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Blizzard at GamesCom 2011, Upcoming Tournaments

Quote from: eSports Team



Various competition organizers hold regular online tournaments in which you can compete against other players and maybe even win some prizes! Most of these contests are open to everyone. In addition, there are professional tournaments taking place like the HomeStoryCup #3, GomTV's GSTL Season 1 and GomTV's GSL July which you can follow via video stream. Interested? Take a look at some of the open tournaments coming up in the next days - you can sign up to take part, or simply watch the live streams to get inspired by the players. It’s your turn now!

Date Name Format Prize Money Stream Sign Up
March - June ESL Pro Series France 10 1v1 5,000 € Yes Invite only
April - June ESL Pro Series Poland 2 1v1 3,200 PLN Yes Invite only
May - June ESL Pro Series Spain 7 1v1 900 € (Qualifier) No Yes
June - October GomTV's GSTL Season 1 1v1 50,000,000 ₩ Yes Invite only
June - July GomTV's GSL July 1v1 132,000,000 ₩ Yes Closed
June 23 - 26 HomeStoryCup #3 1v1 5000 € Yes Yes
June 25 - 29 sc2ro Romanian League 1v1 1000 € Yes Closed
June 25

EU.CraftCup #38

1v1 50 $ Yes Yes
June 25 ZOTAC StarCraft II NA Cup #7 1v1 100 $ Yes Yes
June 26 eOSL Summer '11 - Grand Final 1v1 2000 € Yes Closed
June 26 ESL Go4SC2 #116 1v1 200 € Yes Yes
June 26 ZOTAC StarCraft II EU Cup #62 1v1 100 € Yes Yes
June 27

GIGABYTE StarCraft II Cup #3

1v1 150 € Yes Yes
June 27 4Players Team Action #54 2v2 50 € Yes Yes
June 27 GameCreds Cup #20 1v1 100 € Yes Yes
June 27 Competo Cup 1v1 50 € + Hardware Yes Yes
June 28 GamePlay Cash Tournament #1 1v1 100 € Yes Yes
June 29 ESL Go4SC2 #117 1v1 Qualifier Yes Yes
June 30 ESL Go4SC2 Premium Qualifier 1v1 Qualifier No Yes
June 30 4Players Close Combat #55 1v1 200 € Yes Yes



Blizzard Entertainment is delighted to confirm our presence at gamescom 2011 where you’ll be treated to a wide range of activities and entertainment. Watch StarCraft II eSports showmatches, witness the precision of top guilds in live World of Warcraft raids, catch up on the latest company news and partake in our famous dance and costume competitions – polish those routines and get stitching now!

All of this will be happening from August 17 to 21 at the Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany, and you’ll be able to locate the Blizzard Entertainment booth in Halle 6 (B21 & B1). To find out more about the show and how to get there, visit the official site!

4.2 Preview – The Dungeon Journal

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment (Source)

In patch 4.2, Rage of the Firelands, we'll be introducing the Dungeon Journal, a new system that players can use to learn more about specific dungeons, the bosses within those dungeons, their abilities, and the rewards they offer.

While in a dungeon, hitting "M" (the default key for Map) will open the Dungeon Journal. A new button will also be available in the navigation tray, so that the Dungeon Journal can be accessed from anywhere in-game. There won’t be any "gating" or limitations placed on what content a player can see in the Dungeon Journal. All boss/dungeon/raid information will be available to all players regardless of level, gear, or content experience.

The dungeon/raid map will display each boss in their respective locations, marked by unique icons.

Players can access boss information by clicking on boss icons on the map, or by clicking on the boss’s name in the associated tab of the dungeon/raid map page. General loot information for the dungeon/raid can also be accessed from the dungeon/raid main page by clicking on the Loot tab. This will show all loot dropped (from bosses and trash) in the instance, of a certain quality.

Boss abilities will be available via the boss’s page, either by clicking on the map or by going through the Dungeon tab. The Dungeon tab on the boss’s page will list out all major spells, abilities, and phases for that encounter.

Players will be able to glean useful insight into the mechanics of boss encounters by first reading the Dungeon Journal. Our goal is to give a solid foundation for taking on the boss, a general sense of how the encounter will play out, and some context to the abilities, without taking the place of creating independent strategies.

