Filling the Toybox – Part 1

One of my favourite new additions to Warcraft is the Toy Box. I find myself almost wishing that I didn’t have to wait another few days for the next patch before this feature is released into my hot little hands. It’s first of all a list plus it’s going to free up beautiful and desperately needed bag space across so many of my characters so what’s not to love.

toybox1
I’ve tried to be a bit systematic here, things I’m currently attempting to farm are green, items which aren’t yet available in game are red and items which come from Trading Cards are purple. Anything which is purchasable for any sort of currency whether gold, Timeless Coins or some sort of token is orange.

 

So to sum up page 1, that’s currently 8 items definitely not obtainable until the expansion starts in earnest with a further one item as a maybe. Then we have three things from varying branches of Archaeology, 5 drops from various mobs currently in-game and one item purchasable for Champion’s Seals. As things stand out of these 18, I possess a whopping four items, although I do have enough seals to purchase the Argent Crusader’s Banner so I suppose my current score for page 1 is 5/18.

toybox2

 

toybox3

 

toybox4

 

Well based on the first four pages, it’s going to be while before I get my hands on the achievement and reward for 150 toys. So far I have twenty two of these out of a possible 74 with a further 22 unavailable until Draenor aligns itself once again with Azeroth.

The Brewfest and the Toybox: A Word of Warning

Despite wanting to fill my forthcoming Toybox as quickly as possible, I nearly made a silly and rather sloppy error. Yes, I committed that cardinal sin of assuming I had done something when the truth turned out to be the opposite. There are currently three items available from the Brewfest which will fit into the Toybox:

and now is the time to ensure you have them all. Don’t be like me who had three of one across various characters and none of the other two!

WoWScrnShot_092414_150654

 

Beta – First Attempt at the Proving Grounds mark II

Today on logging onto the Beta I noticed that my Garrison was offering me a quest to go and try the Proving Grounds and perhaps more importantly offering me a new and shiny weapon for completing the Bronze wave in any of the disciplines. Despite the fact that I’m playing the Beta with no addons and no proper keybinds, I thought I’d go and give it a shot. As a Holy Priest wearing mostly the bits and pieces Blizzard give you for making a level 100 Premade, Bronze was extremely easy. I have no idea if it’s tuned correctly but my mana didn’t go below 75 percent and I barely cast any solaces at all. In fact I felt slightly guilty taking the weapon because if I played like that in a proper group setting I’d feel rather guilty. On the positive side, the NPCs felt better at moving out of bad but unfortunately they were equally good at moving out of my sparkling disco floor too.

I didn’t have time to look at the Silver level, the one which Blizzard have stated everyone will need to enter Heroics through the Looking for Group mechanism but if it’s just a step up from Bronze I really think that the Healing Proving Grounds should be in the grasp of anyone who has healed at least a leveling dungeon on their healer. However hopefully tomorrow I’m going to make time for trying the Silver and seeing just what it’s like, especially in comparison to the Proving Grounds currently in game.

Turning completing Bronze into a quest with a useful reward for brand new level 100s is I think a brilliant idea. Now it should become one of those things you do on reaching the leveling cap, just like doing the Arena Scenario for the Blue weapon was almost compulsory at the start of MoP on every new character. I do wonder though if there should be a quest for completing the Silver and Gold versions too, just as that added incentive to those who feel uncomfortable with the idea of the Proving Grounds. I haven’t run any dungeons at the level cap yet as I haven’t been the most diligent Beta tester recently but in terms of the items I have seen, this weapon is by far the highest item level coming in at lv 610 with over a 100 more spell power than the one which Premades get.

In the Alliance Garrisons, you can collect the quest from Lieutenant Thorn, Mission Specialist so I imagine that in the Horde Garrisons, you pick it up from her opposite number.

WoWScrnShot_091014_134109

On boxes for Toys – Thoughts on Toyboxes in Warlords

This is my toybox. It’s traveled across Europe and the UK and is currently housed in our attic. These days it no longer holds toys but it’s one of those pieces of furniture which encapsulates so much about my childhood, I don’t see myself ever managing to throw it out. I’ve hidden inside it, turned it into a massive dolls house and stored my study notes for my degree in it. It currently holds winter clothes and is just waiting for me to finish scrapping off all those stickers.

