Release of the Lich King, Expansion Transitioning, and Changes

(Edit on 9/24: I have a quick disclaimer about this post to add. You can read it here. Essentially, this post is not meant to be a “review” of Wrath of the Lich King. There’s still a month and a half to go.)

Wrath\'s release date up on Wowhead.

Over a week ago, anyone surfing Wowhead would have noticed this curiosity on their splash page. I was almost in disbelief, myself. Then I asked why Wowhead would ruin its reputation and relationship with Blizzard by fabricating a release date. Obviously, they wouldn’t. So I realized Wrath of the Lich King would be hitting shelves on November 13th. And with the launch of this ship, the landscape of WoW will change both literally and figuratively.

The Transition from 1.x to The Burning Crusade Serves to Remind

Many WoW players have already experienced the release of one expansion and how it can reshape the general atmosphere of WoW dramatically. The Burning Crusade was game changing in many regards. One need only consider what concepts TBC introduced to understand how dramatic the changes were. These include:

Tack on new spells and abilities, new talents, improvements to some existing spells and abilities, and people’s roles suddenly shifted. Shamans were the premiere raid healers come TBC, whereas in 1.x they were probably the weakest of the healing classes. Druids suddenly switched from spamming healing touch on the tank to spamming HoTs on the tanks and all around. Shadow priests were suddenly useful as mana batteries. And so on.

So too will Wrath of the Lich King provide these shifts. But to what degree? And for better or worse?

What Will Wrath of the Lich King Change?

Typically when a company commits to a release date they feel confident in the underlying concepts and ideas behind the product. It also indicates a point of no return, where most of the concepts and content in the beta will reach or at least affect the live version of the game in some manner. That doesn’t mean they won’t be tweaked or changed post-release, however.

With that in mind, let’s consider what we know is coming:

  • Death knights,
  • 10-man versions of all 25-man dungeons,
  • Inscription and glyphs,
  • A new vehicle system,
  • Destructible buildings,
  • Combined +heal and +dmg into “spell power,”
  • Combined physical and spell versions of crit, haste and hit,
  • Homogenized and redundant buffs and abilities,
  • New server architecture allowing Blizzard to individualize experiences (called “phasing”),
  • And a slew of minor changes.

Wrath of the Lich King will also introduce new abilities and talents, as well as reinvented ones. The idea of redundant buffs falls into this category, but they deserve special mention because of the concept’s unique effects on game balance.

The Minor and “Flavorful” Changes

There are some changes people will note I have not explicitly listed. This is because these new systems or features have only a superficial impact on the game.

Barbershops will allow people to change their characters’ hair, facial hair, earrings, etc. They are nice additions to the game, but they will not directly impact PvE or PvP game play.


The achievement system will record and allow people to view their random accomplishments in the game. It is an interesting addition, but ultimately superficial. I feel Blizzard could have done more with the system, but I suppose there is a limit to just how much people should be required to invest in their characters. So the rewards do not extend beyond tabards, titles and viewable achievement records.

Passenger mounts are also a flavorful change, though they have the potential to become much more. But that potential is perhaps realized with the vehicle system.

Death Knights, and New and Changing Abilities

The Burning Crusade introduced momentous shifts in raid and PvP balance with new and changed talents and abilities. Wrath of the Lich King will also feature new and reinvented class design elements, while further complicating the matter by introducing an entirely new class: the death knight. Already, I can imagine what anti-magic zone, hysteria, and improved icy talons may bring to raid design and balance. Meanwhile, there are a myriad of abilities and talents that will have a major impact on PvP and where other classes stand in general. Death grip, for example, brings in a new concept: the ability to literally pull someone off your teammates in PvP. It is especially powerful when you can use chains of ice immediately following a death grip.

Anti-Magic Zone

Racial abilities are also changing. For example, shadowmeld will be usable in combat. However, it will also be receiving a two-minute cooldown, and from a PvE-standpoint it will result only in a temporary drop in threat. Hardiness, one of the orc racials, will only reduce the duration of stuns. Previously, it increased the chance to resist them entirely.

Considering the other new and changing abilities and talents, people’s roles and placement on the scales of balance will change for both PvE and PvP.

10- and 25-Mans for Every Raid Dungeon

One exciting new feature in Wrath of the Lich King is that all raid content will be available as either a 10- or 25-person dungeon with completely independent progression paths. Both the 10- and 25-person versions will be the same dungeon; the look, layout, and design of the dungeon will remain the same. However, each will be adjusted, tuned, and balanced for its respective player size.

This is a major concept coming in Wrath. If the same feature was included in TBC, there would be 10-man versions of Gruul’s and Magtheridon’s Lairs, Serpentshrine Cavern, Tempest Keep, Mount Hyjal, Black Temple and the Sunwell, and they would have their own progression path independent of the 25-man versions.

However, the 10-mans will be lower in difficulty and offer gear lesser in quality than the 25-man counterparts. So I doubt this will affect the most die-hard of raiders in any way other than providing them with new options for supplemental gear.

The Chamber of Aspects

The prospect of experiencing content with the same storylines is probably exciting for many who find 25-man raiding too stressful or time-consuming compared to 10-man raiding. For this reason, I imagine there will be more 10-man raiding guilds than there are now, especially because Karazhan and Zul’Aman provide a rather shallow experience with a broken progress line. Certainly, I think some 25-man guilds will fall apart over this change. Already there are rumors of a major guild on my server failing because a couple of their leaders are leaving and some people are considering 10-mans to be preferable.

