The week was filled with very important announcements and I had to skip a couple of blue posts and other news to keep the discussion focused on the super-important stuff, it doesn't mean that nothing interesting happened and it's time for a recap!
World First Glory of the Cataclysm Raider by Immersion
Wait ... what? World first? Yeah. Blizzard had a point when they said that a lot of players aren't finished with the content yet, Immersion (EU - Auchindoun) was the first guild in the world to complete Glory of the Cataclysm Raider! Congratulations to them, they also released a video of their strategy for Keeping it in the Family in Blackwing Descent.
Patch 4.1 Features
The point isn't really that we're delaying Firelands so we can release ZA/ZG instead, or because we don't think players are ready for a new raid. Our messaging on the subject directly implies this, and that's our fault.
What we're really saying is that we want more frequent, slightly smaller updates to the game so that content keeps coming. Since Firelands isn't quite ready yet, we've made the decision not to hold back the other 4.1 patch content for it. Instead, we're going to release patch 4.1 with the content that's ready to go so the majority of players have more things to do, while also putting some finishing touches on Firelands so we can ship it out in 4.2 shortly thereafter. We're not arbitrarily holding back Firelands. On the contrary, we don't want to hold back other content updates for Firelands.
The main content features currently planned for 4.1 are:
- Zul'Gurub revamp
- Zul'Aman revamp
- New level-85 Stranglethorn quest line (phased) leading players into the troll dungeons
- New tier of Heroic dungeon gear (epic item level 353) to give players a slightly bigger boost going into raids for the first time
- New & updated flavor items, vanity pets, and mounts
- Guild Challenges (new guild quests)
All of this is in addition to a number of UI improvements, class balance changes, and more. We'll have more information on the patch 4.1 features coming soon.
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Conversion from Valor to Justice Points + Arena Season - Patch 4.2
The conversion from Valor to Justice Points, as well as the release of the next Arena season, won't happen until the release of 4.2. (Source)
Why are Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman heroic instances?
We thought about different ways to fit in a normal tier of these dungeons, but in the end it just didn't feel right. We wouldn't want to make normal versions of these dungeons award current Heroic level loot, but there aren't really any good places in between to stick a normal dungeon tier.
We feel the best solution for patch 4.1 progression is: level-85 normal dungeons, Heroic dungeons, ZA/ZG Heroics, raids.
ZA and ZG will drop gear for just about every slot as well, but we're really trying to focus on dropping items for slots that have been hard to fill in the current Heroics. (Source)
Archaeology and Edge of Madness in Patch 4.1
I don't have any specifics to share at the moment, save for one I think is cool. Those with the appropriate Archaeology skill will be able to unlock one of four additional bosses (chosen randomly) for their group in Zul'Gurub. These bosses were previously known as part of the Edge of Madness. The four bosses will share some loot, but also have some loot unique to each of them. (Source)
"Missing" pre-raid items in ZA/ZG
I believe that (ranged slot for DPS warriors) was specifically brought up in a meeting I had last week. We want to get some items out there that are currently missing, even if it's because they're only useful to a small number of classes/specs. (Source)
Guild Challenges (new guild quests)
We're preparing all of the information on this new feature for you. (Source)
Daily quest hub in Mount Hyjal
There are plans for a new daily quest hub in Mount Hyjal to be released in conjunction with the Firelands raid. We're planning to make it phase and unlock more content as players progress, very similar to Isle of Quel'Danas. One downside of the phasing and unlocking of new buildings/quests there though, was that you had to be participating during the world event to actually see the change take place. We'd like to make the Mount Hyjal hub phase per player so that your personal progress unlocks new content for you, rather than for your whole realm.
We'll have more details about that a little later though. (Source)
Graveyard camping in Warsong Gulch fixed in Patch 4.1
The days of graveyard camping in Warsong Gulch may be coming to an end soon, thanks to some new plans we have in store for the battleground in patch 4.1:
We are moving the graveyards to their own terrain level, preventing camping by members of the opposing team.
However, this will also serve another purpose; players will no longer be able to respawn and run straight back into their flag room. They will either have to drop down then run up the tunnel, or go around the top of the base. This adds around 20 seconds to the journey from the graveyard to the flag room. (Source)
Tol Barad quests balance
The rewards and benefits for doing Tol Barad quests are quite nice. Players jumping straight into the zone when hitting 85 (either in quest greens or some dungeon blues) will certainly notice it's substantially more challenging than Twilight Highlands.
The balance of the zone partially relates to its sustainability as repeatable content for players at all levels of the end game. When I first started questing there I was in all questing gear and definitely noticed the challenge, but I liked it. As I started gearing up I saw how much better I was faring while taking high damage, managing unpredictable spawns, etc.
The basic point is that, because there are some great rewards there a lot of players are working toward, the questing needs to be more difficult than a place like Twilight Highlands so it doesn't feel incredibly trivial by the time you have a 329 average item level. (Source)
Instant respawns in Tol Barad
It is sort of a catch 22 and a side effect of dynamic spawning. When there are a finite number of spawn points for certain creature types, and the rate of spawning is determined by the number of players in the area, this can lead to instant respawns at specific locations. We still feel that's preferable to set spawn times regardless of player population in the area.
