Tag Archives: patches

2.4 Content: Coming Soon to a Blog Near You

As I did with 2.3, I’ll be checking out 2.4 on the PTR and reporting back on the items of interest I usually talk about here – I’ll be adding more to my Guide to Daily Quests, for starters, and looking at the five new gems in 2.4.

If you’re interested in checking out 2.4 content for yourself:

For God’s Sake, Get Me Out Of Karazhan

As you’ve probably seen eleswhere, much is being made of Drysc’s little comment that Patch 2.4 would include “BT-quality badge loot”.

I’m… torn.

On the one hand, yay. It’s always nice to have more avenues to gear up – and this makes it easier for endgame-clearing guilds to gear up rerolls and new recruits. Not that I’m in an endgame-clearing guild, but I can see it’d be an issue.

On the other hand, there’s a couple of negatives, and the biggest for me is: Now it’s going to be even harder to ignore Karazhan and Zul’Aman. I am sick to death of Karazhan. I would be quite happy never to set foot in there again. But it’s the single best source of badges; four hours in Karazhan nets over a dozen badges – more if you’re clearing fast, with a well-geared team. There aren’t many other places where you can get more than three badges an hour – Heroic SH (if you have a tankadin handy) is the standout there.

If badge loot is going to be so very alluring, there really needs to be a 25-man route to get badges, because right now there’s a big conflict between the time demands of raiding (to see and beat the content) and the time demands of badge farming (to gear up). Feeling the pressure to cancel, say, Gruul or Void Reaver so we can send two or three Kara teams off to farm badges instead… well, that’s not a step forward.

2.3: Healers Get Some Loving

With 2.3 scheduled to roll in a couple of days, one of the changes I’m eagerly anticipating is the revision of healer gear. Almost all healing gear is being modified to add spell damage as well, approximately equal to one-third of the item’s +heal value. As an example, Breastplate of the Lightbinder (a plate healing chestpiece with +88 healing) is being updated to add 30 spell damage in addition to the +heal.

This is a welcome change for almost every healer in the game; healers have long bemoaned their itemisation, and the frustration of one’s complete inability to quest and farm has led to a lot of healer burnout (which is bad for pretty much everyone, as high healer turnover harms raid groups and guilds alike).

This change, however, is going to make raiding life a lot more interesting, from two perspectives:

Holy paladins can generate a pretty solid amount of DPS (stop laughing, I promise it’s true) with what’s known as the shockadin playstyle, relying on Holy Shock and Seal/Judgement of Righteousness to deliver a decent amount of holy spell damage (which has the advantage that Holy resistances are very rare, too). As an example, with about +750 spell damage on my DPS set, I can pull around 350 sustained DPS – which is far from great, but I’m specced for healing/offtanking. If I ditched the OT part of my spec and sacrificed a little bit of healing efficiency, I’d be looking at more like 450 DPS – considerably more against demons and undead. (In fact, I’m going to go test this on the PTR after I’ve written this post.) In comparison, in healing gear one’s DPS looks more like the 80-100 range.

However, raiding shockadins are so rare as to be all but non-existent; holy paladins on raids are pretty much always healers. At the moment, despite the fact that we wear plate and a goodly portion of our raid synergy (the seal/judgement mechanic) comes from melee, there’s zero incentive to get into close combat – the bonus of a judgement on the target is generally not worth the added healing load of an extra body in melee. So healadins sit back, the seals and judgement on their actionbars going virtually unused.

This may change in 2.3 – obviously, a healer paladin is still going to need to spend most of their time healing. However, the potential to actually deal some worthwhile damage while still in healing gear really suits the paladin’s nature as a hybrid; assigned to spot-healing (or a pull with lower healing needs)? Join in melee, put up judgement of light on the target, and half your healing work is done – you can whale away with seal/judgement of righteousness while your melee swings keep judgement of light active, and just throw some flashes of light to top people up. Obviously, this isn’t going to happen on every fight – or even most fights – but the fact that it’s at least a worthwhile option adds some much-needed versatility to a spec whose contribution to a raid consists of mashing two buttons.

Speaking as a healadin, thumbs up.

Many raids have one or more off-healers – people who can heal if needed, but are far better suited to pewpewing away. Shadow priests, elemental shammies and boomkin are the classic examples (since holy shockadins just don’t tend to raid, and ret pallies/feral druids/enhancement shammies have totally different gear needs for their roles). Using these people to best advantage tends to be a dilemma for heal leads and raid leaders: what happens when you have a target who needs a bit of healing, but not much? Why, you put an off-healer on the job. But what do they do in between, or after the healing? They pewpew half-heartedly while stuck in heal gear.

