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by Published on 2014-07-17 11:25 PM

Ashran Preview: Prepare to Engage

Warlords of Draenor Zone Preview: Gorgrond

Warlords of Draenor Zone Preview: Talador

Warlords of Draenor Beta Patch Notes - July 17 Update
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Racial Traits
  • Human
    • The Human Spirit has been redesigned. It now increases Versatility, scaling with character level. no longer increases Spirit by 3%, and instead now increases 2 secondary stats by an amount scaling with character level. You can choose which 2 secondary stats it increases. This has not yet been implemented.

  • Hunter
    • Survivalist is a new passive ability learned by Survival Hunters at level 10.
      • Survivalist increases the Hunter's chance to Multistrike by 10%. Additionally, the Hunter gains 15% health over 10 seconds after killing a target.

Class Changes

Death Knight

Blood Changes
Active Mitigation was a very successful design that was inspired by Death Knights' tanking style. However, it went beyond that, and Death Knights themselves were somewhat left behind in that regard. We made several changes to bring up the interactivity of Blood combat. This includes making Death Strike cause healing based on attack power, but be affected by the new Resolve passive (see Tank Vengeance and Resolve above), which gives it the traditional increase from recent damage. Plus, Rune Tap is being significantly improved, to become a strong Active Mitigation button. To tie those together, Blood's Mastery is being changed to affect both the size of the Blood Shield absorb, and the new Rune Shield absorb.

  • Rune Tap has been redesigned. It now reduces all damage taken by 50% for 3 seconds. now grants an absorption shield equal to 30% of your missing health. It also now has 2 charges, with a 40-second recharge time.
    • Will of the Necropolis has been redesigned. It now automatically triggers an immediate, free Rune Tap when you take damage that reduces you below 30% health. This effect cannot occur more often than once every 45 seconds. now grants an immediate charge, and makes your next Rune Tap free. However, its damage reduction buff now only lasts 4 seconds (down from 8 seconds).

Conversion was changed to cost different amounts by specialization, instead of reducing Runic Power generation differently by specialization. This way, Runic Power beyond what you spend on Conversion is not penalized.
  • Conversion no longer has an initial tick, and now costs 15 Runic Power/second for Blood, 20 Runic Power/sec for Frost, and 10 Runic Power/second for Unholy.


Ability Consolidation and Refinement

Marksmanship Changes
One of our new secondary stats Multistrike, is strikingly similar to the Wild Quiver Mastery for Marksmanship Hunters. To address this similarity, we replaced Wild Quiver with a new Mastery: Sniper Training. Marksmanship Hunters that favored Mastery before will want to favor Multistrike for a similar feel. For their new Mastery, we wanted to add some depth to their moment-to-moment gameplay, and compliment Critical Strike. In order to do that, we brought back the concept of Sniper Training.

We also changed the design of Chimera Shot (and fixed its name), in order to better capture the intended flavor. Finally, we added an interaction between Careful Aim and Rapid Fire (and indirectly Aimed Shot through a Draenor Perk), so as to add a bit more depth to their gameplay.
  • Chimera Shot has been renamed Chimaera Shot. It is now a two-headed shot that hits two targets, and deals Frost or Nature damage. It no longer heals the Hunter.

Survival Changes
Apart from rotational changes through Ability Pruning, changes for Survival Hunters mostly center on Lock and Load. We changed how Lock and Load is triggered to increase the value of Multistrike, provide gameplay depth and the ability to pool damage more. Also note the new passive ability, Survivalist, which increases multistrike chance by 10%, in order to give Survival Hunters some baseline Multistrike chance.
  • Survivalist is a new passive ability learned by Survival Hunters at level 10.
    • Survivalist increases the chance to Multistrike by 10% and the Hunter gains 15% health over 10 seconds after killing a target.


Ability Consolidation and Refinement
  • Ignite now deals the same total damage with a 1 second period (down from 2 seconds). Base duration changed to 5 seconds so that duration when refreshed remains 6 seconds.
by Published on 2014-07-17 11:08 PM

Warlords of Draenor Zone Preview: Gorgrond

Warlords of Draenor Zone Preview: Talador

Ashran Preview: Prepare to Engage
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Built upon the remnants of an ogre civilization, Ashran looks deceptively like a nice enough island just off the coast of Tanaan Jungle. And it probably would be a lovely place to visit if not for the never-ending tug-of-war between the Horde and Alliance taking place in the central region of the zone. Then again, this might just be just your kind of excursion.

Ashran offers tons of opportunities for players to engage in a variety of activities, whether they want to go it solo or join a group, slay monsters, or engage in PvP with their rival faction.

