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Legion Previews: Stormheim, The Arcway and Court of Stars

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The Legion zone previews continue with Stormheim, while the dungeon previews conclude with the Arcway and Court of Stars.

Stormheim will remind you a lot of the Howling Fjord in Northrend: rough terrains are followed by peaceful green and yellow forests, while the whole zone is full of Vrykul lore. The mountainous areas of Stormheim are quite steep: you will walk on paths so small and so high, you will feel that you are about to fall to your death! Thankfully, the grappling hook system is both entertaining and handy.

As far as the lore of the zone is concerned, it's not just Vrykuls! If you want to find out about the aftermath of the Broken Shore events, then this zone is for you. The Worgen and the Forsaken have erupted into an all out war here. Greymane is keen on revenge, while Sylvanas seems to have her own agenda, probably related to the val'kyr residing in this zone.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard Entertainment

We sat down to talk about Stormheim with Lead Environment Artist Ely Cannon, Game Designer Don Adams, and Associate Game Designer Trevor Huwe to learn more about Stormheim and what you’ll experience there.
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Stormheim composed by Russell Brower

The land of Stormheim is one of harsh beauty, a reflection of the vrykul who dwell here. As you explore, you’ll learn more about vrykrul culture, including the origins of the mysterious Val’kyr and the terrifying Kvaldir. Along the way, you will contend with the vrykul God-King as he races to claim the Stormheim’s Pillar of Creation on behalf of his Legion masters. Ultimately, your quest will take you into the very heavens where the greatest champions of the vrykul await to test your worth.

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Q. How would you describe the zone's ambience? What's it like?

Ely: We set out to capture a verdant, mid-height mountain landscape with heavy basalt rock formations enshrouded in the kind of mists that you would see on the underside of a heavy cloud bank. It feels very wet—these guys are living in a damp environment with there’s always a sense that a storm is hanging overhead.

The zone starts with a heavy, oppressive atmosphere, and gradually moves into more of a bright, golden, fall-like environment to lift the mood. Then it moves back into a heavier, repressive mood again.

We really tried to use the environmental changes to go hand-in-hand with the story for this zone. It also starts heavy and then really moves into a little bit lighter story, then back to heavy.

Don: I would describe the ambience of the zone as dramatic. There are really big, dramatic cliffs. The Halls of Valor loom over the whole zone, and you can almost see it from everywhere. The mountain is right there, and there’s a crazy storm swirling over it. It’s filled with really dramatic vistas and cliffs.

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Ely: It’s really a rugged, big environment.

Don: It’s imposing. And you feel really small when you’re in Stormheim.

Ely: It’s different from Highmountain in that Stormheim has more of a weather dynamic—the storm when you first come in is lingering all around your view. You can see the storm head on the horizon and all the way around to the clearing right over the Halls of Valor. But like I said, it progresses into that lighter, brighter mood. Then you’re in the forest and you’re not on the big mountains—but the mountains are all around you.

Trevor: There’s also a lot of really cool juxtaposition in Stormheim. You have these harsh rocky cliffs, but interspersed there is this verdant green running through it. It’s very much like the Scottish Highlands.

It definitely feels like a place that you would find Vikings and that kind of thing. It also has these cool changes in environment where you’ll go from these nice rolling green hills to the mystic city of Haustvald, made of stone—it’s almost like a giant crypt. Then there’s Helheim, where everything feels very much like you’re in the underworld.

Ely: We tried to show show that the Vrykul here have a long history, and have been here a lot longer than in some of other zones you’ve encountered them previously. There’s more stone in their architecture. Haustvald is a very good example where they’ve actually burrowed down into the rocky ground and built this old, crypt-like temple—it’s all built of stone. We wanted to show that they’ve been here, that they thrived here, versus just recently showing up like they did in Northrend.

Trevor: Their cities, Skold-Ashil and Hrydshal, are very much fortified. You can tell that these people have lived in this land and they fought for the land. There are high walls, too. People probably tried to take it from them, but they stood their ground. They have this really hardy, fortified civilization here.

Ely: There’s really a history and connection to the land that they’ve been living on.

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Q. Which locations would you say are some of your favorites, and why?

Ely: Oh yeah. I like Haustvald. It’s my favorite area in the whole zone.

Trevor: I was going to say that, too—probably Haustvald. Just from a visual standpoint. When you go in, it’s got this really weird sense of being both simultaneously gigantic and claustrophobic. You see these big monoliths, but then you’ve got these little tombs that you would be going into. It really speaks to what the mystics are who live there, because the mystics are the Vrykul masters of life and death. The place they live looks like a giant stone tomb.

Don: And then you have the Runewood all around it, too. It’s this mystical forest that’s just awesome to see, with a talking tree named Vydhar. That area just sings.

I also really like the Kvaldir area in Tideskorn Harbor. It’s where the Kvaldir tribe are originally from, and it tells the story of how they first came into contact with Helya and ended up being cursed. It’s a super creepy awesome area that’s not quite like any other in Legion.

