Monday, March 4, 2013

World of Warcraft: Patch 5.1 Overview

The Pandaren Campaign begins! (+ lots of additional notes)
This refers to the war the Alliance and Horde have begun in Pandaria. To begin participating enter the Vale of Eternal Blossoms at level 90, then make your way down to the Krasarang Wilds. After a short quest chain you will have access to dailies for one of two new factions. These are related to advancing the progress of your faction.

While in this hub, you can gain special currency for defeating enemies of the opposite faction (either NPCs or players, with larger rewards for defeating players) that can be used to purchase access to group daily quests and other additional temporary perks for your faction while in the area. This hub also features some PvP objectives which grant your factions even more advantages.

Finally, there are new faction-specific Scenarios that play into the campaign.

I think this is a great addition, especially considering the last equivalent patch, which was 4.1, only added a few dungeons (that were essentially "remakes"). The best part is this is only one of the content additions this patch. There's something for many types of people. Players who like dailies can enjoy questing while players who enjoy PvP can fight against players of the other faction, for instance.
New Item Level Upgrade System!
This was a featured previously mentioned during the beta. A player can upgrade their gear up to 8 item levels using Justice or Valor Points for PvE gear and Honor or Conquest Points for PvP gear. The upgrading can be done at NPCs that reside in the Pandaria town hubs in Vale of Eternal Blossoms.

There's not much to say here. It was a featured that was mentioned awhile ago and now it's in. It's nice to have an additional way to use points when you don't have anything left to spend them on.
Wrathion has taken a keen interest in the events along the coast of the Krasarang Wilds. Those that have aided the Black Prince in the past will now have new quests to complete as they advance Wrathion’s agenda for Pandaria and their own progress toward Legendary power.
This is an extension to the current legendary quest, which gives special gems. This one awards improved gems. I have a feeling this quest chain is going to last until the end of the expansion.
The Brawler's Guild has come to town.
This is the other major new content that features solo PvE encounters for players. This is something similar to what I wanted implemented, which is why I wholly approve of it. I also like the additional elements of the encounters that are manipulated by the crowd, which can consist of players spectating.
Lesser Charms of Good Fortune no longer take up bag space, and are now recorded in the currency tab of the Character Sheet.
This is a great change quality of life change. Considering this item only stacks to 180 and it's easy to accumulate over 1000 of them by doing dailies, it wastes a lot of bag space in short order.
Grand Commendations are now available for purchase from all Mists of Pandaria faction vendors at Revered reputation. Using a Grand Commendation will permanently increase the amount of reputation gained with that faction across all characters on a account.
While at first look this may seem like Blizzard caving in to complaints about reputations being difficult to raise, this is an implementation that is more for players with large amounts of alts to manage. In addition, the reputation you gain from doing dailies is generally very little for the amount of work done. Finally, most reputations need only Revered to get the non-vanity rewards.

Keep in mind you can use these items multiple times, but it only needs to be used once to activate the bonus permanently. Thus, subsequent purchases of the same Grand Commendation are just a waste.

Either way, I strongly support this, though I wish it was possible to track whether these effects are active in-game.
Timezones are now standardized for all North American World of Warcraft realms. Reset times for professions, holiday events, daily quests, etc. now happen at the same time regardless of realm time. Raid and Heroic Dungeon reset times remain unaffected. Read more here.
This is a change in response to issues caused by time-based events and the Cross Realm Zones that came out with an earlier patch. Normalizing when events happen over each region will negate the issue, as the event will happen as the same time for everyone in the region regardless of the actual server time. While this doesn't resolve every issue with Cross Realm Zones (such as the lag when zoning in and out), it's good to see they're devising solutions to existing issues related to this implementation.


The durations of all disarm effects have been reduced to 8 seconds.
I guess this is a step in the right direction. This effectively reduces the duration of disarms to 4 seconds with the weapon chain and the normalized 8 seconds that all other crowd controls and slows have against PvP targets.

However, I feel that disarms should be 4 seconds, removing weapon chains in the process, as it is rather unnecessary. This is because balancing melee/Hunters around their weapon enchants is not only rather poor design (in my opinion), but also makes it extremely inconvenient/suboptimal to use PvP weapons in PvE, despite the fact it's perfectly viable to use PvP equipment in general for PvE content now (i.e. the item level of the PvP gear matches the strength of an equivalent PvE item of the same item level).

