Pre-Patch 8.0. Class Changes Overview

A thourough research, alt+tab guides, was held yesterday and today. I’ve tried all the classes in the field during Army of the Light emissary quests and assaulted dummies in Pandaria hubs.

Here’s my report.

First of all, healing will not be a thing of this article. The arsenal of healers did not experience too many radical changes, and I’ll be testing its worth in group content like dungeons and raids – during the expansion itself.

While almost all of my healers are gonna be leveling as DPS, there’s one exception: Aurinko the Priest, because I’m not planning to go Shadow while Insanity mechanics exist in game. She tried questing in Holy, and her DPS as such is amazingly great. I’ve swiped out the pack of 5 mobs with ease and surprisingly quickly. Also I was able to pummel an elite mob with no trouble. It’s quite a viable leveling option. I may try Discipline too, but why care switching specs when you’re decent in your played healing one?

The second thing that can be described in few words are tanks. Tanking doesn’t differ from what we had in Legion, so there’s no worries about rotations. Their biggest flaw considering leveling is that tanks are lacking DPS in scales. I’ve engaged an elite Argus mob with my warrior, and while she couldn’t penetrate my defence, picking at her solo was the most boring thing I did during my session. I gave up after taking 20% from the demon which took ages, and then just jumped into my exosuit to burn her down. I even doubt taking my monk as Brewmaster leveling – I felt so much underpowered. In other words, if you opt for an active and quick combat, tanks are not your choice. Yes, they are supposed to aggro dozens at once to speed things up, but that’s not always possible in questing. Verdict: group content.

Now, on to DPS class by class.

CLOTH

Mage

Fire – is pretty much the same. Bombarding a dummy revealed that I have many instant Pyroblast procs, so they are pretty quick and powerful. It’s yet to try some tweaks in AoE gameplay, but overall I’m happy. It’s gonna be my Dark Iron Dwarf spec.

Frost – I’ve summoned a water elemental, and my poor Gnome drowned in its bulk. Dismissed water elemental and chose the talent where I will not summon it. Gameplay is pretty much the same, although I replace a nova instant nuke with a freeze ray. Basic Frostbolt is unexpectedly powerful. Micromantica needs to get used to the new nuke, but her rotation is almost the same. Considering there were not major issues with Frost Mage in Legion, she’s happy.

Arcane – there is much more control over Arcane Missiles, and that surely is a big improvement. If Myde someday will step forward, she’ll feel better than Legion experience. Until expansion lulls, she’s dismissed – the core idea of paying constant attention to mana pool is not my thing.

Priest

Described in healing section. Holy is Aurinko’s current choice for both solo and group content, and I’m not into Shadow.

Warlock

Affliction – Blizzard lost me in Legion when they implemented the need to apply multiple Unstable Afflictions and wasting mana for every spell. None of these issues were addressed in BfA version, so it’s time to say goodbye. I could only mention one great thing: a talent to make Corruption DoT constant without the need to refresh it.

Destruction – this is Faerella’s spec to go in every type of content. Powerful, crystal clear and logical, and with brand new animations on top. Everything stays like in Legion, and it was quite solid to proceed with.

Demonology – I’ve spent half an hour getting the idea, and I must say that this is FUN. You summon millions of demons now, and the spec name finally justifies itself! The rotation leaves some space to think, yet it’s quite easy and straightforward once you get the priorities. It’s a mere pleasure to play, yet maybe not a leveling option for me. Summoning a literal ARMY for another 10 bear asses feels a bit overdone :) It’s a viable option for raids though, ensuring a battle of epic proportions.

LEATHER

Demon Hunter

Havoc – Melaris has lost several cooldowns due to class changes, so her burst somewhat shrinked now. Otherwise everything stays as it stays – a mobile, swift and agile style.

Druid

Balance – lots of options to overload your panels with extra damaging abilities. The renewed talent tree allows me to stay in Legion style which I were more than happy with, so Helu walks into BfA largely unchanged.