Ely: Then there's the obvious, Helheim.

Trevor: Yeah, Helheim is sort of the easy obvious answer. It got knocked out of the park.

Don: It goes back to the theme of imposing. The statues are imposing, along with the mountain and the Halls of Valor. Then once you get into the depths of Haustvald and into Helheim, you see Helya—and she’s huge. It’s grand in scale, and there are these moments that are like something out of epic literature.

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Q. Why do you think a player would want to start in this zone first?

Don: Sylvanas vs. Genn Greymane.

Trevor: How about Vrykul, dragons, Kvaldir, oh, and lest we not forget, grappling hooks. Basically, when we set out to do Stormheim our general goal was to try and create this Norse epic where the player is the character in the middle of it. So if you’re a fan of Vrykul culture, if you want to learn more about the Kvaldir, if you dig dragons. . . .

Don: Storm Dragons.

Trevor: What else do you need to hear other than Storm Dragons?

Ely: This zone has such a great main storyline, but it has such great side stories, too—some really cool and funny ones that lend charm to the zone.

Don: Tension between the Horde and Alliance has been building since the Broken Shore and the demon invasions, and this is the zone that kicks off more of that. It’s red versus blue right out of the gate, which then leads off into this epic story. It then returns to Alliance versus Horde again later. If that’s still fresh in your mind and you want to chase down Sylvanas, then this really is the zone for that.

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Q. What is it that will bring them back to this zone? We know there are World Quests and Dungeons to look forward, but what else?

Trevor: I’m not going to say why, but the Sixtrigger brothers. There’s also Shield’s Rest, which is a maximum-level area off the east coast of Stormheim and out in the water. It’s like an ancient burial ground that’s being raided by Kvaldir. They’re trying to get these powerful souls like the mystics that have been there forever. There are also some dragons there too.

Ely: And grappling hooks. There are lots of treasures to find and little nooks and crannies to explore.

Don: This is also where you can collect the best-named herb in the game of all time, Fjarnskaggl.

Trevor: You also get to fish up the Oodelfjisk.

Ely: Some of the best named profession materials ever are in Stormheim. And you get to talk with the tree Vydhar more—well, the tree talks to you.

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Don: I think the Kvaldir is also a good point to bring up. Without spoiling anything, we’ll say that Helya’s not done, so you may have to come back to deal with the Kvaldir.

Trevor: There are world bosses there too, so during your level-up experience you may have gotten killed by Nithogg a time or two. When you return at max level, you’ll be able to get your revenge for that.

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Q. Is there anything else that players should look forward to that you haven’t mentioned yet?

Trevor: I think the big thing is, there is a big central storyline in Stormheim and it’s massive in scale, it’s heavy, so it may be tempting to just keep following that road, but every now and then you’ll want to branch off to the side because there are some really fun little things to break up that flow. You might meet some memorable cool characters; you might have some fun things happen that aren’t part of the main story.

Don: Some of the most memorable things might be the ones we don’t send you directly to that you just find. There are a lot of really awesome side quests we added in.

Trevor: That’s another thing. Follow the grappling hooks. Follow them even when it seems like they aren’t going in a direction you need to go because you might find something there.

Don: Yeah, we didn’t place any of those hook points on accident. They’re worth following and if you’re not a demon hunter, maybe take some goblin gliders with you just in case you find yourself in a precarious situation.

There’s also a lot of verticality to the zone. Highmountain is the tallest zone, but Stormheim probably has the widest range of high and low points because it comes out of Highmountain and goes all the way down to sea level. It’s one of the reasons it looks so imposing—the cliffs.

Ely: It has a long view distance too. You could probably glide a long way.

Trevor: Another little tip: if you’re leveling up in the Runewood and your screen gets dark and it starts to snow—run.

(source)

The dungeon previews conclude with the two max-level Suramar dungeons, the Arcway and Court of Stars. Both of these dungeons have an 'attunement' of 8000/12000 Honored reputation with the Nightfallen, while they are only available on Mythic difficulty.

The Arcway is a pretty fun dungeon, sporting unique boss mechanics. The Court of Stars is also unique in the way that you don't necessarily have to fight all the time. Instead, there are useful items you can interact with based on your class, role, race and profession.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard Entertainment

Many challenges await the heroes of Azeroth in Legion, and among the most dangerous are the dungeons found in and around the Broken Isles. In this preview, we take a look at the final two of the expansion’s new release dungeons: The Arcway and Court of Stars.

The Arcway and Court of stars are accessible a little differently than a dungeon like Maw of Souls. To gain access to these two maximum-level dungeons, you’ll need to work on your reputation with Suramar which you’ll be able to do as a part of the zone questline. You’ll also need a premade group to take them on as neither of these dungeons will be available in Normal or Heroic. Read on to learn more about them.

