Officers’ Quarters: Legion’s impact on guilds
Last week we got our first glimpse at WoW‘s upcoming seventh incarnation: Legion. Like all expansions, it’s bringing big changes to the game. Officers who look ahead to what’s next have a better chance to adjust for it, which means a better chance for their guild to survive the changes. So let’s take that look to predict what Legion means for guilds — and what we can do about it!
Artifact weapons will level up as you participate in just about any content the game has to offer: quests, dungeons, battlegrounds, etc. They will be our primary weapons throughout the expansion and they are specific not just to our class, but to our spec. By gaining Artifact Power, we’ll be able to choose and unlock new buffs and abilities, similar to the first version of WoW‘s talent trees. One example provided at Gamescom was a Death Knight ability that allows you to resurrect yourself in combat, much like Shaman’s Reincarnation.
Artifact weapons could also mean two potential headaches for raid or PvP teams:
1. Switching specs might be more difficult. Switching specs today is far easier now that armor automatically switches stats, but it still requires obtaining a decent spec-specific weapon, along with trinkets, rings, etc. In Legion, we can add obtaining and powering up a different artifact weapon to the top of that list. Unlike today, you’ll need a different weapon even if you switch from one DPS spec to another, like a warlock switching from Demonology to Destruction.
The days of your raiders tailoring their specs to the encounter might be over, at least during the early months of Legion. That also potentially means you’ll have to lock your players into their main roles. Players swapping from healing to DPS or vice versa, depending on the number of healers needed, could itself become an artifact of earlier WoW expansions.
It will be more crucial this time around to nail down everyone’s role in the team prior to the expansion’s launch, right down to the spec level. You may lose or add players later, which could ruin your perfectly planned roster, but you can’t account for every possibility. You have to work with the players you know you have.
2. Switching classes might be more difficult. Players who switch classes mid-expansion are going to be far behind the curve without a leveled artifact weapon. Sometimes players switch because they’re bored or frustrated with their class; sometimes they switch because the guild needs someone to switch. In the former case, I can foresee the player quitting the game instead because of the grind they’re facing to power up a new artifact. In the latter case, that player will be doing the guild a huge favor.
Either way, it will be beneficial for the player’s morale if the officers and other guild members help that player with the grind however they can.
Loot shouldn’t be affected by artifact weapons. Upgrade or gem-like items that affect the ilevel of artifact weapons will take the place of weapon drops. We don’t yet know if they’ll have assigned classes like tier tokens. They could be a free for all.
Legion is finally bringing the long-awaited Demon Hunter class to WoW. It’s a safe bet that every guild will have a few players who want to make the switch. Fortunately for guilds, Demon Hunters are a hero class and will begin at a relatively high level. Your roster won’t have to wait for days or weeks like we did when our monk friends were leveling from 1 after the launch of Mists.
However, the influx of Demon Hunters will potentially create two problems.
1. Blizzard’s leather fetish. As the fourth class assigned to the leather category, Demon Hunter further unbalances an already skewed distribution. Mail will remain the most disenchanted armor type, while leather will become even more coveted.
Blizzard stated in interviews that they’re OK with unbalanced armor categories because of the prevalence of the new personal loot system. For guilds that use a group-oriented loot system, however, the additional demand for leather will be a nuisance. We can’t change Blizzard’s mind, but it’s a factor to consider when you’re trying to figure out who’s maining which class in the expansion.
2. A legion of melee. Oddly, every new class added to WoW since launch has had a melee DPS spec and only a melee spec for DPS. Many players hoped that if Demon Hunters were added, they would have a ranged spec, possibly inspired by Diablo 3‘s version. That’s not the case, which creates more roster concerns for guilds.
Many encounters benefit by adding more ranged players. Far fewer benefit from adding more melee. It’s something to keep in mind as your players announce their intention to go with Havoc Demon Hunter for their main spec.
New roles for old classes
Compounding the melee issue is the announced switch from ranged to melee for Survival Hunters. It offers Hunters the flexibility to switch roles — but only if the artifact weapon system is flexible enough to allow it. Discipline Priests are also becoming a hybrid DPS/healing spec. We could see more such drastic changes to classes, such as a ranged Rogue spec, that might help to balance out the game’s melee-heavy list. Keep your eye out for such announcements in the future, and adjust your roster accordingly!
Another big announcement at Gamescom was Legion‘s brand new honor system. Honor’s third iteration appears to be the most comprehensive restructuring so far, with PVP-specific talents and abilities. It finally looks like Blizzard is going to separate the way classes play in PVE and PVP. For years, raiders suffered from nerfs to their class due to PVP balance concerns, and vice versa. Hopefully such nerfs will happen rarely, if at all, in the future.
The new honor system also means that veteran PVP players will eventually have many more options than players who are new to the scene. Guilds forming PVP teams will look to attract high-ranked veterans, but it could be a mistake to ignore new PVP players who are willing to learn and put in the hard work. Dedicated PVP players are awfully rare in WoW, after all, compared to raiders. At the launch of Legion, having a team that’s motivated to rank up quickly will give your guild an edge. For the prestige system, it might be a good idea to have only one or two members of your team go through the lower prestige ranks at a time.
A stable structure?
For the first time ever, Blizzard announced no changes to the game’s raiding structure in an upcoming expansion. It could be that such an announcement will happen later, but I think it’s more likely that Blizzard wants to keep the status quo this time around. The company seems pleased with flexible lower difficulties and 20-player-only Mythic raids, even if some players aren’t.
Guilds certainly deserve a break after all the changes over the last five expansions. Some guilds are still trying to building toward the magic 20 number to tackle Mythic. Keeping the same raid structure for Legion would help many guilds who might otherwise struggle with yet another series of changes.
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