Class Design & Balance Q&A

News for the upcoming Monk class:
- Healing similar to Discipline priests, can heal or ‘smite.’ Will involve a lot of non-targeted healing–could heal competitively without ever having to target a friendly player.
- Healing monks will use mana–too tricky to balance a non-mana healing class.
-Sample Windwalker mechanic: Summon what are similar to Diablo III health globes that heal players when they run through them.
- Roll may cost mana in healer stance. It may also gain other abilities, through talents, that heals and does damage to targets you “roll” through.
- Tanking “Brewmaster” monks will use a “dual combo point” resource (Force). For example, Dark Force may contribute to an absorption shield while the Light Force may build increased avoidance.
- Brewmasters also have drinks which provide short-term buffs that restore Light or Dark Force, Chi, etc. Also an interesting Ox Statue!

Official Inspection of Pandaren Monks with Ghostcrawler

Over on the official forums Blizzard Insider interviewed Lead Systems Designer Greg Street, aka Ghostcrawler, to shed some light on the design thought and process of the Pandaren Monk:

Blizzard Insider: How will the pandaren race differ from the other races of Azeroth? What ideas are being explored for their racial abilities? 

Ghostcrawler: Ultimately, the challenge with races is to make them feel unique without actually providing them with so much power that players feel like they don’t have a choice in which race they want to be. If tauren are the best warriors, then Horde players might feel like they are sacrificing too much in order to try out a different race or stick with a race they really like. With the pandaren, you probably won’t see anything so amazing that everyone gravitates to them… except that their art and animation is just so wonderful.

The biggest difference for the pandaren is that they can join the Horde or the Alliance, which is something we’ve never tried before. That alone will make them feel unique. They also have a very strong cultural kit. Our trolls might be somewhat Jamaican and the draenei have Eastern European accents, but the pandaren have a very strong Asian influence. That affects everything from their animations — which have a martial arts vibe, even for non-monks — to their hairstyles.

For racial abilities, we’re giving them a bonus to cooking… and to eating. We’re also giving them a moderate bonus to rested experience to make it less daunting to level one all the way up to level 90. They also get the mystical-martial ability to paralyze opponents by touching their pressure points. Finally, we came up with a silly racial, Bouncy, that causes them to take less falling damage. While the pandaren are as noble and epic as any of our races, we felt like we had to acknowledge their, shall we say, endomorphic body shape in some way.

Of course, as with any design this early out, this may all change by the time the new expansion goes live. Continue reading

Iron Man Tier

Iron Man

Is it me or does one of the new hunter sets have a semi-iron man feel to it?  Would that make him Mail Man?  And if so, isn’t that very un-PC? :P

Anyway, all sets are now available to view thanks to the awesome folks at MMO-Champion.

Pandaren’s rich lore

On the official forums Laider wrote a fantastic and honest reply to the BlizzCon announcement.  Community Manager Bashiok replied with something insightful for those that do (foolishly) believe Blizz are stealing ideas from Kung-Fu Panda.

This is something I want to touch on a bit more. People seem to think that Pandaren were a joke, a throw away easter egg that we never fully intended as a playable race.

I will direct you to recall the Warcraft RPG (pen and paper) manuals released in 2003. While much of it hasn’t been canon for quite some time, the Pandaren occupy a greater amount of pages and space within the manuals to establish their lore and story than pretty much every other creature on Azeroth. To give it some context, they occupy the same number of pages as Trolls in the Monster Manual, and share the same amount space in the Alliance and Horde Compendium with Orcs or Humans, and just like them … you guessed it… Pandaren were a playable race.

Metzen's art from 2003

(There’s also an awesome sketch Metzen did of a Pandaren, Dwarf, Furbolg, and Gnome hanging out all friendly-like)

As I said a lot of this was pre-World of Warcraft, and by whatever stroke of fate, Trolls and Forsaken became playable races and Pandaren, Naga, and Furbolgs did not. Some other mix could have just as easily been true, and no one would have questioned it. Worgen didn’t even exist back then, of course, they were a new creation for World of Warcraft.

It would simply be inaccurate to state that Pandaren were a throw away. Our intent, going back to Warcraft III, when the vast majority of the world lore and story was established for the franchise, was always to have a deep and rich history for a race known as the Pandaren.