The Arcway

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Minimum Level: 110
Location: Suramar
Requirements: Faction with Suramar, Mythic Premade Groups Only
Bosses: 5

As vast as the city of Suramar is, the vast network of tunnels beneath the city spans an even greater reach. Nightborne society has grown to depend on the power of the Nightwell, and the Arcway delivers that lifeblood throughout the city. This labyrinthine complex was built thousands of years ago, running beneath the foundations of the city’s largest buildings, and most modern citizens live their lives entirely unaware of what may lurk in the shadows beneath their feet….

Developer Insights: Right around the time we needed to begin planning this Suramar dungeon, we had been reflecting on some of our older dungeons like Blackrock Depths, which covered a massive swath of territory and were full of twists and turns. We decided that the foundations beneath the massive city of Suramar would be the perfect setting to revisit something on that scale. While the Arcway does not feature randomized bosses like the Assault on Violet Hold, each time players enter the dungeon they will find a different configuration of open doors, varying the gameplay experience and providing different choices for how to navigate the labyrinthine corridors.

Ivanyr: Cut off from the power of the Nightwell and cast into the dark expanse of the Arcway, Ivanyr wandered aimlessly, slowly withering away, until he came upon a trove in the foundations beneath the great library of Suramar. He spends his days feverishly working to decipher the tomes there, feeding off the power of relics in the archives in order to sustain himself. But, even as that magic sustains his body, his mind cracks and weakens.

Corstilax: This massive construct patrols the tunnels beneath Suramar, searching for anomalies and correcting them. He has detected one such anomaly — a breach in one of the conduits that carries the power of the Nightwell — and works to repair it. But living outsiders wandering the tunnels are also an anomaly; one that Corstilax is empowered to remedy.

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General Xakal: When Gul’dan threatened Suramar with his demands, those were not idle words. A Legion invasion force burrowed into the tunnels beneath the city, and Xakal leads those forces. He awaits further command, ready at a moment’s notice to surge forth and bring death and destruction to the streets of Suramar.

Nal'tira: This massive spider made its nest in the hollows beneath a great mana tree. Over the years, loose magical energies and runoff have warped the creature, imbuing Nal’tira with arcane energy that makes her perhaps the deadliest predator in the Arcway.

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Advisor Vandros: Vandros is one of Elisande’s closest advisors and an adept at harnessing the arcane magic of the nightwell, second only to Elisande herself. He would not ordinarily venture in to the Arcway himself, but after monitoring the state of the nightfallen resistance and their allies, he now feels the need to take matters into his own hands.

Court of Stars

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Minimum Level: 110
Location: Suramar
Requirements: Faction with Suramar, Mythic Premade Groups Only
Bosses:3

Even as Legion troops patrol the streets, casting a pall over the grand city of Suramar, the socialites of the Nightborne nobility continue to cling to custom and routine. On this clear night, the cry of revelers echoes through the chill air, as the largest mansion in the Noble District opens its doors for a grand gala. Rumor has it that Grand Magistrix Elisande herself may be making an appearance in an effort to reassure several of her closest allies despite recent turmoil.

Developer Insights: From the outset, we knew that this was going to be a non-traditional dungeon. It is set in a portion of Suramar City, which is not inherently an untamed, active combat space full of aggressive enemies. Rather, we decided to focus on a specific moment in time, and an event: a dinner banquet replete with targets of opportunity, setting the stage for an infiltration mission. In many ways, the old-school Dire Maul “tribute run” served as an inspiration for the structure of the dungeon. Why does violence always have to be the answer? What if we could encourage and reward players for seeking out creative solutions to obstacles in their path, leveraging unique class abilities, tradeskills, and even basic powers of observation and communication?

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Patrol Captain Gerdo: Captain of the Duskwatch, Gerdo has devoted his life to keeping the peace within the walls of Suramar. Though he has a growing unease since the arrival of the Legion, he remains faithful and loyal to the leadership of Suramar. Elisande has safeguarded them for generations, and she knows what is best for the people of the city. Tonight, Gerdo’s task is to ensure that only citizens with the proper credentials are able to enter a gathering of particular importance at the manor.

Talixae Flamewreath: A sadistic eredar sorcerer, even as she understands the importance of the nightborne to her master’s plans, Talixae chafes at the indignity of standing guard over a building full of elves. Nevertheless, she and her lieutenants remain vigilant, and while they live, no intruders will disrupt the gathering.

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Advisor Melandrus: First Blade of the Grand Magistrix, Melandrus rarely leaves Elisande’s side. He has eschewed the magical arts, instead harnessing the power of the Nightwell to heighten his reflexes and his movements to inhuman levels.

