Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The New Class WoW Needs

WoW’s next class? It needs to be the Fighter-Mage.

Basically this idea came about because I love tanking, but I prefer ranged DPS to melee DPS. The only way to have both Ranged DPS and tanking would be to roll a druid, but if you don’t enjoy Boomkin and Guardian you are out of luck. It’s time to change that.

In my days playing Pen and Paper DnD there was this concept of playing a dual classed character. What if we brought that to WoW?

Currently you are limited to 2 specs from a choice of three. What I propose is to make that a choice of 2 specs from a choice of 33. Maybe you are an Arm Warrior/Frost Mage, or  a Holy Priest/Demonology Warlock. I would make mine a Protection Paladin/Beastmastery Hunter.

Since the introduction of the new talent system, the individual specs of the classes have become more and more distinct. Each spec has a specific kit of tools. A Retribution Paladin has more in common with an Arms Warrior than he does with a Prot or Holy Paladin. He can’t even consecrate for crying out loud!

Bring the Player

This idea would also help the Pure DPS classes. The hybrid tax is largely gone, and no one has felt the effects more than Rogues. With MoP, Blizzard introduced another leather wearing 3 way hybrid. The Monk can tank, heal and melee dps. The Rogue can just DPS. The game has three three way hybrids (Monk, Druid, Paladin), four two way hybrids (Warrior, Priest, Shaman, Death Knight) and four Pure DPS classes (Warlock, Mage, Hunter, Rogue). This change would level the playing field and make every toon a three way hybrid.

This would also help fill out raids and reduce queue times. Everyone of your raiders is a potential tank, healer or DPS.

There is an encounter in Throne of Thunder that is punishing if you don’t have Paladins, or Priests in your raid makeup. The mobs put a 5 minute disease on a player. Priests and Paladins can cleanse it, but Shamans and Druids can’t. This would let one of those Druids change their secondary spec to a Priest, and suddenly they can do the encounter no problem.

This is basically Bring the Player, Not the Class taken to its highest, logical end.

Choosing a Kit, not a Class

Each class contains certain baseline skills. Those would simply become part of the kit. All Paladins get Judgment for example. Judgment becomes part of each Paladin specs kit. But if you aren’t in a Paladin spec, you wouldn’t.  When I am in my Protection Paladin spec, I have Judgment. When I’m in my Beastmastery Hunter spec, I wouldn’t.

The time to introduce this would be with the Proving Grounds concept the developers discussed. Proving Grounds are single player scenarios (like the ones you do to advance the Island of Thunder through it stages). In Proving Grounds, you have to tank, or heal or DPS. Before the game would let you queue for LFR, or LFD with your new spec, you would have to pass the appropriate Proving Ground (using the Challenge mode gear scaling mechanic so as not to punish undergeared or overgeared people).

If you have a dedicated group that wants to take you in your new spec, more power to you and your friends.


How would loot be handled? Exactly like it is today. Whatever spec you are in for the kill is the table that LFR looks at for your loot.
And talk about stuff not being sharded! You’d still have most guilds use main spec over off spec, but every piece of gear would be potentially useful if someone wanted it. This would also give a boon to 25 mans who usually have more ‘extra’ gear to give away than 10 mans.

I know its highly unlikely this ever happens, but I think this idea would be fantastic!

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The 7th Sha

We know the Sha are the last breath of the Old God Y'Shaarj. Y’Shaarj had seven heads, so it follows there would be seven sha. So far, only six have been revealed. Those six are Fear, Doubt, Hatred, Despair, Anger, and Violence. We don’t know the seventh.

However, I think Blizzard may have accidently let the name of the seventh Sha out in a preview of the new 5.2 raid. Community Manger Draxxari was interviewing Lead Encounter Designer, Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas. You can read the entire blog here.

