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Posts with tag homogenization

I forgot what class I was playing


I'll set the dramatic stage for you: I was running around on my hunter, having a grand old time just killing off some quests and slaying Mantid left and right. Pandaria was my oyster -- it was the perfect treat for a lazy Sunday afternoon. In the middle of my journey, around the southern scar that tears through The Dread Wastes, I ran into a warlock.

We ended up questing next to each other, and were getting along fine. I never actually talked to him, mind you, but we were comfortable soloing in the same vicinity. But as it happens often enough, there can a point when I grabbed a few mobs and he did as well, and they got all entangled with our pets. Now, this is fine and all, neither of us died, but during the entanglement something happened.

I thought I was playing my warlock again.

I was looking at his Voidwalker and wondering why he wasn't attacking my target. Without looking down, I instinctively started pressing 1 rapidly, which for years has defaulted to my primary class attack plus a pet attack macro. The Voidwalker came over as instructed, and as I was lost in the moment of combat, during the fog of our virtual war on internet dragons, I thought to myself "My Tier 5 really does look pretty badass."

It was at that moment that I realized I was looking at the other player, at the warlock next to me, and not my hunter. And then? And then I felt sad.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Shifting Perspectives: Class homogenization and the cat

Every week, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week, we poke the issue of class homogenization and wait to see if it pokes back.

Before the class announcements hit, I had drafted an article on what I would have loved to see Blizzard do for bears, cats and trees in Cataclysm. You've already seen the expanded bear portion, which was published a few days before the druid announcement was made (no one's ever accused me of great timing), but the cat and tree bits have been (as we say) overtaken by events.

We've already looked at the feral information released, so I don't think it's necessary to recap that. However, I'd like to take a closer look at the cat this week, in much the same way that we turned a critical eye to the Tree of Life's impending disappearance. As much as I generally counsel against reading my own work without access to a prescription stimulant or at least hard liquor, you may find the first portion of the Tree article helpful in giving some background on Cataclysm's class goals.

As a TL:DR on our previous feral analysis, seen through the lens of the tree article's conclusion on Blizzard's design intentions:
  1. Cat damage is in a good place, druids are happy that it's not a "faceroll" spec, and I think Blizzard is happy with that as well. PvE-wise, I don't think we have a lot to worry about.
  2. Many of the changes I saw have more interesting implications for PvP. This is the third expansion in a row where cats are getting more versions of rogue skills, in implicit recognition (I would argue) of the spec's uninspiring arena performance relative to its parent class.
Which leaves us with this week's question: When a spec is literally designed as a copy of a pure class, is a certain amount of class homogenization a good thing? Beware, readers -- arm-waving ahead!

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Filed under: Druid, Add-Ons, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Balancing class strength and flavor

One of the things I hear a lot from other tanks (especially paladin tanks) is how much they envy Charge, and especially being able to Charge in combat. "Man, I'd give up X for Charge." Usually what they want to give up is their shield throw, or their AoE taunt, which of course is not a terribly compelling idea: warriors have parallels for these abilities and charge isn't one of them. Heroic Throw is our weaker form of Avenger's Shield and Challenging Shout is our stronger but longer cooldown AoE taunt. As soon as they gave up Righteous Defense (which rocks on the Lich King fight, btw) they'd just say "Man, I'd give up X for Challenging Shout" anyway. If warriors actually managed to give up Shockwave for Consecration they'd want it back in a week.

What it ultimately comes down to is the difference between a necessary ability and one that is useful but not necessary. You also need to take iconic roles into account. I doubt many would support giving warriors Blessing of Kings, Blessing of Sanctuary, Lay on Hands, the paladin system of Auras, or what have you. The ability to die without taking equipment damage via Divine Intervention? How much, exactly, is Charge worth and if it's so pivotal to tanking why are you rolling a paladin to tank instead of a warrior? How do we keep classes compelling and interesting while giving them the tools to do the same job?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

WoW Insider interviews Tom Chilton

A couple of days ago at the midnight release of Wrath of the Lich King in Anaheim, CA, our very own Dan O'Halloran had an opportunity speak with Tom Chilton (also known as Kalgan), Lead Game Designer of World of Warcraft. They spoke on a wide variety of topics, from raid philosophy to the growth of the game in North America and many things in between. Read on to see what Kalgan had to say!

WoW Insider:
What did Blizzard think was the most surprising class development of The Burning Crusade? Did you think Paladin tanks would be as popular as they were, did you anticipate the Druid supremacy in the arena?

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Filed under: Events, Blizzard, News items, Interviews, Wrath of the Lich King

Neutral Factions: An idea whose time has passed

Yeah, I know we were killing each other yesterday, but uh... hey! Let's all get along now!

