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by Published on 2013-01-18 02:09 AM

Developer Watercooler: Encounter Tuning by Watcher

Shaman and Death Knight Tier 15 Armor Sets, Build 16467 Pets, Audio, Icons

PvP Gear in 5.2 and Beyond
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Change is coming to PvP gear in the relatively near future, and we wanted to provide a not-so-brief update on the improvements we’re planning, while pulling the curtain aside a bit so you can see the thought processes that motivated the coming changes. We also thought this would also be a great time to get the World of Warcraft PvP community involved in the discussion.

The Challenges
There are a few main issues that we’re working to address within the next couple of patches:

Early Advantage
Currently, it’s very common for players that have a head start at the start of the season to earn the best gear quickly and gain a dominating position on the ladder with a very high Match Making Rating (MMR). It’s then pretty common for those players to only participate on the ladder in a minimal way before reaping their rewards at the very end of the season. That’s not particularly good for competition, and we don’t think that it’s a very fun way for a competitive ladder to work. We would like to see the ladder remain active, and for high ranking players to earn their positions throughout the season, instead of just blitzing early and camping a spot above a certain threshold.

Mid-season Start
Players getting into PvP mid-season face a very significant challenge to gear up and become competitive because players that started earlier in the season are so far ahead in terms of gear. We want to make it more reasonable for a player to join in on organized PvP mid-season, while still rewarding the commitment of players that have remained invested in PvP throughout the season.

Rating Requirements
The current rating requirements on PvP gear create an artificially sharp division between players over 2200 rating and those below that rating threshold, which is unduly difficult to cross. We’d prefer that teams progress up the ladder on a curve against gradually more difficult opponents, instead of running into a wall at a certain rating.

Gear Advantage
Over time, the gap in power between Honor and Conquest PvP items has widened. This happened, in part, because it’s necessary for us to preserve the balance in power between PvP and PvE gear so that one doesn’t become the most obvious path to victory for the other. Right now, there are four tiers of PvE items, but only two tiers of PvP items. To keep Honor items from being the best choice for entry into PvE, they needed to have a lower item level than equivalent Raid Finder items. At the same time, Conquest gear still needs to be better for PvP than Heroic raid items, which puts it way over on the opposite end of the power scale from its Honor counterpart. While there are items that bridge the gap between Raid Finder and Heroic Raid loot, there really haven’t been any PvP items to bridge the gap between Honor and Conquest gear. We plan to solve that problem by introducing new tiers of PvP items, changing which currencies it takes to buy items and when, and by making PvP weapons more readily available in general.

While the item upgrade system has the benefit of allowing players that have “finished” their PvP set to continue to progress their character’s power, because there’s built-in pressure to continue upgrading their main set, it also means that players don’t always feel comfortable spending those points on alternate sets of gear for different specs (though it’s worth mentioning that the upgrade system will be disabled for patch 5.2). We’d like to make it easier for players in this position to experiment with alternate specs and stats.

Moving Forward
Meeting these challenges will mean that some changes are coming to MMR, PvP gear, and how gear is earned and paid for:

Team Rating Inflation
As we’ve mentioned previously, we want to see the ladder rankings decided toward the end of a season, and not a foregone conclusion dictated by what happens at the start. As discussed in the PvP in Mists of Pandaria Dev Watercooler, as of patch 5.2 Team Rating will gradually increase as players participate in PvP over the course of the season. We expect the new system to help ensure that the ladder remains active at all ratings and that the competition stays fierce from start to finish.

Gear Changes
To accomplish the goals of making PvP more accessible and less punishing, gearing more consistent and flexible, and flattening the power curve out over the course of a season, there are some significant changes in the works:
  • 2200 rating requirements removed from all PvP gear. (5.2)
  • Gear will be available in four tiers:
    • Dreadful Gladiator’s gear will be crafted. (5.2)
    • Malevolent Gladiator’s gear, including weapons, will be purchased with Honor Points. (5.2)
    • New tier of PvP items: Tyrannical Gladiator’s gear will be purchased with Conquest Points. (5.2)
    • Tyrannical Gladiator’s gear can be purchased for Honor after 27000 Conquest Points are earned for the season. (5.3)
    • Elite Tyrannical Gladiator’s gear can only be purchased with Conquest Points after 27,000 Conquest Points have been earned for the season. (5.2)

The 2200 rating requirements on gear will be removed in patch 5.2, and when that happens, the only barrier to acquiring top of the line Elite gear will be the 27,000 Conquest Point seasonal currency requirement. While highly rated players will still earn gear more quickly, there won’t be an invisible wall to progression at 2200 rating.

