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WoW Recap: Name Reclamation, User Interface and Healing changes in WoD.

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With Warlords of Draenor quickly approaching, Blizzard continues to give us information about the long awaited expansion. This past week, we received information about Name Reclamation, changes to the User Interface, including the previously mentioned Toy Box, as well as the design strategy for healing in the expansion. Warlords is only two months away and every player is eagerly awaiting its arrival.



Blizzard is freeing up names that have not been used for more than 5 years, which allows players to claim previously taken names. The changes to mechanics and game play are in their final stages. During the pre-expansion Blizzard wants to improve class balance and the fine tuning of how much damage we do, as well as the damage the creatures of Draenor will do to us. Once the expansion is released, we should see a few more minor tweaks before we we sink our teeth into the new content.



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Character Name Reclamation



Monday, Blizzard announced that they will be freeing up character names that have not been used since November 13th, 2008. If you have a character that you have not played since that date, the character will be flagged for a name change when patch 6.0.2 goes live. Be sure to login to those characters whose name you wish to keep!

Blizzard Icon Release the Names! Character Name Reclamation Coming

With the upcoming Warlords of Draenor pre-patch (6.0.2), we will be releasing sidelined characters’ names back into the wild.

Any characters that have not logged into the game since November 13, 2008 will have their names freed up, making them available to anyone creating a new character or using the paid Character Name Change service.

How Do I Preserve My Names?
You will need to log in to World of Warcraft and enter the game using each character whose name you wish to retain before patch 6.0.2 goes live. While it is possible no one will claim your recently released name and you might be able to snag it again, it is probably not worth the risk if you want to keep your names intact long-term.

Our goal with this great name liberation is to make sure new and returning players have a large and varied pool of names available to choose from—so log in now if you wish preserve your unused characters’ names for your journey intro Draenor. (Source)



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UI Improvements



Friday, Blizzard posted a blog highlighting changes to the User Interface and the improvements they have for players. The full blog post is listed below and can be found here. The blog highlights the changes to Maps and Quests, Toy Box, Random Mount, Bags, Reagent Bank, and others.

The biggest changes are definitely with the new Toy Box and Reagent Bank. With the Toy Box, you can send your collection of toys into their own separate tab in your spellbook, which can clear up a lot of extra space in your bags if you're an avid collector. With the Reagent Bank, you can store all your farming or crafting materials in a special area in your bank, which also allows you to craft any item using those materials.

Here is a gallery of some of the changes to the UI:




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Healing in Warlords



Healing has always been a touchy subject in World of Warcraft. The roller-coaster of difficulty from expansion to expansion made it evident that healing would once again change. Encounter difficulty is what mainly defines how a healer will perform, which is also tailored around how healers are supposed to be healing.

In the Burning Crusade, the heroic dungeons were horrendous halls of agony where Crowd Control was king. At this time, raiding was still kind of new and Blizzard was testing new raid sizes and encounter design. Healing was an ever-changing experience, based on the raid you were doing.

In Wrath of the Lich King, dungeons were meant for speed, where tanks grabbed as many mobs as they could, DPS spammed AoE spells, and healers kept the tank topped off. Raiding in Wrath of the Lich King was mostly one-dimensional from a healing point of view. You would simply spam the fastest spell possible in order to not let your tank die between your global cooldowns.

Enter Cataclysm Heroics where, once again, the bosses were punishing and required much coordination. Towards the end of this expansion, most of the bosses became much simpler with gear and experience, which starts this mid-expansion roller-coaster. The raids in Cataclysm still had the difficult feel of healing, where the decisions you made counted for something and would impact how the raid received healing.

In Mists, healing was completely reworked with fixed mana pools and changes to how mana regenerating abilities worked. The dungeons were not insanely difficult, with the exception of challenge modes at the start of the expansion, but provided a leisurely pace to do them. Absorbs excelled in Mists raids, where you were forced to top off your raid as soon as possible because the damage would otherwise kill players, making absorbs extremely potent and valuable.

Now, in Warlords of Draenor, Blizzard seeks to re-tune healing once again to make it more entertaining and engaging. Blizzard wants a middle ground between Mists and Cataclysm healing, which means moderately difficult dungeons and less danger of dying to burst damage. Blizzard does not want to allow players to simply spam away their spells like a DPS. Instead, healing needs to be a methodical and conscious decision with every spell you cast.