Death Knight
Damage received from players (or player-controlled sources) no longer counts towards increasing the healing done by Death Strike.
This is a very obvious PvP nerf for Blood Death Knights. This will probably have the most impact on them in Rated Battlegrounds.

A new passive ability has been added: Tooth and Claw. This ability causes autoattacks to have a chance to empower the Druid's next Maul. Empowered Mauls reduce the damage dealt by the target's next autoattack. Guardian Druids obtain this ability at level 32.
This change seems to be targeted at slightly improving Guardian Druid PvE survivability. Given the chance for this to occur, it seems like it may potentially be a way to add some defensive utility to Maul given how there are also other defensive Rage dumps as well.
The cast time of Symbiosis has been reduced to 2 seconds. (+ other changes)
This is the line from the list of Symbiosis Changes that stuck out the most for me despite the others being more related to balance. I guess I really didn't like the extremely long cast time Symbiosis had. With a 2 second cast time it'll be easier to set up if you want to switch your Symbiosis target, especially given how quick-paced some of the content (mostly Dungeons and Scenarios) are.
  • The Glyph of Solar Beam has been changed, and now increases the radius of Solar Beam to 10 yards (was 5 yards).
  • The duration of Solar Beam has been reduced to 8 seconds.
The nerf to Solar Beam is clearly for PvP. This is largely due to the CC duration normalization, as there's no easy way to do so without nerfing the base duration. Buffing the glyph may be some form of compensation due to this nerf.

These are all buffs to Marksmanship Hunters. I honestly doubt this will bring them into line with the other specializations but it might be better to do incremental buffs this way since the large buffs to Marksmanship they did in early Cataclysm put them close to, if not outright, overpowered. I just hope these incremental buffs actually accomplish the goal of bringing the specialization into balance.
This is a change that follows up on the reversion of Aspects being on the global cooldown last patch. Blizzard stated that was a temporary change and it seems that after some deliberation, they concluded that Aspect dancing is an unnecessary mechanic to deal with and Aspect of the Fox should be removed altogether, allowing full Hunter mobility. This is a very small damage buff overall, though it will make Hunters incredibly mobile without much penalty (even though this was the case prior to this patch as well).

I strongly approve of this change. It's something I've wanted in a long time.
  • Lynx Rush has been changed. Lynx Rush is now a bleed effect that causes damage every 3 seconds over a period of 15 seconds, and stacks up to 9 times.
  • Bestial Wrath no longer grants Hunter pets immunity to crowd control effects, and instead now breaks existing crowd control effects when activated.
These are obvious nerfs to Beast Mastery, primarily in their PvP performance. While Beast Mastery may not be in the best state as a result, I would say these nerfs are justified.

The first nerf to Lynx Rush is justified because it was possible to kill players in moments just by using it with Bestial Wrath (causing the damage to increase immensely). While 15 seconds may be a little long and cause problems with the PvE rotation (due to Readiness), it cuts the burst damage this ability can do. I think the duration could be reduced, however (to 9 seconds, maybe).

The second nerf allows additional counterplay against Hunter pets while their cooldown is active. Hunters will have to use Bestial Wrath more intelligently in order to get the most use out of it. I actually agree with this change, though I wonder if the duration may now get increased since the duration of the ability was originally 18 seconds and was nerfed due to CC-immunity effects.
The Glyph of Icy Solace has been renamed to Glyph of Solace, and now causes both Scattershot and Freezing Trap to remove all damage over time effects from the target.
To be honest this is what the glyph should've done from the beginning. It was kind of dumb to waste two glyph slots to crowd control a target considering both Scatter Shot and Freezing Trap are sometimes used in tandem. Even when crowd controlling multiple targets, it still seemed like the two glyph effects being separated was pointless.

