Edit2: Thank you to everyone that has e-mailed me version one of the post below.
Edit: This post may seem a little brief because it is the second time I've written it. Blogger ate the first one when I hit publish. I saved it several times while writing it, but the backed up versions where not available and I didn't copy it to an external source. If anyone knows how to get it back let me know.
In Part 1, I talked about some of the more general changes, and the changes announced in the Class and Professions panel. In this post I will take a look at the announcements made during the Raid & Dungeon's Panel and the Game Systems Panel.
Patch 3.3: Icecrown Citadel
If you go buy the timing of the past couple of patches then patch 3.3 is going to come out in a few 4 or 5 months. Therefore it is no surprise that Blizzard gave us a preview of what is in store for the final content patch of Wrath of the Lich King.
The Icecrown Citadel raid will have 4 floors and 12 bosses. That is on par with Ulduar, Naxx and the other large raid instances, but I expected it to be bigger. I didn't expect the 31 bosses that Ghostcrawler joked about, but I assumed that from the comments made pre BlizzCon that ICC would be the biggest raid instance of the expansion. However, since Naxx has 15 bosses, and Ulduar has 14, ICC will come in at third.
As long as the encounters are good, it does really matter though. The Airship fight sounds particularly interesting. I know a lot of people don't like the vehicle fights, but I've enjoyed them for the most part. I am also very glad that they are using the Ulduar teleporter again.
The last bit of good news is that they will be adding another 5 man instance in ICC with 3 wings and 8 bosses. I didn't think they added enough 5 mans during TBC and its nice to see that they are providing new instances for more casual players and alts to run.
My guild still has a lot of work to do in Ulduar and ToC but all of this news about ICC is getting me excited.
Patch 3.3: Cross Server LFG
There is no guarantee that this will be available for Patch 3.3, but they indicated that that is their goal.
Wow! Just Wow.
I'm not sure how I feel about this change. It has potential but there are a lot of potential pitfalls as well. I would love for it to be easier to find group to run an instance, but I'm not sure how much this helps.
As a DPSer the main problem I have with finding a group is finding a Tank and/or Healer. This will increase the number of Tanks and Healers in LFG but it will also increase the number of DPS looking for tanks and healers. So we may be in a similar situation.
The second thing I worry about is this reward for leading a pug. I understand the thought process but I'm not sure how it will work. More people will want to lead pugs, therefore there will be more pugs. We all win right? ... Not really. The reward will either be so good that people will only run an instance if they can lead it or it will be so bad that nobody cares. In which case the change had no impact.
Ultimately I see this as a reward for tanks and healers to make themselves available. Tanks are the natural party leaders because they should determine the kill order and they need lead to put up the raid icons. On top of that if you have two people being stubborn about who gets the reward, who is going to get it? Its easy to find DPS, hard to find a healer or a tank. If a Healer says I will only come if I can lead your likely to give it to him.
The third reason I'm worried about Cross Server LFG is because of what it could do to the Auction House. Can players trade while in in an instance? If so what is to prevent two people or a multi-boxer transferring good from one server to another. It could reek havoc on AH prices, and provides an advantage for players with multiple accounts.
4.0 Raids and Dungeons:
There isn't a a whole lot to talk about here, but I did find a few things interesting. The first is that there will be 4 raid instances at launch. Blizzard makes it sound like this is an increase over the standard, but I will wait for details before I get to excited. Technically there were 4 raid instances at the start of WotLK with a total of 18 bosses.
The second thing I want to talk about is the fact that they are reusing content from Vanilla WoW again. I have mixed emotions about this. I don't want them to ever recycle content like they did with Naxx again, but if they can update the encounters with new abilities that make it comparable to the modern raid boss then I think it could be awesome.
Bringing back Deadminds and Shadowfang Keep in heroic form is also interesting. I don't know what either instance is for the Horde, but Deadminds is an iconic instance for the Alliance. It is very well designed, has good loot, and is a lot of fun. So, I'm kind of happy that I will be able to run it again. On top of that, I never ran SFK so it's basically new content for me. I like this change.
I'm not much of a PvPer, but I particularly hate Arena. I have a hard time finding a decent group. I suck so we end up losing most of the battles. The other players so over gear me that it's not even worth trying.
Battlegrounds on the other hand are much better for a casual PvPer like myself. Some of them have PvE like aspects that I can excel at. There isn't so much individual responsibility. Basically this is a good way to get a person like me into PvP. I'm sure that some hardcore PvPers will look down on rated BGs, but this will benefit them also. I'm sure some people will make the transition from BGs to Arena because of the gear they received from BGs. This is good for everyone despite what they think.
Guild Advancement System:
At first I was really excited about the guild advancement system. I liked the idea of being able to level a guild, getting special perks, and generally having something to brag about. As someone who has leveled several alts, the Guild Heirlooms sound particularly nice. However, after thinking about it a little bit my excitement has diminished, at least from a raiding perspective.
Don't get me wrong. I still like the idea of getting perks for being in a guild, and I am still looking forward to being able to get more Heirlooms for leveling my toons, but I think my first reaction was over blown. I've seen a lot of comments about how great this is for guild leaders, and how it will help keep guilds together and reduce drama. At first, I thought along these lines as well, but I now realize that it is all smoke and mirrors.
