Prepping my alts for Legion

I spent quite a bit of last week going through what has become a fairly long process of preparing my alts for Legion leveling. I went through certain steps for each alt, namely:

  • Clear out all accumulated transmog gear in bank and in void storage, then equip the BoEs in the mailbox and clear that out.
  • Set up Ark Inventory for bag and bank. I love this addon, and the author has done a terrific job of working on it for 7.0, but the transition has been rather painful.
  • Select my spec.
  • Read up on current balance of talents, think about how I will be playing the alt, and select initial talents.
  • Check out IcyVeins for new stat priorities, then reroll stats on crafted gear, get new gems and enchants as necessary, and stock up on new food.
  • Have my inscriptionist send the alt a stack of tomes for talent switching in the field.
  • Again using IcyVeins, learn about starter rotations, cooldown usage, and priorities and use that to set up initial action bars.
  • Configure main addons to reflect the changes. This meant Weakauras for all alts plus Healbot for healers.
  • Head to the target dummies, try everything out, tweak/reconfigure as necessary. Rinse and repeat.
  • If I still felt really unsure after all this, I would do a couple of LFR runs to shake out the kinks and get a little confidence back.

As you can see, it was quite a long process, usually a couple of days per alt before I felt like I had something even minimally ready for pre-expansion events as well as for leveling in Legion. Some seemed to go a little faster than others, due I think to a combination of me being more confident playing them going in, and the nature and extent of 7.0 changes for each.

As a side note, I did finally say goodbye to my mage. After years of struggling to play her, I finally admitted that I just do not enjoy the play style, not any spec, not any expansion. Legion will be time-consuming enough without feeling guilted into leveling and gearing an alt I dread playing. So I sold off all her gear and professional cooldowns, cashed in her currencies for anything of value, sent her gold to my bank alt, and unceremoniously deleted her. I am loyal, it is true, but eventually I figure out when to cut my losses and admit defeat.

So I have a few anecdotal observations as a result of my prep process.

Demonology warlock is far more interesting than BM hunter. In fact, the demo lock play style is what BM hunter should be, in my opinion. The lock has far more intricate, interesting player choices than does the hunter, and honestly it seems to have more control over its dark beasts, too. Whereas BM hunter is all about whack-a-mole for hitting RNG-derived cooldowns as soon as they pop up, demo lock actually gives you some choices that affect your final damage efficiency. Demo lock is a skill spec, BM hunter is a lottery ticket spec.

Balance Druid might actually be a decent damage spec in Legion. I opted for Balance with a resto attunement, and so far I have been pleasantly surprised at the improvement in the spec. It seems to have more snap to it, a better feel than the lumbering slow play style I found it to be in WoD. (I can’t speak much for change to resto, but my personal impression is that it did not change nearly as drastically as some other specs.)

I like the new boomkin skin and art, too, although I have an  objection to one aspect of it —  if you take Blessing of the Ancients, the strongest of the level 90 talents, you always have a spectral form, there is nothing you can do to look solid. This annoys me to such an extent that I dumped the talent, even though nearly every site says it is by far the most powerful in that tier. I have never liked the “spectral” look of characters, and while I can put up with it for very short periods to reflect certain buffs or auras, I hate looking like that all the time. I created a good solid character, and dammit I jolly well want to stay that way!

Marksmanship hunter still feels clunky to me. I set up my “off hunter” as MM, just to try out the spec and see if it might be more pleasing to play that my main’s BM spec. So far, the answer is no for me. It seems more powerful than BM, but of course that is without artifacts yet, and also the power is once again dependent on selecting Lone Wolf. The spec is clearly meant to be a petless one, and it is obvious that Blizz only added in the possibility of a pet to try and shut up some of the hunter community whining over it. And yes, I was one of the whiners, but adding a pet while making it a net DPS loss just seems kind of spiteful to me.

MM hunter still does not flow well in terms of play style, it is cumbersome, less mobile than BM, and still too dependent on RNG procs for excellent damage. Of course, like all specs it is incomplete without the artifact weapon, but still it seems clumsy. Having said that, however, at least it offers more player choice than BM does. Skill in making the right decisions at the right time can (if the RNG gods are with you) make a difference in your play. Contrast this with BM, where in essence you have zero real decisions to make, you just punch the buttons when they come available.

Mistweaver monk has some real potential for fun. I actually liked the Mists and WoD style for MW healing, but I have to say I think the Legion changes are a net gain for the spec. It remains quite mobile, can function adequately either as a tank healer or raid healer, has a good array of spells available, and retains a very robust offensive capability. Whether MW monks will be able to compete with other, more traditional healers, in elite raid settings is a question, I suppose, but at the level I play, they will be just fine.

I was a little worried about the removal of Chi as a power source, especially when combined with the removal of Mana Tea as we knew it, but so far I have not found it to be a problem. I am a little annoyed at a few of the changes, though. Mana Tea, for example, does not in fact provide you with more mana now, it merely lowers the mana cost of your next couple of spells. That strikes me as false labeling, and if nothing else I would like the buff to be renamed. Also, I feel a tad betrayed by Blizz making the statue a talent instead of keeping it as one of the iconic features of the spec. Still, overall I really like the changes, and I anticipate making my MW my first alt to level in Legion, after my main.