Therefore it’s perhaps not a huge surprise that one of the things I’m most interested in with the Warlords Alpha is Blizzard’s long promised toy box. So far we have only seen screen caps but just having a fraction of the items currently littering up my bags safely stored elsewhere can only be a massive upgrade for the game. I did a bit of testing across various characters and discovered that I have far too many bag slots taken up by vanity items, with the vast majority of Snowflower’s bank slots being consumed by items like Gnomeregan Pride and Direbrew’s remote. On Dulcamara alone, my Monk made a year ago I have over 16 slots filled with fun but mostly pointless stuff.  Obviously until the game goes live and we get the final list, we can’t be sure how many of these items will vanish from our bags but I’ve reached the point where I’ll be grateful for any returned bag slots.

The other reason I’m looking forward to this feature is a slightly more practical one, there are plenty of these items out there, whether quest rewards or random drops that I might not know about and having a handy list whilst taking that serendipitous feeling out of acquiring things, helps ensure you track down everything you are interested in.

Obviously this is still the Alpha and we are potentially along away off the final toybox, I would like to see quest rewards like Jin Warmkeg’s Brew and the Cooking School Bell make it onto the list. However having a place to store all the Archaeological items and the items from the Timeless Isle will be a massive advantage alone. I’m also glad that items like the Mushroom Chair from Cataclysm and the Rituals of the New Moon from Wrath have also made the box because it would have been too easy just to put in bits and bobs from MoP onwards. The fact that the first engineering transportation trinkets have made the list gives me hope that the rest will follow suit and with any luck between now and launch, we can work with Blizzard to put together a comprehensive list of things which should be tucked away in the toybox.

A complete list of items encluded so far can be found in this thread on MMO-Champion or here on WoWhead.

A Holy Priest’s Thoughts on the Alpha Information Overload

Having given myself time to take in and digest the Blizzard released and the data mined Holy Priest changes, I have to admit I’m feeling pretty positive about Holy Priests going forward into Draenor. Yes, everything is subject to change but there are some definitely well overdue positive notes in amongst the lists of information released so far.

Changes to Chakra

I think this change is long outstanding but if I’m being honest, I’d argue that it doesn’t go far enough. There is still a penalty for being in the “wrong” chakra, albeit a much reduced one. The addition of the new “perk” will help, after all that’s why I hate switching from my PvP gear to PvE because I miss the reduced cooldown on chakras but if Blizzard want us to be constantly and actively switching depending on the fight, then they need to make that as hassle free as possible. In my ideal world, chakras would lose both the glittery “I’m a Holy Priest, come spank me with your over sized sword” look and ditch the healing increases to single target/aoe at the same time. On that topic, I’d sell someone’s soul for the ability to glyph away from disco lights around my feet, if the Boomkins can do it… why can’t we. What about red, yellow or blue wings depending on your chakra or halos? Something delicate and subtle not smack you in the face and ruin your screenshots brash.

  • Chakra: Serenity now increases healing of single-target spells by 10% (down from 25%).
  • Holy Word: Serenity now heals for 40% more than before.
  • Chakra: Sanctuary now increases healing of area-of-effect spells by 10% (down from 25%).
  • Holy Word: Sanctuary now heals for 60% more than before.
  • Rapid Renewal no longer reduces the global cooldown of Renew.

Quality of Life Changes

  • Prayer of Mending from multiple Priests can now be on the same target, and can be on multiple targets from the same Priest.
  • Angelic Feather, if cast on players, will always prefer the casting priest over others, then pick the player closest to the targeted location. If there are no players where it is targeted, it will still create a feather that can be picked up, as before. Additionally, when collecting multiple feathers, the duration will be extended, instead of replaced.

These two make me oh so happy. I can’t believe it’s taken so long for the former to be added to the game but will make a massive change to any raid with multiple priests.

Changes to capping

  • Halo and Divine Star now follow standard AoE capping rules.

The thought of seeing Divine Star no longer hitting all 40 people awaiting the gates of AV opening makes me slightly sad but I know it’s a needed change.

