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Every few days, combatants across Azeroth are called upon to focus their attention on one specific Battleground. From July 22–24, that Battleground is Twin Peaks, and we’ve put together a handy field guide to help you answer the call to arms.
Number of players: 10 vs. 10
Minimum required level: 75
Location: Twilight Highlands
Entry points: Speak with a Battlemaster in any capital city, or activate the Player vs. Player window (the default hotkey is H). From July 22–24, select the Call to Arms option and then click the Join Battle button to enter the queue for Twin Peaks.
Objective: Capture the enemy team’s flag three times before the match timer expires. If the timer expires, the team with the most captures wins. In the event of a tie, the team who made the final capture wins.
Participating in and completing the current Call to Arms Battleground grants you bonus Honor and Conquest points, with greater bonus rewards going to the players on the winning team. Even more bonus Honor and Conquest points go to players for their first win of the day.
Among the more interesting achievements you can earn here are:
Twin Peaks is a game of capture-the-flag, and the team that does a better job of infiltrating the enemy base, grabbing the opposition’s flag, and returning it to home base without allowing their own flag to be grabbed wins. To interact with a flag, simply get near it and right-click on it. If you’re right-clicking on the enemy flag, you’ll become the flag carrier, and your goal is to score a capture by running it back to your base and touching it to your own, protected flag. If your opponent was carrying your flag and dropped it, right-clicking on it will return it instantly to your base.
Winning is a matter of playing both offense and defense, focusing fire on the enemy team while executing a strategy on the field that keeps your opponents away from the flags as much as possible. Twin Peaks has a main chokepoint: the bridge over the river that bisects the battleground. You’ll often hear players instruct others to get away from the bridge, and with good reason. The bridge can’t really be “held,” and a player who is running a flag can be stopped just as easily elsewhere. Successful teams often break into groups who are both protecting their flag-runner and preventing the enemy from picking up their flag in the first place.
Coordination is key in a game where your team has to succeed at two tasks at the same time. Something as simple as noticing that your offense has no healers (and calling that out to your team) can save the day. Often, the team that is most aware of the flow of battle has a huge advantage, so keep an eye on the map, and speak up if you see something that your teammates might not have seen yet.
If you’ve yet to score access to the Warlords of Draenor beta test and take the fight to the Iron Horde, be sure to focus your attention toward Wowhead’s ongoing beta key giveaway. This week’s challenge—lasting until July 21 at 3:30 p.m. PDT—is to complete any two of the following achievements: Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, and Upper Blackrock Spire (Classic).
If you need a little refresher course on Molten Core, including how to brave its depths alone, take a look at our guide to Re-visiting Heroism’s Past.
All-new challenges will be announced over on Wowhead in the coming weeks as they prepare to give even more keys away to participants. Check back with them every Monday to find out which achievements will grant you eligibility to face the Warlords of Draenor. May fortune smile upon you!
Also, if you haven’t done so already, make sure you’ve opted in on Battle.net to test Blizzard games, as we’re going to keep inviting more people ourselves as the beta test continues.Follow @Wowhead on Twitter and Facebook.com/Wowhead.
The lush Shadowmoon Valley appears peaceful and idyllic, lulling many would-be adventurers into a false sense of security as they explore its rolling hills and violet forests. But countless hidden perils lie waiting behind the tranquil façade, and only those well-armed with knowledge can hope to survive. What dangers lurk in the shadows?
Adventurers are often misled by the seemingly docile riverbeasts. Though slow to anger, once disturbed, a charging riverbeast is a ferocious sight: 4,000 pounds of fat and muscle storming toward its target like a runaway tram. Roaming draenei rangari have long been astounded by how much damage a rampaging riverbeast can take before it’s brought down, and draenei children are taught to keep a wide berth of shallow waters. Riverbeasts are characterized by their rock-like skin, likely developed during the early days of Draenor’s prehistory, when creatures of stone dueled for supremacy against the chaotic flora. Those looking to take a riverbeast as a trophy should take note of their durable armored flesh and tendency to charge unexpectedly.
A number of Draenor’s indigenous species blur the line between plant and animal, and the so-called podlings are the most vicious and chaotic of their ilk. Small and seemingly harmless, they work together to capture their prey, attacking only when they have numerical superiority. Explorers who pay attention to the color of podlings’ flowering buds can ascertain whether they favor poison, ensnaring, or physical attacks to incapacitate their victims. Once podlings have overwhelmed their quarry, they will drag the unlucky creature down into the weeds to fertilize a new generation. The clear lesson for adventurers: looks can be deceiving!
The majestic elekk graze contentedly across the grassy plains of Draenor, relying on their huge size and the support of the herd to keep predators at bay. Draenei explorers have determined that the animals pose no threat, as long as their young aren’t endangered or their water supply jeopardized. With the endurance to cover great distances and the ability to defend themselves by ramming or stomping attackers, these beasts have emerged as the draenei transport of choice. Explorers should take note of persistent draenei rumors that the Thunderlord Clan orcs torment and twist terrified elekk into vicious weapons of war, covering them in armor plating and inciting them to rampage when turned loose on their foes. Beware!
It was only very recently that draenei rangari managed to communicate with these enormous sentient trees, but wildly different ways of life—not to mention a completely different perception of time—have made further interaction difficult. The ancients get their name from their analogues on Azeroth; they are tied closely to a prehistoric plant lineage that unites much of Draenor’s flora and places them in opposition to the creatures of stone. These enigmatic ancients remain in the same area for hundreds of years and are reluctant to move unless their home is threatened. Adventurers should be cautious when harvesting the valley’s lumber, as they may find the forest fighting back.
Shadowmoon Valley is a dangerous place, but there are many deadly threats still to be discovered across the savage world of Draenor. Until next time, stay alive . . . if you can.
You’re at the top of your game in every way – Raid leader extraordinaire and strategic mastermind – even Garrosh cringes at the sound of your name. You know all of the ins and outs of every boss fight and have color-coded spreadsheets replete with pivot tables on how each encounter could be improved. If you’re ready for a new challenge, then look no further than Blizzard.
We have Quality Assurance (QA) positions open and we're specifically looking for those with high-end raiding experience to join our teams, test future content, and provide feedback on Heroic raids, class balance, and general game experiences.
Only full-time positions at our headquarters in Irvine, California are available, so if you're serious about applying be aware that no telecommuting is possible for employment. But with the Blizzard campus offering an on-site cafeteria, library, volleyball and basketball courts, gym, multiple arcades, and movie theater, (not to mention we're 30 minutes from the beach) why would you want to?
We’ve updated our media section with a fantastic new section for random galleries. Our first two galleries are the Dessert and Pumpkin galleries which feature honorable mentions and winners from contests over many years. We’re excited to display them in one place for you to enjoy.
You can submit other media using the following links:
As previously announced, we’ve been working toward connecting realms to increase the number of players on low-population realms. Here's a continuously updated list that contains currently planned connections, future plans, and completed realm connections, all in one convenient location.
*Please note this list does not encompass all potential future connections. Please check back for further updates.
We will be connecting the realms listed below on Thursday, July 24 during a scheduled maintenance beginning at 5 a.m. PDT through approximately 1:00 p.m. PDT. Once maintenance is finished, these realm connections will be complete.
We will be connecting the realms listed below on Thursday, July 31 during a scheduled maintenance beginning at 5 a.m. PDT through approximately 1:00 p.m. PDT. Once maintenance is finished, these realm connections will be complete.
We do not have a date for the following realm connections, but will update this post when we do.
*Plans for these connections may change at any time, but we’ll provide additional updates on specific dates for future connections here as we can. Please note that as a part of the connection process realm times may change to match each other.
For more information on Connected Realms, please read the preview blog post here.
FAQQ. My realm needs connecting, why isn’t it listed?
Every few days, combatants across Azeroth are called upon to focus their attention on one specific Battleground. From July 18–21, that Battleground is Eye of the Storm, and we’ve put together a handy field guide to help you answer the call to arms.
Number of players: 15 vs. 15
Minimum required level: 35
Entry points: Speak with a Battlemaster in any capital city, or activate the Player vs. Player window (the default hotkey is H). From July 18–21, select the Call to Arms option and then click the Join Battle button to enter the queue for Eye of the Storm.
Objective: Capture and hold as many of the four towers as possible, and earn resources by positioning yourself near a tower’s flag. Additionally, pick up a shiny flag that occasionally appears in the middle of the map and return it to any tower that’s actively held by your team for bonus resources. The first team to reach 1,600 resources wins.
Participating in and completing the current Call to Arms Battleground grants you bonus Honor and Conquest points, with greater bonus rewards going to the players on the winning team. Even more bonus Honor and Conquest points go to players for their first win of the day.
Among the more interesting achievements you can earn here are:
Eye of the Storm is a resource race, and the team that most efficiently captures and holds the four towers while grabbing and returning the flag wins. To capture a tower, simply position yourself close to it. If you are the only player in the vicinity, you’ll see the possession meter for that tower move in your direction, and the more teammates you have by your side, the faster you’ll gain possession. If there are enemy players present, their effects on possession of the tower cancel out yours. This means that if there are four members of your team and two members of the enemy team present, the possession meter moves as if there were two members of your team present.
Throughout the battle, a flag will spawn in the middle of the center bridge. Click it to pick it up, and then return it to any tower that your team controls for bonus resources. This bonus is slightly larger if you control two or three towers, and is extremely large if you control all four towers. For this reason, if your team has three towers and is on the cusp of taking control of the fourth tower, it might be a good idea to wait to turn in the flag.
Winning in Eye of the Storm often comes down to the following:
Built upon the remnants of an ogre civilization, Ashran looks deceptively like a nice enough island just off the coast of Tanaan Jungle. And it probably would be a lovely place to visit if not for the never-ending tug-of-war between the Horde and Alliance taking place in the central region of the zone. Then again, this might just be just your kind of excursion.
Ashran offers tons of opportunities for players to engage in a variety of activities, whether they want to go it solo or join a group, slay monsters, or engage in PvP with their rival faction.
