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Warlords of Draenor: Ashran Preview

Ashran was recently released for testing on the beta. If you don't know what Ashran is, it's basically the next "PvP Zone" for Warlords of Draenor. This is similar to Wintergrasp, and Tol Barad. You'll also get to see some familiar NPCs here.

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Official Blizzard Quote:

Built upon the remnants of an ogre civilization, Ashran looks deceptively like a nice enough island just off the coast of Tanaan Jungle. And it probably would be a lovely place to visit if not for the never-ending tug-of-war between the Horde and Alliance taking place in the central region of the zone. Then again, this might just be just your kind of excursion.

Ashran offers tons of opportunities for players to engage in a variety of activities, whether they want to go it solo or join a group, slay monsters, or engage in PvP with their rival faction.

Building World PvP into Ashran
Over the years, players have been asking for more opportunities to engage in world PvP, and we’ve experimented with a variety of approaches to that in places like Halaa and Wintergrasp. Creating opportunities for unscripted, unexpected skirmishes might seem simple on the surface, but they’re often difficult to engineer without sacrificing the unpredictable nature of these encounters. In its purest form, world PvP means no boundaries or limitations on when skirmishes break out. When creating areas specifically designated for PvP encounters, gameplay objectives will always have an impact on how people play and engage with each other. In the end, many will choose the path of least resistance to achieve their faction’s win condition, and sometimes that path involves simply ignoring other players.

In order to create the type of atmosphere that encourages more free-form world PvP in Ashran, we decided to apply lessons we’ve learned from the Timeless Isle. By giving players more personal goals and opportunities—such as killing creatures—players are more likely to find themselves spontaneously engaging in PvP to compete for them. We want players to get caught up in the moment and become emotionally invested in the outcome of each new encounter, whether it’s just getting the drop on a member of the opposite faction player or getting revenge for a stolen kill. While Ashran still has plenty of objective-based conflict (more on that in a bit), if you want that distinctive flavor of world PvP, the island has that for you too.

This Island is No Fantasy
Located off the coast of Tanaan Jungle, Ashran is a large, open PvP zone for players who have reached the max level of 100, and it offers a little something for everyone. Players can reach the island easily a few different ways, including using a flight path or by unlocking quick access within their Garrison once it reaches Tier 3. The more daring—or foolhardy—adventurers could also try doggy paddling to the island, but we don’t recommend it. (Seriously, we wouldn’t try it if we were you. You’ve been warned. In a world where pretty much everything wants to kill you, you’re best off traveling to an island of pure conflict the safest possible way. We really wouldn’t steer you wrong on this one.)

Unlike previous PvP zones, such as Tol Barad or Wintergrasp, no raid group is required to take part in the excitement, and the zone will cap out at approximately 100 players per side, opening the door to some truly epic-sized confrontations. To keep the action amped up, the same large group of regular realms will feed into the zone, so it’s likely you’ll run into some familiar faces whenever you visit, both friend and foe. There will be plenty of room to roam, as Ashran measures approximately the size of the Isle of Thunder. The intention is to provide as much of a true world PvP experience as we possibly can to those who choose to frequent the island. The odds may not always be in your favor, but with so many places to hunker down to either hide or lie in wait, there are plenty of opportunities to achieve whatever goals you’ve set forth for yourself.

The Lay of the Land
At each end of the island, separate from the conflict enveloping the isle, players will find a small sanctum of relative safety. Full-sized Horde and Alliance hubs sit behind each faction’s base, offering pretty much everything a regular city would.

Ready to dive into the fray? One main artery runs through the center of the zone, and it’s here that you’ll engage in an endless faction tug-of-war. At opposite endpoints, Horde and Alliance bases wait to be captured, and you’ll be fighting for control of five additional capture points as you make your way down the lane. Capturing these points along the way will push you and your faction toward the enemy base, making it possible to take the battle all the way to the opposing faction’s base. To effectively hamstring your opponents and hobble their efforts for a time, you’ll just need to take down their General within their base. Doing so will not only garner you bragging rights, but will also deny the opposing faction access to their General, who serves as a Conquest vendor.

