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Posts with tag Gear

PvP and the barrier to entry

I was very disappointed when the Trial of the Gladiator ended up not making it as a PvP mode. I get all the objections to it (Olivia raises a handful of them here) but for my money, the biggest reason I stopped PvPing seriously way back in The Burning Crusade and never started up again is twofold - the introduction of Arenas and the rise of PvP gear.

For me, PvP (especially back when I ran the ladder) was all about going into a battleground, solo, and seeing what happened. Many times I got stomped so hard that I barely knew what my name was, other times we'd have a great game. After the ladder went away, I PvP'd even more because I was using the gear in PvE content - this was back before resilience even existed - and I wore some of that gear all the way to 70, as you can see in my mismatched set above. Even in BC, when resilience first took off and arenas were introduced, I often PvP'd to supplement my PvE gearing, or even to replace it on alts that didn't raid. But the more stratified PvP and PvE became, and the more gearing intensive PvP became, the harder it became to even do things like random BG's without first acquiring a full set of PvP gear. The barriers got taller and taller, and I was less and less interested in jumping over them.

I understand why this all happened - dedicated PvPers wanted a separate experience, free from the need to PvE at all. PvE players didn't like that sometimes the best route to getting gear was to run battlegrounds. Even now, with some 550 PvP items dropping from the Celestials, people are upset that there are PvP items that are better for them than PvE items. But for me, the solo PvPer, arenas and the stratification of WoW's PvP and PvE games became too great for me to keep participating. Even now that I'm PvPing more often, I'm only doing so at the end of the expansion, when I could buy a set of good PvP gear for justice points so I don't have to go into BG's without any PvP power and get steamrolled.

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

The future of itemization

I've written long, eloquent defenses of reforging. And this week, I finally snapped. The fact that I have to reforge between my arms spec and my fury spec (and not just reforge, but regem) has finally broken me. I now take it all back - reforging sucks. It compensates for things that are flaws in the modern game, but I no longer find that charming. I just find it irritating that those faults exist and that we have a means to wallpaper over them doesn't change the fact that they exist.

In a way, my relationship with reforging mirrors my relationship with the old tanking scheme that existed before Mists of Pandaria - I knew there were flaws with threat generation, but I'd grown familiar with them. I understood that they were there and how to circumvent them. In the modern game, there are significant flaws with itemization, and reforging is that means to circumvent them, so I've been a big booster of and supporter of it ever since it was introduced back in Cataclysm. But I was wrong. Using reforging to sandpaper down the jagged edges where gear doesn't meet our needs doesn't change the fact that gear doesn't meet our needs - it merely conceals those edges.

We know that we're going to have two new stats - multistrike and readiness - in addition to critical strike, haste and mastery. None of these are caps in the same way that hit or expertise are (soon to be were) - we'll see how they work, but we already know some talents will affect them or be affected by them, like the upcoming Anger Management talent for warriors. So what I'm wondering is, are we finally going to see a situation where there's enough gear with stats individual classes want that we don't need a system to make up for gear's shortcomings? Or are we just going to have to make the best of bad itemization again, like we did back in Wrath?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Warlords of Draenor

Blood Pact: So you want to play a warlock

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Blood Pact for affliction, demonology, and destruction warlocks. This week, Megan O'Neill explores the beginning of MoP.

The next thing is to write a "how to warlock" at 90 series, but I feel like I've done this before. The deja vu is strong with this one topic.

Oh right! I wrote something like it back in 2012, when the big patch 5.0 first came out. Not all of the same advice is relevant -- well, Soul Link isn't what it was anymore, for one -- but the basics are all still there. I'll go over the specs in detail later, so let's start with the general introduction to warlocks.

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

Why do we still have separate PvP and PvE gear?

While seeking out questions to a Queue I wrote, I was asked by a Twitter follower why we had separate PvE and PvP gear in the first place. A question I love, and that I wouldn't be able to respond to briefly enough for The Queue. I'm not going to go into a complete, exhaustive history of PvP gear. For starters, I didn't play in Classic, so I can't really comment on the gear then, but I gather that there was a lot more overlap between the two.

