I really don’t visit my father enough. This isn’t an intentional thing; he’s a rad dude and he’s funny as hell. Shit, he’s even got a pool table in his finished basement. Timing can just be a bitch sometimes, as can be the fact that, well, his cat can seriously mess me up (I have a potentially fatal allergy – no, really, I’ve been hospitalized from cats before).
Anyhoo, Allison and I decided it’d be a good time to go visit, so we did. In case you were wondering, yes, the MBTA still sucks, even after all these years.
I had all these fantastic intentions of taking tons of photos and all that jazz, but yeah, once we got off the boring train and into the custody of my old man, I pretty much completely forgot about the camera. Sorry about that. It happens. I do have a handy-dandy link to the photoset of the train ride down, but yeah, no clever down-the-green shots of the pooltable, no close-up of the hole I put in the wall from the dart (yeah, I’m smooth), no yawning cat, no shot of the like nine wild turkeys in the backyard (no, really). Sorry, I’ve let you all down.
Let’s just say we ate a delicious roast, got schooled in 8-ball, and had a really good time. I even managed to escape the cat with minor sinus after-effects. I call this a win.
Oh – and down the street from my house is, quite possibly, the best billboard I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Check this shit out -
I’m almost astounded at the existence of such a billboard. Now, don’t get me wrong – I think it’s awesome and frankly, I agree with it. I’m just astounded at how in-your-face ballsy it is; I didn’t really expect to see something so un-PC in Cambridge, MA. Color me impressed.
Speaking of impressed, I’ve recently fallen in love with this song – Trifonic – Parks on Fire. The rest of the album is decent (a few too many vocal tracks for my liking, but I think they’re going for that “band” thing), but this track is just sublime. Some of the cooler electronic music I’ve heard in a while. I purchased the digital download off their site for like $9, and it’s totally worth it, if you’re into that sort of thing.
So some new PTR notes are up. Let’s check out some stuff on it.
Right off the bat, I noticed a few different changes in regards to early toons, from no more dazing of level 1-5 toons, to more standardization/simplification of starting weapons, to increased regeneration rates for very low level toons. Sure, it’s not like leveling your fifth alt was difficult in the first place, but hey, thanks for thinking of us. Now if only they’d make levels 41-54 less painful. No, really this time.
Awesome General Changes:
- Many of the tail sweeps with knockback effects will no longer hit players’ pets.
- Pet Resilience: All player pets now get 100% of their master’s resilience.
I like increased pet survivability – one less thing to worry about.
Awesome Class Changes:
- Death Knights: Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle: There is now a 1-handed version of this rune in addition to the current 2-handed rune.
- Druids: Rebirth: The cooldown on this spell has been lowered from 20 minutes down to 10 minutes. Cannot be used in Arenas.
- Hunters: Misdirection: Redesigned. Instead of having finite charges, it now begins a 4-second timer when the hunter using Misdirection performs a threat-generating attack, during which all threat generated by the hunter goes to the friendly target. In addition, multiple hunters can now misdirect threat to the same friendly target simultaneously.
- Shamans: Reincarnation: The cooldown on this spell has been lowered from 60 minutes down to 30 minutes.
- Warlocks: Create Soulstone: The cooldown on this spell and duration of its buff have been lowered from 30 minutes down to 15 minutes. Cannot be used in Arenas.
With the general raid gameplan heading more and more into fast encounters (or at least less trash), I see all of these changes as streamlining the raid wipe/recovery process more and more, and I for one support them all. Faster recovery/less cooldown waiting means more time actually spent making valid attempts against bosses, rather than going “well, we don’t have any battle rezzes/heroism/soulstones this time, so let’s just halfheartedly throw ourselves at it and hope we learn something” and more of an “every attempt is 100%” approach. These changes certainly make sense with the way raids appear to be going, but that doesn’t mean that I’m any less surprised when Blizzard makes a good call.
Bad Class Changes:
- Area-of-Effect Damage Caps: We’ve redesigned the way area damage is capped when hitting many targets. Instead of a hard cap on total damage done, the game now caps the total damage done at a value equal to the damage the spell would do if it hit 10 targets. In other words, if a spell does 1000 damage to each target, it would hit up to 10 targets for 1000 each, but with more than 10 targets, each target would take 1000 damage divided by the number of targets. 20 targets would be hit for 500 damage each in that example.
- Death Knights: Unholy: Night of the Dead: Now reduces the damage your pet takes from area-of-effect damage by 45/90%, but no longer applies to area-of-effect damage caused by other players.
