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Filed under: Wrath of the Lich King

Why Warlords of Draenor needs a pre-expansion event

Lately I've been thinking about Warlords of Draenor and how I hope it returns to the tradition of pre-expansion launch patches with big world events. Let me tell you a story.

I was talking with a friend about the period at the end of Burning Crusade when the crates began spawning in major cities. He reminded me that neither of us had really paid much attention - his guild was in the process of breaking up over M'uru/Entropius and I was tanking for a guild working on clearing Black Temple at the time. We were busy, is what I'm saying. So busy, in fact, that one day we found ourselves running for our lives from an Ironforge that was completely infested with the walking dead. Other players were now zombies. The auctioneers were dead. It was all chaos and madness.

Now, for a lot of people, the zombie invasion was a load of fun. It was new and different, something you didn't see in game every day. Some of my guildies went over to Orgrimmar and joined forces with Horde players they knew (Norgannon was a smallish and incestuous server in those days, all the Alliance and Horde players seemed to know one another) to form roving gangs of undead, laying waste to all, Horde or Alliance. They had great fun.

For me it was a huge pain in the rear end.

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

Know Your Lore: Lore summed up part 3 - Wrath of the Lich King


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.

Part one covered the original launch game, and part two covered the Burning Crusade expansion. Part three is about Corgis Unleashed.

No, no, I kid. Part three is of course about Wrath of the Lich King, when our titular king of the liches gets upset. Miffed. Irate. Angry, even. This one is going to be long - even longer than the BC recap, so long that I see no choice but to split it into two parts. The Lich King was a long time in coming - players were clamoring for him from the moment World of Warcraft launched, and when the expansion bearing his name finally hit, it changed everything.

Like The Burning Crusade, WotLK started with an event. But unlike TBC, this particular event, the Scourge Invasion, was leaps and bounds more dramatic than expected. This time, the monsters were the players, so to speak.

It began with mysterious boxes appearing in Booty Bay and other cities and towns, spreading across Azeroth slowly. The boxes appeared in capital cities, shipped from unknown locales... and slowly, all over the world, the curse of undeath began taking root. At first members of the Argent Dawn could keep ahead of the tide of plague, but as it continued, more and more of Azeroth's heroes succumbed. Soon an irresistible tide of undead threatened Orgrimmar, Stormwind, Ironforge, Undercity (yes, even the forsaken were not immune) and other locations. Some ran and hid in the countryside, avoiding major cities, because these undead seemed to possess a sadistic enjoyment and sought to infect as many as possible.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Wrath of the Lich King

Know Your Lore, TFH: The Aspects of the Titans

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.

Y'all know the drill here - this is a speculative jam. Nothing in this is to be taken as what Blizzard is actually saying.

In the distant past, Azeroth was formed by the hands of beings potent even beyond gods. These beings, known to us as Titans, have left the evidence of their presence in many ways - huge, magnificent complexes of astonishing construction, races shaped by their will, the prisons that held Yogg-Saron and Y'Shaarj's heart, and much more besides. From the Mogu'shan Vaults to Uldaman, from the fantastic jungles of Un'Goro to the Sholozar Basin, including the magnificent Vale of Eternal Blossoms the Titans left their mark in the very structure of Azeroth.

Recently the black dragon Wrathion consumed the heart of Lei Shen the Thunder King, a mogu warlord empowered by the stolen power and knowledge of Master Ra (known as Ra-Den to them), a Titan Watcher similar to those left behind in Ulduar. When he did that, he spoke the following words: "We have fallen. We must rebuild the Final Titan. Do not forget." I've wondered long and hard what that could mean. But it wasn't until I considered the powers the Titans bestowed upon the five Dragon Aspects so long ago. Their control of life, magic, dreams, the very land beneath our feet and time's ebb and flow was so absolute that it beggars the imagination, and it also asks us a question - could they bestow this power, if they did not have it themselves, and more besides?