In patch 4.2, you’ll be able to use the Dungeon Journal to help conquer every dungeon and raid that was introduced with World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, including those in Firelands. We want the Dungeon Journal to include as many dungeons, bosses, and encounters as possible, and we hope to add more in the future. Have fun storming the castle!

Ask Creative Development – Druga runda odgovora

 
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment (Source)
The moon recently sent some irate emails to our Creative Development team, threatening to vacate Earth's orbit if we didn't divulge the answers to the "Ask CDev #2" thread soon. Rather than calling the moon's bluff, the CDev team stepped up its timetable and is now ready to present the answers to your questions!
 
In an effort to efficiently disseminate as much information as possible, many of these questions are amalgamations of several slight variations asked by the US, EU, Korean, and Chinese player bases. In addition, a few unanswered questions from "Ask CDev #1" are included as well. Enjoy!
 
Q: Are the Warcraft and World of Warcraft RPG books considered canon?
 
A: No. The RPG books were created to provide an engaging table-top role-playing experience, which sometimes required diverging from the established video game canon. Blizzard helped generate a great deal of the content within the RPG books, so there will be times when ideas from the RPG will make their way into the game and official lore, but you are much better off considering the RPG books non-canonical unless otherwise stated.
 
Q: Where is X? (X = Calia Menethil, Turalyon, Alleria Windrunner, Med'an, Gallywix, etc.)
 
A: There are several "missing" characters in the Warcraft universe, but they are not forgotten! While we'd love to talk about these characters, doing so would spoil a number of the plots we have for Cataclysm and beyond. Believe us when we say that you will definitely hear about these characters when we're ready to talk about them!
 
Q: Why isn't there a(n) X Archaeology branch? (X = Tauren, Aqir, Faceless One, Furbolg, Murloc, etc.)
 
A: This is more of a game design question than a CDev one, but it was asked enough that we wanted to at least point out the following: just because a race doesn't have an Archaeology branch now doesn't mean there aren't artifacts for that race, nor does it mean that the race isn't a candidate for possible future additions to the profession.
 
Q: Have we seen a true titan yet in World of Warcraft?
 
A: No, only their creations.
 
Q: Are night elves related to trolls in some way?
 
A: See issue #5 of the World of Warcraft Official Magazine!
 
Q: What is the relationship between the Ancients of the Emerald Dream and the loa?
 
A: Troll druids visiting the Moonglade have been overheard calling the wisps who reside there loa, just as they refer to Goldrinn, Aviana, and the other returned Ancients as loa. Night elves and tauren have tried to counsel these trolls on "correct" druidic nomenclature, but the trolls thus far have been stuck in their ways.
 
Q: If trolls are able to regenerate their limbs, why didn't Zul'jin's arm grow back?
 
A: For the most part, it is the speed at which trolls regenerate that makes them formidable foes. When in balance with the loa of their tribe, they are also able to regrow digits (fingers and toes). Tales abound in troll culture, however, of those blessed by the loa with extraordinary regenerative abilities, such as the ability to regrow limbs and even vital organs lost in battle. The tale of Vula'jin the Void speaks of how he regrew almost his entire body after standing in a pool of shadowflame. But just as the loa can bless, they can also curse; troll children are taught legends of those cursed by the loa, unable to heal even flesh wounds, to instill the proper respect for their patron spirits.
 
Q: What races were on Azeroth before the coming of the titans?
 
A: Besides the elementals, the only known sentient races on Azeroth when the titans' forces arrived to subdue the Old Gods were the trolls, the race known as "faceless ones," and the aqir. Due to the Old Gods' war against the titans, as well as the extensive terraforming that followed the war's conclusion, records of what races existed before even the Old Gods' arrival have likely been lost forever.
 
Q: What contact, if any, have the tol'vir in Uldum had with the rest of Azeroth over the course of their existence?
 
A: Although the systems keeping Uldum hidden from the rest of the world worked flawlessly from the ordering of Azeroth up until the Cataclysm, the tol'vir inside did have some knowledge of what was going on outside their home: many of the titans' security devices in Uldum were in communication with the other titanic cities (Ulduar, Uldaman, etc.). The Halls of Origination were actually the system that Algalon the Observer intended to activate upon his arrival in Ulduar… which the players prevented from automatically triggering when they sent the "Reply-Code Alpha" signal from Dalaran. Q: The "There must always be a Lich King" mantra seemed awfully suspicious, coming from ghosts trapped in Frostmourne. Was there something else going on there?
 
