Confessions of a professional worrier

Not to brag, but I consider myself a world class worrier. I have a natural gift for it. Once, at the age of 13, when my family was going through a rough economic period, I expressed to my grandmother my worry about where the rent money was going to come from. She gave me a long look — pity in her eyes, like she suddenly realized that I was a born worrier and she knew what my life would be like because of it  — and explained that the family had designated worriers, specializing in certain areas, and that it was her job and my father’s job to worry about the rent, and it was my job — as I was now old enough to take on some of the worry responsibilities — to worry about pimples and math tests and boys. Amazingly, this actually helped, because I then knew that someone was covering that particular worry, and I was free to worry about other things.  Like union rules, you know, stick to your designated job.

Possibly because of my natural talent at worrying, I pursued professional training in the subject, in the form of military planning and later in IT security and disaster recovery. Both these fields are essentially about learning how to worry professionally, about conceptualizing responses to a wide variety of “what if” scenarios, about seeing weak spots in plans and predicting the catastrophes that could result should they be exploited.

I tell you all this to establish my bona fides in the worry field, so that when I tell you I have worries about Legion you will  know that these are not just the worries of some amateur. And yes, I know we have very limited information on the new expansion, but honestly that is very similar to military planning challenges, where you have to make predictions based on sketchy information, then be prepared for a variety of new scenarios as the picture becomes clearer.

With that background, let me finally get to my point, which is that I have a major worry about Legion, and the basis of that worry is artifact weapons. This feature has huge potential to have adverse effects on almost the entire game, and I do not for one minute believe anyone at Blizz has thought through the impact it will have on nearly every aspect of WoW. The basic concept — that you get one and only one weapon for an entire expansion, that it is unique to not only your class but your spec, and that upgrades to it can only be gotten through random drops mainly from raid bosses — is a professional worrier’s worst nightmare.

First, if Blizz does not make it easy to obtain artifact weapons for your other specs, this will mean the effective end of specs within a class. We will have, instead of classes, class-spec groups. You will select a spec with the same amount of thought you now give to selecting a class, because you will not be able to change without a huge amount of effort. And when I say Blizz must make it easy to exchange weapons within a class, I mean:

  • No intro quest lines to obtain the weapon for your other spec. You just buy it or get it from a vendor/NPC somehow, once you have your first one.
  • No requirement to re-do everything to get it to the same level your first weapon is at. For example, if you have managed to get your first weapon to the third level (or whatever), then if you want a weapon for a different spec you can get it already at the same level. You should not have to hope for the RNG gods to smile upon you while you re-run every mob and boss hoping for upgrade drops to your second spec weapon. Whatever level you have reached with one weapon, all other weapons for that character, regardless of spec, should reflect that same level.

Second, if Blizz does not make multiple paths for weapon upgrades, then the raid or die philosophy will pretty much mark the end of the game, because the gap between the haves and have-nots will grow and cause more and more polarization in the player base. Additionally, failure to have diverse ways to upgrade will be the final nail in the coffin of alt play, because it is not feasible for most players to raid extensively on every alt just to get decent weapons.

What do I mean by “multiple paths” for weapon upgrades?

  • Upgrades dropped by raid bosses must be compatible throughout all raid tiers. If, for example, an upgrade dropped by an LFR boss procs increased agility for your BM hunter, then every upgrade dropped by that boss through Mythic should proc increased agility, the only difference being how much. There should be only quantitative, not qualitative, differences in upgrades dropped by the same boss at different raid levels.
  • RNG should not be the only way to get a boss weapon upgrade. Yes, this means bring back valor or some currency you can earn in order to get exactly the same weapon upgrades that drop randomly from raids.
  • World bosses should drop weapon upgrades at the level of Normal raids, along with gear at the Normal raid level.
  • As in Mists, the currency for weapon upgrades and gear should be able to be earned by doing virtually every activity in the game — achievements, dailies and weeklies, rares and world bosses, dungeons, special events, etc.
  • Professions should be able to craft weapon upgrades. And crafted upgrades should not be limited to blacksmiths, leather workers, engineers, etc. Every crafting profession should be able to craft weapon upgrades.
  • Guilds should be able to get group achievements that result in a weapon upgrade being available to guild members. This might spur a resurgence in guilds as desirable social structures in the game.

I actually have a lot more thoughts on all the possible game-wide implications of the artifact weapon system, but I do not want to make this post a doctoral dissertation. So let me add one final thought, suggested to me by The Grumpy Elf’s post today. When I had my designated-worrier discussion with my grandmother, I stopped worrying about the rent because she told me someone else knew it might be a problem and was working through the what-ifs on it. I trusted her when she said this, because after 13 years I had come to know that she would never lie to me. After the last year of lying and duplicity, I have nothing even approaching trust in Blizzard.