Building World PvP into Ashran
Over the years, players have been asking for more opportunities to engage in world PvP, and we’ve experimented with a variety of approaches to that in places like Halaa and Wintergrasp. Creating opportunities for unscripted, unexpected skirmishes might seem simple on the surface, but they’re often difficult to engineer without sacrificing the unpredictable nature of these encounters. In its purest form, world PvP means no boundaries or limitations on when skirmishes break out. When creating areas specifically designated for PvP encounters, gameplay objectives will always have an impact on how people play and engage with each other. In the end, many will choose the path of least resistance to achieve their faction’s win condition, and sometimes that path involves simply ignoring other players.

In order to create the type of atmosphere that encourages more free-form world PvP in Ashran, we decided to apply lessons we’ve learned from the Timeless Isle. By giving players more personal goals and opportunities—such as killing creatures—players are more likely to find themselves spontaneously engaging in PvP to compete for them. We want players to get caught up in the moment and become emotionally invested in the outcome of each new encounter, whether it’s just getting the drop on a member of the opposite faction player or getting revenge for a stolen kill. While Ashran still has plenty of objective-based conflict (more on that in a bit), if you want that distinctive flavor of world PvP, the island has that for you too.

This Island is No Fantasy

Located off the coast of Tanaan Jungle, Ashran is a large, open PvP zone for players who have reached the max level of 100, and it offers a little something for everyone. Players can reach the island easily a few different ways, including using a flight path or by unlocking quick access within their Garrison once it reaches Tier 3. The more daring—or foolhardy—adventurers could also try doggy paddling to the island, but we don’t recommend it. (Seriously, we wouldn’t try it if we were you. You’ve been warned. In a world where pretty much everything wants to kill you, you’re best off traveling to an island of pure conflict the safest possible way. We really wouldn’t steer you wrong on this one.)

Unlike previous PvP zones, such as Tol Barad or Wintergrasp, no raid group is required to take part in the excitement, and the zone will cap out at approximately 100 players per side, opening the door to some truly epic-sized confrontations. To keep the action amped up, the same large group of regular realms will feed into the zone, so it’s likely you’ll run into some familiar faces whenever you visit, both friend and foe. There will be plenty of room to roam, as Ashran measures approximately the size of the Isle of Thunder. The intention is to provide as much of a true world PvP experience as we possibly can to those who choose to frequent the island. The odds may not always be in your favor, but with so many places to hunker down to either hide or lie in wait, there are plenty of opportunities to achieve whatever goals you’ve set forth for yourself.

The Lay of the Land
At each end of the island, separate from the conflict enveloping the isle, players will find a small sanctum of relative safety. Full-sized Horde and Alliance hubs sit behind each faction’s base, offering pretty much everything a regular city would.

Ready to dive into the fray? One main artery runs through the center of the zone, and it’s here that you’ll engage in an endless faction tug-of-war. At opposite endpoints, Horde and Alliance bases wait to be captured, and you’ll be fighting for control of five additional capture points as you make your way down the lane. Capturing these points along the way will push you and your faction toward the enemy base, making it possible to take the battle all the way to the opposing faction’s base. To effectively hamstring your opponents and hobble their efforts for a time, you’ll just need to take down their General within their base. Doing so will not only garner you bragging rights, but will also deny the opposing faction access to their General, who serves as a Conquest vendor.

At the central hub, the Ogre King stands waiting, flanked by his two bodyguards. Engaging one of the bodyguards and proving your worth in combat will win the Ogre King to your faction’s side, and he will fight for you for a time. But beware! His endurance is limited, and the longer he goes undefeated, the more susceptible to damage he becomes.

As in many Battlegrounds, each faction will have a Resource count available to them. Once a faction’s Resources drop to 100, they’ll get a little extra help via a randomly spawning Captain who will begin to fight for their side. Many of these will bear familiar names such as Swifty, who will fight for the Alliance, or Talbadar, who will fight for the Horde. There’s no guarantee who will ultimately come to your aid, however. Each time a side reaches this Resource count, a new random captain will join the fray.

Beyond the Tug-Of-War
There’s more to Ashran than the conflict in the central lane. Around Ashran there are additional points of interest (POIs) and monsters to slay. The various POIs offer a variety of random events which will allow players to win awards for the Horde or Alliance. Buffs can also be earned by killing other players or NPCs. There are currently seven POIs set around the edges of Ashran—we’ll go into detail on each of these later on down the line.