As of patch 5.3, patches that don’t include the start of a new season will offer players the opportunity to purchase Conquest Point weapons without first meeting the seasonal currency requirement for them. We’re relaxing these restrictions because, by the mid-point of the season, the restriction has served its purpose and is no longer necessary. It’s worth noting here that the 27,000 Conquest Points earned requirement must always be met to buy Elite armor and weapons in every season.

In terms of relative power, we’re tuning the item levels, PvP Power, and Resilience on the new set of PvP items so that the difference between Malevolent and Elite Tyrannical Gladiator’s gear is similar to the relationship between this season’s Dreadful and Malevolent Gladiator’s gear. This helps accomplish the goal of smoothing out the power curve by adding a tier in the middle of the PvP gear spectrum. Also, to add choices and flexibility, once the seasonal currency requirement is met, players will have the option to purchase Tyrannical pieces for Honor, which should allow players to more easily experiment with alternate stat loadouts and specs.

Mid-Season Catch Up
Players who are starting their journey into PvP mid-season start significantly behind the gearing curve. While we want to avoid invalidating the effort of players that have competed for the whole season, we agree with the feedback we’ve received that the starting gap is too large, so a new Conquest Point catch-up cap will be implemented using the following formula:

(Current week of the season) * 1000 – (Conquest earned thus far this season)

Here are some examples of how this will work:

Player A is starting PvP for the first time in week 10 of the season, and hasn’t earned any Conquest Points at all that season. He will have an additional cap of 10,000 points added to his normal weekly rating based cap.

Player B has already earned 5,000 Conquest Points by week 10, so she would have an additional cap of 5,000 points added to her normal weekly rating based cap.

Player C has been playing all season long, and has earned more than 10,000 Conquest Points by week 10. He only has the normal weekly cap to work with (but should already be on their way to being well geared).

If a player “redeems” their catch up cap by earning all those points, then they’ll begin the next week at their normal weekly rating based cap. Should they miss more weeks, then the catch up cap accrues again.

So, to sum up the planned changes for Patch 5.2:
  • Rating requirements will be removed from PvP gear.
  • Malevolent Gladiator’s gear, including weapons, will be available for purchase with Honor Points.
  • A new tier of Conquest Point gear will be added that becomes available once 27000 Conquest Points have been earned for the season.
  • Team Rating will gradually increase during the season for teams and players that continue to compete in PvP. This system is explained in the Mists of Pandaria PvP Dev Watercooler.

And here are the specific changes that are planned to hit in Patch 5.3:
  • In patches that don’t include a new season (including patch 5.3), the seasonal currency requirement of 27,000 Conquest Points earned will be lifted from weapons. The seasonal currency requirement must always be met to purchase Elite items, though.
  • Once the seasonal currency requirement is met, players will be able to purchase Tyrannical Gladiator’s gear with Honor Points.
  • The Conquest Point catch up cap will be introduced.

Overall, we expect that these changes will create a more active and competitive PvP environment, narrow the gear gap between the highest rated players and those still working their way up the ladder, and open the door for more experimentation in terms of class or spec.
We look forward to hearing your opinions and feedback on these upcoming changes!
by Published on 2013-01-17 05:08 PM

Shaman and Death Knight Tier 15 Armor Sets, Build 16467 Pets, Audio, Icons

Developer Watercooler: Encounter Tuning by Watcher
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
In this blog, I’d like to shed some light on an aspect of our design that may unfortunately seem inscrutable or even arbitrary: how and when we make adjustments to our raid encounters once they’re on the live servers. The only changes we jump on immediately to fix are a clearly irritating bugs that never benefit the player in any way (e.g., issues that can cause players to fail to receive loot from a boss, glitches that can cause an encounter to evade or reset prematurely, etc.). Thanks to our internal QA team and the feedback from players on our test realms, those are relatively few in number.

