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Invisible Option Arrives For Battle.Net, This Mage Rejoices!

Because sometimes you want to have a stag dance party in front of the bank, and sometimes you don’t want anyone to know you’re online.

Back in May when Diablo came out, I wrote a post  bemoaning the lack of an “Invisible” feature on Battle Net. Well, today I arrive with good news: They are going to be implementing an invisible feature for Battle.Net!

I’ve still seen a certain amount of naysaying or people who seem unhappy that this is a feature they are going to implement. First of all, I think it’s important to look at context. Most major chat programs have had this feature for the entirety of my time on the internet. I was using ICQ (I Seek You, remember, ahah) in 1996 or 1997. I can’t remember which, but my original number was seven digits. This is an invitation for all ICQ e-peeners to tell me that THEIR number was in fact only FIVE digits or less! (Vosskah does this every time ICQ is mentioned). Anyway, ICQ had an option with the little invisible flower face. You could see friends that were online and even message them, but you yourself appeared offline. Which was great, because there’s always that one person who is going to message you as soon as they see you come online. You don’t like them, you’re fine with them, you just don’t always want to talk. Or maybe you only want to talk to one specific person and you just want to check and see if they are online. Whatever your motivations, I think it’s important to make this really clear:

You are never, ever entitled to demand someone’s attention in this context. No one is obligated to talk to you. No one needs to sacrifice their privacy on the altar of constant availability. So that’s the first thing. Invisible modes are awesome because they give us more choice, and we like more choice. If I want to pursue a solo activity, I can do that. That doesn’t mean I’m avoiding the “MMO” nature of WoW. Let’s say, for example, I want to go outside for a walk by myself. I may meet people on my walk. That’s fine. The world has people in it, almost all of whom are not me. Likewise, I may sometimes want to play WoW in a way that isn’t specifically group-oriented, such as farming herbs, exploring, or just doing whatever I want. A friend was telling me yesterday that people message him when he is in BGs. People message me when I am on my bank alt. I don’t want to have to put up a status every single time: “THIS IS MY BANK ALT,” because even that clue might not be enough for some. They don’t necessarily understand that “bank alt” to me is synonymous with “I don’t want to chat right now.” Because banking is a solitary activity for me. It may not be one for you. So you can stay online with nary a care in the world! If you want to focus completely on what you’re doing, you can do that.

Other people might argue, “Well obviously you have rude/inconsiderate/oblivious people on your list. Just take them off.” No! It’s not some angry, Real ID grudge match. I don’t have anyone on my list I don’t like or who isn’t a friend. But just because I like you doesn’t mean I always want to talk to you. If you’re like me, it’s really hard to say ‘no’ or hurt someone’s feelings if they have missed already obvious signs. Perhaps this is just an introvert thing, but I like having a bit more control over this. What makes me laugh is the assertion that because this feature is introduced, no one will ever be online. I suppose I can eat my hat if this turns out to be true, but I’d be really, really surprised.

Most of us are playing an MMO because we do like people. We have friends on our Battle Net list because we like those people especially. Sometimes wanting to be incognito doesn’t invalidate any of those things. I anticipate I’ll use the invisible feature probably in the neighbourhood of 5% of the time. 5% of the time I am banking. Many of my solitary activities include being online and in-guild chatting anyway, so they aren’t that solitary, and I’d be unlikely to use this feature for those times. If I want to make an alt on an RP server or “tour” to an RP server and enjoy that style of gameplay for awhile, I might be inclined to go invisible at those times. I’m a little bit shy about RP (also incredibly out of practice and have few friends who do it) so I don’t know if I’d even do this but at least I will have the option to do so. There may also, I admit, be the odd time when I just plain don’t want to talk to anyone and I might be off-line those times. If I feel that way, it’s okay. If I have friends who are off-line sometimes (but actually online) I’m not going to take it personally. I think that someone who is always invisible is going to be the rare exception to those of us who want to be able to narrow and widen our availability and focus depending on the circumstance and our feelings and mood.

Kudos to Blizzard for hearing us on this one. Battle.Net is slowly shaping up to be the kind of service I enjoy using. Cross-realm grouping, Battle Tags (instead of real names), and now finally an Invisible mode! I may think that it should have started out closer to its current incarnations (screen names from day one, with an invisible option from day one) but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth here. When a company actually makes changes based on feedback it gets from customers, it makes me feel validated and listened to. It makes me happy. I won’t use this feature all the time. But when I do, I will be thrilled that it exists!