Over the years, players have been asking for more opportunities to engage in world PvP, and we’ve experimented with a variety of approaches to that in places like Halaa and Wintergrasp. Creating opportunities for unscripted, unexpected skirmishes might seem simple on the surface, but they’re often difficult to engineer without sacrificing the unpredictable nature of these encounters. In its purest form, world PvP means no boundaries or limitations on when skirmishes break out. When creating areas specifically designated for PvP encounters, gameplay objectives will always have an impact on how people play and engage with each other. In the end, many will choose the path of least resistance to achieve their faction’s win condition, and sometimes that path involves simply ignoring other players.
In order to create the type of atmosphere that encourages more free-form world PvP in Ashran, we decided to apply lessons we’ve learned from the Timeless Isle. By giving players more personal goals and opportunities—such as killing creatures—players are more likely to find themselves spontaneously engaging in PvP to compete for them. We want players to get caught up in the moment and become emotionally invested in the outcome of each new encounter, whether it’s just getting the drop on a member of the opposite faction player or getting revenge for a stolen kill. While Ashran still has plenty of objective-based conflict (more on that in a bit), if you want that distinctive flavor of world PvP, the island has that for you too.
Located off the coast of Tanaan Jungle, Ashran is a large, open PvP zone for players who have reached the max level of 100, and it offers a little something for everyone. Players can reach the island easily a few different ways, including using a flight path or by unlocking quick access within their Garrison once it reaches Tier 3. The more daring—or foolhardy—adventurers could also try doggy paddling to the island, but we don’t recommend it. (Seriously, we wouldn’t try it if we were you. You’ve been warned. In a world where pretty much everything wants to kill you, you’re best off traveling to an island of pure conflict the safest possible way. We really wouldn’t steer you wrong on this one.)
Unlike previous PvP zones, such as Tol Barad or Wintergrasp, no raid group is required to take part in the excitement, and the zone will cap out at approximately 100 players per side, opening the door to some truly epic-sized confrontations. To keep the action amped up, the same large group of regular realms will feed into the zone, so it’s likely you’ll run into some familiar faces whenever you visit, both friend and foe. There will be plenty of room to roam, as Ashran measures approximately the size of the Isle of Thunder. The intention is to provide as much of a true world PvP experience as we possibly can to those who choose to frequent the island. The odds may not always be in your favor, but with so many places to hunker down to either hide or lie in wait, there are plenty of opportunities to achieve whatever goals you’ve set forth for yourself.
At each end of the island, separate from the conflict enveloping the isle, players will find a small sanctum of relative safety. Full-sized Horde and Alliance hubs sit behind each faction’s base, offering pretty much everything a regular city would.
Ready to dive into the fray? One main artery runs through the center of the zone, and it’s here that you’ll engage in an endless faction tug-of-war. At opposite endpoints, Horde and Alliance bases wait to be captured, and you’ll be fighting for control of five additional capture points as you make your way down the lane. Capturing these points along the way will push you and your faction toward the enemy base, making it possible to take the battle all the way to the opposing faction’s base. To effectively hamstring your opponents and hobble their efforts for a time, you’ll just need to take down their General within their base. Doing so will not only garner you bragging rights, but will also deny the opposing faction access to their General, who serves as a Conquest vendor.
At the central hub, the Ogre King stands waiting, flanked by his two bodyguards. Engaging one of the bodyguards and proving your worth in combat will win the Ogre King to your faction’s side, and he will fight for you for a time. But beware! His endurance is limited, and the longer he goes undefeated, the more susceptible to damage he becomes.
As in many Battlegrounds, each faction will have a Resource count available to them. Once a faction’s Resources drop to 100, they’ll get a little extra help via a randomly spawning Captain who will begin to fight for their side. Many of these will bear familiar names such as Swifty, who will fight for the Alliance, or Talbadar, who will fight for the Horde. There’s no guarantee who will ultimately come to your aid, however. Each time a side reaches this Resource count, a new random captain will join the fray.
There’s more to Ashran than the conflict in the central lane. Around Ashran there are additional points of interest (POIs) and monsters to slay. The various POIs offer a variety of random events which will allow players to win awards for the Horde or Alliance. Buffs can also be earned by killing other players or NPCs. There are currently seven POIs set around the edges of Ashran—we’ll go into detail on each of these later on down the line.
As you make your way around Ashran, you’ll be collecting currency from other players and from monsters you’ve slain. This currency can then be turned in at your base for additional bonuses for your faction, such as Mage Portals or a Warlock Gateway. Or you can choose to summon a random—and truly epic—NPC to join in the fight. You’ll want to take care, though, and plan your turn-ins accordingly. One losing encounter with a player of the opposite faction can strip you of your hard-fought treasure and have it wind up in their pockets instead.
You’ll also be able to collect zone-bound items (usable only on the island) to give yourself a little extra advantage as you take on the various challenges around Ashran.
For those looking for the next step in gear, Ashran will provide access to Conquest-quality gear that is unavailable elsewhere.
Building on lessons learned from the Timeless Isle and Alterac Valley, we want players who make their way to Ashran to always have something exciting to do, and to offer them a true world PvP experience. Whether your aim is to engage in PvP or take on the various points of interest, there’s bound to be something to get your adrenaline going.
Our perilous journey through Draenor now takes us into the treacherous jungles and unforgiving canyons of Gorgrond, where opposing primeval forces are locked in an eternal battle. We sat down with Senior Game Designer Steve Burke, Associate Game Designer Zachariah Owens, and Game Designer Ryan Shwayder to find out more of what this savage land has in store.
Located in northern Draenor, Gorgrond is where heroes either rise up and persevere or fall and become carrion for rylaks. After your initial confrontation with the Iron Horde (in Shadowmoon Valley for the Alliance or Frostfire Ridge for the Horde), this brutal, beautiful land divided by ancient hostilities is your next destination.
Zone Music Piece: The Foundry by Eimear Noone
At this point in our journey, players have survived the rigors of Tanaan Jungle and journeyed through either the majestic forests of Shadowmoon Valley or the icy expanse of Frostfire Ridge. What brings them to Gorgrond, and what’s the story waiting for them to discover there?
Steve Burke: After withstanding the Iron Horde’s initial assault, you’ll make your way into Gorgrond with a handful of allies to try to discover the Blackrock orcs’ intentions and find a way to thwart any plans the Iron Horde may have. It’s a perilous recon mission. Gorgrond is a land of giants embroiled in an epic struggle between creation and destruction. It’s the kind of place you avoid unless you have a death wish.
If you’re an Alliance player, you’ll enter the zone from the eastern coast, where you’ll get your first taste of things to come. You’ll immediately encounter an elite group of draenei known as the Rangari holed up in a hidden encampment, fighting for their lives against vicious plant-like creatures. When the dust settles, your group will join the Rangari survivors and make a retreat to a clearing deeper in the zone.
Horde players will enter the zone from the west, where you’ll encounter the Laughing Skull clan. These maniacal orcs are volatile and bloodthirsty, capable of extreme brutality—and as you experience Gorgrond for yourself, you’ll begin to understand why. The Laughing Skull orcs are struggling to maintain their ancestral territory, but the brutality of being constantly assaulted by the warring factions of the zone has forged them into bloodthirsty savages.
How would you describe the zone’s ambience? What’s it like?
Steve Burke: Gorgrond consists of two distinct regions, each reflecting the nature of its inhabitants. The eastern portion of the zone is filled with lush plant life and shimmering pools. It seems idyllic until you realize looks aren’t everything. The northwest region couldn’t be more different. It’s a dry, barren wasteland, but with a beauty of its own. Fantastic rock formations mixed with geysers and sulphur pools create an unconventionally vibrant environment.
Zachariah Owens: The forested region definitely isn’t what it seems. The creatures here are merciless in seeking out anyone who enters their territory. They will capture them, kill them, and then infest their corpses with plant life or mulch them into fertilizer. Basically, everything in this zone wants to kill or eat you—in that order, if you’re lucky.
Which locations would you say are some of your favorites?
Steve Burke: Personally, I love the steam pools and geysers. They remind me of my visits to Yellowstone as a kid. I really like the level design of the whole zone. It does a great job at setting the scene for the events that take place.
Zachariah Owens: For me, it’s Evermorn Springs. The rainbow, the pristine lake, and the botani homes are a beautiful contrast to the decaying bones and corpses the grove rests upon. The majestic botani move here and there tending to the grove while their infested denizens patrol like mindless guards ready to attack anyone who would threaten the bloom.
Ryan Shwayder: Most of the zone has a really expansive feel to it, but two places in particular always grab my attention. The first is Gronn Canyon. It is filled with dangerous monsters and is a barren wasteland, but it’s also somehow incredibly beautiful. And the name is a pun, which automatically makes me like a place more. The second is Tangleheart, a lush jungle where botani are working to raise new ancients for their armies. The ancients here have fiercely embraced their susceptibility to fire . . . but you'll have to delve into the jungle to see how.
What outposts will players be able to build in Gorgrond, and how do they impact the Garrison?
Steve Burke: The outposts you build shortly after arriving in Gorgrond will provide a preview of a building you might want to include in your own Garrison. In this zone, you’ll make a meaningful choice between building a Lumber Mill and a Sparring Arena.
The Lumber Mill will grant access to the shredder, a vehicle you can summon throughout the zone. The shredder will grant powerful abilities and allow you to cut your way to otherwise inaccessible treasures and areas.
The Sparring Arena will provide a gladiator who will fight alongside you and bestow a buff that will increase in power based on your prowess. If you do the entire quest line, you will free up to five gladiators, each with their own distinct buffs.
Your choice of outpost will also determine which region of the zone you’re directed to quest through and have an impact on how you’ll assault the Iron Horde.
There’s lots left to discover on our journey through Draenor—be sure to check back for more zone previews soon.
Welcome to an early look at patch notes for the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion: Warlords of Draenor. The new expansion introduces a wealth of new content and changes. There's also a new patch note format, which we hope will help better convey the reasoning for many of the changes being made and what they mean for you, while providing more background into issues we're trying to solve.
Please be aware that the Beta patch notes are preliminary and not final. Details may change before retail release and new information will be added for additional features as development continues on the Warlords of Draenor expansion. Note: Not all the content listed may be available for immediate testing or may only be available during a limited testing window during the Beta.
For more information about Alpha testing and how you can opt in for a chance to participate in the Warlords of Draenor beta test later down the line, check out World of Warcraft®: Warlords of Draenor™ Beta Test Begins! Changes since last update to the patch notes are denoted in red.
