Thursday, October 29, 2009

LFG Random Dungeon

Blizzard has announced the new dungeon system and although it's a good system and there's nothing really wrong with it, I can't help but shake the feeling that it's a desperate lifeline for their content and a last-ditch measure to try and get people running boring as sin content again.

It brings to the table several new and updated features designed to make the dungeon process easier and less painful, but it doesn't address the fact that the dungeons themselves are complete arse. At least we don't have to fly there anymore.

~P

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Randomloot's Guide to Ret Paladins

Many people have asked me lately to write a guide to ret paladins. After all, it’s a given that not everybody has been gifted with amazing skill, some people need help from those that have said skills. So I’m writing this as a guide to players new to ret, or to veteran players of the spec that are looking to squeeze just a little bit extra out of the class. Enjoy.

Gear


When it comes to gearing a ret paladin, there’s only one way to go: Agility Agility Agility. Leather gear with Agility far and away outperforms equivalent pieces of plate. Do not worry about hit rating on gear, as this will be provided entirely by talents and buffs from other classes in the raid.

Gems


Try to balance haste and armor penetration. Haste is a great stat, it reduces the global cooldown on all our abilities which means we can spam our buttons faster! Armor penetration is great too, it makes all our abilities hit harder by ignoring boss armor. ArP/Haste gems (Orange) are amazing for this purpose.

Talents

Something like this: http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#sVcbGhbZZtbbxrIuGdMrsu:rzAMVz

This is pretty much a no brainer, take everything that increases your damage. A lot of paladins spec into Divine Sacrifice for raid utility, but they are WRONG.

Glyphs are included in the above link. Don’t bother with Judgement glyph since your Judgement of Command hits for about 800, and don’t bother with Consecration glyph since it makes you do less damage (damage over 10 secs instead of 8). Again, a lot of paladins use these glyphs, and again they are WRONG.

How to pew pew

Ret paladins don’t really have a rotation per se, they use a priority system. What you do is you prioritise the abilities that have the longest cooldowns. So, your ranking in order of first to last (assuming all are available) is Exorcism > Divine Storm > Consecrate > Judgement > Crusader Strike. Hammer of Wrath, if it’s up, is used after Crusader Strike.

You now know everything you need to know to be a good ret paladin. Happy facerolling!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

So, since Q&As are the in thing to do...

I'm going to follow in the footsteps of Blizzard and open myself up to questions from readers. Pretty much nothing is off limits. Responses will be posted up on the first of the month!

Send me your questions via e-mail at emblemofconquest@gmail.com

~P

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Tweetaclysm

Blizzard have abandoned useful forms of communication with its playerbase in favour of Twitter, so the unwashed masses who don't have an attention span sufficient enough to decipher more than 140 characters can get some insight into the developers' minds.

I'm not going to deconstruct every single question that was posed, because some of them are horrendously awful (Are Worgen going to have mounts?)

I will however be coming out and blanketing the stage with more of my trademark pessimism because of a lot of what Blizzard has said is complete nonsense. So without further ado, let's delve head-first into the sea of rubbish.

Q: In the future will hard modes have greater fidelity like Sarth, Sarth+1, Sarth+2, Sarth+3 rather than the Binary Normal/Hard?
A: Generally we have learned that hard modes should be more binary, but that doesn’t mean we will never do something like Sarth 3 drakes again.

No. This is bad. Binary hard modes are uninteresting and generally don't make any sense. Mimiron and Vezax were implemented well, the other binary hard modes (especially in ToC) have been terrible. And with Icecrown, they're doing away with the triggered hard modes altogether, so you'll be toggling switches in your interface to activate hard modes. Right. Ignoring the fact that this makes absolutely no sense in the lore (I just changed something in my game options and now the boss hits twice as hard!), it's simply less intuitive and fun.

Looking at Flame Leviathan's hard mode for instance, it was initially designed on the PTR so that you would have to talk to the Lore Keeper of Norgannon which would activate the encounter on hard mode (there was no option on Brann Bronzebeard). This would require you to clear all of the trash and kill all towers in order to do FL on normal mode, which rewards the guilds that are able to do the hard modes by making the trash less tedious. This was scrapped, and players got the option to start the encounter on normal mode straight away. What did the players that can do the hard modes get in 3.2? Another version of the same boring, repetitive instance to clear, making their experience even more tedious. This is the opposite of what needs to happen. Hard modes need to be used in a way that changes the feel of the instance for players. They need to be able to say "Awesome, we can do hardmode now, so we no longer have to do X", in the same way as you used to be able to with Flame Leviathan. More importantly, players need to have incentive to keep doing the hard modes. This didn't happen with Ulduar, there was nothing positive to be had from repeating hard modes week after week. And it's not happening with ToC either. Icecrown looks to be more of the same.

