Quick post to let readers know I’m heading to Germany this weekend for a conference next week! Never been to Germany before (or any part of Europe, really, save connecting flights) so very excited even though my entire family wants me to look out for various German stuffs to bring home. I’d love to hear from any German readers I have, so drop me a message on Twitter or through the site/forums.
It’s been all over the gaming online community the past few days, but in case you missed it, Re/code (among others) is reporting that Joystiq is shutting down. This will include WoW Insider and Massively, as well. (Due to AOL corporate, they haven’t officially confirmed it, but based on several unofficial sources, it’s 99% sure at this point.)
This hits me hard. While I’ve been pretty itinerant in my writing, doing it more as a pastime, several good friends wrote as a full-time job. Living just got significantly harder for them, and I hope that they find other opportunities.
Why the closure, though? As a former WI writer, I’d say the closure is rooted in two main causes.
- An overly generous payment model. WI/JS generally paid writers by the standards of a print publication; i.e. flat rate per article written, with a focus on editing to ensure quality material was written. This made for better articles (WI had consistently some of the best WoW writing for years) but the payoff just wasn’t there in terms of views. When your site is 100% supported by advertising, it’s much more efficient to tie payment to views, as *cough* certain other sites do. Sucks for the writers, bad for the readers, but advertisers pay based on numbers, not comments praising the quality of the writing.
- AOL Corporate is desperate to cut costs. AOL should have broken itself up long ago. They had a ton of money from winning the early Internet race, and used it to get big without really planning out how they would continue to fund things. Online writing (as mentioned above) is inherently a low-margin activity because the barrier to entry is so low, and adding AOL overhead to it makes it even more difficult.
Unfortunately, it’s tough for me to advocate for WI to continue. Looking specifically at the WoW space, WI engagement has fallen off dramatically. You can get most anything at Wowhead; MMO-Champion/Curse does your breaking news and addons; Icy-Veins does obsessively detailed strategies. What does WI do? It’s great for new players and those who like reading about a variety of different things, but it’s hard to do that better. Some monthly pageview stats I pulled to back this up (note that these are US only from compete.com, but should be fairly representative; numbers include pre-WoD and post-WoD)
- Wowhead: 600k-1m
- MMO-Champion: 300k-600k
- Icy Veins: 200k-500k
- WoW Insider: 100-350k
I see rumors that a Patreon-funded version of the various sites is being discussed, and I’m hopeful that we’re at a point on the Internet where we can do that and make it a success.
What about me?
Seeing as I haven’t written anything on the blog since WoD launched, I should probably add something here. Nothing bad has happened: I was too busy playing WoD for a month to write anything (woohoo!), then was doing family things over the holiday, and lately I’ve just been feeling the same lack of motivation and niche that has affected WI.. I don’t mythic raid, so I have very little to say about ferals that would be meaningful in a competitive context. (Stenhaldi write this analysis on the forums, which sums up basically everything I would say, but much better.) With the gear simplifications, Ask Mr. Robot does a much better job of helping people optimize there then my old gear-list analyses would. Additionally, my full-time job is picking up substantially, to the point where I have much less time to engage with a community like I used to.
Long story short: I need to break the feeling that I have to write “the best thing or nothing at all,” and just write stuff because I enjoy it. I’m getting there..maybe? Don’t know. Not sure. :) Hit the forums for more pertinent feral discussion, ping me on Twitter if you want to talk about whatever, and now close your feed reader/browser and go back to work!
There’s a ton of resources out there, so rather then write a mammoth wall-o-text, I’m going to make this as short as possible while linking all over the place so you can get as in-depth as you want.
Feral Druid Things
1. Ger the Glyph of Travel as soon as you can find it on the AH, it makes getting around so much easier. Ditto Glyph of Savagery.
2. As soon as you get the Rake perk, you’ll want to open with that from stealth, instead of Shred. Of course, if you’re in ubergear, you can skip the stealth part altogether and just demolish things, but that goes away as you level.
3. Spec SOTF for leveling, but use Incarnation for dungeons. It’s a surprisingly good talent. Force of Nature is unsurprisingly terrible.
Pawkets’ guide for level 100 with new WoD discussion thread.