I think the dissolution of some 25-man guilds is a small price to pay for an increase in accessibility to the game in general. Furthermore, it means I will see less players of poorer quality applying to my guild simply to see Illidan or Kil’jaeden and satiate their lore-driven desires. It’s not a bad thing people are into lore and want to see some of the most storied characters in the game, but I always have a difficult time explaining to a friend why I can’t take them to Kil’jaeden. 10-mans will offer them this opportunity without requiring them to endure the heightened raid difficulty of 25-mans.

Inscriptions and Glyphs

GlyphsWrath offers a new craft called inscription. The impact inscription will have on the game far exceeds that of what jewelcrafting had in TBC. This is because the glyphs produced by inscription change many core abilities dramatically. For example, glyph of regrowth increases the spell’s front-end heal by 50% on anyone who already has the heal-over-time portion of the spell. If I had this glyph right now, my regrowths would be landing for over 5K on anyone already with my regrowth HoT. This is particularly interesting when I consider how tanks in many situations are never without it.

Not only will Blizzard have to balance classes’ talents and abilities, but also their glyphs. Consider how a balance druid with both the starfire and moonfire glyphs will see quite a large increase to their overall DPS potential. Without recasting moonfire every 12 to 15 seconds, a druid can work in several extra moonfires during a six-minute fight while doing more damage with moonfire overall. For example, our balance druid on the last Brutallus he DPS’d for did an average of 3077 damage with his starfire and an average of 473 damage for every tick of his moonfire’s DoT. The fight took 5 minutes and 25 seconds to defeat. If he were to have the starfire and moonfire glyphs, I estimate he could cast at least seven more starfires and do 75% more damage on his 95 ticks of moonfire. That’s approximately 55240 more damage, or 170 more DPS, bringing him up to 2090 DPS from 1920.

The New Vehicle System

The vehicle system is not really a new idea. There have been mobs used in the pet system a character “possesses” while the actual character is banished or stationary. Some examples of this include:

The difference between this existing system and the new vehicle system is simply that a vehicle carries the character with it. That said, Blizzard has taken the vehicle system seriously and made some major refinements to the concepts of controlling something other than a traditional class. They have implemented new UI elements to compliment the system. And they have implemented targeting systems specifically designed to work with the vehicle’s different weapons and abilities. For example, area-targeting with cannons, catapults, etc. show the parabolic route your projectile will travel, instead of the typical circular area involved in targetting with spells like hurricane, blizzard and rain of fire.

Furthermore, some vehicles have different controlling mechanics. Some can’t strafe. And some can’t move backwards. This further separates vehicular movement from traditional character control.

The reason this system will have a major impact on the game is because Blizzard plans to use it in a lot of new content. Already, it plays a major role in the world PvP zone Lake Wintergrasp, and the new battleground Strand of the Ancients. Blizzard has also stated it intends to use the system in raid and instanced PvE content, as well.

Destructible Buildings, Siege Engines, Wintergrasp, Strand of the Ancients, and PvP in General

I’ve waited four years for siege engines and destructible buildings to make their way into WoW. Prior to WoW, I played Dark Age of Camelot, where siege engines and destructible doors have been a part of the game since its release in 2001, and where destructible buildings have been a part of it since New Frontiers was released in 2004. There was nothing more epic than battling for a good hour or two trying to break down a door and storm a keep or pummel it into the ground with trebuchets and catapults.

Personally, I thought Blizzard did its customers a disservice by not taking our desire to have siege engines and destructible buildings in Alterac Valley seriously. It was not a new concept amongst MMO’s, afterall. And I think by failing to seize the opportunity early, Blizzard has delayed the refinement of such a system. I doubt the system will reach full maturity before 2009, because of this. Blizzard could have had the system introduced in 2005 and refined by 2006. This would have come over two years before the release of Warhammer and established the feature as one of WoW’s strong points well before the impending competition. Furthermore, I also think an earlier development of the system would have given Blizzard a better idea of just how popular siege warfare really is amongst the MMO crowd.

That said, siege warfare will provide people with new opportunities beyond the usual fare of standing next to or clicking on flags and nodes. Halaa took one step towards unique concepts, but failed to deliver given that it did not reset nor provide ample end-game rewards beyond a unique resilience gem.

A skirmish in Wintergrasp.

However, the changes coming to PvP in general, beyond the arena and honor systems, is extremely limited. Arenas still dominate PvP in terms of offering rewards, because the gear you obtain requires you to increase your arena rating. Essentially, this means everyone is forced to play one style of PvP to get the best rewards. To crowds like the one I am a part of, this is extremely disappointing. I hate arenas. They foster an atmosphere of composition and counter-composition to succeed in long-term settings like seasonal ladders (tournaments are a different matter, since they are short-term). And the strategies involved are limited based on team compositions and what is typically successful against each. For this reason, I prefer Warsong Gulch, Lake Wintergrasp and Strand of the Ancients by far. And I would prefer rated battlegrounds over arenas any day. And I know over half of my guild is in the same boat. OVER HALF! And, of course, there are also people who prefer arenas over battlegrounds who would rather not have to step foot into any of them to obtain their belts, bracers, necks, etc. So it goes both ways.

So while Wrath offers us a new option for arena point farming in Wintergrasp, a new battleground in which to farm honor points, and siege warfare to increase our enjoyment of such tasks, the arena and honor systems remain fundamentally the same. Siege warfare will excite a lot of people, but the lack of changes to the PvP rewards system will disappoint a lot of people unless something changes before November 13th.

The Homogenization and Redundancy of Some Buffs and Abilities

The homogenization and redundancy of buffs really should be an issue to discuss in its own entry. I have a lot of negative things to say about this change. But I will try to keep it short and sweet in this entry to give you an idea of how it will reshape the landscape of raiding for Wrath.