Other than these clear-cut cases, virtually every change has some negative cost to it, such that the benefits must clearly be evident in order to justify making them. If we fix a bug that allows for an unintended strategy on a fight, then the following week there will be raid groups that previously had a working strategy on an encounter and will now have to re-learn it. If we reduce the difficulty of an encounter, there will always be groups who were very close to a kill on the “pre-nerf” version whose victory feels cheapened as a result. And so forth.

Given this background, let’s look at some of the adjustments we’ve made (or not made, in some cases) to the 5.0 raid zones over the course of the past months, broken down into a few general categories.

Unintended Tactics

Our players are ingenious and adept at coming up with clever solutions to the challenges posed by our raid encounters. While we have learned from past experience to an extent (Rule #14 of encounter design: If it’s possible to kite adds instead of killing them, someone will kite them instead of killing them), we are still unable to always anticipate the lengths to which our players will go to overcome a difficult encounter. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, and often one of the hallmarks of a great encounter is that it is open to multiple approaches, depending on the strengths and weaknesses of an individual raid group. I can think of three distinct approaches that we saw to handle the Molten Elementals summoned by Heroic Ragnaros, for example, and I’m sure there are more out there.

For example, a common tactic on the Heroic mode of Amber-Shaper Un’sok in the Heart of Fear is to have a dedicated transformed player who maintains a Destabilize stack on Un’sok throughout the entire second phase of the fight, when he is otherwise nearly invulnerable and the raid’s attention is focused on the Amber Monstrosity. This is only possible due to a bug. Un’sok was intended to be immune to Amber Strike during phase 2 of the fight, and he was in fact immune to it during that phase for much of the beta testing of the boss. However, fixing a separate bug late in development (ensuring that Amber Strike could always interrupt the otherwise-uninterruptible Monstrosity) caused Amber Strike to also bypass Un’sok’s shield in phase 2. Oops.

This would have been a simple bug to fix, but we chose to not do so. This was a clever tactic, and while it made phase 3 of the encounter relatively simple, it did so at the expense of adding length, challenge, and complexity to the first two phases of the fight. Kudos to the players who first came up with it.

As a general matter, unintended tactics are only a problem when they either trivialize an encounter, or when they simultaneously are the “right” (i.e., easier) way to do the fight and make it less fun in the process.

Gara’jal the Spiritbinder
On the first night of Heroic progression through Mogu’shan Vaults, Heroic Gara’jal proved to be an incredibly tough test for the damage-dealing capability of the best raid guilds in the world. A number of groups were a few percent shy of a kill, but it appeared quite possible that it would simply require another week worth of gear upgrades to get there. We would have been fine with that, but then one raid group noticed that one of the trolls before Gara’jal cast a massive haste buff on itself that was Spellstealable. The raid kept a couple of those enemies crowd controlled throughout the encounter, periodically breaking them out to let them cast their buffs for the mages to Spellsteal. This gave them the extra bit of damage that they needed, and Gara’jal fell.

Other guilds got wind of this tactic, and were attempting to utilize it as well. We definitely didn’t want the fight to require the awkward use of Spellsteal and bringing other mobs into the encounter, mandating the use of multiple mages in order to meet the DPS check for initial kills. But we also didn’t want an unfair playing field in the Heroic progression race, with one guild able to continue progressing in the instance while others were stuck behind a slightly-out-of-reach DPS check and unable to take advantage of the trick that had been used to secure the first kill. As such, we made a hotfix that prevented that buff from being Spellstolen, but also reduced Gara’jal’s health by 5% to offset for the extra damage that the mages with the buff would have done.