1. Stack some combination of Isle of Thunder/Shado-Pan/Klaxxi/Timeless Isle quests. Log in at Isle, port to Shado-Pan, hearth or fly to Klaxxi, trinket port to Timeless Isle, guild cloak port to SW, Mage tower port to Blasted Lands. If starting at 12AM, may want to only save 20-22, start questing immediately, and hearth out/back once you get garrison port.
2. Consumable up – might as well use them. Food, flask, DPS potions for rares/overpulls, etc. If going all-out, get speed (Darkwater) potions, slowfall potions for shortcuts, gems to gem gear as you get it, etc. Cracked Talisman is also very useful.
3. Buy all 3 guild battle standards. They buff XP gain from monsters and treasures by 15%/10%/5%. 10 minute CD per banner, so you should be able to drop one for most treasures you find.
4. Or, if you want, totally ignore everything in this section and level at your own speed! That’s perfectly cool too!
Leveling Preparation Guide. Skullflower’s Guide is excellent. If you only read one thing, read this.
Horde Speed-Leveling Guide. Step-by-step questing, Hordeside.
Alliance Speed-Leveling Guide.Step-by-step video quests and treasures. Recommends spending garrison resources on XP potions, which I wouldn’t recommend.
Waypoints to all WoD treasure chests. Treasures are very prevalent in WoD – there are 20-40 in each zone. They are like Timeless Isle treasures; they’re phased so everyone can pick them up (once). Treasures give slightly less XP then completing a quest.
Professions and Garrisons
1. You’re steered to your Garrison immediately after finishing the introductory Tanaan quests. Once you finish the intro garrison quests, you’ll have a L1 Garrison with an open small plot and a Barracks-filled large plot. After finishing the intro zone (Shadowmoon/Frostfire), you’ll unlock a L2 Garrison, which opens an extra small and medium plot. L3 isn’t available until 100 and adds an additional plot of each size, for a final total of 3 small, two medium, and two large. You’ll also pick up some extra buildings along the way that everyone gets: the mine, the herb garden, the fishing shack, and the pet menagerie.
2. Gathering professions are largely unaffected by Garrisons. Gathering is super easy in Draenor as you can gather from any node (or skin) regardless of skill, you’ll just get less from it.
3. Small building are mainly for crafting. Each crafting profession has an accompanying small building that can build most (not all) of Each profession also has a Unique Resource (I’ll use engineering’s, Gearspring Parts, as an example) that must be generated in order to build most of the new cool things. Stay with me here, this gets a little complicated.
- If you have BOTH the crafting building and matching profession, you can get 16 of your Unique Crafting Resource per day; 10 from the profession, 6 from the building.
- If you have the profession, but not the building, things are mostly the same. You only get 10 Resources per day, and you have to go to Ashran instead of your garrison to learn new recipes, but that’s it.
- If you have just the building, you can do some things with the building, but it’s limited. You’ll only get 6 Resources per day and can spend the Resources for the base-level crafts, but won’t be able to buy the upgrades or unique items.
Other than the crafting buildings, there’s also the Storehouse for extra work orders and garrison bank access (meh) and the Salvage Yard for extra rewards from follower missions.
4. Medium buildings give you stuff. The Barn gives Savage Blood (needed for ALL epic crafts), the Inn gives you daily dungeon quests and more followers, the Lumber Mill lets you harvest Timber which turns into extra Garrison Resources, and the Trading Post lets you trade reagents for Garrison Resources (or vice versa). There’s also a PvP building in there for some reason.
5. Large buildings offer buffs. You start with a Barracks for free, which buffs your followers and lets you make certain followers bodyguards, who fight with you in the wild. There’s also the Bunker, which buffs quest rewards, can upgrade followers, and gives you free bonus rolls; the Stables, which increases mount speed and prevents being dazed; the Mage Tower, which lets you port around Draenor; and the Gearworks, which gives you a different fun toy/special ability to use every day.
6. My picks: I’ve changed my mind around a few times, but I’ve finally settled on these starting choices for my main, who is Alch/Engi.
- Small: Salvage Yard, Enchanting, Inscription. I like the follower minigame, so Salvage Yard is a must-take. I’m not building the Alchemy building because the Alch unique resource is only used for making a trinket and super-flasks; my profession should generate more than enough mats for that. I’m swapping in the Enchanter’s building so I can disenchant quest greens. Inscription over Engineering is a tough choice; I will likely start with Inscription just to generate cards for a Darkmoon trinket, then switch it to Engineering later.