Righteous Rewards

As you make your way around Ashran, you’ll be collecting currency from other players and from monsters you’ve slain. This currency can then be turned in at your base for additional bonuses for your faction, such as Mage Portals or a Warlock Gateway. Or you can choose to summon a random—and truly epic—NPC to join in the fight. You’ll want to take care, though, and plan your turn-ins accordingly. One losing encounter with a player of the opposite faction can strip you of your hard-fought treasure and have it wind up in their pockets instead.

You’ll also be able to collect zone-bound items (usable only on the island) to give yourself a little extra advantage as you take on the various challenges around Ashran.

For those looking for the next step in gear, Ashran will provide access to Conquest-quality gear that is unavailable elsewhere.

Building on lessons learned from the Timeless Isle and Alterac Valley, we want players who make their way to Ashran to always have something exciting to do, and to offer them a true world PvP experience. Whether your aim is to engage in PvP or take on the various points of interest, there’s bound to be something to get your adrenaline going.
by Published on 2014-07-17 09:08 PM

Warlords of Draenor Zone Preview: Talador

Warlords of Draenor Zone Preview: Gorgrond
The official preview didn't include any screenshots, but we have already taken a look at the zone:

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Our perilous journey through Draenor now takes us into the treacherous jungles and unforgiving canyons of Gorgrond, where opposing primeval forces are locked in an eternal battle. We sat down with Senior Game Designer Steve Burke, Associate Game Designer Zachariah Owens, and Game Designer Ryan Shwayder to find out more of what this savage land has in store.

Located in northern Draenor, Gorgrond is where heroes either rise up and persevere or fall and become carrion for rylaks. After your initial confrontation with the Iron Horde (in Shadowmoon Valley for the Alliance or Frostfire Ridge for the Horde), this brutal, beautiful land divided by ancient hostilities is your next destination.

At this point in our journey, players have survived the rigors of Tanaan Jungle and journeyed through either the majestic forests of Shadowmoon Valley or the icy expanse of Frostfire Ridge. What brings them to Gorgrond, and what’s the story waiting for them to discover there?

Steve Burke: After withstanding the Iron Horde’s initial assault, you’ll make your way into Gorgrond with a handful of allies to try to discover the Blackrock orcs’ intentions and find a way to thwart any plans the Iron Horde may have. It’s a perilous recon mission. Gorgrond is a land of giants embroiled in an epic struggle between creation and destruction. It’s the kind of place you avoid unless you have a death wish.

Gorgrond is a land of giants embroiled in an epic struggle between creation and destruction.

If you’re an Alliance player, you’ll enter the zone from the eastern coast, where you’ll get your first taste of things to come. You’ll immediately encounter an elite group of draenei known as the Rangari holed up in a hidden encampment, fighting for their lives against vicious plant-like creatures. When the dust settles, your group will join the Rangari survivors and make a retreat to a clearing deeper in the zone.

Horde players will enter the zone from the west, where you’ll encounter the Laughing Skull clan. These maniacal orcs are volatile and bloodthirsty, capable of extreme brutality—and as you experience Gorgrond for yourself, you’ll begin to understand why. The Laughing Skull orcs are struggling to maintain their ancestral territory, but the brutality of being constantly assaulted by the warring factions of the zone has forged them into bloodthirsty savages.

How would you describe the zone’s ambience? What’s it like?

Steve Burke: Gorgrond consists of two distinct regions, each reflecting the nature of its inhabitants. The eastern portion of the zone is filled with lush plant life and shimmering pools. It seems idyllic until you realize looks aren’t everything. The northwest region couldn’t be more different. It’s a dry, barren wasteland, but with a beauty of its own. Fantastic rock formations mixed with geysers and sulphur pools create an unconventionally vibrant environment.

Zachariah Owens: The forested region definitely isn’t what it seems. The creatures here are merciless in seeking out anyone who enters their territory. They will capture them, kill them, and then infest their corpses with plant life or mulch them into fertilizer. Basically, everything in this zone wants to kill or eat you—in that order, if you’re lucky.

Basically, everything in this zone wants to kill and/or eat you —in that order, if you’re lucky.

Which locations would you say are some of your favorites?

Steve Burke: Personally, I love the steam pools and geysers. They remind me of my visits to Yellowstone as a kid. I really like the level design of the whole zone. It does a great job at setting the scene for the events that take place.

Zachariah Owens: For me, it’s Evermorn Springs. The rainbow, the pristine lake, and the botani homes are a beautiful contrast to the decaying bones and corpses the grove rests upon. The majestic botani move here and there tending to the grove while their infested denizens patrol like mindless guards ready to attack anyone who would threaten the bloom.