Exploits vs. “Creative Use of Game Mechanics” – A Brief Aside

I’d like to take a moment to note that what this guild did was not an “exploit” in the sense of being cheating, bad, wrong, or against the rules of the game. Players used Spellsteal to steal a beneficial effect from a mob, which is what the spell is supposed to do, and the beneficial effect increased the power of the mage, which is what it was supposed to do. This was the essence of “creative use of game mechanics.” (Note that this is not to say that it isn’t possible to violate the Code of Conduct by using Spellsteal in general – if you find a spell that you can steal that causes you to damage nearby allies, and you take it back to town to grief newbies, that’s a little different. . . .)

By contrast, a different group found a bug with Gara’jal where he could be dragged on top of the gate to his room such that players standing outside the gate could damage him without being susceptible to his attacks, and used this “unintended tactic” to defeat him. We fixed that bug, but also removed the loot and achievements earned from the players involved, and issued account suspensions. In general, it is never permissible to cause parts of a boss encounter to evade in order to gain an advantage, or to use line of sight or collision to get a boss stuck where you can attack it but its abilities no longer function.

Will of the Emperor
One more example, also from Heroic progression—most of the “unintended tactics” tend to be discovered and applied by cutting-edge progression guilds, since they’re the first ones to see the encounters, and are often undergeared and struggling to find every possible advantage, which usually means thinking outside the box. On Heroic Will of the Emperor, the Emperor’s Rage constructs that spawn present a real challenge. Their health is significantly increased, but each one of them also produces a deadly Titan Spark upon being destroyed, which explodes on contact to deal massive damage. The amount of damage and attention required to keep up with both the Rages and the Sparks they produce is one of the core demands the Heroic mode makes upon a raid group. It was so demanding, in fact, that most of the early groups that reached this encounter were unable to handle the overall DPS requirement.

Looking for solutions to this problem, clever players noticed that the mage spell Ring of Frost froze enemies for 10 seconds, had a 30-second cooldown, and had no target cap. Cue three mages cycling Rings of Frost to keep every Rage frozen for the entire fight. They spawn in waves of four in 25-player mode, resulting in anywhere from 52 to 64 Rages frozen in one giant clump by the end of the fight, causing client and server performance issues in the process. On the upside (for the designers observing these attempts), when this mage rotation faltered, the resulting wipes were fairly comical, bearing more than a little resemblance to an endless stream of passengers emerging from a clown car.

This was an example of a tactic that made the fight both significantly easier and significantly less fun. With so many enemies entirely neutralized by a small portion of the raid, the gameplay for many of the remaining players was reduced to standing in the middle of the room nuking the boss(es) for ten minutes and hoping the mages didn’t screw up. Not ideal. We wanted to fix it. However, the issue here wasn’t specific to the Will encounter. We had always fully intended for all forms of crowd control to work on Rages, so changing that was not an option.

The problem was Ring of Frost – being able to incapacitate an unlimited number of targets with a single spellcast caused problems. This ended up being a case where the negative cost of hotfixing the issue outweighed the upside of improving the encounter. When hotfixing spells, we do not have the ability to update the tooltips and other data that resides on each individual client. Thus, if we had added a target cap to the spell via hotfix, a mage who attempted to use it on a large pull in a dungeon, or a large group of players in a battleground, would have thought the spell was broken when it suddenly didn’t work on many of the targets. Quite simply, confusing hundreds of thousands of players in all sorts of contexts, in order to fix a problem in a situation affecting a few hundred players, was not an acceptable trade-off. As such, we changed Ring of Frost (capping it at 5 targets) in patch 5.1, allowing for ample notice through patch notes and PTR cycles, as well as a properly updated in-game tooltip. By the time this change went live, access to superior gear from Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Spring allowed players to much more readily handle killing the Rages as we originally intended.

Pure Difficulty Adjustments

Other adjustments occur simply because a boss is proving to be more difficult than we’d intended, creating a roadblock. Note that we will essentially never make pure numerical (health/damage) adjustments to a raid encounter that make it more challenging once it’s gone live. If we goof on the tuning in the players’ favor, then so be it.