As it currently stands, most classes and specs provide unique buffs no others have. Blizzard plans to change this. Unfortunately, it will also have dire consequences on certain classes and specs based on what they provide in comparison to others. Quite simply, there will be certain combinations of class specs that provide all of the necessary raid buffs while taking the least amount of space in the raid or producing the most cumulative DPS

Shadow priests have been hit rather hard with this concept. Misery has been changed to provide 3% hit, but it will fail to stack with improved faerie fire. Shadow weaving has been removed as a debuff and affects only the shadow priest’s personal DPS. And vampiric touch is changing to put a buff on the raid which produces a flat amount of mana regeneration, regardless of the damage done. This buff will be shared by survival hunters and retribution paladins. This means the only raid buffing shadow priests provide is 3% hit and mana regen, both already provided by other class specs. So unless shadow priests do more personal DPS or provide more utility in many fights than do moonkins, survival hunters and retribution paladins, I doubt you will see them in raids that have an extreme min-maxing mindset. Regardless of how skilled the shadow priest is, because most guilds look only for specific classes and then trial players to find talented players in those roles.

Of interesting note, our current shadow priest is a draenei, meaning he also loses symbol of hope to gain hymn of hope. Previously, he would just expend a global cooldown to cast it and then provide a good 900+ mana to his group. But after 3.0 he will have to drop shadow form, stop DPSing, and channel holy hymn for 8 seconds to return a smaller amount of mana to his group than did symbol of hope.

To generalize my point: for classes and/or specs that do not retain some or enough of their unique buffs, if their general performance does not compare to other classes, or if they don’t bring the tools you need to succeed given specific combinations of classes and specs, they will be tossed aside in favor of what’s best for min-maxing.

I say this as a raid leader who plans to do this. While I will not just toss aside people I know to be talented players, you can bet I will discuss with them the possibility of rerolling or respeccing when the expansion comes out if we perceive their current spec to be weak in terms of raid synergy or potential performance. And you can guarantee that when I recruit new people I will have my preferences for which class specs to recruit. I have further opinions on this, but I will abstain from relating them in this entry. I merely seek to provide some perspective on the huge impact the homogenization of buffs will have on the game.

Combining +Heal and +Dmg into Spell Power

When 3.0 is released, people will discover that +healing and +dmg is no more. Instead, there will be one universal stat called spell power. I suppose this is meant to homogenize the gear of damage casters and healers. And, personally, I think it’s a great change as sometimes there is some crossover to be had. With that said, however, I worry it has affected the design concepts of the itemization team. Already, I’m seeing the first tier of the druid healing set include crit.

Despite the inclusion of living seed, crit is a stat restoration druids won’t need. We rarely use healing touch, and we will rarely use it even in Wrath simply because it takes to long to cast and causes us to become “out of step” with typical incoming damage. What I mean by this is that if a mob hit for 8K every two seconds and has the capability of also doing a 10K spell between swings on occasion, our 3-second heal might not land before our assigned target is dead. So only swiftmend, regrowth and nourish are spells we might use that benefit from crit.  But swiftmend is on a 15-second cooldown, and nourish is highly inefficient, so they will be infrequent. This means regrowth becomes the standard for our crittable heals. But specced restoration, regrowth already has a high crit-rate. So I’m certain druids will want to stack spell power, spirit and haste instead.

That said, there are some items designed perfectly. And these work well as both healing and damage gear in some cases. So the homogenization is welcome. But I think this change will also cause early item sets to be poorly designed.

Caster and Physical Crit, Haste and Hit Combined, While AP Affects Spells for Some Hybrids

Wrath will be combining crit, haste and hit into the same stats for both casters and physical DPS. This will have no affect on pure physical and pure damage casters beyond the refinement of the general mechanics for how spells resist and abilities miss. However, it will have a rather large affect on hybrids that do both physical and spell DPS. Enhancement shamans, retribution paladins and death knights are the major players in this change. Furthermore, attack power will also begin to affect the damage some classes do with spells. This is a concept that already existed for retribution paladins, but the concept is being expanded beyond them such that different levels of attack power will supersede spell damage and vice versa.

New Server Architecture: Phasing

Blizzard has been working on new server architecture that allows individual characters to view the world differently from others based on what they have and have not done in the game. For example, if you have done a quest that charges you with capturing an enemy town, you would see this town in your own faction’s hands after completing the quest. Other characters would still view it as under the control of the enemy. And to prevent any breaking of immersion, characters in this area who have not completed the quest will be invisible, or “phased out” to those earlier or further in progression of the questline. This technology did not fully exist in TBC and the original version of WoW.

An example of phasing.

This new architecture has a high potential for changing the way the game is played, especially in outdoor zones. Already, Icecrown borrows elements from the system and allows you to do quests which progress the advancement of the armies fighting against the Scourge. One quest has you acting on behalf of the Knights of the Ebon Blade to capture a Scourge stronghold within the zone, turning it into a quest hub complete with a flight point after you have completed the task. It is, however, a little more limited in Icecrown than I’d like, but that might be because it is unfinished. But it is there and somewhat interesting.

The architecture is best used in the death knight tutorial zone. And one can read my prior report of the experience to get an idea of just how impactful it can be for Wrath and in future expansions.

Is Wrath a “New Game”?

Blizzard has stated in the past they wish to approach the development of each expansion as a new game building upon the underlying concepts of the old. I think Wrath certainly achieves this to some degree with the introduction of new zones, new instances, a new battleground and a new outdoor PvP zone. But in terms of offering a new game with new or changed fundamental systems, Wrath primarily offers:

  1. Siege warfare,
  2. Death knights and the rune system,
  3. 10-man parallels to 25-mans, and
  4. New server architecture that allows changes to the game’s setting for individuals.

