4/6 Alpha Build Design Notes and Mythic+ (Challenge Mode) Dungeon Testing – thebesplayers.org

A new alpha build is on its way! No new classes or zones are referenced in these design notes, but hybrids are now getting mana back for utility spells and abilities. Raid testing is also likely Friday and Monday. Edit: we’ve been adding posts about specific classes like Unholy Death Knights and Windwalker Monks, as well as alpha build delays.

Edit 2: Information on Mythic and Mythic + Dungeons is up!

Mythic and Mythic+ Dungeons

Watcher

Shortly after this post goes up, Mythic Halls of Valor will be open for testing. You can access it by setting dungeon difficulty to Mythic, speaking to the venerable Nexus-Lord Donjon Rade Sr., and taking him up on his offer to teleport you to the Halls of Valor. If you do that, you’ll find a version of the dungeon that’s tougher than Heroic, will have a weekly lockout, and will drop better loot once the loot is hooked up. Pretty similar to Mythics in Draenor today.

Nothing to get too excited about, really. Except, hmm… what’s this odd Challenger’s Pedestal sitting there near the start of the zone? And wait, was that a vendor list on Mr. Rade?

If you purchase a Keystone Container from Donjon Rade, you can create one of three tiers of Challenger’s Keystones, which will allow you to tackle more challenging versions of Mythic Halls of Valor, including additional modifiers at higher levels.

When you place a Challenger’s Keystone in the pedestal, you’ll see the modifiers that it will apply to your dungeon run. If you then click Start Challenge, a countdown will begin, and you’ll have 45 minutes to complete Halls of Valor (including a reasonable amount of the non-boss enemy forces present). If you succeed, your Keystone will be upgraded to the next power level (or by multiple steps, if you really crush the timer!). If you’re using a fresh keystone (i.e. one that hasn’t already been used to start a failed run at that power level), you’ll also find a loot chest waiting for you at the end. It’ll be empty, but just imagine that it’s brimming with delicious loot.

At power level 3, you will see your first affix modifier on the keystone. At level 6, you will see a second.

The two affixes that are active are global and will be the same for everyone on Alpha. Every 12 hours, however, they will cycle to new values; old keystones will likely vanish at that time, and any newly-generated keystones will have the new affixes.

Items will be normalized to item level 845 for the purposes of this test (note: the aura tooltip may not be accurate, but if you check your equipped gear, you’ll see it’s actually 845).

Which are the most fun affixes? Least fun? Which are the hardest? Easiest? Who will complete the highest Halls of Valor at the highest keystone level?

Some additional information: There are two "buckets" of affixes.

Available at power level 3+:

  • Tyrannical – Bosses have significantly more health and damage.
  • Bolstering – Non-boss enemies will buff nearby allies’ health and damage when defeated.
  • Raging – Non-boss enemies will enrage at low health, dealing double damage until killed.
  • Teeming – Additional non-boss enemies are present throughout the dungeon; kill count requirement increased.

Available at power level 6+:

  • Necrotic – Enemy melee attacks apply a stacking debuff that deals damage and reduces healing received.
  • Volcanic – Enemies cause eruptions of flame beneath the feet of distant players.
  • Skittish – Tanks generate much less threat.
  • Decay – All players suffer damage over time while the challenge is active.

There are currently 8 valid affix pairs, with a sequence that will advance every 12 hours (for testing purposes – will advance with weekly reset in the live game):

  • Teeming/Skittish
  • Raging/Necrotic
  • Bolstering/Decay
  • Tyrannical/Volcanic
  • Teeming/Necrotic
  • Raging/Volcanic
  • Bolstering/Skittish
  • Tyrannical/Decay

Final naming is still TBD. Challenge is no longer a selectable difficulty from the drop-down – instead you begin the keystone runs from within Mythic. The old concept of "Challenge Mode" had some core features like gear normalization, multiple timed cutoffs, and no loot awarded, that are no longer applicable. This is really more letting you scale Mythic difficulty up to suit your capabilities, while adding new modifiers along the way to keep the experience fresh. A looser timer exists because there has to be some measure of success and some definition of failure, but the timer isn’t the driving purpose behind the entire mode like it was for Challenge.

Yeah, technically it’s still difficultyID 8 when the run is in progress.

BTW, unrelated, as some brave souls are noticing, keystone level 6 is very, very hard at this gear level. Looks like the first affix combo up is Tyrannical+Decay, which is a particularly difficult combo to try to brute-force while undergeared.