The High King Maulgar fight is a perfect example, for those of you familiar with Gruul’s Lair. The offtank for Blindeye needs some healing, but not that much, and not for long; Blindeye is the first kill target, and doesn’t do much damage even while he’s up. An off-healer would be perfect for healing the Blindeye offtank, but what gear should they wear? If they wear healing gear, they’ve got all the DPS ability of a bag of wet feathers and they may as well AFK for a coffee once their heal target’s done tanking Blindeye. If they wear DPS gear, they’ve got sod-all in the way of mana efficiency and conservation for healing (since healing and DPS mana regen/conservation mechanics tend to be different for most classes), so by the time they’re done healing they’re low on mana, and there’s nothing sadder than seeing a shadowpriest resorting to wanding.

2.3 fixes this kind of dilemma. You put your offhealers in healing gear, and they’ve got the mana longevity and efficiency to finish their healing duties with a goodly amount of mana left – and then they can turn to pewpewing and still do 60-75% of the damage they’d do in full DPS gear. (Of course, this assumes that your offhealer is nearly as well-geared for healing as they are for DPS, but in my experience that’s generally true.) Suddenly, your hybrids really are hybrids, able to do more than one job reasonably effectively, rather than people who can do more than one job – but only one at a time.

Speaking as a healer lead, thumbs up.

A quick look at guild banks.

Coming up in 2.3, there’s a new guild bank feature. It’s accessible from any bank and easily seen – it looks like a huge vault door in the bank. A few folks from our guild have been playing on the test realm to get some early experience with Zul’Aman (the new 10-man post-Karazhan raid), and while I was there I figured I’d check out the guild bank. I know a few of my friends are Guild Leaders of their respective guilds, so this might be of interest.

A guild bank doesn’t have bag slots like a player bank, but it does have the option to buy multiple tabs – up to six, at present. The prices on the test realm are punitive for more than a few tabs: the first tab is 1 gold, the second is 10g, the third is 100g, the fourth is 1,000g, the fifth is 5,000g and the sixth is 10,000g. I can’t imagine many guilds will be buying the last two tabs, not when you can still run regular banker alts to hide less-relevant items.

This is the guild bank interface after buying two bank tabs. The tabs are the ? buttons down the right hand side; the + button below the ?s is used to buy new tabs and I assume only the guild leader can see it.

You can see the tabs for the logs at the bottom of the window; unfortunately I couldn’t check out the features as clicking on either log tab immediately disconnects you from the server. Thumbs up Blizz! (Yes, okay, it’s a test server for a reason. I’m sure it won’t go live with that issue.)

I haven’t actually tried out the withdraw/deposit buttons down the bottom right; I think they’re for putting money into the bank and taking it out again.

And here we have the ugly side of guild banks. Here is the bank in use: it’s a HUGE MESS. From a usability perspective this is terrible; it means every guildie has to mouse over every single slot and check the tooltip to see what an item is. A text list in the forums is WAY easier to deal with for users (although much more of a hassle for administrators); at least then only the banker has to know what’s what, and generally will be more familiar with the items they’re holding than an average guildie.

Seriously, Blizzard, I know you’re invested in giving people interfaces full of pretty icons and no text labels, but that only works with inventories where you’re only managing 10-30 items with wildly different icons. For guild banks, with hundreds of items? Wrong design paradigm. Learn to love text labels, or better yet, text-based lists.

Until then, I long for the day someone releases a Guild Bank addon that redraws the guild bank as an operating-system-file-browser style of interface, with small icons and text labels next to them.

And on a less whingy note, here’s the interface for setting bank access permissions, based on guild rank. It’s basically fine, although I’d be happier with an option to allow people to withdraw unlimited stacks a day (eg. for officers moving things around).

I’ll be interested to see how much of this makes it into live realms without tweaking. I can’t believe Blizzard – who are normally so good with usability issues – thought that guild bank interface was a good idea.