The damage buff from Arcane Charge has been increased from 22% to 25%, and Arcane Blast's mana cost increase when affected by Arcane Charge is now +75% (was +125%).
This is an obvious buff to Arcane. I'm not sure where exactly they stand but hopefully the impact isn't too great.
Rune of Power's duration now shows in the UI, and no longer has a cooldown (was 6 seconds)
While this may seem like a small and meaningless change, the cooldown removal is nice because Mages may need to reposition very frequently. Also it's good to know how long the current Rune(s) of Power have to time when to recast it/them.
  • Ring of Frost now has a 45 second cooldown, up from 30 seconds, and can no longer affect more than 10 targets.
  • The duration of Deep Freeze has been reduced to 4 seconds.
  • Mage Armor now reduces the duration of harmful Magic effects by 25% (down from 35%)
  • The damage absorbed by Ice Barrier has been reduced by 25%.
  • The mana cost of Spellsteal has been increased to 21% of base mana for Fire and Frost mages, up from 7%.
These all share the same trait - they are PvP nerfs. The first two are nerfs to the Mage's ability to control opponents. The Mage Armor nerf is probably because the first one (50% to 35%) is no longer enough (and maybe to allow other armor choices). The Ice Barrier nerf may be for more than just PvP, but while it may need a nerf, a nerf this large may make it close to unusable. The increase in Spellsteal's mana cost may seem a little too extreme. While I understand that the ability is strong, I feel this makes Spellsteal too costly to use in most situations. At least Arcane Mages won't suffer from this nerf.
Frost Bomb will now detonate after 6 seconds (up from 5 seconds). Detonation speed is still affected by haste.
This is a slight nerf to Frost Bomb. It may be to make other talent options more attractive, though it isn't that much of a dps loss. It could also be that it gives healers a larger window of time in which to dispel the effect since the burst damage is high.
Combustion's periodic damage is now based only on the current Ignite, instead of both Ignite and Pyroblast. Damage has been increased to bring it up to approximately the same level as before.
While I appreciate that Combustion is now less reliant on Pyroblast, Pyroblast yields the largest Ignite effects, which kind of makes this close to pointless. It does make Combustion casts without Pyroblast a little more effective, however.
Blazing Speed may now be triggered after recieving damage in any amount.
This change gives the talent more windows of opportunity for usage, making the talent a bit more attractive to take.

These changes are some energy reduction costs to certain abilities. The first two I can immediately understand. Reducing the cost of the Monk's interrupt ability makes sense because it brings it in line with other energy-based interrupts. Reducing the energy costs on the Monk buff spells also makes sense (though I almost think they should be free) because it makes it easier to buff mid-fight without losing too much.

Given I haven't gotten Healing Sphere yet, I can't really make evaluations on the energy cost reduction. However, I don't think it's going to make Monks too strong. It's a nice way to sustain during leveling and gives an option for self healing in end-game content that isn't incredibly costly.
  • All healing spells which cost mana have had their mana cost increased by 10%.
  • The healing provided by Enveloping Mists has been reduced by 32%.
  • The healing provided by the Healing Sphere base spell has been increased by 20%.
  • The healing provided by Chi Burst and Chi Wave has been reduced by 25%.
  • The healing provided when detonating Zen Sphere has been reduced by 25%.
  • The chance to generate 1 Chi while channeling Soothing Mist and Crackling Jade Lightning has increased to 35%, up from 25%.
  • Enveloping Mist is now available at level 16, down from level 34.
  • You now have a chance equal to your crit chance to generate double the amount of Mana Tea charges
  • Renewing Mists now travels to 2 additional targets (was 3 targets).
  • The mana cost of Soothing Mists has been reduced by 33%.
  • Haste for Mistweavers is now 50% more effective through Stance of the Wise Serpent.
This is an absolutely staggering amount of Monk healing changes. It was apparent even from leveling that Mistweaver Monks needed some changes, so it doesn't surprise me that there are so many.

I am assuming the healing mana cost increase doesn't involve Soothing Mists. If so, then it is pretty much justified since Mistweaver efficacy seems a bit high. The mana cost reducton on Soothing Mists makes sense because it is the go-to ability that Mistweaver Monks are supposedly to actively use at almost all times. It makes it easier to synergize with other abilities too.

The healing value reductions, especially for the talents, makes sense since it was really easy to sustain allies with those abilities at very little cost since Chi generation, especially with the Soothing Mist Chi generation chance increase, is pretty quick as a Mistweaver. For instance, Chi Wave can do a lot of burst healing to the tank in a short time because it constantly bounces between an enemy and the tank.

With the Mana Tea change, crit chance may be more valuable as a stat for Mistweavers. It will also help with mana regeneration, especially with the increased mana costs. The increase in Haste's stat weight gives Mistweavers another option for secondary stats to stack.

