No Tier Set Bonuses in B4A.. BfA... Battle... the New Expansion

As of yesterday, Blizzard let us know there would no longer be set bonuses in whatever the next expansion is going to be called.  I have fairly mixed feelings about it.

A lot of my most popular articles on here, over the years have been dissecting new set bonuses, whether mathematically looking into how they work, or giving suggestions on how to optimize your play to take advantage of them.  And that's certainly something I look forward to doing every tier, as otherwise theorycrafting in general can get a bit stale, as I really have no interest in looking into endlessly optimizing BiS lists...

However, it does seem like the old formulas for set bonuses have gotten quite stale.  It's proven too hard to balance interesting tier sets, so we end up with somewhat vanilla, meaningless bonuses in a lot of occasions (such as a buff to Raptor Strike for SV Hunters...) or the same buff that we had just a couple tiers ago (signature ability is buffed, or signature ability provides a buff).

Ghostcrawler used to swear that they did not balance classes around their tier bonuses; that all classes should be viable without the tier bonuses, and then they should again be balanced with the tier bonuses, but that simply hasn't been the case, pretty much ever, aside from possibly a couple of tiers in MoP.  So we often end up in an occasion where a spec is quite dull without it's current set bonus, which means we keep onto that bonus even when the gear is drastically lower than the rest of our gear, which I suppose is the primary thing Blizzard is trying to combat with this system.

Because Blizz is committed to the Titanforged idea, tier sets just don't make sense.  If you can get randomly really high ilvl gear from the previous tiers with a better set bonus, then it takes away too much of the enjoyment of getting new gear in a new raid.

So in the end, I'm fine with the removal of the set bonuses. Put those same changes into a the new artifact mechanic (whatever slots they're in) and hopefully they can keep the specs interesting that way.


The Con Crud and Hiking Pictures

I'm currently alternating between drinking nyquil, drinking coffee to deal with the effects of the nyquil, and watching the BfA cinematic over and over and over. 

I still don't get how there can be people who don't love Sylvanas.  She's so amazing.  Look at that Banshee smile... Though, I suppose I've always been partial to her type of character. When I was a little kid,every year at christmas time, when the family would gather around to watch the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, I'd hope and pray that finally, this year, he'll finally stop christmas from coming; only to have my heart broken again and again when those damn Whos ruin everything.

Going Back to Hating Legos in Antorus

I was discussing with one of my Hunter buddies at Blizzcon that the legendaries from legion aren't actually all that bad, so long as you have all of them, and you have all 6 of your set pieces so you have room to swap things around.  I got fairly lucky with my coins this tier for set pieces, and we do our Mythic progression quite slowly anyway, so there's always plenty of time to experiment, and I was enjoying trying out various different legos.  Especially with something like MK2 gloves, where if you plan your movement perfectly, they shouldn't be any increase in DPS at all, so it was fun to see when I could swap them out for a higher stat budgeted lego and just make up for the movement losses through play. 

Anyhow, the point of that is, I'm not looking forward to being stuck into particular legendaries because of what set pieces I have, again.  I suppose in the long run it doesn't matter too much, it's only a week or two of not having choices while trying to farm up the new gear.  But it's still frustrating to go back.  I guess that's ultimately the problem with a system that is essentially a small talent tree that's connected to your gear.  

Random Pictures from my Trip

I didn't really have much to blog about today, just wanted an excuse to post some pictures from my trip to blizzcon.  

Our Blizzcon house came with a tequilime tree.  Quite convenient.

Home from Blizzcon

I've returned from Blizzcon with a new expansion announcement in tow.  When it first sunk in what the expansion was going to be about, I was a bit disappointed.  Hoard vs. Alliance is just not meaningful anymore. We've spent too many expansions half fighting eachother then banding together to kill the big bad for me to get excited over the Horde and Alliance fighting yet again.  However, as I've had a bit of time to think about it (on a 30 hour drive to get home), I do think there are a few things to be hopeful about, even if they could have gone in much more interesting directions than just Horde vs Alliance.