Then, with Burning Crusade, back in 2006, the combat rating system and Resilience were both introduced, along with arenas. PvP gear was born. It's been through many different iterations since then -- too easy to get, too hard to get, too bad for PvE, too good for PvE, different effects, stat budgets, you name it. But history, while it merits repetition, shouldn't have too much bearing on this question in today's game.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Blood Sport (Arena PvP)

Arcane Brilliance: Challenge mode tips for mages part 2


Every other week, WoW Insider brings you Arcane Brilliance for arcane, fire and frost mages. Stacey Landry is the resident mage here, bender of space and time, conjurer of delicious confectioneries and expert at dressing well while setting things on fire.

This is part two of three challenge mode tips for mages articles. Click here to go back and read part one.

This week we're going to look at getting your gear ready to dive into challenge modes! First, a few loose ends. I neglected to mention another reward for finishing gold CMs: Challenger's Path. This is a teleport on an 8 hour cooldown that will take you straight to the entrance of a CM you achieved a gold rating in! Once you complete any CM, the teleport cooldown resets. They're very handy for getting around Pandaria.

Some mages left comments about doing gold CMs as arcane. That's great! If you have any CM-specific arcane questions, I'm sure they'd be happy to share some of their strategy in the comments this week. I'll still be assuming you are probably frost. Frost is the most accessible and easiest option for the average mage, but I didn't say it couldn't be done by another spec. The reason for this is that frost scales better than the other two specs at lower item levels. It will perform well for you and can put out some serious AoE damage. Most mages doing CMs use it.

Finally, Adam Koebel posted an introductory challenge mode guide this week. It also includes links to recommended strat videos. HamletEJ's were the ones I used.

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Filed under: Mage, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Should weapons be more universal?

I admit it, I love talking about the new gear paradigm in Warlords of Draenor because it's such a big change, with so many permutations. But as big as it is, some folks think it's not going far enough. This post over on the 7th Tower discusses weapons and how they could be made more universal, and it got me thinking - should we move away from the era of agi, strength and/or int weapons?

There are multiple ways to do this. The easiest would be simply to put Attack or Spell Power on weapons, which would still leave them segregated by role to some extent (melee would want the AP weapons, ranged casters would want the SP weapons, and hunters would still be the only ones using bows, crossbows and guns). A more complicated but perhaps more compelling system would be to have them switch between AP and Spell Power, so that a holy paladin could use a weapon for healing, then switch over and use said weapon for tanking. Still more complex but perhaps even more interesting would be to have weapons retain int, agi or strength and switch depending on which class was using them as well as each role. If you visit the original post at 7th Tower, he breaks down how it might look using Siege of Orgrimmar as a template. The current breakdown of agility and strength weapons would, in either scheme, now be available to a broader range of players.

It would certainly fit within the paradigm of broader usefulness for gear established by the changes to armor. The question becomes what are the up and downsides to this?

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

How hybrid should hybrids be?

In terms of design elements that have been problematic over the course of World of Warcraft's existence, the idea of hybrid classes and what, exactly, they should be able to do has always been one of them. When the game first debuted, two hybrids - priests and warriors - weren't even treated like hybrids. Priests were considered healers, with their two healing spects (holy and disc) while shadow was barely utilized, and warriors were not only nearly the only tanking class (druids and paladins could tank, but warriors were the unrelentingly favorite choice in classic WoW) and they were designed as a pure DPS class as well, not balanced as a hybrid, in their DPS roles.

Over the course of the years and years since classic (seven of them, to be exact) we've seen hybrid classes rise to ascendancy. The way hybrids were balanced for pure DPS changed to be much closer to pure DPS classes, and since all healers and tanks are hybrids there's been competition between each for both of these roles (considering that the two new classes added during WoW's life, death knights and monks, are both tanks and monks are also healers, competition has been necessary) making hybrids more attractive. However, it was really the addition of dual spec that made hybrids start to live up to the ideal of the hybrid class - with dual spec specialization, a druid can choose to have a tanking and healing, or tanking and ranged DPS, or healing and melee DPS specialization ready to be selected at the touch of a button.

