So 6.2 just hit the PTR this week, and with it comes a slew of new info of what to expect from the future. The patch notes detail things that were pretty obvious would be in this patch (Tanaan opening, a Hellfire Citadel raid), things that weren’t entirely unexpected (the end of the legendary ring questline), and things that seem totally out of left field (Grommash isn’t a boss? shipyards? mythic dungeons?). In addition to what’s there, we also have some noteworthy things that aren’t, like the existence of Farahlon and the continued lack of flight. I haven’t downloaded the PTR to mess around with the new content yet, but at the very least we can take a look at the notes and get an idea of where we’re headed next.
I’ll admit, I honestly don’t know my overall feelings about this patch. There are some things that look really cool, and some that are leaving me scratching my head.
Garrisons 2: Garrisons at Sea
Obviously, the biggest new chunk of content in the patch is Tanaan, but we can’t talk about that without first mentioning shipyards, since opening your shipyard is a prerequisite to entering the zone.
While most of the feature is still in development, the patch notes mention that you can build a shipyard once you obtain a level 3 garrison; some have previewed it on the PTR and offered up a description of the early steps. The questline takes you to the Iron Docks (remember the delayed 6.1 questline?), where you retrieve schematics and (I believe) an Iron Horde defector. You then travel back to where you crashed into Frostfire or Shadowmoon, where he’ll set up your shipyard for a sum of garrison resources (currently, it costs 5000, but devs have already gone on record as saying that the numbers are only placeholders). After it’s done, he then asks for more resources to build your first ship (currently 1000, but again, placeholder).
From there, you can build more ships and send them on naval missions. The shipyard appears to have its own resource; judging from notes about oil and an icon for an oil drop, it seems likely that oil will be used for all your shipyard needs. Presumably, this is to prevent players with a huge stockpile of garrison resources from gaining an advantage at the start of 6.2, but I dunno. Quest text currently instructs you to build a level 1 shipyard, implying that it too will have multiple levels of upgrades; I’m guessing that upgrading your shipyard will let you build more ships and send more out on missions.
Various datamined items hint at the ability to construct destroyers, transports, submarines, carriers, and dreadnaughts; these ships have abilities and traits, just like your garrison followers. Also just like followers and special training books, ships seem to be customizable with different equipment to counter different threats (stabilizer fins make missions go faster, a shark tank counters mines, and navigational charts do…something that’s not clear).
Some text strings also hint that failure could mean the destruction of your ships, which makes sense; they aren’t people or anything. Presumably, just like garrison missions, you’ll construct a fleet that counters a particular threat and get rewards; what rewards remain to be seen.
I find this an interesting development, especially considering the talk earlier about the ability to gain a level 4 garrison, presumably in this patch. Did the shipyard replace this, is it being developed in addition to this, or is the level 4 garrison coming later (and how much later? is 6.2 the last patch of the expansion?). I’m also curious about the design of the shipyard. Do you have additional buildings there, or is it just a static area of docks to launch missions from? Do you have to travel there to take care of naval missions, or can you take care of it in your garrison? It’s not too far away to trek down there, but it might get annoying over time.
I guess we’ll find out as PTR testing kicks off.
Opening the bigass doors to Tanaan
At long last, Tanaan Jungle will finally open up for players to explore; no more invisible walls keeping us out! As I mentioned earlier, Tanaan will require you to build a shipyard before you can enter. I think this is reasonable, personally; it encourages you to do the earlier content, but only to a small extent.
I’ve heard complaints from people throwing the whole “garrisons are supposed to be optional” vitriol, but let’s get real here for a second. If you’re level 100 and you STILL don’t have a level 3 garrison at this point, what the hell are you waiting for? 2000 resources isn’t that hard to obtain, even if you don’t have a trading post or lumber mill set up; look up treasure maps and run around finding them and killing rares, and you’ll have it done in a day. Or if you don’t want to put forth that much effort, just let your cache grind up more resources and check on it every couple days for a couple weeks. After that, you never have to touch your garrison again if you don’t want to; having a level 3 garrison might not be optional, but using all its systems is (though why would you want to, you can get so much gold from your garrison). 6.2 is a long ways off, I’m sure you’ll have time.
