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wow Blue Posts: General Legion Updates #8

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The blues have been busy putting out more responses to the community's opinions on different problems on the Alpha. Make sure you are up-to-date on what Blizzard think of the changes, as well as what they plan to do in the future.

Our first post concerns the design notes for the brand new Alpha build. The build was deployed in order to implement a number of further class changes. The design notes generally will summarize what the "major" changes to the class were.

Blizzard Icon Alpha Build Design Notes - 18th February

Today’s alpha build is a smaller update, but still contains a few noteworthy things:
  • Class Status – We’re continuing to iterate on our class abilities and talents, based on testing and feedback. This build has many revisions scattered around the classes, but here are some highlights:
  • Fury Warriors – Significant iterations on the core combat abilities. A few more talent changes are still yet to come.
  • Mages – Significant revisions to their level 30 talents, and a few related baseline utility abilities.
  • Death Knights – Wraith Walk added to aid mobility. Several new/revised talents across all 3 specs.
  • Protection Warriors – Several revisions to talents and core rotation.
  • Demon Hunters – Numerous changes across both specs and talents.
  • Shadow Priests – Voidform is now an active ability.
  • Retribution Paladins – Many talents revised.
  • Marksmanship Hunters – Significant revisions to core combat abilities and talents.
Thanks, and we look forward to your feedback!

Today's build update mainly contains bug fixing and ongoing iteration for the current zones, artifacts, and class specs. So while no new class specs or zones are contained in this build, there's still a lot of value in providing a more recent snapshot of the game for you all to test and give feedback on. Fresh is good!

Our next blue posts look at the feedback provided concerning the new legendary items being introduced in Legion. There have been concerns that such a huge number of legendaries is going to create huge balance issues between players that manage to get them early on. The blues responded on two fronts, with posts detailing a legendary item cap being introduced, as well as a response considering the power of the effects themselves. 

Blizzard Icon Legendary Item Cap

At the start of the expansion, only one legendary at a time can be equipped so that while extraordinarily lucky people will have more choices about which to use when, they won't be significantly more powerful than somebody that isn't quite as lucky. As the expansion progresses, the number of legendaries that can be equipped at once will go up, although still limited to a relatively small number of slots. 
They can come from anywhere, with more difficult content having a higher likelihood of dropping them (for equivalent time spent).

Blizzard Icon Legendary Effects in Legion

I feel that the issue is that this type of legendary will even be allowed into the game. I haven't spoken to a single person that doesn't think they'll be a nightmare for raiders. Even one of these items can offer a ridiculous power difference for certain spells/classes.
As you note, there is a massive amount of tuning yet to be done here. A legendary that makes you unkillable, or that doubles your damage, is not a legendary that will be going live in that form. We're testing a lot of different ideas. Some need numbers adjustments; others may prove impossible to tune or unfun. Alpha is alpha.
But if we're in a space where items being powerful and transformative is unacceptable, then that feels like a problem. Marginal passive stat increases, like replacing your bracers that have 93 Haste with bracers that have 105 Haste, are certainly easy to balance and safe. They're also pretty dull. And rewards should be anything but. Currently, completing set bonuses or getting powerful trinkets are some of the more rewarding moments, and those offer powerful effects comparable to many of the planned Legion legendaries. In a way, things like the Archimonde trinkets in Patch 6.2 were a preview of how some of these effects might interact and transform gameplay. We wish more items felt like those, and fewer felt like getting that bracer upgrade.
Way back in the early days of WoW, getting a Hand of Edward the Odd out of a strongbox was like winning the lottery, and every enemy you killed had the potential to be that lucky ticket. Over the years, loot delivery mechanics and their impact have become more and more streamlined, often at the expense of excitement. Legendary items offer a bit of that classic feel.
That said, in addition to the overall unique-equipped limit, our current thinking is that there will be a suppression aura in effect on Mythic raids for the first X weeks after a given raid zone opens, disabling legendary items' special effects (they will still function normally as high-ilvl regular items). This will serve to limit any perceived unfairness in the progression "race," while also serving as a self-nerfing mechanism that can kick in once that race is done.

In more class-specific news, the blues put out replies on a number of the class feedback forums for the Alpha. Our first reply comes from the Guardian Druid forum where the players have been discussing problems with the current AoE for Druid tanks.

Blizzard Icon Guardian Druid Feedback Reply

Hey, just wanted to pop in to let you all know about an upcoming change that didn't quite make it into today's build: Lacerate is going to be replaced with Swipe (Bear). It'll be no cooldown, free, with AoE damage somewhere between Lacerate's direct damage and Moonfire's direct damage (i.e., it'll be your lowest priority ability for single target, but offer on-demand AoE if needed).
EDIT: There are several other changes still coming to Guardian-specific talents as well, to add some more interesting gameplay options on rows where there were too many passive choices.
We look forward to feedback once you've gotten to test it in the next build!

Our next blue post from the class feedback forums centres around some of the new introductions to the Mistweaver Monk playstyle. Players have discussed at length the potential pitfalls of the various melee-based abilities being introduced for the Mistweavers, but the blues are on hand to explain their thinking behind it!

Blizzard Icon Mistweaver Monk Feedback Reply

The goal of Spirit of the Crane and Rising Thunder is to enable a playstyle that incorporates melee attacks while healing, for those who desire it (note that Holy Paladins have some similar ablilities and talents, and much of this discussion applies to them as well). We intend for you to be able to use these abilities naturally in dungeon and raid content, without being unfairly punished for being in melee range. However, the Mistweaver situation in Warlords, where the spec is never targeted by a wide range of abilities (even though, the vast majority of the time, it has no need for such treatment) is not one we're happy with. Our goal is to be more judicious about exactly which encounter abilities, if targeted at Mistweavers or Holy Paladins, would preclude playing the spec as intended.
For example, a Chain Lightning or Void Zone targeted at a random player with no warning will wipe or seriously disrupt the group if ever targeted at a person in a melee clump. If you can get targeted by it, there is no option but to avoid being in melee at any time during the encounter. Mistweavers and Holy Paladins should not be targeted by these sorts of abilities.
On the other hand, imagine a debuff that requires you to move away from other players for a short time or move to a certain location. In many cases, we exempt melee DPS from such abilities not because it would wipe the raid, but merely because reducing their effectiveness to near-zero for many seconds would be overly frustrating. We are much less concerned about asking Mistweavers or Holy Paladins to respond to these kinds of mechanics, because they can still use most of their abilities and be reasonably effective while briefly out of melee. In these cases they'd simply be handling the same mechanics that other healers were required to handle.
In summary, choose these talents on alpha like any others and use them as you'd expect, and feel free to report any situations where doing so causes problems that you have no way to avoid.
A few other things:
--We are planning to revise Sheilun's Gift, as we agree it is rather bland.
--Essence Font should be reasonably effective on as few as 6 targets. Tuning is still in progress as always, but the current version should slightly exceed unbuffed Vivify in terms of throughput and efficiency at around that amount (and if not, we'll take a look at that). It will only get relatively stronger from there as the number of targets increases. 

Our last blue post for the day is going to be coming from the Warlock forums, detailing a clarification on the Demonic Empowerment ability for Demonology.

Blizzard Icon Demonic Empowerment for Demonology

A clarification on this (weird-looking) change: The build was made while we were in the middle of changing Demonic Empowerment. It'll actually be no cooldown/charges at all, just always freely usable.

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