Looking for a TL;DR summary of all of the changes? Here you go!
A new row of talents has been added for level 100. For testing purposes, these are currently accessible at level 90.
Draenor Perks is a new feature that adds rewards for leveling. Over levels 91 to 99, you will earn these 9 new Draenor Perk in a random order. Each class and specialization has a different set of 9 Draenor Perks.
You can preview the new talents on the talent calculator at the fansites here. (Please note that the links below will take you to an external website.)
The Iron Horde army is massive and reinforcements from Azeroth are few. In order to stand a chance, you will need to build an army of your own.
Character progression is one of the defining characteristics of a role-playing game. Naturally, that means that we're continuously adding more power to the game for players to acquire. After 4 expansions and over 9 years of this growth, we've gotten to a point where the numbers involved are no longer easy to grasp. And worse, much of the granularity that's available is tied up in tiers of older content from Molten Core to Dragon Soul, none of which are really relevant anymore. It's no longer necessary for Borean Tundra quest gear to be nearly twice as powerful as Netherstorm quest gear, even though the two zones are only a couple of levels apart.
We've also streamlined the multitude of various types of Haste % and Critical Strike % bonuses.
The "primary" stats, Agility, Strength, and Intellect, are foundations of a character’s power. But they have not been created equally, making it difficult to properly balance them against secondary stats. The leading reason for this is that Agility and Intellect also provide Critical Strike chance, in addition to Attack Power or Spell Power, whereas Strength does not. In order to achieve better balance, we've removed the Critical Strike chance increase from Agility and Intellect. Still, it felt like Agility-based characters should critically strike more often, so we've raised those classes’ baseline Critical Strike chance to compensate.
We've consolidated the way that Attack Power and Spell Power function and scale, to make those values clearer and correct some scaling issues regarding caster weapons relative to physical weapons.
Active mitigation has worked very well as a tanking model. So, moving forward we want to keep the amount of Dodge and Parry on tanks on the low side. This helps prevent encounters from causing very spiky damage on tanks, which generally isn't much fun. Dodge and Parry gains from Strength and Agility are being reduced to help accomplish this. Additionally, items in Warlords of Draenor will not have Dodge or Parry on them as a stat. Some Dodge and Parry can still be gained through class-specific effects.
We’re making a number of changes to itemization based on a single philosophy: We want to increase the chance that any given item drop is useful to someone in your group. To support this philosophy we’re making a few changes to stats. Most items found in Draenor will work for all specializations within a given class, so that you never have to grumble when you see, for example, Intellect plate drop in a group that lacks a Holy Paladin.
We’re also reducing the number of role-specific stats: Hit and Expertise are gone, as are Dodge and Parry as stats on items, replaced with a single tank stat of Bonus Armor. Armor and Spirit will be specific to tanks and healers respectively, but all other secondary stats will have universal appeal.
Because of the magnitude of this change, we’re retroactively applying this philosophy to items in Mists of Pandaria. After the pre-expansion patch you may find that some of your items contribute different stats, but they should still be good for your class.
New Secondary Stats Added
Mists of Pandaria and Future Items
Warlords of Draenor and Future Items
Hit and Expertise were not fun stats. They acted to remove a penalty, instead of making you stronger. Most players treated Hit/Expertise caps as mandatory (rightfully so), with failure to reach those caps as a trap of sorts. After adjusting, gemming, and reforging gear to meet that cap, players could then go after the actual damage-increasing stats. We decided to remove Hit and Expertise, and make it so you don't need them. We still want melee specializations to attack creatures from behind when possible, so attacks from the front will have a 3% chance to be parried that cannot be eliminated for non-tanking specializations.
A new concept that we’re introducing is each specialization having an attunement to a particular secondary stat. These take the form of a passive ability that grants a 5% increase to the amount of a specific secondary stat gained. This provides a good starting point for where to focus your secondary stats. Usually, it will be your highest throughput stat (not counting Spirit for Healers, and Bonus Armor for Tanks, which is an optimal secondary stat in most cases). There are exceptions, and raw throughput may not even be the biggest concern in some situations. Treat this as a guideline, not a rule, about which secondary stat to favor.
We’re planning several interconnected changes designed to provide better-tuned gameplay for healers and improve the healing dynamic in PvP.
The high amount of base Resilience and Battle Fatigue in Mists of Pandaria caused characters to feel much weaker in PvP than they did in PvE. To address this disparity, we’re approaching Warlords of Draenor with the goal of shrinking that gap as much as possible. To reduce dependence on Resilience, we needed to increase player survivability against other players, and we chose to do this by essentially doubling (post-squish) player health.
On its own, that increase in health would make players more survivable in the world at large, so we’re also increasing creature damage and the effectiveness of healing spells to balance things out. The net result of these changes is that individual attacks will knock a smaller chunk off of a player’s health pool in PvP, but your survivability in PvE remains unaffected.
Doubling player health gave us room to reduce Resilience and Battle Fatigue, but our goal was to be able to remove them entirely. In order to achieve that, we’re also reducing PvP spike damage across the board by lowering Critical Damage and Critical Heals against players in PvP to 150% of their normal effect (down from 200%). Our hope is that these changes allow us to reduce Base Resilience and Battle Fatigue to 0%. It’s possible that we’ll still find a need for some minor amount of Base Resilience and/or Battle Fatigue, and we’ll be testing these changes extensively and adjusting as needed.
Changes to PvP
Changes to Health Pools
One of our goals for healing is to tone down the raw throughput of healers relative to the size of player health pools. Currently, as healers and their allies acquire better and better gear, the percentage of a player’s health that any given heal restores increases significantly. As a result, healers are able to refill health bars so fast that we have to make damage more and more “bursty” in order to challenge them. Ideally, we want players to spend some time below full health without having healers feel like their groupmates are in danger of dying at any moment. We also think that healer gameplay would be more varied, interesting, and skillful if your allies spent more time between 0% and 100%, rather than just getting damaged quickly to low health, forcing the healer to then scramble to get them back to 100% as quickly as possible.
To that end, we’re buffing heals less than we’re increasing player health. Heals will be deliberately less potent compared to health pools than before the item squish. Additionally, as gear improves, the scaling rates of health and healing will now be very similar, so the relative power of any given healing spell shouldn’t climb so much over the course of this expansion. For those concerned about what this means for raiding, don’t worry—we’re taking all of these changes into account when designing Raid content for Warlords of Draenor.
It’s also important to note that spells that heal based on a percentage of maximum health are being effectively buffed by the massive increase to player health pools, so we’re lowering those percentages to offset the effect. That may make them appear to have been nerfed—however, the net result is that those percentage-based heals stay about the same as before relative to other heals.
All of these changes apply to damage-absorption shields as well. Additionally, we're toning down the power of damage absorption in general. When they get too strong, absorption effects are often used in place of direct healing, instead of as a way to supplement it. We will, of course, take these changes into account when tuning specializations that rely heavily on absorbs, such as Discipline Priests.
We also took a look at healing spells that were passive or auto-targeted (so-called "smart" heals). We want healers to care about who they're targeting and which heals they're using, so that their decisions matter more. To that end, we're reducing the healing of many passive and auto-targeted heals, and making smart heals a little less smart. Smart heals will now randomly pick any injured target within range instead of always picking the most injured target. Priority will still be given to players over pets, of course.
Another of our goals for healing in this expansion is to strike a better balance between single-target and multi-target healing spells. We've taken a close look at the mana efficiency of our multi-target heals, and in many cases, we're reducing their efficiency, usually by reducing the amount they heal. Sometimes, but more rarely, raising their mana cost was a better decision. We want players to use multi-target heals, but they should only be better than their single-target equivalents when they heal more than two players without any overhealing. This way, players will face a meaningful choice between whether to use a single-target heal or a multi-target heal based on the situation.
Finally, we're removing the low-throughput, low-mana-cost heals like Nourish, Holy Light, Heal, and Healing Wave, because we think that while they do add complexity, they don’t truly add depth to healing gameplay. (We’re also renaming some spells to re-use those names. For example, Greater Healing Wave is being redubbed Healing Wave.) However, we still want healers to think about their mana when deciding which heal to cast, and so the mana costs and throughputs of many spells are being altered to give players a choice between spells with lower throughput and lower cost versus spells with higher throughput and higher costs. Here are some examples from each healer class.
All of this discussion of efficiency may cause most healers to start worrying about mana regeneration and their mana pool. To allay those concerns, we’ve increased base mana regeneration a great deal at early gear levels, while having it scale up less at later gear levels. This will make all of these changes play well even in early content such as Heroic Dungeons and the first tier of Raid content, and also play well in the final Raid tier without mana and efficiency becoming irrelevant due to extremely high regeneration values.
That’s a lot of big changes for healers: reduced throughput, a more deliberate pace, less powerful “smart” heals, weaker absorbs, fewer spells, and a new focus on efficiency decisions. We’re confident that we can apply lessons learned from previous expansions to make this the best healer experience yet: more dynamic, less punishing, and frankly a lot more fun.
General Changes to Healing
We want races to have fun and interesting perks, but if those traits are too powerful, players may feel compelled to play a specific race even if it doesn't suit their aesthetic preference. For example, Trolls' Berserking ability was extremely powerful, and their Beast Slaying passive was often irrelevant, but occasionally tremendously powerful compared to other racial passives. On the other end of the spectrum, many races had few or no performance affecting perks. We also needed to replace or update a number of racials that previously granted Hit or Expertise, since those stats have been removed.
We decided to bring down the couple high outliers, then establish a fair baseline and bring everyone else up to that. We achieved that by improving old passives, replacing obsolete ones, and occasionally adding new ones where needed. Our goal with these changes is to reach parity amongst races.
Over the years, we've added significantly more new spells and abilities to the game than we've removed. This has led to the complexity of the game increasing steadily over time, to the point we're at now, where players feel like they need dozens of keybinds. There are many niche abilities which could theoretically be useful in some rare case, but usually are not. There are many abilities that we'd be better off not having. We decided that we needed to make a strong push for paring down the number of abilities each class/spec has. That means making some abilities restricted to certain specs that really need them instead of being class-wide, and outright removing some other abilities. It also includes removing some Spellbook clutter, such as passives that could be merged with others, or with base abilities.
