On the Subject of Legendary Abilities

A little while ago I brought up the awesomeness of the proposed Hunter Stampede ability in Mists of Pandaria. An ability that would unleash all five of my pets on the enemy at once? Really? Holy crap!

I asked for your ideas on something equally as awesome for all classes.

Giltharak made a comment there that actually came pretty close to what Blizzard is reportedly doing.

Oh wait, I didn’t say what I’m talking about yet.

MMO Champion just published this;

From the new Mists of Pandaria Talent Calculator


Incarnation – Several changes, now reads: Activates a superior shapeshifting form appropriate to your specialization for 30 sec. You may freely shapeshift in and out of this form for its duration.

Balance: Chosen of Elune
Improved Moonkin Form that also halves Lunar and Solar Power generation while in an Eclipse, and doubles it while not in an Eclipse.

Feral: King of the Jungle
Improved Cat Form that allows the use of all abilities which normally require stealth, and allows use of Prowl while in combat.

Guardian: Son of Ursoc
Improved Bear Form that reduces the cooldown on all melee abilities to 1.5 sec.

Restoration: Tree of Life
Tree of Life Form that increases healing done by 15%, increases armor by 120%, and enhances Lifebloom, Wild Growth, Regrowth, Entangling Roots, and Wrath spellcasts.


Is that bloody well epic or what?

No no no, I’m not talking about the actual abilities themselves, who knows what those might actually end up as after months of tweaking.

No, I mean that the ability will give us superior forms for all specs!

I know that it could be easy to interpret that to think we might be gettting all new forms for the activation. If you stop to think about how many variables and options to customize we have with our forms now, and also to take into account that every race has different versions of the forms, I think that is highly unlikely.

But even so, I can easily see this to mean that when we activate our Incarnation, we grow larger in size and assume a full-body-aura spell effect of some type.

I could also see them making one new legendary version of each form, much like the Fandral Staghelm flamecat from the staff, and then applying that as the ‘superior’ form look.

Whatever they do, I am sooo looking forward to this!

Why? Dear lord, why when it is so far out?

I love the idea of taking the core of what a class is, and enhancing that.

I love that they are taking into account that Druids love all their different playstyles, and are giving all of us something new that will be equally cool for all of us.

Nobody is getting a rock.

Isn’t that a nice way to start the morning?

This be some crazy sh*t, mon

Here at BBB Worldwide Amalgamated (or is that Wordwise Propagated?) we have a tradition of initially ignoring most BlizzCon buzz, then following up later with a call for calmness.

This time I was sure I could break the chain. I hate being predictable.

For the most part I eschew discussing the meatier news that comes out of a ‘con, because I know that by the time an actual PTR hits the potential delicious entree of awesome will turn into a bland tidbit of taste, if it doesn’t evaporate entirely like dry ice first.

This time I knew that people wouldn’t rise to the usual bait of BlizzCons past, getting frenzied from speculation and building castles made of sand from the cool-sounding ideas that were tossed out off the cuff.

I had faith in the cynicism of my peers in WoWland. Wiser heads shall prevail.

Time to throw that caber by the wayside, because they just keep pushing and pushing this one potential piece of kickass thought out in Blue posts, and I’m seeing excitement ramping up fast. Cool your jets.

From this Blue post by Kaivax;

Here is a Ghostcrawler quote for you —

“One of the potential ideas we’re considering for a new hunter ability is one where they send all 5 of their current pets to attack, for a short period of time, on a long cooldown. No guarantees that we’ll go with it, but we’re at least considering something like that.”

Um, what? Okay, am I awake? Or did I dream reading that just now? They don’t honestly expect me to believe they would really do that, right?

Further comments from Kaivax keep appearing, fanning the idea as though this were really under consideration.

We’re talking about something that is completely hypothetical, so anything is possible.

I personally would want the ability to call the five pets that I actually have on hand at the time, since that would give me control over what everyone sees when I send out the stampede.