There feels a ridiculous amount of players out there (and perhaps it is just the vocal ones and, therefore a very small percent) who need to read this and ingrain it into their minds.  Pandaren are not an after thought, not just a cool easter egg in Warcraft 3, but a legit race that has been long overdue to feature.

game_plan_2

Game Plan v1.0

I’m weighing up and giving thought to the direction I take my Monk once 5.0 rolls out.  Pun, obviously, intended.  I’m going to be more prepared this time than any other – and boy do I have some fun stories of how my wife and I *thought* we were preparing for our first expansion experience – a story for another time.  Finances, mats for professions, bags, mounts, energy drinks all need to be in check before it hits so that I can hit the ground running.

So my first move is right to the basics:  Roll Pandaren for the rested xp boost and at 85 swap to human for reputation bonus. That much, I think, I have set in stone in my brain.

Professions.  As I am going to go Tank/Heals it makes sense, right now based upon previous expansion knowledge, to go alchemy as my main.  This profession has always had a wonderfully OP trinket out of the gate which should really help with those initial heroics and raids in either spec.  Of course I may have just jinxed them to make that their first obvious change, but c’est la vie.

My second professions is a little more hazy.  I am leaning towards leatherworker as the benefit of making my own gear is nice and, as I will be taking this toon into raids in future patches post-5.0, pattern drops mean that I can secure them safely as our realm has a very healthy community in PuG runs of MainProf > AltProf/Sell.  PuG running trash the first 6 hours of a new raid launch is a lot of fun and very lucrative and lets people dip their feet in before Friday raid night while the servers stabilize.

Currently my druid is my leatherworker with JCing.  She used to be LW/Herb and I miss the OPness of druid farming.  It is quick, easy and I don’t have to worry about mounting or wasting such time.  Somehow it just makes sense.

Gold.  I will definitely put enough aside to get the Traveler’s Tundra Mount which will provide me with the ability to clear bags and repair on the move.  I will also need to consider flying lessons up to, and including, 310%.  Once you have it it really is hard going back.  Those costs alone are close to the 28k mark.

By getting that mount I certainly won’t need anything bigger than the easy-to-get 20/22 slot bags.

That is my current plan and subject to change with the slightly piece of news down the pipe on MoP.  But with that off my brain I should sleep better tonight!

Lockout Timer Change

“The new raid lockout changes for Taiwan and Korea adjust the lockout timers for the patch 4.0 and 4.2 raids. The lockout timers for these raids will now reset twice weekly instead of once. These raid lockout changes are being made to allow players to raid more often and get more chances at epic loot drops. Players will be able to down current Cataclysm raid bosses twice a week, accelerating players’ progression.

We are testing these new raid lockout changes in Taiwan and Korea first. Our goal is to expand this change to other regions in the future, but we don’t have anything further to announce at this time with regard to North American implementation.

Zarhym, Community Manager”

This is good news for everyone – particularly if it makes it to other regions.  For guilds who don’t raid much or feel they could be hit by the reset, they can easily extend the raid lock.  For those that wish to up their progression time then this should really help with that.  I wonder if we will eventually – though probably not before 5.0 – a re-evaluation in the 10/25 shared lock.

It was also noted, however, that the Deathwing raid will not follow this pattern (for now).

This also suggests to me that 4.3 is imminent and 5.0 will be closer than next summer, as I predicted earlier.

Indiana Jones -The Raiders of the Lost Ark_2502

Archaeology

Professions are nice and easy to mindlessly do in the evening while sitting on the couch catching up with those TV shows I like to indulge myself with.  Archaeology, though, is one that I’m dreading on facing again on my alts.  I’m about 25 skill-ups from max on my second toon (with several other achievements left to get on my main) and I really dislike NOT not having everything up to par on my alts.

What would be a particularly nice addition – if I may dream for a moment – would be if a BoA journal could be purchased (or perhaps crafted by scribes) upon maxing out their profession.  The character could then write their findings and the fundamentals of archaeology (giving, say, +520 skill level to a reader) so they are but a dig away from being up-to-speed.  You then mail this to your other characters and a quick learn later and all the toons are up-to-speed.

This is never going to happen, but right now my sanity would appreciate it!