Anyway, the patch notes obviously mention that you can mess around in Tanaan once it’s unlocked. My impressions are that it’s structured something like a 5.1/5.4 hybrid, with dailies you can undertake for resources, an ongoing storyline (continuing the garrison campaign), and rares and treasures to kill and collect. Again, we’ll see as testing continues! My hope is that we’ll get to see how Gul’dan’s machinations have turned the Iron Horde into a Fel Iron Horde (haha see what I did there), and perhaps find some resistance elements we can aid (the remaining Warsong clan?).
A raid without Grommash
As a boss, anyway.
The sole raid of 6.2 is, naturally, Hellfire Citadel. Originally the seat of power of the Iron Horde, it has been twisted and torn by the demonic corruption that Gul’dan has unleashed. Now, demons roam its hallways, fel corruption has twisted a variety of Draenor’s native species, former bosses have come back for another go at your group, and big bad Archimonde himself has shown up as the final boss.
I could honestly write a whole article on the implications of this and what I want to happen with Grommash (I probably will), but I’ll save that for another time. It seems that we will be rescuing him from his torture at some point, and it’s possible he’ll have a role to play in a bossfight. Or hell, maybe he’ll end up sacrificing himself a la WC3, though damn I hope not. This is all speculation on my part; we’ll only find out later on.
Hellfire Citadel has 13 bosses in total, including Kilrogg Deadeye, Gorefiend (Teron’gor ate a bunch of draenei souls in Auchindoun and now he’s a floating abomination), Socrethar (his soul put into a draenei construct), a reanimated Mannoroth (even skeletal!), and of course Archimonde himself. Normal mode gear is ilvl 695, heroic is 710, and mythic is 725. Of particular interest are special trinkets that drop off of Archimonde himself, one for each class in the game; each trinket has a special effect for each spec of that class. For enhance, the effect (as of this writing) causes Windfury attacks to deal 400% more damage and have a 22% chance to generate a Maelstrom stack. Not bad.
The raid itself looks utterly massive. It looks like it could be one of the largest in the game, and multi-leveled in design. It looks pretty devastated from all the demonic energies tearing through the place, and I’m sure it’ll be neat to explore. No comment on boss fights as nobody’s gotten a chance to see them yet, but there’s definitely quite the impressive rogues’ gallery there! I find it really cool that the first fight involves defending giant cannons from the defending Iron Horde, then using those cannons to shoot a big hole in the front door. Should be fun!
A legendary conclusion
6.2 brings the end of the legendary questline, and we’ll finally be getting our legendary rings! Does this mean that 6.2 will indeed be the end of Warlords? Maybe, but it’s not like legendaries haven’t been outclassed in their own expansion before; even if they are, they’re usually still viable well into the following tier.
Some of the quests have been datamined already. One quest involves venturing into Hellfire Citadel to collect Tomes of Chaos from bosses; 12 in total are needed, so welcome to Titan Runestones 2: Fel Boogaloo. In addition to these, two quests involve using your shipyard to complete special naval missions for unique legendary items; the descriptions of the missions from the quests make it clear that they won’t be a walk in the park. One, Ogres of the Deep, involves sending a submarine to a sunken ogre warship, netting you a Soaked Ogre Decoder, possibly to decrypt the tomes you get from Hellfire (then again, Khadgar seems anxious about you even looking at one, so maybe not).
The other is more interesting. It’s called Finding Farahlon, and it provides a lore explanation for why we haven’t seen Farahlon yet in-game (the real reason is likely time constraints). Khadgar describes Farahlon (or rather, repeats Archmage Vargoth’s description) as “beautiful fields and forests dotted with natural crystalline formations that make it the magical nexus of Draenor.” He also mentions that the reason we haven’t gone there yet is because of all this magic; it creates violent storms in the seas around it, making it almost impossible to reach. And of course, something you need is in that region: the Pearl of Farahlon, a gem of unparalleled power.
The quests end there right now, so it’s unclear what else might need to be accomplished. However, there is a new achievement for this final chapter of the questline, telling you to finish his “final task” after getting through his latest quests. That seems to imply that there will be at least one more thing to do following your collection tasks. Should be exciting!
The rewards are ilvl 730 rings, putting them a few ilvls above mythic HFC gear (but one ilvl below mythic warforged). The initial datamined versions of the rings involved procs that jumped between each player with a ring of that type, giving them a boost of 10% per ring of that type in your group. It would have been pretty powerful, but also really hard to balance around, so I’m not surprised that the design changed.