Please see the Classes Section for changes specific to each class.
Another big takeaway from Mists of Pandaria is that there was simply too much crowd control (CC) in the game. To solve that, we knew that we needed an across-the-board disarmament. Here's a summary of the player-cast CC changes:
Additionally, we've significantly reduced the number of throughput-increasing cooldowns and procs, in order to further reduce burst damage. Please keep in mind when reading the specifics of the patch notes that some classes may have lost abilities, or had the power of select abilities reduced. These changes were made in the context of the above goals. Other classes have a reduced crowd-control ability overall. We believe that this entire package of changes will make PvP a more enjoyable experience for everyone.
Moving quickly has always been a powerful bonus in World of Warcraft; however, the logic of how various movement speed bonuses stack (or don't) has generally been inconsistent and poorly explained. Under the old set-up, each movement speed bonus would become more powerful when combined with another, so we would limit what can stack with what, and prevent certain abilities from being used when another one is already in effect. We decided to change the movement speed system to make it more transparent, with rules about stacking that are easier to understand, and with fewer restrictions.
Previously, multiple movement speed modifiers on you were multiplicative, meaning that if you had two different +25% movement speed bonuses, they resulted in a total movement speed of 56% (1.25*1.25 = 1.56).
Movement speed bonuses have been changed to be additive. The previous example with two different +25% movement speed bonuses would result in a total movement speed of +50%. The logic governing which bonuses stack with others has been simplified as well.
Additionally, restrictions that prevented a player with a temporary speed bonus from receiving or activating a second temporary speed bonus have been removed. Both bonuses will now apply to the character, but only the one with the highest magnitude will have any effect.
Examples of self-only passive bonuses: Cat Form, Movement Speed enchants, Quickness racial for Night Elves, Unholy Presence
Examples of shared or temporary bonuses: Angelic Feather, Sprint, Stampeding Roar
All specializations provide some common buffs and debuffs. These are important to the game because they encourage cooperation, make you stronger when you work together with others, and promote Raid composition diversity. However, we saw room to revise these buffs and debuffs. In addition to the above changes, we revised which buffs and debuffs are provided by Hunter pets. Please see the Hunter Pet Abilities section for a full list of changes.
Two new stats have been added that benefitted all players. Also added were three new debuffs (Weakened Armor, Physical Vulnerability, and Magic Vulnerability) that each benefitted only half of the group. While that could be interesting, the two physical debuffs were redundant, and felt that the two new stats would be better suited as raid buffs. So, we made that replacement.
Weakened Blows was a debuff that mattered almost exclusively to tanks, and that every tank automatically applied. We removed the debuff and reduced creature damage to compensate.
The Cast Speed Slow was a debuff type that mattered almost exclusively to PvP, and made combat much less fun for casters in addition to encouraging the use of instant-cast spells. We decided that it was best to remove casting speed debuffs.
As part of a push to combine the different types of Haste in the game as much as possible, we merged Spell Haste and Attack Speed into just Haste, which benefits everyone.
Some classes received new abilities to provide some of harder-to-find buffs/debuffs, increasing their utility to the Party or Raid.
Various classes bring various abilities that provide utility to parties and raids. We talked about one type of utility in the Buffs and Debuffs section, above. However, there are other types of raid utility, and it’s been in need of more attention. In general, raid utility, especially raid-wide defensive cooldowns, had grown too strong. So many classes and specializations had defensive cooldowns that we had to make raid damage extremely high, as raids would be stacking or chaining together multiple cooldowns. We'd like to return to a system where it's the healers who heal through the scary moments, not the damage dealers, for example.
To do so, we’ve established a new baseline level of raid utility that a specialization should bring, and brought everyone to that new standard by reducing the effects of some abilities, or removing some abilities altogether.
Over time, healers have gained a bigger and bigger arsenal of heals that they can cast while on the move, which removes the inherent cost that movement is intended to have for them, while also limiting players’ ability to counter healing in PvP. This left Silences and crowd control (which we’re trying to curb) as the only ways to actually limit an enemy player's healing output. We're still preserving the option to instantly heal, but are reducing the number of instant-cast healing abilities overall. Raid and dungeon encounter damage during high-movement phases will be adjusted accordingly.
There are many effects in the game which deal periodic damage over time (DoT) or healing over time (HoT). Historically, these have typically done something called “snapshotting”; they were based on your stats at the time that they were cast, and that was used for calculating their effect for their full lifetime. In Mists, if a warlock casts Corruption on an enemy while Heroism is active, that DoT will continue to tick rapidly based on the temporary haste effect, even after Heroism fades. This has led to some gameplay that has both good and bad sides.
Skilled players will still be able to take advantage of temporary power buffs like trinket procs, and you'll still want to cast your hardest hitting spells within those proc durations. The benefits just won't extend outside the trinket procs’ duration. As such, this high-skill gameplay is there, it's just rewarded more consistently. For example, a Priest’s trinket procs and an already active Shadow Word: Pain will begin dealing more damage the instant the proc effect occurs, but will return to normal when the proc duration ends. Skilled players will be able to play within these proc durations to maximize effect, but it won’t be as detrimental to output to anyone who isn’t actively and skillfully using them to their full extent.
The changes to tanking made in Mists of Pandaria turned out quite well, overall. But there were a few rough parts that we're going to smooth over. The biggest one is the offensive capabilities of Vengeance. We like that tanks can provide meaningful DPS to their group, however, it swung wildly based on the fight, even surpassing the dedicated damage dealers occasionally. To solve this, we're going to remove the offensive value of Vengeance, but preserve the defensive value, by making it increase the effect of your active mitigation buttons, instead of Attack Power.
Then, to keep tank DPS meaningful, we'll be raising their damage, since it would be meager with no Vengeance Attack Power (Vengeance accounted for 70-90% of a tank's damage on high-tank-damage fights in Mists). To do that, we're increasing the damage of several prominent tank abilities. For plate-wearing Tank specializations, Riposte has been redesigned to convert Critical Strike into Parry, a defensive stat. That also helps keep secondary stats balanced in offensive value for them.
Finally, we have the topic of tanks in PvP. Apart from a few niche cases like flag carrying; tanks have been intentionally non-viable in serious PvP for several expansions now. The reason for this was simple: fighting against tanks was very frustrating, not fun. They were near-invincible, had numerous CC abilities (primary stuns), but did little enough damage to not be able to kill you (in most cases, anyway). By excluding them from PvP, we preserved the enjoyment of the rest of the playerbase. However, that has the obvious downside that people who prefer to play tanks are excluded from doing so in PvP.
We decided that we could do better, and satisfy everyone involved. Our other changes to tanks in Warlords of Draenor got us most of the way there. Tanks’ damage will already be tuned to be somewhat weaker than damage dealers, but not trivial. We’ve already removed the additional CC that they had during the CC Disarmament and Ability Pruning. All that remains that makes them frustrating to fight against is their invincibility. So, we’re causing tanks to take increased damage in PvP, so that the net result is that they both deal and take somewhat less damage than damage dealers.
Strict facing requirements can be frustrating to deal with, especially in hectic Raid combat or PvP environments. In order to ease this frustration, we decided to remove or significantly loosen the facing requirements of all attacks that required the player to be behind their target.
Being able to quickly understand what an ability does by glancing at the tooltip is of paramount importance to learn how to play with a given class or specialization. We’ve taken an extensive look at the tooltips for all class abilities, and revised them to be as clear and concise as possible.
In some rare cases, we’ve removed mention of niche information that we don’t think is needed. If that's the case, please note that a change to the ability's tooltip does not mean that functionality has changed. If the change in question is not mentioned in the Patch Notes, there has been no change to the ability.
Another area of gameplay that we polished is how characters are able to sustain their own health, primarily when frequently killing enemies, such as in solo questing.
The original intent behind Reforging was to offer a way for players to customize their gear, but in practice it offered little in the way of true choice. Players attempting to optimize every piece of gear were well advised to look up how they were supposed to reforge an item in an online guide or tool that had already determined the optimal choice. It added yet another step to the list of things that must be done to a new item before it was ready to be equipped, reducing the joy of getting an upgrade into a chore.
If an upgrade drops, we want you to be able to equip it with a minimum of fuss. It is for those reasons that we’re removing Reforging from the game.
Combat resurrections are an extremely powerful tool that players have while in combat. Naturally, we apply some limitations. In Mists of Pandaria, that limit was 1 resurrection during a given raid boss encounter for 10-player modes and 3 for 25-player modes. With Flexible difficulty introduced in Patch 5.4, we erred on the forgiving side, and gave Flexible Raids 3 resurrections regardless of raid size.
In Warlords of Draenor, the Flex tech has expanded to more difficulty levels, and we needed a new system to handle combat resurrections more fairly. We knew that continuing with a constant 3 would encourage using the smallest possible raid sizes, while scaling with hard breakpoints would discourage specific group sizes just under those points. Additionally, the limit is not shown anywhere in-game, so it can be easy to lose track of how many resurrections the raid has available (or even know that the limit exists).
So we’ve built a new system to be more transparent, and improve usability.
We made several improvements to the Glyph system. While leveling, characters unlock Glyph slots at several specific levels. However, in order to get glyphs, characters need to visit an Auction House (and potentially pay way more gold than an average character of that level has yet), or know a Scribe from which to request them. To solve this, we've made characters learn some Glyphs automatically as they level. Additionally, we now have the ability to make some glyphs exclusive with each other, or require specific specializations.
Some of our goals with Professions in Warlords of Draenor are to make them more of a personal choice, and less of a mandatory “min/max” selection. To that end, we're removing the direct combat benefits of Professions. Additionally, we've made it easier to level Mining and Herbalism. Healing Potions have gone mostly unused lately, compared to combat stat potions. We chose to solve that problem, along with a problem with Warlock utility, by having Healing Potions and Healthstones share cooldowns.
A number of changes were made for Death Knights. Several cooldowns were made spec-specific. Frost and Unholy's rotations remain unchanged for the most part. Blood received revisions to their Active Mitigation design to bring them up to par with changes to other Tanking specializations. Runic Power generation of Anti-Magic Shell was standardized, to make it more understandable and balanced.
See the Ability Pruning section above for a discussion of why we’re pruning class abilities. For Death Knights, this focused on removing abilities that were redundant, cooldown reduction, or abilities that were not used often.