(source)

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      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Castigation Twist of Fate Schism 30 Body and Soul Masochism Angelic Feather 45 Shield Discipline Mindbender Power Word: Solace 60 Psychic Voice Dominant Mind Shining Force 75 Sins of the Many *new* Contrition *new* Shadow Covenant *new* 90 Purge the Wicked Divine Star Halo 100 Lenience *new* Luminous Barrier *new* Evangelism Holy
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Enlightenment Trail of Light Enduring Renewal 30 Angelic Feather Perseverance Angel's Mercy *new* 45 Cosmic Ripple *new* Guardian Angel Afterlife 60 Psychic Voice *new* Censure Shining Force 75 Surge of Light Binding Heal Circle of Healing 90 Benediction Divine Star Halo 100 Light of the Naaru Apotheosis Holy Word: Salvation *new* Shadow
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Fortress of the Mind Shadowy Insight Shadow Word: Void 30 Body and Soul San'layn Mania 45 Twist of Fate Misery Dark Void *new* 60 Last Word *new* Mind Bomb Psychic Horror 75 Auspicious Spirits Shadow Word: Death Shadow Crash 90 Lingering Insanity Mindbender Void Torrent *new* 100 Legacy of the Void Dark Ascension *new* Surrender to Madness Rogue [Return to Top]
      Assassination
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Master Poisoner Elaborate Planning Blindside 30 Nightstalker Subterfuge Master Assassin *new* 45 Vigor Deeper Stratagem Marked for Death 60 Leeching Poison *new* Cheat Death Elusiveness 75 Internal Bleeding Iron Wire Prey on the Weak 90 Venom Rush Toxic Blade Exsanguinate 100 Poison Bomb *new* Hidden Blades *new* Crimson Tempest Outlaw
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Weaponmaster Quick Draw Ghostly Strike 30 Acrobatic Strikes Retractable Hook *new* Hit and Run 45 Vigor Deeper Stratagem Marked for Death 60 Iron Stomach Cheat Death Elusiveness 75 Dirty Tricks Blinding Powder *new* Prey on the Weak 90 Loaded Dice *new* Alacrity Slice and Dice 100 Dancing Steel *new* Blade Rush *new* Killing Spree Subtlety
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Weaponmaster Find Weakness Gloomblade 30 Nightstalker Subterfuge Shadow Focus 45 Vigor Deeper Stratagem Marked for Death 60 Soothing Darkness Cheat Death Elusiveness 75 Shot in the Dark *new* Night Terrors *new* Prey on the Weak 90 Dark Shadow Alacrity Enveloping Shadows 100 Master of Shadows Secret Technique *new* Shuriken Tornado *new* Shaman [Return to Top]
      Elemental
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Exposed Elements *new* Echo of the Elements *new* Elemental Blast *new* 30 Aftershock Master of the Elements Totem Mastery 45 Spirit Wolf *new* Earth Shield Static Charge *new* 60 High Voltage *new* Storm Elemental Liquid Magma Totem 75 Nature's Guardian Ancestral Guidance Wind Rush Totem *new* 90 Earthen Rage Primal Elementalist Icefury *new* 100 Unlimited Power *new* Stormkeeper Ascendance Enhancement
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Boulderfist Hot Hand Lightning Shield 30 Landslide Forceful Winds *new* Totem Mastery *new* 45 Spirit Wolf *new* Earth Shield Static Charge *new* 60 Searing Assault Hailstorm Overcharge 75 Nature's Guardian *new* Feral Lunge Wind Rush Totem 90 Crashing Storm Fury of Air Sundering 100 Elemental Spirits *new* Earthen Spike Ascendance Restoration
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Torrent Undulation Unleash Life 30 Echo of the Elements Deluge Earth Shield 45 Spirit Wolf *new* Earthgrab Totem Static Charge *new* 60 Ancestral Vigor Earthen Wall Totem Ancestral Protection Totem 75 Nature's Guardian *new* Graceful Spirit Wind Rush Totem 90 Flash Flood *new* Downpour *new* Cloudburst Totem 100 High Tide Wellspring Ascendance Warlock [Return to Top]
      Affliction