Outlaw rogues seem incredibly complex to play. This is not to say they do not have potential for great fun, but I am having a devil of a time feeling even marginally comfortable with mine. The biggest change to this former Combat spec is the Roll the Bones mechanic. For those of you unfamiliar with it, basically the spell gives you one or more (up to three) of six possible random buffs. Each buff or combo of buffs affects one or more of your other spells. Thus, the outcome of RtB affects what your next spell or series of spells should optimally be. RtB has a very short cooldown, so if you do not like the outcome you can pretty much keep rolling it until you get one you do like — of course, your overall damage takes a hit if you are spending your time trying to get a good buff setup instead of doing, you know, actual damage.

While RtB is an innovative mechanic, I really don’t know how it will turn out for outlaw rogues. In its current incarnation, it seems too edgy and iffy to count on for even semi-serious raiding, dooming this spec to the clown spec, one chosen simply for the pirate motif. AAAAAARRRRRHHHH!! It is hard to envision group pleas for “Prefer outlaw rogue to fill melee ranks.”

I am not even sure it is possible to play RtB in any way except what the name implies: roll the dice and hope for a good outcome. It seems almost impossible to effectively select your next casts based on what RtB yields, given the large number of possible permutations and the relatively short available response times. A few elite players may learn to do it, I suppose, but the vast majority of players will just plant their faces on the keyboard and hope for the best. Of course, there will inevitably be an addon that “selects” for you, but even with that it will be virtually impossible to optimize your response, and nothing will compensate for a run of bad luck in terms of not getting the “best” RtB outcome. Thus, outlaw rogue, like far too many Legion specs, remains overly dependent on RNG for its damage potential.

I am still working on my rogue, and I have yet to start my pally’s Legion prep, but at least there is finally an end in sight. Not a moment too soon, either. With the introduction of Demon Hunters next week and presumably the pre-expansion events the following week, not to mention Legion itself two weeks after that, the pace of play is about to accelerate big time.

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.

5 Responses to Prepping my alts for Legion

  1. Captain Fizz says:

    WoWHead spec guides are considered better at this stage btw 🙂

  2. Grumsta says:

    As always I’m somewhat in awe of the level of prepared-ness you enter a new xpac or patch with.

    My focus has been getting my main ready. My mage has switched back from Arcane to Fire, which I’m rather pleased about as that was the spec I originally rolled him for. However Fire was also great in 6.0.3 so I’m braced for the incoming nerfs tbh……

    I have tried out MM hunter but I’m not a big fan, even with the even-more-useful T18 instant cast buff. I have more mobility with my Mage than I do with my MM hunter without the T18 set.

    Priest looks like the biggest change to me. Disc feels like a jack-of-all-trades class: good at healing and dps, but not great at either. I’ve started a brand new Holy Priest (on a PvP server because it’s about time I did) and I’m going to learn that.

    I am seriously considering learning my Unholy DK rotation correctly, because that looks like great fun now, but he’ll have to wait.

    Fury warrior looks good but I haven’t had much time to explore the spec.

    Once I had decided my choice of main was solid I’ve put everything into making sure he was all set up ready to raid on Wednesday. It takes me 2 – 3 weeks to learn a new rotation so I’m sticking with him through the pre-patch and I’ll only explore other options if Blizz repeat their WoD class/spec “tuning”, or I get to 110 and I don’t like what I find.

    Currently Fire main and Arcane off-spec looks a solid choice for Mage, I have everything crossed that this time I don’t have to switch characters as soon as I try raiding in the first tier of Legion.

    • Fiannor says:

      My very unscientific thought about DK (I do not play one at all) is that it really should have at least one spec that will be fun in Legion, because it seems every time there is a new beta build there are about a hundred changes to DKs, whereas for example BM hunters are almost never even mentioned.

      I am glad that mage looks promising, but it is a sad commentary that it feels like it has more mobility than a hunter spec. Having tried MM, though, I absolutely believe your conclusion. Of my feeble attempts at mage-ing, I always liked fire best of all. I still think it has the coolest visuals in the game.

      Blizz has said a couple of times that they are mindful of the effects of investing in an artifact for a spec, and that they will not be making huge changes once Legion goes live, so we will see.

  3. demonnick says:

    Hey, I’ve recently discovered your blog and I have to say I enjoy it very much.

    I couldn’t agree more with your comparison of BM hunter to Demon Warlock. I too feel that they really nailed that spec more so than the hunters.

    I have mained a hunter since just before TBC, but I think this may be my first expansion where I don’t approach it with my hunter first. I also play Paladin, Mage, and Warrior, and although some of the classes do feel a bit week in rotation (ie. paladin…no surprise there) I am enjoying the feel of them a lot more than my hunter (especially my furry warrior, which feels like your letting all the rage out every time you attack something).

    For the hunter I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around why I would play it over any other class (other than the feels of course). MM feels like a more movement impaired version of mage (as mentioned by Grumsta), BM feels like a crappier Demon Lock, and Surv will fail in comparison to almost any other melee in a pvp situation, at the moment.

    Anyways just my two cents. I’m sure (and really really hoping) the artifact weapon and pvp talent tree will change a lot of this once they are unlocked.

    • Fiannor says:

      I have grappled with the same issues on whether or not to main my hunter in Legion. I finally decided that BM is the only spec that comes close to what I want for a hunter, but even that is pretty poor. I expect the hunter damage numbers — all three specs — to be competitive once people get their artifact weapons, but the lackadaisical play style for BM, the lack of mobility for MM, and the just-another-melee nature of SV are not likely to change. You may be smart to decide on another class early. For myself, because I have a stubborn streak, I am going to start with a BM hunter as my main and play it as long as I can stand it. Fingers crossed.

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