World of Warcraft News and Raiding Strategies RSS Feed

by Published on 2013-08-14 04:21 AM

Blizzard Trademarks "The Dark Below" - WoW or D3 Expansion?

Battle.Net Desktop Client Now in Open Beta, Blue Posts, Duriel Fan Art

Hearthstone Alpha Patch #2

Submit Questions for the Developers
We will have the opportunity to ask Tom Chilton (Game Director) some questions on Thursday.

If you have any questions you think we should ask, be sure to add them to the comments of the linked post for consideration. We will pick the best questions and add them to our list!

  • Don't post any questions in the comments of this news post. Use the linked topic instead.
  • These should be questions about MoP and Patch 5.4, not future expansions or far off changes.
  • No class specific questions please. This includes things like balance between the different healing/tank/DPS classes and specs.

Battle.Net Desktop Client Open Beta
It seems the Battle.Net Desktop Client is rapidly approaching official open beta. If you would like to join now, all you need to do is download the client and log in! You can change the enUS in the URLs below to your own locale if you need another version of the client.

There haven't been any major changes since we last previewed the client and the chat functionality is still disabled. It does appear that chat is still planned for the future though!

Patch 5.4 on the Background Downloader
Patch 5.4 went on the background downloader this week, so be sure to start loading the patch now so you are ready when patch day arrives!

Patch 5.4 - Potential Release Date
With Season 13 ending soon, we finally have a potential release date for Patch 5.4. There are still many things that could delay the patch, so keep in mind that this date is not final!

PvP Season 13 Ending Soon
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Many weapons have been brought to bear and countless spells have been cast in this action-packed PvP season—now the time has come for the victors to reap their rewards!

On Tuesday, August 27, the 13th Arena and Rated Battleground Season is scheduled to end. On that day we'll begin an approximately one week process to determine end-of-season reward eligibilitys.

Qualified players should note the following in order to ensure you receive your just rewards:

  • Please refrain from transferring your characters to another realm or faction until after PvP Season 13 has ended.
  • The awarding of PvP Season 13 titles and mounts will occur approximately two weeks after the season ends.

Conquest Points will be converted to Honor Points at the end of the season, and any Honor above 4,000 will be converted to gold at a rate of 35 silver per point. A few other things to keep in mind once the season has ended:

  • The Honor cap will remain at 4,000.
  • All Season 13 items will now cost Honor Points equivalent to their previous Conquest Point cost, with the exception of any items with rating requirements attached.
  • Season 13 items with rating requirements will no longer be available for purchase.

Arena and Rated Battleground Season 14 will begin approximately one week after the current season ends, and all Personal Ratings will be reset once the new season begins. Additionally, Rated Battleground and Arena matches will not be available during the break between seasons.

In PvP Season 14 you will no longer need to join or create an Arena team to compete, and thus the current Team Ratings will be removed. You’ll be able to queue for an Arena match in groups of 2, 3, and 5 (in line with the Arena team sizes available in Season 13 and earlier), and your opponents will be selected based on the average Match Making Rating of your party.

You can find a complete overview of the changes that are coming to World of Warcraft’s Arenas in PvP Season 14 in our Patch 5.4 Arena Update blog.

Raid Testing Schedule - August 14
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
On Wednesday, August 14, we will continue testing raid encounters in the Siege of Orgrimmar raid. We're wrapping up 10-player Heroic testing at this time, and then movong on to 25-player mode. Apologies for the short notice, but our testing schedule ultimately depends on the patching process and build stability, which aren't always known far in advance.

Each encounter should be available at approximately the listed times below for all Public Test Realms.

Wednesday, August 14
  • Galakras - 10 Player Heroic - 10:30 PDT (13:30 EDT, 19:30 CEST)
  • Fallen Protectors - 25 Player Normal - 13:00 PDT (16:00 EDT, 22:00 CEST)
  • Norushen - 25 Player Normal - 15:00 PDT (18:00 EDT, 00:00 CEST)

As always, this testing schedule is very fluid and subject to the realities of a beta environment. We might have to change the time of a testing session, change the boss being tested, or cancel a test entirely, due to bugs, server hardware issues, etc. Keep an eye on this forum for the latest information, and thank you in advance for testing and providing feedback.

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Tier 16 Balance Druid Set Bonus Change
We made this change because, even without the Tier 16 4-piece bonus, we felt that Balance multidotting was too strong. On top of that, with enough mobs available, the Balance rotation was devolving into just Moonfire/Sunfire and spamming Starsurge constantly, to the point of completely ignoring Wrath and Starfire.

The way this works under the hood is by multiplying the base proc chance by SQRT(x)/x, where x is the number of mobs that have Moonfire or Sunfire active. Note that the proc chances are calculated per spell – Moonfire doesn’t count against Sunfire’s proc chance, or vice versa. So as an example, if the base chance is 30%, and you have Sunfire active on 1 mob but Moonfire active on 3, your Sunfire will have a 30% chance to proc Starsurge on a crit, and your Moonfires will each have a 17% chance.

As an aside, this didn’t make the latest PTR push, but we’ll be buffing Wrath, Starfire, and Starfall by 10%. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Macro System Improvements
We're going to look into the possibility of adding more macro slots. Not something I can guarantee for 5.4, but we'll see what we can do.