A: To save people from generating elaborate conspiracy theories, we'll be serious for a moment and say, definitively, no. The ghosts of Uther and Terenas understood that the Scourge would run rampant without someone to keep them in check. Yes, that does also mean that Arthas and Ner'zhul were not unleashing the full force of the Scourge during their respective reigns: you are welcome to speculate on the reasons for that.
 
Q: What is the Argent Crusade's relationship with the Forsaken, in light of Sylvanas's recent actions?
 
A: Although the members of the Argent Crusade still stand by the Forsaken heroes who joined them in the battle against the Scourge, Sylvanas's actions since the slaying of Arthas have deeply concerned the crusaders. They, along with certain members of the Ebon Blade, are now watching Sylvanas and the Forsaken very closely, as similarities between her and the Lich King are increasing in number by the day.
 
Q: The Forsaken don't have a harbor or any dry docks: how do they create their ships?
 
A: The Forsaken navy is composed of ships dredged up from the bottom of the ocean. Most of them were once among Lordaeron's fleets.
 
Q: When undead use or are healed by the Holy Light, does it cause them any actual damage or harm, or does it only cause them pain (in addition to the intended effects of the spell)?
 
A: Channeling the Light in any way, or receiving healing from the Light, only causes pain. Forsaken priests do not disintegrate or explode from channeling the Light for an extended period of time… though they may wish they would.
 
Q: Are there long-term effects on an undead who is in regular contact with the Holy Light in a positive way?
 
A: It is difficult to say, as there are no known records of undead wielding the Holy Light before the Third War. There are reports, however, that some Forsaken have slowly experienced a sharpening of their dulled senses of touch, smell, etc., as well as an increase in the flashes of positive emotions that have otherwise become so rare since their fall into undeath. Unfortunately, this may be the cause of the Forsaken priesthood's increased attempts at self-destruction; regaining these senses would force the priests to smell their own rotting flesh, taste the decay in their mouths and throats, and even feel the maggots burrowing within their bodies.
 
Q: Why are humans who drink the blood of worgen unable to be raised as Forsaken?
 
A: Not only are the Val'kyr less powerful than the Lich King when it comes to raising the undead, but the worgen curse also makes raising them into undeath far more difficult than it is for normal humans. The worgen curse has roots in both the Emerald Dream (through the wolf Ancient, Goldrinn) and the holy power of the goddess Elune. In addition, those worgen who imbibe the waters of Tal'doren—through the ritual they undergo to maintain balance between the worgen curse and their humanity—have a further resistance to the corruption of undeath.
 
Q: Are blood elf death knights still afflicted by their racial addiction to magic?
 
A: No, though their new addiction, the one all Ebon Blade death knights possess, is arguably worse: the need to inflict pain. If death knights do not regularly inflict agony upon another creature, they begin to suffer wracking pains that could drive them into a mindless, blood-seeking hysteria—a far worse fate than that of those who suffer from arcane withdrawal.
 
Q: What has become of the blood elf Spellbreakers?
 
A: While they were already few in number to begin with, the ranks of this formidable fighting force were thinned drastically when their headquarters on the Isle of Quel'Danas was overwhelmed by Kael'thas and his Burning Legion forces. The lone squad that remains now exists as a relic of a bygone era, as the Spellbreakers have refrained from training any new recruits since Kael'thas's betrayal.
 
Q: How have the blood elves reacted to the Highborne's return to night elf society, heralding the return of kaldorei magi?
 
A: Because their expulsion from night elf society after the War of the Ancients was due to their use of arcane magic, the blood elves were outraged to hear that the kaldorei had welcomed the Highborne back and were tolerating the practice of arcane magic again. After witnessing the "rookie" mistakes made by the new kaldorei magi, however, the blood elves are anxiously awaiting whatever mess the kaldorei are going to put themselves in. What's more, some sin'dorei have been able to exploit the kaldorei's inexperience in order to rout Alliance forces, as seen in the "Amberwind's Journal" quest series in Azshara.
 
Q: Why do blood elves still have green eyes?
 
A: Corruption from fel energies takes a long time to wear off. It's why most orcs are still green even though Mannoroth is dead.
 
Q: How did Sinestra survive the events of Night of the Dragon?
 
A: For all intents and purposes, she didn't; when players encounter Sinestra in the Bastion of Twilight raid, she is a husk of her former self, pieced together and reanimated by the powers of Deathwing's Old God master.
 