The Hopefuls

A Return To Thinking About Leveling

I don't at all care about leveling in WoW.  I still haven't used the free boosts that came with the last expansions, and so don't see any need to level a character any time in the future, with the game as it currently exists. So I'm happy to see they're adding in the incentive to level with the new allied races, along with the adjustments to leveling, like being able to actually finish a story before moving on, or being able to skip entire xpacs in favor of leveling all the way through one xpac's story.  This fairly simple change (now that they have the technology for it) shows that they're actually thinking about the quality of the game from start to finish, and it will hopefully go a long way to bringing in some new players, instead of only relying on old-timers to keep their subscriptions going.

The other part I really like about this, is I like having an unimportant grind to do.  We need stuff to do during down time, and having six new sub-races that I'll want to fully level to get that special xmog is a perfect example of what I'm looking for.  It's not in the slightest bit important to the game, but, especially with the changes to leveling zones, it shouldn't get old too quickly, and it just gives us something to log in and do when there are content lulls. 

I'm also quite looking forward to the possibility of Dark Iron WHU events.  If I understand correctly, we'll start at level 20.  We could do a weekly (or bi-weekly) level cap, and then do one "raid" per zone, or something to that extent.  I'll check in with some of the folks running the WHU guild on Icecrown and see if we've got enough interest after the actual expansion drops.  I'm sure Frostheim would let us resurect at least part of the WHU website to keep track of everything.  

Warchief, Banshee Queen, and My Dark Lady, Sylvanas Windrunner

I can't believe how continuously awesome they make Sylvanas.  That intro cinematic is just... oh my... I don't care what you think about the new expansion, we can surely all agree that the cinematic was amazing. I can't express how much I hope they'll continue to give Marks Hunters Sylvanas-type skills (everyone saw her shooting Black Arrows, right?).  What if we had a talent row that was all modifications to True Aim, and one option would be a big giant CD that let us do that Banshee thing she did? It could have a target cast thing, like the Demon Hunter's big CD, where you target it and then it does crazy flash thingy where we turn into a banshee temporarily in the air and jump to wherever was targeted, and then on top of the haste buff, it could add shadow damage, or some sort of flavor damage.  Perhaps it could have an execute mechanic if we're losing our artifact weapon's execute ability.  I don't really know what would be the best option, just let me be Sylvanas from that cinematic, please... 

I really have no idea what they're going to do with Sylvanas's story in BfA, and I'm still incredibly excited.  I'd be happy to see an all-out evil Sylvanas, who is just out for progressing her own agenda regardless of the cost. Or, I'd be happy to see a slightly softened Sylvanas; perhaps the pressure of being Warchief and having so many people rely on her has gotten to her, and she really is showing some allegiance to the Horde (not just using them).  

And there's so much great lore to explore with her sisters. I imagine we'll see Vereesa somewhere in the middle (as she was softening toward Sylvanas in the War Crimes novel), with Alleria and Sylvanas both on opposite ends of the spectrum.  With the introduction of Void Elves to the alliance, it sort of puts too many limits on what they can do with Alleria.  I would have thought that she'd, upon seeing how evil the Alliance is, would have realized that this wasn't the same Horde she'd fought in the past, and might have rejoined with the other high elves as part of the Horde.  Though it doesn't seem like that can happen, if they're creating a sub-race based on her being with the alliance. Oh well... 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 6

While I realize not everyone agrees with me on this, I've always though season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was by far the best.  Each season's arc had gotten bigger and bigger, with a more ridiculously overpowered big-bad, until finally in season 5 she was fighting a god.  While there was a lot of fun in those seasons, I thought toning it down in season 6, where "the trio" were presented as the "big bad" of the season, well, I just thought that was brilliant.  And that in the end it wasn't even Buffy who was fighting the actual big bad.  From a writing perspective, that was just a great idea for reinventing the show.  