A Guide to Daily Quests: New in 2.3

Patch 2.3 has not yet been released, but it’s going to include a number of new daily quests. Here’s a brief introduction to them:

Instance Dailies

From the 2.3 Patch Notes:
New daily quests are available in the Lower City for 5 man heroic and non-heroic dungeons (Once at a time, a bit like battleground weekends, each day you will get quests for a different dungeons). The following non-heroic dungeons are concerned: Shattered Halls, Steamvault, Shadow Labyrinth, Black Morass, Botanica, Mechanar, and Arcatraz. All dungeons will get quests in Heroic mode. If you’re getting the non-heroic and the heroic quest on the same day for the same dungeon, you can complete both by running it in heroic mode once. Non heroic quests will reward you with a Ethereum Prison Key (various reputation), gold, and reputation with the Consortium. Heroic quests will give you 2 Badges of Justice, gold, and reputation with the Consortium

As an example, I’m looking on the test realm right now. The quest givers are two Ethereal NPCs in the Lower City, one aligned with the Consortium – Wind Trader Zhareem and Nether-Stalker Mah’duun. (They can be found by looking for a blue ! on the minimap – another new feature in 2.3.) The normal-mode daily quest today is for Steamvaults, and requires you to kill 14 Coilfang Myrmidons – reward: 16 gold and an Ethereum Prison Key. Today’s heroic-mode daily is for Heroic Old Hillsbrad, for the Epoch Hunter’s Head – reward: 24 gold and 2 Badges of Justice.

Battleground Dailies
Each day you can do one daily quest to win a battleground; the reward is 12 gold and 419 honor. The questgiver is in Lower City; I don’t know if there are also questgivers in other cities, or if it can be done before level 70. The problem with this quest, of course, is that it requires you to win a battleground, which is a problem in battlegroups where one faction dominates.

Cooking Dailies
I’ve been wondering how these are going to work, so here we go! The quest giver is a goblin called The Rokk <Master of Cooking> in the Lower City. Today he’s asking you to cook “Demon Broiled Surprise”.

“I want you to take my beloved cooking pot and head out to Blade’s Edge. Throw in some shortribs and crunchy serpent – already cooked for extra flavor – and broil it over an abyssal’s corpse, the only thing hot enough to do the trick.”

Rewards: 7.5 gold and either a Barrel of Fish (flavour text: “A warning label reads: Do Not Shoot”) or a Crate of Meat (flavour text: “Mostly meat and whatever else was sitting around.”) Both items are white-quality and BoP; they contain a few high-level cooking mats (scarce fish, useful meats, etc) and also have a chance to contain a new cooking recipe.


Coming up in patch 2.3, as most people would be aware, is a new 10-man raid instance to follow on from Karazhan: Zul’Aman. It’s another troll instance, in the fine tradition of Zul’Farrak and Zul’Gurub, populated by animal god bosses (the loas) and their worshippers. It’s meant to be a fast, fun instance for reasonably advanced casual guilds: it can be cleared in a few hours, there’s extra quest rewards for clearing it within a set timespan (think of the old 45-minute Strat Dead runs; same sort of deal) and it resets every three days.

To get a bit of an idea of what’s required, my guild went and gave it a bash on the Public Test Realm last weekend. It was certainly… educational. And bloody.

Very bloody.

This charming chap is Nalorakk the Bear God, the first boss of Zul’Aman. He alternates between his troll form (seen here) and a giant bear form, switching multiple times throughout the fight.

He’s a pretty tough boss, and needs two tanks to fight him. The tanks taunt him betwen them – one for troll phase, one for bear phase – and while he’s busy tearing new holes in them, the DPS kill him. He does some nasty DoT bleeds during bear form, and a silence, and a charge, and a two-target cleave, but he’s fairly simple. From a raid coordination perspective, he’s probably closest to Attumen in complexity; he’s certainly easier, strategy-wise, than Netherspite or Aran or the like. Gear-wise is a different story; he’s got about 1.7 million health and does high DPS, especially to the tank for the bear form phase. Our raid team was pretty much fully Kara-geared, but I suspect you wouldn’t need to be quite that well-geared; a cohesive team that can reliably do Illhoof-level bosses can probably do him, provided one tank is very well geared. A team with undergeared tanks is going to be in serious trouble, simply because Nalorakk puts out so much damage, particularly in the bear phase*.

(You can find more details about the strategy for fighting Nalorakk here at WoWwiki.)

And here you can see his inevitable death scene: we killed him on our second night, when we had a more suitable raid composition. It’s a fun and relatively easy boss fight, and certainly a good introduction to the zone; we didn’t have time to try the next boss, but word has it that the difficulty level on boss fights ramps up very quickly.

* Also, on a specific strategy note, Nalorakk does a 2-second silence during his bear phase, which can often lead to tank deaths, so having your healers maximise their HoTs during this period is a good idea.