Cinematic Retrospective: A Look At Warcraft Trailers

As most people have probably heard, the Mists trailer is out this morning! I watched it eagerly and I really enjoyed it. I saw some comments going around where people were comparing their “favourite” trailers or rating and numbering them. It seemed like a good opportunity to go back in time a little bit and reflect on the trailers for the previous expansions. It’s interesting to see the evolution in both aim and tone.

Vanilla

For me what really stands out about the classic “World of Warcraft” trailer is that it’s quite ambitious for the time. Keep in mind, I didn’t play the original Warcraft RTS games nor did I watch this trailer when it was current. Based on the way it’s put together, it feels to me as if they really wanted to highlight and showcase the various races that would feature in the game that people knew and loved from the originals. So it’s very, “Look, it’s a dwarf! Look, it’s a night elf! Look now she’s a panther OMG you guys!” That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either!

Something interesting to note for later (if you’re watching the cinematics along with me) is the characterization of the orc versus later orcs. The orc in this cinematic is very much “ROAR” and look there is fire and I am big and scary. To my ears he even sounds more bestial/brutish; if watching this trailer were my only experience with any Warcraft stuff I might think he was a monster rather than a playable, sentient race. This cinematic sets out to get people excited about what they will see in the online version of Warcraft, and is obviously aimed mostly at fans of the Warcraft universe.

The Burning Crusade

This is a trailer I watched closer to when it was actually released. I didn’t have any idea of the backstory of Illidan (Tyrande, Malfurion etc) at the time so I had no idea who the scary guy with the voice was. Watching it now with different eyes, I can appreciate the impact of the Illidan voiceover. You know it had a lasting effect, because how many times did you hear someone make a joke or quote, “I/You/Your Dog was not prepared”?

The blood elves and the draenei are characterized; they did a particularly good job with the female blood elf, in my opinion. Especially the first time you watch this trailer, you’re surprised by her sudden shift in attitude from seemingly innocent to sinister. There is a need in her that’s frightening, which is exactly the story of the Sin’dorei in the Burning Crusade.

Up until this point with the cinematics, Blizzard has been outdoing themselves each time. I’m not talking about the actual graphics of the cinematics (although they have obviously improved, along with technology) but also the scope and ambition. This one shows the Dark Portal with its swirling door – challenging players, even mocking them. “You are not prepared” became a catchphrase because it was so memorable and it hits right at the heart of gamers. You think I’m not prepared? I’m going to show you how prepared I am!

Wrath of the Lich King

This trailer. (Did you watch it again? You really should.) This trailer gave me chills. It’s so cleverly done. The juxtaposition of Terenas Menethil instructing his son on the responsibility of royalty paired with the dark visuals and the true horror and irony of what his son went on to become are nothing less than masterful. I don’t know if it’s because Blizzard had such a legendary figure from the previous games to build upon, but in terms of cohesiveness and impact this trailer blows all of the others out of the water. I can’t even find something to nitpick about with it. It has awe-inspiring visuals, emotional heft, and it also tells a story. Even the music used for it is phenomenal and it lends much to the story itself as the trailer unfolds. It is a tragic lament, an incredibly sad song – in keeping with what is also a tragic story.

The cinematic leaves you wanting to defeat the horrors that are hinted at here. I look at the legions of undead and I still get twitchy even to this day. I really want to kill the Lich King and everything he stands for. And this is knowing that I’ve already done so! This trailer is successful even when it’s an anachronism. Basically, I love it, and I loved Wrath, so I am clearly biased.

Cataclysm

The trailer for Cataclysm is an interesting case. I would argue (and you’re welcome to disagree) that it is much less successful than any previous trailer, even the Vanilla trailer. Oh sure, it has impressive visuals. You get the lava and the forge and the big dragon. But for me therein lies the problem that we’ve been talking about for all of Cataclysm: the story told in this trailer really boils down to “I am a big dragon destroying your Azeroth rawr.” It’s sad because the character of Neltharion has a lot of meat to it, none of which featured in Cataclysm at all. I found myself struggling to remember whether I even heard his voice when you’re fighting him, or if I only read what he said on the screen? The fact that I can’t remember seems eloquent enough to me.