We casually discuss the vast oceans of time that separate us from the Titans. Untold tens of thousands of years, perhaps more - indeed, none can say exactly how far in the past the Titans began their ordering of the universe, much less arrived to create Azeroth. Sargeras had already fallen to be the Dark Titan over 25,000 years ago, but how far before that is unknown to us. But it brings a question to mind - how could such powerful entities seemingly vanish? Why have they left their creations to their own devices? Why are emissaries such as Algalon watching over their creation, rather than the Titans themselves? Is it merely that they are so distant from mundane mortal concerns, living on a scale vastly beyond our comprehension?

I submit it is something else entirely. To determine what, we must look at their actions, and the servants they've chosen to enact their will.

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

The Queue: I forgot I was writing this

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 is your "Hey, it's that guy" guy today.

So yeah, I totally forgot I was supposed to write this today. I was running some dungeons, and suddenly this bolt of terror rocketed down my spine. After I dealt with that ghost, I remembered I had to write the Queue for today because folks are getting to go to BlizzCon and once again, I'm not.

I'm not bitter about it, but I am wistful that I never get to meet any of y'all.

Anyway, let's do some Queue diving, shall we?

BlackSeal asks:
If they announce a new expansion Friday (which is almost a certain thing), do you think we will also see the cinematic for the expansion on Friday as well?

I can't recall if they had a showing of the Wrath, Cata and Mists cinematics that are currently in the game to kick off the expansion on the day of announcement at Blizzcon or not. (I am pretty certain the BC cinematic was shown as it is in the game at the time of announcement? Didn't we have to wait a while past Blizzcon for the Mists one? Uncertain as well about the others)

The cinematic almost always comes much later than BlizzCon. Wrath, Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria all had videos at BlizzCon that showcased the work already done on the next expansion, but none of them had the actual in game cinematic to the best of my knowledge. (I remember the Wrath of the Lich King video from BlizzCon very well, but I'm not as sure about Cataclysm. I do know that the cinematic with Deathwing's narration was not done yet.) So there will almost certainly be some kind of video at BlizzCon, and it almost certainly won't be the actual cinematic we get when Corgis Unleashed finally is released.

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

Five features I really want from the next expansion

So everyone's handily speculating on just what the next expansion will be, and what it will have and not have. That's pretty awesome. I love speculating. So in the spirit of things, I've decided to throw my hat in the ring and natter on about what I'd love to see from the next expansion, whatever it ends up being.

Let's just jump right into it. What stuff do I think would be awesome?

An overhaul of the leveling/alt process

I definitely think we need to reconsider how we deal with alts. I'd love to see a system that reduced the time you had to spend getting them leveled once you got the first one to max - heirlooms work for that, but that long-rumored heirloom tab would make it a lot easier. Another thing which would definitely help are more heirlooms like Hellscream's Decapitator - our current heirlooms don't take us all the way to max level the way it will, and it's also useful now as a raid-level item an alt can make use of. It's an experiment I hope they continue.

I've seen some arguments that we should be able to start a high-level alt to skip over a lot of the leveling process, especially as we get closer and closer to the likely new level cap of 100. If that was implemented, it would need to be done carefully, but I'd definitely support some way to preview a class at or near max level so you could figure out if you'll like it or cut down on having to do the full 1 to 100 (or whatever it ends up being) march again.

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

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Proc Weapons, How I Miss Thee

The Care and Feeding of Warriors Proc Weapons, How I Miss Thee
Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.

Remember Gurthalak? Remember how it single-handedly propped up arms warriors at the end of Cataclysm? The proc on the weapon was really excellent, almost any melee who could use a 2h weapon wanted one. Admittedly, Gurth didn't invent proc weapons. Icecrown Citadel had some excellent weapon procs, Last Word, for instance, had an excellent proc primarily because it was almost always up - a proc that thematically owed a lot to the first real dedicated tanking epic warriors in Classic WoW would have wanted to get, Quel'Serrar. Quel's defense proc (back when defense was a thing) made it very desirable as a tanking weapon, second only to Thunderfury - and the legendary was so amazing because of its proc. It was essentially a super-Thunder Clap, great for aggro and for debuffing attack speed on targets, reducing damage taken by the tank using it.

