the patch hits, it's still some pretty good gear for getting a head-start on leveling in Warlords. If you don't have a legendary cloak, or don't plan to obtain one, you might just want to focus your attention on Ordos for a few last pre-Warlords upgrades once patch 6.0.2 goes live.


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

Warlords of Draenor: Blizzard releases all in-game cinematics

If you've been playing in the beta one of the things you've noticed is that there's a host of in-game cinematics that haven't actually been there yet. If you're wondering what they are, wonder no more - Blizzard just released a whole host of them on the official site. They're all excellent - one of them actually made this old draenei tear up a bit - but don't watch those and then complain that you were spoiled for the next expansion because that's all there is here - nothing but 100% spoilers for what's going to be happening in Warlords of Draenor.

So, if you want to avoid that, don't go to that link and absolutely don't watch any of those videos. But if you do want that, here you go. It's really some amazing work on the part of Terran Gregory and the entire Blizzard in-game cinematics division.

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

Lords of War focuses on Kilrogg Deadeye

In case you were wondering, Kilrogg Deadeye absolutely is possibly the most ruthless Warlord we've seen yet in these animated shorts. Without spoiling the above video (go ahead and watch it) it's got interesting bits in it - the arakkoa make an appearance, we get to see Kilrogg's father, and the actual ritual where the infamous Deadeye earns his name is shown. It's a fascinating glimpse into the culture of the Bleeding Hollow clan and Kilrogg's role in it.

I think this might be my favorite of the four videos so far. It's plausible that Maraad might know this - there's no reason it should be unchanged between his Draenor and the one we're going to explore. But moreover, and suitably, it's the darkest of the four to date, which Kilrogg making a very difficult decision that costs him quite dearly... and more than an eye.

I also like the rumination on the Alliance's faith in the Light at the opening. Varian's 'So I'm told' was a nice beat. Check out the video now.

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

Warlords of Draenor Beta - Legend of Pandaria title introduced

As reported on Wowhead, if you've completed the legendary cloak questline before patch 6.0 drops, you'll be rewarded with a new title, Legend of Pandaria. It's like most titles in that it can be used even by characters that didn't earn it (I've only earned it on one character, and that isn't him above) so if you have managed to complete the quest, it's a nice little bonus.

I'd still kind of like it if they allowed us to complete the quest once Warlords of Draenor dropped if we had already started it, but I won't say no to another title. I love those things. Nothing's ever going to beat Death's Demise, though. Still my favorite title ever.

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

Patch 6.0.2: PvP season 15 ends

In the spirit of get it done soon that we see getting more and more prevalent as patch 6.0.2 gets closer, here's some news about PvP Season 15. Namely, it's ending as soon as the patch drops.

This means several things - there will be no Arenas or Rated BG's after the patch, all Conquest Points will be converted to Honor, with excess Honor above 4000 points being converted to gold.

Blizzard - Patch 6.0.2 PTR Patch Notes
  • PvP Season 15 comes to an end with the launch of Patch 6.0.2. (Date has not been determined yet.)
    • Conquest Points will be converted into Honor Points, and any Honor above the cap of 4,000 will be converted into in-game currency at a rate of 35 silver per point.
    • Season 15 items will have Conquest costs converted into Honor Points equivalent to their previous Conquest Point cost, with the exception of any items that have a rating requirement.
    • Season 15 items with rating requirements will no longer be available for purchase.
    • Note that Arena and Rated Battleground matches will not be available until PvP Season 16 begins.

So there you have it - the upcoming end for Season 15 is as soon as the patch itself (which we still have no date for) and when it comes, the usual conversions will commence. If you're trying to hit a certain rating, you have been warned.

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

Patch 6.0.2: No Brawler's Guild until Warlords

If you're still working on your Brawler's Guild achievements, get a move on - you have until Patch 6.0.2 to get that all done, because as soon as that drops, the Brawler's Guild will be closed until Warlords of Draenor comes out.
Blizzard - Patch 6.0.2 patch notes
  • Season 1 of the Brawler's has come to a close and associated achievements have been converted into Feats of Strength.
  • Fights will be unavailable while the Brawler's Guild is being refitted in preparation for Season 2 (available after Warlords of Draenor has launched.)
  • Account-wide membership in Brawler's Guild will carry over to Season 2. Once a brawler, always a brawler!

All current Brawler's Guild achievements will become Feats of Strength, and the fights won't be accessible until we get all new ones for Warlords of Draenor. But if you're a member, you don't have to worry about getting another invite, at least -- membership is for life.

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Mythic raid testing this Friday, September 19th

If you happen to have a group of, say, 20 folks to hand and you want to test out what Mythic Raiding is going to be all about, then rejoice, for you'll have that opportunity. Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas had once again revealed to us the schedule for the next batch of raid testing, this time for Mythic difficulty. We're looking at two encounters in Mythic difficulty Blackrock Foundry, Beastlord Darmac at 10:30 Pacific and Iron Maidens at 15:00 Pacific (that's 3 PM for those of us not on military time).

Note that you don't have to be on a level 100 character to take part in the testing. Your level will be scaled up and your gear as well, so you can take part with a full group of 90's if that's what you have. Also remember, this is the beta - there could be any number of issues that delay or postpone beta testing of Mythic raiding. Don't get overexcited if that happens.

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

Never enough time

One of the absurdities of playing an MMO for any length of time, much less for ten years, is that you see certain cycles repeat again and again. For instance, I've seen players make the same assumptions about personal experiences in the game being universal so many times that I could republish that post every two weeks and it would be relevant. Another way I've seen the same cycle repeat multiple times since the end of Burning Crusade is this - people always complain (myself included) that the expansion is taking too long to get here and we're sick of the old content, and then, as soon as the new expansion is announced, we start panicking (myself included) to get certain things finished that we could have done long, long before the expansion ever got close to done.

I mean, I have six characters on various stages of the legendary cloak quest, that I just never bothered to finish up on because reasons. I don't think I can argue I haven't had enough time. It's September. Nine months seems more than adequate to have gotten that done, and yet, nope. Just never bothered to do it. In a way I feel like the extreme length of the content drought lulled me into a false complacency. A year in SoO seemed so monumentally long that it never really sank in that yes, it is long - but it still had an end date.

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

Get your Thundering Serpent Hatchling while you can

Challenge modes will be making an exit with the launch of Patch 6.0.2 -- players looking to get their Challenge Mode gear should do so before the patch hits. But one of the sometimes overlooked bonuses of Challenge Modes is going away as well. The Thundering Serpent Hatchling, a reward from the Challenge Conquerors: Gold - Guild Edition achievement, will also be taking its leave with the release of the patch, according to a tweet by Senior Game Designer Jonathan LeCraft.


Players might not know about this sparky little Battle Pet, especially if they've recently joined a guild. The Thundering Serpent Hatchling isn't rewarded solely to the people that earned the achievement for the guild, it's a pet that is unlocked on the Guild Vendor. Anyone with at least Revered guild reputation can purchase it, but the serpent cannot at this time be caged -- which means you aren't going to find this little guy floating around on the Auction House. If you haven't picked him up yet, you might want to do so now -- because there's been no mention made of any possible future return.

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

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