Q: Any plans for a gated system in IIC like in Colliseum that prevents us from doing hardmodes from day 1?
A: We do have a system that unlocks bosses similar to how we handled TOC and Sunwell. We are restricting hard modes to raid leaders that have defeated Arthas in regular mode.

Mixed feelings about this. The second part is good, the first part, not so good. Arbitrarily gating the encounters is not an adequte substitute for having difficult encounters which can self-sufficiently act as gates, especially not in an instance the size of Icecrown. It's understandable that this content needs to last (probably around 8 months) as it's the last raid dungeon before Cataclysm, but it needs to be handled differently. While the normal modes of Ulduar were bested in the first week, Yogg+0, the last of the hard modes, wasn't beaten until a month before 3.2 came out. The same thing needs to apply to Icecrown, by making the hard modes truly hard, it can last the distance.

There was quite a bit of interesting stuff in the Blizzard comments with reference to Cataclysm, which looks to be shaping up quite nicely at the moment. But that's a year or so away. Let's just hope Icecrown lives up to its potential, for now.

~P

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Paladin Tier 10 is EVIL

No, it's not just bad. It's far worse. It's evil.

I came home from work anticipating the start of another joyful raid week, and the first thing I did was open my browser. My homepage is the WoW R&D forums, and I happened to notice that the top thread at the time was "Paladin Tier 10 EEK!"

Being the extremely positive, optimistic person that I am, my first natural thought was "Oh, goodie! They've finally realeased my Tier 10 looks!" Upon following a link in this thread to the visuals, I realised that I was SO HORRIBLY WRONG.

And it's at this point that things start to get hazy. I'd had a shit day at work, taken a hefty pay cut ($28k if you're counting), and naturally I was pretty fucking pissed off. So I started punching my desk in my frustration at Blizzard's incompetence to design a decent tier set since T6.

I woke up at 1:30 AM, on the floor, under my desk, with a massive headache. Upon closer inspection of the room I was in, I realised that my printer was on the floor with me, and was probably responsible for the gaping hole in my head and the blood that was on the floor.

So yeah, that's why Paladin Tier 10 is evil. Don't trust it or anyone that likes it.

~P

Monday, October 19, 2009

GDKP Run Followup

Tyrian's post has been ported over to the WoW forums, where the idiots have begun a debate over the merits of capitalism and communism which sprawls several pages.

Mind you, of the 30+ people posting in that thread, only 2 have the slightest hint of a clue about what they're talking about.

THANKS WOW FORUMS.

~P

Sunday, October 18, 2009

GDKP Runs

For those who are perhaps on a lower population server and haven't been privy to these as of yet, one of my readers, Tyrian, has posted a thread on Elitist Jerks that discusses the nature of these runs and how to get them happening on your server.

It's worth a read if you're unsure what a GDKP run is, or have some basic knowledge and interest in running them.

Check it out here.

~P

Friday, October 16, 2009

Banner

I was told that my blog needed more Drumstick, so I delivered.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Insanity/Immortality and their validity in the raid scene

This has been a pretty hot topic recently amongst the wider WoW raiding community, especially as 3.3 still looks to be a while away and the majority of guilds are working on completing/farming tribute runs of ToGC. The upshot of it is that just one disconnect can be the difference between a kill and a wipe, causing you to lose out on cloaks for that week and substantially affecting your guild's ranking.

Part of the problem is how WoWProgress and other progression tracking sites rank achievements over actual boss kills. Many guilds, including Nurfed, who recently claimed server first Insanity on my own server Blackrock, have voiced complaints about the tracking methods.

Paragon, ranked world 4th during Ulduar, managed to nab the world first Anub’arak kill. They are currently ranked #13 behind a guild called The Fallen (who are at #12). This is a problem, because The Fallen was ranked world #234 during Ulduar, and also killed Anub’arak 53rd in the world.


