Saturday, April 14, 2007

PTR patch evaluation (long)

As I'll be away for one week (don't send me any potion/flask mats if it's urgent), here is my evaluation of the upcoming patch, which most likely will take you one week to read. ;)
As I'm mainly interested in changes to alchemy, warrior class and raids don't expect to see much other stuff discussed here.
Complete infos here: Test Realm Patch Notes.

General Stuff

The Black Temple will be available, rumours (based on sound files from the .mpq) hint that you'll need to kill the first boss (phoenix) in the Tempest Keep to get attuned.

Barrier Hills will be populated with high-level Gordunni Ogres now. O.o

The Mongoose enchant has a bright green/yellow glow now.

Stamina buffs from drinks (eg. Rumsey Rum Black Label) will not stack with stamina buffs from food anymore.

Gathering will become more dangerous, nodes have been moved closer to mobs and in addition "alert" nearby cratures like some chests did already.

The item budget for armor has been re-evaluated, we'll have to see how much impact that has on the existing items. So far only T5 and higher items have been really reworked and gained stats.

Druid Epic Flight Form will be available, there is also a kind of riding crop item druids will gain as well through their quest. I like the model, still would have voted for an epic pelican model tho. =P

There are new things you can buy with heroic badges. You can now buy epic head pieces for 60 badges each (great i just spend 41 for the DPS trinket *cry*), I like the tanking faceguard and would prefer it over the Eternium Greathelm - trading in 9 stamina for a ton of other stats sounds ok. Note to my "heroic people": Let's get some groups done once I'm back. =)
You can now also buy Primal Nethers for 12 badges each.

Heroic difficulty instances end bosses will now always drop an epic item, in addition all bosses in Heroic difficulty instances will have a chance to drop an epic gem. That's a great benefit for doing heroics, as it was always annoying if you only got one of these crappy (like 80% of them are) gems instead of useful stuff. In addition all the Epic gems that dropped from heroics are now "Unique-Equipped".

There will be new epic gems available, don't know yet if they will be player crafted or drops or how to obtan them. The most interesting one for me is: Solid Empyrean Sapphire: +15 Stamina (blue socket)

Nethercleft leg patch is 40 stamina and 12 agility now. Note to self: Have to get me one of those.

The two new factions being introduced have a few interesting things (for me at least) to feature:

The Skyguard sells a "Blue Riding Nether Ray" (swift epic one) mount at exalted. Those Nether Rays looks exactly like the ones you can see in the swamp already. IMO that might look much cooler then the Nether Drake mount. ;) At friendly you can buy rations (unique 20) from them that yields +30 sta & +20 spi.. which is something that sucks IMO, as these are as good a spicy crawdad. meh. They will also offer cloaks that have a "use: Reduces your fall speed for 10 secs", which could be cool for exploring.

The Ogri'la (funny name) will offer a crossbow with +11agi, +16sta and +11hit rating at exalted, which might be tempting.

There will be a new craftable gun (engineering) with +17sta, +15crit, +14AP as well (not from the ogres).

A bunch of the quests for Ethereum Prison and Skettis will be a bit Silithius like, but i guess we've to try them out first before we can complain. The questline for the Netherwing faction will have a "Daily", meaning you can do certain quests only once a day to gain faction.

Screenshots captured using the Print Screen key are now saved in JPG format. Like many others i hope this will be optional as the JPG screenshots i saw were heavily compressed and had lots of artifacts.

There will be new trash mob drops introduced in certain areas, which can be turned in by special vendor for potions & flasks that are only usable in certain areas as well. Many new flasks (last 2 hours just like normal flasks) for Gruul's Lair will be introduced for example:

Unstable Flask of the Bandit +20 Agi +40 AP +30 Sta
Unstable Flask of the Beasts +20 Agi +20 Str +30 Sta
Unstable Flask of the Elder +20 Int +8 MP5 +30 Sta
Unstable Flask of the Physician +20 Int +44 Healing +30 Sta
Unstable Flask of the Soldier +20 Crit Rating +20 Str +30 Sta
Unstable Flask of the Sorcerer +20 Int +23 Spl Dmg +30 Sta
"Only works in Blade's Edge Mountains Plateaus and Gruul's Lair."

Coilfang will finally get a vendor who can repair added. This vendor will also trade healing and mana salves (only work in those instances) for Coilfang Armaments, which drop in more of the instances there now.

"Halaa Ammo" has been reduced in damage and soulbound, but you can carry any number of them.