Interface improvements in 2.3

Patch 2.3 is bringing with it a few other neat little tweaks to the user interface. Here are a couple of note:

First up, there’s a feature that I couldn’t successfully screencap, thanks to WoW’s refusal to screencap the cursor. When you mouse over an NPC, if the NPC has a menu option, the cursor reflects this. We’ve already seen this in-game with bankers and vendors (the moneybag cursor) and the mailbox (the envelope cursor). 2.3 expands this to include questgivers (a ! cursor), guards with the ability to give you directions (a kind of parchmenty scrolly thing cursor… I think that’s what it’s meant to be), and repairers (an anvil cursor). Like the existing contextual cursors, the new cursors grey out if you’re too far away from the NPC to interact with it, and turn gold once you’re in range.

Next up, here’s a view of the new minimap feature: marks for questgivers and the like. Regular quest givers show up with a gold !, daily quest givers show up with a blue ! (as shown here), and flight masters with a flight path you haven’t learned show up with a green !. Quest givers who have a completed quest for you to hand in show up with a gold ?; I’m not sure if the equivalent daily quest givers show up with a blue equivalent or not.

The tracking button is a new feature on the minimap; you click it and it pops down a selectable tracking menu with everything you can track. This includes old favourites (profession- and class-based tracking), as well as the new ability to keep track of a particular type of NPC. On the hunt for a repairer, or reagent vendor? Worry no more!

(Which makes you wonder how long a list you can get. By my reckoning, a miner/herbalist hunter with the new fish school tracking ability would have a 22-line menu…)

The new “send mail” window. You can now send multiple items in an automated fashion (ie you only have to address a mail once for every seven items you want to send, instead of mailing all seven separately), somewhat replacing the need for addons like CT_Mailmod, Postal or Bulkmail2. However, it’s far from a full-featured implementation:

  • Unlike most similar third-party addons, you can’t alt-click an item in your bags to automatically add it to the sending slot(s); you have to click-and-drag, which is unergonomic and slow
  • You can only send seven items in a batch, unlike the 20-something allowed by CT_Mailmod or the unlimited numbers of Bulkmail2
  • There’s no feature for automatically pulling items out of received mail, unlike all the third-party addons.

So, it’s a nice start from Blizzard, but it’s in no way a replacement for the existing addons. If you currently use and love one of the third-party mods, it’s unlikely that this will meet your needs. If you don’t already use one, this is a handy feature.

Guild banks: cheaper, but not cheap enough.

Word just in from the test realm: tabs 5 and 6 of the guild bank have now been discounted, down to 2,500g for tab 5 and 5,000g for tab 6. Still fiendishly expensive, but marginally more attractive now.

Still not attractive enough to make it worth spending 7 – 8,000 gold for the last two or three bank tabs, when you consider:

  • a bank alt with 14-slot bags in their inventory and no bank bags has 96 slots (at the cost of about 10-15g in bags)
  • a bank alt with all bank bag slots purchased and full 18-slot bags in the bank and inventory has 238 slots (at the cost of 111.1 gold in bank bag slots and about 400-500 gold in bags)

So, you can replicate tabs 4-6 of your guild (cost: 8,500 gold) with two alts (cost: about 550-620g). When you consider that my last post on the issue shows that the guild bank interface is an awful way of accessing some kinds of stored items anyway, I really doubt that many guilds will be forking out the cash for those last three tabs.

Edit: it seems this iteration of the patch increases the costs for the first three tabs, while making the later tabs cheaper. It’s now 100g, 250g, 500g, 1000g, 2500g, 5000g.

Mana and Healing Potions

As any regular level 70 player would know – especially a raider – the costs of mana and/or healing potions can become a bit punitive after a while, and no-one enjoys having to take a night off raiding/instancing to farm for consumables. Thankfully, Blizzard have recognised this, and while some of the steps they’ve taken were met with dismay from players (such as nerfing elixir-stacking and many flasks), they’re making it much easier to get your hands on consumables, no matter what your playstyle. So here’s a bit of a summary of sources to get endgame-level healing and mana potions.

Top-Rank Potions (Healing pots restore 1500-2500 health; mana pots restore 1800-3000 mana.)

“Cheapass” Potions (Healing pots restore 1050-1750 health; mana pots restore 1350-2250 mana.)

As you can see, some of the potions can be only be used in specific locations, while others can be used anywhere; however, it’s worth knowing the range of potions available to you. If your guild is concentrating on a specific zone, you can save yourself a lot of money on consumables by picking up the area-specific potion equivalents.