It’s another one of those scatterbrained days for me, so today’s post is just a couple thoughts I had last night while logged in and raiding.
Ion’s lecture. Yesterday we got a glimpse of what we can expect in patch 8.1, which could go up on the PTR as early as the end of this week. Most of the information was standard stuff — new raid tiers (a major one and a mini one), new world quests (whoopee…), some minor changes to Islands, a new warfront (oh goody…), and so forth.
I’m a little confused by the new raid — Alliance will fight their way from the harbor to the top of the pyramid and defeat King Rastakhan, and Horde will fight their way in the opposite direction eventually defeating Jaina and claiming the harbor? So we are back to subjective reality, where one set of facts is true for Horde and another for Alliance? I suppose it will be more or less clear when it plays out, but it seems contrived to me. Luckily I usually tend to ignore Blizz’s feeble attempts at post-writing history to fit game mechanics. Still, I don’t understand how Alliance and Horde can be fighting one another and both sides win.
The biggest news, I thought, was the changes coming to rep. While it does not seem we will have true account-wide rep sharing (with the possible exception of Champions of Azeroth), in 8.1 rep achievements will be shared. So, for example, if you had one main for years and then switched mains a couple of expansions ago, the exalted reps that both earned will now count towards rep achievements like 100 Exalted Reps. It’s a nice quality of life change. And maybe it is a start to making rep account wide on a more general basis? Okay, maybe not, but I can hope.
The other bit of interesting news was that Blizz intends to adhere to the Legion pacing of content and patches. They see that as a good model and want to make it the standard. What this means, I think, is that in BFA we could likely see new major and minor patches every 77 days or thereabouts. This is mostly a good thing, but there is also a down side to it, namely that these patches are pretty much already set in stone, and there would seem to be very little chance for any significant changes for the remainder of the expansion. So, for example, even though there has been quite a bit of blowback regarding Island Expeditions and Warfronts, the only real changes we will see are some tweaks to loot, some adjustments to mob distribution, and some changes of scenery. The pattern is set, and Blizz cannot change it in any meaningful way at this point.
The most miserable boss ever. I used to think Blizz could not make a more miserable boss mechanic than the asinine black-screen-of-death one in the Kil’Jaeden fight in Tomb of Sargeras. I was wrong. They have set a new standard with Mythrax. This penultimate boss in Uldir has absolutely nothing to recommend it as a fight. The mechanics are largely uninspiring reworks of a thousand other bosses in the game. But the truly inept part of the design is that he casts a set of one-shot lasers in Phase Two, and his graphic representation is such that he appears as one gigantic purple blob, with no distinguishing front or back, so that you have no idea where the lasers will go.
To compound the problem, the mechanics pretty much force the raid to gather in a small area between the boss and the wall, restricting movement even if someone can guess where the laser is pointing. Come on, Blizz, for crying out loud, give the guy at least an obvious face or set of nipples or arms or distinguishable feet or hair cowlick or something so raiders know which way he is pointed. Each time we face this failed design of a boss, I find myself desperately trying to think up an excuse to go afk for the time, maybe a whispered urgent plea to the RL that I am really really sorry but I absolutely have to go walk the parakeet, brb ok? Our team has still only successfully done him on Normal, and I am so not looking forward to the Heroic version of him.
Distracting Shot. Last night I found myself missing this rarely-used but very useful hunter shot from long ago. (I think it actually disappeared in WoD, but it seems like forever since we had it.) It was essentially a hunter taunt, and even though you did not often need it, when you did it was invaluable. It was especially useful when soloing and using your pet as a tank — you could trade off merely by taunting to yourself using DS and then returning aggro to your pet by Misdirecting to it, and you could do this quite often during a fight, bouncing a boss back and forth as needed.
It was one of a lot of rarely-used hunter utilities that have been “pruned” in the name of — well, I don’t really know why, other than a couple of vague comments about “too many buttons” or “class uniqueness”. At one point, Blizz indicated only tanks should be able to taunt, but there are plenty of non-tank specs that still have taunts, so that excuse doesn’t really stand up. Part of being a good hunter used to be knowing all your utility shots and using them at exactly the right time.
The reason I was thinking of this last night was, in one of the fights in Uldir we had a lot of little adds and a couple of them got loose from the tank and were wandering around being annoying back with the healers and ranged. I first tried a Misdirection on one of them, but Blizz has seen to it that BM hunter Misdirection is extremely puny (because it only is derived from the hunter’s shot, not from pet damage, and BM hunters do almost no damage on their own). What I really needed was Distracting Shot to taunt the add so I could kite it to the tank. I could have misdirected to my pet, then more or less kited my pet to the tank, but by then my Misdirection was on cooldown so the only option was to try and kill the add as soon as possible where it was.
I remember back in Wrath, I was pugging a 25-man Icecrown Citadel. Back then there was no raid finder, you watched trade chat and whispered a response to someone trying to organize a raid group, sending your bona fides in hopes of getting accepted. Since there was no sharding or CRZ then, you had to be mindful of your server reputation because if you became known as a screwup or flake, it would be difficult to get into some of the raids.
Anyway, I got into a 25-man raid group, and we were fighting Deathbringer Saurfang. The fight occurred on a huge outside platform, but the boss needed to be tightly controlled and tanked in a very small area so that the raid could use the platform for various other mechanics, one of which was easy to do using a hunter Distracting Shot on a specific add. Unfortunately I launched mine while still targeting the boss, causing him to abandon the tank and come in search of me. I was frantically running into crowds and trying to disappear when the RL shouted out, in all caps, in raid chat, “CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME WHY THE BOSS IS WANDERING AROUND THE DAMN PLATFORM?” I was mortified, not to mention terrified that I would be found out. I sidled up next to another hunter and tried to look unimportant and inconspicuous. I was not outed, for which I was very grateful.
But I still miss Distracting Shot.