That’s where this trailer falls down. It has some emotional impact, yes, but all of the weight of the trailer rests upon the locations Deathwing is destroying. It relies on you caring about seeing them destroyed. In that sense, it works. Seeing Thousand Needles awash in a great tidal wave is definitely upsetting. But other parts of the trailer just expose the suspension of disbelief necessary for Deathwing to work as a villain, and why he simply wasn’t that effective in Cataclysm. He was STANDING on Stormwind and he didn’t just raze it to the ground. Yes, it’s distressing to see a dragon with his claws planted at the front gate of Stormwind. But you know that Stormwind wasn’t actually destroyed, and then you have to wonder, why not? It took us an entire expansion to take him down, but for the majority of that he was just flying around randomly breathing fire on some things. Someone on Twitter pointed out (I’m sorry, I can’t remember who to attribute this to) that Deathing is basically a griefer. He waits until you are AFK and then ganks you by setting a zone on fire. I know some people joked that during Wrath we saw Arthas a little too much, but we saw him just enough as far as I’m concerned. I’ll never forget running into him in the “dream world” near Utgarde and how he squashed me like a bug. He was a villain who made things personal.

Other people have delved into this more deeply than I want to get into here, but essentially: Deathwing is just a big dragon (yawn) and that’s basically this trailer to me.

Mists of Pandaria

Now we get to the exciting new shiny that everyone wants to talk about! First of all, I want to talk about the orc  here. (Remember how I mentioned orcs earlier?) Notice what a huge difference there is with this orc versus the first orc featured in the classic WoW trailer! This orc is canny. He doesn’t just come lumbering up to the human, he’s watching him for a moment, gauging his opponent, thinking. Oh, there’s no doubt they are going to end up fighting (hello, orcs and humans) but he doesn’t just charge in blindly. When he accidentally reveals his position with a sound, then he’s lost the advantage and he seizes what he has left to him to try and catch the human off-guard.

I really like the way they chose to portray both the orc and the human here. The human is also a grizzled veteran and someone used to command. He’s not going to back down from a fight with the orc, and it’s a great fight scene. As the trailer goes on, the appearance of Chen Stormstout just makes it better. Of course it has all the kung fu movie type tropes (effortlessly dodging attacks and putting both opponents down repeatedly, etc. Although the human does take a chunk out of his hat!) This is basically just a good, wholesome fight scene and it’s enjoyable to watch. There are moments of subtle humour, too – Chen replaces the pedestal the orc broke and then straightens it (you can almost hear him thinking “HMPH,”) and when the human hands the orc the spear their open-mouthed gaping is priceless.

But what about the story, since I was so down on the Cataclysm trailer and Deathwing for lacking a story? Well, it’s an interesting trailer because unlike the previous three expansions (and as Blizzard themselves have made this clear) it doesn’t have a “big bad.” You don’t see any villains in this cinematic at all, unless the humans and orcs are the villains, and we just might be in this context. But that doesn’t mean it’s lacking a story. Chen’s voice over speaks volumes about that with the more philosophical questions. “Why do we fight?” etc. The moment when the mists dissipate to reveal the rest of Pandaria gave me chills just like the Wrath trailer. Again, it’s a completely different approach and that’s what I like about it. It takes several themes – the conflict between the Horde and the Alliance, the nature of the new race we are meeting – and interweaves them.

We know that Mists doesn’t have one overarching villain the way previous expansions did. That doesn’t mean it lacks conflict. The trailer left me with a strong wish to explore this land and get to know its mysterious inhabitants. That is the best place you could hope for a trailer to leave you – excited, anticipatory, and impressed. If this world is even half as beautiful as the trailer would suggest, I am going to be ridiculously happy wandering around it at the end of September.

Mage Class Talent Changes From Blizzcon 2011

I spent the whole day liveblogging and hardly had time to stop and consider changes (until now) but I’d really like to talk about the most drastic change proposed for the upcoming expansion: all new Class Talent systems. (I’m not even going to touch the Panda controversy for the time being).

Talent trees as we know them are going away, to be replaced by a single choice of talent point every fifteen levels. What’s especially relevant about these is that they aren’t specific to any one spec of mage. So for example, you could be a Fire mage with Slow, or a Frost mage with Blast Wave. Transcribed below are a few quotes from Ghostcrawler during the Mage portion of the Class Talent panel. Apparently we are the poster children for this new system, because traditionally many of our utility spells were located in the Frost tree. The only thing I really have misgivings about is that none of these talents are DPS increasing talents at all. Don’t freak out about that, because they said specifically that in most cases, talents you know and love are simply going baseline for a spec. Or hopefully, we’ll be balanced so that our damage is just part of being a mage, and the choices are fun utility things. I say “hopefully” because it seems to me as if some of the “choices” warlocks and other classes get to make aren’t just fun utility things, but rather are specific DPS increases (a more powerful warlock pet? The opportunity to have a second pet out for a certain length of time?)