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Nightfall Drain Soul *new* Deathbolt *new*aw 30 Writhe in Agony Absolute Corruption Siphon Life 45 Demon Skin Burning Rush Dark Pact 60 Sow the Seeds Phantom Singularity Vile Taint *new* 75 Darkfury *new* Mortal Coil Demonic Circle 90 Shadow Embrace *new* Haunt Grimoire of Sacrifice 100 Soul Conduit Creeping Death *new* Dark Soul: Misery *new* Demonology
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Dreadlash *new* Demonic Strength *new* Biliescourge Bombers *new* 30 Demonic Calling Power Siphon *new* Doom *new* 45 Demon Skin Burning Rush Dark Pact 60 From the Shadows *new* Soul Strike *new* Summon Vilefiend *new* 75 Darkfury *new* Mortal Coil Demonic Circle 90 Soul Conduit Inner Demons *new* Grimoire: Felguard *new* 100 Sacrificed Souls Demonic Consumption *new* Nether Portal *new* Destruction
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Flashover *new* Eradication Soul Fire 30 Reverse Entropy *new* Internal Combustion Shadowburn 45 Demon Skin Burning Rush Dark Pact 60 Inferno *new* Fire and Brimstone Cataclysm 75 Darkfury *new* Mortal Coil Demonic Circle 90 Roaring Blaze Grimoire of Supremacy Grimoire of Sacrifice 100 Soul Conduit Channel Demonfire Dark Soul: Instability *new* Warrior [Return to Top]
      Battle Shout (raid buff) is back. Arms
      New Abilities
      Sweeping Strikes New Mastery
      Mastery: Deep Wounds (Deep Wounds) Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 War Machine *new* Sudden Death Skullsplitter *new* 30 Double Time Impending Victory *new* Storm Bolt 45 Massacre *new* Fervor of Battle Rend 60 Second Wind Bounding Stride Defensive Stance 75 Collateral Damage  *new* Warbreaker *new* Cleave 90 In For The Kill *new* Avatar Deadly Calm *new* 100 Anger Management Dreadnaught *new* Ravager Fury
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 War Machine Endless Rage Fresh Meat 30 Double Time Impending Victory *new* Storm Bolt 45 Inner Rage Sudden Death *new* Furious Slash *new* 60 Furious Charge Bounding Stride Warpaint 75 Carnage Massacre *new* Frothing Berserker 90 Meat Cleaver *new* Dragon Roar Bladestorm 100 Reckless Abandon Anger Management *new* Siegebreaker *new* Protection
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Into the Fray Punish *new* Impending Victory 30 Crackling Thunder Bounding Stride Safeguard 45 Best Served Cold Unstoppable Force *new* Dragon Roar *new* 60 Indomitable Never Surrender *new* Bolster *new* 75 Menace *new* Rumbling Earth *new* Storm Bolt 90 Booming Voice Vengeance Devastator 100 Anger Management Heavy Repercussions Ravager
    • By Stan
      The most recent Beta Build 26812 includes Frost Death Knight & Brewmaster Monk talent updates. Check out the highlights!
      We updated our Battle for Azeroth Class Changes to correspond with all changes listed below, and you can find more information about Battle for Azeroth by visiting our Expansion Hub. 
      Demon Hunter
      Vengeance
      Chaos Brand (new passive): Your Fire damage brands the target, increasing magic damage taken by 5%. Death Knight
      Frost
      Pillar of Frost is again baseline. Cooldown reduced to 45 seconds (from 1 min). Shattering Strikes (level 56 talent) removed. Freezing Fog (level 100 talent) removed. Cold Heart is a new level 56 talent. Frostscythe is now a level 60 talent (was 90). Frozen Pulse is a new level 60 talent. Glacial Advance is now a level 90 talent (was 60). Icecap is now a level 100 talent (was 60). Obliteration is a new level 100 talent, substituting the old Obliteration. Blizzard (Source)
      Lots of feedback on the first round of changes. Here’s the second iteration: Pillar of Frost
      Previous changes to Pillar of Frost have been reverted. While the ability is quite simple in a vacuum (20% damage increase with no other mechanics), there were clearly a lot of players who were uncomfortable with the idea of removing a core ability that’s been around for so long. 