No Longer Instant Cast

  • Prayer of Mending
  • The level 90 talents, Cascade, Divine Star and Halo.

I can’t say I’m particularly concerned about these particular spells gaining cast times. The first Prayer of Mending tends to go out before combat begins anyway and fitting subsequent ones into a routine shouldn’t prove hard.

Removed Altogether Spells

  • Divine Fury has been removed. (Made obsolete by the removal of hit)
  • Heal although just to confuse things Greater Heal is now going to be known as Heal.
  • Holy Nova (Becoming Disc only)
  • Hymn of Hope – I think we should throw a party for the removal of this one. If Blizzard wanted us standing still whilst we channeled to regain mana, they should have left the five second rule alone.
  • Shadow word Death – becoming available only for Shadow Priests. There was a time when I would have been heartbroken from a PvP perspective but they’ve changed this spell around so much anyway…. plus we might be getting a “glyph” to do much the same thing.
  • Void Shift – I’m a bit surprised at this one only last one expansion but then we already have Guardian Spirit as an “eek” cooldown.
  • Inner Fire – Out of all of these spells, this is the one I’m saddest to see bite the dust. I suspect I know why it’s going but still I almost hope it’s baked into the class. I know there is something fundamentally wrong about cloth wearers having more armour than monks/druids in leather but priests don’t have the same level of mobility and with the cutting back on instant casts it’s all a trade off.
  • Inner Will – Can’t say I used this much once the glow from the first few weeks of Cataclysm receded. 
  • Pys-fiend – This talent is being replaced by Fear which will no longer be baseline. There were some excellent uses for this, namely placing to fear people into the Alterac Valley boss room when they weren’t quite ready but then Spectral Guise and Fear works just as well. Everyone is going to lose some CC and out of that particular tier of talents, this would be my choice to go as it almost mirrors a spell we already have, especially compared to mind control and void tendrils. 

 

New Additions

Glyphs – These are the ones which right now claim to be available for Holy Priests. Again the labeling may change as the testing progresses.

I can’t say I’m squealing with anticipation for any of these but then my love affair with glyphs died ages ago. I keep forgetting to switch them and then bemoaning the fact that I don’t have x or y for a specific activity. For PvP, I do rather like the idea of Shadow Magic assuming it A. makes it to the live game and B. is available for healers.  Redeemer I will be refusing to learn on principle because glyphs to improve my performance once dead offend me by existing.

Level 100 Talents

The first thing I love about the 90 talents is that they’re different depending on your spec. These are the Holy versions.

wordsofmending
clarityofpurpose

savinggrace

I particularly find the idea of the last one interesting, given that it appears to be a trade off. Sure, you’ve got an instant “eek” spell but there are consequences for spamming it. Perhaps rather than reducing the number of instant cast spells, that’s how they should all work, cast too much and suffer for it.

Perks

The datamined lists from both WoWhead and MMO Champion for Holy Perks appear the same. Therefore I can only imagine that Penance is a place holder for Holy. These spells which we’re randomly going to gain on the road to 100 are purely there to boost our existing spells. Out of all these my favourite has to be Enhanced Chakras which personally I feel should be baseline anyway but given that it’s not, I’m glad the current 4 piece PvP bonus is staying on in a renamed fashion. The one aspect of these perks I really don’t like and I know it’s temporary is that we’ll gain them in a random fashion en route to 100.

 

PvP Thoughts

Happy Moments.

  • All players now have a 100% chance to hit, 0% chance to be dodged, 3% chance to be parried, and 0% chance to glance, when fighting creatures up to 3 levels higher (bosses included).

We  might be able to glyph to break certain types of CC.

Concerns

Holy will no longer have any way of stopping multiple enemies from capping flags as Holy Nova won’t be available to the spec and our level 90 talents won’t do damage. Yes, we’ll have fear if we talent for it but that’s got too much of a cooldown to much use.

  • CascadeDivine Star, and Halo no longer heal allies but are instant cast for Shadow Priests, or damage enemies for Discipline or Holy Priests.