At the central hub, the Ogre King stands waiting, flanked by his two bodyguards. Engaging one of the bodyguards and proving your worth in combat will win the Ogre King to your faction’s side, and he will fight for you for a time. But beware! His endurance is limited, and the longer he goes undefeated, the more susceptible to damage he becomes.

As in many Battlegrounds, each faction will have a Resource count available to them. Once a faction’s Resources drop to 100, they’ll get a little extra help via a randomly spawning Captain who will begin to fight for their side. Many of these will bear familiar names such as Swifty, who will fight for the Alliance, or Talbadar, who will fight for the Horde. There’s no guarantee who will ultimately come to your aid, however. Each time a side reaches this Resource count, a new random captain will join the fray.

Beyond the Tug-Of-War
There’s more to Ashran than the conflict in the central lane. Around Ashran there are additional points of interest (POIs) and monsters to slay. The various POIs offer a variety of random events which will allow players to win awards for the Horde or Alliance. Buffs can also be earned by killing other players or NPCs. There are currently seven POIs set around the edges of Ashran—we’ll go into detail on each of these later on down the line.

Righteous Rewards
As you make your way around Ashran, you’ll be collecting currency from other players and from monsters you’ve slain. This currency can then be turned in at your base for additional bonuses for your faction, such as Mage Portals or a Warlock Gateway. Or you can choose to summon a random—and truly epic—NPC to join in the fight. You’ll want to take care, though, and plan your turn-ins accordingly. One losing encounter with a player of the opposite faction can strip you of your hard-fought treasure and have it wind up in their pockets instead.

You’ll also be able to collect zone-bound items (usable only on the island) to give yourself a little extra advantage as you take on the various challenges around Ashran.

For those looking for the next step in gear, Ashran will provide access to Conquest-quality gear that is unavailable elsewhere.

Building on lessons learned from the Timeless Isle and Alterac Valley, we want players who make their way to Ashran to always have something exciting to do, and to offer them a true world PvP experience. Whether your aim is to engage in PvP or take on the various points of interest, there’s bound to be something to get your adrenaline going.
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Flying in Warlords of Draenor

Official Blizzard Quote:

We still think a 6.1 patch seems like a pretty reasonable point where flying would become available in Draenor, likely with some kind of aforementioned prerequisite. Maybe it's gold, maybe it's some kind of epic quest, maybe something more straightforward. But we're staying open to changing that post-release if it seems like it's working out really well and we want to keep rolling with it. I'm digging that there seems to be a pretty reasonable mix of beta experiences here though. Definitely looking forward to feedback when we get to the max-level content too.

PvP Blue Tweets

Official Blizzard Quote:

whats the thought behind adding those crazy pvp-only items to Ashran? variety and more action packed? some stuff of it scares me yo
."Crazy" items, spells in Ashran is an opportunity for us to "rewrite the rules" for a short time. It is about variety. (holinka)
By "short time", do you mean the abilities granted are temporary, i.e. you have to find another book later?
I mean during the life of the expansion, when Ashran is relevant content. (holinka)

will skirmishes reward Conquest? So we can gear there and then do rated Arenas after?
The conquest acquisition rate will likely be slower than normal unrated battlegrounds. (holinka)

Any chance on having a window to swap specs during arena preparation in WoD? Sometimes certain specs work better against classes.
It would just end up as a mandatory ritual in arenas to bluff you opponents. (holinka)

I know low lvl pvp isn't priority, but any chance we'll ever see gear options for pvp leveling (honor purchased)?
We want to expand on it, but we won't have the time just yet. (holinka)

will conquest/honor gear have random tertiary stats on them?
We haven't come to a decision on tertiary stats and pvp gear (holinka)

PvP Gear-grind for alts will be better but still potentially tedious when facing conquest-geared opponents in BGs
40 ilevels leaves room enough to feel progression in your gearing without the gap being too large. (holinka)
Think a lot of people would prefer to have less of a sense of progression for sake of alts not being facerolled in BGs
I'm sympathetic to the alt concern but I think 40 ilevels from no gear to full gear is reasonable. (holinka)
Especially when there two tiers of gear in between top and bottom. (holinka)
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Warlords of Draenor Beta Patch Notes Update July 11

Official Blizzard Quote:

Secondary Stat Attunements
All specializations now receive New passive abilities granting a 5% bonus to specific secondary stat bonuses received from all sources. This bonus is granted through new passive abilities or additional effects added to existing passive abilities. equipped items have been added for all specializations.