Proc weapons have a long and stories history in World of Warcraft. One of the first weapons I crafted at level 60 was an Arcanite Champion, a weapon based entirely around its strength and heal proc. It replaced the Blackhand Doomsaw, another proc based weapon. As time has progressed, we've moved away from these weapons - stat based weapons have dominated, and for the most part that's for the best, as it's easier to balance stats. If one looks at the evolution of proc weapons, even in Burning Crusade those weapons that had procs still tended to have stats on them.

One of my favorite things about Dragon Soul was the proc weapons on Deathwing - they seemed special, designed less around playing statistical Tetris through reforging and more around visual flair as well as interesting damage output.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Warcraft as a whole: story balance between RTS and MMO

I was perusing the forums (like you do) when I came across this forum thread from poster Xewie, and I found it an interesting place to start thinking from. Xewie's points aren't entirely ones I agree with - I frankly found Mists of Pandaria one of the richest expansions in terms of lore and story and feel that anyone who dismisses it simply because there are pandaren in it is deliberately and willfully blinding themselves to an excellent ride with some astonishing highs and lows - but there's a certain truth in the points about the RTS vs. WoW itself. As others (including our own Michael Sacco) have pointed out, Garrosh Hellscream is really one of the first big lore characters we've had in World of Warcraft who was born in the MMO, evolved over its course and became a faction leader and finally an end villain.

I think part of the problem is that the RTS features these characters, so even when it kills a few (like Terenas Menethil) it offers up a few more. But the MMO features us, ultimately, so when we put down Lady Vashj or Arthas, there's no immediate replacement. To be sure, there have in fact been tons of new faces over the course of World of Warcraft - Ragnaros, C'thun, Nefarian were all first introduced in classic WoW, not the RTS. The problem is, we introduce these characters and then, well, we dispatch them. Sometimes, like Ragnaros, our first encounter with them isn't a final one, but even if we know they'll eventually be back, it's not like their luck will hold out forever. I called this the "Joker problem" once, and to a degree I think it is an issue for the MMO.

However, does it follow that we need an RTS to create stories? Since I think Mists of Pandaria did an amazing job of building up the story, and in fact I'm really much more of a Cataclysm booster than most, I don't agree with that idea. In fact, in many ways, WoW has done more to broaden and expand the Warcraft setting than the RTS ever did.

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

How the Draenei make WoW a better place

How the Draenei make WoW a better place

The light wishes suffering on none, my child. But it does not reign unopposed in our realm
- The Prophet Velen


It's no secret that I dig the draenei. They're my favorite race in the game (my second favorite are tauren, with worgen in third) and in all honesty for a long time, I never really knew why aside from my having really loved the draenei starting zone when I first played through it during the Burning Crusade beta. I really enjoyed the feeling of camaraderie I got from the various surviving crew members, all pulling together to survive, and as the history of the long displaced race unfolded and linked up to their appearance in Warcraft III and the broken ones I'd already met back in my vanilla days running through Swamp of Sorrows, I was hooked.

I liked that they were in turns noble yet murderous - I've never forgotten that it was Velen, supposedly kindly and peace loving Prophet, who ordered my draenei to go find the blood elves and their eredar allies on Bloodmyst and eradicate them. Kill them all, Velen said to me, and I did it. They even threw a party for me afterwards. I liked that for all our obvious compassion, we still were deeply flawed - there was clear racism and disquiet aimed at the Broken, whose mutated condition filled some of our people with disgust - you could see it in how we shoved them into the darkest corners of the crashed Exodar and forced them to toil out of sight. The draenei were many things - linked to the man'ari eredar through a common origin, forever exiled from their home, hunted by their former kin - but their long relationship with the Naaru and the Holy Light hadn't made plaster saints out of the draenei. I liked their having survived the orc genocide on Draenor has hardened, but not warped them.

And to be honest, I just really liked playing in one. I like how they move, how they run, how they look in plate or mail (most of my draenei are warriors or shaman, with one paladin who doesn't get out much), how their racial Gift of the Naaru makes a sigil float over their heads, their combat animations (especially how they use staves or polearms) - but it wasn't until recently that I really thought for a while about why, exactly, I still hold such a fondness for the draenei.