General Thoughts

Couple this lot with the changes to Healing in general and yes it’s going to be an interesting road ahead but I don’t see anything here which has me going “What are they thinking?” I know a lot of people are still scarred by those first months of Cataclysm but by the same token, the amount of healing certain abilities and spells were spitting out was ridiculous. Not to mention, even playing as  a Healer, the amount of sheer health certain classes could put whilst running around in circles is frustrating when you’re trying to kill them.

After all, it should be hard to argue with statements like

 We want players to use multi-target heals, but they should only be better than their single-target equivalents when they heal more than two players without any overhealing. This way, players will face an interesting choice between whether to use a single-target heal or a multi-target heal based on the situation.

and

However, we still want healers to think about their mana when deciding which heal to cast, and so the mana costs and throughputs of many spells are being altered to give players a choice between spells with lower throughput and lower cost versus spells with higher throughput and higher costs. 

Whether they’ll manage to balance this across all five healer classes still remains to be seen but mostly I’m pretty positive at this point. Sure it’s impossible to know until we actually start testing but we’ve always survived before.

All information pulled from MMO-Champion, Blizzard and WoWhead.

Stand by Me: Thoughts on Instant Casts in Warlords

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
All the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won’t cry, I won’t cry
No, I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

From  the song Stand by Me.

I know Blizzard are going to be posting a blog post about the up coming Healing changes either later today or tomorrow but thought I’d throw in a quick post about potential changes first partly because I drafted it a week ago and also because wild speculation is always fun.

This post was sparked by a comment of Prinnie’s

But now, apparently, the WoD thinking is, “CASTING WHILE MOVING IS BAD.”

which only took firm hold in my head later on when I read this on MMO-Champion.

Raid encounters will have more interesting mechanics for healers, allowing them to avoid the boredom that comes with just spamming the same skill over and over.

I must admit these two so innocent looking sentences when added together have me considering a whole new career as some sort of dpser. For interesting mechanics my mind wanders back to Instructor Razuvious and that sinking feeling I’d get whenever we entered Naxxramas, made ten times worse by the memory of the night where I effectively had to solo tank him due to our other Priest’s mindcontrol deciding not to work whilst our raid was working on Immortality. I think of General Vexaz, a fight I hated as a Holy Priest and who can forget Leotheras the Blind and his inner demons which were a whole lot of pain to kill as healers and of course I think of vehicle fights in general.

Now I’m not denying the days of being able to spam Circle of Healing and win were boring in the extreme but I also don’t know many healers who like having the success or failure of raid depend on their ability to deal with “interesting mechanics”. I know we lost healers in Wrath over mindcontrol and also over tank cooldowns because they couldn’t cope with the fallout of timing it wrong and being yelled at by our angry raid leader, they just wanted to stand at the back and heal.

In a conversation with my Guild Master the other day, the phrase “interesting times” was used  and certainly with every detail which drips out,  it seems accurate in the extreme.

In terms of casting on the move:

Holy Priests

  • Holy word: Chastise or Holy Word: Serenity (depending on Chakra state)
  • Renew
  • Power word: Shield
  • Cascade or Divine Star or Halo (Talents)
  • Prayer of Mending
  • Circle of Healing
  • Power word: Solace
  • Desperate Prayer or Spectral Guise (Talents)
  • Levitate
  • Holy Nova (Glyph)
  • Guardian Spirit
  • Shadowfiend
  • Power Infusion (Talent)
  • Void Tendrils or Pysfiend (Talents)
  • Angelic Feather (Talents)
  • Shadow word: Pain
  • Fear
  • Void Shift
  • Dispel
  • Purify
  • Leap of Faith

That’s 21 abilities that depending on my talents and glyph choices I could cast whilst running for my life. Out of that list, I currently have access to 19 (don’t have angelic feathers or power infusion on my Holy Priest) and 9 of them are ways in which I can increase the health pool of other people. Is that too many? Perhaps, I would definitely see no harm in adding a half second cooldown to the level 90 talents. There is probably room for Prayer of Healing and Circle of Healing to merged in some way, perhaps by making Prayer of Healing smart rather than having the party limitation and adding a small cooldown to stop it being spammed. When you’re AoE healing you are unlikely to being either of the instant cast Chakra power words, so they are fine. Tank cooldowns like Guardian Spirit and Void Shift I feel should be instant cast as they should be reactive not cast at x percentage of the way through the fight. The same is true of Leap of Faith, especially from a PvP perspective. Void tendrils/Pysfiend/Fear don’t really have raid uses and shadow word: pain isn’t likely to kill anyone. Holy Nova is little more than a gimmick, I have it because it’s still useful for finding stealths in PvP as well as stopping people tagging flags.