Ability Pruning and Consolidation
  • Bear Hug has been removed.
  • Hibernate has been removed.
  • Maim is now available only to Feral Druids.
  • Nature’s Grasp has been removed.
  • Concussive Barrage has been removed.
  • Scare Beast has been removed. now has a 6-second duration in PvP (down from 8 seconds).
  • Widow Venom has been removed.
  • Cone of Cold’s cooldown has been increased to 12 seconds (up from 10 seconds).
  • Deep Freeze is now available only to Frost Mages.
  • Deep Freeze can now be broken by damage (same amount as Frost Nova).
  • Dragon’s Breath now replaces Cone of Cold for Fire Mages and the disoriented effect now shares Diminishing Returns with all other Mesmerize effects.
  • Frost Nova’s cooldown has been increased to 30 seconds (up from 25 seconds).
  • Adaptation has been removed.
  • Bind Elemental has been removed.
  • Frostbrand Weapon has been removed.
  • Curse of Exhaustion has been removed.
  • Demonic Breath has been removed.
  • Howl of Terror is now a Level-30 talent, replacing Demonic Breath.

Instant Cast Heals
  • Divine Star now has a 1.5-second cast time (up from instant cast), but can be cast while moving.

Tank Vengeance, Resolve, and PvP
Tanks in PvP
Finally, we have the topic of tanks in PvP. Apart from a few niche cases like flag carrying; tanks have been intentionally non-viable in serious PvP for several expansions now. The reason for this was simple: fighting against tanks was very frustrating, not fun. They were near-invincible, had numerous CC abilities (primary stuns), but did little enough damage to not be able to kill you (in most cases, anyway). By excluding them from PvP, we preserved the enjoyment of the rest of the playerbase. However, that has the obvious downside that people who prefer to play tanks are excluded from doing so in PvP.

We decided that we could do better, and satisfy everyone involved. Our other changes to tanks in Warlords of Draenor got us most of the way there. Tanks’ damage will already be tuned to be somewhat weaker than damage dealers, but not trivial. We’ve already removed the additional CC that they had during the CC Disarmament and Ability Pruning. All that remains that makes them frustrating to fight against is their invincibility. So, we’re causing tanks to take increased damage in PvP, so that the net result is that they both deal and take somewhat less damage than damage dealers.
  • Tanks now take 25% additional damage while engaged in PvP combat.

  • Elemental Focus now also triggers any time the Shaman lands a killing blow.
  • Healing Surge now heals for 100% more when cast on self for Elemental Shaman.

Class Changes
Ability Pruning
  • Barkskin is now available to Balance, Guardian, and Restoration Druids, and no longer provides pushback protection, but its base cooldown has been reduced to 30 seconds.

Ability Consolidation and Refinement
  • Revive’s mana cost has been reduced by 87%.

Details of changes to Balance:
  • Incarnation: Chosen of Elune now increases spell damage by 15% while active (was a 25% increase to Arcane and Nature damage, but only while Eclipse is active).
  • Euphoria has been removed. A new level-100 talent with the same name has been added.
  • Insect Swarm has been redesigned and renamed Stellar Flare.
  • Stellar Flare is a powerful spell benefitting from both Lunar and Solar Eclipse, dealing the most damage when they are equal. Burns the target for Spellstorm damage and cause additional damage over 15 seconds. The ability has a cast time of 1.5 seconds.

Ability Pruning
  • Serpent Sting now causes Multi-Shot and Arcane Shot to also apply a Serpent Sting poison dealing instant and periodic damage. Each time it deals damage, the Hunter receives 3 Focus; this effect cannot occur more than once every 3 seconds.

Marksmanship Changes
One of our new secondary stats is Multistrike, which is strikingly similar to Wild Quiver for Marksmanship Hunters. In order to solve this, we replaced Wild Quiver with a new Mastery: Sniper Training. Marksmanship Hunters that favored Mastery before will want to favor Multistrike for a similar feel. For their new Mastery, we wanted to add some depth to their moment-to-moment gameplay, and compliment Critical Strike. In order to do that, we brought back the concept of Sniper Training.