- Medium: Trading Post, Inn. Not a PvPer, so the PvP building is out (should’ve been a building that everyone gets, really). I went back and forth on Lumber Mill or Trading Post for a long time; both will generate you Garrison Resources, but Trading Post is ultimately more flexible and doesn’t require you to go harvesting. Finally, Inn wins over the Barn because I’ll be running a lot of dungeons at 100, though my alt will have a Barn to sell the Bloods.
- Large: Barracks, Bunker. Glyph of Travel means I’m not too concerned with the Stables, I think Engineering will give me enough toys to get around fast that I don’t need the Mage Tower, and the Gearworks looks more like a “fun for alts” thing than anything else.
Grumpyelf’s collected Professions posts. LOTS of info in here.
Things to do at 100
1. Gear up! Questing should’ve gotten you up to around item level 610. Heroic dungeons drop ilevel 630 gear, and CM dungeons drop ilvl 640.
2. Start farming Apexis Crystals. These primarily come from a daily quest in your garrison. You need ~5000 Crystals as part of the legendary questline, and lots more can be used for gear.
A guide to gearing up at 100 by Wowhead.
Legendary quest guide by Wowhead.
Copy/Paste dungeon boss strats by Two Wow Chicks.
From browsing around the Internet, there’s a lot of mixed feelings about this Blizzcon. Pretty much, the people who were there in person thought it was awesome (how often do you get to see Blizzard announce a new IP?) but the people watching on Virtual Ticket weren’t so happy, due to there being no WoW news at all.
My prediction: No new franchises.
Actual: Swing and a miss. :) In retrospect, it makes sense; that time gap in the schedule had to be for “SOMETHING,” after all. 0/1 points.
Overwatch looks stellar. It’s very similar to Team Fortress 2 in many ways, but with a dash of MOBA flavor. Most shooters go for a limited set of classes or loadouts; Overwatch is going for LOTS of classes (“heroes”) that all fall into 4 archetypes. I can’t think of a shooter that’s tried this since the ill-fated Shadowrun (which was ahead of its time) on PC/360, though I’m definitely not a shooter expert. I will probably play it some, but in general, I agree with Azuriel (which I tend to do). I’ve always preferred IoC/AV over WSG/TP, largely because I know my lack of PvP skill will impact the team less. Similarly, that’s why I’ve been okay playing Battlefield or Planetside 2, but tend to shy away from things like Call of Duty or Halo.
It’ll do well (when does Blizzard make anything that doesn’t?), but I can see the “no restriction on hero selection” balancing being a major issue. I was already hearing stories of people playing at Blizzcon and stacking multiple Reinhardts. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the competitive play mode ban multiples of the same hero.
Warcraft/World of Warcraft
My prediction: No new WoW news except a patch 6.1 teaser, No WC1-3 remake news, Trailer for Warcraft Movie.
Actual: There was absolutely NO new WoW info at Blizzcon, which I think is a first. They obviously didn’t want to take any focus off of Overwatch, but judging by the coverage, you’d almost think it was one of their older games they were remenbering fondly, not an active game. There was also no news about the remake of the earlier Warcraft games.
There was a Warcraft movie trailer, and the movie panel was very impressive. Unfortunately, you had to physically be at Blizzcon to see the trailer. They did put out a tentative release date of March 2016 for the movie, which is very interesting, timeline-wise. Seems to me that Blizzcon 2015 would be a perfect time to announce the Warcraft remakes and the next WoW expansion, shooting for release around the movie’s release. Anyway, 2.75/3 points, deducting a quarter point for no patch 6.1 news.
My prediction: Legacy of the Void announcement, playable, no date.
Actual: Nailed this one, but this was pretty much a given. They had to say something about SC2 this year. 1/1 points.
My prediction: New D3 expansion announced.
Actual: Nope, just information about Season 2, which has a little bit of new stuff, but is the WoW equivalent of just adding a new quest hub. I’m surprised by this; I though they would have learned from their mistake of not pushing more expansions for Diablo 2, while it still had a large following. 0/1 points.
My prediction: New expansion announced, Ulduar-themed. No date, Winter 2015 timeframe.
Actual: Wow. I was NOT expecting a new expansion pack this early (next month!), or the Goblins vs. Gnomes theme. Blizzard is pivoting here; they brought in an initial fanbase with the WoW hooks, but now they’re going hard after mobile users. Half credit for at least getting the mechanical theme right, .5/1 points.