So part of me hopes that's what's going on with WoW in BfA.  Let's get back to basics.  We've now taken on the Legion, the biggest big bad in Warcraft history, we've even gone to Argus to do it.  Now it's time to get back to basics.  While we've been off in an alternate time version of Draenor, and on Argus/in the twisting nether, what's been happening to the regular people, in our normal homeworld? 

One Final Battle

The most hopeful possibilities about this expansion, is perhaps this is Blizzard's way of ending the Horde/Alliance battle.  This is of course not what I expect to happen, but just maybe, if I'm trying to be hopeful.  

If perhaps Blizzard is working toward a WoW II, or something like that, then this would be a good way to move forward.  Give the conflict one final push, then put it to bed.  Perhaps Manduin and Jaina disagree on how to move the alliance forward and some factions want to follow Jaina instead.  Perhaps Sylvanas is deeply evil, and the more naively noble horde races can't follow her anymore.  

Perhaps we're entering a world where factions aren't purely decided based on what race you are, but instead, individuals choose the faction they want to be a part of (like every race is the pandaran). And we can no longer tell who is on our side simply by what they look like.  

The Future of the Hunters

From a non-lore perspective, I left Blizzcon a little bit worried about the future of Hunters, as a community.  We've lost a lot of fairly huge members of the community over the last several expansions, and it doesn't seem like we've really had people step up and fill in those spots.  

One of the major differences that has developed since WoD, is there's now one primary guide writer for Hunters, and pretty much everyone who uses a guide rely's on Icy-veins. However, guides only really account for a very small portion of the content that could be coming out about Hunters.  My favorite Hunter blog was the Grumpy Elf.  He very rarely talked about how to play; though he did have a few useful "guides", most of his content was just talking about what he was doing in game, what he liked and didn't, and various things he wanted to see. 

Frostheim wrote a helpful series of blogs on how to start a hunter blog, which have been migrated to the WHU, and can still be found here.  Some things have changed since he wrote that, but a lot of it still applies.  I would add that google's service, blogger, has improved immensely, and now that you can even purchase a custom URL within blogger, it's very easy to set up a decent looking blog for very little money.  For this blog, for example, I spend $24 every 2 years to register my domain name, and that's it.  I believe Darkbrew and Bendak are both using Wordpress, which has some fancy features as well, and can be done for not too much money, either.  

Of course, there's always also room for other media.  Hunters are well represented on youtube (fatboss, Bellular, Kelani and Evitel, to name just a few), but most of them are doing general WoW content, not hunter specific content.  As I personally know from the Hunting Party Podcast, it can be difficult to fill an entire show with just Hunter content, but I know some of you out there who could just talk for an hour about anything and it'd be interesting.  PS. If any of you happen to know Evitel from Taliesin & Evitel, or Kelani from Signs Of Kelani, I'd like to get one or both of them on the HPP sometime.  I'd like to have more non-raid content, and just think they'd be fun to talk to.  

The Future of the Thrill of the Wild

I suppose I've been slacking on this front as well, not putting out much content.  I didn't realize when I first started this blog, how much I was relying on other bloggers and such for content ideas.  That is, I would see something someone else wrote that made me think of this other thing I wanted to discuss.  But as the community has shrunk, that opportunity for playing off of eachother has diminished as well. 

Another big change has been that I'm not really using my own DPS spreadsheet anymore.  It's possible I was the last theorycrafter that hadn't swapped to primarily using SimC, but I have now made the swap.  Between AMR's simulations, and a lot of the improvements to SimC (and even raidbots.com) it just didn't seem necessary to do all the work of keeping up my own DPS spreadsheet.  And as such, I don't have to get into the nitty-gritty of how a lot of mechanics work.  Though I am still a fairly naturally curious person, so hopefully I'll still have a few really number-crunchy articles every once in a while.  

I do have some fun ideas for the future here. I'm still hoping to find someone to collaborate with on some videos. I've been working on an album (or just a collection, I suppose) of Hunter drinking songs.  I've got a few that are about ready to record. It would be a lot of fun to have some basic machinima along with them. Even if it's just a bunch of dwarf hunters drinking in a dwarf pub, or something like that.