Build Design Notes

Celestalon

Hey all,
We have another alpha build going up today. This build includes a variety of revisions and bugfixes all around, but most notable changes are focused on classes:

  • Class Status – We’ve made many iterations based on feedback and testing. Here are some highlights:

    Charm Spells – These spells are potentially very powerful when used on stronger-than-average creatures. Previously, we handled this by making any particularly strong creatures (such as most creatures in dungeons and raids) immune to these effects. For Legion, we’ve limited the amount of damage dealt by charmed creatures to what a standard outdoor creature could do, and will soon be relaxing those immunity restrictions accordingly. This way, you’ll be able to use things like Control Undead and Enslave Demon more often, especially in dungeon content, and still get a reasonable value out of them.

  • Mana and Utility for Hybrids – Most hybrids now use mana, primarily to fuel utility spells and abilities. See below for more details.
  • Interrupt Duration Reduction – We’ve added baseline interrupt duration reduction to several specializations. This includes Shadow Priests, Restoration Shamans, and all Warlocks. (EDIT: To clarify, this is a reduction to the duration of interrupts used ON them, not BY them.)
  • Warlocks – Several changes in order support Warlocks being more tanky. A greatly improved version of Soul Leech is now baseline, in place of Fel Armor, and Demon Skin is a new talent in Soul Leech’s place that further enhances Soul Leech significantly.
  • Brewmaster Monks – Reigned in their overpoweredness. (Note that this is not final tuning, just getting things in the right ballpark so as not to negatively impact testing too much.)
  • Holy Paladins – Light of the Martyr design tweaked.
  • Balance Druids – Astral Power generation tweaked.
  • Shadow Priests – Insanity generation tweaked.
  • Enhancement Shamans – Stormbringer and Windfury chances tweaked.
  • Blood Death Knights – Extensive changes to many talents.
  • Arcane Mages – Arcane Missiles proc logic changed; Arcane Blast is now the optimal way to generate Arcane Missiles charges, instead of spamming instants.
  • Rogues – Tricks of the Trade has returned.

Thanks, and we look forward to your feedback!

Also, check out the design notes from the previous build, if you haven’t already as well.As Celestalon mentioned, this build includes a general change that affects a number of non-healing specs on hybrid classes. Resources were previously handled somewhat inconsistently across these specs: Balance and Retribution, for example, have a DPS resource (Astral Power or Holy Power) as well as a mana bar that’s used only for the occasional heal or utility spell. Shadow, Enhancement, and Elemental had eliminated the mana bar, and had DPS resource costs (Insanity or Maelstrom) associated with various heal and utility spells. After discussing this, we decided to go with the mana approach on all hybrid healing classes except for Monks.

So, this build, you’ll now have a visible mana bar on Retribution, Protection Paladin, Balance, Shadow, Enhancement, and Elemental. Feral and Guardian are also subject to these changes, although their mana is not visible in form by default. On all of these specs, mana regen and cost of healing spells has been made more consistent. You should have the ability to cast a reasonable-strength heal at any time as a utility option, but mana limits you from spamming it for too long, until you pause and regen. Because the mana pool on all of these classes is much smaller than a healer’s, it does not take inordinately long to refill the bar–roughly 30 seconds. On classes like Shadow with a large number of utility spells, mana will force you to make some choices between using Shadow Mend and Power Word: Shield and spells like Mass Dispel.

The tuning will continue to be revised as we test this out on alpha, but it should give a much more consistent opportunity for hybrid classes to access that aspect of their class make decisions about how to use their hybrid spells. Please let us know any feedback.

EDIT: two things to add:
1) I forgot to mention, there is one case where a heal will still interact with a DPS resource. Healing Surge, on Enhancement only, will consume some Maelstrom to become instant. This maintains the live gameplay whereby Maelstrom Weapon can be spent in this way to allow Enhancement to have an instant heal.

2) After some testing, we thought that in this initial version, mana costs on heals were slightly too low across the hybrids–you could heal many times before having to stop. They’ve been increased, but that change didn’t make it into this round of alpha.
Once again, to give a bit more advance notice, we are planning on doing Friday and Monday raid testing in this build, at similar times to last week’s tests. If all goes well with the build and its overall stability, we will have more information on those tests tomorrow.
Not only does this make the game easier for people who get locked out, but it makes landing a lockout less rewarding.

We’re concerned about interrupts for a number of reasons and we’re exploring changes. In Warlords, we made a change to improve the responsiveness of the game as explained here. While we want interrupts to feel rewarding, this responsiveness change has made them a lot easier to use. Reducing the duration of interrupts cast on only a few specializations is one change we’re considering. It’s always helpful to see player reaction to these ideas and we appreciate the feedback.

Spec-Specific Blue Posts

Unholy Death Knight

Celestalon

Hey Unholy Death Knights. Wanted to stop by and let you know that we’re in the middle of a pass on spicing up some of your talents. Not much of that made it into today’s build, but the next build should include significant changes. Ebon Plague, Epidemic, Soul Reaper, Dark Arbiter, Castigator, Pestilent Pustules, Shadow Infusion, and Unholy Frenzy are all getting significant improvements, especially in terms of adding gameplay to how they interact with your rotation.