I'd have to agree with them. Tracking progress based on gimmick achievements is a horrible idea. And it is a gimmick. Yogg-0 at least changed the mechanics of the fight, and made it significantly more challenging. The only thing challenging about Insanity is praying hard enough to whatever deity you believe in that one of your healers or tanks doesn't disconnect at a crucial moment due to something out of their control. And it will almost always be out of their control, as this instance has horrible stability and has been plagued by constant disconnects since it has been launched.

Why the fuck is Insanity in the game in the first place? We didn't need it in Sunwell, because the content was actually hard. We didn't need it in Ulduar, because it would have encouraged guilds to abandon hard modes in favour of the easy modes. The way they ended up doing it for Ulduar will hopefully carry over to Icecrown, plus the added distinction between normal and heroic modes (i.e. 4 seperate achievements). As it is now, Insanity type achievements are an excuse to make content easier.

I'm fine with the limited attempts mechanic and I hope to see it used in future. However, Blizzard can leave out the X attempts remaining gimmick achievements. Or at least provide nothing more than gimmick rewards (mounts) from them. It would be nothing to complain about. If nothing else, it would mean the content would be hard again.

~P

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Icecrown on PTRs

Lord Marrowgar (1st boss of ICC raid) is available for testing at 4PM PDT. This is 10AM AEDT on the 16th of July for those Oceanic players who are interested in testing this. Odd that it comes just after I post that it really needs to hit PTR soon!

~P

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

RIP Ulduar: The death of the progression path

TotalBiscuit's great show Blue Plz! brought up a really important argument this week when discussing the badge changes. That, of course is the death of the progression path and the removal of Ulduar as a legitimate outlet of progression. Ulduar is a great instance. It's not as great as Sunwell was, but it was still pretty darn good. And now, it won't even be seen anymore except from a small minority of players who are looking to complete achievements/hammers.

It could be argued that "it's old content" and it doesn't need to be a relevant instance throughout an entire expansion, which the "badgers" (TB's affectionate name for supporters of the badge change) have argued at great length. However, the content that people will be running (i.e. heroics) is even older and much less interesting. Why do players want to be running easy, boring as sin content when they could be running a great, challenging instance? More importantly, why is Blizzard abandoning the former for the latter?

Some of the most fun I've had in the 5 years I've played this game has been in the first two weeks of Ulduar. Now, it will be abandoned. It's funny that Blizzard's policy of allowing everyone to see the content is in fact leading to people being unable to see content.

~P

Monday, October 12, 2009

More tips from MMO, prospecting this time.

MMO-Champion posted up another gold making guide post, this time on prospecting. Was pretty short, basically saying to prospect thorium ore and resell the gems from it for profit.

You don't have to be a genius like myself to work out what this will do to the market. Thorium Ore prices will rise, so buyout cheap ones while you can and do some farming for it in Winterspring if you're desperate.

It's been a pretty lazy week in terms of new content to post on, so bear with me. Hopefully the Icecrown Raid will be available for testing soon, at which point you probably won't be able to shut me up.

~P

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Icecrown Raid!

Information on this is available here.

So, in a break from my usual standard of negative posting, I'm pretty happy with the way Icecrown Raid is turning out. Everything on that page looks impressive and Icecrown looks like it will be very epic. I'm definitely pleased that Arthas will be appearing and not killable in the 5 man.

Other than that there's not a whole lot to say until it hits the PTRs for testing. I will however say that I hope Blizzard learns from their past mistakes, by not rushing it to release and by making it actually challenging.

~P

Friday, October 9, 2009

An Open Letter to Blizzard: 3.3 Emblem Changes

Hi Blizzard,

I can't begin to express how ecstatic I am being able to get Emblems of Triumph next patch. As a casual player with limited time to play, I have been unable to get these in substantial quantities. I have a guild of mainly real-life friends, however we have been unable to progress in 10 man ToC beyond the jormungar worms, and we have not been able to kill Koralon or Onyxia. As a result of this many of my guild mates are no longer interested in raiding, myself included. Personally, I believe that acquiring the best gear should not require 10 or 25 players.

As my guild is failing, I tried to apply to another guild in between trying to get into pug groups. However, I have always been rejected for being a "badge vendor hero". All of my gear has come from the Emblem of Conquest vendors and this is easy to tell. With the new Emblem of Triumph change, I may have some luck getting into a decent guild as I will have better gear where people can't instantly tell that it's badge gear. Actually, if all of my guild mates gear up with Emblems of Triumph then we might be more successful! Think of the possibilities!