      After reading all the feedback and examining the ability’s place on the spec, we think the ability did provide a couple valuable things to the Frost rotation. One is Pillar of Frost is a window to play around – it allowed you to occasionally pool/spend your resources for a gain in a way that otherwise Frost doesn’t really have baseline. Additionally, it was a damage amp that you could/would want to line up cooldowns for – Remorseless Winter, Frostwyrm’s Fury, etc. Straightforward, but felt good to use.

      Pillar of Frost is now back, at 45 sec cooldown and 15 sec duration – shorter cooldown but same uptime. Since it’s providing some useful gameplay direction for the rotation, we’re leaning into it more and making it available a little more often. Additionally, to give it just a little more texture and gameplay, its damage bonus now starts at 15% and increases by 1% per Rune spent while it’s active. Pillar usually ends with a 25% damage bonus or more. Talent Changes
      Glacial Advance now costs 30 Runic Power (instead of 1 Rune), has a 6 sec cooldown (down from 15 sec), and also applies Razorice to all enemies hit. Glacial Advance overlapped a lot with Frostscythe in both use and cost, and we’re looking to differentiate it so it can find its own use case. Cold Heart has replaced Shattering Strikes. It’s basically the same as the legendary but without the stun, and provides the spec’s talent tree with some single-target burst. Obliteration is mostly back to its live design, but it’s now a passive, and triggered while Pillar of Frost is active. With Pillar of Frost being back baseline, we still want to avoid a setup where casing 3 self-buff cooldown consecutively was possible (Pillar of Frost, Empower Rune Weapon, Obliteration, in any order). We're still iterating a bit on Obliteration's cost reduction mechanic - it has some slightly awkward effects on resources which we'd like to make feel better. Current talent layout:
      Level 60: Avalanche, Frozen Pulse (now requires fewer than 3 full Runes instead of fewer than 2), Frostscythe Level 90: Gathering Storm, Glacial Advance, Frostwyrm's Fury Level 100: Icecap (same as live, affecting Pillar of Frost), Obliteration, Breath of Sindragosa Notes:
      Icy Talons now triggers from Breath of Sindragosa, since it’s replacing your Frost Strike for a period of time. Icebound Fortitude’s damage reduction was increased to 30% for both Frost/Unholy specs As always, thanks for the continued feedback and we expect to hear more from you all.
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 56 Inexorable Assault Icy Talons Cold Heart *new* 57 Runic Attenuation Murderous Efficiency Horn of Winter 58 Winter is Coming Asphyxiate *new* Blinding Sleet 60 Avalanche Frozen Pulse *new* Frostscythe 75 Permafrost Wraith Walk *new* Death Pact *new* 90 Gathering Storm Glacial Advance Frostwyrm's Fury *new* 100 Icecap Obliteration *new* Breath of Sindragosa Hunter
      Marksmanship
      Aimed Shot cast time reduced to 2.5 seconds. Steady Shot cast time reduced to 1.8 seconds. When you have no pets summoned (Lone Wolf),  Command Pet changes into Survival of the Fittest. Reduces all damage you take by 20% for 6 sec. Blizzard (Source)
      Marksmanship Hunters,
      Hello again, a few notes this morning.
      - Aimed Shot should still be a 12 second recharge time before Haste, I'm unsure why some people are reporting it is showing up as 10 seconds for them. Is this still happening after the build that went up yesterday?
      - After lots of discussion and reading feedback and many dungeon runs and raid testing and questing, we have decided that we're going to changed Aimed Shot to 2.5 second cast time, and Steady Shot to 1.75 second cast time.
      - Regarding Lone Wolf and Pet Utility, if you have your active pet out, the Command Pet button in your spellbook should change into whatever your pet's special ability is, such as Primal Rage. If you dismiss your pet as a Marksmanship Hunter and opt into Lone Wolf, Command Pet should change into Survival of the Fittest as a cooldown you can use that reduces the damage you take by 20%. This looks to have some issues currently, and will be resolved in a future build.
      Thanks for the continued feedback on this thread and others.
      Monk
      Brewmaster
      Gift of the Mists (level 45 talent) removed. Elusive Dance (level 100 talent) removed. Spitfire is a new level 45 talent. Guard is a new level 100 talent. Blizzard (Source)
      Various things to expect next build:
      New talent: Guard (replacing Elusive Dance on L100). "Guard against future attacks, causing the next X damage you Stagger to instead be prevented." 30s cooldown.
      (The Guard Honor Talent will be renamed).
      New talent: Spitfire (replacing Gift of the Mists on L45). "Tiger Palm has a 25% chance to reset the cooldown of Breath of Fire."
      Part of the value of Black Ox Brew is being moved baseline, by lengthening its cooldown to 2 minutes, and speeding up the baseline recharge time of Brews. This should help the row be more competitive, without losing total Brew charges.
      Ironskin Brew's duration will come up to 7, also freeing up more Brew charges.
      Blackout Combo no longer buffs Purifying Brew. This usage wound up mostly being a trap, and 4 modes still a good amount of choice for the talent.
      Gift of the Ox healing increased about 30%. We expect the overall spawn rate to be lower than Legion, and this helps make up for that.
      Balancing is still preliminary, but a few tweaks on that front:
      HP reduced for Brewmaster by around 10%. Brewmaster's heavy resistance to killing spikes means they're not a tank that needs as high an HP pool. This does have the side effect of making Ox orbs spawn slightly more often.
      Stagger's effectiveness against Magic brought back up to 35%.