Neutrality in factions started with the Steamwheedle Cartel and only got worse. It seems that once you get to the level cap, most of the intense rivalry between the factions, at least as expressed in the PvE game, peter off to nothing. Almost every faction accepts both Horde and Alliance fighters. In Burning Crusade, they even share the same capital, and it looks like that will be happening again in WoTLK with Dalaran -- despite that fact that, 50 levels earlier, the Horde utterly devastated Dalaran's holdings in Silverpine Forest and Hillsbrad.

The general argument for this change is that at higher levels, most people learn to put aside their differences and fight the greater challenges that threaten to wipe both sides out. My problem with that line of reasoning is that up until the end game, what we're trying to wipe out is each other.

In the Ghostlands, the Night Elves are involved in extensive operations to attack the Blood Elves. In Ashenvale, the Horde is constantly attacking the Night Elves, including setting up spy posts and killing their animal companions. In the southern Barrens, the Dwarves are willing to wipe out the Tauren to set up their excavations. In Lordaeron, the Forsaken have the stated intent of wiping out the alliance, devastating one settlement and even making a preliminary attack against Southshore.

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Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Instances, Quests, Expansions, Factions, Battlegrounds

WWI '08 Death Knight Demo: General Impressions


We learned at the Q&A panel on Saturday that Death Knights will be starting at a new area just off Eastern Plaguelands called Ebon Hold, but for now, it remains unimplemented. Thus, these demo Death Knights start at Tirion Fordring's house in the west of Eastern Plaguelands.

On Death Knight Gear and Gear Mechanics:

They start with a complete outlay of green gear with DPS Warrior type stats: strength, agility, critical strike rating, and stamina. Their sword itself is blue quality 2 hander named the Massacre Sword. It does 127-191 damage at at a speed of 3.1 seconds, giving it 51.3 DPS. It also provides 22 strength and 23 hit rating.

It should be noted that the gear did not have spellpower, and it doesn't look like Death Knights will need it at all. Almost every spell that did magic damage specifically stated that the damage was modified by attack power. This is perfectly in line with Blizzard's recent trend to simplify and consolidate gear, which they discussed in relation to Retribution Paladins at Saturday's class panel. Perhaps we'll even see this mechanic show up on other magical melee hybrids in the future.

The Death Knight came loaded with 6 runes on their rune weapon bar: 2 Blood Runes, 2 Unholy Runes, and 2 Frost Runes. Talents points were unavailable with this demo, although we could see the talent descriptions themselves.

Death Knight Starting Spells and Playstyle:

The Death Knights started with a few basic skills:

Blood presence:
Requires level 55
Costs 1 Blood Rune
Instant cast, 1 second cooldown
Description: Strengthens the Death Knight with the presence of blood, increasing damage done by 15% and healing the Death Knight by 4% of damage dealt. Only one presence may be active at a time.

Blood Strike:
Requires level 55
Costs 1 Blood Rune
Instant cast, 1 second cooldown
Melee range
Description: Instantly strike the enemy, causing 60% weapon damage plus 55 for each disease effect on the target.

Icy Touch:
Requires level 55
Costs 1 Frost Rune
Instant cast, 6 second cooldown
20 yard range
Description: Deals 217 to 235 Frost damage modified by attack power and reduces the target's ranged, melee attack, and casting speed by 15% for 20 seconds.

Death Coil
Requires Level 55
Requires Runic Power
Instant cast
30 yard range
Description:Unleashes all available runic power, causing up to 460 shadow damage modified by attack power to an enemy target or healing up to 460 damage from a friendly undead target.

Death Gate
Requires Level 55
Costs 1 Unholy Rune
10 second cast, 15 minute cooldown
Description: Returns you to Ebon Hold (Note: Since Ebon Hold is not yet implemented, in the demo it returned you to Tirion Fordring).

Death Grip
Requires level 55
Costs 1 Unholy Rune
Instant cast, 35 second cooldown.
30 yard range
Description: Harness the unholy energy that surrounds and binds all matter, drawing the target toward the Death Knight and forcing the enemy to attack the Death Knight for 3 seconds.

Plague Strike
Requires level 55
Costs 1 Blood Rune and 1 Unholy Rune
Instant cast
Melee range
Description: A vicious strike that deals weapon damage plus 37 and plagues the target, dealing 350 shadow damage over 12 seconds.

Casting these spells uses up the listed runes, which have a cooldown of 10 seconds. Our (lucky) play tester reported that the system felt a bit like having 3 seperate mana pools with their own spells, but that the pacing seemed to work well, and that she was now interested in actually trying one out in when beta rolls around where she hadn't been before.

Introducing the Knights of the Ebon Hand

After roaming about a bit and killing stuff, Elizabeth stumbled upon Light's Hope Chapel. This venerated base of the Argent Dawn had some new guests known as the Knights of the Ebon Hand, lead by a night elf named Siouxsie the Banshee, a Death Knight trainer. It's likely, of course, that these NPCs will be gone and moved to Ebon Hold once it's implemented, but for now, they gave us a sneak peek at the new Death Knight faction and some of the spells Death Knights will get post-55.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Events, Expansions, Leveling, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King, Worldwide Invitational

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