As was hinted by the cards sent to various news outlets, Blizzard announced an expansion to Hearthstone – Goblins vs Gnomes, full of mechanical mayhem. It functions a lot expansions for traditional CCGs; it’ll introduce a large amount of new cards along with some new mechanics on some of those cards. They’ll be obtainable through new card packs that are earned the same way they’re earned currently. There’s something kind of comforting about the familiarity of the process.
I haven’t even purchased all the wings of the Curse of Naxxramas yet, but I’m still excited for this too. I play Hearthstone very casually, and even though I’ve yet to unlock all Basic cards, I still find myself excited for this release. I suppose it’s partly the novelty of seeing new cards in play even if I don’t have them. The new game board (and spectator mode) are nice touches as well. Unfortunately, no mention of the next adventure!
If you don’t find Ben Brode’s laughter infectious, there’s something wrong with you.
As soon as I heard him start speaking on the panel, I was reminded what a great presenter he is. It’s not just skill at presenting either. It’s obvious how much he loves the game, which is really important both for creating a game and for talking about it. Seeing it through his eyes helps me to appreciate the game more. Not that Ben reads this, but thanks for your contributions to both Hearthstone and BlizzCon!
BlizzCon comes with a lot of news and announcements, but it also comes with opportunities to see people who I don’t see often. There weren’t many people I knew in town for BlizzCon this year, but there was one! Mooglegem and I had lunch with our friend Tarok. We ate… too many things. I was full for a long time. He was one of two people who joined us on our last night of Garrosh attempts to ensure our victory. Thanks!
I’ve never played a MOBA (or Action RTS or whatever). I’ve been mildly interested, but with Blizzard’s game, in its many names, being on the horizon, I always felt like waiting. Why try to learn League of Legends or one of the many others when I’d rather play as my favorite Blizzard characters? The hardcore players might decide one of the others is more balanced than Heroes of the Storm once it releases, but I don’t think that’ll matter for me. I want to be Thrall, Arthas, and Tyrael!
Blizzard showed this cinematic trailer this year at BlizzCon. It’s funny how effective it is. It doesn’t say much about the game, but it looks awesome! I don’t know how much I’ll like it, but I’ll definitely check it out.
The Hearthstone panel at BlizzCon really reinvigorated my interest in the game. I really enjoyed it when I first got into the beta, but I hadn’t even played it since the reset. Without having friends playing it, and with all the PVE content finished, I just lost interest. After seeing all the thought that went into the design and hearing about some new features coming, I started playing it again almost immediately. I can’t wait for some of that content, too!
BlizzCon attendees and virtual ticket holders get a Golden Elite Tauren Chieftain card. The coolest part of the card is what it looks like when you play it. Of course, it plays some cool music too! It looks like a fun card. In addition, it wasn’t the only card shown that made a big entrance.
I really enjoyed hearing about the evolution of some of the aspects of the game. For example, they discussed how standard drafting became the arena mode that’s currently in the game. My summary here misses a few intermediate versions, but here’s the idea. At first, they had normal drafting. You take one card from a pack of how ever many cards. (Let’s say eight.) You pass the remaining seven to the next player and get seven from another. You keep doing that until you’re down to just one card, and then you keep it. This works in physical games, but it would mean possibly waiting for a long time in a computer game.
They came up with an asynchronous way of doing something similar. You get seven cards and choose one to keep. You swap your six cards with the cards in the envelope with the “6” label. You keep doing this until you have just one card, and you keep it. After trying this, they realized that it was still most fun when you had a few cards from which to choose that were all applicable to your deck. However, sometimes you’d have only a couple choices and none would be right. They eventually decided that three choices was the most fun. They gave players three cards that were all applicable to that player’s deck, and that’s the version that made it into Hearthstone.
Because it was so different from the idea of a draft, they renamed it “Arena.” They felt it was no longer recognizable as drafting. Honestly, when I first tried that mode, I immediately saw it as a type of draft. Yes, the way you did it was different, but it very clearly accomplished the goals of drafting. I really like it.
I particularly liked the ideas of adventures. These are single-player, PVE matches. They could be a single boss or a series of bosses, and they’ll unlock cards as you play through them. It seems like a similar idea as raid decks from the World of Warcraft: Trading Card Game possibly (although single-player). I suppose the current tutorial series of matches is basically an adventure. I wish they would have teased some ideas for the adventures will be, but it might be too early for that. Regardless, I’m excited.
There were two people on the Hearthstone panel – Lead Designer Eric Dodds and Technical Designer Ben Brode. As soon as Ben Brodes began presenting, it was immediately apparent that he was excited for the game and truly loved it. He had so much enthusiasm and energy and was a great presenter. I decided to talk to him on Twitter.
@bdbrode I loved your energy and excitement at BlizzCon. What a great presenter! Got me more pumped to play the game.
Warlords of Draenor sounds very cool and seems to be bringing a lot of great things. I don’t intend for this post to rehash all the news released at BlizzCon, but I still want to talk about my reaction.
