When announced, Season of Mastery for World of Warcraft Classic, was received well, but the community did seem to have some lingering questions, so community manager Kaivax posted a new update answering some of those questions, as well as giving details on the intentions behind Season of Mastery, as well as what to expect.
So just what is the Season of Mastery and why is it possibly for you? "The main goal for the Season of Mastery is [to] provide a WoW Classic experience that brings about “Faster Progression and More Challenging Content”," according to the post. This means that it's the core of the new mode, and something that the team is working on separately from WoW Classic as a whole. The changes and adjustments to put Season of Mastery on an accelerated 12-month schedule, like increased XP, the PvP Honor System, and bumping up certain Battlegrounds' availability to the launch instead of waiting.
This is designed for the player who wants some of the old school Classic challenge, but in a way that's challenging to the WoW Classic fan of today, who just might already know how to dominate some of these old grounds. The team is designing around this idea, that increasing the difficulty of raids, adding back some mechanics that were originally cut, and banning world buffs inside the raid instances are all meant to get your wheels turning on how to strategize on this familiar setting played now, and with the difficulty ramped up. However, loot drop rate isn't set to change, based on feedback and designs at this point, in part to preserve the challenge that loot scarcity presented in the original release.
The team is using beta feedback and gameplay data to keep tuning the experience and the plans for the faster release timeline. One thing to know, however, is that Season of Mastery isn't a dress rehearsal for WoW Classic. Season of Mastery will launch as its own separate mode, and the existing Classic realms will continue the same way. What will happen after the initial planned 12 month run is up? According to Blizzard, they are "exploring all of our options, especially when it comes to allowing characters to persist in some way". For the full update on the questions answered, design goals, and feedback on Season of Mastery and the beta, see the latest update here.