On a larger scale, we'd really like to find ways to make the macro system smarter. Right now, it's not uncommon to see players with several different macros for raid markers, target switches, and so forth, and we'd like to look into some ways to address that. Again, not likely to see any major changes there in the short term, but we recognize that the macro system could use some updates. It's on our radar. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Dark Legacy Comics - #401 and #402
It has been a busy few weeks, so let's catch up on DLC. Be sure to check out their front page if you are interested in a DLC shirt.

by Published on 2013-08-13 02:59 PM

Blizzard Trademarks "The Dark Below" - WoW or D3 Expansion?
Blizzard just trademarked "The Dark Below" and it definitely looks like it has something to do with a new game or expansion!

  • Computer game software; Computer game software downloadable from a global computer network; Downloadable computer game software via a global computer network and wireless devices; Downloadable electronic games via the internet and wireless devices

It could be anything, but it could also be the next WoW expansion. With Gamescom coming up in a couple of days, we could also be looking at the name of the next Diablo 3 expansion.

In any case, it looks like it's time to jump on the speculation train until we can get our hands on more information.

by Published on 2013-08-13 12:54 PM

Patch 5.4 PTR - Build 17299
Build 17299 will be deployed to the PTR realms soon.

Legendary Cloak Proc Changes
There were a few changes to the legendary cloak procs:

New Items
You can see all of the new items on the WoWDB PTR site. Teebu's Blazing Longsword is now Unique-Equipped rather than Unique!

This set is currently marked as being for Shaman only

Level Type Slot Name
1Junk Big Bag of Herbs
500CosmeticHead Kor'kron Dark Shaman Cowl
500CosmeticShoulders Kor'kron Dark Shaman Shoulder
500CosmeticChest Kor'kron Dark Shaman Vestment
500CosmeticWaist Kor'kron Dark Shaman Belt
500CosmeticLegs Kor'kron Dark Shaman Kilt
500CosmeticFeet Kor'kron Dark Shaman Treads
500CosmeticWrists Kor'kron Dark Shaman Bracers
500CosmeticHands Kor'kron Dark Shaman Gloves
277Fist WeaponMain Hand Wrathful Gladiator's Razor
277Fist WeaponOff Hand Wrathful Gladiator's Razor

New Strings
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
  • BLIZZARD_STORE_LICENSE_ACK_TEXT_CN - You are purchasing the virtual items with Battle Coins. Your Battle Coins will be deducted immediately by clicking the "Buy Now" button and won't be refunded under any circumstances. Are you sure you want to purchase this?
  • BLIZZARD_STORE_LICENSE_ACK_TEXT_TW - You are purchasing the virtual items with Balance. If you do not have enough Balance, please visit the Account Management site. By clicking "Buy Now", you agree to the |HurlIndex:10|h|cff71d5ffTerms of Sale|r|h
  • SPELL_FAILED_NO_TELEPORT_FROM_DUNGEON - Leave Instance Group to exit.

Achievement Changes
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
  • A Bone Apart Help Tomb "Tom" Bone Apart Help Zarhym find his body in the Cavern of Lost Spirits on Timeless Isle. 10 points.
  • Timeless Legends (New) Find all of the lost pandaren artifacts on the Timeless Isle. 10 points.
  • Treasure, Treasure Everywhere Locate all of the Moss-Covered, Skull-Covered, Sturdy, Smouldering Smoldering, and Blazing chests on the Timeless Isle. 10 points.

  • Shaohao Earn Venerate status with Shaohao. 10 points. Earn Exalted status with Emperor Shaohao. 10 points.

Pandaria Raid
Dungeons & Raids
  • Celestial Challenge Guild Run (New) Complete the trials of all four Celestials, besting them each in combat on the Timeless Isle, while in a raid with at least 8 guild members. 10 points.
  • Giant Dinosaur vs. Mega Snail Open the Thrice-Locked Cage during the Thok the Bloodthirsty encounter in Siege of Orgrimmar of Flexible, Normal, or Heroic mode on Flexible, Normal, or Heroic difficulty, and then allow its inhabitant to feast upon Thok's corpse once you have defeated the encounter. 10 points.
  • None Shall Pass Defeat the Amalgam of Corruption without allowing any unleashed corruption to fuse with it. 10 points. in Siege of Orgrimmar on Flexible, Normal, or Heroic difficulty. 10 points.
  • Now We are the Paragon Defeat the Paragons after assuming the mantle of three different Paragons. 10 points. in Siege of Orgrimmar on Flexible, Normal, or Heroic difficulty. 10 points.
  • Ordos Guild Run (New) Defeat Ordos, Fire-God of the Yaungol, atop the Timeless Isle, while in a raid with at least 8 guild members. 10 points.

Spell Changes
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
Item Set Bonuses

Druid (Forums, Talent Calculator)
  • Moonkin Form had text removed from the tooltip "The Druid cannot cast healing spells while shapeshifted".
  • Shooting Stars proc chance is reduced against multiple targets. Druid - Balance Spec.[/ins]

Hunter (Forums, Talent Calculator)
  • Arcane Shot now does 125% weapon damage, down from 165% weapon damage. Additional damage reduced by 43%.

Beast Mastery

  • Aimed Shot now does 400% ranged weapon damage, up from 350%. Additional damage increased by 31%.


Mage (Forums, Talent Calculator)
  • Combustion now burns the target for additional damage equal to 20% (was 50%) of the damage per tick of the Ignite every 1 sec for 10 sec.

Monk (Forums, Talent Calculator)

  • Brewing: Tigereye Brew now grants a charge for each 4 Chi you consume through use of abilities and attacks, up from 3.
  • Mastery: Bottled Fury now has a 20% proc chance, up from 16%.
  • Tigereye Brew now grants a charge for each 4 Chi you consume through use of abilities and attacks, up from 3.