I love the direction of the story; Garrosh escapes and, with the help of the Timewalker Kairoz, travels back in time to Draenor. He stops the orcs from becoming corrupted by the Burning Legion and forms the Iron Horde. He then builds his own Dark Portal connecting that Draenor to our Azeroth. I know that anything relating to time travel can be confusing to people, but I kind of like that Blizzard basically told us not to worry about it and that there wouldn’t be any time paradoxes or consequences. I like it. It’s just an excuse for us to visit Draenor and interact with all the old orcs. Of course, this gives us a lot of potential. Seeing ruthless, old-fashioned orcs should be fun, and of course, experiencing Draenor will be great.
It could also be a vehicle for some interesting character development. What if Garrosh finds his father’s not what he expected? What if Grom thinks Garrosh is a failure? It’ll be fascinating. I also think Blizzard has a chance to do something great with Thrall. Thrall never had the chance to know his parents. We know Durotan is going to side with our Horde, but what if he’s different than Thrall imagined? Even if he’s a good guy, what if he’s still ruthless? What if he thinks the Horde is too soft? In addition, some characters could stick around after the end of the expansion. For example, Durotan could come through the Dark Portal to live on Azeroth.
I’m also fascinated by the idea of circumstance shaping a person, and I hope Warlords of Draenor examines this. I’d like to see some characters act very differently than they did in the original timeline due to the changed events in their lives.
Stats and itemization
Hit was always a boring stat to me. There was no strategy or choice. You just had to get hit-capped. I’m glad to see it and its fellow not-fun stats removed. Movement speed could be a fun stat on gear as well. Plus, being able to move quickly and get back to DPSing or healing means a DPS/HPS boost.
Having gear change to match the wearer’s current spec is very interesting. It means you can use more gear but that there’s more competition. Ultimately, I think it’ll make the game much more offspec-friendly.
Reforging seemed more needless than useful. On the other hand, it is nice to be able to change from a haste build to a crit build without changing gear. I almost feel like it would work better like changing specs. When you’re out of combat, you can could change builds. Oh well. We’ll have to see what it’s like for gems and enchants to be less common as well.
Garrisons are effectively the Sunsong Ranch farm crossed with the companion mission system of TOR (or other games) with a dash of Warcraft RTS. Sounds intriguing. I liked the farm even though it felt like a grind at times, so I’m optimistic about this. Honestly, it’s more of an evolution of the idea of keeps and followers from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. It could be pretty fun.
Updated character models
Honestly, I don’t really care about this. I don’t understand it. My character is a pretty portion of my screen. When I play D&D, my representation is, at most, a small metal figure that isn’t even using an accurate weapon half the time. However, a lot of people do care, so I’m glad Blizzard’s doing it.
Boost to 90
I completely understand how some people are bothered by this, but I’m not at all. I’ve never had two characters at the level cap. With the character boost, I’m more likely to get a second to level 100. It’d be nice to check out some other styles of play, because I’ve only ever had my priest at endgame. In addition, being able to boost to 90 combined with updated character models mean that people who haven’t played WoW before can immediately begin playing what is effectively a new, modern game. That’s great.
Collections and quest items
These might be my favorite changes. Currently, mounts and pets are in collections rather than items. In Warlords of Draenor, toys, heirlooms, and possibly tabards will be in collections as well. That’s so much bag space I’ll be regaining. In addition, quest items won’t take up bag space. Finally. I’m pretty excited. The only downside is that I lost all those toys I earned previously. Maybe Blizzard could check that I did those quests and award me the toys. Please, Blizzard?
LFR is still LFR. Flex will be called Normal. Normal will be called Heroic. Heroic will be called Mythic. LFR, Normal, and Heroic will all be flexible (1o to 25 people) and cross-realm. Mythic will not be cross-realm and will be 20 people. As a normal-mode raider currently (so a heroic-mode raider next expansion) in a guild that struggles with attendance, this is great news. We recruit so we have 15-20 people, and then we take everyone every week. Awesome! I do feel bad for current 10-man heroic guilds, but it won’t be my problem at least.
Dailies and dynamic events
Dailies will not be widely used. Great. Dynamic events like those from the Timeless Isle will exist in the world. Also great if not overdone. In addition, they talked about wanting to combine the ideas behind the Isle of Thunder and the Timeless Isle. I think Blizzard is on to something, and I like to see them iterating on the way content is delivered. A combination of these two is exactly what I want.
The map will tell you where the next story quest is, and it also indicates how many story chapters you’ve completed. This is awesome news. In Mists of Pandaria, I finished all the zones before I started raiding, and I only did a dungeon once I got to it in the story. It made for a nice, cohesive experience, but it also meant I took longer to get raid-ready. In Warlords of Draenor, I’ll skip all the non-story quests and come back to them. This should speed up the process significantly.
PVP interface updates
I don’t know how anyone could have a problem with being able to see capping progress on the map and on the flags themselves. This is a welcome change.
Warlords of Draenor
I’m pretty excited about all the aspects of the expansion. I’ll admit, things could go wrong. The quests could be boring, or the new content delivery mechanisms could be boring. I won’t know until I see the content. But I’m feeling hyped to experience it. Of course, I’d like to defeat Garrosh in normal-mode first!