On average, the self-selected pool of guilds that go through the effort of copying characters to our test servers are far more skilled and organized than the typical Normal-mode raider (and the pick-up groups that form tend to be below the target skill threshold), so there is a bit of estimation that goes into tuning Normal mode encounters. Because a disproportionately difficult Normal mode encounter presents a brick wall that entirely blocks progress, we will act to reduce the difficulty of such encounters, often shortly after they first become accessible, to avoid giving players a frustrating experience. For example, when Heart of Fear was released, we observed that even some guilds that had fully cleared Heroic Mogu’shan Vaults were struggling to meet the berserk timer on Normal Garalon; we made several adjustments to the fight to bring its difficulty in line with the rest of the instance on that first day. By the time that most others saw the encounter, it was where we wanted it to be difficulty-wise.

Over the long-run course of a raid tier, we pay close attention to the community’s overall rate of progression. We don’t have target completion numbers for each tier or for a given number of bosses; we are far more concerned with the rate of change. Progression is fun. Running into a challenge can also be quite a bit of fun. Running into a challenge that seems insurmountable is not. So when we notice that the rate at which groups are progressing is beginning to stall, we tend to take action. In Dragon Soul (and in Icecrown Citadel before that), we used a zonewide aura to reduce the difficulty of encounters over time. Some community members’ “hand on the dial” jokes notwithstanding, those processes were not automated, and reflected an assessment of the latest progression numbers from the live servers. We have the framework for such a system in place for the current raid tier, but we have not yet felt that its activation was necessary.

Our goal is not to make sure that the group that currently has defeated 4 of 6 Mogu’Shan Vaults bosses finishes Sha of Fear before our next patch; we do want to ensure, however, that they feel reasonably able to continue progressing at the rate they have been, with the assistance of gear upgrades gained along the way. As such, we recently reduced the difficulty of a few elements of the Normal difficulty Elegon encounter in a hotfix. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Elegon was “too hard” in some absolute sense – his difficulty presented a welcome challenge to the first wave of raiders who tackled the encounter this past fall. But the folks who defeated Elegon back then have moved on to Heart of Fear, Terrace, and/or Heroic raids in the meantime. A nerf to Elegon doesn’t affect them one way or another, but allows for raid groups still making those attempts to continue making progress today.

And then there’s LFR. Ultimately, LFR raids are designed to be completed by groups of players that qualify to queue for them. This does not mean that it should be impossible to fail, but unlike our Normal and Heroic raids, which are designed as progressions of increasing difficulty, LFR is designed to have a flat level of difficulty within each wing. Whereas a raiding guild will routinely give up and return another night or another week when they run into a challenge they can’t quite overcome, an LFR group that runs into a difficulty spike continues to grind away as new people cycle in to replace those who depart. Most players who ran LFR last fall will recall the ubiquitous partially-complete instances with a dense carpet of skeletons to greet arriving players—not a particularly fun experience. As such, we act quickly to adjust the difficulty of encounters in LFR when needed.

Until Next Time
Ultimately, there is no hard-and-fast rule or formula that we follow to determine how and whether to make adjustments to encounters once they are in players’ hands, but hopefully this blog has provided some insight into the sorts of factors we consider, and our thought process with regard to a handful of specific changes during this last tier.

Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas is Lead Encounter Designer, and really wishes you would stop making him ban you
by Published on 2013-01-17 03:49 AM

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Patch 5.2 - PTR Build 16467

Patch 5.2 PTR Official Notes Update

Interesting Notes
  • The new legendary item is a meta gem, not head enchant.
  • Heroic Pandaria dungeons now award 100 Justice points per boss and gold drops scale based on number of players.
  • Mists of Pandaria Season 2 Malevolent Gladiator’s PvP gear can now be purchased with Honor Points instead of Conquest Points, including weapons, but newly purchased Season 2 Malevolent Gladiator’s armor, offhands, and shields will have an item level of 476 (was 483). Existing Malevolent items are unaffected.
  • Balance, Feral, Windwalker, Retribution, Shadow, Enhancement and Elemental now gain 25% of the bonus healing provided by PvP Power (was 0%).
  • Players in low level battlegrounds will have their effective level raised to the maximum level allowed in that battleground bracket.
  • Rated Battlegrounds now award conquest to the losing team based on their final score. The losing team can earn up to 200 Conquest Points from a very close match.
  • Staves and polearms can be transmogrified to each other.
  • Patch 5.0 Valor gear costs 50% less, and Patch 5.1 Valor Gear now costs 25% less.