The biggest change here is the merger of Blood Boil into Pestilence. This change effectively turned Roiling Blood into a passive ability; which we replaced with a new talent, Plaguebearer. For Blood specialization, we removed Rune Strike and are adjusting the cost of Death Coil so that it can be used in Rune Strike’s place.
Another change was to polish up the effect of diseases on the damage of other abilities. Diseases now do enough damage on their own to warrant using them. Having diseases act as multipliers on the damage of other abilities became extraneous and cluttered up the tooltips of those abilities. Those multipliers have been removed, and consolidated their benefits into the corresponding base spell. These changes also results in a slight reduction to ramp-up time.
In order to better balance the scaling rates and value of secondary stats for Unholy Death Knights, we reduced the power of their passive Unholy Might ability, and added a new passive ability to make Multistrike more effective.
Active Mitigation was a very successful design that was inspired by Death Knights' tanking style. However, it went beyond that, and Death Knights themselves were somewhat left behind in that regard. We made several changes to bring up the interactivity of Blood combat. This includes making Death Strike cause healing based on attack power, but be affected by the new Resolve passive (see Tank Vengeance and Resolve above), which gives it the traditional increase from recent damage. Plus, Rune Tap is being significantly improved, to become a strong Active Mitigation button.
To tie those together, Blood's Mastery is being changed to affect both the size of the Blood Shield absorb, and the new Rune Shield absorb.
Additionally, we removed Dodge and Parry from gear, and expect Blood Death Knights to value Haste and Crit as important secondary stats. In order to achieve that, we made Riposte give defensive value to Critical Strikes, and Scent of Blood give defensive value to Multistrike. To solve GCD-capping issues and increase the value of Haste, we also removed the passive rune regeneration increase from Improved Blood Presence. Finally, we tweaked the targeting AI of Dancing Rune Weapon, and fixed it up to properly copy most Talents that you know.
Since the Ghoul pet is now Unholy only, that presents a problem for Death Pact. We revised Death Pact to not require an undead minion, but work a little differently. We left it at 50% heal, which is effectively a 33% buff to it from before (see Retuning Healing Spells and Player Health and Resilience above), and added a healing absorption shield for 50% of the amount healed instead. It should now be a more effective heal for staying alive immediately, but with the downside of needing to heal through the healing absorption shield before being healed any further.
There were also a few other miscellaneous changes. The Runic Power generation of Anti-Magic Shell was standardized, to make it more understandable and balanced. Level-60 and Level-75 talent rows have swapped places, so the important rune regeneration talents could be acquired earlier. Conversion was changed to cost different amounts by specialization, instead of reducing Runic Power generation differently by specialization. This way, Runic Power beyond what you spend on Conversion is not penalized.
See the Ability Pruning section above for discussion of why we’re pruning class abilities. For Druids, we focused thinning out the niche and abilities that were not used often. We made sure to retain abilities for Druids to function in off-spec roles, since that flexibility is a defining characteristic of the class.
For consolidation of abilities, we merged several passive abilities. One notable change is the merging of the Ravage into Shred, and Pounce into Rake; saving a couple keybinds that were only used in conjunction with Prowl. The loss of Symbiosis primarily impacted Druid survivability, as many of the abilities received through Symbiosis were defensive cooldowns. To compensate for that, we improved Barkskin (for non-Feral Druids) and Survival Instincts (for Feral and Guardian Druids).
Guardian Druids had increased Armor as their Mastery for a while now. However, one of the new secondary stats available to all tanks is Bonus Armor. We didn't feel that the difference of being additive vs. being a multiplier was significant enough to warrant keeping their Mastery around. Additionally, active mitigation hasn't played out as well for Guardians as it has for some other tanks.
We decided to redesign the Mastery for Guardian Druids to something that compliments the Avoidance-heavy nature of Savage Defense, and also to improve the usability of Tooth and Claw for more consistent damage reduction. Note that Primal Tenacity's calculation uses the damage before any other absorbs you have, and before Tooth and Claw's effects, so that it isn’t negatively affected by any of the changes.
The maximum number of charges that can be accumulated for Savage Defense has been reduced to make its uptime more consistent between short and long periods of tanking. Rage for Guardian Druids has been problematic throughout Mists of Pandaria. Most of their rage generation was extremely passive, and most of their button presses either didn't affect their survivability, or only trivially did so. We made changes to Haste and Critical Strike, to try to solve these rage generation problems, and improve their rotation. We also added Ursa Major, in order to give a defensive value to the new Multistrike stat.
Feral Druids received one major change, and few tweaks beyond what's been mentioned above in Ability Pruning and Facing Requirements. Combo Points are now stored "on the player", meaning that when you switch targets, any accumulated Combo Points remain with you. Primal Fury was changed to let it affect area attacks as well. Critical strike chance of Ferocious Bite was changed in order to increase the value of Critical Strike. Glyph of Savage Roar was reworked to better achieve its intended effect.
We have some extensive changes for Balance Druids. One of our guiding principles with game design is that things should be "easy to learn, hard to master". We're not particularly happy with the Moonkin rotation because it was actually hard to learn, and easy to master (especially with regards to periodic damage effects no longer snapshotting). Energy and Eclipse mechanics were not intuitive for many newer players. Once you became accustomed to the rotation, there wasn’t much additional depth to mastering it; maintain two DoTs, hit these other two buttons whenever they light up, and spam one of two buttons in between. In order to try to make it easier to learn, but also add some gameplay depth and challenge we're making a significant revision to the rotation. The list of changes is quite dense, so here’s a summary of the changes.
Summary of changes to Balance:
That's the basics of the new Moonkin rotation. There’s room for improvement beyond that, learning to optimally maintain both periodic damage effects with the strongest Eclipse effect, timing Starsurges to optimize the benefit of its buff, make use of Starfall and Hurricane for area damage, and taking advantage of the strengths of each side (such as Moonfire and Sunfire having significant differences now). Here are the full details of the changes.
Details of changes to Balance:
Tranquility has an amazingly strong effect (pour a ton of healing into the whole Raid/Party), but had excessive complexity for a relatively simple task (5 different targets per tick, a short HoT, stacking, varied strength by raid size). So, we simplified it significantly. It still will be used just as it always has been.
Restoration Druids got a few changes as well. In Patch 5.4, a glyph was introduced where you could choose to attach your Efflorescence to Wild Mushroom, instead of to Swiftmend. That was a rousing success and the glyph was taken by nearly all Restoration Druids. It felt like a much better situation to us so we decided to remove the glyph, and bake that gameplay in permanently. Genesis and Wild Mushroom: Bloom fill a similar need for burst healing, so Wild Mushroom: Bloom has been removed; leaving Wild Mushroom to focus on the Efflorescence effect.
Secondly, while we are fine with the playstyle where a Restoration Druid blankets their Raid in Rejuvenations, the Swift Rejuvenation passive made that too strong, and limited their scaling with Haste. We removed that passive to encourage using other spells more, but still allow Rejuvenation blanketing as a viable playstyle. Omen of Clarity got changed to not trigger more often with Tree of Life as it was too strong in our new healing model. Soul of the Forest was also redesigned to fit better with Restoration and Genesis based on the new design for periodic effects.
The level 90-Talent row for Druids was designed to encourage hybrid gameplay. We decided that, while you shouldn't have to give up a significant amount of your primary role throughput in order to gain the off-role benefit, you also don't need to gain an actual benefit to your primary role throughput benefit either. We've reduced the power of their primary role benefit, making them roughly neutral in their effect on your primary role. Note that the increase to off-role healing from Nature's Vigil is not actually a buff (see Retuning Healing Spells and Player Health and Resilience above).
See the Ability Pruning section above for discussion of why we’re pruning or consolidating class abilities.
Hunters have lacked a strong distinction between the different specializations. What we mean by that is that the Hunter specializations all had rotations that felt similar, with Marksmanship and Survival having the most blurred identities (Beast Mastery felt well rooted in the pet). Hunters were also some of the most afflicted by button bloat. To address these problems, we opted to make changes to each specialization's rotation, primarily through removing abilities, and making some of them unique to each spec. This means things like Aimed Shot being the primary Focus dump for Marksmanship, instead of Arcane Shot or Serpent Sting being available only to Survival. Hunters also had a large number of cooldown abilities, which we've also cut down (some of which we moved to the talent tree, competing with other active buttons).
One of the most difficult abilities to decide to cut was Aspect of the Hawk. It began to feel fairly meaningless, since it was used virtually all of the time in combat, so might as well have just been passive. We decided to cut Aspect of the Hawk, and bake in its benefit to the other abilities. The remaining aspect abilities are all utility only, and are being moved off the stance bar and made toggles.
Overall, Hunters should see a drastic reduction in the number of active buttons, and have a clearer distinction between the different specializations. With some of these changes, you may find yourself favoring a different specialization. Keep in mind that Draenor Perks, earned from levels 91 to 99, will serve to further distinguish the different specializations.
One of our new secondary stats Multistrike, is strikingly similar to the Wild Quiver Mastery for Marksmanship Hunters. To address this similarity, we replaced Wild Quiver with a new Mastery: Sniper Training. Marksmanship Hunters that favored Mastery before will want to favor Multistrike for a similar feel. For their new Mastery, we wanted to add some depth to their moment-to-moment gameplay, and compliment Critical Strike. In order to do that, we brought back the concept of Sniper Training.
We also changed the design of Chimera Shot (and fixed its name), in order to better capture the intended flavor. Finally, we added an interaction between Careful Aim and Rapid Fire (and indirectly Aimed Shot through a Draenor Perk), so as to add a bit more depth to their gameplay.
Apart from rotational changes through Ability Pruning, changes for Survival Hunters mostly center on Lock and Load. We changed how Lock and Load is triggered to increase the value of Multistrike, provide gameplay depth and the ability to pool damage more. Also note the new passive ability, Survivalist, which increases multistrike chance by 10%, in order to give Survival Hunters some baseline Multistrike chance.
We did a comprehensive pass on Hunter pet abilities. As mentioned above in Crowd Control and Diminishing Returns, all full crowd-control abilities have been removed from Hunter pets and replaced those with new abilities, including spreading some that were previously restricted to exotic pets. Additionally, Hunters can now tame beasts from new pet families.