However, I think three of these changes need refinement. Furthermore, I believe Blizzard isn’t taking the same risks it took in TBC that provided the game with sweeping changes to its fundamentals.

  • Yes, they are adding a new class, but it is something they already technically did in giving the Alliance shamans and the Horde paladins.
  • Yes, they are adding siege warfare, but they are not supporting the new style of PvP to the same extent that they have supported arenas all throughout TBC.
  • Yes, they are adding new server architecture that allows individualized experiences, but general improvements to the playability of the game is something I expect.

Offering 10-man parallels to every 25-man is a very solid paradigm shift, however. When doing the 5-man version of Kael’thas in Magister’s Terrace, I realized how cool it probably would be for those who were unable to see or kill him in Tempest Keep. So to make such characters and lore accessible to more casual players is a great change.

But there are issues Wrath does not address. These include:

  • The imbalance between the Horde and Alliance on some servers.
    • Proudmoore has an estimated 3:1 ratio of active Alliance to Horde, and it is only increasing now that people can transfer from PvE to the PvP ruleset. The buff for an outnumbered faction in Wintergrasp will help, but I doubt it will be the turning point if a faction is overwhelmed three to one. It dissuades them from even trying. Something fundamental needs to change for such content to be entirely successful in the future. Be it a third faction to foster temporary alliances between overwhelmed factions or something more than just a buff.
  • The desire for a large amount of the playerbase to have better supporting systems for a variety of PvP.
    • The honor system provides top-end rewards, yes. But it’s the plain and simple fact that you have to do both arena and battlegrounds to get all of the best PvP rewards that is concerning. Some people loathe arenas. And some hate battlegrounds. But both have their difficulties and limitations separate from each other. There’s no reason different PvP systems can’t offer the same level of rewards, so people can choose to participate in the style of PvP they prefer.
  • The spell-casting and melee systems are generally the same as they were in 1.0, with some minor tweaks made to rage normalization and spell pushback.
    • Death knights offer an entirely new system underlying their spells and abilities. I think it is perhaps time to consider new systems for existing classes. The mana, energy and rage systems have proven to be limiting for some classes in raid and PvP balance, afterall.

I don’t have answers to these problems, currently. They are incredibly complex and it is not the intention of this entry to provide suggestions for them. But I felt it is important to note what Wrath of the Lich King will not change, in addition to what it will.

Wrath does offer some exciting new content and systems, despite the outstanding issues. And I do not want to ignore any positives:

  • The inscription system is intriguing.
  • Death knights are fun, even though they still need balance and polish.
  • Some class specs have great new talents and abilities, even though others still need work and improvements.
  • Having 10-man versions of 25-man dungeons is a great concept in general and will help even raiders fill their time.
  • Lake Wintergrasp and Strand of the Ancients are enjoyable on a basic level, even though I think we could use better faction balancing and rated battlegrounds.
  • The daily system has been expanded and there are plenty to choose from.
  • The lore in general surrounding death knights, the Argent Crusade, Icecrown and Storm Peaks is top notch.
  • A lot of the new zones are great fun, especially Icecrown and Storm Peaks.

This expansion’s story will also offer revelations to surprise people. And perhaps some that are to be expected. Tirion will wield a weapon of great power and continue to increase in his role as a leader of the mortal races against the Scourge. More Scourge will break free from the Lich King’s control, but we will also discover why. Someone thought to be dead will actually be alive, and he will turn up in an odd location. And there will be some major struggles amongst the oldest races of Azeroth.

Wrath of the Lich King takes the style of lore seen on Quel’Danas and expand upon its principles. And with it Blizzard creates a more involving experience. Admittedly, it is one that still sometimes fails the ideal of self-containment, but it better presented than the Sunwell.

It’s Time to Prepare

With all these changes in mind, people can now begin preparing for the impending release of 3.0 and Wrath of the Lich King. How you prepare will be dependent on the research you do and what you plan to do with your time once 3.0 and Wrath go live. I do have some advice, however:

  • Level your alts, if you want options for leveling to 80.
  • Reserve your death knight’s name with a level 1 character.
  • Stockpile low level herbs for leveling inscription or profiting off the mad rush to 375 when 3.0 comes out.
  • Sell all of your mats and items that will become defunct.
    • Spend all your heroic badges on epic gems and sell them before they are worthless.
    • Sell all your scryer signets and your aldor marks.
    • Sell all your excess primals and enchanting materials.
  • Get your epic flying mounts, because you don’t want to be doing Storm Peaks or Icecrown with 60% flight.
  • Don’t stockpile honor or arena points, because they are going to reset when Wrath is released.
  • Start making plans for rerolling or respeccing if your class or spec has major weaknesses.
  • Start making plans for your guild if you are an officer or a leader. The last thing you want is to be caught with your pants around your ankles.

And, lastly, prepare to enjoy yourself, but don’t forget you might meet some frustration along the way.

34 thoughts on “Release of the Lich King, Expansion Transitioning, and Changes

  1. “Start making plans for rerolling or respeccing if your class or spec has major weaknesses”

    I realize I’m not in your guild, but if my Guild Leader came to me and said

    “Honors, you are a great tank, but Blizzard has really made Protection Paladins weak this expansion. I need you to respec Holy or reroll a Warrior.”

    I would not do it. I don’t enjoy playing Holy, I’ve done it, I don’t like it. I’ve played around with the Warrior class, it’s not something I enjoy. I’m a Paladin!

  2. I’m not requiring people in my guild to respec or reroll. I am asking them to consider it. Because, quite frankly, if X can’t tank Y, or Z is terrible at DPS and doesn’t provide buffs others do, those people have to understand that by not respeccing they are likely to sit on occasions where they simply can’t help us kill a boss. Otherwise, it just frustrates 24 other people.