I'm also looking forward to the prospect of going back to Naxxramas and Wrath Heroics. I think these instances are some of the best in the game and any reason to keep the playerbase doing them is good. I am sure that everyone will have lots of fun doing these again.

I do have a few complaints about the badge system though. First of all, there are no weapons available from badges. I should be able to fill every slot with badge gear, however there is no way of obtaining good weapons other than raiding or PvPing. I don't want to spend my valuable time raiding to get a weapon and I can't an 1800 rating for a PvP weapon - I play as a rogue with my priest and mage friends, but this team composition is severely underpowered.

I'm also really excited about the Icecrown 5 man heroic. This will drop item level 232 gear, but it will also drop Emblems of Frost instead of Triumph right? It's only fair that I should be able to get Tier 10 from the new content. I mean, I pay my $15 a month, I deserve it!

Giving Emblems of Triumph from all content is great, but Blizzard aren't going far enough. The only people who would disagree with me are the hardcore nerds with no life, that make up 1% of the population anyway. I mean, they can have their Icecrown raid, I don't see why the other 99% of the population can't get access to gear that is half a tier or a tier behind, right?

Yours sincerely,

Arthuzxdethx

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tier 10 set bonuses (Update)

Blizzard seemed to understand that Ret's 4 piece is terrible, so they went ahead and changed it.

2 Pieces (Damage): (Updated) Your melee attacks have a 40% chance to reset the cooldown on your Divine Storm ability.
4 Pieces (Damage): (Updated) Your Seals and Judgements deal 10% additional damage.

They swapped them around and buffed the proc chance. Whoop-dee-do. This ends up being an overall nerf, as we will be unable to run 2pc tier 9 with 2pc tier 10.

Please don't be deluded by anyone who says the current 2 piece is good. It's horrible and shows a complete lack of understanding of the ret paladin class on Blizzard's part.

On another note, the tier 10 models have been released for 5 classes, and they look good so far. We'll probably see what the paladin set looks like in the next few days, but my guess is that it'll continue the precedent of looking like shit that Blizzard seems to have set for us.

~P

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Paladin Tier 10 Set Bonuses

Paladin T10 Holy 2P Bonus - The cooldown on your Divine Favor talent is reduced by 60 sec.
Paladin T10 Holy 4P Bonus - Your Holy Shock spell causes the next Holy Light you cast within 10 sec to have 0.3 sec reduced cast time.
Paladin T10 Protection 2P Bonus - Your Hammer of the Righteous ability deals 20% increased damage.
Paladin T10 Protection 4P Bonus - When you activate Divine Plea, you gain 12% dodge for 10 sec.
Paladin T10 Retribution 2P Bonus - Your Seals and Judgements deal 10% additional damage.
Paladin T10 Retribution 4P Bonus - Your melee attacks have a 4% chance to reset the cooldown on your Divine Storm ability.

Love the 2pc for Ret, but much like Tier 9, the 4 piece is terrible.

Terrible. Terrible. Terrible.

~P

Death's Verdict



"If you kick ass, you get good shit" - Tyrian

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Aion: Economic Prospecting

I've been playing Aion recently, so I thought I'd take an in-depth look at the way Aion's economy works, draw some comparisons to WoW's own economy, and look at a few ideas Blizzard might try and pinch from Aion.

Aion's currency is called Kinah, and unlike the gold, silver, and copper we have in Azeroth, Kinah only has the one denomination. Kinah is acquired very rapidly, and it's not uncommon to have hundreds of thousands of Kinah by the time you reach level 20. This is a good thing too, because you'll need every last Kinah.

Aion is full of money sinks. Pretty much everything from character advancement to death recovery to transportation costs a seemingly obscene amount of Kinah. The two upgrades to your wings are roughly 1 million and 12 million Kinah respectively. You can, at early levels, expect to be dishing out 20% of your Kinah to recover from death. Professions are costly to level, as are your skills.

You'll have a lot of Kinah coming in, but also a lot flowing out, and obviously the trick is to have your income be greater than your expenditure, and one way of doing this is trading with other players. There are two main ways of doing this in Aion - the Trade Brokers (Auction House) and Private Stores.

Trade Brokers:
These are the equivalent of WoW's auctioneers, however, they work in a slightly different way to the Auction Houses and are slightly more restrictive. Most notably, you can only have 10 active auctions at any given time, so no mass posting for you! Like WoW, you pay a deposit fee proportional to the value of the item when posting your auction, however you do not get this back when your item successfully sells. This is made up for by the fact that there is no Auction House cut.

