Thursday, September 30, 2010

4.0.1 October 5th or 12th

As all current players know, 4.0.1 is coming soon. It's been available on the background downloader for a few weeks now, and odds are it's going live next Tuesday, or the week after at the latest. This is essentially the pre-Cataclysm patch. Highlights include:

  • Talent changes
  • DK Rune changes/Hunter Focus/Pally Holy Power
  • New Badge system (Justice points)
  • Spell scaling
This patch doesn't change the world yet, but alters all of the core mechanics in preparation for Cataclysm. Should make things interesting, and give everyone a chance to learn their class, try the new talents, etc.

Full PTR notes after the jump.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

WoW adds ability queue in Cata/4.0

According to this thread on the official forums, there is now an ability queue in WoW. To explain, currently if you push a button during a GCD, nothing happens because of the GCD. With this change, the first button you push during GCD becomes "locked" in queue; it is set to go off as the next skill you use. To some, that might sound cool: "I can decide what skill I'm going to use next earlier! That's awesome."

However, this leaves you unable to react to the ever-changing situation of combat. What happens when a proc goes off enabling/empowering Skill A, but you just queued Skill B? What if you notice you need to re-apply a DoT, but queued another nuke? What do you do in PVP if you queued up a damaging skill, but your target just got CC'd? The case of procs is where this probably hurts the most, as some procs (Bloodsurge) only give you a few seconds to react and the queue locks you out for another 1-1.5 seconds, giving you a smaller window in which to use your proc.

If this was an optional system that you could disable, I would have no problem with it. Some players (or even certain classes) could enable it if they found it beneficial, while others would not have to suffer unwanted changes to core gameplay mechanics. Hopefully Blizzard will add a toggle for this before it goes live.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Death Knight Tier 11 Armor Set Bonuses

Stats are finally out for all of the classes Tier 11 Armor. Unfortunately, models are only available for Warlock, Rogue, and Druid. Here's a link to all of the stats and set bonuses, but let's talk about the Death Knight sets.

DK Tier 11 Tank
Dodge seems to be the favored stat, appearing on 3/5 pieces; parry, hit and mastery all appear on two pieces. The stamina values seem REALLY high; nearly double what the ilvl 277 T10 set has now. Interesting to see that there are no high-armor (with armor in green) pieces this time around; I liked getting more mitigation from certain pieces instead of just avoidance.

The 2 piece bonus is 5% increased DS damage; not impressive but should help with threat, and traditionally the 2p has always done that instead of survivability.

The 4 piece is very nice, 50% longer duration for Icebound Fortitude. Anything that improves our cooldowns I'm a fan of, although I'll miss the T10 4p a lot going into Cata.

DK Tier 11 DPS
Haste is heavily favored for the DPS T11, it appears on 4/5 pieces (all but the legs); since haste now improved rune refresh rate, this looks good. hit rating and mastery appear on two pieces, and crit and expertise appear on one. The lack of expertise could make hitting the cap painful, but we'll see. Also interesting to note is that the DPS T11 has the same amount of stamina as the tank set; this fits with Blizzard's intent to close the gap in health pools between tanks and dps.

The 2 piece bonus makes up for the relative lack of crit rating on the armor: 5% increased crit chance with Death Coil and Frost Strike.

The 4 piece is a more broad dps increase: every time you gain a death rune (from Reaping, Blood of the North, or Blood Tap), you gain +1% attack power, stacking up to 3 times, for 30s.

Hopefully they put the models in for our tier soon!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dalaran Portals Removed in Cata!



Ahem. The latest beta change has been the removal of the portals to Org/IF/Sw from Dalaran and Shatt; the intention clearly being to force players back into their faction's capital cities instead of having everyone clustered in the previous expansion's content. According to many people online, this is the end of the goddamn world. Personally, I like the change. I've always liked the PVP aspect of Warcraft (and not just WoW), and found the idea of a neutral city that the Horde and Alliance shared (while not being able to kill each other) very silly. It broke immersion (such as it is) seeing tons of humans and orcs just chilling together in a game supposedly about war.