Heroes of the Storm
Prediction: No major features announced, open beta Winter 2015.
Actual: Well, they said “closed” beta in January instead of open beta, but time will tell how closed that actually is. They did announce a couple of new game modes which are clones of other MOBA game modes. Half credit again, .5/1 points.
- New Hearthstone expansion, with cards for new WoW figures and Ulduar. No date, maybe a timeframe.
- Heroes of the Storm: no major new features, just announcement of open beta timeframe for Winter 2015.
Overall, I didn’t do too bad (4.75/8 in my arbitrary scoring system) except for not predicting Overwatch. Looking forward to Blizzcon 2015, I think you’ll see the pendulum swing back towards WoW and Diablo, with expansion announcements (WoW’s will probably be Legion-themed), plus more on Overwatch.
So a friend of mine was on the con floor when the power went out, and things went crazy for a while. One of the Blizzard guys ran off to see if he could fix the power, and left his laptop open with his email logged in! My friend, curious sort that he is, checked it out and couldn’t help but take a look when he saw the email titled “Draft HS: GvG patchnotes from meeting on the 3rd.” Some pretty crazy changes, IMO! I’ve transcribed this from the cellphone pics he sent me. -Ala
Guys, latest changes look good so far. Keep it up; remember, design goal for this go-around is to make sure a losing player always has some shot, no matter how narrow, to get back into the game. -BB
Goblins vs. Gnomes
- The new Goblins vs. Gnomes expansion set offers 120 new cards to add to your Hearthstone collection! Goblins vs. Gnomes cards can be purchased with gold or real money, or won from the Arena.
- Spectator Mode has been added!
- You can spectate by clicking the spectate button on your friends list when people are in the game. While playing, you can see who is watching you play! You can make your games invite only, if desired. You can spectate two players at the same time for Tournaments.
Hero Power Changes
- After an extensive review, we’re concerned that Hero Powers are making play too predictable. We want every turn in Hearthstone to feel like an adventure, not a chore. Therefore, we are introducing some mild randomness into Hero Powers.
- New Hero Powers
- Druid: Now reads “Choose One: +1 Attack this turn or +1 Armor. Has a 50% chance to proc Omen of Clarity, reducing Shapeshift’s mana cost to 0 next turn.”
- Hunter: Now reads “Deal 1 damage to the enemy hero. Has a 50% chance to proc Wild Quiver, allowing Steady Shot to be used again this turn for free.”
- Mage: Renamed to Arcane Blast. Now reads “Deal 1 damage. Arcane Blast has +1 damage and +100% mana cost next turn.”
- Paladin: Now reads “Give a random friendly minion 1/1 or summon a 1/1 Silver Hand Recruit.”
- Priest: Now reads “Restores 1-3 Health to a friendly character.” Shadowform is unchanged.
- Rogue: Now reads “Equip a 1/2 Dagger or a 2/1 Sword.”
- Shaman: No change.
- Warlock: Now reads “Draw a card and take 2-4 damage. Cost reduced to 1 Mana if you have 15 or less health.”
- Warrior: Now reads “Grant 1-2 Armor to a random friendly character.”
- Harvest Golem, Damaged Golem, Mechanical Dragonling, Demolisher and Alarm-o-Bot now have the “Mech” subtype.
- Loatheb’s Battlecry now reads “Enemy spells cost (3) more next turn” (down from 5).
- The intent behind Loatheb was to force a choice between an expensive spell or a minion; however, its primary effect has tended to lock out enemy spells entirely for a turn, which is too powerful.
- The Slime summoned by Sludge Belcher is now a 1/1, Taunt (down from 1/2, Taunt).
- Sludge Belcher was too powerful for 5 mana, and was automatically included is almost every non-rush deck.
- Undertaker is now a 1/1 (down from 1/2).
- Undertaker was too difficult to remove in the early game, and saw too much play.
- Soulfire now reads “If you have no cards in your hand, take 2 damage. Deal 4 damage. Discard a random card.”
- Doomguard now reads: “Charge. Battlecry: If you have 0-1 cards in your hand, take 2 damage. Discard 2 random cards. ”
- Both Soulfire and Doomguard were designed around forcing the Warlock to pay a card cost for an above-cost spell or minion; however, it has become too easy to evade that cost.
- The Shop interface has been updated to include Goblins vs. Gnomes card packs.