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

World of Warcraft's peculiar time dilation

World of Warcraft's peculiar time dilation
When you've been playing a game as long as some of us have been playing World of Warcraft, you get some unusual moments of realization. One of them occurred to me recently, when talking about the upcoming 9th Anniversary of the game this November 23rd. The person I was talking to said "Yeah, my mom showed me how to play, I used to fish for her on her hunter" and it came out that said person was 21 years old, and that she has been playing the game since she was thirteen. She has effectively grown up in Azeroth, at least part time - nearly half of her life has been spent playing this game.

Meanwhile, with each expansion the game has lost some players and gained others - there are people who started playing in Cataclysm and even people who started play this year (I know, I've met quite a few of them) and many of them have no idea how to even go about absorbing all that happened in those nine years. To people who've played all along, it all happened - it's part and parcel of the game, it's history we experienced. But to new players, the sheer volume of it all can be daunting - I've had players comment with disbelief when told about 40 man raiding, who don't really grasp just how many times class mechanics have been changed and revamped and altered. One healer simply couldn't grasp the concept of an out-of-combat resser, a healing character who stood back out of range of boss fights and resurrected people who died over and over again. For me, the trippy part of that conversation was reading a 21 year old relate stories of Molten Core to this newer player and realize they were stories of what she was doing in grammar school.

Of course, for me WoW is a game I discovered in my 30's. My early thirties, come to think of it, and now I'm well out of that decade. So we're all aging, but the proportion of time we spent playing the game is different - for me WoW is just one of many games I've played, and certainly not almost half of my lifespan.

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

How will we take our content?

How will we take our content
I do a podcast from time to time about World of Warcraft, and as a result I tend to talk about the game, instead of just play it or even writing about it. One of the conversations I've had about the game that I've never really sat down and explored is this - Mists of Pandaria has seemed like a gigantic experiment in terms of how we receive our content. From the original Golden Lotus daily questing hub, which in turn unlocked the Shado-Pan and August Celestials, to patch 5.1's daily quests that unlocked regular, one-off quests that further advanced the story, to patch 5.2's progression on the Throne of Thunder unlocked unique solo scenarios. Patch 5.3 brought us no dailies at all, but a short series of quests that led to an unlockable weekly quest that was, frankly, one of my favorite ways to get the Lesser Charm of Good Fortune in the numbers needed for my weekly raiding.

Now in patch 5.4 we've lost dailies (the Golden Lotus have been pared back to a few in the west of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, now the Vale of Eternal Sorrows) and we've gained a content hub which is mostly about exploration and good old fashioned grinding in the Timeless Isle. Over the course of this expansion we've seen all sorts of delivery systems for content - scenarios, heroic scenarios, flex raiding - and we've even seen some complaints from players about older, tried and true systems like five man dungeons not getting the emphasis people might want. And this leads me to wonder what we've got in store for us down the road. How will the next expansion present itself to us? I expect there will be the usual leveling quests, they work pretty well overall and there's room for flexibility in their design, but what will the max level content look like?

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

Siege of Orgrimmar and the world of the idea

Siege of Orgrimmar and the ideas we experience in World of Warcraft
Last night while raiding Orgrimmar, specifically while coming into the gates of the city past the Iron Juggernaut, I had this intense feeling of recognition layered with the discontinuity changes bring. It's a similar feeling to when you go back to the city or town you grew up in after a few years. Things have changed, but you still recognize most of it - tiny flashes of memory jump out, saying (in this case) "Hey, remember hovering over Grommash Hold in your flying mount waiting for raid" and then "This was always my favorite Auction House, I wonder if I left anything up before I switched factions" but at the same time the cages and wandering Kor'kron mobs lent a surreal air to the whole experience.

I'd spent the whole night distracted anyway by the little touches of the raid so far - the fight with the Fallen Protectors started a chain of thought that stayed with me. These people were dead because, in part, of actions I'd taken while I was playing as Horde. After all, I stood next to Garrosh in the Shrine of Two Moons as he said that he would learn from the mogu. I helped him steal the Divine Bell from Darnassus. I watched him use it on Ichi, discarding a loyal servant like a broken toy when it didn't work. And more of course - I served Hellscream in breaching the Jade Forest, bringing the war that my faction was waging to foreign shores, and disrupted the cycle of rebirth for the Jade Serpent, loosing the Sha upon the forest. I snuck into Theramore and freed the Horde agent who helped keep Alliance civilians in the city for the bomb to destroy.