    Cruel? Yes. But that is the nature of the hardcore end-game. I’m not about to say I won’t ever take these people to raids. But if you can’t succeed with them, what’s the point? You just end up frustrating an entire group of people. This is why I ask people to consider it.

    It’s not an ultimatum to you personally. And you shouldn’t take it personally. It is advice. Specifically, it is advice to people in guilds like mine who might enjoy other classes. I am leveling my priest to 70 so I can have each of the four healing classes ready to level on short notice. Because, with the recent nerf to flourish, it might be profitable for me to respec.
    My advice to you is not an ultimatum. You don’t have to respec or reroll.

    This is the nature of the raiding game and fair warning. Blizzard says it’s trying to do all it can to make every class spec useful in raids. But I am giving advice to people to get ready in case this isn’t the case.

  3. You can say you aren’t requiring them to respec or reroll but I would point out that by saying they won’t get invites if they don’t spec the way you want them to, you are exerting considerable pressure on them to comply.

  4. No, that’s not what he’s saying. He is saying that when choosing the raid makeup in Wrath, he is going to choose the best possible candidates, and if people are not spec’d properly, they may not get an invite. Simple as that. It would be like a Subtley rogue getting an invite over a combat spec’d rogue in Burning Crusade. Combat just puts out better DPS, and is the better choice overall.

  5. Well, thats ultimately what leadership requires- asking someone to change behavior/give something up because the leader feels it benefits the group as a whole. Depending on your leadership, there are various carrots/sticks a leader uses to accomplish this transition.

    Goverments use tax policy to encourage home ownership (ie giving tax breaks for mortgage interest).
    Guilds use attendance in raids/DKP.

    By joining a guild, you are, to a certain extent, giving up some personal freedom to be part of a larger entity. How much depends on the guild.

    /signed A GM who has wrestled with this issue for 3 years

  6. The push for the optimal raid setup for hardcore guilds is nothing new. In a way the homogenization is simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, the primary change will be who you have to break the news to.

    That said, I think the homogenization is a step in the right direction. For the rest of the raiding population, 10 or 25 man, being able to relax about being unable to recruit a Shadow Priest or a Shaman is a good thing. They’ll still lack the optimal raid setup, but the difference between optimal and suboptimal won’t be as striking as it is currently. If Blizzard does a good job, it might be so small that the Law of Large Numbers will overcome any need for advising players to respec.

    This is, funnily enough, coming from a guy who already has 6 70s with a 7th on the way. My position in a raid somewhere is pretty much assured so long as I’m not a dimwit.

  7. Great post Lume. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to get to see Beta, but you do a great job of covering the main things to look forward to (and dread) on November 13th. I’m definitely going make use of the RAF XP bonus to get another toon to 70 in the next month and a half, in case Hunters get left in the dust raid-wise. Too early to tell, though.

  8. You can say you aren’t requiring them to respec or reroll but I would point out that by saying they won’t get invites if they don’t spec the way you want them to, you are exerting considerable pressure on them to comply.

    I never said they won’t get invites. I said they will likely sit on bosses where their presence breaks success. But I will likely try to get them gear, because it’s been Blizzard’s nature to improve core specs and balance them over time. But until that time, if there’s no reason to bring them on certain fights, they will likely sit until such a time as we can afford them a slot. That’s the nature of the type of guilds I and others run.

    And that was the intended context of that specific point of advice. So to argue against it is moot. Your guild might be different. I hope it is, for your sake. They might take you, regardless of any shortcomings in class design (not that I think paladins have any shortcomings right now… protection certainly doesn’t, atm).

    So, again, don’t take it personally.

    As far as homogenization goes. It’s not a great way to go about fixing things. The real imbalance culprits were simply overpowered tools. Chain heal and (especially) heroism brokn the balance of the healing classes and raiding in general during TBC. The buffs made to CoH part-way through TBC was a good answer, but the issue surrounding heroism remains. By making it so heroism is raid-wide and applies an debuff that doesn’t allow it again for another 5 minutes, they address that issue. And adding beacon of light and wild growth have also balance things a little in that regard, while making multi-target healing fundamentally different for each class.

    But you have to ask yourself: Where would any guild be today without CH and heroism? Stuck on the Eredar Twins or M’uru most definitely, or earlier if they aren’t terribly hardcore. But to make heroism synonymous with other buffs is also not the answer, in my opinion.

    The only reason to bring shadow priests pre-3.0 was for mana regen purposes and VE secondarily. VE will still have its place, but without the extremely strong mana regen capabilities, they have less of a niche. So taking that away from them, on top of taking away other buffs, suddenly they need a new niche. Supposedly, they can achieve this with AoE damage in an internal build right now. But then what about mages and warlocks and other AOEers? If they don’t compare, who would you stack to min-max on AoE-based fights?

    It’s not an easy situation, and homogenization is not the answer. Giving people a variety of tools? Sure. Weaker mana regen capabilities than spriests for survival hunters would work, as shadow priests also bring other tools in the form of VE and DoT style damage, while survival would bring expose weakness alternatively. But to nerf it as far as they did and remove some of their other buffing tools puts them in danger of becoming extinct. What you need, then, is unique buffs giving each spec a niche with slight homogenization. But to make them entirely homogenized is not the answer.

    While I don’t think Blizzard aims to homogenize everything entirely, they have taken it a step too far, in my opinion. So we’re backpedalling right now. I imagine they will discover the shortcomings of this change further down the road… after release.

  9. Thank you for this excellent article, Lume. You have helped us see the forest instead of just the trees… see the big picture of the coming expansion. I’m glad WoW Insider highlighted your post, you’ve gained a new reader.