However, it's never as easy as all that. Yes, a paladin can have a ret and protection spec, or protection and holy, or holy and ret ready to go. But he or she still needs to gear said spec. If you intend to heal for you raiding, tank for five mans and flex, and go ret for fun you'd actually not only need to hit a trainer from time to time to drop a spec, you'd also need three sets of gear ready to go. And it is this very limitation, so woven into the fabric of the game over the past few years that I myself have almost entirely forgotten about it, that is about to be bent further than it ever has been.

Make no mistake - Warlords of Draenor will change not only what stats we want on gear, but how we use that gear.

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

Drowning in Timeless Coins

Drowning in Timeless Coins
I've been happily completing the daily over on the Timeless Isle every day -- it's an easy 50 valor points, after all. And while farming the 20 elite mobs needed for the quest, of course I've been hopping from rare mob to rare mob in search of pets or interesting toys. In the meantime, I've piled up a lot of Timeless Coins. I mean, a ridiculous number. I'd noticed people complaining that they had all these Timeless Coins, but I didn't really understand the problem. I mean, they aren't sitting in your bags taking up space in your inventory, they're just ... there. Incorporeal currency.

But it's slowly begun to sink in that there's a legitimate problem with the Timeless Isle and its bizarre form of currency -- namely that the only place you can spend that currency is on the Timeless Isle itself. Now don't get me wrong, I do enjoy buying trinkets and unusual things, but at the same time, if all those Timeless Coins pictured above were actually gold in my bank, I'd be ecstatic. Instead, I'm slightly nonplussed and wondering what the heck to do with all these incorporeal things I've gathered.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

The Care and Feeding of Warriors: The Plunder from the Siege Part 2

The Care and Feeding of Warriors The Plunder from the Siege Part 2
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.

Seven bosses down, six to go. Let's talk about the loot we're going to, well, loot from the Siege of Orgrimmar. As an aside, this is the most I've ever felt like I was actually looting a place.

Malkorok

Winner of the prestigious "Name that I keep sticking extra A's in for no reason" award, and this raid's Hulk impersonator. What does the big M drop? Besides pain. He drops some pain. But also loot. Let's look at it, shall we?

Malkorok's Skullcleaver - solid for either tanking or SMF fury, with hit and critical strike rating and a red socket. It also appears to have a set of tauren horns mounted on the side of it, which is somewhat disturbing.

Vial of Living Corruption - tanking trinket, the stam on it is useful (stam is still a solid tanking option, even if it lacks the appeal of hit or mastery or an avoidance stat) but the cooldown reduction is the real draw here. It actually works on both Last Stand and Shield Wall for protection as well as Recklessness, meaning you can get more crit and thus put out more damage/threat (as well as guaranteeing a Shield Slam critical hit to Enrage you).

Malkorok's Giant Stompers - tank/DPS boots with expertise, mastery, a blue socket and a crit bonus on that socket. I'd definitely use them for tanking over DPS unless expertise is a significant problem for you, there's better DPS options for boots in the raid as a whole.

Malkorok's Tainted Dog Tags - See, this is why it feels like we're really actually looting a place - we're practically rummaging through Malkorok's entire kit of worldly possessions. This necklace is a very solid melee DPS neck for warriors, with critical strike and mastery.

Legplates of Willful Doom - On the one hand, very nicely itemized DPS legs with crit, mastery and three sockets. On the other hand, with legs and gloves dropping not just in this raid but from the Celestials on the Timeless Isle (not the Timless Isle, although I have not seen Tim out there yet) it's likely you'll have your 2 piece by the time you fight Malkorok, and thus, these legs won't be of much use to you.

Blood Rage Bracers - Parry/Expertise tank bracers, solidly itemized. Good for a warrior tank.

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Filed under: Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, (Warrior) The Care and Feeding of Warriors, Mists of Pandaria

Is gearing the game, or does it get in the way?