Finally, we added an interaction between Careful Aim and Rapid Fire (and indirectly Aimed Shot through a Draenor Perk), so as to add a bit more depth to their gameplay.
  • Mastery: Wild Quiver has been removed.
  • Sniper Training is a new Mastery for Marksmanship Hunters, replacing Wild Quiver.
  • Sniper Training activates when the Hunter stands still for 3 seconds, giving them the Sniper Training effect for 6 seconds, increasing damage, shot range, and critical strike damage by 4% (increased by Mastery).

Survival Changes
Apart from rotational changes through Ability Pruning, changes for Survival Hunters mostly center on Lock and Load. We changed how Lock and Load is triggered to increase the value of Multistrike, provide gameplay depth and the ability to pool damage more.
  • Black Arrow now deals 60% more damage, inflicts Shadow damage every 3 seconds (up from every 2 seconds), has a duration of 18 seconds (down from 20 seconds), and triggers Lock and Load on Multistrike hits.
  • Explosive Shot now costs 15 Focus (down from 25 Focus).
  • Lock and Load effects have been incorporated into Black Arrow and has been redesigned.
  • Lock and Load now causes the next Explosive Shot to not trigger its cooldown, but no longer causes it to be free or reset the ability's current cooldown. This effect can stack up to 5 times.

Ability Consolidation and Refinement
  • Ice Floes no longer has a restriction on base cast or channel times for spells (formerly only worked on spells with a base cast or channel time of less than 4 seconds).

Frost Changes
Ice Lance’s non-frozen damage was doubled to make up for no longer having access to Fire Blast and reducing redundancy in the process. We also changed Brain Freeze effect, in order to give Frost mages another cast-time spell in their rotation.
  • The Brain Freeze effect now increases Frostfire Bolt damage by 25%, and can now stack up to 2 times instead of making Frostfire Bolt instant. It also no longer triggers from the Bomb Talents, and instead has a 10% chance to trigger from Frostbolt casts. Each Multistrike of Frostbolt increases that cast's chance by an additional 45%. (Total of 100% on double-Multistrikes).
  • Ice Lance’s base damage has been increased by 100%, but its damage multiplier against frozen targets has been reduced by 50%.

Ability Pruning
  • Stance of the Sturdy Ox now replaces Stance of the Fierce Tiger for Brewmaster Monks.

Ability Consolidation and Refinement
  • Resuscitate’s mana cost has been reduced by 80%.
  • Spinning Crane Kick now always generates 1 Chi, and no longer reduces movement speed.
  • Paralysis now always lasts 60 seconds against creatures, regardless of facing.
  • Zen Sphere no longer has a target limit.

Mistweaver Changes

All abilities available to Mistweavers now have a 1.5-second global cooldown (up from 1 second).
  • Stance of the Fierce Tiger now reduces the global cooldown of the Mistweaver Monk’s abilities by 0.5 seconds.
  • Stance of the Sturdy Ox now reduces the global cooldown of the Mistweaver Monk’s abilities by 0.5 seconds.
  • Stance of the Wise Serpent causes Haste to reduce global cooldown of the Monk’s abilities.
Focus and Harmony is a new passive ability for Mistweaver Monks, causing Haste to reduce the global cooldown, and causes Attack Power to be equal to 100% of Spell Power.
  • Stance of the Wise Serpent no longer provides this Spell Power to Attack Power Conversion.
Jade Mist is a new passive ability for Mistweaver Monks, causing them to gain 5% more of the Multistrike stat from all sources, and also causes Renewing Mist and Rising Sun Kick to have a chance equal to Multistrike chance to not go on cooldown when used. This effect cannot trigger on the next Renewing Mist or Rising Sun Kick.

Stance of the Spirited Crane is a new ability for Mistweaver Monks, which replaces Stance of the Fierce Tiger, and provides the following effects.
  • The Monk's Attack Power is equal to 100% of their Spell Power, and they no longer benefit from other sources of Attack Power.
  • Stance of the Wise Serpent no longer provides this benefit.
  • The Monk gains Eminence, causing all damage dealt to also heal nearby allies.
  • Eminence now causes a nearby target to be healed for 35% of all damage caused by the Monk and includes auto attacks.
  • Stance of the Wise Serpent no longer provides this benefit.
  • Haste reduces the global cooldown of the Monk’s abilities.