Now of course, I didn't actually do any of those things because it is a game. Garrosh Hellscream is a voice actor's craft and a mass of pixels reading lines written by Blizzard's team of writers. What I find interesting, and overlooked at times by players like myself, is the opportunity to muse on the ideas presented to us by the game. What would it be like to return to Orgrimmar as a soldier invading it? What would it feel like to bear a certain responsibility for the ruin of a peaceful valley, the destruction of people who had only sought to protect their home? To see a beautiful land scarred by a monstrous act, and know that the act couldn't have happened without your assistance, however small, and however deeply you regretted it? For me, part of the fun of playing the game is in thinking differently than I usually do, to explore the ideas presented by the story as I move through it. I mean, at one point we actually have to kill pride. That's the subtext leaping forth from the head of the text, that is.

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

Warcraft and its "Joker Problem"

The "Joker Problem" is, in its simplest terms, based around the old Batman villain, first introduced in 1940. In his original appearance, the Joker was a homicidal madman who used complicated toxins to murder people as part of a crime wave that only he really understood. In his original appearances, the Joker was slated for death, because back then Batman routinely killed people or allowed them to die, but the editors realized that if they went around killing off all the good villains they'd run out of them, and so the Joker was spared. He went on to become Batman's greatest adversary.

World of Warcraft has a Joker Problem, because we keep murdering our Jokers.

Oh, it's hard to blame us - how many times have people pointed out how ludicrous it is that Batman or someone else hasn't murdered the Joker at this point? Plus, they drops shiny goodies when we kill them, and there's nothing players in an MMO like more than trinkets and baubles. Tirion Fordring once held a death sport that was entirely based around bribing us into gladiatorial combat with goodies, and we totally went for it. Sometimes we'd run that thing four times a week. But the fact remains - we barely get a good villain rolling for an expansion before we storm his or her castle, keep, subterranean lair, floating sky palace, old temple... you get the picture, I'm sure... and do war upon said villain. At the end, a sparkly corpse is left at our feet, the day is temporarily saved, and then someone else ignores all the evidence to the contrary and starts the whole thing up again.

Not all of the dead Jokers in our track were Jokers, of course. Some were Riddlers, or Penguins, or even just barely Calendar Mans. But we've definitely left a few Jokers strewn among the pile of dead would-be world destroyers, conquerors, and assorted evil people. Lady Vashj, Illidan, Arthas, Deathwing, Ragnaros, Al'Akir, Kel'Thuzad, Malygos, we've taken out some important figures with a great deal of significance to the setting. The up side is that it demonstrates the stakes and gives a player a sense of accomplishment to finally take down an archnemesis. The downside is, they're gone.

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

Features that have changed the World of Warcraft

Features that have changed the World of Warcraft
Time to be blunt. World of Warcraft is way better now than it was in vanilla.

Before you gasp and get a case of the vapors, let's get real here. I'm me, it's true, you know it's true. The talent system? Leaps and bounds better than the last minute Diablo II clone we got in classic. Raiding? Raids today are more accessible, better designed, and far more varied then the resistapaloozas we got back in the day. I say this as a dude who farmed UBRS for the Draconian Deflector and who tanked Princess Huhuran in cloth freaking booties because they had nature resistance on them. Throughout its near-decade long run, World of Warcraft has constantly changed, iterated and improved on the experience it provides. Every patch, every expansion has made adjustments and tweaks, and while nothing is perfect and not all changes were good (We all know that any change to warriors that didn't make them invincible supergods wasn't a good one, am I right? Why are there so many crickets here?) the game has moved forward with new systems and features.

For me, it's interesting to look back over the history of the game at those changes that really improved the player experience or changed it in a fundamental way, that altered how we play. And so, now I'll do exactly that. With Flex Raids on the horizon for patch 5.4, what else can we look back on?