EDIT: Oh, almost forgot. The artifact ability, Apocalypse, is also being revised: It will now instantly burst all Festering Wounds on the target, and summon an Army of the Dead Ghoul for each one.

We look forward to feedback on them once you get to try them in the next build! Thanks!

Frost Mage

Celestalon

Hey Frost Mages. One of the niches that Frost has excelled at for a while has been two-target damage, primarily due to Glyph of Splitting Ice. We want that to stay as one of Frost’s strengths. It didn’t make it in time for today’s build, but in next build, you’ll find Splitting Ice has returned as a talent, replacing Bitter Cold.

Please keep that in mind when giving feedback. Thanks!

Windwalker Monk

Celestalon

Hey Walkers in the Wind. Let’s talk about some Storm, a little Earth, and maybe even a bit of Fire!

Storm, Earth, and Fire is a pretty cool ability. It gave Windwalkers a very unique form of dealing with multi-target situations. However, it had some problems, many of which you’ve pointed out here. However, the biggest issue for us was just how much it overwhelmed the identity of Windwalkers. Outside of solo questing, you spent the vast majority of your time split into 3, and that became the defining characteristic of Windwalkers. We want it to be cool, but not completely dominate your gameplay. So, we’ve worked on coming up with what Windwalkers should do instead in multi-target situations. And we wanted it to still be unique, not just a clone of other specs’ AoE rotations.

To aid in this brainstorming, we did exactly what you’d expect: watched a lot of classic kung fu movies. It didn’t make it in in time for today’s build, but here’s what we’re planning for next build. It’s pretty unusual, and it may sound a bit daunting at first, but we’ve found it quite fun in practice:

  • Fists of Fury does full damage to secondary targets.
  • Storm, Earth, and Fire has a 90sec cooldown, and 15sec duration. All 3 spirits deal 33% of normal damage. While active, Spinning Crane Kick damage is increased by 100%. The spirits can hit the same target as you, but will prefer to find different targets if available.
  • Spinning Crane Kick costs 4 Chi, and its base damage is increased by 150%. Additionally, it now deals 50% additional damage for each unique target you (or your Storm, Earth, and Fire spirits) have struck in the last 15sec with Tiger Palm, Blackout Kick, or Rising Sun Kick.
    This target count number is displayed on the Spinning Crane Kick button.

The Fists of Fury change adds some burst AoE damage on demand. The Storm, Earth, and Fire change makes it only up some of the time, and solely for mutli-target purposes. Finally, the Spinning Crane Kick adds the core gameplay hook for Windwalker AoE. You’ll cycle through punching and kicking each target, before unleashing a massive Spinning Crane Kick. When there are many targets, Storm, Earth, and Fire can help you hit them all faster, and additionally increase your Spinning Crane Kick damage even further. The 15sec duration is fairly generous, to make sure that it doesn’t feel like a hindrance, as long as you are cycling through targets at a reasonable rate. The changes to tab targeting in Legion help make this a reliably doable task.

We hope to get this in your hands in the next build, so you can give it a try, and let us know what you think. Thanks!

a) Does the "50% additional damage" count any target that Rising Sun Kick’s Weaken Blows" falls on
– If I Rising Sun Kick the boss and 10 adds are around, I BELIEVE (cannot remember off the top of my head) Weaken Blows also falls onto the surounding enemies. Will this application count toward the 50% bonus?
b) Are you trying to encourage "tab targeting" If you have 10 targets (Iskar transition phase as an example), You can spend 7 seconds as setup for a big SCK.
c) Fists of Fury ‘s change is nice. Will this be applied to Strike of the Windlord as well? Since I believe that is also a 1/2^n damage currently for multi-target

a) Rising Sun Kick is single target; has been for a long time.
b) You won’t wait until you’ve hit everything to Spinning Crane Kick, you’ll hit it along the way too.
c) Not sure.

The damage of Spinning Crane Kick is going WAY up, in order to make sure that it feels rewarding at 4 Chi (or 3 Chi, undecided yet).

On top of murdering your single target damage by 66%….

33% on Storm, Earth, and Fire is *per Spirit*. It’s neutral DPS-wise on a single target.

The changes to Spinning Crane Kick/Fists of Fury are directly to those abilities, not only while Storm, Earth, and Fire is active.

If you haven’t tried it, check out tab targeting in Legion, it works much more reliably now.

More clarifications based on questions in #PeakofSerenity:
– No cap on Spinning Crane Kick recent targets count (apart from just the limited GCDs within the time window).
– Storm, Earth, and Fire is purely an AoE cooldown. It’s a total of 99% of normal single target damage.
– Rushing Jade Wind and Whirling Dragon Punch stay as they are for now.
– Chi cost of Spinning Crane Kick is still undecided, may be 3 or 4.
– WWMs have too many TLAs.