The current healing model, which was also prevalent around the end of Cataclysm, is that a healer is expected to push every button on cooldown, literally spamming their abilities. This is what Blizzard is trying to change. By increasing mana costs of spells, they can tune the encounter damage around what a healer is supposed to be able to output. Pressing your most efficient spell should be costly and should be used sparingly. Below is the post by Watcher where he explains Blizzard's design strategy for healing in Warlords of Draenor.

[blue Healing Design in WoD]Our target for both healing and dungeon tuning is something of a middle ground between Mists and Cataclysm. It's important to note that healer balance is not yet final, and damage output in our dungeons (especially pure melee damage on tanks, in light of recent mitigation changes) is still being adjusted. So in terms of the raw numbers, we're not quite there yet. The most helpful thing testers can provide is actionable feedback with regard to specific encounters (also specifying difficulty and which spec you were playing). We're listening and making changes on a daily basis.

That said, I'd like to help clarify our goals with respect to both healer gameplay and dungeon tuning. Healing in Mists, especially in raids and especially later in the expansion, suffered from three major problems: 1) the power of healing relative to player health pools meant that injured players could be topped off almost instantly; 2) mana became increasingly irrelevant as a constraint, with many healers actively reforging out of Spirit; and 3) "smart heals" accounted for a very large portion of healing done, meaning that for some healers their targeting decisions were almost meaningless.
Now, some might be thinking, "so you're saying healers were really strong - that sounds great to me!" The problem is that when healing was in that state, the only way we could kill someone in a raid or dungeon was with massive damage, fatal if the healer didn't react instantly; it led to sudden spike deaths, punished latency, and made healing more like whack-a-mole and less like a series of tactical decisions. And in raids, as soon as maximizing throughput becomes all that matters, healing risks turning into a rotation performed irrespective of the encounter or the incoming damage.

Our goal is not to make healing more difficult. Note that nowhere in the above did I say that a problem with Mists healing is that it was too "easy." We want to slow down the pace a bit, and for the challenge in healing to lie more in making decisions about spell usage and targeting, and less in twitch-reaction and sustaining a DPS-style rotation. This also means that the cost of a mistake is not a dead player, but rather a more injured one, giving you a chance to fix your error.

In Cataclysm, fresh 85s had very little mana regen, and if they attempted to heal a dungeon the way they'd been accustomed in late Wrath (e.g. lots of Flash Heals), they'd quickly run out of mana. In Warlords, players have significantly higher base regen, and less available Spirit from items, so that you'll start off with a much deeper mana pool than is usually the case as a new max-level healer, while avoiding the problem of mana becoming irrelevant once in endgame epics.
In Cataclysm, nearly your only efficient heal was also your smallest, and it was easy to run yourself out of mana and feel helpless as you watched your group die; in Warlords even if you are running on fumes mana-wise, you can still sustain a steady stream of Greater Heal or Healing Touch or the equivalent. You aren't helpless.

Now, as for dungeon difficulty, one of the challenges in adapting to new dungeons at the start of an expansion has been the contrast between players' habits at the end of the last expansion when they massively outgear every dungeon, and the different approach required when undergeared and running a dungeon for actual loot drops instead of currency. The ability to recklessly pull multiple packs of mobs at once and cleave everything down is something that you earn and grow into as your gear and knowledge of the content increases - that's never been the intended dungeon gameplay when the content was brand new, even for our "easy" dungeons in Wrath or Mists.

Normal dungeons should be pretty easy. Some of them aren't quite there yet. But you should feel confident that you can push the "Dungeon Finder" queue button and land in a random group with a high chance of success. If you don't feel that way about a given Normal dungeon (especially a level-up dungeon), please let us know why not. We have a solid chunk of level 100 Normal dungeon content that everyone should be able to jump into when they hit max level, and Normal dungeon loot will be sufficient to qualify you for Highmaul LFR when that unlocks.