So in terms of what is useful in healing most aoe raid encounters we’re looking at:

  • Renew
  • Cascade or Divine Star or Halo
  • Prayer of Mending
  • Circle of Healing
  • Guardian Spirit
  • Void Shift
  • Shadowfiend
  • Power Solace if talented but the others require a lot less time management

which is a much shorter instant cast list.

I’m not going to do a comparison for every Healing Class, but thought I’d have a brief look at what’s available to a couple of other classes that I play.

Resto Druid

  • Rejuvation
  • Lifebloom
  • Swiftmend
  • Wild Growth
  • Ysera’s Gift/ Renewal/Cenarion Ward (Talents)
  • Wild Mushrooms
  • Wild Mushroom’s Bloom
  • Moonfire
  • Faerie Fire
  • Barkskin
  • Ironbark
  • Wild Charge
  • Nature’s Swiftness
  • Nature’s Cure
  • Innervate
  • Disorienting Roar/Ursol’s Vortex/Mighty Bash (Talents)
  • Stampeding Roar
  • Force of Nature (if Talented for)
  • Mass Entanglement/Typhoon (Depending on Talent choices)
  • Soothe
  • Nature’s Grasp

I deliberately tried to avoid anything which required cat or bear form but that still left me with 21 instant cast spells from the Druid. Like the Holy Priest a good few of those are utility spells and many match up, for example I suspect shadowfiend is instant cast because innervate always has been. Mass Entanglement too might be further down the tree than Void Tendrils but the two spells are very similar in every way apart from graphics. Of these stampeding roar and nature’s grasp definitely shouldn’t have cast times in my opinion as this negates their purpose, i.e. helping you escape.

Mistweaver Monk

  • Healing Spheres
  • Chi Wave/Zen Sphere (Talents)
  • Renewing Mist
  • Detox
  • Paralysis
  • Nimble Brew
  • Expel Harm
  • Thunder Focus Tea
  • Chi Brew
  • Tiger’s Lust
  • Roll
  • Uplift
  • Revival
  • Dampen Harm/Diffuse Magic
  • Summon Jade Statue
  • Disable
  • Ring of Peace/Charging Ox Wave/Leg Sweep
  • Chi Torpedo/Rushing Jade Wind/Xuen
  • Life Cocoon
  • Zen Flight
  • Blackout Kick
  • Tiger Palm
  • Touch of Death
  • Grapple Weapon
  • Mana Tea (can be glyphed to be instant)

So in the notes on MMO-Champion, I did notice that they’re planning on removing Healing Spheres as an actual spell because:

We’re removing it because of the bad gameplay it provided, despite its power. Healing Sphere was spam clicking on an intended target’s feet, trying to account for their movement and latency, tight hit area.

Which personally I disagree with, never having had issues and would rather be in control of where I place my healing tools so that there is a small chance people other than myself will actually use and benefit from. It would also make the current Proving Grounds somewhat harder for Mistweaver Monks.

I find the fact that Summon Jade Statue is instant cast when Lightwell has a cooldown interesting but mostly these spells fall within definite categories. Each one has a hot of some sort, spells which deal with mana regeneration, i.e. innervate, shadowfiend, power word: solace tend to be either baseline instant cast or have the ability to be modified in that way. All single target dispels are instant too and so are movement modifiers whether that’s clearing snares like Nimble Brew or just increasing speed like Stampeding Roar, Roll or Angelic Feathers.

These lists are actually longer than I expected them to be given these are just abilities you can cast whilst moving and perhaps more importantly, they highlight the fact that too much choice can sometimes be a bad thing, especially when it comes to balance. I’ve been watching a quite a few PvP streams on Twitch lately and whilst you tend not to notice it when you’re the one running around chased by three male Bloodelves all wearing plate, carrying very big swords and spamming /lick macros, one grumpy Orc who can’t stop spitting and a gossip of Goblins, spectating on PvP shows just how much of it is done with instants these days. In fact I suspect that’s the issue, each expansion has seen huge amounts of interrupts and crowd control given to every class and in order to counter that, everyone has been given instants to actually be able to cast something. Pare back the control and there is much less need for instants in any aspect of the game.