What I want to concentrate on is their preview of Tortos.
Ion: Along with asking why we fight, and learning that our true enemy is war itself, a major theme of the Mists of Pandaria has been killing turtles. This raid encounter elevates that motif to all-new heights, presenting players with the chance to fight a huge turtle, and small turtles, and also the ability to kick one of the small turtles into the big turtle. What more could you ask for?
Emphasis added. Our true enemy is war itself. What if the seventh Sha is the Sha of War. Crazy? Maybe. We know that in order to meet the new accelerated patch schedule, the developers are working on multiple patches simultaneously. Since 5.2 is releasing today, Ion must be knee deep in 5.3 and 5.4 content. He might have lost context and exactly which patch which piece of lore was released. He's an encounter designer, not a lore nut.

But there are other indications that also indicate that the seventh Sha might indeed be the Sha of War.

Warlord and the Monk
We know all six Sha are mentioned in The Warlord and the Monk. This scroll can be found on the south side of the upper level of the Scrollkeeper's Sanctum in the Temple of the Jade Serpent in the Jade Forest. It tells of a time when the mogu fought the Pandaren. The Pardaren tricked the mogu into turning on each other.As the mogu turned against each other, it says: "War waged before the temple as the mogu destroyed themselves, unleashing the full weight of their doubt, anger, fear, hatred, violence and despair."

Six for six. What else is mentioned there? In fact, what’s pretty much the only other things mentioned there?

The Seven Burdens of The Seven Burdens of Shaohao
Some of what we know of the Sha comes from the Lorekeepers scrolls that make up the The Seven Burdens of Shaohao. These stories tell how the Last Emporer defeated his fear, doubt, anger, hatred and despair. Yet, despite having defeated all these negative emotions, when he tried to move the land, he failed. There was one more Sha he had to defeat.
The Jade Serpent came to him and said "Your enemies to the west are as much a part of this land as your empire behind the wall."
Shaohao had to embrace his enemies. He had to let go of his conflict with the Yangol and the Mantid. He had to defeat his desire to war against them. When he did let go and defeat the desire for War in his spirit, then, and only then, he became one with the land. At that point, he could save it from the Sundering.

Garrosh Hellscream
We know the Sha try to inhabit hosts. The more powerful the Sha, the powerful the host it wants. We know the Sha use the negative emotions present to inhabit their host. The Sha of Hatred used Teran-Zhu’s hatred of the Horde and Alliance to take over the master of the Shado-Pan. Teran-Zhu was a powerful warrior, and the Sha was attracted to his hatred.
We have seen Garrosh Hellscream try to weaponize the Sha. Each time he does, the intended host is not strong enough. The Sha takes over and the Horde soldier, from simple Grunt to powerful Blade Master, must be put down. What if Garrosh finally decides that he and he only is strong enough to merge with the Sha and become the unstoppable weapon he dreams of for his Horde.
What is Garrosh if not the epitomy of War?
Look at what Garrosh tells Thrall when Thrall taps him for leadership of the Horde.
"I understand battle, yes," he said. "Tactics, how to rally troops -- these things I know. Let me serve that way. Find me a foe to face and defeat, and you will see how proudly I will continue to serve the Horde. But I know nothing of politics, of ... of ruling. I would rather have a sword in my fist than a scroll!" -- The Shattering
The seventh Sha must be the most powerful Sha of them all. Garrosh would provide a suitably powerful host.

Opening Cinematic
That brings us to the opening cinematic for Mists. Perhaps it really did show us a bit of the final boss just as every cinematic before it had.
To ask why we fight, is to ask why leaves fall. It is in their nature. Perhaps there is a better question.
Why do we fight? To protect home and family, to preserve balance, and bring harmony.
For my kind, the true question is ‘what is worth fighting for’?
What are the Horde and Alliance fighting? A war. The question isn’t why we fight the war, but what is it worth going to war over? If we fight for home and family, to preserve balance and bringing harmony, is it still a war? Or has it become something more. Something better. Something higher. Something nobler.