Additional darkmoon cards can now be found on high level outland creatures. They can be turned in to the darkmoon faire to make powerful new darkmoon card trinkets. So there will be some trading/collecting going on again.. i think that's nice, did not see the new trinkets yet tho.

Warrior changes

Commanding Shout won't heal you anymore. meh. All trinkets eg. Lifegiving Gem will work the same, no healing from those anymore.

Charge, Intercept and Intervene now suppress all Slowing effects while charging the target. This is a nice change, might be handy every now and then.

Revenge has a base damage of 414-506 damage now. The threat bonuses have been adjusted so that the threat generated remains relatively unchanged. Wow, nice damage increase here.

Devastate changed into: An instant weapon attack with both weapons that causes 50% of weapon damage + 15 for each application of sunder armor on the target. In addition, this attack will renew the duration of Sunder Armor effect. (The offhand swing is suffering from the 50% dual wield penalty as well, though.) This is a great DPS increase for prot warriors! Having 2x Blinkstrike seems even better now for me.. hehe. This will be interesting to test while soloing/grinding. Like it a lot.

Spell Reflection no longer has a global cooldown. Awesome change as well, makes it a viable rage dump skill now while tanking. Now i only need an extra mod that tracks which spells i reflected. Hmm.. maybe just have to configure my combat log different. One annoying thing for PvP tho: The animation was changed and is now *very* obvious (see pic).

The flurry change was probably made because of the changes to when Glancing Blows occur, must see tests from this first, before complaining.

Alchemy changes

The chance of a discovery occurring while making potions has been substantially increased. Only time will tell how much it was increased.

You can change your alchemy mastery now. You need to go to the NPC you learned your mastery from, and from there you can drop it for 100g.

Elixirs now stack (in stacks of 20 now btw) in two categories, Battle (Offensive) and Guardian (Defensive) Elixirs. You can only have one of each. Flasks will take up both slots. Categories:

Battle elixirs:
Elixir of Major Shadow Power
Fel Strength Elixir
Elixir of Major Agility
Elixir of Major Fire Power
Elixir of Major Frost Power
Elixir of Mastery
Elixir of Healing Power
Elixir of Major Strength
Adept's Elixir
Onslaught Elixir

Guardian elixirs:
Elixir of Major Mageblood
Mageblood Potion
Elixir of Major Defense
Elixir of Draenic Wisdom
Earthen Elixir
Elixir of Major Fortitude
Elixir of Ironskin

The herb cost (and the vial cost) for all elixirs have been reduced, however, so has the effect for some. Eg. Fel Strength Elixir only requires 1 terocone, 2 nightmare vine now. (from 2 terocone).
*Fel Mana Potion now has -25 magic damage and -50 healing power debuff from 25 all magic spells and effects. Restored mana is the same.
*Fel Strength Potion changed to 90 attack power and -10 stamina debuff 1hour, from 120 attack power and -20 stamina debuff 1hour.
*Major Fire/Frost/Shadow power potions are all now +55 fire/frost/shadow damage 1hour. (Fire and Shadow used to be +65 damage).
*Major x protection potion cost increased to 3 mana thistle + 1 primal x, but produces 5 potions instead of 1. It looks like tho, they now have a 2 minute duration instead of 60min.

There are some rumours about cauldrons that serve like wells, but no one knows exactly what's the deal with them and if they will be player (alchemy) made.

Invulnerability potions now stop the first 120 damage per hit for 8 seconds, rather than making the imbiber physically immune. The nerf to those was expected, they were just too powerful for such a low-level potion.

The four new elixir (all last 1 hour) recipes are:
* Elixir of Draenic Wisdom: Intellect and Spirit are increased by 25. (trainer learned)
* Earthen Elixir: Reduces both spell and physical damage taken by 20. (Cenarion Expedition honored)
* Elixir of Ironskin: Resilience is raised by 30. (Halaa Quartermaster, 2 research tokens)
* Elixir of Major Fortification: Increases health by 250 and provides 10 health every 5 seconds. (trainer learned)

The patch notes state changes to the mats for mana/healing pots, but so far they are the same on the PTRs.