Most of the spells represented here are things we’ve already seen or have, and the major change is that we’ll be able to choose them. The other big thing is that not only will we be able to choose them, but they’ll be “as easy” to swap as Glyphs currently are. What does this mean for the modern mage? Well, suppose you need to slow Shannox’s dogs. No problem – choose Slow as your T6 talent for a given fight. On the next fight, you would like to have an AoE slow – okay, take Blast Wave. (Presently Blast Wave also lays down a Flamestrike for a Fire mage – I can only hope that will persist but it’s tough to say at this point).

I’m going to come down firmly on the side of “cautiously optimistic,” as I usually am. I’m not entirely sure how this will all look at the other end, but at the moment I’m intrigued. Here’s what Ghost Crawler had to say about us.

“Mage is a great example of a class that worked really well with this talent system because historically we had a lot of the most fun abilities for crowd control, survivability, and utility in Frost and then we always had trouble increasing their damage because they had so much utility here. So we figured it would be a lot of fun just to take the utility, put it throughout the talent tree and then let Frost do different types of damage (because obviously you’re doing Frost here) than Arcane and Fire.

In this brave new world, Arcane Blast is Arcane only, Fireball is Fire only, and Frostbolt is Frost only. I know, it’s crazy.

…As we were mentioning with the warlock, we really wanted the mage to feel slippery and glass-cannon-ey and we wanted the warlock to be more of the tank of the casters. These are ways that mages survive and get away. (Re: Tier 2)

Re: (Tier 3) I should also mention here, we are going to make sure that Scorch isn’t the no-brainer spell for Fire mages. You know, Fire mages buff all their Fire spells, so I have to take Scorch. We want these to be attractive to any of the three specs.”

If you’d like a closer look at any of these talents, MMO-Champion has images taken from the presentation screens for you to see here.

Tier 1 (Level 15)

Ring of Frost
Summons a Ring of Frost, taking 3 sec to coalesce. Enemies entering the fully-formed ring will become frozen for 10 sec. Lasts 12 sec. 10 yd radius.

Cone of Cold
Targets in a cone in front of the caster take 802 Frost damage and are frozen in place for 3 sec and slowed by 60% for 6 sec.

Frostjaw (1.5 sec cast, 20 sec CD, 30 yd range)
Silences and Freezes the target in place for 8 sec. Lasts half as long versus Player targets.

So this tier gives us an initial choice of control options. Do you want to have an AoE freeze on a long-ish cooldown, a shorter CD freeze that breaks more quickly (this is the only Cone of Cold that will be available, and functions as the current ‘Improved’ version) or do you want to use the new spell, Frostjaw, to both silence and freeze something in place? The option of a secondary interrupt to back up Counterspell is a nice one in my mind, and I could see it being situationally useful in five-mans and naturally quite nice for PvP. Note that it will have reduced efficacy in PvP, however.

Tier 2 (Level 30)

Greater Invisibility
Instantly makes the caster invisible, reducing all threat and removing two damage over time effects. The effect is cancelled if you perform any actions. Lasts 20 sec.

Cauterize
An attack which would otherwise kill you will instead bring you to 60% of your maximum health. However, you will burn for 10% of your maximum health every 1.50 sec for the next 6 sec. This effect cannot occur more than once per minute.

Cold Snap
When activated, this spell finishes the cooldown of your Ice Block, Frost Nova, and Water Elemental spells.

I assume that class Invis will continue to be baseline, and this new improved version is an option you have for survivability. Cauterize is as it always was, except now is available to any mage and not just those of us who are wont to blow ourselves up. The only outlier here seems to be Cold Snap; in a tree based primarily around survivability talents, it feels like they just stuck Cold Snap in because it had to go somewhere. Also, I don’t really see how that’s a potential utility talent for any tree. Who would take it but a Frost mage? Now, if they’d made Icy Veins an option…

Tier 3 (Level 45)

Presence of Mind (Instant)
When activated, your next mage spell with a casting time less than 10 sec becomes an instant cast spell.

Scorch
Scorch the enemy for 809 Fire damage. Can be cast while moving.

Arcane Flows (Instant, 45 sec CD)
Invoke the flow of Arcane magic, allowing the next two non-instant Mage spells to be cast while moving. Lasts until cancelled.