With this change we'll be back in Org, and they'll be back in IF or SW, and encounters with the opposite faction will be more rare (and bloody). All in all a good change to make things feel more worldly. This will also be another buff to mages, as the value of portals will rise considerably.

Cata Launch Delayed (probably)

According to MMO-Champion (who are usually right) Cata has been delayed; it was previously expected to launch in early November but now we're probably looking at an early December ship date. The interesting news is that Blizz intends to have the cataclysm happen and change the old world some time before that. This means we'll be able to mess around in the new world for a few weeks before the expansion actually launches and unlocks level 85, goblins/worgen, etc.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cata Questions: Are you coming back?

Since Cata's coming soon, let's see who's gonna be playing!

1. Have you ever played WoW?
2. Are you playing WoW now?
3. Do you plan to play when Cataclysm launches?
4. Horde or Alliance?
5. What class is/will be your main?

Death Knight Changes - Part Two

Let's talk talents.

This is now the dedicated tank tree. We gain Bone Shield from the old Unholy tree, Toughness from Frost, a -10% damage debuff added to Blood Boil, Crit Immunity from Blood Presence (bai bai def cap), free Icebound Fortitude, reduced CD on Strangulate, and finally Crimson Scourge; in addition to buffing Blood Boil's damage, if you use Plague Strike (since a single Unholy rune isn't super useful in an AOE tank situation) and the target is already infected with Blood Plague, your next BB is free. Additionally, Rune Tap is now improved by default, and a number of talents now cost less.

We lost...almost all of our DPS talents, as to be expected from a tanking tree. We retain Abom's Might to provide a raid buff (beyond horn), and remain a cooldown-focused tank. All in all, I'm generally pleased, although there honestly weren't that many changes to Blood from a tank perspective. Bone Shield isn't bad as long as it's viewed as another short cooldown instead of something to try and maintain for a damage buff.

Lastly, Blood's Mastery is Blood Shield: whenever you use Death Strike, you gain a shield that absorbs damage equal to 50% of the healing. I like this a lot, as it ensures you get the most out of your DS healing rather than risk some (or all) going to overhealing.

Frost gains On a Pale Horse (+mounted speed) from Unholy, a 4% increased physical damage taken debuff, a late-tier talent option for 2h Frost, and Pillar of Frost: essentially a tweaked Unbreakable Armor; it still increases Str by 20%, but rather than improve armor it now prevents against movement effects such as knockback. This fits the fact that Frost is now a dedicated dps tree; there is no longer a need for survivability talents. One final change of note is that Howling Blast now (again) has no cooldown.

In addition to losing a ton of passives, Frost loses Acclimation (magic resistance), Toughness, and Deathchill; the latter is the only DPS loss, as it was a free crit for your next Icy Touch, Frost Strike, Howling Blast or Obliterate on a 1m cooldown. Beyond that, the tree lost nothing interesting that was of any use for DPS. Frost's Mastery is Frozen Heart, a simple 20% increase to all Frost damage done. All told, they've done pretty well with Frost imo. Removing the cd on Howling makes the build more AoE friendly, while adding a 2h option (while maintaining dw) gives the tree a lot of versatility.

A lot of fun new stuff in the Unholy tree (which is good considering how many of it's old talents ended up in Blood and Frost). First off we've got Resilient Infection, a PVP talent that refreshes your runes when your diseases are dispelled. Next is Runic Corruption, which changes your Runic Empowerment to grant you +50% rune regeneration (instead of simply activating a random rune). Unholy also gains Hysteria, which is now renamed Unholy Frenzy. The final two new Unholy talents are ghoul related: first is Shadow Infusion, which applies a stacking (5x) 10% damage buff on your pet every time you cast DC. Next is Dark Transformation, which consumes all 5 stacks of Infusion to transform your pet for 30 seconds. These two really flesh out the role of the Unholy DK as the Warrior/Necromancer hybrid.

Gone are Bone Shield, On a Pale Horse, Wandering Plague, Crypt Fever/Ebon Plague, and a ton of passives. Surprisingly, Antimagic Zone remains (as does improved AMS), retaining the iconic PVP utility of the Unholy DK. The Mastery for Unholy is 20% increased disease damage; this is as unimpressive as Frost's, but with the rest of the changes it's hard to be too disappointed.