I know I'd rather have a few creatures spawn on top of me and have to prepare for that potential outcome, than camp out and really fight with nearby players to get my quests done. (Source)
Is Tol Barad too small?
We didn't decide on the size of the two zones because it would have been more difficult to make the areas larger.
I totally get players' points about the area feeling cramped. I can understand how many players would feel that way, particularly on PvP realms. At the same time though, I think if we spaced everything out according to what players are asking for in this thread, we'd see at least an equivalent number of complaints about how the distance between all questing points of interest is too far -- that traveling around the zones to quest just takes forever on land mounts.
We tried to find a happy medium so that everything doesn't feel insanely far away, but doesn't feel insanely cramped either. As it stands, it doesn't take long to get around, but the size allows for a little interesting chaos. We're not trying to make things overly difficult or elitist, but we don't want everyone to be on full auto-pilot while doing dailies. (Source)
Death Knight (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Are you content with the power contained by DS? Right now, that ability accounts for our block and a portion of our armor. Is the design goal of blood to use DS over anything else?
Death Strike is a centerpiece of the Blood Deathknight arsenal. It’s your core strike, and we expect that’s where most of your runes go. Still, it's easy to over-simplify the mitigation picture. Mitigation is always important for a tank, but its value also varies according to the scenario you're facing. If you’re tanking a hard-hitting boss, or a pack of heavy-hitting lieutenant elites in a dungeon, then survival and minimizing damage are definitely top concerns, and Death Strike is crucial there. But there are plenty of tanking situations where you're not in any danger of suddenly dropping dead from a huge damage spike. You might be rounding up loose mobs, for example, or trying to get very solid aggro on something that needs to be DPS’ed hard. In those cases, using other abilities might help you meet the objective more efficiently, and doing so involves making effective choices as the situation demands. ([url=http://blue.mmo-champion.com/topic/161682/blood-what-is-the-developers-design-goal]Source[/u
Are you content with the timing constraints on a DK? Premature DS can mean a significant block loss, does the fact that DKs are using a mod to try to guess their shields match your goals? Do you feel that Blood has to pay an overly large amount of attention to their resources to maintain their mitigation?
We changed Blood Shield to stack cumulatively in 4.0.6 to help ease these constraints. (Source)
Death Knight "punishing" rotations
Are you content with the punishment for errors in the DK rotation? DKs that mis-spend a F/U rune are out a descent amount of mitigation. Do you envision mistakes costing DKs that much?
We’re okay with the way this works out. The deathknight class isn't innately easy to play. We start them at high level and require players to have some familiarity with World of Warcraft (in the form of a higher level character) before they can make one. It's not intended as a class for beginners. That said, while the best DK tank in the world can do some impressive things, we don't expect every player to perform at that level to be a good tank. While it might be challenging to execute perfectly, the rotation is also reasonably forgiving, especially for heroic dungeons and normal raids. (Source)
Death Strike / Diseases
Applying diseases presents a clear danger when you do it by taking runes away from Death Strike, are you content with DKs actively striving not to put up diseases or striving to time them when there is a 0 second grace period?
Outbreak helps with this, and having diseases up helps with threat in general. On the other hand, if you’re specifically in a situation where you've got solid aggro on a mob and you only care about your survival, then it's probably a good idea to prioritize Death Strike over disease reapplication. If you need to handle more than one creature, Pestilence can help by letting you use Blood runes to spread diseases. (Source)
Are you satisfied with the signature strike (Heart Strike) being on such a low use priority?
Heart Strike a good use of Blood Runes in some situations, so it looks okay for now. (Source)
Are you content that DKs are willing to dump 5 talent points for lichborne? Are you content knowing that there is very little to do with the remaining 10 talent points after a DK finishes their talent tree?
There are plenty of utility choices available to DKs in all three trees. If DKs want to invest the talent points in Lichborne to help improve their survivability a bit, then that’s fine. (Source)
We anticipated players sitting on some runes in order to make it more likely that runes they want get refreshed by Runic Empowerment. We don’t mind this behavior as a more advanced strategy. (Source)
Above all, are you content with the current DK QoL? DKs have been moaning and groaning about a number of things. Many are trivial. Many just want to be heard. Many don't understand what they should be doing. Does the DK tank class feel polished and smooth to you?
We’re pretty happy with Blood tanking overall. Many of the recent changes in 4.0.6 were really just quality of life issues, not overhauls to the core design. The core of Cataclysm Blood design was to take more damage but offset that with more self-healing. That’s not an easy thing to balance, but we think the results have been good overall. We're pleased to see Blood DKs out there successfully tanking all the content. (Source)
100% Shield uptime
If people are trying for 100% shield uptime, youll always feel like you're lacking. In the end, healers are expected to heal something. If they think you need to be at 100% all the time, then they force you into overhealing. If a healer lets you dip down 25%, they would see you're doing a good deal of healing yourself.