There were also a few other changes, primarily for quality of life and rotational consistency.
See the Ability Pruning section for discussion of why we’re pruning class abilities. For Mages, we removed several of the unused and niche abilities from each specialization that didn’t use them primarily.
Most of the Mage abilities required little consolidation. The most notable change here is turning Armor spells into passive abilities for each specialization.
The Mage class has good specialization distinction when it comes to their single-target rotations, but utility and area-of-effect spells were heavily shared between specializations. Commonly, these spells were redundant as well. We made many of their spells specialization-specific (as described in Ability Pruning above). And probably most significant, we made changes to several existing Talents.
Presence of Mind was extremely strong for instant crowd control (CC), which we wanted to curtail. Rather than completely remove Presence of Mind or make it not affect CC abilities, we made it a base Arcane spell, where we don't expect that it will be a problem, since Arcane has less CC than the other Mage specs already. In its place, we've added a new talent, Evanesce. It may seem out of place on a movement-focused talent row at first. In practice, we expect that the similarity will bear out as Mages use it instead of moving away from avoidable damage.
Going along with our goals to reduce cooldown stacking across all of the classes, we decided to remove Alter Time's DPS contribution. Alter Time has a number of clever movement and utility uses, but in practice it was mostly being used for additional uptime of offensive cooldowns. Mages also had many redundant forms of survival utility, so we moved a utility-only version of Alter Time into the Talent tree, replacing Temporal Shield.
A few of the abilities reset by Cold Snap were made spec-specific, or could be overridden with Talents, so we expanded what it can affect to compensate.
The Mage Bomb level-75 Talent row, the Bomb row, was also problematic. We chose to add the Bombs to all Mages' rotations in order to spice them up a bit, to provide rotational variety. That succeeded, and we're overall happy with how they interact with your rotation in a single-target situation, but they also came with the prospect of multi-dotting (applying your damage-over-time spell to many enemies, individually), which we don't feel is an appropriate fit for Mages. Additionally, in order to make all 3 Bombs useful to all specializations, we had to lose some of their spec-specific perks. And, even more importantly, many Mages did not like DoT gameplay at all.
In order to solve all of these problems, we decided to merge the 3 current Bomb Talents into one that changes based on spec. That allows us to reintroduce spec-specific perks to each Bomb, and makes room for some non-DoT alternatives.
One of the most problematic Talent rows in the game has been the Mage level-90 row. The primary theme of the row was mana, which only Arcane Mages actually cared about. Bonus damage was added in, making it functional for all Mages, but muddled in its goals. Additionally, some of them just weren't fun to play with. We've revised the row to be purely about damage, and made them have less maintenance cost. Arcane Mages will have enough mana regeneration without these Talents to perform well.
Frost Mages enjoyed newfound PvE viability in Mists of Pandaria, and we intend to continue that into the future. However, we do want to clean up some rough spots, especially around their valuing of secondary stats, and the amount of instant-cast spells in their rotation. The Frost Armor and Shatter changes increase the amount of Haste/Critical chance that they can acquire on gear before they start hitting soft caps. The Shatter change also lowers the value of Critical Strike for a bit. The changes to the level-75 Talent row meant that having a Bomb spell is no longer guaranteed, so we changed the way that Brain Freeze is triggered. Ice Lance’s non-frozen damage was doubled to make up for no longer having access to Fire Blast and reducing redundancy in the process.
Fire Mage's rotation is looking solid with the new Draenor Perks. However, their cooldown strength could use a buff.
In order to make room for more Haste effects to apply to Arcane Blast, we raised its cast time and damage slightly. We also made Arcane Charges last longer, to aid in questing and encounters.
The brand-new class for Mists of Pandaria, Monks, turned out to be a ton of fun. Brewmasters stayed fairly solid all expansion long. Windwalkers needed a few tweaks here and there, especially to their Mastery, and still have a few shortcomings that we hope to improve, but overall worked quite well. Mistweavers had a bit of a rollercoaster ride, veering between weak and strong over the course of the expansion. Most of our changes to Monks will focus on Mistweavers, to try to get them just right.
See the Ability Pruning section above for discussion of why we’re pruning class abilities. For Monks, the pruning focused on niche abilities. One removal of note is that of Healing Sphere. The active ability to place a Healing Sphere was particularly awkward to use, but overpowered if used perfectly. So we removed it, and replaced it with Healing Surge for Windwalkers and Brewmasters.
Monk ability consolidation is fairly straightforward. It includes merging of some passive abilities, and removing unneeded abilities that didn’t create the gameplay depth they had been intended to.
About midway through the expansion, it became clear that mana was not valuable for Mistweavers. We tried some adjustments to solve that, but it proved too large of a change to make at the time. We chose to just live with that problem for the time being, and tune them around not really caring much about Spirit or mana (once they reached epic gear).
Now that we have the time to tweak things for Mistweavers to acquire new gear, we're making changes to get them in the right spot. Initially, we experimented with giving Mistwavers a 1-second global cooldown (GCD) akin to that of the Rogue to give them a faster combat feel. However, it's proven difficult to balance. Haste is attractive to healers because it lowers not just cast time but GCD as well. Therefore, Monks valued Haste much less than other healers. We explored a few options, but ultimately landed on changing the core GCD for Mistweavers from 1 second to the standard 1.5 seconds, which you will be able to reduce with Haste. This will feel jarring at first, but we're confident that it's for the best, long-term.
Another issue with Mistweavers is that of Eminence, which has never really played out how we had hoped. The intent with Eminence was to create an alternate play style to fulfill the fantasy of healing through dealing damage, since we knew a lot of players had that fantasy, and a new class was the perfect opportunity to satisfy that.
Having two play styles in one spec (Eminence, and traditional Mistweaving, healing primarily through casting heals) proved challenging to balance, because we don't want players to take the best parts of both and stack them into an unintended superior spec. The most notorious of these cases was "Jab-Jab-Uplift". In order to solve this problem, we're giving Mistweavers two stances. Stance of the Wise Serpent will continue to be the stance from which to do traditional Mistweaving. The new Stance of the Spirited Crane will be the stance to use for Eminence. You can swap stances at will, with only the cost of a GCD and any current Chi that you've accrued. The intention is that Crane Stance allows Mistweavers to trade healing for damage; it should fall somewhere in the middle between being a full healer, and being a full damage dealer.
Healing Spheres have been improved. You'll no longer waste them when running over multiples at once when you only need a little healing. We significantly improved the Mistweavers' Healing Spheres effect when they expire. We also made Afterlife's Healing Spheres consistent with the rest of the class.
There were several changes that affected multiple Monk specializations. We’d like to see Monks using Transcendence more often, so its usability has been improved (some baseline, and some in a Draenor Perk). For Touch of Death, we like that it’s a unique execute being usable only once, but found it impractical to use on bosses and have improved its usability. For Tiger Strikes, we buffed it to grant Multistrike ability which it was similar to already, and extended it to work with all Monk specializations. To better balance the damage of Brewmaster versus Windwalker where both share many of the same abilities, we removed the damage increase provided by Tiger Stance, and increased the damage of melee abilities to compensate.
We’re making a few changes that mostly affect Windwalkers, but has a minor impact on Mistweavers and Brewmasters as well. For energy-based gameplay to function well, the primary limitation on ability usage should be energy, not time. As such, we're making the following changes to address GCD-capping problems. First, we’re reducing the effects and mana increase of Ascension, because it became more powerful when combined with several of our other changes to healers. We believe that Ascension will remain as a competitive talent for Brewmasters. Second, energy cost of Jab has been increased for Windwalkers. And Third, we reduced the chance for Combo Breaker to trigger. Individually, these may sound like significant nerfs but Windwalker damage has been adjusted to compensate for these changes. The goal is not to reduce DPS while addressing the issue with GCD-capping.
There are a couple of additional changes for Windwalkers. Storm, Earth, and Fire, got buffed to make it smoother to use. We also buffed Fists of Fury because we felt that the ability wasn’t giving a strong enough damage boost given its restrictions and impact on the Monk's rotation.
For Brewmasters, Gift of the Ox has been modified to allow it to scale defensively with the new Multistrike stat. The Black Ox Statue has been modified to aid Monks in establishing threat on new enemies instead of shielding allies. We also removed the Misfire effect, as it did not live up to its original idea, and was unnecessary.
See the Ability Pruning section above for discussion of why we’re pruning class abilities. For Paladins, the pruning focused on removing niche abilities, and trimming cooldowns.
There were a few mergers of passive abilities, and some tweaks to a couple of abilities.
We made several changes for Holy, to go along with other larger system changes to compensate for the removal of Guardian of Ancient Kings from Holy, and merged its benefits into Divine Favor. In order to follow through on our change to merge all types of Haste %, we removed the Spell Haste % from Seal of Insight to a Holy-only passive, so that it didn't also increase Protection's baseline Haste by 10%. Our changes to healer mana and mobility also indirectly increased the value of Selfless Healer by a large amount, so we brought it back down to be even in power with the other talents on its row. We also raised the range of Denounce to be consistent with other spells. Lastly, we adjusted the critical strike chance of Holy Shock, to increase the value of Critical Strike for Holy Paladins.
For Protection, we tweaked Eternal Flame in order to reduce its massive self-healing amount, and provide better balance between talents on that row. We also added a new passive, Shining Protector, in order to give defensive value to the new Multistrike stat.
We made a few additional changes to Paladins. We revised the functionality of Hammer of the Righteous a bit, such that its performance is about the same, but its tooltip is much clearer. We also made Stay of Execution much more attractive to use as an emergency button. We also revised how Eternal Flame interacts with Holy Power, and allowed it to once again trigger Illuminated Healing. One big change for Retribution that isn't mentioned here is the removal of Inquisition (see Ability Pruning), which will have a notable effect on their rotation.
Priests received several significant changes, mainly focused on reining in Discipline's damage absorption shields, improving quality of life for Discipline and Holy specializations, and solving single-target damage issues for Shadow.
See the Ability Pruning section above for discussion of why we’re pruning class abilities. For Priests, pruning focused on removing redundant off-role abilities, trimming cooldowns, and removing niche abilities.
Priests had quite a few bits of complication strewn throughout their spells which we polished out.