Feral – Brutal Slash, despite its nerf, is still a more powerful combo builder than Shred, so it stays in solo rotation. I like that spell! Jammu feels that now you have to make use of 2 speed cooldowns, and she’s not happy with that. Outside of them she waits for abilities to be cast, so it’s an annoyance. Why not bake one of the cooldowns into basic energy regeneration and leave us with a boost we’ll never know. Haste is her gear priority from now on.

Monk

Windwalker – not so many changes for Paitsu’s DPS spec. It’s quite ok to play with, and if I feel that Brewmaster is too weak in the field, I will switch to Windwalker by all means and with pleasure.

Rogue

Assassination – something’s very wrong with my favorite spec, and this wrong is: Haste. Energy regeneration sucks so much – you spend 1-2 seconds constantly with nothing to cast, even when all your talents are about haste and energy regeneration. Dismissed for now. I’ll be missing it.

Outlaw – still not a fun of my swordplay interrupted with a clumsy pistol shot. Nay.

Subtlety – the one and only spec for me now. It’s quick, very effective, and now served with a rich talent choice. Only to think about it, I’ve never touched the spec before Legion. It is simply awesome.

CHAINMAIL

Hunter

Marksmanship – another complete overhaul of Marksmanship spec. It’s only four basic rotation buttons today, two builders and two spenders. And even this small number feels very crumpled. The major idea is to balance around ~50 focus – there, I said it. Balance, as in Druid Balance. This is strange how it largely resembles the previous Balance spec versions of druids – remember this rolling ball? I basically imagine this ball on the current Hunter’s Focus bar. Needs to be tested and tested to make a final decision about it. Maybe I will get used to it, but it’s a bit tense now.

Survival – ooh, that’s definitely a big thing going on. Some giant strides were made towards the stalker fantasy, and it’s just great. Ranged options were added, so now only a couple of strikes and auto-attacks are melee. The rotation rolls around maintaining a couple of DoTs on the target, as well as weaving in your powerful spear strikes. And yes, it definitely is exciting to play. I will make the final decision after I play it in the field a bit. For now it looks as a strong and interesting hunter option. Bravo, Blizzard!

Beast Mastery – they’ve addressed my major Legion issue. All you did in your rotation was yelling, not shooting. Now you’re a guy with a gun again. And still I quit after a couple of minutes – it’s simply boring compared to the other two.

Shaman

Enhancement – excellent. Was it GCD added, but it made the playstyle quite comprehensible. In Legion all you did was facerolling. Now ability management is present, and choices are to be made. Despite that, it doesn’t feel slow at all – another wasted second, and you’re overcapped with Maelstrom energies. Constant casting, pro-active fighting style, no time to get bored. What’s left to test is survivability – in Legion shaman were paper dolls.

Elemental – excellent. I was happy enough with them in Legion. Yet they implemented a minor tweak that improved everything greatly: Earth Shock / Earthquake now cost exactly 60 Maelstrom, not the previous range of 50-100. So basically you don’t have to manage this now: as soon as you have enough, you do the thing. It makes the spec so much more comprehensible and easier to play.

One more issue in Legion was a slow pace of acquiring Maelstrom power. You could pick a mob with your ‘plink’ abilities and never have a chance to plant your most convincing strike before they died. As a result, leveling felt slow and underpowered. Not an issue anymore. You gain Maelstrom fast enough to effectively finish out the mobs.

PLATE

Death Knight

Frost – everything is the same here. But Haste addressed, you don’t wait for abilities to come anymore, it’s very quick now. Make me able to wield zweihanders again, and we’re good :)

Unholy – not a fan of pet specs, I didn’t play it or test it.

Paladin

Retribution – everything is the same here.

Warrior

Arms – now feels like a feeble attempt to mimic Fury. And yet speed is not there. They reintroduced one more (annoying) strike in the rotation, so now it’s crammy, unsatisfying. Dismissed with no regret or intent to return.

Fury – is perfect now. A careful talent choice has turned me into a non-stop killing machine. Talent choices allowed me to exclude even the smallest gaps between attacks, so once in battle, you strike, strike and strike, never giving an opponent a chance to answer. Amazing.