      Level Talent 1 Talent 2 Talent 3 15 Eye of the Tiger Chi Wave Chi Burst 30 Celerity Chi Torpedo Tiger's Lust 45 Light Brewing Spitfire *new* Black Ox Brew 60 Tiger Tail Sweep *new* Summon Black Ox Statue Ring of Peace 75 Bob and Weave *new* Healing Elixir Dampen Harm 90 Special Delivery Rushing Jade Wind Invoke Niuzao, the Black Ox 100 High Tolerance Guard *new* Blackout Combo Mistweaver
      Renewing Mist now has 2 charges and Uplifting Trance has been removed. Blizzard (Source)
      Next build will try 2 charges on Renewing Mist, and Uplifting Trance removed.
      A little background for interest:
      We try to be really careful about adding charges to baseline spells, since it's a higher-complexity mechanic than simply having a cooldown. Essentially every spell is slightly more efficient with charges, since you don't get the little bit of slippage when the cooldown comes up each time, and you can better sync it with other effects. So it's always an attractive ask, because adding charges to anything improves spec performance. Renewing Mist is a better case due to bad feeling of every second lost slightly reducing Vivify efficiency for 20s, and this also helps the weirdness of wanting to start ramping it up 20s before any pull.
      Uplifting Trance was added in Legion to try to give something that enforced a little more spell variance (pushing Vivify to top priority sometimes and not other times). By now, there are so many more spell interactions contributing to the "weaving" part of Mistweaving (Essence Font buffs other spells, Soothing Mist empowers other spells, Renewing Mist improves Vivify, etc.) that button choice is richer without sticking a proc in there. Since other things control when you want to use Vivify, this just feels like random variance that you can't control.
      Paladin
      Retribution
      Art of War is now baseline. Blade of Wrath (level 30 talent) now increases the frequency of Art of War resets and cause its proc to also increase the damage of the next Blade of Justice by 25%. Blizzard (Source)
      Hey all,
      Since the first round of changes to Retribution early on in alpha, we've been letting the spec settle into a steady-state, but have been very much keeping it in mind. Like many have suggested, the spec is almost all the way there, but is missing a little bit baseline.
      Blade of Wrath
      Blade of Wrath's mechanic is becoming baseline, named Art of War: Your auto attacks have a chance to reset the cooldown of Blade of Justice. Any many correctly pointed out, this is a sort of unpredictability that the spec needed in its baseline rotation.
      Blade of Wrath, the talent, will now increase the frequency of Art of War resets and cause its proc to also increase the damage of the next Blade of Justice by 25%. Numbers are pending tuning, but the gameplay is there.
      Divine Purpose
      Divine Purpose's proc chance has been reduced to 15% (down from 20%), but it now also increases the damage and healing of that free Holy Power spender by 20%.
      The entire value of this talent was in the free Holy Power proc, which is a huge swing on button presses and pacing, but which neither of its talent match-ups provide. This change reduces that difference slightly and gives Divine Purpose a little more nuance to its gameplay – now you may consider saving or waiting for that proc to use on a different Holy Power spender from usual.
      Thanks for the patience and continued feedback.
      Previous Talent Changes
      Beta Build 26788 Talent Changes Beta Build 26734 Talent Changes Beta Build 26707 Talent Changes Beta Build 26624 Talent Changes Beta Build 26567 Talent Changes Beta Build 26530 Talent Changes
    • By Stan
      8.0 PTR servers have been updated with the Legion Artifact retirement questline. Artifact traits will no longer function when the pre-patch goes live and here's a preview of the questline. This article contains spoilers.
      The cutscene is still missing voiceovers and it's only available to Alliance players on PTR.
      The Speaker's Call
      I been travelin' the land, seekin' out anyone who might know how ta heal Azeroth. I've consulted ancient sages, druids, shamans... from dragons ta titan keepers. Nobody's seen anythin' like this before.
      Went ta Karazhan ta speak with Khadgar. Studyin' those old tomes o' his, we came up with an idea. No tellin' if it's gonna work, but we gotta try. Come ta Silithus. Meet me at the wound. Time is runnin' out fer Azeroth, <Name>.
      The Power in Our Hands
      That sword of Sargeras is surgin' with dark energies. They're seepin' into Azeroth's heart like poison. The blade's power must be snuffed out. The Pillars o' Creation could do it, but they're keepin' the tomb sealed. So we need other vessels capable o' harnessin' vast energies. Vessels like those artifact weapons you and the other champions wield. It's a risk, <Name>. We don't know what Sargeras' power will do ta those weapons. But unless we act now, the heart of Azeroth is sure ta die.
      A cinematic plays, where you and the other champions sacrifice your Artifacts to draw the surging energies from the sword.
      The sword grows dark! I can hear Azeroth's sufferin' abate... If only a little. Ye did good, hero. Bought our world some time. But we must find a way ta fully heal this wound. No matter what happens between the Alliance and Horde, do not forget yer duty on Azeroth!
    • By Starym
      Legion is coming to an end very soon, and Battle for Azeroth isn't quite here yet, so what better time to look back at this and previous expansions. Method have been doing just this in the past weeks, obviously focusing on what they know best, aka top tier raiding, with many videos covering WoW's premier PvE activity (for now at least, with M+ knocking at that door).
      So, we start off with a Legion raiding overview as well as a deeper look into the most difficult boss of the expansion, Kil'jaeden, who managed to survive 19 days, a full 8 longer than the next boss (Gul'dan), and why he was both the best and worst boss of Legion.
       