Priest (Forums, Talent Calculator)

  • Shadowform now allows you to cast Renew, Prayer of Mending, and Leap of Faith while in Shadowform.

Major Glyphs

Rogue (Forums, Talent Calculator)
  • Fan of Knives damage and AP scaling increased by 25%.
  • Sinister Strike now does 672 damage in addition to 240% of your normal weapon damage, up from 422 damage in addition to 190% of your normal weapon damage.

  • Dispatch now does 645% weapon damage plus 5,, up from 460% weapon damage plus 2,576.
  • Mutilate now does 280% weapon damage plus an additional 874 with each weapon, up from 200% and 446 with each weapon.

  • Revealing Strike now does 160% weapon damage, up from 125%.
  • Vitality now increases your Attack Power by 35%, up from 30%.

  • Backstab now does 380% weapon damage plus 1,744, up from 315% weapon damage plus 1,206.
  • Sanguinary Vein now grants 25% additional damage, up from 20%.

Shaman (Forums, Talent Calculator)
  • Stormblast now does 380% weapon damage, down from 450%.
  • Stormstrike now does 380% weapon damage, down from 450%.

  • Conductivity now grants 2 sec to Healing Rain's duration, down from 3 sec. This cannot cause Healing Rain to last longer than 40 sec.

Elemental & Restoration
  • Lava Burst base damage reduced by 10%. Now does an additional 90% of SP damage.

  • Lava Lash now does 260% of weapon damage, down from 300%.
  • Stormstrike now does 380% weapon damage, down from 450%.

Warlock (Forums, Talent Calculator)


  • Immolate damage and SP scaling increased by 10%.

Warrior (Forums, Talent Calculator)

  • Slam now costs 30 Rage, up from 20. Damage increased by 125%.