- An additional gameboard is available for play.
- Additional music tracks have been added.
- Goblins vs. Gnomes cards can now be searched for using the term “GG” in the Collection Manager.
Bug Fixes and Miscellaneous Changes
- A confirmation dialog has been added to the “Concede” button. Players still having difficulty may enable “AOL-Mode Concedes” in the Options screen, which requires 3 button clicks, 2 authenticator codes, and a phone call.
- Additional anti-bot technology has been added to Hearthstone. If bot play is suspected (consistent turn times, illogical plays, choosing Shaman), the client may require you to solve a CAPTCHA before beginning play.
- Due to language concerns, a filter has been added to deck names. The client will no longer accept decks named with curse words, infectious diseases, or Kappa.
- The inadvertently-added GLaDOS card has been removed from the game. You monster.
The NDA has finally lifted, and I can finally announce the big writing project that I’ve been working on – the Druid section of the official World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Signature Series Strategy Guide!
It’s been an incredible journey. I started this blog way back in July 2009 while serving in Korea, with my initial posts getting single-digit views (Thanks, Mom). Now, five years and three continents later, I’m a published author. I still can’t believe that people are actually giving me money to write things.
It wasn’t just me, though! Many of the old WoW Insider crew got recruited to turn this thing out, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention them. Go follow them all on Twitter and give kudos. (Except for Bendak, tell him to stop stealing the feral gear.)
- Death Knight: Magdalena (@MagdalenaDK), who blogs at Magdalena’s Musings and blows me away with the things he pulls off, all the time.
- Hunter: Bendak (@BendakWoW), who blogs at Eyes of the Beast and keeps trying to tame me, despite repeated growls.
- Mage: The incredibly awesome Vidyala (@_Vidyala), my guild leader, fellow hunter insulter, and good friend. Blogs at Manalicious and draws the webcomic From Draenor with Love.
- Monk: Chaithi (@WoWMonk), who runs the video podcast Monk Meditation. (Hopefully he can tear himself away from Pandaria’s sweet brews.)
- Paladin: WoW’s best tank (in his own mind), Rhidach (@Rhidach) who blogs at Righteous Defense.
- Priest: The man! The myth! The Matticus! (@matticus) Blogs at World of Matticus, naturally. Is cooler than I will ever be.
- Rogue: The always-stylish Rfeann (@Sveltekumquat), who blogs at the Red-Hatted Rogue and co-founder of the definitive rogue resource, Ravenholdt.net.
- Warlock: Poneria (@_poneria) of Fel Concentration. My comrade-in-arms at telling people “You’re doing Simulationcraft WRONG.”
- Shaman: Binkenstein (@Binkenstein) of Totemspot, who has a better spreadsheet than you. Don’t even try.
- Warrior: Rossi. (@MatthewWRossi) Just Rossi. He’s achieved single-name status. Has forgotten more things then I will ever learn. Go buy his book if you want your mind blown.
- Editor, Whip-Cracker, and Generally Awesome Lady: The Stickney! (@Shadesogrey) Damn, I forgot to include “slayer of internet dragons” in the title. Senior editor over at WoW Insider.
Of course, I can’t forget Ken and the other people at BradyGames, who run a great outfit. Last, and most critically, huge thanks to Arielle, Hamlet, and Cyous for helping me nail down some things about Druid non-feral specs, even when I couldn’t tell them why I was asking, and Pawkets/Tinderhoof for helping with feral.
Ok, enough acknowledgements. I’m generally didn’t consider myself much of a strategy guide person, but this thing is massive. I’m talking 300+ pages of solid info. If you’re like me and forget how to play your alts after a while, this is a great resource for getting you back up to speed quickly. It’s also a great gift for someone who’s just getting started with the game. I would say more, but the thing isn’t actually published yet, so I can’t. :)
Long story short: I have an extra copy of the guide (a $24.99 value), thanks to BradyGames, and I’d like to give it to one of you. Just enter below. Please note that only US residents are eligible (sorry, EU-friends), you must be over 18, and you must have a valid shipping address (no PO Boxes). Full T&C’s are in the giveaway app. Best of luck!
(EDIT: Aus/NZ residents now have a chance to win one as well, thanks to Binkenstein! Go here for more details.)
I haven’t done this since 2011, but it’s time to revive the tradition. Let’s pull out the ol’ crystal ball and predict/guess/speculate wildly as to what we’ll see at the convention!