We know our friend Wratharion is out to end the war. He has stated as much. His only question is which side to allow to win the war. At the end of Mists, we defeat Garrosh Hellscream, and the Sha of War. We defeat War itself. Wratharion’s purpose is accomplished. The Horde and Alliance will be ready to begin the process of preparing for the Burning Legion by taking care of the remaining threats on Azeroth (the 90-95 expansion) before finally becoming part of the Army of Light that Velen prophesied and taking down Sargeras and the Burning Legion once and for all (the 95-100 expansion).

I know there is a Maelstrom sized hole in this theory. War is not an emotion. At least not in the same way we think of Fear, Hatred, Doubt, Anger, and Despair. But would you say Violence is an emotion? Violence is an act much like War is an act.

So what do you think? Am I crazy, or could the seventh Sha be the Sha of War?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Tier 14 Retrospective

Tier 14 has been a weird tier for us. It's been the most exciting and the most frustrating tier of my WoW career.

Old Faces in New Places

This was the tier where we got the band back together. Most of my guild mates followed me to SWTOR about midway through the Firelands patch. One by one, we quit SWTOR and came back to WoW. One of our guys had actually stayed in WoW and found a guild on Nesingwary. As we came back, we all just joined up with him. As the tier wore on, it became increasing clear that we needed to be back on our own and recently we've made that a reality.

The core of our team formed during Karazhan, and we really peaked in Ulduar. It has been great to have familiar voices in vent and be raiding with this team again.


Throughout this entire tier, our team has been frustrated by attendance issues. We had to cancel way too many raid nights simply because we couldn't field a team. I know, absolutely know, that we could have gotten farther than 6/6 1/6 with a sub 10% wipe on Blade Lord if we just would have had a consistent team. I know the easy answer is just recruiting. Believe me, we tried. Most everyone in our raid tried. Most people don't want to go backwards in progression. Honestly, I can't blame them, I wouldn't want to either. I'm hopeful that we can get this settled in Tier 15 and really knock it out.

We are pretty set on tanks. We could use some ranged DPS, especially one with a healing offspec, but most nights we just need another person. Our schedule is a bit in flux as we are trying to find the best nights for everyone. We only raid two nights a week or about two to two and a half hours at a time, usually 9:30pm EST to 11:30pm EST with the rare night that we go to midnight. All of us are adults with jobs, kids, families, etc. It's not uncommon for someone to need an extended AFK to take care of a crying baby.

We are a really laid back group. No one gets yelled at for poor performance and most of us are own worst critics. There is some friendly rivalry for the top of the DPS chart when it’s not dominated by our Brewmaster.

Least Favorite Fight

I think it says a lot about this tier that I have a really hard time coming up with a least favorite fight. If I were to include my jaunts into LFR I'd have to say Garalon. There isn't much for the tank to do on that fight, and it was fairly difficult early on. Lei Shi gets an honorable mention only for never once giving me shoulders in 11 kills, at least half of those with bonus rolls used. Sha of Fear is included as well for never giving me a Sha touched weapon in 11 kills, again with bonus rolls. I have to cut Sha a little slack since I went about four of those times as Retribution and did get the Sha Touch two hander plus two head tokens.

Favorite Fight

This was just such an awesome tier and I really did enjoy every fight on Normal. I absolutely loved the new talents and how I was able to use all of my class abilities to help the raid. The only place I feel deficient right now is AoE tanking. Yes, I know, how ironic is THAT! Don't tell my raid leader (our BrewMaster) but I semi-afk on most AoE trash pulls.

I have to give an honorable mention for favorite fight to Feng. I was given the Shroud of Reversal role and that was a ton of fun. I loved being able to take one of the bosses abilities and turn it right back around on him.

But my favorite fight this tier has to be Will of the Emporer. I hated the dance at first, but there is such a feeling of satisfaction when you do it right and the game rewards you with that extra action button. I have yet to beat our BrewMaster in Opportunitistic Strikes landed, but our last kill was very close 14 to 15. The only one I messed up was when I got two close to the wall and my camera zoomed in and I couldn't see where it was going.