Q: What are the origins of stone and storm drakes?
 
A: Brann Bronzebeard recently uncovered evidence, corroborated by reports from adventurers in Deepholm, that proto-dragons and dragons may have origins in these—and other—elemental drakes. The inhabitants of Deepholm, the Skywall, the Firelands, and the Abyssal Maw are less than talkative on these matters, however, and most of them were not around when the elemental prisons were created.
 
Q: Were there ever different elemental lords before the current four?
 
A: Ragnaros, Al'Akir, Therazane, and Neptulon are the only elemental rulers Azeroth has had in its existence. What this will mean for the elements of fire and air with the deaths of their elemental lords is unknown, but it most certainly is not good.
 
Q: Why do Kvaldir disintegrate into seaweed when they die?
 
A: The Kvaldir typically reside deep in the ocean, where their corporeal forms would be crushed if their mistweaving magics didn't hold off the ravages of the depths. Although they remain flesh and blood in life, their deaths result in a backlash of mistweaving energies, dissolving the Kvaldir into mist over time. All that remains are patches of sea growth that had accumulated on their bodies and, of course, any loot they were carrying.
 
Q: Why are gnomes suddenly interested in the Light?
 
A: The gnomes have had an interest in the Light since they joined the Alliance, but they were so focused on technology and, later, the retaking of Gnomeregan that studying the Light didn't feel necessary to them; the dwarven priests and paladins of Ironforge served as the only connection to the Light they needed. Now that the gnomes have reclaimed a foothold in Gnomeregan and begun rebuilding their culture outside of Ironforge, however, they've recognized the importance of having followers of the Light in their own ranks. In addition, researching new methods of purifying irradiated gnomes has led to radical advances in Light-based technology!
 
Q: Does the Wildhammer area that was called Northeron appear in WoW?
 
A: Prior to the Cataclysm, the northernmost part of the Twilight Highlands was called Northeron. The rapid melting of its famed icy cliffs due to the catastrophic climate shift from the Cataclysm, the incursion of Twilight's Hammer forces, and the appearance of the creature known as Iso'rath all served to put an end to Northeron and many of the independent dwarves who lived there. Some of the wreckage is still visible along the northern coast. Fortunately, the nearby spiritual center of Kirthaven remains intact.
 
Q: Is Elune a naaru?
 
A: During a recent visit to Darnassus by Velen, he explained that the kaldorei's description of Elune, as well as the demonstrated powers of the goddess, matched his experiences with powerful naaru. He began to offer advice regarding how to commune with powerful naaru, but Tyrande thanked him for his opinion, then cordially requested that he refrain from making such outlandish claims when in Darnassus or in the presence of Elune's priesthood.

2011 European Battle.net Invitational!




Are you ready to watch your favorite StarCraft II and World of Warcraft players fight for fame and fortune?

Blizzard Entertainment is pleased to announce the 2011 European Battle.net Invitational. The top StarCraft II players and World of Warcraft 3v3 Arena teams will be invited to battle it out this summer to earn a berth at the 2011 Global Battle.net Invitational at BlizzCon.

Stay tuned for more information.

2011 Arena Pass: Community Challenge Coming to an End

Community Challenge se danas zvanično završio. WoW Serbia se na ovom takmičenju nalazi na petom mestu, što je veliki uspeh, zbog jake konkurencije koju smo imali (medju njima Manaflask - Ex Ensidia Guild i Paragon). Možda jedno najveće zadovoljstvo mi je što smo uspeli da budemo bulji od Paragona.
Community Challenge je stvarno predstavljao veliku strast, živahne i kreativne WoW evropske zajednice. Lično sam najviše uživao dok sam igrao arenu, sa Sarmom i Killygorom, kojima se zahvaljujem na pomoći, mislim da se moj duh zabave video kroz video zapis i našim komentara. Slede zvanične vesti za WoW EU sajta. Hvala svima koji su nas podržali u ovom jednom interesantnom takmičenju izmedju evropskih fansajtova.
 
 
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment (Source)

After several weeks of hectic activity, the Community Challenge is coming to an end. Thanks to all the participants and their fantastic contributions, we’ve seen tons of great screenshots, podcasts, videos and much more. We hope you enjoyed it!

But let’s not finish up without first congratulating the winner of Screenshot Challenge #4: Manaflask!