The Renewing Mists nerf is justified, in my opinion. It was really easy to healing groups of people by just casting Renewing Mists constantly. I suspect you could heal a large portion, if not all of your group, using Uplift because of this.
  • The Power Strikes talent now grants the Power Strikes effect every 20 seconds, which causes the Monk's next attack to generate 1 additional Chi.
  • The Healing Elixirs talent now grants the Healing Elixirs effect every 18 seconds, which causes the next Brew or Tea consumed to heal the Monk for 10% of maximum health.
To be honest I'm not too sure what this change means, considering the talents had these internal cooldowns to begin with, though I think the Healing Elixirs talent got a nerf. (Actually Power Strikes activates off more abilities, so it has more usability in all specializations)

Turn Evil is now effective against Aberrations.
This is a sensible addition, considering Sha are treated as Aberrations.
Hand of Salvation has been changed. This ability now removes all of a target's threat for 10 seconds.
I believe this was one of the old glyph effects. It certainly makes it handier for quickly someone from an angry enemy.
  • Holy Paladin: The 4 piece bonus now reduces Holy Shock's cooldown by 2 seconds, up from 1 second.
  • Retribution Paladin: The 4 piece bonus now reduces Avenging Wrath’s cooldown by 65 seconds, down from 85 seconds.
These seem like tier set bonus readjustments. They probably have some sort of discernible impact on Paladin PvE, (i.e. Holy buff and Retribution nerf), but I don't know enough about their endgame to say much more than that.

Atonement's healing range has been increased to 40 yards, up from 15.
This is an enormous buff to this type of healing. I think it's only fair considering the most unhealthy party member may be a ranged damage dealer.
  • Chakras now persist through death and zoning.
  • Chakra: Chastise now increases the damage dealt by Shadow and Holy spells by 50% (was 15%), and reduces mana costs by 90% (was 75%) while the ability is in effect.
  • Chakra: Serenity now increases single target healing by 25%, up from 15%.
  • Chakra: Sanctuary now increases area healing by 25% up from 15%.
These are some buffs to Chakra for Holy Priests (this seems to be a theme even in this expansion). I particularly like how there's no need to set up Chakra after rezzing or zoning into an instance.
  • Psyfiend's Psychic Terror cast time has been increased to 2 seconds, up from 1.5 seconds.
  • The Psyfiend's health has been reduced to 10% of the controlling Priest's health, down from 30%.
These are some nerfs to the Psyfiend talent. I found it to be rather frustrating to deal with, though I'm not too sure it needed nerfs.
Discipline Priests can once again learn Focused Will. This ability is obtained at level 30.
I'm not sure why they didn't have this already given it was available last expansion (even though I think the passive is kind of strong), but now they do. This will help them a lot in PvP.

The energy cost of Kick has been reduced to 10 (was 15).
This matches with the change to Spear Hand Strike's energy cost. It's probably some form of normalization.
  • Seal Fate will now only be activated by melee combo point generating abilities.
  • Shuriken Toss now deals double damage when used against targets further than 10 yards away.
The first change is a nerf to Shuriken Toss, which is compensated by its buff (or at least I assume it is a buff).
The cooldown of Blind has been reduced to 90 seconds, down from 3 minutes.
I like this change. While it may seem like a huge buff, it's helpful because it allows Rogues to keep their crowd control on PvE targets more often.
Wound Poison now deals 33% more damage.
I personally though the damage dealt by this poison was really low. The buff is pretty much all positive.

All totems are now considered spells, and summoning totems can be prevented by silencing effects. Searing Totem, Magma Totem, and Fire Elemental totems fall into the Fire school, while all other totems fall under the Nature school.
This is a pretty major nerf to Shamans. It seemed like something within the "natural order" for Shamans to be able to use totems while silenced. However, given the fact most totems are now essentially the equivalent of cast utility that other classes bring, it may be fair to allow silences to lock out totems now.


  • Demonic Gateway must now be activated by the player wishing to teleport. This ability can no longer be used in any capital city.
  • A new Minor Glyph has been added: Glyph of Gateway Attunement. This glyph will cause a Warlock's Demonic Gateway to transport them immediately when they step on it.
This patch features some changes to the Warlock's level 87 spell. I can completely understand the first change because it was too easy to mess up an encounter by accidentally walking into a Demonic Gateway. It makes sense that the player has to interact with it to teleport. I prefer the method, though I will miss trolling people with it. The addition of the minor glyph is mostly for the convenience of the Warlock.

