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The QueueMar 13, 2020 12:00 pm CT

The Queue: What even is time?

Keeping track of days — and thus time — is a complicated endeavor and I can’t envy anyone who does it on a regular basis.

But here we all are, stuck in time together, so I may as well look at answering a few questions.


Q4tQ inspired by the Ancient Kalimdor map below:

Let’s say the next expansion after Shadowlands is another time travel adventure.
Nevermind the general plot or the gameplay systems in that expansion – how would you feel if Blizzard took an extra year or two to develop a full Ancient Kalimdor continent, equal in size to Kalimdor, Eastern Kingdoms, Pandaria, Northrend, the Broken Isles and the ocean in between them combined?

Essentially a “WoW 2” without creating a new game and thus no one has to give up their characters or progression – but at the cost of a very long content drought at the end of Shadowlands.

I’m interested in revisiting the past in theory, but in practice… not so much. Cataclysm really did do some fantastic things for original era zones, but the more time has passed the more middling those workovers seem, because even those “new” zones now feel outdated and old.

And I’d love to see zones constantly evolve and grow with the story but I don’t think there’s enough developer time to make it happen. Which means multi-year content droughts with nothing for us to do except replay the same old things again and again.

I’m just not here for that. Long dead times are, if nothing else, a community-killer. And I think the big thing that sets WoW apart from other games is the community. All the people who play make it a unique experience, and one I’ve kept coming back to over the years, despite everything else that’s changed.

Long droughts are, by definition, dull. They mean the friends I play with, the community that makes the game great, may wander off to find something new, interesting, and engaging. They may or may not be there when the game returns, leaving a game that’s lesser for their absence.

Yeah, that’s really why I think droughts aren’t tenable: they break up community social structure. And community is everything.

So no matter how awesome the time-travel idea, I think the Blizzard team has to focus on keeping content going and keeping the community engaged.


QftQ: I’ve noticed a good number of players dying in the LFR N’zoth fight due to insanity. At first I thought it was due to them not using their neck. But in reality it was due to not having a high enough back to protect them from the insanity. So After going above 10 stacks of determinations and wanting to down N’zoth the group kicked them all.

So my question, how do you feel about the not being able to see the last boss fight/complete an entire expansion coming down to having one piece of gear that you have to level up by playing an entirely different type of content you don’t like or aren’t good at, or as an attunement.

Well… this premise is incorrect. It’s right there in the cloak’s description:

Equip: Reduces Sanity loss within the Visions of N’Zoth by X%.

The cloak reduces sanity loss in Horrific Visions and only in Horrific Visions. The whole Horrific Vision grind is to help you get better at doing Horrific Visions and very little else. The cloak itself is a stat stick and lets you equip more corrupted gear, but that’s all it does in the wider game world. It doesn’t matter if you have a level 1 cloak or a level 15 cloak: the sanity loss in the N’Zoth fight is exactly the same.

This is also my experience in the fight. I’m raiding on two characters with … shall we say … modestly leveled cloaks. (I really don’t enjoy Horrific Visions.) One of them’s doing Heroic Ny’alotha and one has just cleared Normal Ny’alotha and is starting Heroic. Neither of them have sanity issues on the N’Zoth fights.

All of that said, there are a lot of ways to lose sanity in the fight. If you don’t know and avoid the mechanics, your sanity can drop fast. And if you don’t use your neck or don’t use it at the right time or use it and move before the channel finishes, you’re not going to make it through the whole fight.

There are a lot of complicated mechanics in LFR N’Zoth, and it’s easier to pick out something — or someone — to blame than to say this fight is really hard and we aren’t doing a good job. Which is a fair thing to say, because I think it’s the most complicated fight to ever come to LFR.

Back on the topic of attunement. Even though the N’Zoth fight doesn’t require a specific cloak level, it does require a cloak, and that quest is a fairly lengthy endeavor. But it doesn’t feel unreasonable. The quest can be done solo, and it contains a lot of interesting story elements as well as plenty of rewards. If you want to do it on an alt, you can skip a lot of the scenarios (though it’s still a pretty long quest chain).

I don’t think that’s too much to ask. If you’re going through LFR to complete the story, getting your cloak is an essential part of that story that’s worth doing both for gameplay reasons and lore reasons.

Looking back on older attunements, they were much lengthier. Going back to vanilla, you could spend weeks attuning yourself to dungeons and raids. They often required group content and many dungeon clears. Today’s cloak quest you can play through in a single (albeit long) gaming session all by yourself. It’s a lot, but not too much, I think.

Because the players are the one thing you won’t be able to find anywhere else.


Do you think the change to account wide essences will have an impact on the Covenants/Soulbinds in Shadowlands as they are designed?

I hope Blizzard has learned something from the alt-unfriendliness of Battle for Azeroth. The long grind for cloaks and, eventually, essences, made gameplay more difficult, not more fun.

It’s essentially a time-sink. It slows us down and makes us really work to progress — which makes it more difficult to play alts and experiment with new classes or roles. And that just makes it more difficult to play with my friends, and that really isn’t fun.

But even though I want Blizzard to have learned something from this process, I’m not sure. Nerfing systems towards the end of an expansion is normal, a way to allow more players to more easily enjoy the game.That doesn’t speak to a change in design philosophy that might keep similar mechanics out of Shadowlands — it just means the devs think this level of challenge isn’t useful for the game anymore.


What do you plan to main in SL? Staying with monk, changing for sure, or waiting to see how the classes play out?

I really haven’t decided. I’m going to be on the Horde side in Shadowlands — because of friends more than anything else — and on that side of the fence, I play a Holy Paladin. I’ve been enjoiying it a lot, but the only reason I really “decided” to play and gear up the Paladin was because I had it.

I’m not particularly enthusiastic about the Monk (which I’ve mained since Mists), but I don’t feel terribly drawn to other classes, either.

So the tldr here is that I just don’t know. I do want to keep playing a healer, but none of the healing classes really call to me and I’m at a loss on what I want to do next. I think I have plenty of time to change at this stage of the expansion… I just don’t know what I’d change to.

I’ll probably look when we get more information on what classes will be like in Shadowlands and think about it from there. Right now we still don’t have a ton of info — and none of the info we do have can really answer the question of “is class X fun to play?” that’s something you just don’t know until you’ve logged on and are playing.

Right now I’m planning on sticking with what I have, despite my mediocre enthusiasm. And when it comes to picking a fresh main… well, I’ll make it when I have to make it.

I’ll see you in SHadowlands, everybody. (And hopefully I’ll see you before Shadowlands, too.)

Have a good afternoon and remember to hug your pets. And maybe give your friends and family a wave from across the room instead of hugging them in light of the current global health situation. But days are long, and sometimes all we have are each other, so don’t let them forget it.

I’ll see you back here next week!

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