Also, we’ve had to make a tough decision and reward one of the many great contributions we’ve seen this week with the “Editor’s Choice” achievement. It wasn’t easy, but in the end we picked this interview from Manaflask as the winning entry. Great job!

Furthermore, huge congratulations to the overall winner of the 2011 Arena Pass Community Challenge: Manaflask! We’d like to thank them for their tremendous dedication to the competition and the phenomenal coverage they have provided their community.

Also worthy of mentions are Battlecraft, WoWsfera, Worldofwar.de and WoWFan who finished in 2nd, 3rd and 4th positions respectively. Well done!

This Community Challenge truly shows how passionate, lively and creative the European World of Warcraft community is, as we’ve had participants from so many countries across the region.

We hope you had as much fun following the coverage as we did, and we’d like to thank everyone for participating and voting for their favourites!

There’s no better way we can think of to wrap up this Community Challenge than with some of the best contributions we’ve seen this year.

Shall We Play a “War” Game?

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Source)
Last December we introduced a new feature to World of Warcraft called War Games. This feature would provide players with the opportunity to face off in battles of epic proportions for fun and bragging rights. Arena teams and Battleground teams could meet up, pick their field of battle, and go toe-to-toe to hone their skills, see who was king (or queen) of the hill, and settle a score or two. While this was an exciting new feature, starting a War Game wasn’t as visible or easily accessible as we had wanted it to be. To address this issue, patch 4.2 implements a new interface option within the Player vs. Player (H) tab that makes it easier than ever to call out friend or foe for a face-off.



To answer your burning questions, we’ve updated the FAQ below.

Q: What's a War Game?
A: A War Game is an unranked match in which one group of players challenges another group to an Arena or Battleground skirmish in a setting of their choosing. The leader of the group will be able to initiate a War Game by opening the Player vs. Player window (H) as explained below.

Q: How does it work?
A: After you've formed your group (a minimum number of party members is needed depending on the Battleground or Arena chosen), open the Player vs. Player window (H), and select the War Games tab. To start a War Game you must be the party leader, select a Battleground or Arena, target an opposing party leader, and click the Start War Game button.

The other party leader will receive a pop-up notice stating " has challenged you to a War Game in the ."

The challenged party leader then has a little over a minute to accept the challenge. Once he or she accepts, each group will be placed in the queue and will receive a pop-up window prompting them to enter the skirmish once it's ready.

Q: Can I play War Game skirmishes against members of my own faction?
A: Yes! The War Game skirmish system allows you to challenge players in your same faction to Arena and Battleground matches. You can also challenge those of the opposite faction.

Q: What Battlegrounds and Arenas are available to play?
A: Players can choose from the drop-down menu the following Battlegrounds and Arenas to play in:
  • Battlegrounds
    • 10v10 (minimum 5v5)
      • Warsong Gulch
      • Twin Peaks
      • Battle for Gilneas
      • (Rated)Eye of the Storm
    • 15v15 (minimum 8v8)
      • Arathi Basin
      • Eye of the Storm
      • Strand of the Ancients
    • 40v40 (minimum 10v10)
      • Alterac Valley
      • Isle of Conquest
      • Random Battleground
  • Arenas (2v2,3v3,5v5, minimum 2v2)
    • Nagrand Arena
    • Blade’s Edge Arena
    • Ruins of Lordaeron
    • Dalaran Sewers
    • The Ring of Valor
    • All Arenas

Q: Can I challenge a team from another realm to a skirmish?
A: No, you can only challenge opponents on your own realm.

Q: Can I start a game if one team has fewer group members than the other?
A: You are able to create a Battleground War Game with uneven team sizes, but you are not able to create an Arena War Game with uneven team sizes. For example, an 8v5 Warsong Gulch War Game is possible, but launching an Arena War Game with uneven team sizes won't work.

Q: What's the largest possible size for a War Game?
A: Arena War Games can support up to 5v5 matches. Battleground group sizes are limited to the maximum number of participants each map normally allows.

Q: Are any statistics recorded from War Game skirmishes?
A: No, they work similarly to the old Arena skirmish system. Kills, damage, and healing are tracked and displayed at the end of the match, but wins and losses are not.

Q: How long does it take for a War Game match to start?
A: Once the challenge has been accepted, you will generally be through the queue in less than 30 seconds. War Games offer you a quick way to get into practice matches with other teams, test out potential recruits, or just have fun with your friends.