As for restricting its usage in capital cities, I'm not exactly sure what prompted that change, nor do I agree with it (unless it caused gamebreaking issues, which I doubt).
I feel this makes the talent a lot more attractive to take. It wasn't really used because the penalty was too harsh (the cast time penalty was 50% while moving).
Banish is now effective against Aberrations.
This is the same deal as the Turn Evil change.
Destruction's AoE gets some love. While the stun portion has been removed, it looks a lot more usable for PvE with these slight tweaks. Because it is instant cast in Destruction, it may even see use on smaller groups of targets as well.
Removed the ranged Melee attack from Demonology Warlocks in Metamorphosis form, and increased the damage of Doom by 25% to compensate.
I kind of liked the autoattack animation in Metamorphosis form. It did add a bit of consistent damage though. With the compensation Demonology DPS shouldn't change too much, however.
Conflagrate now generates Burning Embers.
Another buff to Destruction. To be honest Conflagrate should've generated Burning Embers to begin with though.

Taste for Blood will now stack up to 3 times in PvP. It will continue to stack to 5 in other situations.
Firstly, obligatory video clip. Personally, I don't even think the stacking mechanic should exist (the rest of the passive is fine by comparison). It adds an unnecessarily large amount of burst (even when nerfed down to 3 stacks) and there are other ways to make Arms Warrior damage better without making them have a burst tool, even if it is RNG-reliant.
Avatar no longer grants immunity to movement impairing effects, and instead now instantly breaks movement impairing effects. This ability also no longer generates additional Rage while active. Its duration has increased to 24 seconds (was 20 seconds).
I guess the nerfs are a bit fair. I at least agree with the movement impairment immunity considering 20 seconds of movement impairing immunity gives Warriors too much mobility (which is kind of funny considering how bad it was before Mists of Pandaria came out). The duration increase counterbalancing the additional Rage generation *should* balance each other out (it may even be a net buff).
The cooldown of Intimidating Shout has increased to 90 seconds, up from 60 seconds
I believe the cooldown was 2 minutes prior to the cooldown reduction, so I guess this is some sort of compromise?
The silence provided by Glyph of Gag Order is no longer effective against players.
This is another PvP nerf for Warriors without question.


Spirit of Harmony can now be purchased for 600 Conquest Points at the Conquest Quartermaster.
This seems like a nice way to dump excess Conquest Points. It's a good alternative to relentlessly farming enemies.

Pet Battles

A new item has been introduced that can be used to upgrade the quality of Battle Pets: Battle-stones.
Joking about evolutionary stones from Pokemon aside, this is a feature that gives players the opportunity to improve the quality of their pets to Uncommon (this version can be purchased for Justice Points) or Rare (random drop from pet battles). This is especially good since some pets can only be Uncommon.
Several classic Raid bosses now have a chance to drop new Battle Pets. The new pets can be obtained from bosses in Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, Ahn'Qiraj, and Naxxramas.
This is a nice addition that can motivate people to go back to old raids to get more Battle Pets. You can even get Mr. Bigglesworth!
Abilities that have been used will now continue to cool down for pets when they are not the active pet in a battle.
This is a pretty big change that will alter Pet Battle strategics. Pets that have long cooldown abilities may see a lot more use.
Right clicking a pet's portrait will now offer the option to look it up in the Pet Journal.
It's pretty much like using a Pokedex. In all seriousness this feature is a good way to check if you want the pet (you can look at the movesets, etc).
Battle Pet tooltips will now display whether a pet is owned, and how many pets of that type are owned. 
This is a good way to check if you need a certain Battle Pet.
Pet Quality is now displayed in battles, and will be visible on portraits, names and tooltips.
This change effectively makes addons that checked pet quality obsolete. In this case it's a good thing since the feature should have probably been in the game by default.