Raid & Dungeon Abilities
  • Ancestral Chain Heal Heals a friendly target for 30% 25% of their max health, chaining to nearby friendly targets. 60 yd range. 2.5 sec cast.
  • Annihilate Inflicts 3,500,000 Shadow damage to enemies within 0 yards in front of the caster and 325,000 360,000 Shadow damage to all enemies in the Realm of Y'Shaarj. Unlimited range. 2.5 sec cast.
  • Arc Lightning Inflicts Nature damage to a random enemy. 100 yd range. Instant. Unlimited range. Instant.
  • Blade of the Hundred Steps Imbues all players of the tank role in the current quadrant of this warehouse with a boon. Attacks have a chance to call down a bolt of lightning, inflicting 487,000 364,000 Nature damage to enemies within 4 yards and stun them for 2 sec. This effect bypasses a creature's immunity to stuns and has a 15-second cooldown. Unlimited range. Instant.
  • Call Reinforcements! Calls reinforcements, because he surely cannot do this alone! Melee range. 2 sec cast. 1.5 sec cast.
  • Canned Heat Burns the target for 250,000 125,000 Fire damage every second. Unlimited range. Instant.
  • Claw of Burning Anger Imbues all players of the damage dealer role in the current quadrant of this warehouse with a boon. Attacks have a chance to damage a target for 144,000 130,000 Fire damage. This effect has a 5-second cooldown. Unlimited range. Instant.
  • Deafening Screech Inflicts 0 Physical damage to all enemies and interrupts spellcasting for 2 sec. 100 Mana. 3 sec cast.1 sec cooldown.
  • Desecrate Inflicts 200,000 Inflicts 150,000 Shadow damage to enemies within 15 yards and creates a Desecrated Weapon at the location. Unlimited range. Instant.
  • Desecrated Inflicts 100,000 Inflicts 150,000 Shadow damage every 1 sec. Unlimited range. Instant.
  • Desecrated Inflicts 150,000 Inflicts 200,000 Shadow damage every 1 sec. Unlimited range. Instant.
  • Deteriorate Deteriorates the living tissue of an enemy target, inflicting 150,000 250,000 Arcane damage and an additional 50,000 100,000 Arcane damage every second for 6 sec. Limited to 2 targets. 40 yd range. 1 sec cast.
  • Drakefire Inflicts 100,000 Fire damage to enemies within 5 yards of impact. Each time this ability is cast, the caster gains a 20% 10% bonus to Fire damage dealt. This effect stacks. 500 yd range. Instant.
  • Drakefire Inflicts 0 Fire damage to enemies within 0 yards of impact. Each time this ability is cast, the caster gains a 20% 10% bonus to Fire damage dealt. This effect stacks. 500 yd range. Instant.
  • Empowered Desecrate Inflicts 300,000 Inflicts 200,000 Shadow damage to enemies within 15 yards and creates a Empowered Desecrated Weapon at the location. Unlimited range. Instant.
  • Empowered Gripping Despair Inflicts 30,000 Shadow damage every 1 sec for 15 10 sec. When Empowered Gripping Despair expires or is removed it causes Explosive Despair. Melee range. Instant.
  • Empowered Gripping Despair Inflicts 30,000 Shadow damage every 1 sec for 15 10 sec. When Empowered Gripping Despair expires or is removed it causes Explosive Despair. Melee range. Instant.
  • Empowering Corruption Empowering Corruption heals nearby Minions of Y'Shaarj for 100% health to full and increases max health by 200% and increases damage dealt by 200%. Stacks. Unlimited range. Instant.
  • Empowering Corruption (New) Empowering Corruption heals nearby Minions of Y'Shaarj to full and increases max health by 200% and increases damage dealt by 200%. Stacks. Unlimited range. Instant.
  • Enrage Periodically enrages, increasing damage dealt by 200% but decreasing movement speed. While enraged, attacks have a chance to shatter the armor of his target, decreasing their armor by 20% for 2 min 60 sec. This effect stacks. Instant. 5 sec cooldown.
  • Fiery Edge A beam of fire forms between two friendly targets, burning them and any allies in the path of the beam for 10 6 sec. 100 yd range. Instant.
  • Flames of Galakrond Inflicts 50,000 Inflicts 30,000 Fire damage every 1 second. Unlimited range. Instant.
  • Grapple The pterrordax grabs a nearby player and lifts them up to great heights before letting them go. The target takes 0 Physical damage every 3 2 seconds until they are dropped. Unlimited range. 3 sec cast.
  • Gripping Despair Inflicts 30,000 Shadow damage every 1 sec for 15 10 sec. Stacks. Melee range. Instant.
  • Hellscream's Warsong Hellscream's Warsong inspires his allies, increasing Physical damage dealt by 200% and increasing health by 200% 150% and increasing health by 150%. Unlimited range. 1.5 sec cast.
  • Injection Inflicts 0 Nature damage every second for 20 sec. When this effect fades it causes a reaction. The injection reacts upon leaving the victim's bloodstream, spawning several Amber Parasites. 100 yd range. 3 sec cast.
  • Injection 200 yd range. Instant. The injection reacts upon leaving the victim's bloodstream, spawning several Amber Parasites. 200 yd range. Instant.
  • Matter Scramble Highlights several locations on the ground which will scramble the locations of players standing inside them. If the Golem attempts to scramble a location with no players, the fabric of space tears, inflicting 300,000 Fire damage to players within 30 yards. 3 2 sec cast. 5 sec cooldown.
  • Path of Blossoms Charges a distant target, leaving behind a trail of fiery blossoms which on contact, inflict 150,000 175,000 Fire damage to enemies within 3 yards. These blossoms linger for 30 sec. Casts Mass Paralysis upon reaching the distant target's location, stunning any remaining targets within 3 yards for 6 sec. Unlimited range. Instant.
  • Reaction: Red The catalyst reacts with the toxin in your veins, causing an explosion for 400,000 Fire damage to you and any friends within 10. Unlimited range. Instant. yards. Unlimited range. Instant.
  • Screeching Howl The pterrordax lets out an ear piercing scream dealing 0 Physical damage. Unlimited 100 yd range. 3 sec cast. 2 sec cooldown.
  • Sha Pool Inflicts Inflicts 10,000 Shadow damage every 1 sec for 10 sec. Instant. This effect stacks. Instant.
  • Shattered Armor Periodically enrages, increasing damage dealt by 200% but decreasing movement speed. While enraged, attacks have a chance to shatter the armor of his target, decreasing their armor by 20% for 2 min 60 sec. This effect stacks. Unlimited range. Instant.
  • Shock Blast Inflicts 100,000 Nature damage to random enemies. 300 yd range. Instant. Limited to 4 targets. 300 yd range. Instant.
  • Staff of Resonating Water Imbues all players of the healer role in the current quadrant of this warehouse with a boon. Heals have a chance to create a wave of force that contains 0 healing energy which travels forward 40 yards. Any friendly targets in the wave's path consume healing energy based on their missing health. This effect has an 8-second cooldown. The wave also damages enemies for 277,000 520,000 Nature damage. After 2 sec or once all healing energy has been consumed, the wave dissipates. Unlimited range. Instant.
  • Staff of Resonating Water Imbues all players of the healer role in the current quadrant of this warehouse with a boon. Heals have a chance to create a wave of force that contains 0 healing energy which travels forward 40 yards. Any friendly targets in the wave's path consume healing energy based on their missing health. This effect has an 8-second cooldown. The wave also damages enemies for 277,000 520,000 Nature damage. After 2 sec or once all healing energy has been consumed, the wave dissipates. Unlimited range. 3 sec cast.
by Published on 2013-08-12 05:03 PM

Tier 16 Hunter, Flex Difficulty Feedback, Blue Tweets, Setup of the Month, News Recap

Ghostcrawler Interview
TwizzCast interviewed Ghostcrawler at 3 PM EST.

Siege of Orgrimmar
  • Siege of Orgrimmar has a little bit of branching in paths and ideally raids in the future will have more, allowing you to skip a boss or do bosses in a slightly different order.
  • The first three or four bosses shouldn't be too hard for most raiding guilds, allowing them to have bosses they can use to gear up with as they progress.
  • The heirloom weapons that drop from Garrosh are personal loot in Flex, Normal, and Heroic difficulty.
  • The first heirloom weapon that drops for you will be for your current loot spec, but after that you will get one at random.
  • The heirloom weapons are also intended to make Mists of Pandaria a little more alt friendly.

Proving Grounds
  • Proving Grounds was originally targeted for the Mists of Pandaria launch, but kept getting pushed back until there was enough time to finish it.
  • For Patch 5.4, Proving Grounds remains targeted at level 90 players learning new roles.
  • As long as Proving Grounds works out well, it could be used as a lower level training environment in the future.
  • Proving Grounds could even be used to replace item level as the gating requirement for Raid Finder or other things that use matchmaking.
  • Proving Grounds won't be perfectly balanced for every class and spec, so it shouldn't be used as a class or spec ranking tool.