Is gearing the game, or does it get in the way
I've spent a lot of time thinking about gear lately. PvP gear, specifically, how it's changed, and how it compares to PvE gear. I've also been thinking about my fairly awful gear-related luck, in both my guild's raids and the raid finder, and looking back to earlier tiers when, thanks in part to not being quite so busy, I've been far higher in the gear curve far earlier in the tier.

As part of my post-grad studies, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time looking at the psychology of gaming. One of the theories on how games like WoW keep people interested, and a good theory at that, was one revolving around breadcrumbs. Like a trail of breadcrumbs, WoW offers the player lots of small, reachable rewards. Nothing so big that you feel like you're done, but lots of small things that aren't too hard to get to. Perhaps those things are in pursuit of something bigger, but they happen fairly regularly. Think of valor points, for example. A little additional reward for completing straightforward tasks. Reputation is another good example. Or leveling, be it a character or a profession.

Gear is much the same, it is the carrot that remains only slightly out of reach, pushing you to play just a little longer. In a PvE context, for an average player at least, you're never really done. Think of Thunderforged gear, this is an additional breadcrumb for those players who are at the top of the ladder already.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Patch 5.4 PTR: Initial ilevel ideas for the new raid levels

Patch 54 Initial ilevel ideas
Blizzard Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street has tweeted the developers' preliminary item levels for the next tier's raid gear. Patch 5.4 is bringing in flexible raiding, a fourth difficulty level, which sits between Raid Finder and Normal raids in terms of both item level and difficulty.

Do note, first and foremost, that these numbers are not finalized. They should be taken with a very large pinch of salt, and are subject to considerable change. The PTR isn't even live at the time of writing this post, so let's not get ahead of ourselves and proclaim the end of days for raiding.

So let's look at the current item levels. Raid finder drops 502, normal mode 522, normal thunderforged 528, heroic mode, 535, heroic thunderforged 541. So, the gap between normal mode and LFR has been widened, from 20 to 25, with Flex sitting 17 levels lower than normal mode. The gaps above that are the same, but there's been no mention of something like Thunderforged gear.

For heroic geared raiders, Flex seems like a logical difficulty at these levels, but there will be some theorycrafting that needs to be done to ascertain whether the new tier's potentially lower-level drops will outdo their current gear thanks to set bonuses, trinkets and the like. What this ilvl distribution seems to be saying is that heroic-geared raiders shouldn't need to run LFR at all. But, this is all subject to change.

Filed under: Raiding, Mists of Pandaria

Patch 5.3: New gear vendors for Cataclysm leveling

Patch 53 New gear vendors for Cataclysm leveling
Two new gear vendors were added in Patch 5.3 that sell ilevel 232 gear so that you can immediately do the Blackrock Cavern and Throne of Tides dungeons upon reaching level 80. The ilevel requirement for both dungeons is 226 which is greater than the questing and dungeon gear from Wrath of the Lich King. Before the patch, if you were leveling up via dungeons, you had to stop and quest for a bit at level 80 in order to get the ilevel of gear required to continue running instances.

Quartermaster Iris Moondreamer at the Nordrassil Inn in Hyjal sells full sets of gear for each class. In Vash'jir, Erunak Stonespeaker saves you from drowning and then sells the same gear as Iris. The beginning quest reward gear in Cataclysm is ilevel 272, so questing for a while will get you better equipment, but these new vendors help close the gear gap.

Note: If you are choosing to buy your gear from Erunak, make sure to do so before completing the quest chain that gets you out of the sunken ship. as he stops being a vendor in the next phase.

I had missed this detail in the patch notes so it was a pleasant surprise when questing in Hyjal on a mage that had leveled the previous 20 levels via pet battles and archaeology. Though the gear gap isn't as large between the older expansions, I'd still like to see more supply vendors like these and the ones in Pandaria as you level up, particularly if you are doing so in a non-traditional way.