Ryan Shwayder: Most of the zone has a really expansive feel to it, but two places in particular always grab my attention. The first is Gronn Canyon. It is filled with dangerous monsters and is a barren wasteland, but it’s also somehow incredibly beautiful. And the name is a pun, which automatically makes me like a place more. The second is Tangleheart, a lush jungle where botani are working to raise new ancients for their armies. The ancients here have fiercely embraced their susceptibility to fire . . . but you'll have to delve into the jungle see how.

What outposts will players be able to build in Gorgrond, and how do they impact the Garrison?

Steve Burke: The outposts you build shortly after arriving in Gorgrond will provide a preview of a building you might want to include in your own Garrison. In this zone, you’ll make a meaningful choice between building a Lumber Mill and a Sparring Arena.

The Lumber Mill will grant access to the shredder, a vehicle you can summon throughout the zone. The shredder will grant powerful abilities and allow you to cut your way to otherwise inaccessible treasures and areas.

The Sparring Arena will provide a gladiator who will fight alongside you and bestow a buff that will increase in power based on your prowess. If you do the entire quest line, you will free up to five gladiators, each with their own distinct buffs.

Your choice of outpost will also determine which region of the zone you’re directed to quest through and have an impact on how you’ll assault the Iron Horde.

There’s lots left to discover on our journey through Draenor—be sure to check back for more zone previews soon.
by Published on 2014-07-17 07:14 PM

Warlords of Draenor Zone Preview: Talador
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Our journey into the wilds of Draenor takes us next into Talador. We unabashedly absconded with a little of Associate Quest Designer Johnny Cash’s* time to learn what’s waiting for players here.

Located in the heart of Draenor, Talador offers significant strategic value to the Iron Horde should they complete their quest to gain control. The city of Shattrath, a shining jewel of draenei civilization, now lies in the Iron Horde’s clutches, and the situation is looking grim..

Zone Music Piece: Last Night by Neal Acree

What can you tell us about the path that leads players into the events taking place in Talador? How does the story evolve within this zone?

Johnny Cash: After coming out of a major confrontation against the Iron Horde in Gorgrond and leaving one of their bases in ruin, you and your forces have begun erecting an outpost just north of the draenei city of Tuurem in a bid to push back the invading fleet. Under the command of the ruthless Warlord Blackhand the Destroyer, the Iron Horde has already made landfall on the Orunai Coast and have taken most of northern Talador—including the sprawling city of Shattrath, the trade capital for all of draenei civilization. If they aren’t stopped soon, all of Talador will fall into Grommash Hellscream’s grip, and the rest of Draenor is sure to follow. Talador’s strategic location at the heart of Draenor would give the Iron Horde the perfect launching point for their amassing forces in Tanaan Jungle.

Pushing the Iron Horde back will be no simple feat, however. They have greater numbers, a stronger foothold, and one of the most brilliant military generals to ever live backing its mission. A confrontation of epic proportions between Warlord Blackhand and Orgrim Doomhammer within Shattrath will shake the city’s foundations, and not every hero who enters may make it out alive.

Even once the Iron Horde is routed out of Shattrath, the city will not remain safe for long, as new foes are waiting to emerge and lay claim to the city. The Sargerai are a sect of draenei who have aligned themselves with the Shadow Council to usher Gul’dan’s twisted schemes into fruition. With most draenei cities razed and sacked by the Iron Horde, allies are few and far between . . . but they do exist. Pockets of draenei resistance dot Talador’s forests, eager to retake their homes and enact vengeance on their assailants. In an ancient caldera to the east at a major ley line nexus, Archmage Khadgar and the Kirin Tor have taken up residence. Perhaps most curiously, there have been several sightings near the city of Aruuna of arakkoa outcasts—flightless bird-men powerful in the ways of shadow magic. Some say their existence is little more than a legend, but players will have to find out for themselves if the rumors are true—and if they are, what brings the arakkoa outside of their ancestral home in Spires of Arak . . . or, more importantly, who.

On top of all of the very real threats players face in their first foray into Talador, a darker, more sinister threat lurks to the south. Teron’gor, right hand of Gul’dan, leads a massive assault on the holy mausoleum of Auchindoun, resting place for all draenei souls. Demons pour in at the Burning Front from the remains of a ruined world somewhere in the Twisting Nether. The Shadow Council eyes the city of Telmor. Exarch Maladaar leads the Auchenai, ancient defenders of Auchindoun, in a desperate effort to hold off the seemingly endless waves of death. If their lines falter, Teron’gor will have unhindered access to innumerable draenei souls . . . and plans to consume them to gain a terrible power not meant for mortal hands. But the Auchenai have an ally that Teron’gor did not expect. Lady Liadrin and her Sunsworn felt the demonic presence and have flocked to Auchindoun’s aid, and will call upon players to help turn the tide—but will they be enough?