The current design can be seen below (thanks to MMO-Champion for the screenshots):
In this design, instead of separating the various DPS rings into their own categories, all are grouped together, meaning you shouldn’t feel like you have to bench a player just to get an even larger buff in another category (for example, benching an agi user because you have much more int users and can get a better buff that way). On top of that, the rings no longer have a proc, but instead a shared on-use effect with a 2-minute cooldown. Each ring provides a static 25% boost amongst all wearers of that ring type for 15 seconds (DPS do 25% more damage, healers do 25% more healing and absorbs, and tanks take 25% less damage). With the exception of tanks, each type unleashes a special effect at the end of the effect:
- DPS explode in a blast of light that deals damage to all enemies within 20 yards equivalent to 25% of the damage they dealt during the period (I believe calculated on an individual basis).
- Healers do an explosion of their own, shielding all allies with an absorption equivalent to 25% of all healing done while empowered, split evenly amongst all allies.
- Instead of a burst of something at the end, tanks gain a shared health pool, splitting damage and healing amongst themselves for the duration of the effect.
I think this design works a lot better, mostly due to the fact that there’s a lot more control. Rather than attempt to have a cooldown ready when the proc jumps to you (and if it were random, that might take a lot longer), your entire group gains a shared boost, and it’s frequent enough to where you will probably have a cooldown ready for it every time it recharges. The explosion effect for DPS will make blowing up adds a lot easier, and will probably help raid groups clear trash faster (c’mon, it has a two-minute cooldown, it’s not like you’ll be wasting it). Healers will be able to give everyone a nice absorption shield, which will definitely help survivability on tough spots. And tanks…well, let’s be honest, it’s really hard to design something interesting for tanks. But the damage mitigation and shared health and damage should make it easier to get past the trickier spots in a boss fight. We’ll see if any more changes are planned as the PTR testing continues.
One thing I’m wondering is if the design of the quests is hinting at whether this will truly be the final raid tier. If you’ll recall, in 5.4, Blizzard allowed you to get your legendary day one (assuming you’d completed all your tasks up to that point); all you had to do was collect some Timeless Coins and defeat all four Celestials in combat, and you could go get your shiny orange cloak. Their logic was that, rather than have you work your way through SoO without your cloak, and then get your cloak when much of the content was on farm, they wanted you to be able to use your cloak on progression when you needed the boost the most.
With this questline, it looks like it might not be that simple. Getting the required ships to tackle these missions may take some time gathering resources, and unlike the legendary cloak, the legendary ring will involve delving into Hellfire Citadel to gather boss drops. Even if the stars aligned and you got all 12 in one week (unlikely, as quests that involve smaller numbers of items usually mean that those items will only have a smaller chance to drop), that would still mean you’d completed almost the entire raid, and thus wouldn’t really be progressing anymore. Granted, this is an edge case that is extraordinarily unlikely (unless they actually are 100% drops, but I doubt that). It’s also not like you’d have to be progressing on your usual difficulty; a heroic guild could breeze through on normal just to collect tomes and possible upgrades, then hop back up to heroic for actual progression, for example.
Still, it’s making me wonder if we’re actually going to end at Hellfire Citadel or not. For starters, even assuming the Iron Horde’s final defeat happens in that raid, there’s still plenty of plot threads left unfinished. You’ve got the obvious in areas like Farahlon, but there’s also things like the restoration of Shattrath (I’m sure we all want to mess around under that dome). Those are just two off the top of my head, but a lot of threads were created in this expansion. It just feels like there should be more. Now, it’s possible there could be another Draenor expansion (ogre continent?), but I think a lot of people are more interested in getting back to Azeroth; we still have plot threads from Cata that need resolution (where the fuck is Neptulon?).
Second, it’s been well-established that legendaries aren’t always immune to being outclassed in their own expansion. Look at Val’anyr in Wrath or Dragonwrath in Cata; both of these weapons had better replacements (ilvl-wise) in following tiers. The thing is, usually the legendary proc makes up for the ilvl difference; though Val’anyr needed a buff, it remained competitive through TOC and even ICC, and Dragonwrath was still a popular staff to wield in DS. Thus, if another raid tier were added, the legendary rings would probably not become worthless (hell, they’d still probably be BiS due to those wonderful on-use effects).