World of Warcraft
Traditionally, even-numbered years have been pretty light on WoW announcements. 2008 showed some footage of WOTLK, 2010 showed some footage of Cataclysm, and 2012, of course, never happened.
Now, Talarian, who I respect greatly, thinks that Blizzard’s consistent proclamations of “we’re moving to a faster release cycle” means that they have to announce something significant this year, like the next expansion. Possibly supporting this theory is a large block of unscheduled time on the Main Stage immediately following the opening ceremony; right now, the ceremony ends at 10:45 and a “Warcraft Movie Presentation” doesn’t begin until 2:15. I could definitely see the opening ceremony ending with a “oh, and stick around to check this out.”
Unfortunately, given Blizzard’s constant failure to actually succeed at speeding up development time despite promises to do so, I’m in firm “I’ll believe it when I see it” mode. Even if they are planning on speeding development, I’d expect an 18 month cycle to be a more likely initial target, meaning a Blizzcon 2015 announcement and a Spring 2016 release date.
I do think, though, they go ahead and release some info on 6.1, and with absolutely nothing to go on, I’m going to wildly speculate it’ll be Ogri’la 2: Two-Headed Boogaloo. Maybe another split double raid with Ogres and Arrakoa. No clue. What I DON”T want to see, though, is any alternate universe Azeroth shenanigans. “Garrosh convinces Iron Horde warlocks to open portal to Azeroth, recruits an Old-God corrupted Medivh, who rescues Illidan!” Ugh. No.
Legacy of the Void gets announced, with a huge info dump. (Well, technically, we already know the name so it’s not really an announcement, but stop arguing semantics.) This is the big headliner of the show. WoW’s not going to have much; D3 might have some news, but it’ll be too far out to get much love; HS/HOTS aren’t tentpole franchises. I’m so confident in this, I’m going to even say they’ll have pre-alpha demo stations for trying out some of the new Protoss stuff. No hard dates for anything.
I haven’t followed D3 for quite some time. I found a good sale on Reaper of Souls recently, so I picked it up and leveled a Crusader to 70…and then haven’t really touched the game again. That said, I can’t imagine they’re ending things with one expansion; after all, they’ve got a shiny new console edition to sell DLC on! (/sarcasm) Yes, I think they announce a second expansion, level cap increase, new class, all that jazz, though this is my least confident prediction. If they do announce a new class, it’ll be druid-themed, because honestly, they’ve left out the best D2 class for so long already.
HearthPwn has collated all the “Eye of Azshara” leaks/speculation, which seems pretty legit. I’ll agree; I say we see the expansion announced, with some of the new cards previewed. Expect there to be cards for newly prominent WoW figures (Vol’jin, Kairoz, some of the Warlords). Also, since there seems to be a mechanical bent to the cards and the last expansion was Naxxramas, it wouldn’t surprise me to see some Ulduar-themed content. They likely won’t announce a release date other than SoonTM.
Heroes of the Storm
I think HotS is going to be pushed HARD at this Blizzcon, much like Hearthstone was last year. It seems to be following roughly the same trajectory, so by my crystal ball, I think we can expect much wider alpha access to start post-Blizzcon, with open beta in January, and “official” release sometime next summer. Like everything else, I don’t think they announce any hard dates, though I do think they will announce a timeframe for open beta, something like “Winter 2015.”
Fair warning: I say this as someone who’d actually like to try the alpha and has yet to receive a key, so I may be projecting.
There will be a trailer for the Warcraft movie, that’s almost certain. They showed bits and pieces at another convention, but here’s where they give it some love.
I do not think there will be anything about the Warcraft remakes that Blizzard may or may not be working on. Several people have pointed out that this is Warcraft’s 20th anniversary, which is true, but I think a more likely date to release a WC remake, if it even happens, will be in concert with the movie release. I also don’t think there will be any out-of-left-field announcements, like an entirely new franchise.
So, to sum up:
- No new WoW news, save for some teasers for patch 6.1.
- SC2: Legacy of the Void is headliner announcement; demo stations, posters, swag, etc. No date.
- New Diablo 3 expansion, with level cap increase and new class. No date.
- New Hearthstone expansion, with cards for new WoW figures and Ulduar. No date, maybe a timeframe.