Some major changes to flasks as well. New stats:

Flask of Fortification 500 HP and 10 Defense Rating
Flask of Mighty Restoration 25 MP5
Flask of Relentless Assault 120 AP
Flask of Arcane Fortification 35 Arcane Resist 20 HP5
Flask of Shadow Fortification 35 Arcane Resist 20 HP5

Flask of Titans 400 HP
Distilled Wisdom 65 Intellect
Supreme Power 70 Spell Damage
Chromatic Resistance 25 Resist All

Flasks costs are reduced to: 7 most herb, 3 other herb, 1 fel/black lotus (examples: Distilled Wisdom = 7 dreamfoil, 3 icecap, 1 black lotus - Flask of Mighty Restoration = Dreaming Glory x7, Mana Thistle x3, Fel Lotus x1).

The drop rate for Fel Lotus is also being increased by approximately 15%. There will be additional spawn points for black lotus now. In addition all herb skinable creatures will have a chance to drop a black lotus.

In the sum up these are some major changes how alchemy consumables work. I still think it's a good thing to do, the power of consumables will be driven down and farming for them is taking less time. The gear you wear takes a more important part then how many consumables you can bring. While some eg. stacking stamina buffs have been nerfed badly, we'll have to test how much impact it really has on the encounters. The design of new encounters and less balancing around consumables will be a good thing in the long run for the designer. As potions remain unaffected, those will play a bigger role in raids now. It can be expected that peole eg. bring some of those 15sec boost pots to use eg. at the start and end of a fight. Tanks will still have to heavily invest into the Ironshield potions (cost approx. 10g per pot) and healers will still have to stock up on mana potions. Looking at the changes i think you can rely on DPS to either use the boost potions or use more healing potions so they'll pull their weight as well. For tanks these changes (and the resulting lower HPs due to consumables) IMO have the side-effect that the stamina gems for all your sockets are even more desirable now.

More comments on the changes and news when I'll be back and there is more info coming from the PTRs.

As a final goodie, here is a video of the new T6 models, guess I'll have to reroll a warlock. *chuckles*

Oh yes, and let's not forget to be happy to a major buff to the gnome race, which will help them on their way to world domination: In the Black Morass, gnomes are now able to run through the water like other races.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Flask worth two Elixirs

The rumours were true, Nethaera confirmed on the forum that Flasks will work in this new system by taking up both the offensive and defensive elixir slots. The detailed information about the whole range of change is still missing, but I'm sure we'll see the patch notes soon. As elixirs will stack with buffs now, we might also see new forms of stat-buff-elixirs we did not had before. I'm still a bit torn concerning the upcoming changes, but i think it's a step in the right direction. The consumables played a too big role in raid encounters and were (still are) way too powerful, reducing them is good and will result in less time needed to farm stuff for raids. My hope is in addition this will make the 15sec boost potions much more useful then they are right now. Until we know in detail about the changes, it sure will stay interesting.

Eyonix said that new encounters would be designed with the changes in mind, but they won't tune old encounters immediately, only if need be. Any encounters that spring to your mind which will become much more difficult now? Probably the DPS race ones, depending on the gear level your raid has.

Did you realize how many mini-games people created as mods for WoW? Check out eg. curse for games and you'll find everything from Minesweeper to Invaders. Could be useful while standing around and waiting for the rest of the raid to show up.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Alchemy changes & content patch

Blizzard started to release information about the upcoming changes to the professions. The alchemy changes are connected to Tigole's announcement that Blizz wants to rework the amount of consumables needed for raids. The changes for alchemy include
# Elixirs now stack in two categories, Battle (Offensive) and Guardian (Defensive) Elixirs. You can only have one of each type of Elixir up at a time. As a result Elixirs now stack with class abilities such as "Arcane Intellect."
# Four new defensive elixirs have been added. Two are on trainers, one is in Halaa and one is in Cenarion Expedition.
# "Flask of Petrification" can no longer be turned off during its duration, but it now will clear all threat from all monsters for the duration of the effect. Though monsters may reaquire you after the effect ends.
# The cost to purchase Imbued Vials has been reduced.

The cost for the vials is only very minor compared to what some herbs cost at the AH. Some main problems still won't be fixed with this and questions remain. For me the food buffs via cooking seem to be in good order, fishing will get slightly buffed with the patch as well. So it looks like you'll only be able to have one elixir of each type (offensive/defensive) on you at a time, which will stack with buffs (remains to be seen what the new elixirs will be like), which is most likely more benefitial to casters. Question is: Will flasks count as some type of elixir? If not, why should they still procc for elixir master? All the elixir masters trying to reasoning why flasks should procc for them makes me tired anyway. I can understand they try to defend it, but at the moment potion and elixir master are nowhere near par. One main reason for this is that the new major protection potions are way to expensive to produce and for ~30g a potion, no one is using them.