  10. I have a question in regards to the combination of +healing and spell damage. This seems incredible for people like myself, who like to spec back and forth between dps and healing. (Balance and Resto in my case, Druid.) But it also seems like some healers such as holy priests will end up competing for gear with mages and warlocks, wheras this was not much of an issue before. Has this been addressed in Wrath? Is gear still class specific at least to a degree? Or will my guild have to get more specific about who gets loot?

  11. For Arena vs BG – me and many friends and players I know are pretty much in the same boat as you are: we don’t really enjoy Arena.
    It’s just not my cup of tea.

    However – in regards to rewards between Arena and BG, I can see where Blizzard’s coming from: AFK’ers.
    Allow players to get the same reward they could get from BG instead of from Arena – then be prepared to see the BGs flooded w/ AFK’ers.
    ./voteban ? It’s there – didn’t work.

  12. Seasons,
    In regards to the combination of +healing + damage…
    I wouldn’t worry too much about pure dps casters fighting for gear with priests etc..
    Gear will still be stat specific, just not as much as it use to.
    For example; You might have a piece of cloth drop that has:
    INT/SPI/MP5/SP. This is obviously designed for healers, but if you don’t have a cloth healer other dps can roll.
    So you’ll still get the diversity in stats on gear, it simply means there more chance of an upgrade for every class even if it’s not 100% what they need.
    It also means less gear will be DE’d, which turns into quicker gearing for raid progression etc.
    As a druid myself i’m really excited about this.
    In regards to guilds having to decide who gets loot, that shouldn’t change much. In my guild we tend to give the tanks/healers the upgrades first as they are generally more vital to the success of the raid. So this wont change anything for us. It just means as a small guild aiming to do high progression 10-man in wrath we’ll need fewer runs to get everyone geared, and most people will be able to have 2 specs worth for tricky fights

  13. @Seasons

    It’s still pretty logical that a chest with: STA, INT, SPI, and spell power would go to a holy priest. But when you factor in haste, it’s a little less obvious when additionally considering mages. But then this already happens in Sunwell, where certain pieces are shared between both healers and DPSers. But they are still catered to certain classes and specs to some degree.

    That said, it at least ensures a guild to receive more loot that would otherwise rot. For example, a lock might pass on that STA/INT/SPI/SP/haste robe to healers and wait for one with STA/INT/SP/haste/hit instead. But if only the former drops repeatedly, they can then pick it up as an intermediate upgrade.


    I’m not asking that the current BG system offer similar rewards to arena. I am asking for something along the lines of rated battlegrounds with a latter. Where each and every AFKer on your team would result in lower BG scores and a lower overall rating. I’d like to see some items have no rating requirement, while others have steep requirements. And then they can use the normal BG system to fill it out with lesser-quality gear in those slots.

  14. Hi,

    a good overview, Lume!

    What are your thoughts about the classes for raids in general? raid composition? It seems that shadows and destolocks are punished for having a good time in tbc. I dont know whats about the hunters, but i have the feeling that hunters are also bad in the beginning, esp. with the agi-SV-hunter-nerf. The dominance of shaman healing could be broken.

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  16. @MeanderingMind:

    “The push for the optimal raid setup for hardcore guilds is nothing new.”

    Good Point No. 1

    “That said, I think the homogenization is a step in the right direction. For the rest of the raiding population, 10 or 25 man, being able to relax about being unable to recruit a Shadow Priest or a Shaman is a good thing.”

    Good Point No. 2

    “They’ll still lack the optimal raid setup, but the difference between optimal and suboptimal won’t be as striking as it is currently.”

    Precisely. I’ve known many times where good teamwork and good players have overcome ‘sub-optimal’ class specs and under-manning, both from personal experience and hearsay.

    Good Point No. 3

    The above three points are major ones that, I feel, this article fails to highlight.

    I am not someone who could be considered a hardcore raider, but I have spent time amongst those who certainly are. And from what I’ve seen in the beta and PTR, and in the various reviews floating around, the above situation will be where we will find ourselves during WotLK. The world of the hardcore raider will not change greatly in terms of how they select for raids. The ‘who’ may change, indeed. The world of the more casual raider will become a whole expansion’s worth of raid dungeons better.

  17. @BGs and AFKer’s

    I say blizzard just implement an automatic 0kb 0d 0hk 0dmg 0heal = automatic afk and no rewards. If you have <X dmg or <Y heals and you have 0HKs, again, no reward. Do you really deserve a reward if you did nothing? NO. Also, make it possible for the RL to actually remove AFKer’s if they have enough votes to be marked AFK. Additionally, give the RL of the BG the ability to squelch players for the duration of that BG. How many times do you add people to your battlegroup ignore list because they are spouting worthless garbage in AV? Shut them up at the source. Let them speak next time.

    Why is moderation not a part of the leadership role for a BG? If groups of people joining gives them the privilege to set a RL and have their strategy be announced in special font, why not prevent other people from posting counter strategies that don’t conform?

    As far as min/maxing. If you are hardcore, you better believe that you will be asked to do something you don’t like to your spec, gear, playstyle to stay hardcore. That’s the way of the game. You don’t like it, go join a carebear guild. Me I’m a carebear and played a 31/0/20 druid before oomkin and made a specialty out of it, but was #1 healer for my carebear guild and we played plenty of MC/BWL/AQ40. Were we on c’thun when Fury was in Nax? No. Did I care? No.

  18. And PS you’re already being told how to play your class by blizzard. If you don’t believe so, Feral charge > 21 point talent. Blizzard didn’t like resto pvp druids having feral charge because people complained. Now you will have to choose tree or charge until you can get more points at 80 to allow both. And by then who knows if you’ll still want it. Also every change that blizzard makes to gear shapes your interest in your class and play. Look at Gladiator’s for healing druids now. No spirit all Mp5. Look at lvl 80 druid healing pvp. All spirit no MP5. What happened why the change? Oh yeah they realized there was no point to have living spirit or tree form for PvP druids. Because your spirit was so low it meant nothing.