It’s too early to say for sure if HFC will be the final raid. My final thought on the matter is that it seems like we would probably know of the next expansion by now, assuming Blizzard wanted to avoid another year+ end-of-expansion drought of content.
Follow my logic. If 6.2 just hit the PTR now, we could probably expect it to hit live servers in a couple months, putting it in the summer. Beta testing requires a LOT more work than that, at least six months’ worth and usually more (from my recollections, Mists beta testing started in February or March of 2012, and the expansion released in late September). Assuming they would want to aim for 9 months’ time for the final tier (long enough to give players time to get everything done, short enough to not feel like it was dragging on forever), and assuming 6.2 is out in June, that would put 7.0 at March of next year, with beta testing NEEDING to start by September at the latest.
Thing is, betas are preceded by expansion announcements (or at the very least, trademark leaks), and those have always been done at Blizzcon. It’s not that Blizzard couldn’t announce their expansion elsewhere first (like Gamescom in August), but that takes a lot of the thunder away from their own personal convention, so I don’t see that happening. Blizzcon isn’t until November, two months after this window. Even assuming beta testing started immediately after Blizzcon ended (unlikely), the earliest the expansion would get out would be around May, giving yet another year-long wait. And as of right now, I don’t see enough content to keep people content (haha) until then. Again, this is just the earliest incarnation of the patch notes, and there’s surely more to come, but for now, I’m holding my breath on this being the end.
I hate having to qualify this with an asterisk, because I do believe we need more dungeons. Unfortunately, 6.2 doesn’t seem to have any of these (yet). Instead, it offers two new ways to tackle dungeons.
First, adding yet another extraneous mode to a PVE activity, mythic dungeons are coming. I think I’m about done with this, to be honest. I mean, fuck, in 6.2 we’ll have four different dungeon difficulties (normal, heroic, challenge, mythic) and four different raid difficulties (LFR, normal, heroic, mythic). When will the madness end?!
But anyway, mythic dungeons look like they’ll be tuned harder than heroic, but without the item scaling/minimum kills/speedrun aspect of challenge modes. As opposed to heroic dungeons’ daily lockouts, mythic dungeons are on weekly lockouts, dropping 680 gear (with a chance for 700s from the final boss); this puts the rewards between BRF normal and heroic gear, with the final boss potentially giving BRF mythic gear. Not bad rewards, and they’ll likely help players out who like dungeons and need the boost. The intent is an alternate progression path, so anyone who’s doing heroic/mythic BRF now will likely skip mythic dungeons entirely. But for everyone else, it could provide a more fun catchup than LFR.
My one hope is that the gear that drops will actually be epic, as opposed to the usual heroic blues. I’d really like to not keep using the Mark of the Shattered Hand on my weapons, but even with gold inflation, it’s hard to justify blowing 6k on two of the better Marks. More epics flowing into the economy means more Temporal Crystals means cheaper Temporal Crystals means cheaper enchants. Everybody wins! Except enchanters but what do they know.
The other new dungeon mode is the long-in-the-works Timewalking feature. This feature was detailed in a recently-posted blog post, outlining its design pretty nicely. I’ll quote it here because it’s a lot easier than explaining it:
In Patch 6.2, we’re introducing seven different weekend events that will run from noon Friday through noon Monday every week. Two of those events will be Timewalking weekends, in which you’ll be able to queue up for a randomly selected old-school dungeon with a new sort of “heroic” difficulty: When you Timewalk these dungeons, you’ll find that your character’s power and gear has been scaled down to a fraction of what they normally are. For the first time in years, some dungeons you outgrew long ago will once more put your skills to the test.
A good challenge deserves a good reward, so to go along with scaling you down, we’re going through most every piece of loot in each Timewalker dungeon and scaling it up. That’s right, when you Timewalk through Utgarde Pinnacle, take down King Ymiron, and loot his Red Sword of Courage, it will scale up to an item level appropriate for use at your level.
So basically, when a Timewalking event is on, you can queue up for an old dungeon (the post seems to indicate the two weekends will be BC- or Wrath-themed), have all your stats scaled down appropriately, and then complete it like normal. The best part is that–no matter your level–the rewards will always scale to match. So long as you outlevel the content, you can hop in a Timewalker dungeon and get item drops that matter to you.
