Well, Matt, I’m not suffering from writer’s block, but I take your challenge nonetheless.
Here are 16 Patch 2.4 changes and additions worth mentioning:
Shorter 2v2 Arena queues
2v2 has, admittedly, several balance and synergy issues, but one which is more irksome is the queue time on heavily-populated Battlegroups. Due to the sheer number of people wanting to play 2v2, which, let’s face it, is the easiest to set up a team for and requires least coordination, queue times can exceed 15 minutes at peak time. Due to the low organizational requirements, 2v2 will always remain the bracket with the lowest barrier to entry for the most casual player, even if entering it as a brand new green level 70 player is going to be quite an experience.
Well, fortunately, Blue has recently posted that this will change for the better:
There is a change in 2.4.0 that will allow the servers to kick up more arena instances in a shorter amount of time, generally lowering the amount of time it will take to get into a game with an equal amount of people queuing. We want to avoid calling this a one time “queue cure” as we’re still not entirely certain how the changes will affect queue times under full load. Especially considering the increase in activity we see with any major patch release.
I think they’re guaranteed to have some effect, but if it isn’t an adequate impact we’ll need to make further adjustments.
Although I don’t have an arena partner or arena spec at the moment, shorter queue times = win.
The Sunwell Plateau
Part of the current higher-than-average tension between “hardcore” and “casuals” (also in its side incarnation PvE vs PvP) is most definitely due to the fact that the top raiders have run out of content, some of them several months ago. While I definitely don’t like AQ-Style server-wide unlocking events, this one looks to be less mindless grind-focussed than its infamous predecessor. The Isle of Quel’Danas is probably going to be as packed as Hellfire Peninsula was during the first days of TBC’s release, and since I currently don’t play my horde pallie, I’ll give the whole offensive a miss.
Still, the whole Shattered Sun Offensive comes along with a huge amount of new content from solo to five-men to full raids, so people who more or less ran out of things to do will have plenty new stuff to keep themselves occupied for the coming few months.
Of course, the top catassing guilds may very well burn through the new content in two weeks like what happened with MH and BT, but designing content with these people in mind is, fortunately, no longer on Blizzard’s agenda. Either Tigole and his crew grew softer on the catassing part or the rest of the design team has been overshouting them for a couple of months now (in fact, Tigole has been very subdued since his ill-advised Welfare Epics remark). Whatever the reasons, this is full of win for the large majority of the playerbase, hardcore and casual alike, and the couple of sour apples who don’t find the game challenging or fun enough for their taste anymore will move on. Less lag for me, and probably 0.1% less QQ on the o-boards. Not that you’d notice any difference of course.
The New Combat Log
The new combat log is going to increase data collection accuracy for damage meters and for WWS alike. While the change will require all addons working with the log to change, the net result is more precise information from all relevant tools. For any player, hardcore or casual, striving to improve their playing skills, accurate measurement of their performance is a good thing. Always remember, though, that in a group or a raid, you are actually playing an instance, not “top-the-meters”.
Teleport to CoT
Due to the travel time involved, getting to Caverns of Time is almost as much as a pain than going to Kara. Adding a means to teleport from Shattrath straight to the summoning stone is removes a lot of the wait, leaving more time for actually playing the instances.
Intellect Boosting Mana Regen from Spirit
While I don’t play any classes which rely on spirit and the 5-seconds rule as part of their normal routine, this will be huge for priests, druids but also mages. Other classes will spend less time drinking, which equates to less downtime. Now if it would only affect MP5 while casting too…
Faster Weapon Skillups from 1 to 295
Anyone who ever had to skill up a neglected weapon by even a mere 100 skill points will immediately remember what a pain in the nether regions this is. Less mindless killing for skillups? Yes please. The only thing unclear to me is whether it actually applies to weapon skill below 295 or players below level 60. If it’s the latter, the change will be, unfortunately, not noticed by level 70 toons, which would immediately remove this paragraph from the sexy additions to the “badly thought out” list.
Daily Quest Amount Raised to 25
Not that I’d care too much since I rarely do more than 3 dailies (never managed to unlock Ogri’La on the paladin). Still, more choice is always a good thing in my book.