My Resume:

  • I’m glad that they didn’t touch some of the classes that felt right in Legion (Death Knights, Paladins, Druids).
  • Many classes were tweaked to make them a lot more enjoyable to play (Warriors, Shaman, Mages).
  • As for regrets, there are few. My favorite Assassination and Affliction options are buried for tonight – luckily I have replacements at the ready.
  • Personally I need to test drive Hunter, Mage and Shaman in questing, but in general the changes are positive, and I’m ready for Battle for Azeroth.

 

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Before the Storm: Novel Review and Summary

The post is divided in two parts: first, I will give my spoiler-free opinion on the novel as a whole, and second, I will write a summary of its events. If you plan to read the novel on your own, you may read the first part and skip the second. But be warned: the events happen before the pre-patch events, so you may want to hurry with your reading!

Before-the-Storm-Cover

So, Before the Storm picks you up right after the events of the Antorus raid’s ending. Faction leaders’ mourns and celebrations from cinematics are part of the plot, and the whole story ends before we give in our artifact power in pre-patch events.

I am not a fan of Christie Golden novels – at all. I haven’t read the novels Durotan and Warcraft movie novelization, but up to War Crimes they were really bad. They were more of fanfics than books, with all the drawbacks and flaws of an unexperienced writer, clumsy speech, complete failure to deliver believable character emotions and focusing on game trivia more than writing a good book. Even Arthas’ story was outright boring as hell and impossible to read.

It is important to never give up on a creator though. With all the scepticism I opened this book, based on my previous experience, I must admit that Christie Golden did a stunning job this time. It’s like everything wrong went right. The book’s plot is really cool to read through – I swallowed it in a single breath. The characters are so live and believable, the language is great, and it fills in as a proper story in the lore.

The book gives a perfect insight on the both leaders as well as many supporting characters. Besides politics major figures, it dives deep into feelings and thoughts of common Forsaken and their human relatives – so if you want to understand them, to try on their skin, it’s the right thing to read. Never again I will see the Forsaken as I did before. And the culmination part brought me to tears – literally! That’s where you are convinced that the novel is not just good, it’s great.

It is totally worth reading every time you find for it, although it’s best done before pre-patch – to percept the following expansion events at its full.

SPOILERS – NOVEL SUMMARY

Now I will list the events of the novel in order. If you want just to keep lore-updated and don’t plan to read the book, you’re welcome. Otherwise, take my advice and buy it.

Here we go.

AZERITE

  • Factions celebrate victory over Legion – there’s a mournful meeting in Stormwind and a parade with a feast in Orgrimmar.
  • Gallywix and Shaw approach their leaders about azerite.
  • Azerite makes you feel almighty – although not in an addictive way.
  • Mining VERY deep may have caused the volcano eruption and destruction of Kezan – not only Deathwing.
  • Kaja’mite ore that granted Goblins their wits may have been the Blood of Azeroth.
  • Magni arrives to warn every race of Azeroth about Azeroth wound which needs urgent healing.
  • Anduin, Cenarion Circle, shaman, priests send their forces to discover how to heal the wound.
  • Despite that, throngs of goblins never stop mining it under Sylvanas orders.

AZERITE RESEARCH

  • Gallywix finds a hermit genius scientist goblin Grizzek to investigate azerite possibilities.
  • Gallywix’ thugs kidnap a partner and a love interest for Grizzek – his ex-wife gnome girl Saffy from Explorers League of Ironforge, killing her night elf guards in process
  • The gnome girl still agrees to work on azerite because science and their backstory – marriage.
  • Grizzek and Saffy do amazing steps exploring azerite as potions, trinkets, armor, but Sylvanas through Gallywix makes them focus on making azerite weapons. Over their research work, the two rekindle their romance.
  • Grizzek and Saffy designed stuff from azerite to heal, to be indestructible under blasters, and asked Gallywix to use this as a means to defence.
  • Gallywix rejects and demands weapons to be made according to Sylvanas’ orders. The two think of plotting against him.
  • Grizzek and Saffy tried to escape through the secret underground tunnel, setting a bomb to the lab to explode an hour after their retreat.
  • Gallywix’ thugs catch them, deliver of their azerite inventions and notes, and tie them up, setting a clock bomb between them. Now Gallywix will have the prototypes, although Saffy says that she deatroyed her actual notes before leaving the lab.
  • They manage to shrug off the bomb and hop sideways, tied, as fast as they can. The bomb goes off, it’s presumed the scientists are killed in explosion, although their fate is uncertain.