That’s a good point. I think what we were really hoping to address is the perception that a death knight tank must use every single Unholy and Frost rune on Death Strike, and game Runic Empowerment procs to generate even more Death Strikes. If you had to do all that to be successful at all, then that would be a problem. The spec isn't designed with that necessity in mind, though. Blood is expected to use (as an estimate, and assuming effective usage) around 6-7 Death Strikes a minute; any additional Death Strikes are helpful of course, but they shouldn't be mandatory. Blood is balanced against the other tanking specs with this assumption in mind. To be fair, one of the drawbacks of the active mitigation that Blood has, contrasted with the passive mitigation of other specs, is that it does require more work - but the trade-off is that death knights have an enviable array of tools to manage incoming damage and promote survivability. That's not to say that those tools must be used flawlessly - the spec is designed around using those tools at an adequate level. We don't generally balance specs around a theoretical maximum; in many cases, those levels aren't achievable by most human players in an actual encounter and only show up in simulations. Instead, we design around what players can reasonably accomplish.
We also recognize that some of you have concerns about Death Strike overhealing, and that it represents a wasted mastery. We didn't go the route of Death Strike over heals creating a 'bubble', because it seemed that it would create even more pressure to use Death Strike at every conceivable opportunity. Nonetheless, it's not off the table completely, and it's something we might consider for the future.
On that note, Death Runes are tied to Death Strike to promote flexibility. It’s too easy to allow the discussion to center around a hypothetical Patchwerk style fight without external support debuffs, where threat doesn’t matter, and the only relevant issue is absorbing every single point of damage possible. Tanking is dynamic though, most fights are more complex than that and the situation can change suddenly and require immediate reaction. Adds run in, things get loose, you may need to move out of fire and then silence a ranged caster that didn’t move with you, and so forth. Death Strike is a core ability, as noted, but keeping the runes it generates as Death Runes helps make it more likely that when a complication arises that the tank has the right runes for the job. (Source)
Threat vs Survivability
We're not being forced to choose between threat and survivability. I really don't know of many DK's having threat problems right now (Rune Strike is kinda insane...). What we're being forced to do is choose between surviving the next blow and reducing the bosses damage output for the next x seconds.
When I mentioned diseases earlier, I was addressing the question of trading threat for mitigation. We understand that you need to keep your diseases up for the debuffs they provide. Outbreak does help, but there will also be situations where you might end up skipping a Death Strike to keep diseases up too. In a multi-mob scenario, you can use Blood Runes and accomplish that with Pestilence. In a large raid setting, it if's an issue, then it's pretty likely that the debuffs provided by diseases might be available from other sources, such a Warlock's Curse of Weakness, other DKs, Demoralizing Shout and Thunder Clap, hunter pets, etc. Still, we understand your concerns and that you want to be self sufficient when it comes to applying the debuffs that you need to apply to do the tanking job well, and we'll keep that in mind as we continue to refine the Blood tree. (Source)
Death Knight Tanks concerns
That’s absolutely correct. We are sensitive to your concerns and we're certainly open to improving quality of life for death knight tanks. We recognize and appreciate that you aren’t asking just asking for buffs, but rather playstyle changes. Conversely, some of the feedback being offered (e.g. Blood Runes as Death Runes) would just push DKs towards a state where they spam Death Strike and absolutely nothing else, which we don’t see as an improvement.
We also recognize that some players are trying to make DK tanking more approachable for new players, which is a noble goal and much appreciated, but we also think that it’s okay for the class to be slightly more complex and challenging to play perfectly given its high-level nature and requirements. Fortunately, you don’t need to play perfectly to be effective. Like I mentioned in the previous set of posts, we see DKs tanking everything from 5-player dungeons to heroic raid content without needing to do so.
Talent design has been an issue that we've seen expressed as well. Admittedly, Blood-Caked Blade is not a shining exemplar of talent design. Tank trees are quite challenging to design, and all the trees have similar design issues. Talents directly related to survival are mandatory. Talents related to damage output are either mandatory if threat matters, or worthless if it doesn't. Utility talents are either mandatory if they help with control or survivability, unless a bosses are immune to the effect, then they become useless. It's too easy to get a point where when the survivability talents run out and frustration results. We want there to be compelling decisions between talents, but finding that balance is exceptionally difficult, perhaps more-so than for any other role. (Source)
Warlock (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Soulstones to become battle rez
Our plan is still to let Soulstones be used on dead targets, effectively giving warlocks a combat resurrection as well. Unlike the death knight one, which was a relatively straight forward change, the warlock one requires new code. We still plan on making this change for 4.1, but we will keep you updated.
Having lots of unique and powerful abilities is not always compatible with having 10-player raids. We don’t think the smaller raid needs every possible buff or defensive ability to be successful, but we were convinced that the combat rez made groups without a druid at a significant disadvantage. It’s often subjective as to what constitutes mandatory raid tools. In our minds, combat rez has become one. (Source)