Presence of Mind, same old same old, except now available for any mage. PoM Pyro makes a startling comeback, you heard it here first! GC mentioned specifically how they do not want us to feel that we have to take Scorch if we’re Fire, which is fair. Whether this talent becomes a no-brainer for Fire mages is going to depend on the movement requirements of the upcoming content and perhaps even specific fights. Scorch will not be baseline and you will need to take this talent if you want it.

Arcane Flows is pretty interesting, and seems aimed at addressing the movement issues of turret specs like Arcane. ABs on the move would be pretty nice. Right now only having ABarr to cast while you dodge around can get old pretty quickly. Having two “cast and move” options in this tier will be nice to tailor to what is needed.

Tier 4 (Level 60)

Mana Shield
Absorbs 1597 damage, draining mana instead. Drains 1.0 mana per damage absorbed. When your Mana Shield is destroyed, all enemies within 6 yards are knocked back 12 yards. Lasts 1 min.

Blazing Speed
Suppresses movement impairing effects and increases your movement speed by 50% for 4 sec. May only be activated after being affected by a movement impairing effect.

Ice Barrier
Instantly shields you, absorbing 7960 damage. Lasts 1 min. While the shield holds, spellcasting will not be delayed by damage.

GC mentioned how this new and improved Mana Shield has Incanter’s Absorption baked in, but I don’t see the spellpower increasing component. If this is gone, I am a Sad Panda (will that joke get old quickly?) because I really like using Mage  Ward for that. We also have the option of the zippy Blazing Speed, which still seems pretty PvP-based, or Ice Barrier – it’ll be nice to borrow that from Frost mages if the mood strikes.

Tier 5 (Level 75)

Sickly Polymorph
Your polymorphed targets regenerate life at 10% of the normal speed.

Heavy Polymorph
When a target you’ve polymorphed is damaged, that target is stunned for 3 sec. This effect cannot occur more than once every 10 sec.

Double Polymorph
You may polymorph an additional target for half the normal duration.

It’s clear that they wanted to take our signature CC and pump it up. Sheeping is after all the iconic mage ability. The options here are fairly solid – giving us the ability to chain a polymorph with a stun and burst damage will be very powerful in PvP, likewise sheeping someone without guaranteeing their health comes back will be dead handy. I don’t see that having much use in PvE beyond the usual – if someone breaks your sheep it won’t immediately eat your face, and if you polymorph an already damaged target it won’t regenerate its health as much.

For PvE, Double Polymorph will be pretty great depending on how the dungeons are tuned, but at this point I can hardly get a tank to let me sheep one thing, never mind two! The biggest attraction in my mind will be using different polymorphs to create my own animal menagerie. (Turtle + Pig? Turtle + Sheep? Turtle + Penguin? How will I choose?!)

Tier 6 (Level 90)

Blast Wave
A wave of flame radiates outward from the target location, damaging all enemies caught within the blast for 923 Fire damage and are slowed by 70% for 3 sec.

Dragon’s Breath
Targets in a cone in front of the caster take 1285 Fire damage and are disoriented for 5 sec. Any direct damaging attack will revive targets.

Slow
Reduces target’s movement speed by 50%, increases the cast time between ranged attacks by 30% and increases casting time by 15%. Lasts 15 sec. Slow can only affect one target at a time.

I have to admit, I find this tier the most underwhelming and am a little jealous of classes that seemed to get something new especially in their “last” tier. These are all existing abilities that, granted, are currently tied to a specific spec but it’s nothing huge. DB and Blast Wave have fairly situational use in PvE content (I used them a ton on Heroic Maloriak). The de facto choice for most fights would be Slow, currently limited only to Arcane mages – we’ll be able to use it whenever. Use of Blast Wave is more needed for a Fire mage in any AoE situation, but we’ll have to wait and see whether Fire mages still have things that interact with this particular talent. (Alas, free Flamestrike, I hardly knew ye).

What are your thoughts on the proposed changes? Remember, nothing here is set in stone and may well change before the expansion ever comes out! For now, that’s enough writing in one day for me. If you tuned into the liveblogging over at Twisted Nether, thanks for your commentary and support. I tried to keep up with the comments coming in as best I could, but at some point it just became a whirlwind of frenzied typing!