Furthermore, it makes a lot of sense for the spell effects to not vary much from hunter to hunter, so special abilities would be right out, *but* I wouldn’t mind seeing the pets going through their best motions.

Okay, Hunters? All of you but most especially Beastmasters that are following this and saying “Oh please oh please oh please?!?”

Take a deep breath.

Is it an idea worthy of excitement? Yes, of course it is, because it fires the imagination. If you dwell on the potential of Stampede as described and as hoped by Kaivax, if you start thinking about what pets you’d want in your stable to be called out by the spell, say a pack of five wolves, or a pride of powerful pussycats, or a who’s who of various T-rexes, or even one of every kind of spirit beast, why you can just go on like this for days.

That is exactly what makes a spell like Stampede the msot dangerous in terms of unwonted enthusiasm. The base idea allows for us to take it and run with it, getting all excited as we mentally explore the possibilities for us to make it our own within their framework.

Let me remind you of another BlizzCon, and another concept tossed out that fired our imagination.

Titan’s Grip.

They just tossed out this idea, Warriors could dual wield TWO HANDED WEAPONS as their max class talent. Isn’t that awesome? And now moving on to other boring things as though we never said that…

Credit to Blizzard, in the end they went through with Titan’s Grip. We can dual wield two handers. And yes, I did originally level my Warrior as Fury simply because of my enthusiasm inspired by that idea.

But what really happened?

When it was first implemented, it was just as incredibly OP as we all expected. It was amazing. And if you’re badass enough to dual wield two-handed weapons while Whirlwinding, shouldn’t you expect it to be?

But what happened next?


Which meant, after unleashing the full might of Titan’s Grip on the PTR, came the inevitable reigning it in and bringing it in line so as not to be too OP in overall DPS compared to other classes, who didn’t all get the same level of awesome.

They built in a big miss percentage, then brought it back down. Then they just nerfed overall damage output by 10%, then brought that back up.

The point to carry away from Titan’s Grip from first mention to final iteration, is that YES, we did get Titan’s Grip, BUT don’t go into it imagining that the pony or moose you thought you were promised will be what you actually get at the end of the 5.0 PTR cycle.

There is the first awesome idea, but there WILL come the inevitable balancing. Especially if the other classes don’t get something comparable.

Think of Titan’s Grip, and Stampede, and then think of the challenge that Blizzard faces with Mists of Pandaria.

It’s a challenge of bringing the awesome. They have to do it equally for all God’s children.

Blizzard is mommy and daddy, and the players are the kids. Mists of Pandaria is Christmas (or your festive gift-giving season of choice).

Blizzard CANNOT give one kid an Xbox 360, and give the rest slipper socks. Well, they could, with the sure and certain knowledge that the rest of the kids will cry and cry and cry.

Whatever brilliant idea for a class ability that Blizzard may have, they know going in that if they don’t bring equal levels of awesome to ALL the other classes, they WILL hear about it later in the forums, at BlizzCon Q&As, on blogs, wherever.

So even putting aside the issue of class balance and having a button that sics FIVE Hunter pets on a target to nom nom nom them, by bringing out Stampede, Blizzard would be committing to coming up with at least one new class-specific ability for every other class that would be just as freaking awesome. And then balancing ALL of them.

PLUS a new Race and Class thrown in!

Now, between you and me, I feel that setting the goal of coming up with awesome new kickass OMIGOD stuff should be at the top of the brainstorming board.

You shouldn’t set yourself the goal of ‘meeting expectations with more of the same’. Not when you are bringing the next expansion to your product. It should be, dare I say it, expansive? You should be challenging yourself to push the limits, to make your customers say, “Holy shit, that is going to ROCK!!”

Stampede, on the Hunter front, is one of those things that, as a Hunter, you would say, “Holy shit, that would totally ROCK!”

I truly hope that Blizzard really is keeping silent on core class abilities because they are trying to dream up that one special class ability for each class that all specs can share, available at max level, that is a Stampede-level holy shit “that is so going to ROCK!” moment.

That is what I hope.