Private Store:
Players have the option of setting up a private store, where you set down a stall, much like an NPC. You are able to put items from your inventory into the store and you can set the price for these. Other players will have the option of interacting with you to inspect your store where they can browse and purchase your wares. The amount of items you can have in a private store is slightly more than the 10 you can place up for auction.

I personally think the private store is a great idea. It brings back the player interaction that you don't have with the auction house, and makes you feel like you're actually buying from a player, not just an NPC. I wouldn't be too surprised if Blizzard implements something like this.

Professions:
Professions play a big part in Aion's economy and like in WoW, are an important part of a character's development and advancement. Unlike in WoW, the inhabitants of Atreia can choose to learn all of the 6 available professions, however they may only become masters in two of these. This is roughly the same as being able to only advance past 300 skill points in WoW professions. The professions on offer are sewing, weaponsmithing, armorsmithing, handicrafting, cooking and alchemy. These are mainly levelled by completing work orders (a type of quest), in which you are given materials and are asked to craft a certain item, often requiring a vendor bought item. I love this system, definitely feels less grindy and more epic than WoW's system. Just be warned that the vendor bought items for the work orders, and the cost of upgrading your professions to the next level (each level is 100 skill points, compared to WoW's 75) is very expensive!

Gathering isn't forgotten about in Aion, however instead of having multiple professions like WoW, they have all been merged into one single profession: extraction. This encompasses herbalism, mining and fishing. I haven't found an Aion equivalent of skinning, but please comment or e-mail me if it exists. The extracting profession is levelled like the crafting professions, however it does not contribute to the maximum of 2 that you can master. Score! While you'd expect this to flood the economy with gathering materials, this isn't the case, as extraction is rather time-consuming to level up, certainly moreso than any of the crafting professions, and not many people are levelling it, as far as I have been able to tell.

I really like Aion's profession system, and I certianly prefer it to WoW's. How big of a part professions play in the end-game is yet to be seen, but it's definitely worth levelling up at least one, as there's not only quite a bit of Kinah to be had from them, but they can also be a great asset while levelling, especially alchemy.

Influence Ratio:
Aion introduces a brand new way players can shape the game's economy. The Influence Ratio is determined by the territory held by your faction (Elyos or Asmodian) in the PvPvE zone, the Abyss. The amount of territory held (as a %) has a direct effect on the prices paid throughout the entire world. This is absolutely brilliant, it makes your actions have a direct effect on the world and makes you feel like you're impacting on the wider world, something WoW's world PvP has failed to do. Again, this is the sort of thing you think Blizzard might implement, a world PvP zone like Wintergrasp with one of the rewards for controlling it being reduced prices worldwide.

If you still haven't given Aion a try, I recommend you do so. It's a good game and will keep you entertained for a while. It won't kill WoW, but it's good enough that it should be able to keep its subscriber numbers up for a decent period of time.

~P

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sonata Arctica's new album


I don't have an actual content post today, you'll get posts like these from time to time reviewing music or movies I've seen or heard.

As for the album, it's great. I just finished listening to it on the way to work, and it definitely impressed me. It's a big departure from a lot of their other music and it definitely feels much more epic. I highly recommend buying it.

I've got something special in the works for tomorrow's post, so stay tuned.

~P

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Effect of One on Many: Market Changes

This is Part Two of my commentaries on the effects of MMO-Champion's gold guide posts. Part One can be found here.

I've been monitoring the effect of MMO-Champion's gold guide posts, and the results are pretty astounding. On my server, Blackrock-US, the following changes have already taken place in less than a week.

  • High level herbs (e.g. Icethorn, Lichbloom) have increased in price by 40-50%
  • Low level herbs (e.g. Peacebloom) have doubled in price
  • Cobalt Bars are fluctuating like crazy, they had increased in price by 60% at one stage
  • Flasks (due to increased herb prices) are about 25% more expensive
  • Infinite dusts are about 20% cheaper
  • Eternal Earths are 10-20% more expensive
  • Glyphs are anywhere from 20-50% cheaper, depending on the glyph
It's probably worth mentioning that my glyphs are selling A LOT faster than they were prior to the MMO-Champion post, probably as the result of new "wannabe" monopolists entering the market.