Q: Can I receive achievements or guild experience in a War Game?
A: Because you can pick who you play against, nothing is awarded for playing in these skirmishes -- except for the rush that comes with a hard-won victory, of course.

Q: Do I get honor for killing players in a War Game Battleground?
A: No. These are skirmish matches, so no honor is awarded for objectives or kills.

Q: Why have you added this feature?
A: Players have long been asking for a way to challenge specific teams, guildmates, friends, and rivals to skirmish matches in Arenas and Battlegrounds of their choosing. We hope you enjoy this new feature, and we look forward to seeing you on the battlefield!

Dnevne Blue Teme

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Justifying Class Changes (Source)
The blog seemed to be popular, and even players who disagreed with their being nerfed seemed to appreciate the fact that we tried to give some insight into what we were thinking. GC and the his crew are going to try to keep making similar blogs for every patch. I think it was one of the more positively received blogs in long while.

Offering a lot of justification for changes early on a patch though is challenging for a number of reasons. First is that patch builds are often just snapshots of the data at any given time. We wait until everything is near perfect for actual releases (as far as you can ever do with as complex a game as this), but when we are in PTR mode the devs are trying to get builds out quickly. That means you'll often see a change that was half-implemented or something that a designer was messing around with. There often isn't justification for those type of changes -- it could just be trying to fix a bug or seeing how something feels with a slight redesign. Second, it takes a lot of time to justify those changes and designers are often really busy implementing the actual changes at that stage in the beta. When the changes are not even necessarily 'real' changes, justifying what might not stick probably isn't a great use of time.

Finally, we greatly appreciate feedback from the community and it can have a big influence on our game design, but at the same time we want to avoid the perception that the players are collaborating on with us on designing the game. It's tricky to manage expectations in that way, but if we lead players to believe they have more influence on design decisions than they actually do, then there's a lot of undue frustrated and dismay when we don't make a change that some may really wants us to make. Being able to take player feedback while making sure they don't expect that feedback to be implemented as-is can be a tough balancing act, but is still a necessary one.

Death Knight
Trading higher risk for higher return (Source)
In general we like designs like this a lot. The challenge is that WoW is a game where you are tanking for a group, so there is a substantial social dynamic at play. We don't want things to play out is like this: "Oh, look, our DK tank has the easy mode Death Strike talent. Ergo, he's a bad tank. Let's kick him and get a good one."

Never mind that the DK in question probably tanks better with the "automatic" Death Strike rather than fumbling through the "manual" one. Never mind that the difference between the two is probably not going to make the difference between success or failure unless you are on Heroic raids (in which case why on earth do you have a pug tank?)

Obviously we shouldn't design around misinformation. But at the same time, social pressure is really powerful. If the active / harder-to-use / more pro mode of Death Strike becomes the only acceptable standard, then we haven't accomplished anything but complicate the game.

It's something to think about at least. ;)

Paladin
Holy Paladins (Source)
Here are developer thoughts on a few Holy paladin-related issues from this and related threads:

Mana -- we still think the 4.2 changes are necessary. Many of you disagree. We're not sure we can resolve the disagreement without all of us (players and developers) sitting around a table going over a lot of raid parses, which obviously isn't very realistic. We don't want to shut down the conversation completely, but at the same time, this is a topic we have spent a lot of time on internally, and we still like the 4.2 changes. If you're right and we overcompensated, then we'll admit we were wrong and make changes. We don't think that will happen though. We think Holy paladins will remain awesome healers.

Beacon of Light -- Ideally the way we want it to play out is that you are healing non-Beacon targets (i.e. using the transfer) most of the time. However, sometimes that 50% healing transfer isn't sufficient and you have to actually heal the Beacon target directly. Yes that is less efficient, but there is no point worrying about efficiency when your tank is dead. (If you can't sometimes heal your Beacon target directly without having severe mana problems, then you probably need to gear up more for the content you're attempting.) Tower of Radiance was designed as consolation for healing the Beacon target. It was a better talent when it affected Holy Light, but unfortunately it was so good that the default behavior became only healing the Beacon target. That's not what we want either.