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
  • The Legendary Quest Continues:
    • Wrathion must know the origin and source of Mogu power, and Azeroth's mightiest heroes will aid the Black Prince in finding out what it is. The search for information will take players into the depths of the Thunder King's Palace, and pit them against trials of perseverance and skill. Along the way, they'll unlock the secrets to a new legendary metagem, Crown of the Heavens.

  • Death Knight (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)

  • Druid (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
    • Cyclone range has been increased to 30 yards (was 20), and it now has a 30-second cooldown for Feral Druids. In addition, it will now share diminishing returns with Banish, Seduction, Bind Elemental, Hex, Freezing Trap, Wyvern Sting, Gouge, Sap, Hibernate, Paralysis, Polymorph, Ring of Frost, Repentance, and Quaking Palm.
    • Balance
      • Starfall will no longer strike targets that are affected by crowd control effects.
    • Restoration
      • Naturalist: This new passive learned at level 10 by Restoration Druids increases all healing done by the Druid by 10%.
      • Wild Mushroom will now gain 75% of the overhealing performed by the Druid’s Rejuvenation effects, up to a maximum of 100% of the Druid’s health in bonus healing, and growing larger as they do so. When Wild Mushroom: Bloom is cast, this bonus healing will be divided evenly amongst targets in the area of effect.
    • Balance/Restoration Druid PvP Gloves: Bonus now increases Cyclone duration by 2 seconds (previously increased Cyclone range by 5 yards).

  • Hunter (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
    • Aimed Shot cast time has been been reduced to 2.5 seconds (was 2.9 seconds).

  • Mage (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)

  • Monk (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
    • Windwalker
      • New Level-75 Ability: Storm, Earth and Fire
        • The Windwalker can summon up to 2 elemental duplicates that mirror damaging abilities that the Monk uses while they are active. For each spirit summoned, the Monk's damage is reduced: 1 spirit causes the Monk and the spirit to deal 60% of the Monk's normal damage, while 2 spirits will cause the Monk and both active spirits to deal 40% of the Monk's normal damage. Each spirit lasts until the ability is canceled, that spirit's target dies or otherwise becomes unavailable, or they're killed (they can be targeted and have 10% of the Monk's health).
          • When using Fist of Fury, the stun effect will only apply from the Monk (not the spirits).
      • Spinning Fire Blossom’ damage has been adjusted to scale from weapon damage rather than attack power.
      • Tigereye Brew now gains 1 charge after spending 3 Chi (was 4 Chi).
    • Brewmaster
      • Black Ox Statue
        • The damage requirement to activate Sanctuary of the Ox has been increased by 100%. The spell tooltip has been updated to reflect the change.

  • Paladin (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)

