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World of Warcraft, complexity, and design vs. sprawl

One of those trends that comes out of reading a lot about World of Warcraft is you start to see patterns in the responses. One trend I (and others, to be fair) have noticed coming out of BlizzCon, and then from discussions with people that I think needs to be understood and explored by players is the notion of vastness in World of Warcraft - this is a game that has recently celebrated its ninth anniversary. In that time it's seen four expansions, with a fifth on the way. Each of these expansions has added something to the game - reforging, transmogrification, arenas, new raid content, new dungeon content, new classes, new spells and abilities, new levels, new stats - and in many cases, this all increases the overall complexity of the game. It goes far beyond simple to understand symptoms of this growth, like the upcoming item squish, and into a realm of interconnected complexity that causes dominos to fall in directions we may not have even seen before it happens.

We started the game with three classes capable of tanking. We're up to five. Along the way, tanking has changed and changed again, until its modern implementation barely even resembles what we were doing back in the days of ten or fifteen person UBRS groups - tanking today has a host of mob control abilities in order to allow them to more effectively control groups of adds, tools for mobility and is based around actively reducing incoming damage in a way it simply wasn't years before. Now, consider this - how does the game itself change in order to challenge the modern tank? What does it do to demand they play to their best? Encounters of the past wouldn't even make a modern tank blink - what challenge would Garr pose to today's tank, for example? A bunch of adds? Bring it. So design has to take these new tanking modes and abilities into account and provide new ways to give them difficult encounters... and these encounters thus create, in their turn, the new tank of the future.

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

Mists of Pandaria Beta: A look at the level 90 priest talents

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Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers the healing side of things for discipline and holy priests. She also writes for LearnToRaid.com and produces the Circle of Healing Podcast.

On my journey to level 90, the new priest talent Divine Star was what I found myself looking forward to the most. When the ability had first been announced at BlizzCon 2012, a few commenters suggested that the spell would probably behave just like Prismatic Barrier, an ability from League of Legends. Prismatic Barrier allows your character (specifically the character Lux) to throw her wand to a targeted location, shielding any allies standing in the wands path, then return to your character. When the wand returns, it returns to Lux's current location, as opposed to the location where she was standing when she first threw it, thus allowing you the potential to heal several different players in the two paths of the wand.

The prospect of being able to do this in WoW had a huge appeal to me because it required a certain degree of raid awareness that went beyond just staying out of the fire. Using it to its full potential would mean knowing where everyone in your raid was and positioning yourself in optimal locations to get the best of it. In League of Legends, these types of abilities are called skillshots because they require good aim and timing to be effective. I loved the idea of having that in WoW.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual Guidance: New priest talents in the Mists of Pandaria beta

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Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers the healing side of things for discipline and holy priests. She also writes for LearnToRaid.com and produces the Circle of Healing Podcast.

Let's get the bad news out of the way first: We've already lost Path of the Devout on beta. The good news is that in its place, we now have Feathers From Heaven, a talent that allows priests to lay out a little track of speed-boosting feathers. Think of them as those little speed arrows in Mario Kart, only they're feathers, and you can put them wherever you please.

The individual feathers have no expiration that I can tell, so you can lay them out in advance on one end of the room for special tactics in your raid encounters or PvP, if it suits your fancy. The ability has no mana cost at the moment. Instead, it is limited by charges: one feather per charge, and you can have three charges at a time. You can place one feather right after the other, but it takes 10 seconds to restore one charge. This allows you to spam three of them on the ground in succession if you like (something you can't do with Body and Soul) or spread them out gradually ahead of you in your path. They can be used by any friendly target, not just party members, so be mindful of people's stealing them if you're using them while leveling to snatch up quest items. Oh yeah, and the feathers can be used on top of water with Levitate.

So, you're excited about Mists of Pandaria now, right?

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual Guidance: First hands-on look at the Mists of Pandaria shadow priest

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. On alternate Wednesdays, shadow priesting expert Fox Van Allen comes from out of the shadows to bask in your loving adoration.

Beta access, sweet, delicious beta access. After weeks of waiting, I'm finally in the Mists of Pandaria beta. And man, does it taste sweet. Sure, in reality, I'd only been waiting a few weeks to get in. But when you're not in the beta and it seems like everyone else is, those weeks can feel like an eternity.

But you likely don't care about my emotions (you cruel, sadistic readers, you). You care about shadow priests and the changes made to them in the beta. And believe me, there are a lot of changes to shadow priests coming for MoP.

Yeah, I know, we've discussed a lot of those changes here in Spiritual Guidance. But already, there are changes to those changes. And frankly, the latest batch of changes is shocking. Every single spell that we hold dear is seeing a major change to it. Shadow Word: Pain, Vampiric Touch, Vampiric Embrace, and even Shadowy Apparitions -- it seems no spell is safe.

Are these changes the end of the world? Maybe they are. But you should know by now that I'm not going to tell you anything definite about that until you follow me after the break.

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Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance, Mists of Pandaria

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