- Death Knights: Unholy: Scourge Strike: Redesigned. The base ability now deals 50% weapon damage plus an additional amount as physical damage. However, for each disease the death knight has on the target, the target will take additional shadow damage equal to 25% of the physical damage done.
- Death Knights: Unholy: Unholy Blight: This talent now deals only 10% of Death Coil damage as a damage-over-time effect on the target.
- Death Knight Tier-9 4-Piece Bonus: This set bonus no longer grants Frost Fever a chance to be a critical strike. It still grants that possibility to Blood Plague.
I may be premature in calling the AoE change bad, as I haven’t even done napkin math on it yet, let alone real math, but yeah, it feels like a nerf, so I’m gonna run with it. BAD!
The DK changes are nerfs across the board. We all knew that a tier nerf was coming, though I still expected them to remove Ebon from it rather than Frost Fever. I guess the reasoning was to bring one-disease dual-wield frost dps back into line, ’cause their damage is out of control, but still – the plague strike nerf really hurts, especially in pvp, where it no longer has a cut through armor from being magic. Ouch.
I’m sure there are other class nerfs, but I’ll let someone more knowledgeable in those classes talk about them elsewhere.
Awesome User Interface Changes:
- The range at which players can see unit nameplates has been increased by 40 yards.
- Any party member may mark targets (this does not apply to raid groups)
- Users will be warned when their talents are reset due to a new patch.
- Instant quest text is on by default.
- Ignore list expanded to 50 to match the friends list.
- Interface element added next to the mini-map to show what dungeon you are in (ex: 10- and 25-player Heroic dungeons marked with a skull).
- Experience earned for a quest will display in the Quest Rewards section.
- You can now query for a list of completed quests with “QueryQuestsCompleted()” then wait for the “QUEST_QUERY_COMPLETE” event, and call “etQuestsCompleted()”.
A whole slew of no-brainer changes that for some unknown reason took months to years to add. Glad to see Bliz getting around to them.
Also, QueryQuestsCompleted()? AWESOME. Hello, easy-to-use Loremaster AddOn!
Awesome Quest/Reputation Changes:
- Weekly raid quests are now available from Archmage Lan’dalock in Dalaran. Every Tuesday at 3 AM the Council of Six will choose a different strategic target that must die from either: The Obsidian Sanctum, Naxxramas, The Eye of Eternity, Ulduar, Trial of the Crusader, or Icecrown Citadel.
- The following reputations have been sped up by roughly 30%:
* Argent Crusade
* Alliance Vanguard
* Horde Expedition
* Kirin Tor
* Knights of the Ebon Blade
* Sons of Hodir
* Wyrmrest Accord
- Sons of Hodir quests now give more reputation overall.
- Top-level helm and shoulder faction-related enchants are now available as Bind-on-Account items that do not require any faction to use once purchased (they still require the appropriate faction level to purchase).
- Reputation commendations can now be purchased for 1 Emblem of Triumph each.
Ok, now I dunno about you, but I think the raid quests are *awesome*. Not only does it give me a reason to run older raid instances, it gives me a chance to run them on my level 80 alts with my guild instead of a pug. I really can’t wait.
The rep changes are something we all saw coming (or at least hoped was coming, especially with Sons of Hodir). There’s currently a thread going on my guild’s forums discussing whether or not this is just a standard end-of-expansion closing of the gap, giving the slower ones a chance to see the end content while it’s still relevant before the next xpac makes it all pointless, or whether this is instead an admission by Blizzard of doing the whole rep thing incorrectly. Honestly, I can see good points on both sides, but I definitely hope it’s the latter. What do you think?
All told, I think we’re looking at some seriously good changes, even with some of the standardization that people have confused lately with the falling of the sky. A lot of people are quite busy trashing Blizzard for this simplification or that easy mode, but hey – ToC25 hardmode is challenging as shit, and I expect Icecrown to be awesome, not even factoring the crazy lore stuff I’ve heard coming from the test realm. (If I had more time, I’d totally get onto the PTR and get you all some serious undercover work, but yeah, I already don’t have enough time to do the things I want to do – sorry).
Call me a fanboy if you want; I think Blizzard is still doing a great job, and I’m looking forward to the next patch as well as the next expansion. Keep up the good work, Bliz!
Side note: in an effort to be more welcoming, I’ve lifted comment moderation. Abuse it and I’ll ban you and post about how much you suck.