Flex Difficulty
  • Most guilds should be able to make progress in Flex difficulty.
  • Scenarios might be a useful place to apply the Flex scaling tech in the future, scaling from 3 to 5 players.
  • Any other content that doesn't need very tight balance is also a good candidate for scaling. This means heroic raids are not a good candidate.
  • The idea of scaling raids past 25 players has also been considered, allowing you to scale up to a higher limit like 30 players.

Connected Realms
  • Connected Realms will be merged in groups large enough to come to a good population level. This could take anywhere from two realms to many more realms.
  • Connected Realms will be rolled out slowly to make sure everything works well. Blizzard will start with a small pool of realms and ensure that the tech and gameplay works properly before adding other realms.
  • Everyone will be able to keep their player and guild names. Sever names or other indicators will be used to differentiate between identical names from different realms.

  • It is easy for your character's level to advance much faster than your profession skill level. Fixing this will take a significant amount of developer time, as what to do with all of the recipes have to be considered.
  • Future expansions will make leveling professions a little bit nicer, similar to the mining and herbalism changes.
  • Swapping professions is somewhat painful now, which is something that can be looked at in the future.

  • The developers have to strike a balance between making too many changes and making the necessary changes.
  • There are a lot of players that want changes to improve their class, but there are also a lot of players that don't want any changes because they don't have time / don't care to relearn their class or spec.
  • Valor Points will not be converted to Justice Points for Patch 5.4. "Players who want to stockpile their 3,000 Valor before Patch 5.4 hits will be able to do that, and probably should start thinking about that."

Coffee with the Devs: Dissecting Patch 5.4 Class Changes
Originally Posted by Ghostcrawler (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Yeah, I know, long time no coffee table. I’ve been busy.

I wanted to take a moment to provide context for some of the Patch 5.4 class changes that we’ve been making. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to get acquainted with the 5.4 PTR Patch Notes, as this watercooler is going into detail on the changes listed. I’ll discuss the changes to each class, but here are a few things to keep in mind before we get started:

  • The team made a lot of changes to glyphs that weren’t working out well or were just to provide some new choices. There were a lot of changes so to keep this blog manageable, I’m not going to go into them in detail.
  • I’m not going to get into specific damage or healing tuning unless it requires extra explanation for some reason. In general, you can assume that your damage was too low or too high if you see generic buffs or nerfs to abilities.
  • As I write this, Patch 5.4 has not shipped yet, so if there are changes yet to come, I’m obviously not going to be able to cover them!

One final caveat: please don’t consider the number of changes or the size of the paragraphs as an indication of the degree to which we love or hate your class. When players start weighing the number of words we use on each class, the end result is just to make us less likely to want to engage in discussions like this. Paladins and Hunters have a lot of words below because their changes are fairly complex and I felt they required more explanations than other classes.

With all that in mind, here we go!

Death Knight (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Most of our core changes were to Blood DKs. We added the Riposte passive to DKs (and Warriors) to allow them to increase their damage using the avoidance stats that naturally occur on their tanking gear. We also removed the Runic Power cost of Dancing Rune Weapon to allow it to be used more as a cooldown when needed. Finally, we changed Scent of Blood to also be proc’d by avoidance, to make sure avoidance stats can help provide more active mitigation.

In terms of DK talents, as with all the classes, our primary goal was to open up some more talent choices and address some underpowered talents. While Anti-Magic Zone was capable of mitigating a lot of damage when used at precisely the right time, it was also easy to not gain the full benefit of the cooldown. We changed it to just be damage reduction similar to Power Word: Barrier. We also buffed Death Siphon and Plague Leech, which were underutilized.

Druid (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
We buffed Guardian spec Stamina outright because we felt the spec needed it. Druids have less reliable damage reduction, which isn’t a problem itself, so long as they have the health pool to compensate for it. For Feral Druids, we reverted an earlier nerf to Cyclone’s cooldown but removed Cyclone from Predatory Swiftness. We felt like this ability had become a PvP problem that was too unpredictable to counter. We also lowered the PvP duration of Faerie Fire to make it less of a hard counter to stealthed players. We changed Innervate to scale with Spirit so it would scale with gear better. We also made a few changes to the Restoration healing toolkit. Our change to Efflorescence is an attempt to get Swiftmend back to its original design of being a potent single-target heal. We’re making that change slowly by having the 5.4 Efflorescence glyph move the ground heal from Swiftmend to Wild Mushroom. We further tweaked Wild Mushroom for Restoration by limiting it to a single mushroom.

We had several specs whose passive damage reduction we felt was starting to cause balance problems, and Balance’s Moonkin Form was among these. Originally we converted the physical damage reduction to spell damage reduction at a time when the spec needed a PvP buff, but we felt like the fact that Balance required less healing in PvE was causing raids to favor them over other casters.

Most of the changes to Druid talents were because of the situation where certain specs leaned heavily on certain talents in a row and tended to ignore the others—Dream of Cenarius, Force of Nature, Nature’s Vigil, and Soul of the Forest fall into this category. We changed Nature’s Swiftness to be a core Restoration ability because we felt the healers were dependent upon it. We replaced it with a new passive talent, Ysera’s Gift.

Hunter (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
We had three main issues we wanted to resolve for Hunters this patch: Silencing Shot, Readiness, and Stampede.

The problem with Silencing Shot is it’s just too powerful as a talent. No self-respecting Hunter is going to choose any talent but Silencing Shot, especially in PvP, but in PvE as well. At the same time, we think Hunters, especially Beast Mastery, have proven really powerful in PvP this expansion—and frankly the game has too many blanket Silence already, so we didn’t want to just give Silencing Shot to all Hunters. Our decision was to give Silencing Shot to Marksman, who needed a PvP buff anyway. We did give all Hunters a base interrupt with the new Counter Shot, which can interrupt a spell being cast, but can’t pre-Silence a caster.