I want Blizz to tell me it is their job to worry about broad game changes resulting from artifact weapons, and it is my job to worry about leveling and shot rotations and AoE, and I want to trust that they are in fact doing so. Sadly, this is not possible. Blizz could learn a lot from Gramma.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

3 Responses to Confessions of a professional worrier

  1. grumsta says:

    I haven’t read up much on Legion, but I had similar concerns about artefact weapons for some classes (albeit more filthy-casual-worries next to your l33t worries, natch).

    You will obviously be looking at Hunters, and that may well be the most extreme example with the current choices being gun/bow/spear. [Shakes head, tuts, sighs, carries on]

    My current main, a mage, might not be affected at all. The choices are likely to be staff, staff or, errrrm, staff. Unless they do something insane with Fire and then it could be staff/staff/artichoke for all I know. On a more serious note, they could decide that Arcane “flavour” is better served with a wand and OH, so that class might need two RNG drops. I would not put it past them.

    Warriors could be interesting too, depending on whether one spec needs 1H weapon & shield, another a single 2H, and if Fury needs 2 x 2H is that double the work as per now….? Early days of course, but looking at how Blizz has taken simple problems and applied overly time-consuming and convoluted solutions to them I dread to think what they’re cooking up here.

    There’s a big part of me that actually wants to pick a class and spec and stick with it. When I rolled my Mage he was a Fire mage, and I clung on to that identity for way too long hoping that Fire would become viable again in WoD. In the end I tried Frost and didn’t like it, so I’ve settled on Arcane and I’m loving it. But looking at Heroic raid teams, their mages switch between Arcane and Frost on different bosses. I’m simply not good enough to do that. Hell, I struggle when I have to change talents in between fights. If I have to think about my rotation my uptime drops like a stone. So I’m better off picking one spec and sticking with it, it’s better for everyone really.

    In a way Blizz have already started to make life difficult for the spec-swappers: for example the difference in secondary stats between MM and BM Hunters and the importance of those stats to the dps makes gearing up twice a wonderful and thrilling RNG adventure. Yes there are people who switch enchants and even gems on gear between bosses but I don’t know how wide-spread that practice is, and I don’t want to go there.

    There is only thing I feel certain of: whatever solution Blizz pick it will be dull, repetitive, onerous, time-consuming, have as much RNG as possible, and be gated. There is nothing they’ve added since MoP that doesn’t fit all of those criteria. They need to see us log on every day, and keep us on as long as they can, because that appears to be the only KPI they’re measured on.

    I just hope that (unlike the Ring), the Weapon is worth all the effort…….

    • Fiannor says:

      I, too, would like to be able to pick a spec and stick with it. The problem, again, is lack of trust in Blizzard. For example, some years ago I picked Survival hunter and tried my damndest to stick with it. But Blizz in the last 2 xpacs has screwed with the spec so much — with wild pendulum swings in its effectiveness and playability — that stubbornly staying with the spec was at times just not possible.

      It has always taken a lot to persuade me to switch specs, I do not do it for a few hundred extra DPS, nor do I raid with a team that expects me to change specs for a slight advantage with a particular boss. I only do it if the spec has become so greatly unbalanced that the damage difference is extreme, or if the spec has become cumbersome and unwieldy to play. Sadly, this has happened three times with SV hunters in the last two expansions.

      And you are correct that in WoD, due to the really horrible secondary stat implementation and the removal of reforging, it is already much more difficult to change specs than it has ever been. When you combine this state of affairs with the complete reliance on RNG for secondary stats, switching specs comes at a very high price in terms of gold/mats/time. Which is exactly why Blizz ought to take special care when they make any changes to a class and spec. But amazingly they don’t — they seem to implement huge sweeping spec changes on a dev whim, with no regard for the frustration this inflicts on the players time and again.

      You kind of expect it to be a big deal if you play a hybrid class and switch from, say, tank spec to healing spec. That has always been the burden of hybrids, balanced by the benefit of having the option of doing so. “Pure” classes such as hunters, mages, etc., did not have such a burden, because they also did not have the same wide range of options. But starting in WoD, Blizz has imposed the penalty on pure damage classes without adding the wide option benefit.

      You could argue, using the upcoming changes to SV hunters as the exemplar, that Blizz actually intends to make every class a hybrid, but only in terms of damage mechanisms such as melee vs. ranged, casters vs. physical. This, in my opinion, still penalizes damage classes, because their group roles — and thus their utility — are still limited to one and only one. I would have been fine with the SV change had they made it a tanking spec, because that would have opened up an additional role for hunters, and it would have made the class a hybrid, balancing the burden of spec variations with the benefit of added utility.

      Did not mean to ramble so much, but your comment about wanting to pick a spec and stick with it struck a chord with me — I would like to do that, too, but I do not trust Blizz to make it possible. With the artifact weapon, the cost of picking the wrong spec becomes very high indeed. A spec that is viable at the start of Legion could become unplayable in the first or second patch, on a dev whim, and then you are well and truly screwed, because switching specs to a viable one means starting all over again with months of work just to get an appropriate level weapon.

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