      Then we go even further back, sticking to raid bosses and the ranking thereof, as the whole raid team choose the top 3 best bosses of Warlords of Draenor, and then expand to the top 5 bosses of all time!
       
      So, what do you think of their choices?
    • By Stan
      Blizzard released a new Dev Watercooler today with information about the ongoing WoW: Classic development. Classic servers will run on Patch 1.12: Drums of War, because it represents the most complete version of the classic experience. Devs are hard at work to make the modern client compatible with the classic data.
      Blizzard (Source)
      Greetings! Development of World of Warcraft Classic is underway, and we’re very excited to share some of the challenges and solutions we’re working on. As we mentioned last BlizzCon, the process of restoring the classic game is not straightforward, and it’s important to us to take the time and effort to get it right—this includes poring over numerous game versions, data, and code; meticulously scrutinizing all the changes we’ve made over the years. Rest assured: The WoW Classic team is hard at work making it a reality, and we’re at a point in development where we’re ready to share some of the things we’ve been working on.
      WOW CLASSIC: FIRST PROTOTYPE
      The first—and among the most important—decision we had to make was which version of the game to focus on. As many of you have noted, the classic period was two years long and full of changes. Core features like Battlegrounds were introduced in patches after WoW’s original launch, and class design similarly changed over time. After careful consideration, we decided on Patch 1.12: Drums of War as our foundation, because it represents the most complete version of the classic experience.
      Once we had our starting point, we began taking stock of what we had in the source code and what we could make available, which included restoring the original development database from archival backups. After stitching various key pieces together, we had a locally rebuilt version of Patch 1.12 running internally. The team could create characters and do basic questing and leveling—and dying, which we did many times. For testing purposes. Obviously.
      Our initial runs exposed a few (expected) issues: the game sometimes crashed, didn’t recognize our modern video cards, and was incompatible with our current login system. That first pass also couldn’t support any of our modern security and anti-cheating capabilities. Clearly we had a lot of work to do to make WoW Classic live up to the Blizzard standard of quality, and deliver the experience players want.
      THE PATH FORWARD: SECOND PROTOTYPE
      Speaking of engineering, World of Warcraft is a very data-driven game, which means the basic code is flexible and the specific way it behaves is controlled by information contained in databases. Things like quests, monsters, items, and the rules for how these all interact are defined by the designers and artists in data.
      So we asked ourselves, would it still be possible to deliver an authentic classic experience if we took our modern code, with all its back-end improvements and changes, and used it to process the Patch 1.12 game data? While that might seem counterintuitive, this would inherently include classic systems like skill ranks, old quests and terrain, talents, and so on, while later features like Transmog and Achievements would effectively not exist because they were entirely absent from the data. After weeks of R&D, experimentation, and prototyping, we were confident we could deliver the classic WoW content and gameplay without sacrificing the literally millions of hours put in to back-end development over the past 13 years.
      While our initial effort helped us determine the experience we wanted to provide, this second prototype really defined how we’d get there. Starting from a modern architecture—with all its security and stability changes—means the team’s efforts can be focused on pursuing an authentic classic experience. Any differences in behavior between our development builds and the patch 1.12 reference can be systematically cataloged and corrected, while still operating from a foundation that’s stable and secure.
      DIGGING IN
      So what does it take to recreate an authentic classic experience with modern engineering? Let’s start by categorizing the different types of game data that make up WoW:
      Table data: This kind of information is almost always represented as numbers. How many hit points a creature has, the amount of Strength an item grants, or where and when certain creatures spawn, are all examples of the numerical data we store in our databases. We can also store and enforce relationships between different pieces of data. File data: This is often very dense data like 3D models, textures, animations and terrain. Our user interface is built up from XML and Lua files. Many of the art files do not use the same file formats that commercial art tools spit out. Our build pipeline takes these raw art files and translates them into something optimized for our game to read and process. Lua scripts: Some features are driven by Lua scripts written by designers, allowing them to easily define custom behaviors for server-side logic without requiring deep engineering knowledge. HOW ENGINEERING HAS CHANGED
      One challenge we face is that all the classic data is in the original format used at launch, but that format has changed substantially in the intervening years. Major work needs to be done in this area to make the modern client compatible with the classic data.
      For example, spells could originally only perform three actions on the spell’s target. In table form, that looked something like this:
      ID
      Name
      Effect One
      Effect Two
      Effect Three
      Aura One
      Aura Two
      Effect Damage One
      Aura Damage One
      Aura Damage Two
      1
      Fireball
      Deal Damage
      Apply Aura
      Nothing
      Nothing
      Deal Damage Periodically
      30
      Nothing
      3
      2
      Frost Bolt
      Deal Damage
      Apply Aura
      Nothing
      Nothing
      Slow
      20
      Nothing
      Nothing
      As you can see, there is a lot of space taken up by ‘Nothing’. Over the course of WoW’s lifetime, we’ve improved our data design and normalized much of our database data. Today, that same data would be separated out like this:
      Table Name: Spell
      ID
      Name
      1
      Fireball
      2
      Frostbolt
      Table Name: Spell Effect
      ID
      SpellID
      Effect
      Damage
      1
      1
      Damage
      30
      2
      2
      Damage
      25
      Table Name: Spell Aura ID
      SpellID
      Aura
      Damage
      1
      1
      Deal Damage Periodically
      3
      2
      2
      Slow
      Nothing
      In this form, there is much less wasted space and spells are no longer limited to three effects. But before we can load any database data, we need to transform the old data layout into the new one. This is not limited to spells, as almost every game system (including items, creatures, player characters, spawning, AI, and more) has had its database layout altered over the years.
      LOOKING AHEAD
      All the work we’re doing will ultimately allow us to recreate an authentic classic experience on a platform that is much more optimized and stable, helping us avoid latency and stability issues. Additional modern improvements will include modern anti-cheat/botting detection, customer service and Battle.net integration, and similar conveniences that do not affect the core gameplay experience.
      We are looking forward to the challenges ahead and share your passion for the classic game; every code check-in data conversion we make brings WoW Classic closer to providing that authentic experience you—and we—want. Thanks for joining us on this journey.