The biggest misconception is that this will result in a penalty for leaving a good guild. That is incorrect. This will result in a penalty if you leave a good guild and don't join a new one. Leveling a guild doesn't sound all that difficult, since the Gxp taken from just the top 20 earners. On top of that, the top raiding guilds on the server don't necessarily play more then the less progressed guilds. I expect there will be a lot of guilds level 20 guilds on every server, and it shouldn't be hard to get into one. Therefore, no one is going to sit there and say, "I'm pissed off, but I'm not going to leave my guild because I don't want to lose the perks," because they can probably get them some where else.
There are two types of guild who I think this change will have a large impact on. The first is Leveling guilds. Most of us were in some small little guild with a couple of people when we went from 1 to 60 or 70 or 80. We didn't do much with the guild but it gave us a way to get a couple of groups, talk in gchat a little bit. Expect a lot of these guilds to merge and for there to be some huge leveling guilds on your server. Now that people will actually have a reason to be in a guild other then for the cool name expect people to stick around to take advantage of guild heirlooms and such.
The second is the PvP guild. I think Arena really hurt this type of guild. It is easy for 2 to 5 people to organize when they are going to play and they don't really need to be in the same guild to do so. Along with the creation of rated BGs, PvPers now have a reason to stay in the same guild.
Talents and Mastery:
One of the bigger shocks of BlizzCon is that they will not be extending the talent trees in the new expansion. The 51 point talent will still be the top of the tree despite getting 5 additional talent points to spend. Normally that would disappoint me because there aren't any great talents that I would use the additional 5 points for. I would probably pick up Nature's Focus and Gale Winds but that isn't huge.
The interesting part is the creation of the Mastery system. Not a lot of details are know, but from what I understand Blizzard will take a lot of the passive benefits off of our talents and include them in the mastery system. That way we pick them up just by investing the points in that tree. According to Blizzard this change is being made to make the talents "more fun." They will be eliminating things like the hit bonus on Balance of Power and the haste bonus on Celestial Focus, and put more emphasis on talents like Eclipse, Owlkin Fury and such. I will hold my judgement until we see the finished product, but it sounds interesting. I wonder if they are going to be able to cram all of our passive buffs in to three mastery buffs and how will they replace all of the passive buffs in our tree. Now that we won't have to pick up things like Moonfury, where are we going to put those talent points in the future?
Archaeology and Path of the Titans:
Again, we don't know a lot of details, but I am a little annoyed with what we've heard so far.
In my view, Secondary professions should be something useful, but not required. Cooking and fishing fit this mold perfectly. I've leveled both to some extent on Graylo, but almost completely ignored them on my alts. First Aid is a little is little different because I do think it is required for a raider, but then again it is incredibly easy to level unless your a tailor and hurting for cloth.
From level 1 to 85 Archaeology seems to fit in with the other secondary professions. It will provide a few cosmetic and utility benefits. You can make a little gold by selling artifacts. It sounds like a nice profession but something you could do without if it didn't' interest you.
My problem is with the Path of the Titans and it sounds like Archaeology is a key part of the Path of Titans. According to Blizzard, Path of the Titans is a way for a max level character to progress their toon outside of gear. They also tout that which path you choose is not tied to your class and thus provides significant more levels of character customization.
Well, I don't buy it.
First of all, if the Path of the Titans is a way for you to advance your toon at max level, it's basically just new content without adding new zones. It's really no different then being able to level to 90 instead of 85 except that the progress is delayed and we have to run around old zones to get it done.
My second issue is that the PotT will end of falling into one of two design paths. The buffs could be so useless that nobody cares about them. In which case Blizzard wasted a whole lot of development time when they could have been doing something more fun like coming up with a new zone, instance or BG. I don't think this is likely, but definitely possible. The second path that the PotT could fall down is that the buffs are so good that they are practically required if you want to participate in endgame raiding or rated PvP. This would in turn make Archaeology a required profession pretty much any toon you wanted to advance, and that falls outside of what I think a secondary profession should be.
I'm not saying that Archaeology or Path of the Titans is a bad idea. I guess I just don't like how it's being presented to the players. They are making it sound like they are giving players new options and greater levels of customization, but they are not. First off, our current talent trees offer thousands of different possibilities for character customization, but most of us still fall into the same standard specs. This is because a couple of the specs are significantly better than almost all of the other specs. The Path of the Titan Glyphs will fall into the same situation. Sure, we may have 10 different options but it is likely that most moonkin will pick the same path or glyph, because it is the best for the way moonkin are played.
What I think is really going on here is that Blizzard is spending a lot of money to update the old zones when most players are already at max level. Some will level new toons but most will be trying to level their mains right away so that they can start raiding and such. Therefore most of us will miss all of the revamped content at least for a couple of months. What the path of the titans will do is force us to go wondering around Azeroth to level up Archaeology to see all of the wonderful redesigned zones. I don't really blame them for this, but I wish the had just come out and said it.