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

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Take what drops?

The Care and Feeding of Warriors Take what drops
Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Care and Feeding of Warriors, the column dedicated to arms, fury and protection warriors. Despite repeated blows to the head from dragons, demons, Old Gods and whatever that thing over there was, Matthew Rossi will be your host.

In looking over the changes to warriors in patch 5.4, we know that the patch will be going live on September 10th and, as of now, we've seen very little in way of buffs to our DPS (fury is seeing a change to Storm Bolt that might make it worth taking, arms is getting some AoE dps buffs and all warriors should see a slight bump from Deep Wounds, but nothing terribly significant) - I think it's safe to say we're not going to see anything like a buff to our main attacks at this point. Combined with some set bonuses that will favor arms over fury (the two piece, anyway) and I admit that I'm considering going arms once 5.4 rolls around. This is deeply ironic considering I just got a heroic thunderforged 1h weapon for my SMF set. I took the scimitar for three reasons I think most warrior players will appreciate.
  • It was a huge improvement over my normal 2h raid weapons.
  • It dropped and I could use it.
  • See number two.
While SMF puts out more DPS than either TG or arms as of right now (it's debatable whether or not that will continue) the two fury specs are close enough that as of right now, DPS warriors are in a strange position of being able to essentially switch between the two. It's not as easy as simply slapping on the weapons, of course - the current game is one with reforging and gem selection to consider. In order to go from TG to SMF, I have to reforge several pieces of gear as well as change my gem selection (and it is of course even harder to go arms from either TG or SMF). This is somewhat counter to the idea that you would use either TG or SMF based on whatever drops - even if you find yourself suddenly holding a much better SMF set, you can't ignore the work you'll need to get SMF ready, and you certainly can't switch between the two on a fight per fight basis.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

How long is too long for a raid?

How long is too long for a raid
I remember the year I spent in Icecrown Citadel. I'm not really exaggerating - it was from December to December, so about a year total. It was about the longest time I spent on a raid, including the days of Molten Core - for comparison, Molten Core was the only real endgame raid besides Onyxia's Lair from November of 2004, WoW's release date, until July of 2005, so roughly eight months. Interestingly, the Shadow of the Necropolis patch (patch 1.11) came out in June of 2006, so in the year between the first and last raids of classic WoW we saw MC, Onyxia, BWL, Zul Gurub, Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj, Temple of Ahn'Qiraj and finally Naxxramas. All of these raids released between July of 2005 and June 2006. Not all of these raids were replacements for previous ones - Blackwing Lair and AQ 40 were considered 'sidegrades' from each other, at least until one killed C'thun, who until the release of Naxxramas had the best gear in the game. The two 20 man raids, ZG and AQ20, did not replace BWL or evn MC gear, they just provided another place to go.

Because of the way raids were structured back then it's a little misleading to compare classic's raid release schedule with our modern one. Raids were something a very few players overall did - there was no parity between smaller and larger raid sizes, no LFR, no flex (although by the time Naxxramas came out, some guilds were running MC, Onyxia and even BWL/AQ with smaller raids to maximize gear acquisition before heading into Naxx) and the only way to gear up for raids was either to be carried through said raids by geared groups and handed all the stuff they didn't want or need anymore, or to start on the ground floor and run the level 60 dungeons. The design wasn't structured around raiding being accessible or allowing a larger group of players to see these fights - raiders got to see them, and if that was 10% of the people playing the game, that's what it was.

It's interesting to look at how players react to raid content now. A commonly expressed sentiment is that Throne of Thunder, a raid first released on March 5th, 2013, has been around too long and players are eager for new content. This is a raid that has been around for six month, and will be superseded around the time it enters it's seventh. While hardly the shortest time a raid has ever had to be run through, it's not much longer than the initial tier of Mists raid content, either. Mists of Pandaria released on September 25th, 2012, meaning that from October 2012 to March 5th 2013 we only had MSV, HoF and ToES - a time of about five months. What makes five months acceptable and seven months unacceptable? Are two months that much longer to raid a zone?

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

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