Ability Streamlining and Refinement
  • Redemption’s mana cost has been reduced by 95%.

Ability Pruning
  • Spirit Shell is now a level-75 talent, replacing Divine Insight for Discipline Priests. has been removed.

Holy Changes
  • Divine Providence is a new passive ability for Holy Priests.
  • Divine Providence increases the amount of the Multistrike stat gains from all sources by 5%, and increases the damage and healing of Multistrikes by 25%.
  • Power Word: Shield may now critically strike or Multistrike.
  • Divine Aegis no longer grants Power Word: Shield a chance to critically strike.

Talent Revisions
  • Shadow: This effect is now named Shadowy Insight.

Subtlety Changes
Honor Among Thieves is an extremely powerful ability, but has the downside that it adds significant disparity between character power while soloing and while in a group. We made this change to bring up the soloing Subtlety Rogue, without having a significant impact on their performance while in a group. The passive ability Sinister Calling also received significant change to better balance scaling rates, the value of secondary stats, improve Multistrike for them, and add rotational depth. The power of their Sinister Calling passive ability has also been reduced, in order to better balance the scaling rates and value of secondary stats for Subtlety.
  • Sinister Calling now increases Agility by 15% (down from 30%), and the amount of Multistrike bonus received from all sources by 5% (in order to act as Subtlety’s Secondary Stat Attunement). And finally, when the rogue Multistrikes with Backstab or Ambush, they also twist the blade, causing all Bleed effects to instantly tick an additional time.

Ability Consolidation and Refinement
  • Ancestral Spirit’s mana cost has been reduced by 95%.

Elemental Overload and Elemental Discharge
One of the new secondary stats Multistrike, functions very similarly to Elemental Overload. We wanted to keep Mastery and Multistrike feeling distinct, but also know how iconic and important Elemental Overload is for Elemental Shaman. So, we decided to merge the two together with Multistrike driving Elemental Overload, and give the Elemental specialization a new Mastery. For the new Mastery, we wanted to strengthen the Elemental Shaman’s connection to earth energies, and added damage that continues while the Shaman is moving. The summary of all this is that if you liked Mastery before, favor Multistrike instead for the same effect. Or try out the new Mastery: Molten Earth.
  • Elemental Overload is now a regular passive ability and is no longer increased by Mastery. It grants 35% increased Multistrike damage and healing, and an additional 20% to Multistrike chance. It also increases the amount of the Multistrike stat gains from all sources by 5%, serving as Elemental’s Secondary Stat attunement.
  • Molten Earth is a new Mastery for Elemental Shaman.
  • Molten Earth causes the Shaman’s damaging spells to incite the earth around to come to their aid for 6 seconds, repeatedly dealing Fire damage to their most recently attacked target.

Ability Pruning
  • Fel Flame has been removed.

Ability Consolidation and Refinement
  • Grimoire of Supremacy pets now generates 20% more Demonic Fury.

Affliction Changes
For Affliction, we're happy with their rotation. But, Drain Soul was causing them to be too strong in situations where they had a steady supply of small creatures to kill. We reduced the effectiveness of its on-kill effect in order to solve this. Additionally, Soul Swap was changed to cost 1 Soul Shard to push it into its intended role of being a more expensive but faster method of applying your periodic damage effects, and better balance it against Haunt.
  • Soul Swap now costs 1 Soul Shard (up from none).
  • Soulburn: Soul Swap costs a total of 2 Soul Shards (up from 1).

Movement Abilities
We've reduced the ability for ranged damage dealers to deal damage while moving in Warlords. Kil'jaeden's Cunning became a problematic talent because its mobility made Warlocks much stronger compared to other casters. We redesigned how the ability works to be more powerful in bursts instead of always affecting only some spells. After experimenting with the removal of Fel Flame in an earlier build, we brought the ability back, but reduced its effectiveness.
  • Kil’jaeden’s Cunning has been redesigned. Kil'jaeden's Cunning calls upon the cunning of Kil'jaeden to permit movement while casting Warlock spells. This spell may be cast while casting other spells and lasts 8 seconds with a 1-minute cooldown.
  • Fel Flame now generates 5 Demonic Fury (down from 15), and only generates Burning Embers on critical strikes. was removed.