Heroic dungeons will be somewhat more challenging, which is the reason for the Silver Proving Grounds requirement to random-queue for them. We're not looking to recreate Heroic Stonecore or Grim Batol or The Arcatraz, but there's a middle ground where mechanics can still matter.
Finally, it's also worth noting that in beta, we're scaling players down to pretty much the lowest possible level and item level at which you could be running a given dungeon. Nearly all groups in the live game will be better-equipped, but we need to make sure the content is viable at the minimum threshold.
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    • By Stan

      Players have been comparing the Netherlight Crucible to Reforging and Ornyx sat down with the development team to answer some of the concerns.
      TL;DR
      Reforging was a simple and mechanical choice of replacing worst stats with best stats on every item. The Crucible is only affecting a small subset of items offering more varied situations than reforging 30 Hit into Haste. Respeccing Crucible traits is generally a bad idea, because players would be able to pick traits based on perfect optimization for any given situation during raid progression. Relics become Soulbound on inspection to avoid everyone porting in and out of raid to pass the relic around to see who it's best for. You can learn more about the Netherlight Crucible in our guide.
      Blizzard (Source)
      Hey guys!

      We’ve been seeing a lot of discussion going back and forth on the Crucible lately, so we’ve had some conversations with the development team and I wanted to pop in and share a few points that came out of it.

      Regarding comparisons to Reforging – Reforging was always a simple, mechanical choice. Players were, at the end of the day, simply replacing their worst stats with best stats on every item that didn’t already have your best stats up to a mechanical limit. The Crucible, by comparison, is only affecting a small subset of items and presents much more varied situations than say “change 30 Hit Chance into Haste”.

      We’ve also seen a bit of discussion around players desiring the ability to respec the Traits that are locked on the second and third tiers of relics. We feel that the ability to respect Traits would lead to players picking traits based on perfect optimization for any given situation, which could lead to players leaving a raid to change to AoE-centric traits for the next fight during raid progression. While we feel that’s a nuisance in itself, this would also make the system feel like a watered-down version of talent rows, and would undermine the choice that is made when selecting your Relic Traits.

      That being said, Relics are items and will be replaced; we do expect players to make choices and experiment with this system. Since there is still new content ahead of us in Antorus, better Relics will be available and players who make choices they may not like now will have the opportunity to get new Relics before long with a potentially new set of Trait choices.

      As a note, we are also fine with the current state that Relics Soulbind on inspection in the Crucible. We believe the alternative of everyone porting in and out of the raid to pass the relic around and see who it’s best for is far, far worse. Players are smart and will be able to make educated decisions based on the information that’s available to them. As I said, we do expect experimentation however.

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    • By Stan

      Netherlight Crucible is only one week away. Learn more about the new relic customization option added in Patch 7.3.
      Table of Contents 
      What is the Netherlight Crucible Location of the Netherlight Crucible How to Unlock the Netherlight Crucible Legendary Items & the Netherlight Crucible Netherlight Crucible Traits Relic Slot Levels Previewing Traits Netherlight Crucible Paths Frequently Asked Questions What is the Netherlight Crucible? [Return to Top]
      A new way of relic customization added in Patch 7.3. Remember the previously scrapped secondary traits on relics? It's a more polished version of them, giving players a little "more control" over the RNG.
      Location [Return to Top]
      The Netherlight Crucible can be found at 56, 67 aboard the Vindicaar.
      How to Unlock the Netherlight Crucible [Return to Top]
      Netherlight Crucible will be available to players starting September 12. The only prerequisite is to complete the Argus campaign in Mac'Aree, and a quest "The Netherlight Crucible". Unlock the Netherlight Crucible to get the Now You're Cooking with Netherlight achievement.
      Legendary Items [Return to Top]
      Insignia of the Grand Army is a new Legendary item of item level 1,000 that will be rewarded from defeating Argus the Unmaker in Antorus the Burning Throne (The Death of a Titan). It increases the effects of Light & Shadow powers granted by the Netherlight Crucible by 50%. Note that Antorus will be available later this year.
      Netherlight Crucible Traits [Return to Top]
      The Netherlight Crucible has three relic slots and tiers of traits.

      Tier 1
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      Infusion of Light Light's Embrace Light Speed Refractive Shell Secure in the Light Shocklight Shadow Powers
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      Relic slots are gated behind Artifact Level. They have three levels, corresponding to the three tiers of traits. You can increase the item level of your Artifact weapon by +15 immediately after you unlock the Crucible.
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      Paths [Return to Top]
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      We compiled all Q&A from Blizzard about the Netherlight Crucible and you can find them below.
      Blizzard (Source)
      Q: What are the requirements to access the Netherlight Crucible?
      A: Our intent at this stage of development is for there to only be two requirements: your character is level 110, and you have the account-wide achievement "Now You're Cooking with Netherlight." That achievement is given as part of the final chapters of the 7.3 story campaign, which is planned to open week 3 of the patch (so 15 days after release).