- Heroes of the Storm: no major new features, just announcement of open beta timeframe for Winter 2015.
- Trailer for Warcraft movie.
- No Warcraft remake news, no Warcraft 4. (Sorry.)
- No new franchises.
We’ll see on Friday! For everyone that’s going, stay safe, have fun, and try not to kill too many memories with alcohol!
I hope everyone enjoyed their first week of 6.0! I’ve been busy playing and farming far too many Tricky Treats for pets, so here’s a quick roundup of some of last week’s events that I didn’t work up a full post for.
The ElvUI backdoor
A week ago, a backdoor was discovered within ElvUI. As documented by this Reddit post, a group of people started doing odd things in an LFR; one person investigated and found that ElvUI contained code that allowed Elv to remotely issue commands to any character that was using ElvUI. Talarian investigated further and found that this backdoor could theoretically have enabled editing friendslists, deleting/creating macros, deleting/creating keybinds, deleting gear, force quitting, and possibly disbanding guilds/mailing gold.
As you can imagine, this is quite upsetting; ElvUI and TukUI are widely beloved and used in the WoW community for their clean, modern look, compared to Blizzard’s default UI. Unfortunately, I find Elv’s justification of “this was just some developer commands that got left in for testing” wholly disingenuous, considering a) the code commits implementing the backdoor from 2013 are titled “new toy” and “this is too fucking evil,” among others and b) there was no apology or even notification on the ElvUI blog of the backdoor, just a quiet removal of the offending code. Frankly, I’m disappointed, and I cannot in good conscience recommend anyone continue to use anything developed by Elv.
The Running of the Raids
So, everything is nerfed quite a bit, and I was able to get through quite a bit of old content. Everything from WOTLK is quite easily doable, with Ulduar 25H and ICC 25H falling over without much complaint. (TotC 25H’s Gormok abilities were not scaled properly, but that was hotfixed later in the week.) Dreamweaver is even doable with HOTW-healing.
Cataclysm (as you might expect) is a bit more challenging. I decided to try 25 Normal for the first attempts, and I was able to fully clear Firelands that way, with several wipes (Plumb forgot about the first tier of raids.) Some bosses are burstable as Feral and nearly require it (Baleroc) but I was generally stuck in Guardian. I was able to clear the first four bosses of Dragon Soul on 25N, but was not able to do Ultraxion, so dropped back to 10N for the rest. Next time I go in, I’ll try heroic 10 and see how that goes. Spine is ridiculously annoying though; you basically have to spend the entire fight doing racetrack patterns around his back to keep him from rolling.
The Great SoO Nerfing
So I got all the gear I’ve been missing out on. :) Business Time did a Heroic (former Normal) run of SoO to knock off the rust and get everyone back to raiding speed, and we one-shot everything, which was unexpected. My damage wasn’t the greatest, but that was before I went up about 15 item levels, so I can’t really compare. Apparently Mythic is just as easy, but I think I’m geared enough for WoD at this point.
Feral Buffs and Fixes
A round of feral hotfixes went out to bring up damage, which appears to have left us in a pretty strong position. It’s hard to get accurate data with everything dying so fast now, though. I’d estimate that we’re definitely top tier in single-target damage, at least.
Finally, Jeshu has completed a beta version of Ovale for 6.0, so your wonderful move suggester is back. We’re actively taking feedback to improve Ovale and the Simulationcraft action priority list on our forums, so head over there if you want to contribute. Traffic has ticked up to the forums substantially since 6.0 released; it’s good to see so many new (and old) ferals stopping by.
- Read my 5-minute guide to Patch 6.0 for druids post if you want the absolute basics. Includes links to additional guides for other specs.
- Wowhead has an exhaustive list of all druid changes.
- Lissanna has updated her druid leveling guide for 6.0.
If you’re like me and just want to hop in-game without reading a wall of text, here’s a VERY brief summary of the changes you need to know for each spec in 6.0. I’ll include a link for each spec to read more for those that want to.
Changes for All Druids
- Character stats squished. Smaller numbers across the board, don’t freak out. Everything is about 10% of what it used to be, so don’t freak if you’re suddenly doing only 10k DPS/HPS instead of 150k.
- Reforging is gone. Luckily, there’s much less need to reforge anymore.
- Hit, Expertise, Parry, and Dodge are gone. No more caps to worry about.