Multi-Target Abilities no longer hit CCed NPCs
I have a bit mixed feelings about this one, actually. It certainly lowers the skill requirements in instances and participates in the dumbing down of the playerbase. On the other hand, it also means less wipes when running with people who lack the most basic CC management skills. An interesting side-effect, though: people who no longer care how they position CC relative to tanks will actually find running with a tankadin more difficult than before if their CC ends up in the Constant Consecration area. Since the Flavour of the Month in terms of 5-men tanks remains firmly in tankadin hands, the dumbing down may result in a couple of unexpected and hilarious wipes. Then again, good tankadins don’t really need CC in the first place.
Mana Cost Reduction on Regrowth
I don’t play a drood but from what they tell us, this is a very nice change, which actually gives them more variety in their spell casting rotations. As a recovering healadin, having just one single heal which makes up most of your casting routine (at least there’s cleansing and protecting to break the monotony) is something which gets pretty dull. More tools to keep your party or raid group alive, more varied gameplay? Yes please.
Avenger’s Shield Won’t Hit Critters Anymore
I love this one. Imagine the following pull: 3-mob group to the left, another group farther back on the right. The closest mob of the left-hand group stands at the right side of that group. Your tankadin positions himself and pulls with Avenger’s Shield on the closest mob of the left group, expecting all three mobs to have a good does of front-loaded threat on them.
Unfortunately, there’s a pesky critter sitting, unnoticed, between the left and right group, and Avenger’s shield actually bounces over it to hit the closest mob of the right-hand group. Your group now has to deal with 6 mobs instead of 3, 4 of them without any frontloaded threat.
Sounds familiar? Won’t happen again. Win.
Turn Undead Rank 3+ working on demons
Makes sense. Though why not Rank 1 and 2 escapes me. Then again, I think the last time I’ve ever used Turn Undead was on my level 26 alliance paladin desperately trying to survive an unexpected meeting with Morladin in Duskwood while bubble was on cooldown. And that was before TBC got released. So it’s a sexy but pointless change for the sake of consistency.
Partial Vanish Debugging
There’s been various abilities which would leave a rogue stealthed when using plain normal stealth but break vanish. Bug fixing is always nice in my book, and vanish has been plagued by bugs for a long time now.
New Stormstrike Icon
I’m kidding. Shamans get little love in this patch, and one of the more jaded shammies out there once commented on a message board “it will be changed to a middle finger Blizzard is pointing at shamans”. ‘Nuff said.
BG Honour calculation changes
There’s no more diminishing returns per kill until an opponent dies 51 times, and honour gets awarded on the spot. If it helps diminish the AFKing in the peace cave, I’m all for it.
Horde AV starting point moved back
This is a change for the better, and will help balance the map. In the same spirit, actually mirroring the whole map perfectly would definitely remove any claims of map imbalance and make it all about teamwork and tactical skill. This has been suggested for much longer than I’ve been playing AV and should come back.
In the same vein, joining AV as a group is something I have very mixed feelings about. If the group is 5 or 10 friends joining together, I rather like it. But with the extremely soft matchmaking happening, getting steamrolled by a 40-men preform AV for 0 honour (which you probably never will be allowed to join if you don’t have 350+ resilience, which you won’t be able to get in a hurry because the bloody AV premades kill you over and over for 0 honour) is going to be utterly detestable.
Warsong Gulch changes to Flag Carriers
In a valiant effort to shorten the pat situations where both sides could have been hiding with the opposing flags for ages, Flag Carriers will now appear on the map within 45 seconds and will get a 50%/100% damage increase debuff after 10/15 minutes. I like it but I still don’t think it goes far enough. Add reinforcements like in AV, each cap and kill taking off from the enemy reinforcements, and you could pretty much guarantee much more action-packed games lasting 15-20 minutes tops, and perhaps even kill the mindless HK farming which happens way too often. One can always hope…
And that takes up to 16 changes. There’s actually more to be highlighted, but Cosmo said 16, so 16 it is.