The devil’s in the details

I’m going to be honest here – I’ve not looked too much in to what’s coming in 8.2. Not in any real depth that is. (Please don’t tell my raid lead!!!) Mostly because 8.2 is a biiiig patch with some really, really exciting stuff coming. Nazjatar!! Mechagon! New mega dungeon and new raid and pet battle dungeon and essenences and transmog and then there’s everything coming with the 15 year Warcraft celebration… holy moly! So much exciting stuff to come!

The point is, even still, after all this time, I still like there to be a bit of a surprise with everything. I really like that feeling of discovery, of learning something new and experiencing something for the first time. I’ve been pretty time-poor the past few weeks/months, so decided that I’d not dive too deeply in to 8.2 until I had to. As usual, this has been glorious. And if my GPU wasn’t at the PC docs getting fixed at the moment, I’d be thoroughly giddy with excitement.

But that’s only part of what this post is about. Today we’re here to talk about why ignorance is bliss.


One of the big things coming in 8.2 are essences. Essences are these little things you can add to your Heart of Azeroth neck that empower it with either major or minor abilities (depending on what level your neck is and where you equip it). There are a whole bunch of different Essences available, usually broken down by role. So there are dps specific, tank specific and healer specific essences, along with a bunch of essences suitable for whatever role you play. The wowhead guide for this is, as usual, amazing, and very nicely laid out – definitely worth a look.

I’ve been really excited by essences. I think they are going to help with making our classes feel a bit more interesting for the rest of the expansion. I like that there is a wide variety of abilities that these essences give, so if you’re a healer who chases mana, there’s an essence for that, or if you’re a tank who likes to dish out damage while they protect everyone, there’s an essence for that.

Essences are easy to swap in and out – you just use the same Tomes that you use to change talents, and you change essences on the fly to suit whatever fight you’re about to come up against. Great, right?

There’s an essence I’ve had my eye on for awhile now, because to me it just looks really interesting. It’s the Life-Binder’s Invocation essence. (Even though it’s changed a bit throughout it’s time on PTR).
At rank 1 (the lowest rank) it does the following:

Minor Power

  • Rank 1: Your heals have a very high chance to implant a Seed of Eonar in the target for 12 sec.
    • Seed of Eonar: If the target takes damage, the Seed bursts, healing them for 4,132.

Major Power (2.1 sec cast, 3 min cooldown)

  • Rank 1: Implant 30 Seeds of Eonar divided over allies within 30 yds.
    • Seed of Eonar: If the target takes damage, the Seed bursts, healing them for 4,132.

To me, this sounds kinda cool. I have so many heals that go out passively as a restoration shaman, that I think the Seeds should apply pretty often. It just means lots of really nice little passive heals going out on a regular basis that could help avoid outright deaths, you know? And the major power, with the ability to plant a bunch of seeds on purpose to a whole (mythic) raid team is brilliant for preparing for a big burst of incoming damage. I’m also curious if it could feed our cloudburst totems, too, because that would be awesome (though unlikely)!

And then there’s The Ever-Rising Tide essence, that gives you a random int buff or mana regen when you cast your heals. There are some really fun looking DPS ones as well, including one where you set up a beacon somewhere, then teleport to that location and do a huge burst of AOE damage. How awesome does that sound?!

There are loads of really fun abilities here, and so many that you could mix and match to suit your boss fights or what your preferred play style is, and I think that’s awesome. I like that Blizz are giving us options to personalise our playing experience, letting us choose abilities that we want to use, to customise our characters our way.

Or are they?

Well, firstly, yes, they are, of course. It’s not really Blizz that messes this up, though, is it? It’s us. You see, when push comes to shove and all of these essences are being used by thousands of people in the next week, we’re going to start to see a lot more data about their effectiveness for different classes and situations. And what’s going to happen is that we’re going to learn that, as usual, there is a “best in slot” combination of essences that will make your numbers look great. Essence A for your major and essences B and C for your two minors will be the best combination in conjunction with X, Y, Z traits on your azerite gear, and using this specific set of talents. Once that’s learned, that’s what will be expected of you, and if you’re not using that specific combination of gear/talents/essences/traits then you’re just not doing it right.

We gripe and moan about our characters being boring and loot not being meaningful etc etc but at the end of the day, that’s a load of shit. There is already a lot of loot out there that’s interesting, that impacts our play style, that can help us feel unique, but we choose not to use it because there’s always a “best in slot” that “must” be used for us to feel competitive.

I mean, Blizzard just can’t win.

We want class/spec uniqueness, but if our toon doesn’t have an ability that another class has, there’s hell to pay!

We want loot that feels rewarding and interesting, but we’ll ignore anything that isn’t going to bring us to the top of the meters.

We want spells and talents and extra abilities that engage us, that make us feel powerful and strong and impact our game play… but we stick to the talents and traits that make us perform highest.

And on top of all of that – we want everything to be balanced between all classes.

Yeah, ok.

A lot of the frustrations we have are brought upon ourselves, because of our choices (oh the irony!). Sometimes (maybe most of the time) what is fun, isn’t what is powerful. And if you have to make a choice, you’re going to choose what is powerful over what is fun, because that’s what gets you in to the Mythic + dungeons and the raids and killing bosses.

We say we want choices, and we do! But our actions say otherwise. And I think we really need to start being a bit more accountable to that. Yes, it would be amazing if we could have a plethora of choices that were all equally, beautifully balanced. But that’s not going to happen.

So what’s all this got to do with being ignorant? Well, everything. If we didn’t see numbers – if Details or Skada or other ways of ranking our performance against others weren’t a thing; if there was no such thing as “best”; if we couldn’t see all that, and didn’t know… don’t you think the game would be more fun to play? We’d make choices based on how fun something was, or how powerful we felt doing something (regardless of whether or not it actually was powerful). Wouldn’t that be great?

But here’s the confession – it turns out that it’s looking like the numbers on the Life-Binder’s Invocation essence make it really not so strong. And so even though it looks like a fun essence (to me), if I start simming my character and the numbers say it’s too weak, I just won’t be using it, because I’ve got mythic bosses to kill, and I need to be as strong as I can. But I’m sitting here wishing it was a week ago when I had no idea that this essence may not be all that strong, and I could just focus on how fun it might be.

Can’t I just go back to a being ignorant? Please? I was having more fun then.

xo

P.S – I realise this won’t apply to people who either really aren’t bothered about min-maxing, or who aren’t doing high level content or who are happy just doing whatever they want. I hope you love all the new essences and traits coming in 8.2!

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One Comment on “The devil’s in the details

  1. I promise that I”ll try to be as ignorant as possible, it comes easy to me.
    Yeah, we can’t not look at the data-mining. Some of the fun, I think, it finding something that you want to “go for”. I like that and I look up toys and pets to hunt down or earn.
    Still, if it is a system that gives us, eventually, a menu of choices then I think everyone wins.

    Like

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