Readiness has been another problematic ability for us to solve. It started as a talent, but was too good compared to the other choices. We ended up giving Readiness to all Hunters, but we were never happy with this implementation. For PvP, it made Hunters really difficult to balance with the ability to reset so many offensive and defensive abilities. For PvE, we felt like Readiness wasn’t doing anything interesting besides making the opening attack sequence twice as complicated as it needed to be. If Readiness was an ability that a clever Hunter would bust out at a clutch moment, then you could argue it would be an interesting ability, but of course it was never actually used that way. Given that Hunters already have a lot of cooldowns, situational abilities, and just buttons in general, we didn’t think Readiness was worth saving. We did make small buffs to Deterrence and Disengage and we will make sure DPS is where it needs to be (which, if I had to guess, will be relatively higher than it was in Patch 5.3).

We felt like Stampede had been nerfed too much in PvE for PvP reasons. It’s the intent that Stampede is a potent cooldown for Hunters, so we increased its damage back to an exciting level and just had it do less damage in PvP. Finally, we made a change that some (though to be fair not all) Survival Hunters had asked for a long time, to remove Explosive Trap from Lock and Load (and therefore from the shared cooldown with Black Arrow) so that they could use Explosive Trap (typically with the knockback glyph) without interfering with Black Arrow/Lock and Load.

Hunter talents were in a pretty good spot overall after a bit of iteration throughout MoP. We did nerf Aspect of the Iron Hawk, because as with Shadow Priests and Balance Druids, we felt like the damage reduction was just too potent. We changed Narrow Escape to be dispellable as a PvP nerf. We buffed Spirit Bond, which has felt particularly weak, and we buffed A Murder of Crows.

Mage (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
We didn’t think Mages needed many changes overall. One goal of ours was to fix Frost Mastery, which we felt was increasingly making them difficult to tune in PvP. When you take a spec with high burst and good control and then give them Mastery that links the two together, you’re bound to have trouble. The new Mastery, called Icicles, spreads the burst out over a few seconds but in a novel way that doesn’t feel too similar to, say, Ignite. As a consequence, we removed the mechanic where Frostbolt buffs other spells and just let those spells do higher damage to begin with. As of this writing, we haven’t made any mechanical changes to Fire, though if you saw any earlier patch notes, we experimented with a few. Long term, we still have concerns about the interplay between Alter Time and Combustion, and we still have concerns about Fire scaling with Critical Strike, but we’re not convinced either of these problems is so egregious that it needs to be fixed in Patch 5.4.

In terms of talents, we increased the damage of the bomb tier, and buffed Ice Flows and Temporal Shield, which were underutilized. Long term, we still think the level-90 tier needs some work, but we were concerned that attempting to replace two or three of these talents for Patch 5.4 would lead to a lot more iteration before they felt good again. But we did ease the restrictions on Rune of Power. Since it didn’t feel like a crisis, we think more dramatic change is better saved for an expansion, when we have more time to consider new visuals, test, and get feedback.

Monk (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Earlier in the PTR cycle, we attempted to solve Mistweaver mana problems, by which I mean Mistweavers didn’t have to stack Spirit to the extent other healers did. We became concerned that it would take quite a number of changes to solve this problem, resulting in a lot of relearning for players, so we agreed to accept the current status quo and balance Mistweavers around the fact that they have less Spirit (and therefore more of other secondary stats) compared to other healers. For Windwalkers, we redesigned their Mastery (yet again) and buffed the Storm, Earth, and Fire ability so that the Cleave aspect of the cooldown would feel really potent.

Brewmasters were in pretty good shape, but we did feel like Keg Smash made their damage too high compared to other tanks.

Several Monk talents were underpowered or difficult to use. We buffed Chi Brew, Zen Sphere, Power Strikes, and Healing Elixirs. We made Xuen easier to control by providing him with a true pet bar. We changed Chi Burst to require no target. Ring of Peace has a better visual that’s more representative of the affected area, and we tweaked its numbers. We didn’t think we could solve Rushing Jade Wind’s problems, namely that it was too similar to Chi Burst, so we redesigned it as a replacement for Spinning Crane Kick.

Paladin (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Most of our core changes were to Holy Paladins. Specifically, we felt like the healing style of blanketing a group with Eternal Flame to proc absorbs from Illuminate Healing had become too widespread, and didn’t fit the healing style we wanted for Paladins. When some Paladins choose to use a heal-over-time spell, that’s the kind of diversity we want the talent tree to deliver. However, when every Paladin uses heal over time spells, then it’s just the way Paladins work.

In this case, we didn’t want to make Eternal Flame a core ability. Unlike Restoration Druids, Mistweaver Monks, and to a lesser extent Holy Priests, we don’t think every Paladin should be extensively using heal-over-time spells. The only change we made was to have Eternal Flame’s periodic heal not proc the Illuminated Healing absorb. It can still be used the way any HoT is used, to provide a buffer that can be layered with other heals, but it will no longer be an efficient way to blanket many targets with long-lasting absorbs. We made significant changes to Sacred Shield and Selfless Healer as well to help offset this nerf, which I’ll discuss below.