DESOLATE COUNCIL AND SYLVANAS

  • Sylvanas is not happy to guide the Horde – she’d rather act in shadows as a leader of Forsaken. She sees them as her children and cares deeply about them.
  • Undead are not all longing for an eternal life – some want to die for reals.
  • Desolate Council is the group of Undead reluctantly guiding Forsaken in EK during Sylvanas’ absence and not against permanent death.
  • Sylvanas doesn’t approve this and sees them as a harmless opposition (which they are), but still an opposition.
  • Sylvanas learns about Baine and Anduin letters to each other and bans Baine from doing that in the wake of possible war.
  • She admits people of the world are not ready for war – but it’s gonna happen right after they recover a little bit.
  • Sylvanas wants to claim the azerite for herself despite the world’s efforts to heal the wound.
  • Sylvanas wants to lead the Horde to destroy Stormwind – to raise its humans as Forsaken.
  • She is sure the Horde will approve and join the fight eagerly – as they will be given verdant lands of Stormwind to live and hunt, plus old grudges.

ANDUIN

  • Anduin journeys all over the world to Ironforge and Teldrassil to strengthen the bonds and thank every Alliance race for their efforts in the Legion war.
  • Genn urges Anduin to choose a mate and make a child. Genn thinks it’s dangerous to travel so far without an heir, risking a possible civil war if something happened to him.
  • Anduin names him the throne keeper in his absence, but Genn insists it’s just a temporary measure, considering he’s old and could die too. Stormwind needs a bloodline continued.
  • They consider Tess Greymane to be his mate, but not for reals. Anduin insists his mate will be someone he would love, not an arranged marriage.

FORSAKEN AND HUMAN REUNION 

  • Anduin travels to Netherlight Priest Temple (class order hall) and sends out emissaries to both Alliance and Horde to try to reconnect the families of humans and undead.
  • Anduin’s council (Genn and military authorities) are strongly against the idea
  • Anduin’s valet peacefully passes away – he was a husband of an Undercity authority of Desolate Council Vellcinda.
  • Vellcinda learns about it from Anduin’s letter and accepts the idea of reconnection. She rejects her Forsaken name Vellcinda and accepts her human name Elsie
  • Sylvanas gets a letter from Anduin about the reunion, and reluctantly agrees, planning to see how to use the situation in both domestic and foreign politics
  • Sylvanas arrives to Undercity and explains the meeting rules to the Forsaken. Few Forsaken are allowed for the meeting, they are to make a list of 5 people from Stormwind each they want to meet.
  • Only members of Desolate Council are allowed for the meeting as a start – if it goes well, more meetings could be arranged.
  • Forsaken are happy.
  • Sylvanas plans to let them learn for themselves how humans treat them as monsters, and being a true Forsaken is their only fate under her rule.
  • Anduin interviews people from the sent lists, some are happy and some refuse.
  • Calia Menethil, Arthas’ sister is extremely helpful. She doesn’t want to reclaim Lordaeron as an heir in a result of a bloody battle – she’s okay as a priest in Netherlight Temple.
  • Calia had a secret child with one of the footmen. Her husband and child were lost during the Scourge invasion, and she hopes they are still Forsaken, not dead.
  • Alonsus Faol, the Forsaken Priest, comes to the Stormwind’s Temple of Light and meets with Turalyon and Genn.
  • Genn and Faol have a quarrel, Genn storms away.
  • Turalyon is disgusted, but Faol urges Turalyon to find Light in Faol, and if he does not, he might kill the undead. Turalyon sees the Light in the Forsaken, and acknowledges him in tears as his former Archbishop and friend.