First thoughts on the Warlords of Draenor

Where are all the women!

This I suspect is the biggest issue with returning to the past. We, the player base are already aware of major players, already are aware of at least part of their stories and in many cases already have loot with their names on it. That said, I suspect I and many others are running out of patience with Blizzard in this regard. Women do make up a large percentage of the player base and whilst yes, we’re capable of being pulled in to stories where the main protagonists are male (Supernatural springs to mind), it would be nice to have females doing something other than playing bit parts and having babies once in a while. Although I do have fairly high hopes for this female Draenei as well as Warlord Zaela, she of the Dragonmaw clan.

draenei

Image from MMO Champion

Lore and Zones

At first I was unimpressed by the fact that we would for all intents and purposes be revisiting perhaps the ugliest of expansions but then I saw pictures. Shadowmoon Valley might always be shaded in darkness but it’s far less desolate and Hellfire Peninsula as a jungle not an arid red hell hole…. yes please. The idea of Shattrah being coastal and Zangarmarsh as a sea also appeals.

fungalwhale

I’m hoping the evolution we see here will be constant across this brave old world albeit in reverse. Plus this picture alone made me want to go diving into the seas of Zangarmarsh to see if there are baby mushrooms on the sea bed.

I think exploring zones we have visited before albeit in a different time line will be interesting, what landmarks are familiar and what has changed completely. It seems like a much younger landscape, one bursting with life.

It will also be interesting to see how many of the fauna and flora of Outlands existed back then. For example we know the Arakkoa should have been around:

Veil Rhaze was a particularly wicked colony of Skettis.

Despite the village’s eradication by the Auchindoun disaster, Terokk’s influence remained in the maligned spirits there. Travel west to Veil Rhaze and slay those murderous wretches. You’ll find them to the west of the Shadow Tomb, on the border of Bone Wastes and Terokkar Forest.

This will be our first blow against Terokk and the guardians of Skettis.

It was with interest that I noted one of the new zones is named “Spires of Arak”, I wonder if we’ll encounter more of our favourite bird people within.

New creatures, mounts and pets

This gnomish plant thing has to be a battle pet and if it’s not it really should be!

gnomeplant

Plus I really would like a clefthoof as a mount.

Garrisons

I have high hopes for this and hope it’s customizable at least to race as I don’t see my Night Elf choosing to build a typical Human base unless of course she can have an Inn like those in Northrend preferably with the balcony facing a waterfall.

  • Followers have quality or rarity and can be customized and named.

The customized and named aspect appeals too. It will be interesting to visit other people’s garrisons and see what sort of names they’ve picked for what are essentially their minions. I’d like to see lots of options like being able to decorate your base for festivals like Hallows End and Winter Veil not to mention perhaps being able to “persuade” the opposite faction into helping you out. Also having certain mounts visible in your stables or having some of your battle pets running around or sleeping by the fire would be an awesome touch.

Leveling a character straight to 90

I have mixed feelings about this but now with the new Dwarf female models, I suspect mine might go on a new Warlock.

The new character models

Slightly concerned here because well at the moment Sprout is a serious Gnome as shown by the existing model on the right and and the new model appears to be anything but. I also don’t like the elasticity of new mouth. In some of those emoting screenshots it looks down right disturbing.

twins

Everything Else

Everything else sounds pretty positive, especially the way that they want to take questing and of course the removal of daily quest hubs has to be massive step in the correct direction. Also the changes to bag space will be amazing and are about three expansions too late already. I’m also hoping that their description of the new PvP zone as being something like the original AV holds up.

The trailer left me with a sneaking desire to roll an Orc female of some sort.

All in all, I’m feeling fairly positive about the new expansion so far. Although I’m pretty sure when Sprout signed up to bring Garrosh to justice for Theramore, she didn’t know it was going to involve “time travel”.

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