BlizzCon was this weekend, and I found the announcements pretty exciting. Despite living just twenty to thirty minutes from the convention center, I didn’t go. I think it feels less special as a convention because it’s so close, but I do watch the stream. I’ll be posting about some of the announcements and my feelings about them later. I have something more important to mention first!
What would World of Warcraft be without people with whom to play? Some of my guildies came down, and got to hang out this weekend. I’m second from the right, in the red shirt. I stole the pic from my guild leader, so hopefully she doesn’t mind. I went to dinner with three out-of-towners and Mooglegem on Friday night, and Saturday night the group of us above went to dinner. That includes four people I met (in person) this weekend, which was great.
In the photo, you might notice a cookie jar between a glass of water and a beer. Moogle baked cookies and brought them with her in that jar. While we in line at a restaurant, she handed them out to us. A girl behind us got excited, asking where we got the cookies. Moogle explained that she baked them and brought them with her. She seemed sad, and Moogle offered her a cookie. She got really excited, accepted, tried it, and then told Moogle how good it was! Later, when we were seated, Moogle offered cookies to our waiter and waitress. The waiter took one fairly early and thought it was great. It was later in the meal when the waitress accepted, and she also told Moogle how good she thought it was. A few minutes later, a different waitress came over to us, telling us that she didn’t know who baked the cookies but that her coworker shared a piece with her and she thought they were amazing. Moogle gave one to her too. Everyone loves cookies!
As for the content from BlizzCon itself, I was pretty impressed. I think Warlords of Draenor sounds very exciting and the changes are, generally, good ones. I’m also pleased with what I saw of Reaper of Souls. I’ve never played a MOBA, but I’m optimistic about Heroes of the Storm (and the trailer was fantastic). I’d actually not played Hearthstone in a while, but the convention made me excited to play once more. Adventures sound particularly cool! And I guess StarCraft was there. I don’t play it. I’ll post more in-depth about the announcements in the future!
Mists of Pandaria, the next expansion, features a new continent, a new playable race – the Pandaren, a new class – monk, a pet battle system, revamped talents, a new battleground, more ways to earn VP, PVE scenarios, and challenge mode heroics. I have to say, I’m pretty happy with everything announced. There was nothing they did that disappointed me, and multiple announced things were pretty close to exactly what I wanted.
Going somewhere new is good. From the shots I saw, Pandaria’s asian-inspired look is gorgeous. And there’s a giant turtle that’s a zone. Come on. You sold me on the expansion right there, Blizzard! When our characters finally reach this new land, they’ll find a bunch of breweries! That’s another pro.
The Pandaren seem like a very interesting race to me. I like having another old, wise race in the game. Both factions could use a little more wisdom, and the Pandaren will hopefully bring that.
I want to play this right now. The lack of an auto-attack is interesting for a melee class and should make for fun mechanics. I’m particularly interested in healing with a monk. I haven’t had a good track record with playing alts, but I’d love to get a monk going.
Pet Battle System
I’ve been asking for this for a long time! Granted, I wasn’t asking for it in WoW, but what Pokemon fan hasn’t wanted a Pokemon MMO? We knew Nintendo wouldn’t do it, but here it is thanks to Blizzard. On the other hand, I’m not too keen on pets being tradeable. Some pets won’t be, and I’m hoping Blizzard will make it so that the only pets that can be traded are the ones that, in the current system, are able to be traded before being learned. I don’t want achievement-related pets to be tradeable.
Talent trees are a thing of the past. People might use the word “tree” in the future, but they’re not trees in 5.0. Every 15 levels you’ll be given a choice between three talents. From what I saw, every talent was fairly interesting and will actually make some differences. Obviously, reducing the number of talents increases the importance of each choice, and that’s pretty cool. Also, those polymorph talents. Mmmm.
Payload. Please. I want to participate right now.
More VP Choices
I always appreciate choices as to what content I complete. I like to try to see everything, but I don’t want to grind the same content repeatedly. Right now, I don’t have a problem with VP because I’m actively raiding. We’re 6/7 weekly, and after I do Baradin Hold, I’m only one heroic’s worth of VP short (which I skip because I’ve done those to death and they’re boring). However, for a while I wasn’t part of the main raiding team, and I can tell you, doing those Zandalari heroics seven times each week is tough. Sometimes I feel like Blizzard forgets that part of some of the players’ lists of dailies are “go to work,” “perform chores at home,” and “run errands.” Getting Valor Points from more places mean we won’t get burned out as easily.
Battleground-like experiences that are PVE? I am so excited about this. Admittedly, they might not end up as fun as I hope; however, I love Battlegrounds and think this could provide an amazing and fresh way of playing the game.
Challenge Mode in Heroics
This is actually something pretty similar to what I was asking for in a previous post. While not exactly the same, this can provide more fun from the same content. Already done grinding a heroic? See if you can complete it faster! Now in that same post, I called for the end of gear upgrades so that skill could play the important role. And in challenge mode, gear will scale down. Sweet.