      We've been able to isolate a couple of bugs - partly due to responses to this thread, so thank you! - that are currently on the PTR preventing access to the Netherlight Crucible unless you have a rank in Concordance of the Legionfall. That's an unintended restriction, which we're working on fixing for a future PTR update.
      Q: Why are you adding this system? What’s with the RNG?
      A: The Netherlight Crucible (aside from being an important part of the 7.3 storyline) is intended to help with an issue with Relic availability that players have been reporting for some time now. As Ion explained during our last Q&A, there are technical issues with the way Relics were built that limit which bonus traits can be available from raids. This has caused a number of raiders to feel as though their best bet is to run Mythic Keystone dungeons constantly in the hopes of having a Relic with their ideal bonus trait drop (and Titanforge for a high item level).

      Those who were following development of Patch 7.2 may recall an earlier take on an improvement for this issue, where we experimented with adding a single, randomized second bonus trait to Relics. Ultimately, we decided that was the wrong approach, and wanted a system that put a little more control in players’ hands. So, while the Netherlight Crucible does still have an element of randomness, it presents you with several options to choose from.
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      Q: Doesn’t this just mean I’ll want my best two traits on each Relic now?
      A: For the hardcore min/maxer, yes, there will still be a “best” outcome for your Relic configuration. However, there are now more Relics that can achieve that state (as Relics with your second-best trait can now roll your best trait at the Crucible), and you’ll encounter fewer “bad” Relics along the way.
      Q: Why do I have to go back to the Netherlight Crucible to upgrade my Relic? Didn’t you want to get away from mechanics like that?
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      Q: How do the Relic "talents" unlock?
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      Q: What did you mean by "it can't double roll a trait"?
      A: Just that you will never be able to upgrade a Relic to increase the same Artifact trait twice. If your Relic already has a bonus rank of Wrath of the Ashbringer on it, that trait will not be one of the three options presented in the bottom row of the Crucible's upgrade tree.

      In other words, there's no risk of having your Wrath of the Ashbringer relic be "ruined" by not rolling a second bonus to Wrath of the Ashbringer, because that could never have happened in the first place. However, if you get a relic without Wrath of the Ashbringer, there's now a chance that it'll gain it from the Crucible.

      Additionally, those three options will always be unique; it won't, for example, give you the "choice" between Deflection, Deflection, or Deflection. Aside from making sure you always have options, this means that your odds of having your favorite trait appear on a Relic you'd otherwise have discarded are actually pretty decent.
      Q: How do the ranks for the first two rows work?
      A: There are no such ranks. We think this is coming from some confusion about how the Netherlight Crucible is showing up in datamining, versus how it actually operates in-game. Once you've unlocked a row in the Crucible, you just select the option you like, and that's it - there's no additional leveling up of those options beyond that.

      For those peeking into the data (or anyone else who might be curious): this is because of how we built the system to allow the unlockable effects to stack between each relic. It's just a subtle behind-the-scenes optimization on our end.

      Hopefully that will help clear the air about how the Netherlight Crucible works, but we're sure you have more questions, so ask away and we'll do our best to answer what we can! We'll aim to provide an update sometime next week. Thanks!
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    • By Stan

      In the initial build of Patch 7.3.2, many Tier 21 set bonuses have been updated.
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      Item - Rogue T21 Subtlety 2P Bonus - Combo Points Spent Buffs Backstab - Each Combo Point spent reduces the cooldown of Symbols of Death by 0.2 sec. Backstab damage increased by 30%. Shaman
      Item - Shaman T21 Elemental 2P Bonus - Lava Burst Buffs Maelstrom Spenders - Each cast of Lava Burst increases the damage of your next Earth Shock or Earthquake by 20% 10%. Stacks up to 3 times. Item - Shaman T21 Elemental 4P Bonus - Earth Shock Overload - Earth Shock and Frost Shock have has a 15 30% chance to cause an Elemental Overload. Warlock
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