We also felt like Seal of Insight had a design problem. When Holy Paladins could melee targets, they had no mana problems at all, but when they had to heal at range (which we wanted to at least be an option, if not the default healing style), they suffered for mana. We thought it best to unshackle Holy Paladins from the pressure of having to stand in melee, so we removed the mana return from Seal of Insight and buffed Divine Plea. We had to provide more mana to Protection Paladins as well, since they typically tank using Seal of Insight. We also buffed Guardian of Ancient Kings for Holy, because we felt like it was too focused on single-target healing at a time when most healers are required to do a lot of area healing. Finally, we allowed the Sanctity of Battle passive to also affect Holy Shock, with the intent of making Haste slightly better for Holy.

Aside from the mana buff mentioned above, we changed Crusader Strike to also provide Weakened Blows as a quality of life improvement. We also changed Grand Crusader to proc from avoidance instead of attacks. We aren’t trying to make Dodge or Parry a Paladin’s best tanking stats, but those stats are going to appear on tanking gear, so we want to make sure they can tie into active mitigation. We’re happy with how active mitigation is working out overall and we want to put even more emphasis on it, for all tanks, in the future.

Retribution didn’t need much attention overall in our minds, but we did make Inquisition require less maintenance overall, and we reduced the cooldown and strength of Guardian of Ancient Kings, so that Retribution could use the cooldown more frequently. Retribution players had concerns that their damage was too tied to long cooldowns.

For Paladin talents, we tried to improve Selfless Healer for Holy by allowing Judgment to provide Holy Power, and we tried to improve Sacred Shield by removing the target cap and having a cooldown and charges instead. We’ve come to the conclusion that the same talent choices for healers and other specs just won’t always work, which is why you increasingly see talents work slightly different for healers in the case of Paladins, Priests, and Druids in particular. We replaced Burden of Guilt as a talent (and made it a slightly weaker glyph) with the ability to use Turn Evil on players. We hope that this will open up some PvP comp choices for Paladins, since Fear are not always easy to get. We buffed Hand of Purity so that it will still have some benefit on boss abilities that can’t be prevented from immunities. We buffed Sanctified Wrath for Holy and Protection. We also simplified Unbreakable Spirit by just having it apply the cooldown all the time rather than having to be “driven down.”

Priest (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
We made a few changes to each Priest specialization. For Discipline, while we don’t think the shields, Atonement, or potent cooldowns are overpowered individually, we felt that having all three in one spec gave them too much Versatility compared to the other healers. We know Atonement is fun, and while it’s useful, it doesn’t truly compete with a dedicated healer or DPS, so we think it’s in a good spot. We like Discipline to have a strong shield kit, and we’re happy to see more Power Word: Shield use in 5.2 than in 5.0. That left the cooldowns as targets, and we felt like Spirit Shell was the right one to nerf. We also felt like Rapture scaling so well with Spirit turned what was originally supposed to be a mechanic offering a discount on Power Word: Shield to reward smart use had instead become a bona fide mana regeneration mechanic. For Holy, we buffed Sanctuary and Serendipity to help keep Holy in mana a little longer. We also finally gave in and reversed Lightwell and Lightspring, so that the more passive (and popular) totem-like use of the spell became the default. We reduced the damage reduction of Shadowform as we did for Hunters and Balance Druids, because we felt like it offered too much of a passive benefit. We also completely rebuilt Shadowy Apparitions so that it keeps the kit of a delayed source of damage, but won’t get stuck on terrain or objects or struggle with bosses that move or fly.

For Priest talents, we are trying one more time to make Angelic Feather compete with the other movement talents, and let Mindbender and From Darkness, Comes Light compete better with Solace and Insanity. We also buffed Divine Insight for Discipline and Twist of Fate for all three specs.

Rogue (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
We buffed Evasion for Rogues outright to increase their survivability against melee. We also buffed Recuperate because we agree that it went from being a potent heal in Cataclysm to a more middling one in MoP. The other core changes were really focused on Combat. We increased the cost and damage of Sinister Strike in order to help address Rogues having too much energy with high Haste values, which led to a spammy, RSI-inducing style. (It’s fine for Combat to feel fast-paced, but it had gotten out of control.) To offset the loss of combo points from less frequent Sinister Strike, we added (or returned, depending on your point of view) the Ruthlessness passive. The other Combat change was to redesign the targeting system of Killing Spree. Killing Spree now hits a single target if used without Blade Flurry. During Blade Flurry, it continues to work as it does on live.

For talents, we were worried in previous patches that we had overbuffed Burst of Speed, but clearly that is not yet the case, so we lowered its cost. We buffed the numbers on Cheat Death, Cloak and Dagger, Night Stalker, Paralytic Poison, and Shadowstep, since they were seeing less use than other talents.

Shaman (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
We’re happy with Enhancement and Elemental performance overall, but we are keeping an eye on their burst in PvP. We did feel that Restoration wasn’t really delivering on healing when grouped and stationary, which should be a Shaman’s strength. To remedy that, we changed Chain Heal to no longer decrease effectiveness per jump and buffed Healing Rain’s radius and healing. We also gave Healing Tide Totem to all Shaman, because we felt like Restoration was never going to choose another talent so long as they had the option to choose a group healing cooldown.