I think this is a good feature, one that helps keep some of the game’s older content relevant outside of the odd achievement/transmog/vanity item. While it seemed that the feature would originally allow higher-level players to scale down and play with their friends, that seems to only be partly true. If both players outlevel the content, they could both queue up for the dungeon and be scaled down appropriately. However, a 100 couldn’t jump into a 68’s regular Utgarde Keep run and help him level up easier. I don’t think that’s too big a loss, but it would be nice if that were worked into the system later. And now we know their solution to making it relevant and rewarding: just scale the loot up to your level! An 81 would get drops suitable for him, as would an 88, a 92, or a 100. To what ilvl the items scale is still unknown, but we’ll find out!
Other notes of interest
The Dungeon Journal is gaining an additional tab in the form of the Adventure Guide. Simply put, it’s a recommendation system that figures out what content you have the right prerequisites for, and points you in that direction. Pretty simple, and useful for new or returning players.
The Darkmoon Faire is getting a few new additions, such as Darkmoon Potions for purchase (not yet datamined), the ability to catch Darkmoon Daggermaw from the waters surrounding the fair and turn them in for prizes, and finally a source for the Hogs pet, which was previously to be awarded for WoW’s tenth anniversary. Instead, a new achievement has been added to get 45 points in one game of Whack-A-Gnoll, which will give you a mini Hogger of your own.
To make it easier to make that first transition into PVP when you’re not quite geared yet (and prevent PVE items from getting too competitive), most gear will now scale to particular thresholds in PVP combat. Regardless of it being PVE or PVP, if it’s between 560 and 690, the gear will scale up to 690. If it’s PVE gear above 715, it will scale down to 715. PVP gear remains unaffected and scales as high as it’s able. This means that players can easily hit a minimum level and not have to worry about getting a PVP set to even be remotely worthwhile (though they’ll still probably want to get some), and that new heroic/mythic gear won’t make PVPers’ lives hell.
The Lightforge heirloom set will finally be completed six and a half years later, with helm, chest, and leg pieces added to heirloom vendors.
A bit of history on this note. Back in Wrath, heirlooms were available from two main sources: PVE (trading Emblems of Heroism and eventually Crusader’s Seals) and PVP (trading honor points). The main difference between them was that the PVP heirlooms had PVP stats on them, specifically resilience. While you could pick up shoulders, chests, weapons, and trinkets for PVE, PVP had to make do without matching chests. Over the years, the gap between the two sets grew; PVP heirlooms got neglected (apart from a single trinket in Mists) while new heirlooms were added on the PVE side every expansion (helms and cloaks in Cata, legs and off-hands in Mists, necks in Warlords).
The Lightforge shoulders were unique in that they were the only int plate heirlooms in the game; unfortunately, because they were PVP heirlooms, they never got the rest of their set. Thus, leveling holy paladins would either have to make do with one of the other intellect heirloom sets (Elements being the closest since they were mail), level without heirlooms, or level with a different spec. With the removal of PVP stats in Warlords, the old PVP heirlooms were given more general stats (crit and/or haste), just with different stat allocations from the existing PVE heirlooms. For example, the “PVE” Mystical Pauldrons of Elements have crit on them, while the “PVP” Aged Pauldrons of The Five Thunders have haste on them, but the two are otherwise identical. It’s possible that Blizzard may finish off these sets as well to let players choose the stats that are ideal for leveling their chosen spec (a fire mage would rather want the Tattered Dreadmist set for crit, while an arcane mage would prefer an Exquisite Sunderseer set for haste). At any rate, the int plate set needed to be finished first, for sure, so holy paladins everywhere can rejoice in getting a full heirloom set of their own.
On top of that, two new heirloom trinkets will be available from the old-school PVP arena events. The Gurubashi Arena will be home to the Defending Champion trinket; this trinket gives stamina and versatility (a stat hard to come by at low levels!), increases max health by 10% for 15 seconds on a 2 minute cooldown, and increases experience from battlegrounds by 15%. The Darkmoon Deathmatch will be the source for the Returning Champion trinket; this trinket is identical to Defending Champion, except it heals you for 10% of your max health on a 2 minute cooldown. Good luck snagging these puppies! On the bright side, the trinkets do seem to scale from 1 to 100 as a default, so you’ll only need to win each arena once.