That wraps up my overview of the DK Talent changes coming for Cata. As with all unreleased content, this info is subject to change at any point. If that happens, I'll keep you guys posted.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Death Knight Changes - Part One

Ahh Death either hate them, or they're your new main. I fall into the latter. ^_^ I came back to WoW for WotLK primarily because I wanted to try the Death Knight; WoW's first Hero class, and one I had personally hoped for as a Horde exclusive, has lived up to my expectations. From an amazing starter experience, to an unstoppable solo powerhouse while leveling up, to a monster in PVP BGs and WG, to a badass tank; I've had my fun. But let's talk about the future...

New Rune System
The biggest change for DKs in Cata is the revamping of our Rune system. On live now, both runes of any given type (Frost, Blood, or Unholy) refresh at the same time; in Cata only one rune of each type can refresh at one time. This will essentially half the frequency with which we are able to use abilities, barring some front-loading like a rogue or kitty. To compensate for that, Blizz has given us Runic Empowerment. Whenever we dump RP, we have a 45% chance to activate a random rune. The other change (particularly for tanks) is that Rune Strike is no longer 'Next Melee' and is instead an instant strike. This will give us something to do when all our runes are cooling down, and hopefully proc one back for us. Here's a blue post with some more discussion about Runic Empowerment, and it's affect on DPS rotations.

New Skills
As mentioned above, Runic Empowerment is the first of our new skills; Dark Simulacrum is another. It's similar to spell reflect except that it acts as a debuff on the target, triggering when they next cast a spell and copying it's effect for the DK. We also get Necrotic Strike, a PVP skill that absorbs healing that would be done to the target. This is sort of a replacement for the old Plague Strike functionality that removed HoTs. Next we have Outbreak, a 1m cd that applies both of our diseases to a target and consumes no runes or RP. I like this one, because it will help me still be able to drop DnD, get both diseases up, and throw a DS on pull. Finally we get Festering Strike, a B/F skill that extends the duration of Frost Fever, Blood Plague and Chains on the target by 6 seconds. I'm not sure how much use that'll see outside of PVP, but we'll see.

Next time, I'll talk about the talent changes coming for Cata.

Cataclysm Talent Changes (General)

I know I'm a bit late to the party here, but I'd like to state how much I dislike the new, 31 point talents. The amount of freedom and customization the talent system has allowed was one of WoW's best features. It wasn't as deep as the AA system of EQ or EQ2, but still had enough depth that there were always a number of viable builds. Even in the "cookie cutter" specs most builds had 3-5 points of freedom in what they took.

When it was first announced that Cataclysm would have no new talents, but instead 5 more points allowing 51/21/x builds, I was psyched. There were so many cool combos I hoped to try out: Warlock SL/Meta, Rogue h4b/prep, etc. Even if you didn't want another 21p talent, 5 more points adds a TON of freedom to the build. All in all, a greater degree of freedom despite the fact that they weren't adding any 'new' talents.

Then they do an about-face, and say that they're cutting the trees back to Vanilla level, 31p. Furthermore, you MUST spend 31 in a tree before you can even branch out into a 2nd. That fact, combined with the removal of many talents, means that you're basically choosing a spec at level 10 and then fleshing it out with very little choice until level 70 or so. Additionally, you no longer get a talent point every level, which will make each of the games 85 levels feel even less important (removal of spell ranks only compounds this effect). That's not a huge deal to those of us who are already 80, but leveling has already felt tedious, and this is a change for the worse.

All in all I don't see the point in this change; they're dumbing down something that already wasn't difficult. If you're bad and can't make your own talent spec, you can look up a guildmate on the armory, or just check EJ. But apparently, that's too much work for the average WoW-tard.

Oh Hai

Hey guys, just starting this out as a place mostly to talk about Cata when it hits. 'til then I'll muse about random WoW related shit, and occasionally other game related topics. I play Horde on a PVP server; my main is a Tauren DK but I have almost every class at 80. I raid a lot, but not with a static guild or group. My server's got a pretty good PUG scene for ICC25, and I've lead a number of ICC10 LK kills.

That's all for now.