With Shaman talents, we still had the problem that some talents were only attractive to some specializations. We buffed Astral Shift, Stone Bulwark Totem, and Unleashed Fury for this reason. We had to replace Healing Tide Totem, so we introduced Rushing Streams, which allows Healing Stream Totem to heal two targets at once. We redesigned Conductivity to make it more useful for all Shaman by having it increase the duration of Healing Rain, saving GCDs (global cooldowns). We were convinced that Totemic Restoration was just a problematic talent. It saw little use in PvE, but was really annoying to deal with in PvP, since a Shaman could just drop totems for a split second and benefit from their effects. The replacement talent, Totemic Persistence, allows Shaman to summon a second Water, Earth, or Air totem without destroying the first one. (Including Fire Totems would have been a non-trivial DPS increase, making this the only talent attractive to Elemental or Enhancement.)

Warlock (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Because Warlocks had so many changes coming into Mists of Pandaria, we had to iterate on a lot of these new mechanics throughout the expansion and tried to not change things too much for Patch 5.4. We did nerf Fel Armor for the same reasons we lowered the passive damage reduction of Balance Druids, Shadow Priests, and Hunters. We increased Fel Flame’s damage but removed its DoT extension, which had become a liability for Fel Flame in PvE rather than letting it provide damage on the move as it was intended. For Affliction, we shifted more damage to DoTs and away from Malefic Grasp. Malefic Grasp is a cool spell, and we like channeling it to increase DoT damage, but we felt like too much damage had been shifted away from DoTs, which hurt Affliction in PvP and made all Affliction locks have difficulty moving. We also simplified the Soul Swap mechanic slightly by removing the glyph and the initial damage component. For Destruction, we changed Rain of Fire to not be so essential to the single-target rotation by reducing its Ember generation. We made Howl of Terror baseline for all Warlocks because we thought they had lost too much of their Fear-based control package.

Our biggest challenge with Warlock talents was the level-90 tier, where most Warlocks chose Kil’jaeden’s Cunning (often to the frustration of raid leaders forced to deal with Slow-moving Warlocks). We removed the snare from KJC but reduced the number of spells it affected. The talent should help with movement but not guarantee characters never need to stop moving. We buffed Mannoroth’s Fury by allowing it to increase the damage as well as radius of area-effect spells, but on a cooldown so the Warlock has more control over the effect and so it’ll feel more potent when active. We decided we could not safely balance Archimonde’s Vengeance in its “damage reflection” kit, so we redesigned and renamed the talent to emphasize the Dark Soul cooldowns (with the intent that one talent needed to be attractive in fights with no movement or area damage).

In addition to these substantial changes to the level-90 row, we wanted to buff several unattractive talents. Harvest Life never had a strong niche, so we made it improve Drain Life rather than act as an area-effect Drain Life. We replaced Howl of Terror (now baseline) with a talent inspired by the Cataclysm version of Shadowflame that many players asked for. Demonic Breath is a cone-based snare. Soul Link was also returned to an older design which is easier to use and more powerful.

Warrior (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Most of our Warrior changes were to increase Protection Warrior damage, try to improve the area-effect and Cleave damage of Arms, or to address PvP quality-of-life issues. Buffing Blood and Thunder helped both Arms and Protection. Changing Enrage and Ultimatum for Protection Warriors provided both more damage and active mitigation by making Critical Strike a more valuable stat. We don’t expect Prot to heavily stack crit, but they’re going to have some anyway just from core stats and group buffs, and it does open up the possibility of using crit gear. We also gave Protection the same Riposte ability we gave to Death Knights, to make sure the avoidance stats that do show up on tank gear provide some active mitigation.

For Arms, we reduced the cost of Thunder Clap, buffed Sweeping Strikes, and gave Slam a Cleave ability. We didn’t think Fury needed much attention overall, though we did change the animation system to allow them to dual-wield polearms. For the PvP changes, we reduced the cost of Shattering Throw, gave the Safeguard root break to Intervene baseline, took Hamstring off the global cooldown, and reduced the cooldown of swapping stances. We also made a change to allow Shield Wall and Spell Reflect to not require a shield to be equipped, but to still provide the visual cue that a Warrior was using these abilities by having a shield visually appear even if one was not technically equipped.

For Warrior talent changes, we buffed Bladestorm, Enraged Regeneration, Impending Victory, Storm Bolt, Vigilance, and Warbringer in addition to the Safeguard change mentioned above to open some more choices for Warriors, especially in PvP. We understand that Shockwave is hard to live without in PvP, but we didn’t think that was easily fixable without nerfing Shockwave—and probably speaks more for to the relative strength of stuns compared to other forms of crowd control, which is something we’d like to address long term. (Perhaps stuns need to be shorter, dispellable, or break on damage so they aren’t quite so game-changing.)

Final Thoughts
So there you have it. Hopefully you now have a little more insight into why we’re making the changes we’re making. I know it can feel like the developers are out to punish players sometimes, but really our primary goal is to keep everyone having fun. That includes redesigning awkward mechanics and buffing weak spells, but it also means nerfing overpowered mechanics so that other classes or specs don’t feel as if they can’t compete. We made a lot of talent and glyph changes because we want to deliver on the promise that players have a lot of choices in both of those systems. I won’t pretend that we’ll get everything perfect this time around either, but we should be closer. Please keep providing us with specific, constructive feedback. We still have time to respond to feedback, even after the patch launches.

As far as coffee with the devs go, I will personally try to get back to releasing them more frequently than I have over the past few months. No promises, but the one I am thinking of now is my own personal preemptive post-mortem of Mists of Pandaria. We’re very proud of the expansion overall, but we’re also our own harshest critics.

Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is one of the lead designers on World of Warcraft. He has been bitten by, but not limited to, the following animals: Atlantic brief squid, Roseate spoonbill, Texas ribbon snake, coatimundi. Follow him on Twitter at @Ghostcrawler.

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