Filed under: News items

Is it time to remove all transmog restrictions?

panda mog
I think an experience along these lines is pretty common for WoW transmog enthusiasts: "Fantastic, I finally got the Talon of the Phoenix! I'm gonna transmog it to... wait. I'm using an axe for raiding." Or maybe this one: "Yes! This is an amazing upgrade! ...Oh I can't transmog a two-handed weapon into a main and off-hand, so I have to redo my outfit." I use weapons as examples because they often have the most limited transmog options, despite the fact that Blizzard did lift a lot of their restrictions in patch 5.2. Polearms and staves can be transmogged into each other. One-handed maces, axes, and swords can be transmogged into each other. Two-handed maces, axes, and swords can be transmogged into each other. But two-handed axes, swords, and maces cannot be transmogged into staves or polearms. Fist weapons cannot be transmogged into one-handed swords, axes, or maces.

In one view, the limitations make sense. As a druid, I can use staves, polearms, and two-handed maces. I cannot use two-handed axes or swords. If there were no restrictions, I could transmog my healing staff into a sword and be a resto druid with a sword. That seems odd to me. Then again, I can be a resto druid with a staff transmogged to a polearm, but I cannot be a resto druid with a staff transmogged into a two-handed mace, even though I can equip both those weapons.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Transmogrification

Gear is good. Gear works.

Gear is good Gear works
I initially had the intention of refuting Adam's dissertation on why we don't need gear in World of Warcraft with the same length and exhaustive detail he himself used. But I don't think that's the proper course here. By now, many of you will have commented in similar fashion. Instead, I'll go for simplicity and list some reasons why WoW should keep gear.
  1. Gear provides a means to tune content for consumption. Right now, dungeons, raids, scenarios and even leveling content is tunable along many aspects of gameplay, including whether or not it's intended for groups or to be soloable, whether or not it's for certain size of groups, whether a healer is intended, and what level of offensive power/healing/tanking ability is permitted by gear. Removing gear from the game means content loses a slider, giving the developers less options.
  2. Demanding that all content difficulty be based purely on skill is unnecessarily restrictive to players. Quite frankly, letting groups outgear content is good for the game. It allows groups that couldn't quite get an encounter down for whatever reason to come back later with better gear and try again. It lets groups go down a raid tier and have fun blasting through previously difficult content, or lets players shine in dungeons or scenarios that were once grueling. It even allows players to go back an expansion or two and have fun soloing what once took entire raids to complete.
  3. MMO's that eschew gear work best when designed from the start in this manner, and even then they often use things that are gear in all but name. A game that uses enhancements to modify powers, for instance, is just using gear by a different name.
So let's talk more about why gear is in fact good and shouldn't go anywhere after the break.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Editorial: Gear ... GONE!

Get Rid of Gear How to revolutionize MMOs in one easy step
I'm making a direct plea to Ghostcrawler and the other designers: take a hard look at the other games out there, and look at how everything is just the same. You start with no gear, you get some starter gear, you get better gear, and you kill a boss. Rinse and repeat. The story plays itself a thousand times in a thousand different worlds.

WoW tells the gear story better than any other game on the market. No game has the balance that WoW has, and no game as the ability to gear up in the overall fun way WoW lets you. However in my opinion, that story is getting old. The gear grind needs to be ground to a halt, and a new era focused on skill and teamwork needs to be ushered in.

WoW is ripe for this kind of dramatic change. Blizzard isn't afraid of taking risks, and taking such a step like this would be a risk. After all, the game would be placed not in the hands of time players spend grinding gear, but instead in the skill that they have. Gone would be the unskilled player with great gear getting into raids over the skilled player with bad gear, elevated would be the overall discourse on encounters, and gone would be the endless problems associated with finding the perfect balance of loot.

While I'm under no impression that Blizzard will actually take these suggestions and use them, I do have hope that they can adequately contribute to the discussion of WoW's future.

What is the current gear model?
As I questioned yesterday, the current model is one of confusion between gear being functional (used for increasing stats), formal (making you look more aesthetically pleasing), and psychological (you must have the better gear, because your brain says so). While lately the trend is to have truly functional and aesthetic gear, the psychological factor still creeps in there. Many players still need that best piece of gear to feel complete.

And in the current model, we never feel complete. There's always something better, something more advanced. The grass is always greener on the more heroic side. So we do strange things.

Such as...

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

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