Liveblogging Blizzcon 2011 at Twisted Nether

So many blogs (and Twitter) are abuzz with Blizzcon happenings. I must admit, I’m a little bit jealous – I wish I could be there having fun and meeting blogging folks and other gamers! But this year it came down to a choice between going to see Rush in Vancouver or Blizzcon and I just had to choose Rush. I don’t regret it!

Anyway, if you are going to Blizzcon, I hope you have a fantastic time! For those of you who aren’t going and might like to read about some of what’s going on – a team of folks from Twisted Nether are going to be live-blogging panels and events as they happen!

As far as I know, the blogging team is going to include:

Rilandune (The OverLores podcast)

Ringo (Flinthammer Hall)

Rades (Orcish Army Knife)

Liala (Disciplinary Action)

(and of course, me too). I’ll be helping to cover Friday (day one!) but not doing liveblogging on Saturday because we are getting together with some friends in real life to watch the panels, maybe play some of the WoW TCG, and hang out.

Find the TNB Liveblogging here:

Day 1
http://www.twistednether.net/blizzcon-2011/blizzcon-2011-liveblog-day-1/

Day 2
http://www.twistednether.net/blizzcon-2011/blizzcon-2011-liveblog-day-2/

Thanks to Ril and the TNB folks for putting this together, I’m looking forward to it! See you tomorrow when everyone is waiting for news of the happenings at Blizzcon!

Patch 4.3 Notes: This Just In

The news about patch 4.3 is coming fast and furious! I have a few posts in the works at the moment, none of which seem particularly relevant in the face of so many announcements. So instead, you’re going to get me doing a bit of rambling.

Tier Sets and other Fashion Concerns

First of all, for the most part I really like the tier sets they’ve previewed thus far. I even like the mage one, with a caveat. I do not want to wear it, but I like it. I think it’s going to look amazing on a gnome mage. I think it would not have looked amazing on my mage, but I’ll look forward to seeing it modeled by the esteemed Fsob. I think the other tier sets are strong, but there’s something they said that worries me.

Most of this tier was attempting to play off a new ability the class got in Cataclysm, so for instance Time Warp for mages and Wild Mushroom for druid, in some cases (like warrior or warlock) there’s playing off of the raid and those themes, and then for others it’s a bit more just doing something we think represents the class in a more abstract manner. We’re putting them up as soon as they’re done, essentially, so from here on out they’re likely to be posted rather randomly.

I read this blue post and I cringed…Does this mean that this is what the paladin tier set is going to look like?

I mean, it’s… I guess it’s not… It could be worse, but it’s just SO YELLOW. This may sound funny coming from someone playing a paladin, but I don’t even like yellow. Fortunately (as Voss reminded me) if I hate the tier set, it’s coming out when Transmogrification is coming out, so it isn’t going to matter!

I am happy to hear that there will be a “dungeon set” for the three new five-mans. Dungeon sets were something I really enjoyed from BC and Vanilla; it was nice to have a cohesive set of visually matching gear to pursue even if you weren’t a raider, and even now these remain some of my favourite sets. Everyone likes to match their gear, right? Well, some people might not, but that’s a whole other concern.

New Five-Person Content

Yes. This cannot come soon enough for me. If I never see another troll again in-game (sorry, my Berserking friends) it will be too soon. I looked at the armory of all my heroic-running characters to add this up and illustrate my point. I have run Zul’aman fifty-four times. I have run Zul’Gurub fifty-five times. That’s a total of one hundred and nine troll instances since they were released. I am done with trolls, and I don’t think the idea of having an “upper” tier of heroics was necessarily a great one, either. Sure, it was fun initially because the troll heroics are pretty tough, require CC and coordination. But since maxing VP every week is the model for the fastest gear acquisition (and being in a progression raiding guild, I made the choice to maximize mine each week), there was definitely an obligation to do troll heroics, often. I still find that I can sometimes enjoy them – the fights are interesting, pugs can be just inept enough to keep things tense – but I will be greatly relieved to go do some other instances for awhile.

And the new instances look great! From a lore perspective, I am fascinated to go to the Well of Eternity. The End of Time also has an awesome hook. Post-apocalyptic Azeroth? Fighting shades of faction and other leaders? Sign me up!

I only hope that because she is going to be a dungeon boss, that Tyrande gets a much-needed model upgrade. Not a lazy upgrade, either – an honest-to-goodness model made just for her. After the art debacle, she surely deserves that much!

"You know, I've been dead for AGES and I still have better textures than you."