Infinite Dusts will probably continue to come down in price due to the Abyss Shatter recipe (which is available on Blackrock as it recently came down for emergency maintenance), while Abyss Crystals have been rising steadily since the announcement of Abyss Shatter, and are now nearly twice the value they were two weeks ago. Snap up any cheap Abyss Crystals while you can.

Part Three of this series will probably conclude it and discuss ways for you to profit off the market changes. I will also be doing some testing of Abyss Shatters soon, and you can expect to see the results here!

~P

I'd like to hear about what changes have taken place on your server as a result of the MMO-Champion guides, and what (if anything) you are doing to profit off them! I'll be including a selection of these in my next post on the matter, so please contact me at emblemofconquest@gmail.com if you have a suggestion.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tier 10 from Tier 7 content, joy!

Badges are a great idea. Allowing you to suppress the effect of random loot somewhat by filling gaps in gear and moving certain items off the loot tables and onto badge vendors (standard issue: relics) is definitely good. 3.2 was already taking this idea in the wrong direction with the abolition of tiered badge systems, and now here's 3.3 to rub salt into the wound with the handouts of Tier 10 gear from Tier 7 content.

As if Emblems of Triumph from daily heroics weren't bad enough, you can now get 10 Emblems of Frost every week from running "weekly raid quests". Except this implementation is much, MUCH worse.

You see, running the daily heroics for Triumph badges takes at least some degree of effort and time commitment. To get 10 Emblems of Triumph from heroics in a week, you will need to run a 15-20 minute heroic for 5 days of the week. All in all, roughly a 1 hour to 1 and a half hour weekly time commitment. Not too bad considering the difficulty of the content and the fact that the same emblems can be obtained from TOC, VOA, and Onyxia, none of which are much more difficult than heroics.

The candidates for the Emblems of Frost weeklies are:
  • Patchwerk
  • Noth
  • Razuvious
  • Anub'rekhan
  • Sartharion
  • Malygos
  • Flame Leviathan
  • Ignis
  • Razorscale
  • XT-002
  • Lord Jaraxxus
  • Lord Marrowgar
Lord Marrowgar will be an Icecrown raid boss, and following the pattern of the other bosses, will probably be the first boss of the instance.

Notice the pattern here? None of these bosses are difficult to defeat or access. Zone in, faceroll for 5-10 minutes, collect Tier 10. Part of the logic behind changing heroics to drop Emblems of Conquest/Triumph (from the dailies) was to encourage players to continue to run these where previously they would not have. I can only assume that this change is at least partly due to the same mentality. In which case, THIS CHANGE WILL ACCOMPLISH NOTHING. People will zone in to do the weekly boss, nothing else. If you want to keep players doing your content, then at least make it require the later bosses of the instance (i.e. Yogg, Vezax, Anub, KT). And make the rewards proportional. Noth is not the same difficulty as 25-Jaraxxus-Heroic, yet the game does not distinguish between them when it comes to dishing out emblems.

There's a whole wealth of potential problems that this change will cause to the playerbase itself, but those are to be discussed another time. I'm off to get some Tier 10 from The Stockade.

~P

Friday, October 2, 2009

3.3 hits PTRs

3.3.0 PTR Patch Notes

There's not much to say, apart from the fact that this is definitely a rushed job. The amount of class changes is minimal considering the scope and significance of the patch.

There's nothing worthy to try, so it's not even worth playing the PTR (no, Icecrown 5-man does not count).

~P

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Icecrown Citadel 5-man information released

