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Updated: World of Warcraft AMA Reveals Island Expedition Changes & Info About Azerite Armor

Posted by Suzie Ford on Sep 14, 2018  | Comments

Updated: World of Warcraft AMA Reveals Island Expedition Changes & Info About Azerite Armor -

The World of Warcraft AMA is underway, with three questions already answered. One deals with player concerns with the Azerite armor system; another about drop rates for Island Expedition rewards and the third about issues with the Shaman class. Pop through the jump to see the full list of topics covered during the lengthy Reddit AMA.


The full list of topics / answers covered during the AMA include:

Island Expeditions:

Players should see a significant drop rate increase in the rewards (pets, cosmetic armor sets, etc.) when doing Island Expeditions. This will be hotfixed in in the near future.

We’re currently working on a hotfix that will substantially increase the rate of these rewards. Once it’s live, you should start to see more of these items dropping for you (and your group members) on future Island Expeditions. While we don’t have a firm timeframe for this hotfix, we’re hoping to push it out later today.

Read more here.

Azerite Armor:

We’re certainly not entirely happy with how the system is playing out, and all of these are very valid concerns. We agree that it’s a problem for someone to look at a 30-ilvl upgrade under normal circumstances and feel like it’s not worth equipping. I know this risks sounding like a cop-out, but a few of the problems you've outlined simply boil down to tuning.

Once you get to Heart Level 18 (a process that will become increasingly fast as the weekly catch-up system continues to ramp up, effectively letting you gain AP 30% faster with each passing week), you can activate the outer ring of any item in the game, and that’s where the most powerful traits lie. That was by design, so that you wouldn’t feel as much of a loss when upgrading to a higher level item that isn’t yet fully unlocked. There’s a ton of primary stat on Azerite pieces in part to bolster the importance of item level there, and the power of traits is directly proportional to the ilvl of the item that contains them, so a 370 Heroic Uldir helm will have a ~30% more powerful trait than a 340 Raid Finder Uldir version of the same item.

Where all of this breaks down is when both of the traits on your 370 piece are significantly worse than the ones on your 340 piece. Reducing the number of situations in which that is the case is one of the system team’s top priorities right now. We made hundreds of unique traits for BfA, and 216 spec-specific traits for the outer ring alone. Many of those are undertuned. A handful are overly powerful, to the point that they stomp out the entire decision space for a spec, and the game becomes about getting a piece with one specific trait. We’ll be fixing the outliers on both ends (probably buffing dozens of weaker traits and nerfing a handful of too-strong ones).

While the generic traits are deliberately fairly straightforward, some of the spec-specific ones are indeed too passive, or interact awkwardly with spec rotations. We’ll be retiring some of those in an upcoming patch and adding better replacements to the pool. And of course we’ll be adding all-new Azerite traits on new tiers of gear from upcoming content as the expansion continues. Again, tuning is a big part of the current problem. If you look at a guide and most of the recommended traits for your spec are various flavors of “proc damage on your target” or “proc a buff on yourself” then yeah, that’s really underwhelming – no argument there. But there are dozens of traits out there with deep interactions on par with Legion legendaries, old set bonuses, or gold-border Artifact traits, such as interactions between abilities or resource generation in ways that vary rotations, talent selection, stat priority, and so forth. The problem is that they’re just mostly too weak to feel worth using right now. But we can fix that.

In terms of long-term prospects, we see the current system as a foundation upon which to continue building, not a treadmill to throw out there and let sit passively for the rest of the expansion. We’ll be adding loads of new traits in future content updates, for starters. But tuning work is something that is already ongoing, and which will ramp up in the very near future as we now have most of the data we need to make these adjustments.


Shaman will be seeing some changes, though there is no timeline. Hazzikostas spent more of his time on the philosophy behind the tuning of a hybrid class that includes 2 DPS specs and one healing spec. 

Broadly, we've tried to define areas in which specializations should excel (single-target, cleave, AoE, spread, clumped, burst, sustained, etc.), and areas where they should lag behind. We've restored some unique tools like Tremor Totem or Soothe, and are open to adding more going forward as needed. Philosophically, there should always be a reason why a group is happy to have X class/spec present, and situations where a group says "man, I really wish we had a Y to deal with this." At the same time, it's essential that classes have weaknesses, or else everyone ends up too similar to one another. Elemental Shaman is intended to be a less mobile spec, for example, while Hunters overall have mobility as an explicit strength. So when we receive feedback that a less mobile spec wishes they were more mobile, frankly, that's working as intended. But that only really works if you feel like you have offsetting strengths, envied by other classes, that justify the reduced mobility. And it certainly doesn't help if we aren't communicating that vision of what strengths and weaknesses are intended to be. We know that we need to do better there.


Yeah, the first few hours on Fetid were pretty rough. We do a final tuning pass right before Mythic opens, based on the latest data we're seeing from players in the live environment during the first week of Heroic. That last-minute change simply had some bad math to it, and the result was a boss that was legitimately "mathematically impossible" - sometimes memes CAN come true. The second nerf was a bit different - the boss was killable before that last 10% change, with a bit more gear and with Vantus Runes, but for a boss 5 of 8, a DPS check that required the very best guilds in the world to play perfectly and also get their ilvl to 370+ was just going to be too much, so we made another adjustment and feel pretty good about where it stands now.

We'll update the thread as more questions are answered.

What do you think so far?

Suzie Ford / Suzie is the Associate Editor and News Manager at Follow her on Twitter @MMORPGMom
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