    I think the best thing i heard about expansion (that won’t come true) was the potential to have dual talent builds that you could choose from. That i agree with a lot. When i choose healer i can’t farm anything, level, pvp. And when i choose PvP, i’m not enough healer for raid. But if i can swap between them, i still won’t be able to farm much but at least i can PvP and raid all i want without paying through the nose for it. I know a lot of rogues feel the same way, want to PvP and raid. Not much overlap in their spec’s for it.

    This totally answers the guild requirement to spec a certain way for a raid and allowing you to have your chosen spec for outside the raid. Will it mean those that min/max will have even more opportunity to do so? Yeah. But who’s to say that the hardcore raid won’t kick out an unnecessary tank from a raid to bring in an extra dps anyways? Or an extra healer to bring in caster dps? It happens. So why not give 1 person the opportunity to play both roles?

  19. @m4dsc1

    Who obtains leadership in BG’s is random, so giving them the ability to squelch players is a bad idea.

    The reason they put spirit on the gear is because they realized how much better the stat is in PvP for healing druids. Even without living spirit, it would be better than mp5, because there are numerous times when you drop out of the FSR (even in 5v5). Intensity is already a prerequisite for NS, afterall, so intelligent druid healers wouldn’t be without it. It also increases the potency of innervate on yourself, and adds spell power if you have improved tree form.

    As far as talent swaps go, I hope they are still planning to implement it. If simply because it means you don’t have to port out of an instance to respec. If not, I don’t think it matters too much. It only costs 50g to respec. Some dailies right now are producing about 22g each.

  20. With these changes, I’m already doing the herb gathering with a low level alt in preparation. Here are my questions, though:

    1) I have a Restoration Shaman and a Holy Priest (yeah, I’m team healer most of the time). The changes on the talent trees and to +healing merging into +dmg, besides lowering my healing bonuses (which hurt), what do you see as being things I should be prepared for?

    2) You mention ditching primals to the auction house. Are recipes in the new areas not going to need primals to make, and thus your comment?

    3) You mention druids and shadow priests losing effectiveness in raids, but do any classes gain effectiveness with these changes?

  21. @Zghuk

    It’s too hard to say right now. Classes are changing every single build, so their strengths and weaknesses have been constantly in flux. Also, it’s difficult to say just how many people with replenishment you’ll need in a 25-man raid.

    I think moonkin, a DK w/ improved icy talons, and a survival hunter are certainly a given right now. If simply because moonkin provides so many useful buffs and debuffs right now. And improved icy talons is too good to pass up, unless DK’s end up doing like 500 DPS. And a survival hunter is a lock, I think because expose weakness is not changing and they provide mana regen for the raid.

    In the end, it depends on what stacks and does not stack, as well as DPS potential and general class capabilities and utilities. Because this is still changing, I have let me research slide on some classes. For example, I still haven’t tested whether or not CoE stacks with the new percentage debuffs, or if CoR stacks with sunder. If those do, I imagine you will still see at least a couple locks in the raid.

    For other classes, I’m still looking into it and I probably won’t finish my thoughts on which classes are best until after 3.0.

  22. @Lume

    Just to clarify, take people form a party join AB or other small BG as a group, and your group leader is guaranteed to be the BG leader. It is not random. I believe the leader is chosen by first player or leader of the largest group. If no one joins as a party it will be the first player to enter, but by then you’re probably not going anywhere. Especially if the RL of the BG is just interested in playing with moderation.

    My point is if you have 5 people who join an AB and have a dedicated plan of X people at LM, Y people at BS and Z people at ST and you post a strat and you balance groups and have a great chance of winning if people listen, but then have 1 person who spams a completely opposite strat of G1 take farm, G2 take mine, G3 go afk or who wants to encourage people to preform lose the BG (does happen on lots of servers btw where 1 side intentionally loses AB in 5cap to get quick marks) you want to shut that person up fast. And there’s no way to do it.

    Kiddies for the loss.

  23. I just switched to WAR after playing WoW for ages. But after reading this amazingly interesting and lengthy post, I am having after thoughts. What intrigues me the most is the possibility of renewed world pvp with the addition of destructible buildings, and siege weaponary. WAR has a lot of this but I am interested to see what Blizzard brings to the table. Thanks for this great information as we await the arrival of the new expansion. Hopefully this will help those who are still undecided. Keep up the good work.

  24. @m4dsc1

    A group leader is not guaranteed to be leader. Usually, someone in the group does end up being the leader, yes. But it’s still random. And I’ve seen situations where the group doesn’t end up having someone become leader. I’m not sure what the conditions are for that.

    Regardless, I would not entrust my ability to speak to a trade channel PUG or a ragtag group filled with mediocrity, anyway. Just because they end up the leader doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing. And a lot of these people go on power trips when they are made leader. If I’m the tank in AV, but I’m not the leader, and I can’t say “We need more healers on offense.” Just because some idiot decides only he can speak. I would be pissed. To the point where I probably wouldn’t BG at all. Plain and simple.

    You say kiddies ftl. But half the time it’s the kiddies that end up as the leaders. Who don’t actually know how to win the game. And yell at people for it. If they could squelch people, it would ruin any enjoyment in PUGing BG’s.

    A rated BG system would render these frustrations moot for people who desire organization. And would give people an alternative to arenas, something they might not prefer over premade BG’s.