Icecrown Citadel will feature a massive five-player dungeon sprawling across three wings of the citadel's foundation. While the Lich King's attention is focused on the Argent Crusade and the Knights of the Ebon Blade ripping through the front gates, players will be tested as they assist Jaina Proudmoore (Alliance) and Sylvanas Windrunner (Horde) in infiltrating the citadel through an alternate entrance. An epic quest line will present adventurers with the task of weakening Icecrown Citadel's forces, requiring that players defeat the challenges in each dungeon wing before venturing into the next one. Normal and Heroic versions of the dungeon will be accessible to players, although each wing will be considered a separate instance; therefore, on Heroic difficulty, each wing will have its own separate lockout timer. All-new rewards -- including item level 219 (normal) and level 232 (Heroic) loot -- will be offered to those who destroy some of the Lich King's most formidable allies. The Forge of Souls Serving as the first wing in this expansive dungeon, the Forge of Souls will quickly put players to the test of carving through the Scourge stronghold into deeper, more treacherous locations. Jaina will command Alliance forces, and Sylvanas will direct Horde forces. The goal is to ruin the twisted engines known as soul grinders found in this portion of the citadel, and then players can advance -- that is, if the Horde and Alliance forces can overcome the foes who confront them. Bosses
  • Bronjahm, the Godfather of Souls: An instrument of reckoning, Bronjahm watches over the engines in the Forge of Souls. He must be killed if the soul grinders are to be destroyed.
  • The Devourer of Souls: As the chief operator of the engines found in this wing, the Devourer stands guard over the souls stolen by the Lich King.
Pit of Saron Accessible only to those who have laid waste to the Forge of Souls' unholy operations, the Pit of Saron will bring Horde and Alliance forces deeper into the Lich King's domain. Players who venture here will immediately be confronted by the lord of this lair, Scourgelord Tyrannus. But defeating him will not be as easy as it seems. Before they can present a threat to Tyrannus, the adventurers, instructed by their leaders, will need to free enslaved allies who have been trapped by the Scourge. Until that happens, Tyrannus will leave all adversaries to his minions, workers of the citadel's mines. Perhaps the challenges here will lend clues as to the whereabouts of the Lich King's private chambers outside of the Frozen Throne, deep within the Halls of Reflection. Bosses
  • Forgemaster Garfrost: A master of Scourge weaponry, the forgemaster hauls stocks of saronite ore and other precious materials to the cold forges where the mechanisms of death are born. With a host of rime weapons and exotic alloys at his disposal, it could get cold in here.
  • Krick and Ick: Zombies serve as mindless muscle in the Pit of Saron's mines, stockpiling metals for Forgemaster Garfrost, and Krick -- a devious leper gnome -- supervises the operations from atop Ick, Krick's ghastly means of transportation.
  • Scourgelord Tyrannus: Tyrannus is a terrible force who will no doubt demonstrate his powers to those brave enough to enter the Pit of Saron. The scourgelord must die if players hope to make their way into the third and final wing of this dungeon.
Halls of Reflection With Jaina and Sylvanas leading the way, adventurers who make it as far as these frigid halls will quickly recognize the weapon that lies ahead: Frostmourne, the corruptive, legendary device of the Lich King himself. The Lich King's private chambers are within reach, although they may be the death of anyone who ventures there. Bosses
  • Falric and Marwyn: Captains for Arthas Menethil in life, Scourge commanders for the Lich King in death, Falric and Marwyn will be summoned to the Halls of Reflection for one purpose: destroying all intruders.
  • The Lich King: Sylvanas, thirsty for vengeance against the corrupted prince who sentenced her to an existence as an undead monstrosity, and Jaina, eager to find a flicker of Arthas's soul locked somewhere within the Lich King, have brought their hand-picked allies to this final confrontation. Arthas's true power may only now be discovered. Is there any hope in this mission, or does only death await?

I'm particularly interested in that last part. It has the potential for greatness and it has the potential to be incredibly detrimental to the game, depending on how Blizzard go about it.

If they make Arthas killable in the 5-man, then there's no question that the game will be ruined. Not only because they're making the *end boss* killable in a 5-man, but because of the issues that arise with class composition and tuning because of the limited players available. 10 player content is enough of a joke, as it's tuned around not having certain buffs. I'd hate to see how much of a joke a 5-man Arthas would be.

But then again, Blizzard could go another way about this, which is allowing the 5-man group to fight Arthas and weaken him before his retreat into the raid instance, allowing players that may not be able to defeat him in the raid instance to at least feel like they've played some part in his demise. But while this would probably make the playerbase happy, this would probably detract from the epic feel of the encounter (5 players weakening Arthas? really?)

If Blizzard implement the "see, but not kill" strategy well then it will probably be great for the game. But this strategy comes with its own set of problems, and would be hard to implement without at least pissing off some people (I PAY $15 A MONTH I SHOULD BE ABLE TO KILL ARTHAS WITHOUT RAIDING). And when you consider that these people are not only the most vocal, but the ones have Blizzard have catered to time and time again since TBC, I am definitely worried about Icecrown being a total flop.

~P

Edit: 3.3 is now live on PTRs, with the Pit of Saron available for testing. As far as I am aware, bugs are abound with this instance and no loot is available. Don't bother.