(Above wallpaper image compilation is by Jujin on Deviantart). Another aside, because I can’t help myself – why not Echo of Velen? You know he could be scary! Heck, Eredar are scary, aren’t they? Yes, I know, draenei aren’t getting any love this expansion. I can only hope they remember we exist in the next.

My talking chandelier and I are going to **** you up! Aw, man. The Naaru have not forgotten us, but Blizzard has.

Random Other Things

Tier 13 will not be available at all from valor points.

It’s an interesting departure from the previous models. I’m a bit leery of this change if only because of the fact that drops for tens are so fickle. We had the same token something like four weeks running. There are still people on our token (our priest, myself) who don’t have shoulder or head tokens. At least if my armor looks like the most terrible mishmash of random Firelands stuff mixed with whatever T13 off-set will be, I’ll be able to Transmogrify it to look halfway decent. Unless there IS no T13 off-set. Hmm. I’ll have to reserve judgement on this for the time being.

The new legendaries are two daggers (main hand and offhand) that are only usable by all three Rogue specs. Combat Rogues will be made to use these daggers as well without a DPS loss. The questline will revolve around the pure black dragon (from the egg in the Badlands) and features several Rogue-centric elements.

Good. I’m happy for our rogue (our ONE rogue). A legendary that doesn’t cause guild drama is okay in my books.

Melee classes will be getting a buff that is only active in the new raid to help them compete with ranged classes.

Now this is interesting. They obviously know that ranged DPS is strongly favoured over melee, and has been for quite a few tiers. Without taking into account the interrupt requirements of T11, in almost all cases it was a no-brainer to stack ranged DPS. Now that my offspec is a melee DPS I’m definitely feeling it. It’s like, I COULD go retribution for this fight but that would bring us up to x number of melee and probably hurt us in the fight overall. It’s frustrating. This is a bit of a bandaid solution, but at least it says that the issue is on their radar.

The new Looking for Raid tool is going to have lockouts separate from “regular” raids. Functionally, this probably just means I’ll have a new way to torture myself with belligerent strangers. I’ll probably try it out once or twice just to see what the difficulty is like, and possibly garner some pug stories. (The things I do to gather blog fodder…)

Epic Gems

For raiders, this will be an interesting move from epic gems of previous expansions.

Epic gems will drop in the new raid in Normal and Heroic only. Each player gets a geode when a boss is killed which has a small chance to contain an epic gem, most will have rare gems. It is rare enough to take all of 4.3 to replace all of your red rare quality gems with red epic gems.

Even with limited gem availability, it’s always been our policy to put the BEST available gems in your gear, regardless of item level. If it was available, and an upgrade – you had to swap them out. It doesn’t sound like that’s going to be a viable option here, depending on how truly rare they are. If there are never any on the auction house, you can’t very well buy them to put in your gear. This may lead to some careful consideration about just what gear you put your fancy new gems in, when you can get your hands on them.

Will any of them be prospectable? Will they still drop from fishing bags? Will they be buffing Jewelcrafting gems to be on par with these new ones? (I suppose not, considering that the 81 Intellect advantage a JC currently has is equivalent to the other profession’s bonuses).

Firelands was nerfed so that players could see the content and continue progression instead of hitting a wall in heroic modes.

“Quite a few” new profession recipes will be added.

Northrend will require 2/3rd of the experience it does now, making leveling alts faster.

Old PvP armor will come back for transmogrification.

I should look more closely into the stats about not only who has been downing heroic bosses, but also who has been trying and failing to down them. Other than that, “quite a few new” profession recipes should be good (and may or may not determine whether I drop engineering), quick Northrend leveling will be nice for people leveling alts or new characters, and more Transmogrification options are always welcome.

Besides all of that, don’t forget that this patch also includes the new and improved Darkmoon Faire. There should be quite a bit going on when the patch comes out!

The New and Improved Darkmoon Faire

Screenshot taken from MMO Champion.

New patch 4.3 news hit today with another doozy – the Darkmoon Faire is getting a revamp! I think this is fantastic, because the DMF is something that’s been ongoing for years but I never really knew what to do with it. I mean, I knew you could buy a few things there, get rep with them or something, turn in decks of cards, etc. but it always felt like something that was from another age.

I’ll be honest with you, I love the gypsy and fortune-telling carnival tropes. Back when I played Ultima Online (a billion years ago) I played on a player-run server and my character was actually a fortune-teller. One of the GMs made me a special item that was a deck of cards, and when you clicked it, it became a spread of cards as an accessory for fortune-telling! I had a lot of fun playing that character (and dressing her up in outrageous clothes) so it’s no surprise that a decade later I am excited to transmogrify a carnival outfit and explore the new Darkmoon Faire.