Light of Dawn -- like many AE spells, Light of Dawn doesn't scale well from 5-player dungeons (or even 3-player Arena teams) up to 25-player raids. Maybe the solution in the future is to somehow have the spells themselves scale with group size, but in the mean time we made 4.2 changes to get players in larger raids to use Word of Glory a little more often. Light of Dawn will still gets tons of use in big raids, and we're fine with that.

Holy Radiance -- this spells hasn't played out as we hoped. The initial design was that the paladin would heal targets around him, perhaps relying on the Speed of Light sprint to get to clumped, wounded targets, or even try healing in melee on occasion. We solved initial usability problems by just buffing the heal over and over, especially the range, such that the position of the paladin in the group is almost irrelevant now. Yet because it maintains an instant cast, there isn't a lot of interesting gameplay around Holy Radiance. It would probably work better as a cast time heal with no cooldown, so that you had the choice of using it or a single-target heal in the same way a shaman chooses Chain Heal when appropriate. Ultimately this might allow paladins to feel like they could be assigned to AE healing. That's a big redesign, but something we're considering.

Holy Shield Redesign / Protection Paladins (Source)
On the topic of who wanted this change, we’re just in a better position than players to get a sense for what a wide variety of paladins are asking for across the world. Players are most familiar with what their friends on their own realm are thinking, or what they read on the forums they frequent. Those are typically fairly small sample sizes. And I don't mean that as a slight against anyone in this thread who disagrees with our decisions. It's just the nature of the way in which data can be collected.

The more salient point though is that this isn’t a decision-making process that is heavily influenced by polling. The change made was a suggestion we saw several times, considered, and decided we agreed with. We know there are players who disagree with the decision, which to be fair, is the outcome of every single design decision we make. We think the most fair point is that some tanks already have enough going on, and as we suggested in the recent Blood DK discussion, we’re considering options to let players opt out of complexity at their discretion.

As far as Protection paladin mastery goes, one solution we like, as we alluded to before, is to split Protection’s mastery into multiple components so that hitting the “hard cap” is less of a hard cap. There are two problems with this design. First, it would feel a lot like the warrior mastery, and we know some of you want to be less like warriors, not more. Secondly, it would be a huge nerf to Protection survival overall. We could compensate for it elsewhere, but you will see a lot of players upset about the nerf -- players who liked stacking mastery to the cap and then being able to focus on other stats. We looked a lot at the paladin gear for Firelands and concluded that while it will be easier to max out mastery, there won’t be so much of it that paladins get frustrated when mastery gear drops. It might let them swap out a few other pieces or use fewer gems. We could have the problem again in the next raiding tier, but we have ample time to consider our options before that time.

This sort of leaves me with one question. Are you guys okay with Paladins block capping? You guys tend to bounce between the two ideas of "we are okay with it" and "we don't want it."
At the 10,000 foot view, it's not ideal. But it doesn't cause so many problems, balance or otherwise, that it was worth the potential fallout from a change. Even if we make a change that we think is for the better, it's still a change that requires some amount of relearning on the part of the player base, so we try and pick our battles.

Rogue
Rogues popularity
(Source)
This is a topic we discuss a lot. We don't believe it has anything to do with game balance though. Rogues were also less popular than other classes at times when they consistently topped damage meters and dominated PvP. This isn't a trend that seems to rise and fall with current game balance. Overall, we've never seen a strong correlation between which class is considered overpowered and what players are playing. (Note: This is true overall, but if you move to smaller and smaller sample sizes, perhaps Arena teams above or below a certain rating threshold or raids above or below a certain level of progress, then you can see some correlations between power--real or perceived--and popularity.)

We do know that a lot of rogues appeared to reroll DK, at least when the class was first introduced. We also think rogues were more popular back in the day before flying mounts and instance-teleportation, where ganking someone out in the wilderness was more common. We saw a surge in the popularity of hybrid classes, especially druids and paladins, as running heroic dungeons became something nearly every player did instead of a more dedicated minority.

It's possible that some rogue mechanics aren't as fun as they could be. This is a really subjective issue though, and it's trivial to find members of every class and spec declaring that their character is clunky and ill-conceived while some other class or spec appears sleek and shiny. We made some changes (i.e. stealth movement speed) to try and make some of the rogue mechanics more fun and this is the kind of thing we'll continue to keep an eye on.

Plenty of players love rogues though. We don't want to give the perception that the class is dying or anything like that. It's just less commonly played than say paladin, which is probably why you see so many paladin-related threads on all three forums.
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