Artifact Concerns

As the release of Legion inches closer, my implicit worries have begun to mount.

Technically, the concerns I have currently are the same ones I brought up a year ago. Namely: artifacts and alts. Having one weapon that you channel all of your power into is conceptually neat. But WoW has long ceased to be about one character and spec; the structure of the game since around Wrath has seemed to hinge on the assumption of alts, or at least dual specs. Just think about all the Account-Bound items and other technology changes that have occurred in the past five years.

So how is Legion going to interact with everyone’s alts?

Based on the Wowhead research I have been doing… it’s hit or miss. My first concern was being stuck with a single Artifact for a single spec out of the gate. What if I’m a healer and want to level as DPS? You are indeed stuck with a single Artifact until level 102, at which point you can unlock the others. However, you are not stuck stuck – there is a sort of gear workaround for alt specs:

What if I chose the wrong Artifact Weapon, vendored my old weapons and want to level in a different spec before level 102?

Your class Order Hall Quartermaster sells item level 740 weapons/off-hands/shields for 100g each. These can serve as replacements if you need them before you unlock all of your class Artifact Weapons at level 102.

So technically you should be able to have a backup set of gear to use if you want to tank/heal/DPS with an off-spec. Obviously it won’t be as ideal as with your Artifact, but it’s something.

Okay… what about gaining Artifact Power (AP)? During questing, dungeons, etc, you end up receiving consumable items that fill an AP meter for your currently equipped Artifact when used. So, it seems like you should be able to quest as DPS and funnel all of these consumables into your healing Artifact later on. That’s pretty good. Indeed, later on you unlock the Artifact Knowledge ability that will increase the AP gained from future consumables. I thought it was a nice touch that these gains aren’t retroactive to your currently obtained consumables, so there is no reason to hoard them for later.

But then we get into the sort of nitty gritty details of World of Altcraft. The amount of AP that you need to get from level 13 to level 14 is more than the total amount you need from 1-13. This makes a nice, conceptual breakpoint at which you can decide whether to hedge your bets or double-down on one spec or not.

That said, there are two problems with this.

First, you don’t always have any control over your circumstances in the game. Your guild might need a healer now, after you have already hit AP14, setting you a painful distance behind in your ability to fulfill the need. Second, there are numerous specs who can actually unlock their 2nd Elite Traits as soon as AP16. Now, “as soon as AP16” really means 33,450 total AP gained, more than 2.5 times as much as was needed to hit even AP14, but still. I haven’t seen all the math amongst all the specs in this regard, but I don’t believe it to be a trivial increase.

Finally, and most critically: what happens when Blizzard nerfs a spec?

If you were an Assassination rogue and got hit by the nerf-bat, it was always technically possible to switch to Subtlety rogue and keep going. Maybe your Best-in-Slot items change based on whether Mastery or Haste is king. But now? At AP18, you are two times further away from even AP16 farmed from scratch. Unless the Artifacts are front-loaded as all hell, you are basically staring down an entirely new endgame, minus all the easy AP gained via leveling. I suppose Artifact Knowledge is supposed to bridge the gap there, but I’m not entirely convinced Blizzard won’t be requiring us to grind dailies for, erm, days or weeks.

[Fake Edit]: A new interview just came out addressing this:

Artifact Weapons
The team will avoid nerfing a spec from being a little too good to the worst so that you don’t feel that all of your Artifact progression was a waste

Time will tell regarding on the Blizzard dev’s team ability to actually do this.

[/Fake Edit]

And don’t get me started on, you know, an actual alternate character. Artifact Knowledge is not Account-Wide, which means you are back to grinding from zero on every other character on your account.

For someone planning on coming back for Legion, I’m a little nonplussed as to what I’m actually going to do. My namesake paladin is right out – Retribution is garbage again from everything I have heard, and I have no interest in Protection tanking. So… what? I haven’t experienced the post-7.0 classes, and now must make a decision on a new main (probably on a new server at that) with a new main spec that I have to invest in at the expense of every other possible alternative.

Analysis Paralysis is a real thing, which often leads to doing nothing at all. Which is still an option.

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Posted on August 22, 2016, in WoW and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. About your first problem, off-specs have generally required off-spec gear so players couldn’t instantly fill a new role. Instead of spending a couple of days farming OS gear, you spend a couple of days powering up your OS weapon. I am glad there is some barrier there because it reduces the pressure on players to switch to an spec they don’t want to play just because the guild needs them to do so. If anyone wants to OS, they will level their artifact to Rank 14 as a matter of course.

    Have you seen Poneria’s number crunching (https://felconcentration.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/multispeccing-artifacts/)? The TL:DR is that, once you reach the rank 14 breakpoint and the late end-game ranks, you can level up multiple artifacts together at a minimal power loss (about 1.5 ranks per artifact).
    My impression is that we are supposed to level our weapons as follows:
    L100 – Choose a main spec.
    L102 – An opportunity to change main spec.
    Up to L110/Rank 14 (approximate AP earnt while levelling) – Focus on a main weapon.
    L110 – Level off-specs to rank 14. (Achievable relatively quickly at max level).
    Ranks 14 to 34 – Single or multispec as you wish.
    Rank 35 and up – Diminishing returns really kicks in so bring every weapon you might use up to Rank 34 before diving into the hidden ranks on your main.

    Oh but don’t get me started on the artifact knowledge not being account wide. It seems to massively playing a duel-spec hybrids over duel classes.

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  2. For what it’s worth, I wasn’t expecting much from the new ret, either, but once I tried it, it actually felt pretty good. The new judgment mechanic is a little annoying, but otherwise it’s a fairly fun spec. No worse than it used to be, really.

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    • I’ll admit that the rotation didn’t feel as bad with Fires of Justice in the build. That said… where is a 30-yard ranged attack, like all other melee have?

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  3. I actually quite enjoy Ret pally now. I am not sure why people have been complaining about it. It’s fun, flashy, lots of nice AOE. I actually like it more than before, so go figure.

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