  25. Hi Lume,

    I just found your little blog and think that it’s very informative and sweet. But I can’t read any of the articles…
    There’s a bug in the html that makes all of the text frame clip into the lower part of the menu (on the left) and then just disappear into the lower side of the website without a scroll or a way of selecting the “hidden” text. Is there anyway you could solve this? Or should I torture the IT guy at our workplace to install the latest IE version.


  26. Hey, quick question more for curiosity – why sell the Aldor/Scryer marks? Is it simply because the rep will not be directly useful in Wrath?

  27. @Lightfinger

    1) Your “+healing” isn’t getting nerfed. The amount of spell power you get is equivalent to the amount of +healing you had before the change. Some individual spells are going to have their coefficients buffed or nerfed that gives an impression that the spell power change has negatively affected their stats, but it’s just changes to the spells themselves.

    2) The main reason for selling your primals is simply because they aren’t going to have a place in the level 80 end-game. There are level 80 versions of primals called “eternals” (eternal air, etc.) that will take the place of primals in crafted gear and enchants. The alternative to motes are crystallized air, fire, etc.

    3) I don’t recall saying that druids will be losing effectiveness explicitly. I did express my fear that shadow priests, in their current state, would likely lose quite a lot.

    I apologize for missing your post originally.

  28. @dailywarhammer

    There will certainly be some renewed world PvP in Wintergrasp. But I am not sure how it will compare with WAR. That is something you have to decide for yourself. I was an avid player of DAoC before WoW came out, so I am fairly familiar with Mythic’s approach to siege warfare and destructible buildings and I know their system is generally more expansive than is even WotLK’s. However, for all I know, the controls for WoW could be easier and the general gameplay more enjoyable. I know I enjoy it on pre-made beta realm, though it has some issues to be worked out still. But once the issues have been combed over, I think it could be exciting.

    However, you will likely need to make sure you roll on a generally balanced server. Playing on a realm with a 3:1 faction ratio, especially if that’s on a PvE server, could render Wintergrasp rather moot. And, right now, Strand doesn’t quite live up to the excitement of Wintergrasp.

    But do not take this as a review. Their potential is huge and Blizzard is still working on tweaks: what siege engines to make accessible are various levels, how long Strand lasts, etc.

  29. @Lynxy

    I’ve viewed it on IE and there’s nothing wrong that I can see. You may need to update to the latest version, as there could be some stylesheet issues.

  30. @Stom

    Correct. Though, for measure, I guess it would depend on the individual’s inclinations. Their tabards will not give reputation, so they are the only way to obtain reputation. But I believe they will be worth less post-release. Because anyone can go out and AoE farm the hell out of them should they wish to maximize their reputation and work on the exalted rep achievement.

  31. This is a very short post just to compliment you, lume, on the clarity and excellence of this piece and others. I would particularly endorse the idea of rated battlegrounds and its comforting to see someone such as yourself thinking the same, although im not overly optimistic about its implementation.

  32. Guild leaders have a roll, a required function.
    They have to provide for 25 – sometimes over 400 different people a positive experiance. No one is going to show up everyday for weeks on end and die with no hope in site of progressing. There job is to put together a team they have faith in, in hopes that there starting line will have faith in themselves. Enough so that they work through all the road blocks.

    This said, I have often asked others to respec, when they didnt I found that I only had need of them as back ups. I explained to them what my expectations were, I also explained that I knew atleast 3 other guild leaders, of almost the same progression that would gladly take them and use them.

    You may think it is unfair, but there are more opinions then yours, in a raid I have 25 people, and on the forums I see them speak there minds, tell me there expectations, and I only pander to the expectations that fit the whole, and the #1 is that we kill stuff get loot, and do so with as little drama and slow down (Waiting to look for fill ins, or afks’s) as possible. If it is your job to keep people happy or lose them, the greater good is your responsability. Plus its YOUR guild, and your opertunity, your hard work reading and getting people ready, first to every raid, always on time. You as a leader have to out work everyone to be an example.

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  34. Lume,

    Excellent review, thank you. I have one question: With Inscription and specifically glyphs, what would a paladin in my situation do?

    – I am the class leader for my guild (about 10 pallys) and am also probably one of the 5 best players in my guild. What this has meant for me in TBC is about 3-5 respec’s per week for the last 18 months or so. Reasons being A: now that all three specs were raid viable, I would not make a very good CL if I did not have a strong understanding of all three spec’s, and B: (this being the far stonger of the two reasons) I had to fill a different role in nearly every raid, and often (Mt. Hyjal, TK, SSC) 2-3 roles in one night, a paladin not being an optimal tank against Archimonde, and not an optimal dps or tank option against Vashj or Kael.

    So right now there does not seem to be a way to switch back and forth as far as glyphs are concenered with two different specs, unless you are constantly buying new glyphs. There were rumors circulating that Blizzard would implement some form of Spec saver, allowing a player to save two different specs and be able to switch between the two at will. But there is no secondary glyph page in my spec book. So, in your opinion, was blizzard’s idea of two spec’s more along the lines of PvE ret and PvP ret? And much the same for other classes?

    – See I had no problem tanking all the trash waves in Mount Hyjal and then hearthing and respec’ing to Ret for Archimonde – Because it meant that I got to keep playing as opposed to the guild taking a rogue that was waiting outside. Or even to a greater degree: DPS’ing for all of SSC, then hearthing to respec to Prot for Morogrim, then immeadiately hearthing and respec’ing holy for vashj (similar in TK). But now with the glyphs it would seem that even my willingness to respec from ret to holy and my skill as a player may not be enough to persuade the RL to take me to a boss fight if there is another strong healer waiting outside the instance with all of his/her healing glyphs in order.

    I hope I have not made my questions too vague.

    Thank you

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