There are a few additional battle pet features, such as a set of legendary fel pets to fight in Tanaan, which will reward bags of pet charms, training stones, and rare pets. There will also be new traders who will sell various toys and pets for pet charms, with the most expensive costing 500; better start saving up now!
And as a few miscellaneous side notes, you will no longer be able to buy Restored Artifacts with Spirits of Harmony, challenge mode dailies will reward 680 gear, the Argent Warhorse will finally show up in your mount list again, Apexis Crystals no longer have a cap, and the Exploration Mission Master achievement doesn’t require you to complete missions that reward zone treasure maps.
But what about shaman?
I mean, it’s early in the patch notes, to be fair.
Well, there are a couple things. Elemental gets a nerf to Elemental Overload, nerfing its buff to multistrike damage. Resto’s Chain Heals will heal for 25% more; conversely, their Riptides no longer increase the effectiveness of Chain Heal’s primary target by 25%. Presumably, this was done to make it so that a resto shaman didn’t have to check that Riptide was on before slinging their heal.
Enhance has absolutely nothing so far, which is a little aggravating. Again, I know, it’s early in the patch testing. But I’d like to know if they have any ideas on what to do about us. Our single target isn’t on par, our burst is middling, and the only place we shine (AOE) doesn’t have many chances to show that off. I’d like to know that somebody’s looking into it, at least. We’ll see as the patch testing continues.
Ehhhh. It’s still early, and there’s still likely things that have to be included in the patch notes (the Timewalking post mentioned seven weekend events, with Timewalking being two of those). But there’s no indication of things people have been asking about even before the expansion began, like new dungeons or new areas that haven’t been on the map yet (please just let me go to Farahlon already).
While I imagine that Tanaan will provide some things to do for a while (it does look like a pretty big zone), it won’t last forever. Shipyards are pretty much garrison missions with a different coat of paint. Hellfire Citadel looks like it’ll be fun, at least. I’m annoyed at a lack of new dungeons, and am not sure if I’ll even bother with mythic or Timewalker dungeons. Right now, everything’s looking pretty sparse, which is upsetting considering how much I was looking forward to all the content that was initially planned for the expansion. To think that we might never get a chance to go to Farahlon (an area I’ve wanted to see for years), nor see the majesty of a pristine Shattrath, nor get to explore the interior of the Temple of Karabor breaks my heart.
I want to believe, but it’s getting pretty hard.
Miscellaneous announcements time!
First, I’m happy to have helped anyone who looked at my short guide to soloing at 100. Again, I can’t reiterate the importance of any ability you may have that heals you based on damage dealt. It makes you pretty much unstoppable. I’d like to write full guides to previous expansions (I can now easily write full guides for Wrath and Cata), but it may take a bit. I’m currently working on my master’s, and that can eat into my free time pretty quick. Mostly it’s a question of getting motivated; those guides are a lot of work, even if the actual soloing bits just boil down to “go punch the bad guy.” I’ll do my best!
Second, I have another guide in the works on doing Argent Tournament dailies efficiently. At 100, it’s remarkably easy to finish those dailies (and the Trial of the Champion dungeon) in under a half hour, even including travel time; I’ve got various tips on how to get started at the tournament, how to become a crusader, and what to do along the way to save time later. Problem is, I had the entire guide written out a few weeks ago, but when I tried to save the draft, WordPress didn’t have it in their memory, and I lost well over half my writing. I’ll give it another go sometime, and will probably trim it down to a more manageable length.
Third, as of this writing, I have a Blizzcon ticket! Whether this means I’m going is yet to be determined; while I really, really want to, I need to be sure I have the money for it. If I don’t, I’ll sell off my ticket to someone else at-cost; I hate scalpers, and I never want to be one. But for right now, I’m beginning my plans for the con! If all goes well, I might see you there! Probably won’t considering this is a really small blog, but whatever!
Finally, next time, I hope to write up a post about what I hope happens to Grommash, and why I hope Blizzard won’t take one of the numerous easy ways out with his story. In short, I really hope they don’t pull a “it’s like poetry, it rhymes” with his story arc. If you don’t know what that means, look for my next post!
That’s about it for now, so I’ll wrap it up here. See you in Tanaan (and hopefully Blizzcon)!