- Multistrike and Versatility added. Multistrike gives a chance to proc additional hits/abilities/spells at 30% strength, while Versatility gives a small across-the-board buff which increases damage/healing and reduces damage taken.
- Snapshotting is gone. For those that don’t know, this was the strategy where you attempted to get as many procs stacked up as possible (potion, trinket, etc.) and get DoTs up while the procs were up. Procs dropped, but the DoTs continued to tick for massive damage. (Especially if you were Feral and the boss was below 25%, letting you roll super-Rip for the rest of the fight.)
- Symbiosis is gone. That wave you’re feeling is the massive shrug from every druid who touched it once.
- Professions no longer increase combat performance. In the name of making things easier; no more profession buffs. Similarly, enchanting and gemming are much reduced at level 100.
- Travel Form is now smart-cast. Auto-Stag in non-flight zones, Auto-Bird(Bat) in flight-zones. Definitely seek out the new Glyph of Travel.
- Eclipse system totally revamped. Eclipse now auto-cycles between Lunar and Solar, with mastery bonus highest at the peak of each end. Cast the appropriate spell at the appropriate time. Takes a bit of getting used to, but pretty easy to pick up.
- Starsurge now works on a charge system, shares charges with Starfall, and buffs your next Starfire/Wrath casts. Managing Starsurge charges is now key; you want to use Starsurge near the peak of each cycle. Starsurge is also your cast-while-moving spell.
- Starfall is awesome/deadly. It hits EVERYTHING and does disgustingly good AoE damage, just watch for accidental pulls.
- No more haste caps. All DoTs/HoTs add an additional ending tick that takes your Haste into account.
Basic Balance Rotation
- Lunar: Cast Moonfire once to put it up, cast Starsurge once to proc Lunar Empowerment, else cast Starfire.
- Solar: Cast Sunfire twice (entering and leaving) to keep it up, cast Starsurge once to proc Solar Empowerment, else cast Wrath.
- Use Astral Communion on cooldown.
- For AoE situations, swap Starfall for Starsurge, and multi-DoT with whatever Eclipse you’re currently in.
For a full guide, see Hamlet’s Balance guide on Wowhead.
- Combo Points are on the player now, instead of the target. Just let that sink in for a while. 3 adds and a boss? Rake all 3 and Rip the boss, if you feel inclined.
- Cat Mangle is gone. Shred no longer requires you to be behind the target. But you’re a good little kitty, so you will stay behind the target to avoid parries.
- Ravage/Pounce are gone. Shred from Stealth is basically Ravage, and Rake from Stealth is basically Pounce.
- New Savage Roar glyph. You can now choose from one that makes Savage Roar permanent at 75% effectiveness, or one that give you a free 5 CP Roar when you leave Stealth.
Basic Feral Rotation
- Keep Savage Roar and Rip up as much as possible.
- Keep Rake up.
- Use extra energy to Shred and Ferocious Bite.
- Use Tiger’s Fury and Berserk on cooldown.
- Vengeance has been replaced with Resolve. Similar, except it only increases your self-healing and shields, not damage.
- New Guardian Mastery. Now generates a shield when hit.
- Bonus Armor has been re-added as a secondary stat. It’s the best secondary stat, so snap it up when you can.
- Lots of ability tweaks. Swipe has been removed, but Thrash and Lacerate no longer have cooldowns. Tooth and Claw can store 2 charges. Might of Ursoc is gone.
Guardian Basic Rotation
- Mangle on cooldown.
- Keep Thrash up.
- Spam Lacerate. For AoE, skip the Lacerates and spam Thrash.
- Use Savage Defense when you can, and use Frenzied Regen when you can’t SD or are low on health.
For a full guide, see Arielle’s guide at The Inconspicuous Bear (or his Wowhead guide whenever he gets around to updating it).
- Spirit is now only found on jewelry. It’s still precious, just harder to find.
- No more haste caps. All DoTs/HoTs add an additional ending tick that takes your Haste into account.
- Some ability tweaks. Wild Growth is no longer instant. Efflorescence is now permanently attached to Wild Mushroom. Lifebloom only stacks once.
Restoration Basic Rotation
- Single-Target: Lifebloom, Rejuvenation, Healing Touch. Swiftmend when it’s available.
- ST Cooldowns: Ironbark, Nature’s Swiftness.
- AoE: Wild Growth, Wild Mushroom.
- AoE Cooldowns: Tranquility.