I'm really disappointed with the state of alchemy and my mastery (being potion). Thulf has always been one of the best alchemists on Argent Dawn, since release. As alchemy is easy to level, many people have alts being alchemists which satisfy their "normal" potion needs - a fact that makes it harder for us "fulltime" alchemists to brew in bulk to maybe discover additional recipes. There is a demand for high-end potions, but still it's too easy to obtain all the recipes, or at least was in old "vanilla" WoW. The new discovery system is just too random to do any good. While i embrace the idea of having some variety between the crafters, a serious alchemist brewing thousands of potions can still be unlucky and not discover a single new recipe. I discovered one flask so far, while i know some others who only brew very seldom already got 2-3 new recipes. My main gripe with the situation elixir vs. potions is, beside the major prot pots, that the new 15sec boost potions are not useful enough to be in demand. Maybe if they would not share the same cooldown with eg. mana/healing potions people would consider them more. I know ALL BoE alchemy recipes and most BoP ones as well, still it does not put me in a situation where some of the pots, I'm one of the few alchemists to know the recipe, are in high demand. The cost vs. usefulness just does not cut it. The main potion i get some joy out of my mastery is the Ironshield one, but that's about it for the moment. So IMO Blizzard also needs to rework the level of potion use vs. elixir use.

Back to the changes for consumables: The posted changes don't really change *that* much. Depending on how the new elixirs will be and what herbs they'll use, i forsee some new bottlenecks for herbs, as eg. only certain types of potions are being valued best and therefore demand for those herbs will go up while some other elixirs won't be bothered much about anymore. So far there is no word about maybe improving the herb supply a little bit by eg. give one more from each node. Oh, i just got one Lichen from the node, the rest i have to share with the other three herbalists in my group. If it will still be possible to use flask + 2x elixir + food buffs + weapon buffs, etc. It won't really change that much (at least not for tanks or healers)... although for some weak geared raids some of the DPS race fights could prove more troublesome. There are rumours about flasks using up both slots for elixirs, but nothing definite yet. Blue said they'll most likely release more info on the alchemy changes at the end of the week. As it was stated the preview does not include all changes, this will stay interesting. The reduced amount of potions you can use will have a slight impact on the amount of gold/farm time invested in raiding but it's still not enough to make up for a whole night of wiping at new content wit new pots each go, where you maybe spend 20-30 pots of each type per night. So hopefully there is more to come... I can understand Blizzard does not want to retune every encounter due to heavy changes, but if you eg. look at the AP you can gain from pots/flasks the mentioned change is minimal and does in no way reduce the necessity of potting up for difficult encounters.

Blizzard also released a sneakpeak into new content for the upcoming patch 2.1.0. Looks like more "casual" lvl 70 content will be implemented, which is nice. Even if some talk about upcoming Skettis becoming the new Silithius and fear the new content will be equally grind orientated, we'll have to wait and see. Maybe Blizzard learned from those past mistakes, maybe not. Nether Drakes will be implemented as well, the non-armored ones. Looks like the already existing questline will continue in some way. The Netherdrake mount will be 280% (epic) speed, while the armored ones from arena will be 310%. I'm not sure if I'll bother to obtain one. I'm not really fond of their looks and might only go for it if it's a difficult thing to obtain (yes, I'm an achiever *g*). I really would like to know where the PvE counterpart for the 310% mount can be acquired.. only time will tell.

On a last sidenote, in addition to AtlasLoot i started to use SellFish, which adds sell values (selling stuff to a vendor) to your items. Useful if your bag space is limited and you have to decide what stuff to throw away.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Medivh's Journal

So half of Karazhan is full with books, i wonder how long it would take to read them all? Months? Years? One of the most important books inside Karazhan is Medivh's Journal tho. The questline will allow you to summon Nightbane at the end. As we recently killed Aran and could seize the journal, I started to work on the final steps of the quest. Only one quick run into heroic Shattered Halls left to be able to summon the dragon. The reward at the end is a bit .. meh, but at least the urn to summon him will stay.