But these are hopes and dreams and wishes and wingéd goldfish. They are the stuff of candyfloss and hot summer days you wish would last forever.

Don’t build it up too much in your mind. Any dreaming done now, any plans and speculation made based on BlizzCon statements or Blue posts is not just premature but counter-productive. 

Whatever Blizzard creates will have to be balanced so it is not OP for burst damage in PvP, and so it does not bring that class higher in average overall DPS in comparison to other classes. So go ahead and dream of useful and fun and neat abilities, but keep your expectations in check.

Mists of Pandaria seems very ambitious in scope, so I think they are committed to building and improving WoW for at least the next few years, new MMO or no new MMO on the horizon. They might do a Stampede and a whole lot more for all classes.

But please, just relax for now. Get interested, but don’t get all crazy. We’ve been here before, we’ve seen the attempts to build early buzz in the month RIGHT before a massive new competitor MMO gets released.

Don’t buy into it until you see the five pets rush out on the screen and eat the entrails of your enemies like so much colored licorice.

I guess, what I’m trying to say here, is;

Don’t believe the hype!

I wonder, wouldn’t it be fun to have a thread requesting players to come up with their own wild ideas for new, outrageous class abilities in keeping with the spirit of Stampede? I mean, the hardest part is coming up with the creative idea, the implementation is, as John Ringo might say, ‘fiddly bits’.

Do you think you can do as good or better for your class? Do you think you can come up with that ‘holy shit that would ROCK!’ ability for your class to be on the same plane as Hunters with Stampede?

Tell you what. Contest right now say what?

Post your own imaginative idea for a new outrageous (but possible, damnit make it possible!) class ability in the comments down below, one that could hold it’s own in awesome with Stampede, and I will pick a couple of my favorites to give Big Bear Butt cafepress t-shirts to. I might use some real scientific and fair method of picking the winners, such as random number generators, or reading them all aloud to my 8 year old boy and letting him pick the ones he likes best, so you’re warned.

You want in? You’ve got until next Friday, November 18th, to make your comment on this post. Go for it!

And no, this totally is not a test to see who read all the way to the end of the Bearwall. Would I do that?

So, Pandas, huh?

We now return you to our regularly scheduled gaming post, already in progress.

Blizzcon, the Blizzard Entertainment-created celebration of all things Blizzard Entertainment is over for the year.

Amindst all the officially-sanction public relations releases, we got the heads up on some great new products we can expect to see sometime over the course of the next year.

There was news on the next phase of the Starcraft II war, some Diablo III stuff, and of course World of Warcraft.

The new official expansion for World of Warcraft that MMO Champion cracked has been confirmed.

That’s right.


I remember once someone showed the overall map of Azeroth, and highlighted which areas someone could squeeze more zones into for future expansions. I don’t remember anyone showing us where they could hide an entire continent, but hey, I’m all for it.

I like Pandas. I also am a personal fan of the Pandaren that we were once told, I swear we were told, would never be an actual in-game race. I should look for that quote, I thought there was an interview with Samwise where he was specifically asked about Pandaren in game, and he said something like “We added them a little bit here and there for fun, but were never going to expand on it.” I dunno, maybe I was smoking bacon that day, and the fumes gave me sweet, sweet dreams of big jolly pandas.

I like the Pandaren so much, that I have the Pandaran Monk non-combat pet.

Won’t that be interesting to explain once we meet more Pandaren in the wild?

“Who, this? Oh yeah, I bought him at the market years ago, and he’s never left my side since. I’ve grown in power, killed old gods and lich kings and dragons, and he’s been right there beside me through thick and thin. Oh, he’s your father? Huh, he never said he had family when I bought him. In fact, come to think of it, I’m not sure he knows how to talk. No, no I never tried talking to him myself, but if I bow to him, he does bow back. And he exercises a lot, waving his arms around. Pretty much all he does is follow me around, day after day, never tiring, never complaining.”

There is so much I could gush about, so much I could be snarky about, but hell, why rush? There are months ahead of us to explore all the potential ramifications.