REUNION AT ARATHI HIGHLANDS

  • Anduin meets Sylvanas in the Arathi field before the meeting.
  • Sylvanas answers his direct question about Varian’s death – that it would happen whether the Horde stayed or not.
  • Sylvanas doesn’t see any reason to talk to the king more than needed and still considers him a teenager.
  • People and undead arrive in Arathi, Alliance stationed in Stromgarde and Horde by Thoradin wall.
  • Some humans turn back, the undead they didn’t meet return frustrated to Sylvanas.
  • This proves her point to them.
  • But they are few, and the meeting goes better than it could possibly be hoped for.
  • Some Forsaken do not want to part with their family, and they begin slowly walking to Stromgarde Keep.
  • Calia Menethil throws back her hood and exposes herself. She addresses Forsaken and urges them to come back to Stormwind with their families.
  • She’s an usurper in Sylvanas eyes as a Menethil, and the Desolate Council which are on the field are considered “traitors”.
  • Sylvanas blows a retreat signal, yet some stay paralyzed, some retreat and some still run to Stromgarde.
  • Sylvanas orders dark rangers in the air, and they shoot Vellcinda.
  • Dark rangers shoot every undead – the Desolate Council – for “betrayal”.
  • Sylvanas keeps her word and doesn’t harm Alliance humans, so Anduin cannot protect them with his forces.
  • Sylvanas preys upon the running Calia Menethil and shoots her through the heart. Anduin is late to save her, but he carries her away in his hands, rangers and Sylvanas have their bows aimed at him, but they don’t shoot.
  • Sylvanas is pleased: she eliminated the opposition, killed the rightful heir to Lordaeron, and did it all while looking like a noble leader for not attacking the Alliance and starting a war.
  • Calia Menethil is resurrected as an undead in the Netherlight Temple by naaru, but infused with the Light – a unique being.
  • Anduin reproaches her for almost starting a war – Calia admits she wanted to address them as a fellow Lordaeron, but she never wanted this to come this far, and that she followed her heart, not thinking of politics at all.
  • Anduin returns with his people to bury the fallen Forsaken near Stromgarde.
  • Genn admits he now sees Forsaken not as monstrosities, but beings capable of feelings.
  • Anduin concludes that he wanted to sew the seeds of peace in the poisoned soil: Sylvanas can never become healed or convinced, there’s nothing good left in her.

Battle For Azeroth Beta: First Impressions

So, yesterday was my first ever beta evening. I haven’t participated in beta yet, so everything was quite new to me. And here’s what I saw.

Interface

As you know, I don’t use a single addon, and I’m playing with basic UI. Blizzard has implemented some grand changes to our panels, which I consider a huge improvement.

Bags and auxiliary system buttons (like character, specs, lfg etc.) went from the central panel to the right bottom corner ghetto. While they are surely not that convenient to press nowadays, I can live with that. And at the same time they gave space to major action buttons.

Now we have what I believe four action panels in the center and one extra auxiliary side panel. This is really huge – now all my action buttons are clustered in one place in a convenient way, and operating them would be awesome. Side panel will sill be saved for professions and mounts.

Starting Scenario – Battle for Lordaeron

The scenario is really fierce, and you could find yourself dying quite often. The AoE and mobs’ attacks are massive sometimes, and it takes you a deal of experience to avoid. No trouble for alts though.

Almost every cutscene is not voiced or not even present. I think it’s very good because we will see this upon expansion release. From what I get, it will be one of the most epic experiences so far. Even the castrated version is quite nice.

A+ for bringing Gnomes into the fray and making their contribution not only big, but also vital for success.

The story is almost the same for Alliance and Horde, but shows it from different angle. You don’t miss much if you play one side only, all the cutscenes are the same. It just gives you more insights about faction camps.