  • Priest (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
    • Angelic Bulwark Spirit Shell can no longer be dispelled.
    • For Shadow, this ability causes Mind Flay to gain the Insanity effect when it's cast on a target with 3 Shadow damage-over-time spells on them. Insanity causes Mind Flay to deal double damage for the duration.
    • Devouring Plague now deals its damage evenly through its duration.
    • Focused Will is now a passive for Holy priests as well as Discipline priests.
    • Flash Heal healing has been reduced by 30%. A new passive (available at level 10) increases Flash Heal healing by 43% for Holy and Discipline Priests.
    • Power Word: Solace has been replace with a new talent: Solace & Insanity.
      • For Holy and Discpline, Power Word: Solace replaces Holy Fire. It deals the same damage, and interacts with other spells and abilities in the same manner, but is instant, costs no mana, and restores 1% of maximum mana on each cast.
    • Glyph of Desperation has been replaced with Glyph of Binding Heal. Pain Suppression and Guardian Spirit can now always be cast while stunned.
    • New Glyph: Glyph of Binding Heal applies Binding Heal a third nearby friendly target, but costs 35% more mana.
    • Glyph of Inner Focus has been replaced with Glyph of Weakened Soul. Casting Inner Focus now always grants 5 seconds of immunity to Silence, Interrupts, and Dispels.
    • New Glyph: Glyph of Weakened Soul reduces the duration of Weakened Soul by 2 seconds.
    • Discipline
      • Penance damage and healing has been increased by 20%.
      • Rapture now reduces the cost of Power Word: Shield by 25% 50% and provides mana equal to 150% 250% (was 200%) of the Priest's Spirit, but no longer benefits from Spirit provided by short-duration bonuses.
      • Divine Aegis is no longer guaranteed when Prayer of Healing is cast. The effect now procs when the spell crits.
    • The 2-piece Holy/Discipline PvP set bonus is now the previous Holy Spark 4-piece bonus, instead of Diamond Soul.
    • The 4-piece Holy/Discipline PvP set bonus has been redesigned. It now reduces the cooldown of Chakra by 25 seconds. When Spirit Shell is active the mana cost of Flash Heal is reduced by 50%.

  • Rogue (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
    • Shuriken Toss now causes the Rogue to throw shuriken instead of auto-attacking for 10 seconds after Shuriken Toss is used. Auto-attack damage from Shuriken Toss has been lowered to 75% (was 80%), and the new shuriken auto-attack override is canceled when the Rogue enters melee range of the target.
    • Smoke Bomb now reduces damage taken by allies in the area of effect by 20% in addition to current effects.
    • Nerve Strike now reduces the effectiveness of healing provided by the target by 10% (was 25%).
    • PvP set bonuses have been changed:
      • Vigor is now the 4-piece set bonus and increases maximum energy by 30 (was 10).
    • Combat
      • Blade Flurry has been changed. It now strikes up to 4 additional nearby targets for 40% of normal damage.

  • Shaman (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
    • Chain Lightning will now deal the same damage to subsequent targets as it does to the first.
    • Lava Beam's damage now increases with jumps. Each jump increases the damage by 10%.
    • Elemental Mastery now has a 90-second cooldown (was 2 minutes).
    • Enhancement
      • Mental Quickness now lowers the cost of shocks by 90% (still lowers the cost of other “beneficial, instant, damaging and totem spells” by 75%).
      • The tier-14 2-piece set bonus now grants 2 charges of Maelstrom Weapon every time the Shaman uses Stormstrike.

  • Warlock (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
    • Fel Armor now reduces damage taken by 10%, instead of increasing the Warlock’s armor.
    • Blood Fear has a new visual and sound effect, and has a visual and sound effect when the proc occurs.
    • Burning Rush now also prevents movement impairing effects from reducing the Warlock’s movement speed below 100% of normal, in addition to its other effects.
    • The Imp pet ability Blood Pact has been removed.
    • Dark Intent now increases Stamina in addition to Spell Power.
    • New Glyph: Glyph of Ember Tap. This glyph increases the healing gained from Ember Tap by 33%, but the health is restored over 10 seconds.
    • Glyph of Unstable Affliction changed. This ability now reduces the cast time of Unstable Affliction by 25%.
    • Affliction
      • Unstable Affliction’s Backlash effect is now always a critical hit, and deals approximately 15% more damage.
      • The tier-14 2-piece set bonus now causes Dark Soul to incresae the duraton of Haunt by 4 seconds (instead of the previous Nightfall modifier).
    • Demonology
      • Chaos Wave now have a new visual.

  • Warrior (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
    • The benefit of Haste from items and consumables has been increased by 100% for all Warriors.
    • Bladestorm can no longer be disarmed.
    • Defensive Stance now reduces damage by 15% (was 25%).
    • Unwavering Sentinel now improves the damage reduction of Defensive Stance by 10% for Protection Warriors.
    • Second Wind now causes a Warrior that has been reduced to 35% health or lower to regenerate 2% of their health per second (was 3%), and now generates 15 Rage over 10 seconds (was 20 Rage).
    • Second Wind will no longer regenerate health while the Warrior is stunned.
    • Warbringer now reduces the target's movement by 50% for 15 seconds (8 seconds in PvP) in addition to its other effects. The 3-second stun/knockdown is now in the diminishing returns category for stuns (same as Shockwave and Storm Bolt), and not the proc stun diminishing returns category.
    • Impending Victory will now heal the Warrior for 15% of maximum health when they have not slain an enemy (was 10%).
    • Arms
    • Fury
      • Bloodsurge now reduces the Rage cost of Wild Strike by 30 (was 20) and its duration has been increased to 15 seconds (was 10 seconds).