But I DO have two things. 🙂

First is this twelve month subscription thing that kinda slid in under the radar.

You might think you’ve got to pay for twelve months of WoW time all up front, but you don’t. You don’t have to change your subscription pattern at all.

You just have to sign a digital contract with Blizzard committing to paying for your monthly account, without cancelation or interruption, for the next twelve months.

You just gotta say, come hell or high water or a drought of content over a spring of new game releases, that Blizzard will still get theirs.

In exchange, you get a free BoA mount that looks really cool on all characters, and you get a free code for the retail version of Diablo III.

Oh yeah, and an automatic beta key for the next WoW expansion.

It’s an interesting trifecta.

You get a new mount, but since it’s in game it only cost a little design and code time. That is an investment, but it’s one they are set up for.

You get a Beta key. Well, again, digital only, and not only is it a small investment on Blizards part for email sending invites and access front ends, but they need beta testers of their digital products anyway.

Both make perfect sense. You’re not actually paying any extra, but Blizzard isn’t actually paying any more either. We get something on a digital download, and Blizzard gets a financial commitment. If you were going to do this anyway, play for another year, why not?

Everybody happy.

But the third part is a free copy of a retail product they have been working on for years, Diablo III.

Granted we’re not getting a box version mailed to us, but we are getting the code and digital delivery of the final, retail launch version of the game.

We can see what’s in it for us, but what is Blizzard getting that is worth losing out on that many potential sales?

Hugh at MMO Melting Pot has about the best explanation I’ve seen that makes financial sense. If Blizzard anticipates a content drought over a long period of time, between patch 4.3 and the 5.0 Pandaria expansion, then they may have done the math and would prefer to lose a $40 short term sale in exchange for a guaranteed 6 to 8 month game subscription lock-in during the times people normally cancel accounts… you know, summer vacation time.

Especially if there are a lot of great new MMOs coming out to compete.

Cynical? Maybe, but on the other hand… successful.

I already signed up. The mount and beta key are nice, but it was the Diablo III that I was going to buy anyway that sold me.

In my case, Blizzard lost out on the deal. I am someone who WAS going to continue my subscription over the next twelve months anyway, AND I was going to buy Diablo III. So, free game? Gee, thanks!

The other thing I want to touch oh so very briefly on, is this PokéWoW thing.

I have no idea how you think of it, I know I have never liked mini-games in games. I’ve rarely if ever enjoyed a game when someone takes the popular neat thing from another game system and tacks it on their own.

I’m willing to give it a shot, though.

What excites about the concept, the CONCEPT mind you, is that our non-combat pets will become another custom, personalised aspect of our characters.

We will be able to name our pets. A truly ‘duh’ idea, a “Well it’s about damn time” idea, but let’s just keep that on the downlow and give thanks, right?

We’ll also be able to move pets around our characters. Did you get that rare pet Batling from the special, one-season one year only Karazhan event to kill the vampire Prince on only one character, and it’s NOT the character you ever play or collect pets on? Well, now you can fix that and similar situations.

But more interestingly, your pets will be able to be trained, leveled and then taken to an arena to fight other pets.

This is the part that excites me and also amazes the shit out of me.

In order for our pets to be able to fight, they have to have combat moves, defenses, all that stuff. AND, they will need new animations to correspond to what they do.

Doesn’t that seem like a shitload of programming time to devote to this PokéWoW thing?

Again, I love it. It’s great. I think it will be loads of fun, and, again, I get to name my pets.

I’ll be able to field a combat team of Grunty the Murloc Marine, a Pandaren Monk, and Stinker the Skunk if I so choose.

But, and here is the butt….

Nobody asked for PokéWoW that I know of, nobody knew it was coming, and yet here it is, a massive commitment in programming resources.

But quests tailored for specific classes, quests to fill out the Rogue Ravenholdt line, quests to individualize our leveling experience and bring a new, fresh reason and interest to playing an alt in Azeroth for the 500th time…

Thats still a poor use of developmental resources?

Huh. Interesting.