Sunsong Ranch (Tillers)
A new Seed has been added: Portal Shards
From what I can tell the portal shards haven't been changed and thus are kind of useless. I wish Blizzard made them a bit more useful (possibly using some of my suggestions).      
Characters who have earned the “Friends on the Farm” achievement will no longer find gifts while harvesting Cooking Ingredient crops – instead, they have a chance to find special seeds such as Magebulb, Enigma Seed, Songbell, and more.
I probably should've mentioned this issue when writing my Tillers suggestions, but I actually didn't know it was possible to get gifts after becoming Best Friends with everyone until I harvested 5 of them in a single day. I'll probably vendor most of the special seeds though (I personally don't think they have a good enough yield to be worth planting).

Raids, Dungeons, and Scenarios
Raid groups are no longer necessary to enter pre-Mists of Pandara raid dungeons. Some bosses that previously required more than one player to defeat are now more easily dealt with by players battling alone...
This is an amazing change that will give players the opportunity to raid without having to go through the hassle of making a raid group. The best part is some encounters that were previously impossible to solo can now be soloed. The Battle Pet drops from old raids goes hand in hand with this. Because of that (and other rare drops that serve as incentives), there will probably be a lot of players doing the older raids.
Cooldown timers greater than 5 minutes will now reset between attempts on Challenge Mode dungeons.
While I personally don't do much Challenge Mode, this change seems to make sense. It'll help people get better times (and I guess it also means no more need to die to remove a Sated debuff or anything silly like that).
New level 90 Scenarios have been added, including additional faction specific Scenarios
There are five new scenarios (3 per faction). Four of them are faction specific while the last one is not. Also, it's worth noting queuing for Random Scenarios awards a bag that can drop item level 476 items (since these new scenarios are more difficult).
Scenarios now include Dungeon Finder queue features, including leaders, backfill, vote to kick, and deserter debuffs. Roles are still not required.
I like this addition. It was annoying to have someone AFK in a scenario and be unable to kick them. While I can typically solo the scenario anyways, it's annoyingly time-consuming.

The growing conflict between the Horde and the Alliance has spilled across the face of Azeroth: level 90 players can now queue for Wintergrasp and Tol Barad via the PvP tab to battle one another in these epic conflicts.
I'm not too sure why this really needed a mention. I guess it was to draw more people into doing these outdoor battlegrounds.
PvP Power will now only increase the healing of dedicated healing specializations, and will now only increase the damage of dedicated damage or tanking specializations.
This seems fair, since hybrid healing classes essentially double dipped from PvP Power. Some other specializations also probably benefited too much as well. On the other side of things, while healers should have some offensive power, allowing it to benefit from PvP Power is another form of double dipping (especially for specializations like Disicpline Priest).
Arena matches now have a 25 minute time limit (was 45 minutes).
This is a good change. I hate arena matches that go on for too long anyways.
Rated Battlegrounds now share the same spell restrictions as Arenas.
I was kind of wondering when this restriction would be put into place, to be honest. Prior to this, certain cooldowns (such as group haste buffs like Bloodlust) were very strong and had some way of determining matches, in my opinion.
The Stranglethorn Vale Fishing Extravaganza has returned every Sunday, but now allows three winners per tournament. It also offers competitors a chance to earn the rewards once offered by the Kalu’ak Fishing Derby.
It's good to see this come back at last (since it got disabled due to Cross Realm Zones). I also like how the Kalu'ak Fishing Derby is gone for good since the winner of that particular contest was greatly determined by RNG.
A cooking profession bag has been added, and can be purchased with Ironpaw Tokens from Nam Ironpaw. 
There are so many cooking profession materials from Pandaria alone. It's great to have this kind of bag at last!
All mineral nodes will now despawn one minute after they are mined, even if items remain in them.
I think this may be some kind of failsafe against players not looting mining nodes (either intentionally or accidentally).

Bug Fixes
Banquet of the Steamer and Great Banquet of the Steamer now correctly provide Intellect to damage based casting classes. Healers will continue to gain Spirit from these foods.
I highlighted this fix in particular because it was the one people tended to talk about the most. This is a pretty good quality of life fix because now everyone will get the right buffs from those feasts.

Final Words

Overall the patch is pretty decent, especially when compared to patch 4.1. While there might be some class balance and quality of life issues about still, patch 5.1 addressed some of them. 

Incidentally, some changes were not mentioned in the patch notes. For instance, one change that was missed was the physics engine got changed (I have no idea whether it was intended or not).

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