Atonement was the original damage-to-healing conversion ability, but grew out of control during Mists of Pandaria. We decided to reduce its effectiveness, to bring it more in line with our goal of it being an option to trade significant healing for significant damage (ending up somewhere between a full healer and a full damage dealer). Another place where Discipline's absorbs were too strong was in their interaction with the level-90 Talents, especially in large Raids. Near the end of Mists of Pandaria, we uncapped the AoE healing of that Talent row; that has proven to be a mistake in Discipline's case, not just because it caused the level-90 Talents themselves to heal for too much, but rather because the gigantic overhealing that that produced translated into gigantic Divine Aegis absorbs.
For Holy Priests, our biggest concern is with the Chakras. We think that Chakras are the defining abilities of Holy Priests, but that they haven't lived up to their potential. We decided to move more of their effectiveness from their raw throughput buff (which felt like a penalty for being in the wrong chakra, rather than a bonus for being in the right Chakra) into their bonus effects, and the Holy Word spells that they grant. Please note that all Priest healing spells have been retuned to account for the loss of throughput increases from Chakras. We also returned Renew to a normal 1.5-second global cooldown (GCD), so that Renew blanketing is still possible, but less ideal without Haste. Finally, the ability for Power Word: Shield to critically strike or Multistrike is now baseline for all Priest specializations instead of just Discipline so that it continues to be a viable choice for Holy at higher gear levels.
Shadow Priests had one large problem toward the end of Mists of Pandaria: single-target damage. Their AoE and multi-DoT damage was some of the best around, so they still ended up competitive on most fights. But, in any fight that was mostly single-target, they felt lacking. Additionally, one of the new stats we're adding in Warlords of Draenor, Multistrike, is almost exactly what their current Mastery, Shadowy Recall, does for DoTs. So, we took these two problems and came up with a change that we think will solve both of them. The result is a new Mastery, which primarily increases single-target damage. Shadow Priests who want to focus on single-target damage can aim for Mastery in their gearing; or, when multi-dotting is more valuable, prefer other secondary stats over Mastery.
The cooldown of Mind Blast has also been adjusted to make Haste more valuable for Shadow, and removes Haste breakpoints.
Several talents were split into different versions by specialization. We revised the effectiveness of some of these talents to better balance talent choices on their row. We also swapped the Level-15 and Level-60 talent rows so players are presented with core Priest themed abilities earlier in the leveling process.
To get back to a balanced place, we've reapplied the AoE caps to the level-90 Talents, making them consistent with all other AoE heals, and reduced their effectiveness across the board. We’ve compensated for this in the tuning of Priest baseline heals.
First, there are a couple of quality-of-life changes for Prayer of Mending and Angelic Feathers. Next is a fix for a problem with Void Tendrils, where it lasts its full duration against creatures that had no way to attack it, such as in certain Raid encounters (note that the health reduction is to keep it where it was in health, compared to player health doubling). We also removed the Mana generation from Shadowfiend, in order to simplify it to being a burst-damage-cooldown. And last but certainly not least, we're making Holy Nova an efficient AoE healing spell for Discipline Priests.
See the Ability Pruning section above for discussion of why we’re pruning class abilities. For Rogues, a couple of abilities were changed to be specialization specific where they were redundant, did some thinning on cooldown.
Rogues received several mergers of passive abilities. There's also additional cooldown thinning with the change to Tricks of the Trade.
The biggest change for Rogues is a fundamental change to how Combo Points work. They're now shared across all enemies; you can swap targets and you won't lose your Combo Points.
Bandit's Guile is an interesting mechanic that is important to Combat gameplay, but wasn't working out quite as well as we think that it could. In particular, there's basically no way to adjust when you're going to be in Deep Insight, other than stopping your rotation (and thus wasting energy, combo points, temporary effects, cooldown time, etc.). So, we're making an adjustment to Revealing Strike and Bandit's Guile. The intention here is that you can use Revealing Strike in place of Sinister Strike when you want to delay Deep Insight (such as to line it up with a specific upcoming fight mechanic), and have little lost damage besides the overall Deep Insight uptime. We don't expect this nuanced rotation adjustment to be used by all Combat Rogues, but having a little more control over the pace of your rotation will be useful to some.
Also worth noting here is the removal of Ambidexterity. This was done to reduce the amount of damage coming from auto attacks for Combat Rogues. We’ve increased the damage of their active abilities to compensate and make them more rewarding.
Finally, we changed Main Gauche to accentuate the importance of the off-hand weapon for Combat.
Among some other changes to improve Rogue AoE damage, we made a couple of baseline changes, and added a few Draenor Perks that impacts their AoE.
Honor Among Thieves is an extremely powerful ability, but has the downside that it adds significant disparity between character power while soloing and while in a group. We made this change to bring up the soloing Subtlety Rogue, without having a significant impact on their performance while in a group. The passive ability Sinister Calling also received significant change to better balance scaling rates, the value of secondary stats, improve Multistrike for them, and add rotational depth.
A couple of Rogue abilities do periodic damage, but don't have an intended alternative if that periodic is already on the target. We made these abilities roll remaining damage from their previous effect into the new effect, so that it's still ideal to use them again in these cases.
Subterfuge has proved too powerful, and frustrating to play against in PvP, so we decided to reduce its defensive capabilities, while preserving its offensive power. We changed the Subterfuge period to allow the use of stealth abilities without actually stealthing you, similar to Shadow Dance.
See the Ability Pruning section above for discussion of why we’re pruning class abilities. For Shamans, we removed some niche abilities, and also split out a few abilities by specialization.
Shaman had a number of extra abilities that were consolidated to provide a smoother rotation flow. Mana regeneration and mana costs for Elemental and Enhancement were made compensate for abilities removed via Ability Pruning. The removal of Weapon Imbues was significant. There was always one right answer for each specialization, and so we made the appropriate Weapon Imbue passive to each spec, or tuned abilities around its removal.
Finally, there’s the removal of Rolling Thunder. In concept, this is a simple merger of Rolling Thunder into Fulmination, but also with some consolidation of its effects; the mana recovery component was removed along with other mana changes, and the random chance was removed while maximum stack size was increased to compensate. The randomness in Rolling Thunder became redundant, because there already was a source of randomness in Elemental Overload now that Multistrikes trigger it.
For Elemental and Enhancement, we had a few problems to solve. Enhancement suffers from having their damage split among so many damage sources that none of it feels impressive. We changed the damage of several abilities to try to reorganize their damage into fewer, more impactful abilities, while keeping the net total the same. For a long time Elemental Shaman was one of the specializations most impacted by movement, at a time where other casters were increasingly able to cast while moving.
In Warlords of Draenor, we're pulling back on the ability for many casters to deal damage while moving, and that includes Elemental. They will still have some ability to deal damage while moving, through Shocks, Unleash Weapon, and instant Lava Bursts. For Chain Lightning, we wanted to reduce the impact of Haste soft capping, and so changed Shamanism to increase damage instead of reduce cast time. Additionally, we simplified Wind Shear by removing its impact on threat, which no longer matters.
One of the new secondary stats Multistrike, functions very similarly to Elemental Overload. We wanted to keep Mastery and Multistrike feeling distinct, but also know how iconic and important Elemental Overload is for Elemental Shaman. So, we decided to merge the two together with Multistrike driving Elemental Overload, and give the Elemental specialization a new Mastery. For the new Mastery, we wanted to strengthen the Elemental Shaman’s connection to earth energies, and added damage that continues while the Shaman is moving. The summary of all this is that if you liked Mastery before, favor Multistrike instead for the same effect. Or try out the new Mastery: Molten Earth.
Restoration Shaman had the most passive and smart healing of any healer, and so received some reductions in that area, along with buffs elsewhere to keep them competitive.
We also made a couple quality of life improvements to Shaman Shield spells.
Warlocks received some polish but remain relatively unchanged. They saw the most change of any class in Mists of Pandaria, and so were in need of less revision this time around.
See the Ability Pruning section above for discussion of why we’re pruning class abilities. For Warlocks, that primarily focused on removing niche abilities.
Soulburn had several extremely niche spell amplifications which were removed. We distinguished Hand of Gul’dan and Chaos Wave further by removing the snare from the former and improving the snare of the latter. Beyond that, there was a simple consolidation of some abilities.
We felt that Warlocks brought too much unique Raid utility, so decided to tone down Healthstones and Demonic Gateway. We moved Healing Potions and Healthstones into a cooldown of their own, and made them usable once per combat.
For Affliction, we're happy with their rotation. But, Drain Soul was causing them to be too strong in situations where they had a steady supply of small creatures to kill. We reduced the effectiveness of its on-kill effect in order to solve this. Additionally, Soul Swap was changed to cost 1 Soul Shard to push it into its intended role of being a more expensive but faster method of applying your periodic damage effects, and better balance it against Haunt.
We've reduced the ability for ranged damage dealers to deal damage while moving in Warlords. Kil'jaeden's Cunning became a problematic talent because its mobility made Warlocks much stronger compared to other casters. We redesigned how the ability works to be more powerful in bursts instead of always affecting only some spells.
Finally, there are a couple of miscellaneous changes. For Drain Life, we reduced the base healing somewhat, but massively increased the effectiveness of the Glyph which increases its healing, so as to help open up more potential Drain Life use in ideal situations. And lastly, we simplified Shadowburn a bit.
See the Ability Pruning section above for discussion of why we’re pruning class abilities. For Warriors, we focused on removing abilities that were redundant, and making some tweaks to their rotations.
Warriors have always had stances; they’re very important to the feeling of being a Warrior. In order to make stances more meaningful, and ease keybinds, we made stances have their own action bars, and re-added stance restrictions on abilities. However, we also made it so that you’ll automatically be shifted into the appropriate stance if you try to use an ability that isn’t usable in your current stance.
We wanted to fix a few problems with Warriors. Prominently, we still weren't happy with Arms' rotation (and neither were many players), so we've made some more changes. The goal is to remove needless complexity while simultaneously adding more depth. As mentioned in the above section on Ability Pruning, Overpower and Heroic Strike have been removed for Arms Warriors. In their place, Slam now costs less Rage, and Execute has been revised to provide more dynamic gameplay throughout the whole fight while still retaining its identity of a low-health finisher.