Arms Changes
  • Battle Stance for Arms Warriors now generates 140% more Rage from auto-attacks and Critical Strikes now generate double Rage.
  • Execute for Arms Warriors now costs 10 Rage, and consumes up to 40 additional Rage to deal additional damage.
  • Overpower has been removed. Arms Warriors should now use Rend and Whirlwind instead.
  • Rend is a new ability for Arms Warriors.
  • Rend causes bleed damage over 18 seconds, and a final burst of bleed damage when the effect expires.
  • Slam has been removed. Arms Warriors should now use Rend and Whirlwind instead.
  • Sweeping Strikes now costs 10 Rage (down from 30 Rage).

Talent Changes
A few Warrior talents also were in need of revision. First, Second Wind was problematic; it was sometimes too weak, and sometimes too strong. We chose to change it from a passive health regeneration effect to the new Leech effect, so that low-health Warriors have to maintain combat in order to benefit, instead of kiting, hiding, or otherwise playing defensively. Enraged Regeneration was changed to account for the removal of Enrage from Arms.

The level-45 talent row was removed for crowd-control disarmament reasons, and also wanted to allow you to choose more rotational complexity through talents. We replaced the row with new talents, many of which are specialization-specific, giving you a variety of playstyle choices for your Warrior.

For the level-60 and level-90 Talent rows, certain combinations were proving problematic. We decided that Stormbolt would better compete with Shockwave and Dragon Roar, and that Bladestorm would better compete with Avatar and Bloodbath, so swapped Stormbolt and Bladestorm positions. We also adjusted the effects of a few talents in order to make them more competitive with the talents on their row.
  • Enraged Regeneration now heals for 100% more but the amount healed is no longer increased by being Enraged.
  • Staggering Shout has been removed and replaced with 3 new talents that vary by specialization.
  • Arms: Taste for Blood: Each time Rend deals damage, gain 3 Rage.
  • Fury: Furious Strikes: Wild Strike costs 10 less Rage.
  • Protection: Heavy Repercussions: Shield Slam deals 50% additional damage while Shield Block is active.
  • Piercing Howl has been removed and replaced with a new talent, Sudden Death.
  • Sudden Death causes auto-attack hits to have a 10% chance to make the next Execute free and useable on any target, regardless of health level.
  • Disrupting Shout has been removed and replaced with 3 new talents that vary by specialization.
  • Arms: Slam: Slam an opponent, causing 100% weapon damage. Each consecutive use of Slam increases the damage dealt by 50% and Rage cost by 100%.
  • Fury: Unquenchable Thirst: Bloodthirst no longer has a cooldown.
  • Protection: Unyielding Strikes: Devastate reduces the cost of Heroic Strike by 6 Rage for 6 seconds, stacking up to 5 times. Once this effect reaches 5 applications, its duration will no longer refresh.

Fury Changes
Fury Warriors received a few additional changes. In particular, Heroic Strike has been removed for Fury Warriors, and modified Wild Strike to fill the role of quick excess Rage dump. We also made a revision to the Critical Strike chance of Bloodthirst to make them less crit-dependant. A new glyph has been added which gives Fury Warriors a choice for a notably different playstyle. Auto attack damage had become too high, so we also moved some damage from that into Execute (which has been changed to deal damage based on Weapon Damage, instead of just Attack Power). Plus, we've updated some to spell alerts to improve usability.
  • Bloodsurge’s effects have been merged into baseline Bloodthirst and no longer reduce Wild Strike’s global cooldown. Its spell alert has moved to the top slot instead of the left and right slots.
  • Bloodthirst now replaces Heroic Strike for Fury Warriors.
  • Wild Strike now has a 0.5 second baseline global cooldown.

Curse Voice and Smite Partnership

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Curse Voice is now partnered with Smite for a fully integrated experience. There will be a Gems giveaway for anyone using Curse Voice while playing Smite. The grand prize winner will also win an Alienware X51 along with 8,000 Smite Gems.

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