(Not really an AMA, I’m answering questions here/there/twitter too, I just happened to see some questions there that I could clarify easily.)
General response to the concern about cycling through targets (probably with tab) being awkward: That was our biggest concern with this idea, no doubt. We tried it out though, and found it not to be a problem almost at all, in the vast vast majority of situations, and Storm, Earth, and Fire helped with those. We were skeptical at first too, but found it pretty fun after just a few minutes.

Next build, give it a try, run a dungeon with it, and let us know how it went. We’re definitely going to be looking for feedback on how that aspect of it feels in particular.

Holy Paladin

Sigma

Just confusing wording–it’s a 25% (relative) reduction, from 60% self-damage to 45%. We’ll see if that can be made clearer. Tuning might still fluctuate a good bit due to the new design of Light of the Martyr.

In addition to changing Light of the Martyr this build, there are a few talent changes that didn’t make it in, that will be in next build. You should see buffs to Rule of Law and Beacon of the Lightbringer, and a buff/redesign for Crusader’s Mightt.

Discipline Priest

Sigma

3.) The absorb shell seem to be significantly higher than the heal applied. 93,121 heal with a 121,899 absorb shell. Scary Q_Q

This would be a bug if it happened without anything else going on. But to clarify one thing about Shadow Mend and Shadow Covenant–any portion of the heal that goes into a heal absorb (whether the absorb is from Shadow Covenant, a raid mechanic, or anything else), does count as effective healing for purposes of determining their DoT or debuff. So if you have an heal absorb on your for 100, and cast a Shadow Covenant for 150, you will see "heal 50, 75 absorb applied" in the log.

Shadow Priest

Sigma

This won’t be super visible to the naked eye, but next build should have Voidform more consistently reducing the GCD of all spells below the usual 1s floor. The mechanics are somewhat complicated, but the overall effect should be that other haste effects (gear, Bloodlust, etc.) will still cap at 50%, working like any other class. And then Voidform will add its full value beyond that to both cast times and the GCD, keeping your button-pressing cadence consistent between all your spells even as Voidform accelerates. We may have to revisit this if GCDs get shorter than 0.7s or so, but that shouldn’t be happening outside of Surrender to Madness (where some degree of extremely frenetic button-pressing is no problem).

Elemental Shaman

Sigma

There are various tweaks to the overall pace of Elemental, split between this build and the next build.

–The overall rate of Maelstrom generation is slightly reduced, and Earth Shock damage is increased. We want to give a little more time between when you use an Earth Shock, and when you have to start thinking about the timing of the next one (bearing in mind that Earth Shock’s flexibility means you have to start thinking about that somewhat early in the process). I also want to note that Earth Shock’s visual is still incomplete.
–Mastery: Elemental Overload is back to generating 75% Maelstrom (but total average Maelstrom generation is still lower than before). This lets us slightly reduce the Overload proc chance and help avoid capping and similar issues in the future.
–Echo of the Elements is back to having 2 charges, so that maximum amount of Lava Burst in your rotation with both Elemental Fusion and Echo of the Elements is a little more reasonable. While we’re not tuning damage in detail yet, this will also help keep a good amount of damage in Lava Burst.
–Earthquake Totem’s cost is slightly increased to account for the higher Maelstrom generation of Chain Lightning Overloads. You should still be able to Earthquake very often (roughly every 2 Chain Lightnings) when using Chain Lightning on 5 targets, a little less on 3 targets.
No look at L100 as far as tuning, although it’s not clear Ascendance is a much worse single-target talent than Icefury. There’s a minor change to Liquid Magma Totem to make it more like like live Liquid Magma rather than old Magma Totem (it fires one missile repeatedly that splashes, rather than firing a bunch of simultaneous missiles), but that’s largely cosmetic.

Elemental has other mechanics significantly increasing the value of crit (Elemental Fury, Elemental Focus), so it’s not clear at all that it’s a weak stat. If in fact crit is a fine stat for Elemental despite not improving Lava Burst, that’s actually in a place we like: it’s still useful, despite not having the usual pattern of affecting every spell in the same way.

Build Delays

Zorbrix

Make sure you read the Notes for this build if you haven’t yet!

While we’ve made a lot of progress with Destruction Warlocks we’re still working on finalizing their artifact acquisition scenario, and as such they’re not available in this build.

Realm Maintenance is ongoing but is close to being wrapped up.
7pm PST Update:

We’ve run into a snag with pushing the build out to the battle.net app, which prevents you from downloading the build, which is obviously problematic.

Still investigating, but I don’t have an ETA to provide.

Thanks for being patient.

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