Things have changed ‘round here: we’ve got an island all to ourselves now, and what an island it is. Mist-shrouded Darkmoon Island is a conundrum wrapped in an enigma.

It has its own island! I love islands. I liked the Island of Quel’Danas (actually known as the “Isle of WTF” in local parlance). It was my first experience with dailies, and I liked the look and feel of it and the self-contained nature of the dailies. You went to the island, you did the dailies, you were done. Tol Barad has been a pale shadow by comparison, although I like it too. Will this island have dailies? I guess they won’t be dailies because it’s a once-monthly thing, but I still like the idea of there being quests.

Of course, there’s more to the Darkmoon Faire than just fantastic shows and culinary delights. You can still turn in your Darkmoon Cards, but you wouldn’t just come here for measly ol’ cards when there’s so much more to see, experience, and win. Yes, win! You like dancing bears, right? Everybody likes dancing bears. Even bears like dancing bears. How about a dancing bear… you can ride!

That’s not all! We have adorable companion pets includin’ a fez-wearing monkey, a plethora of profession recipes, toys, balloons, souvenirs, delectable carnival snacks and beverages, heirlooms for the little ones, and even replicas of long-lost suits of armor that we’re offering for your Transmogrification needs. You can also make your mark with new achievements and titles. All it takes to earn these fabulous rewards is a few Darkmoon Faire Prize Tickets and a good reputation with the carnies. How do ya get your grubby mitts on some tickets? I’m glad you asked!

I read this, and all I see are: mounts, pets, achievements, titles. Yes, I can’t help that I am an achievement hunter and an avid collector. Something new to chase? I’m there. Also, not to be overlooked: long-lost suits of armor. Blizzard had said they wanted to make available some sets that were no longer obtainable in the game. I think this is an elegant way to do that; it still works within the game world and it makes sense that the DMF may have acquired that kind of thing in their travels. Expect to work hard to obtain them (or pay out the nose), though. I don’t think they’ll be willing to part with their collection easily!

You won’t have to go too far out of your way to get ‘em and each month you’ll get a new opportunity to seek out an Artifact for us. What do you get out of the deal? Don’t you worry, you’ll get your cut. When you bring a Darkmoon Artifact back to us, you’ll get valuable experience (it builds character, you know!), earn a better reputation, and possibly earn precious Darkmoon Faire Prize Tickets too!

Oh, did I mention that you can use the Field Guide to get to Darkmoon Island whenever the Darkmoon Faire’s monthly extravaganza is up and running?

Artifact collecting? Well, it’s obviously going to be part of the rep grind with DMF, and that’s okay…I just hope it isn’t a bunch of random junk that will clutter up my bags. I have enough of that already.

Maybe you’d like a little peek behind the scenes, eh? Want to see what it takes to run the greatest show on Azeroth? Well, it’s not all sunshine and cotton candy, my friend. There are beasts to heal, food to cook, and buildings to fix. If you’re willing help keep the show going and put your skills to work, you’ll not only impress us, but you can get experience, Darkmoon Prize Tickets, and even polish up your skills — up to five skill points per profession, per Faire week, if you’re good at what you do!

This is a little bit random, but I really hope that this isn’t going to include the “seedy underbelly” of the DMF. Disreputable carnivals and circuses are generally known as places where animals are poorly treated, suffer rough conditions, cruel training, etc. I haven’t been to an actual circus since I was really little. Maybe I’m basing too much of my bias on scenes from Dumbo, but they do give me an iffy feeling. (With the notable exception of the Cirque du Soleil, which only has human performers that chose to be there). Anyway – I just hope there are no bears in tiny cages. I doubt it’s something Blizz would take a chance on, but I suppose you never know.

Darkmoon Mages in capital cities and on Darkmoon Island will also be around to help you get between the Faire and various capital cities. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, so naturally you’re obliged to compensate them for their services.

No mage comes free, but you knew that, right?

Overall, I think that the new and improved Darkmoon Faire sounds like fun! I’m looking forward to seeing it, playing some silly games, adding some mini-pets to my collection, and hopefully having a new island that I enjoy as much as I once enjoyed the Isle of WTF. I enjoy things like torch tossing, juggling and throwing, though – and also the Plants vs Zombies mini-game, so this is right up my ally. Your mileage may vary!

 

 

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