  • Fite spectral porcupine fite! Three new spectral porcupine spirit beasts have appeared across Pandaria as tameable beasts, though taming them may provide quite a challenge.

Pet Battles
  • Prowl now lasts for 2 rounds.
  • Crystal Overload now lasts for 2 rounds.
  • Focus Chi now lasts for 1 round.
  • Elite Battle Pets have been added to the game world. These rare pets will spawn alone against an entire team. The Beasts of Fable taming quest will now become available from Gentle San or Sara Finkleswitch once Aki the Chosen has been defeated. Defeating all of the fabled beasts will award the new Red Panda pet, while completing the associated daily quest has a chance to award the rare brown, white, and orange variants.

Raids, Dungeons and Scenarios
  • Heroic Pandaria dungeons now award 100 Justice points per boss. Gold drops for those bosses have also been changed from a static 50 gold to a 40-60 gold range. Less gold will drop in groups consisting of less than 5 players.

  • Mists of Pandaria Season 2 Malevolent Gladiator’s PvP gear can now be purchased with Honor Points instead of Conquest Points, including weapons.
  • All newly purchased Season 2 Malevolent Gladiator’s armor, offhands, and shields will have an item level of 476 (was 483). Existing Malevolent items are unaffected.
  • Balance, Feral, Windwalker, Retribution, Shadow, Enhancement and Elemental now gain 25% of the bonus healing provided by PvP Power (was 0%). Dedicated healers will continue to gain 50% of the bonus healing provided by PvP Power and 0% damage from PvP Power.
  • For casters and healers, PVP Power is now split evenly between main-hand and off-hand in a manner similar to a dual-wield melee class. This change is retroactive, affecting Season 12 Malevolent and Malevolent Elite items. There should be no net change for any character already using a main-hand/off-hand combination.
  • PVP Caster weapons in Season 13 cost 2250 Conquest Points (down from 2500) and shields/off-hands cost 1250 (up from 1000), to reflect the increased value of the off-hand slot for classes that use it in this manner. This change is not retroactive and applies only to Season 13 items.

  • Players in low level battlegrounds will have their effective level raised to the maximum level allowed in that battleground bracket. Players' base stats and spells are scaled accordingly and are treated as the same level when determining hits, misses, and critical effect chance.
  • Rated Battlegrounds now award conquest to the losing team based on their final score. The losing team can earn up to 200 Conquest Points from a very close match.

  • Transmogrification rules have been broadened for several weapon types.
    • Two-handed axes, maces, and swords can be Transmogrified to each other.
    • One-handed axes, maces, and swords can be Transmogrified to each other.
    • Staves and polearms can be transmogrified to each other.
  • The ethereals that offered to upgrade items using Valor or Justice points have departed Azeroth for the moment. They may yet return in a future patch.
  • The cost of Valor Point gear introduced in patch 5.0 has been reduced by 50%.
  • The cost of Valor Point gear introduced in patch 5.1 has been reduced by 25%.

  • The Reputation panel on the character screen will now let players know which reputations they have purchased and used Grand Commendations for.
  • There is now an option to show absorb effects (such as Power Word: Shield) on player, target, party and raid frames. This feature is currently enabled if you turn on the predictive healing option. Unlike predictive healing, absorb effects will display for enemy targets.

Bug Fixes
  • Classes
  • Mac
    • Fixed an issue that would cause command-left-click to occur as right-click while using trackpad functionality.
    • The Logitech LCD applet for G19/G15 keyboards will now launch with the 64-bit client.

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