In addition, we weren’t satisfied with the Mastery for Arms. The intended flavor for Arms is about hitting with few, big, and heavy weapon strikes. Strikes of Opportunity actually went opposite of that, adding frequent little hits. We’ve replaced Strikes of Opportunity with a new Mastery which accentuates their intended design.
As with other classes, we wanted to reduce cooldown stacking. Cutting Skull Banner did a ton to help that across the whole game. But for Warriors specifically, we needed to make further changes, including merging some of the personal benefit of Skull Banner back into Recklessness. Also, to make up for Throw being removed, we modified Heroic Throw to be more frequently usable.
Haste has long been a problematic stat for Warriors, usually being of little value. As part of our commitment to ensuring all secondary stats are valuable (except Bonus Armor for non-tanks and Spirit for non-healers, of course), we're making a significant change to Warriors, to ensure that Haste has strong, competitive value. We're giving all Warriors a new passive, which lets haste affect their global cooldown, and the cooldowns of their very-short-cooldown rotational abilities.
Protection Warriors have received a few notable changes. First, we removed Dodge and Parry from gear, and expect Protection Warriors to value Haste and Critical Strike as important secondary stats. In order to achieve that, we made Riposte give defensive value to Critical Strike. The aforementioned Headlong Rush also helps for valuing Haste.
A few Warrior talents also were in need of revision. First, Second Wind was problematic; it was sometimes too weak, and sometimes too strong. We chose to change it from a passive health regeneration effect to the new Leech effect, so that low-health Warriors have to maintain combat in order to benefit, instead of kiting, hiding, or otherwise playing defensively. Enraged Regeneration was changed to account for the removal of Enrage from Arms.
The level-45 talent row was removed for crowd-control disarmament reasons, and also wanted to allow you to choose more rotational complexity through talents. We replaced the row with new talents, many of which are specialization-specific, giving you a variety of playstyle choices for your Warrior.
For the level-60 and level-90 Talent rows, certain combinations were proving problematic. We decided that Stormbolt would better compete with Shockwave and Dragon Roar, and that Bladestorm would better compete with Avatar and Bloodbath, so swapped Stormbolt and Bladestorm's positions. We also adjusted the effects of a few talents in order to make them more competitive with the talents on their row.
Fury Warriors received a few additional changes. In particular, Heroic Strike has been removed for Fury Warriors, and modified Wild Strike to fill the role of quick excess Rage dump. We also made a revision to the Critical Strike chance of Bloodthirst to make them less crit-dependant. A new glyph has been added which gives Fury Warriors a choice for a notably different playstyle. Auto attack damage had become too high, so we also moved some damage from that into Execute (which has been changed to deal damage based on Weapon Damage, instead of just Attack Power). Plus, we've updated some to spell alerts to improve usability.
With the introduction of one of the level-100 Warrior Talents, which deals Fire damage, we also expanded Enrage to affect all damage, not just Physical damage. We're also making a change to the design of Deep Wounds, to try to limit is effectiveness in PvP, without hurting its effectiveness in PvE.
Our journey into the wilds of Draenor takes us next into Talador. We unabashedly absconded with a little of Associate Quest Designer Johnny Cash’s* time to learn what’s waiting for players here.
Located in the heart of Draenor, Talador offers significant strategic value to the Iron Horde should they complete their quest to gain control. The city of Shattrath, a shining jewel of draenei civilization, now lies in the Iron Horde’s clutches, and the situation is looking grim..
Zone Music Piece: Last Light by Neal Acree
What can you tell us about the path that leads players into the events taking place in Talador? How does the story evolve within this zone?
Johnny Cash: After coming out of a major confrontation against the Iron Horde in Gorgrond and leaving one of their bases in ruin, you and your forces have begun erecting an outpost just north of the draenei city of Tuurem in a bid to push back the invading fleet. Under the command of the ruthless Warlord Blackhand the Destroyer, the Iron Horde has already made landfall on the Orunai Coast and have taken most of northern Talador—including the sprawling city of Shattrath, the trade capital for all of draenei civilization. If they aren’t stopped soon, all of Talador will fall into Grommash Hellscream’s grip, and the rest of Draenor is sure to follow. Talador’s strategic location at the heart of Draenor would give the Iron Horde the perfect launching point for their amassing forces in Tanaan Jungle.
Pushing the Iron Horde back will be no simple feat, however. They have greater numbers, a stronger foothold, and one of the most brilliant military generals to ever live backing its mission. A confrontation of epic proportions between Warlord Blackhand and Orgrim Doomhammer within Shattrath will shake the city’s foundations, and not every hero who enters may make it out alive.
Even once the Iron Horde is routed out of Shattrath, the city will not remain safe for long, as new foes are waiting to emerge and lay claim to the city. The Sargerai are a sect of draenei who have aligned themselves with the Shadow Council to usher Gul’dan’s twisted schemes into fruition. With most draenei cities razed and sacked by the Iron Horde, allies are few and far between . . . but they do exist. Pockets of draenei resistance dot Talador’s forests, eager to retake their homes and enact vengeance on their assailants. In an ancient caldera to the east at a major ley line nexus, Archmage Khadgar and the Kirin Tor have taken up residence. Perhaps most curiously, there have been several sightings near the city of Aruuna of arakkoa outcasts—flightless bird-men powerful in the ways of shadow magic. Some say their existence is little more than a legend, but players will have to find out for themselves if the rumors are true—and if they are, what brings the arakkoa outside of their ancestral home in Spires of Arak . . . or, more importantly, who.
On top of all of the very real threats players face in their first foray into Talador, a darker, more sinister threat lurks to the south. Teron’gor, right hand of Gul’dan, leads a massive assault on the holy mausoleum of Auchindoun, resting place for all draenei souls. Demons pour in at the Burning Front from the remains of a ruined world somewhere in the Twisting Nether. The Shadow Council eyes the city of Telmor. Exarch Maladaar leads the Auchenai, ancient defenders of Auchindoun, in a desperate effort to hold off the seemingly endless waves of death. If their lines falter, Teron’gor will have unhindered access to innumerable draenei souls . . . and plans to consume them to gain a terrible power not meant for mortal hands. But the Auchenai have an ally that Teron’gor did not expect. Lady Liadrin and her Sunsworn felt the demonic presence and have flocked to Auchindoun’s aid, and will call upon players to help turn the tide—but will they be enough?
How would you describe the zone’s ambience and the creatures that can be found in it?
Johnny Cash: Talador is home to the heart of draenei civilization. It is stunningly beautiful, and the zone has a palette of oranges, golds, and greens that make it incredibly vibrant.
It’s particularly lovely at dusk and into the evening, where its gentle orange sky fades into a dazzling starry night. The zone really showcases the breadth of draenei life: the sprawling trade hub of Shattrath, the massive mausoleum that is Auchindoun, the iconic city of Tuurem, the mythical Telmor (it does exist!), and so many others. Talador is more than a pretty place, though, and there is a prevailing sense of urgency that you feel everywhere you go. The Iron Horde and the Shadow Council threaten to unravel all that you’ve done in one fell swoop. Talador also boasts these great contrasts everywhere: old versus new, tranquil versus literally on fire.
Of course, while you’re in Talador you’ll have run-ins with the many creatures that call this great forest home, many of whom have adapted unique hunting techniques to survive. The devious stalker is able to change its skin coloration to camouflage it, allowing it to ambush prey or escape predators unseen. Mighty teroclaws, flying beasts that use their strong beaks to sever both flesh and bone, rule the skies here rather than the rylaks found in many of Draenor’s other locales. Moths are drawn to the plentiful water sources, and have developed the ability to channel the abundant magic energy in the air around them into condensed blasts. Those same water sources are home to all sorts of electric eels, poison frogs, and even mighty riverbeasts. Some caves are home to ferocious territorial spiders that few dare disturb—their venom is said to be able to alter both the body and mind. Tigers prowl the lower mountain ridges, hungry for their next kill. Talador looks like a welcoming place . . . but every forest has its dark side.
Which locations are some of your favorites? Any highlights players should make sure to see and experience?
Johnny Cash: Talador offers some truly diverse locations that are all worth a visit. You’re seeing these places that you may be familiar with from The Burning Crusade in a totally different light. You know more or less where everything is in Talador already if you braved the Terokkar Forest, but nothing in those locations is quite as you remember it. That’s what makes it so exciting to explore. I would say there are three main areas and their surroundings that really define Talador: Shattrath, Auchindoun, and the northeastern forest.
Shattrath is initially occupied by the Iron Horde and is exponentially larger than the Shattrath players know from The Burning Crusade. Carefully manicured trees and hedges lines its walkways, and numerous rises, canals, and bridges connect several large, unique sections of the city. One section is protected and cordoned off by an ornate, magically enhanced shell structure. Nearby, Shattrath’s docks offer ample room for traders from all across Draenor to come peddle their wares—or for an Iron Horde war fleet to bring their ships. Those who prefer to live a quieter lifestyle outside of the hustle and bustle of the big city may find themselves in Tuurem or a village along the Orunai Coast.
Auchindoun has not yet been sullied by the Shadow Council, and players will have a chance to see it in all its glory. Draenei from all around make pilgrimages there to pay their respects to their ancestors and the recently deceased. The northeastern forest may not have an enormous city dominating its horizon, but it is far from short on sights worth seeing. Your Garrison outpost stands tall in an ideal position for accessing the whole of Talador, wherever your presence is needed.
What outpost bulidings are available, and what will players be able to earn for their Garrison?
Johnny Cash: Talador will offer some really cool choices that will affect your Garrison. You’ll have the opportunity to build an Arcane Sanctum or an Arsenal in the last available spot in the outpost. Which building you choose will offer you a different questing experience, a blueprint to construct a Mage Tower or Armory at your Garrison, and a special follower. Each building also unlocks a special zone ability to use anytime you’re in Talador. You can call in an artillery strike from the cannon mounted on the Arsenal, or summon a guardian orb from the Arcane Sanctum that will follow you around for a time and fry any enemies that dare to get too close.
Talador is full of enemies to slay and problems to solve, and I hope you enjoy playing it as much as we did making it. Good luck; have fun!
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about Talador, and we look forward to continuing the journey through Draenor in our next zone preview.
*Not to be confused with the original “man in black,” though Johnny—like most game designers—does own a healthy collection of black T-shirts. He does not, however, take song requests.