How would you describe the zone’s ambience and the creatures that can be found in it?

Johnny Cash: Talador is home to the heart of draenei civilization. It is stunningly beautiful, and the zone has a palette of oranges, golds, and greens that make it incredibly vibrant.

It is stunning beautiful, and the zone has a pallete of oranges, golds, and greens that make it incredibly vibrant.

It’s particularly lovely at dusk and into the evening, where its gentle orange sky fades into a dazzling starry night. The zone really showcases the breadth of draenei life: the sprawling trade hub of Shattrath, the massive mausoleum that is Auchindoun, the iconic city of Tuurem, the mythical Telmor (it does exist!), and so many others. Talador is more than a pretty place, though, and there is a prevailing sense of urgency that you feel everywhere you go. The Iron Horde and the Shadow Council threaten to unravel all that you’ve done in one fell swoop. Talador also boasts these great contrasts everywhere: old versus new, tranquil versus literally on fire.

Of course, while you’re in Talador you’ll have run-ins with the many creatures that call this great forest home, many of whom have adapted unique hunting techniques to survive. The devious stalker is able to change its skin coloration to camouflage it, allowing it to ambush prey or escape predators unseen. Mighty teroclaws, flying beasts that use their strong beaks to sever both flesh and bone, rule the skies here rather than the rylaks found in many of Draenor’s other locales. Moths are drawn to the plentiful water sources, and have developed the ability to channel the abundant magic energy in the air around them into condensed blasts. Those same water sources are home to all sorts of electric eels, poison frogs, and even mighty riverbeasts. Some caves are home to ferocious territorial spiders that few dare disturb—their venom is said to be able to alter both the body and mind. Tigers prowl the lower mountain ridges, hungry for their next kill. Talador looks like a welcoming place . . . but every forest has its dark side.

Which locations are some of your favorites? Any highlights players should make sure to see and experience?

Johnny Cash: Talador offers some truly diverse locations that are all worth a visit. You’re seeing these places that you may be familiar with from The Burning Crusade in a totally different light. You know more or less where everything is in Talador already if you braved the Terokkar Forest, but nothing in those locations is quite as you remember it. That’s what makes it so exciting to explore. I would say there are three main areas and their surroundings that really define Talador: Shattrath, Auchindoun, and the northeastern forest.

Shattrath is initially occupied by the Iron Horde and is exponentially larger than the Shattrath players know from The Burning Crusade. Carefully manicured trees and hedges lines its walkways, and numerous rises, canals, and bridges connect several large, unique sections of the city. One section is protected and cordoned off by an ornate, magically enhanced shell structure. Nearby, Shattrath’s docks offer ample room for traders from all across Draenor to come peddle their wares—or for an Iron Horde war fleet to bring their ships. Those who prefer to live a quieter lifestyle outside of the hustle and bustle of the big city may find themselves in Tuurem or a village along the Orunai Coast.

Auchindoun has not yet been sullied by the Shadow Council, and players will have a chance to see it in all its glory. Draenei from all around make pilgrimages there to pay their respects to their ancestors and the recently deceased. The northeastern forest may not have an enormous city dominating its horizon, but it is far from short on sights worth seeing. Your Garrison outpost stands tall in an ideal position for accessing the whole of Talador, wherever your presence is needed.

What outpost bulidings are available, and what will players be able to earn for their Garrison?

Johnny Cash: Talador will offer some really cool choices that will affect your Garrison. You’ll have the opportunity to build an Arcane Sanctum or an Arsenal in the last available spot in the outpost. Which building you choose will offer you a different questing experience, a blueprint to construct a Mage Tower or Armory at your Garrison, and a special follower.Each building also unlocks a special zone ability to use anytime you’re in Talador. You can call in an artillery strike from the cannon mounted on the Arsenal, or summon a guardian orb from the Arcane Sanctum that will follow you around for a time and fry any enemies that dare to get too close.

Talador is full of enemies to slay and problems to solve, and I hope you enjoy playing it as much as we did making it. Good luck; have fun!

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about Talador, and we look forward to continuing the journey through Draenor in our next zone preview.

*Not to be confused with the original “man in black,” though Johnny—like most game designers—does own a healthy collection of black T-shirts. He does not, however, take song requests.

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