Strange enough, I were more comfortable playing Horde side – somehow it felt exactly like the cinematic sequel, with troll shaman doing their job and a better look at the battlefield. We shall see upon release.

Landing in Allied Continent and Initiate Questing

I’ve completed Kul Tiras entrance scenario. It is very unsettling to enter your new faction capital which is initially hostile to you :)

After a brief set of quests you are introduced to Boralus haven – people show you where the bank, the tavern and flightmasters are. Then you start communicating with more or less friendly Kul Tiran faction, Magni pops up to give you your artifact necklace, and you’re sent to quest in a zone of choice.

The most awesome thing is that Kul Tiras has a system of ferries! A couple of natives will row the boat around the coast – which works exactly like flightmasters. It adds so much ambience to the area. I wonder if Zandalar has the same stuff.

The first place I went to was of course Drustvar, and it exceeded my expectations beyond imagined. I think we never saw a proper victorian/witch horror in WoW (save the starting worgen questline). It was so creepy and so awesome that I immediately dropped the questline after a couple of quests. I really need to see it all ready on live servers!

Probably no questing for me for that reason. We have this: a witch horror, a corrupt/fascist society, and an old gods cthulhu thing in Kul Tiras, while Zandalar offers some indiana jones jungle, a tatooine desert and a blood god cult. I already love all of them.

There’s nothing to say about zones – since WoD, they’re an eye candy with lots of detail.

Artifact Necklace 

Didn’t get much from it – the interface has a placeholder. But once I put it on, my chest piece was lighted, and I got an option to assign an upgrade of choice to it. I think it’ll be pretty easy to work out – like with talents.

Character Power and Abilities

I’ve tried three classes: a Warrior in Arms/Protection, a Shaman in Enhancement / Elemental, and a Mage in Fire.

Whilst I had no artifact weapon, I didn’t feel underpowered. The abilities pace and damage with basic gear is quite decent, and remember you will have your awesome Antorus gear to start with. It was a bit harder in the scenario, but absolutely no worries in questing. I killed a random elite mob quite easily solo.

Talents seem sensible yet, and I liked the choice they provide. All in all, the combat doesn’t differ much from Legion, but it may be a bit more tuned. I felt that I liked the minor changes, making specs easier to play, yet having much depth and tuning options in them.

Allied Races

Finally, it’s the new Allied Races that I want to talk about. Beta allows to try Mag’har Orcs and Dark Iron Dwarfs, so I tried a Fire Mage orc and shaman/warrior of Dark Irons.

The character creation options are awesome, I found lots of likeable options for both races. With Mag’har skin tones you could easily create the one from every clan, from dark grey skinned Blackrocks (think Draenor’s Blackhand) to rich brown colors of Warsongs.

Dark Irons are simply badass. It’s the only Alliance race that allows totally bald girls, and this is awesome. Facial tattoos are very cool as well, and all their hair is a bit singed at the ends, creating a unique look.

Warrior thing doesn’t feel flashy and mighty enough with a dwarf girl… so I may stick to a Shaman. As Enhancement is surely all about lightnings and thus a Wildhammer thing, it didn’t feel fit with my Dark Iron. So I think Schlitzchen the Goblin will go Enhancement like she started, and my Dark Iron will be an Elemental Shaman.

What’s Next?

In beta, I’m planning to see a Horde Zandalar introduction questline, and I guess this is gonna be it. I’ll learn class changes when they are final, and I don’t want to spoil the questlines. Besides, there are no maps present yet, and maps are vital for me when exploring the new lands and cities.

Maybe I could try some island expedition, some dungeon, and some warfront.

Battle for Azeroth Release Date

This just in: Battle for Azeroth will be released on August 14!

1

Pre-patch would likely be out a month before expansion, so prepare your checklists and get ready to grind them until July 14. Then we will have Teldrassil burning, Siege of Lordaeron and artifact power cancelled on our hands. Most probably well run repeatable quests to earn new faction mounts and probably transmog/toys.

I’d say it’s just in time. Covering Legion loose ends and rushing right into the fray.

And yes, For the Alliance!