Talking about books in Karazhan: Did you realized all the Sealed Tomes laying around on the floor (starts after Curator)? Between all the books some of them you can pick up, either being a trap or granting you a book with a one hour buff. As they are not BoP, everyone can just pick them up and hand them over to a class that makes best use of that buff. If you leave Karazhan, books/buffs are gone - they respawn on the floor after some time btw. The funniest is the one that turns you into a worgen when it proccs. On a sidenote, all books leave a single page in your inventory after being used. I uploaded copies of those pages:
Wrath of the Titans
Legacy of the Mountain King
Torment of the Worgen
Redemption of the Fallen

Do you use Elkano's BuffBar? If so (and you're not afraid of beta versions), there is a new beta version of ElkBuffBars out. The main improvement feature is that you can very easily add new "buff groups" (configured by blacklist/whitelist). I use this feature to eg. have a seperate group for the buffs i can maintain and my weapon procc (to get a better feeling how often it does procc). The beta works great for me and is really worth trying. For weapon proccs you could also try ProcMeter tho.
Talking about mods, the SpamSentry mod is really nice.. used it for some time now. As the filter is very agressive, you have to watch closely tho which people land on the spamlist. I had to take the trade channel of the watchlist, as regularly people ended up on the reportlist that should not be there (NO, i did not report them). But in the sum up makes reporting gold sellers much easier and less annoying for yourself.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Surely you would not deny an old man a replenishing drink?

We went back to Karazhan to visit our friend Aran and have a cup of tea with him. Unfortunately he went mad before we arrived, so we had to kill him. After two warm-up goes to adjust tactics slightly depended our experience from last time, we took him down without major problems the 3rd time. One of those fights, when you got the boss down, you ask yourself "What was causing trouble before?". But i still think it's a fun fight, while i can understand some people get an overload error by doing several things at the same time. We found it helped us to have one ranged attacker with a raid icon on his head running after the blizzard, that way even people with low gfx settings etc. could see it fast enough to react.

We decided to check out Medivh's Chambers afterwards, as we heard he got this huuuuuge love trap he calls his bed. As several fleshbeasts drooled on his stuff, we did not want to stay but went to visit the Prince. It's quite funny on the way, there are some doors, if you open them you get attacked immediately. In another context I'd have said "It's a trap!". We reached the prince quickly and after a very short tactical briefing engaged him... in the first go he went down to 6%. Looks very doable. In our next attempt we were really unlucky with elementals and wiped, resulting in the prince to bug. He was not attackable anymore - WTF?! The more bugs you encounter in these "already tested instances", the more you can understand eg. raid groups complaining about Serpentshrine or the Eye - asking Blizzard if they tested the buggy crap at all.

What to do? We decided to go back to the room with the Imps and keep one enslaved imp, take him with us and release/fight him next to the prince. This worked to unbug him and we could have another go. Unfortunately this whole thing took far too long, therefore we got respawns and called it a night. But we'll be back next week, really did not seem that hard at all. Maybe Tinfoil Hats will prevent him bugging out next time.

I discovered recently that my KillSalvation mod stopped working, no idea why. Therefore i installed a new one called Block Salvation for this purpose. In addition i installed a new mod called SpamSentry - Anti goldspam. This mod provides you with several filters to keep goldspam away from you and in addition provides you with a two-click possibility to report gold-sellers regardless if they whispered you or send you mail. I tested it for two days now and am satisfied with the functionality, I'll keep that one installed. If you get annoyed as well, check it out.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Heroic Manastorm

Yesterday we went into the high-security prison Arcatraz to solve the last heroic trial (tenacity). The mission objective: to rescue Millhouse Manastorm. The trash was hitting hard as expected and the odd aggro range from Arcatraz trash needs to be adressed properly. The first boss was a joke with my shadow resist gear: I resisted around 3/4 of his shadow damage, that's even more then on Pandemonius. Our group setup was tank, healer (holy paladin), hunter, shadow priest and warlock. In the sum up we had zero problems finishing it and no wipes at any bosses. I think we sharded every single drop, even the epic dagger from Harbinger Skyriss, but got our quest done at least. As it is still possible to summon people in that can talk to Millhouse as well, we asked around and summoned some friends in to compelete the quest as well. BTW, that Millhouse guy really must be on some arcane crystal steroids.. he sure is tall for a gnome.

Now that i solved all three heroic trials, the Naaru gave me a 4th one: Trial of the Naaru: Magtheridon. That will be easy, we'll do it tomorrow. =) After the last quest you'll get the key for the Tempest Keep raid instance. Talking about attunements, did you see Blizzards easter egg for today? Check out the Black Temple Attunement chart. I thought it was very funny considering the discussion about attunement requirements recently.

I also got myself a new tanking ring: Band of Impenetrable Defenses, which is really good compared to others out there. I'm still amazed how good the Elementium Band of the Sentry is, but that one eluded me since quite a while and i did not really took the time to grind Arcatraz for it, as other upgrades were more important.