Seeing that blizzard is going to be removing challenge modes really upsets me. I have not done them yet for a few reasons, one of course being that I have yet to find a group to do them with and the other being I always thought I could do them whenever because they would always be there. It was scaled technology and no matter what we were wearing we would be scaled to it. So it would be there forever. I could do them now, in the last months of the expansion, in warlords, or even some time in the future when we face the legion again 2 or 4 expansions from now.
But no. Blizzard is removing them and now I have a ticking clock if I ever want to do them to get the title, mount and transmogs sets. So yes, I am upset they are removing them. Something I waited to do because I did not figure there would ever be a rush to need to get it done because I did not think it was added with an expiration date is now going away and I am pretty upset about that. I guess I have my work cut out for me in the coming weeks.
So if I am upset about it why exactly do I support blizzard removing them?
Good question and one I believe is best explained by something I like to call "looking at the big picture" and the big picture right now is that they need to be removed.
Challenge modes were designed with the concept of the game we have now. The game we have now is changing incredibly next expansion. Not just a minor change in abilities or what they do but huge sweeping changes and all those changes will effect challenge mode balancing.
Challenge modes where made with the following in mind, all things that are changing, and were scaled back to 463.
Hit and Expertise:
With the removal of hit and expertise come warlords those stats will be changed into some other secondary stats be it mastery, critical strike or haste. Now every even half way decent player is sitting at their appropriate caps for hit and expertise and that is a hell of a lot of stat points going into those. That stat allotment will mean that we will have that much more of some other secondary stat when hit and expertise removed. The scaling tech is not designed to scale down appropriately in a world without hit and expertise.
Fewer Gem Slots:
We have been told that fewer pieces of gear will have gem slots on them. While you might not think it matters but it does. Challenge modes were built with a self nerfing system involved and anyone that has ever considered doing them knows exactly what I am talking about. When gem slots are added to a piece some of the base stats are removed to afford the slot in the stat budget. So the smart players will not go in there with a pair of 463 gloves with no slots because a pair of gloves with 1 slot would be better. The 160 of a main stat or 320 of a secondary stat you gain from the lost base stats is much more than the pittance taken away by the scaling down to 463. Two gems slots are even better. Challenge modes where designed knowing this and with fewer gem slots they need to be rebalanced to correctly allow for some changes when you do get gear with gem slots. Remember, gem slots in warlords will not take away from the base stats on the item, it is a true bonus. So not only do they need to readjust for fewer gem slots but they need to readjust for more powerful gem slots.
Fewer Enchanted Items:
While there have been no specifics told about what will be able to be enchanted and what will not we have been told that we will have fewer items that will be capable of being enchanted. You might not believe this but the challenge modes were designed around us being enchanted. Yes, they expected everyone that was doing it to have every slot that could be enchanted enchanted. With the removal of some things being able to be enchanted there needs to be some adjustments made to scaling to adjust for that.
Tertiary Stats are Being Added:
The challenge modes were not designed with the concept that some people might have tertiary stats or that someone might even go through the trouble of building a specific set with those stats to use for them. Sure the chances of items with tertiary stats dropping is low but being challenge modes are scaled down people have basically forever to start building pure sets filled with as much of those stats are they can get.
Full life stealing sets, full speed sets, full cleave sets, you name it. When warlords starts going deep people can run the starter raids just for drops with the tertiary stats they need to complete full sets with as much of the stat as they want. Being they will be from old raids they will be easier for people clear each week, even multiple ones, increasing the chances they get them. The fact they are old gear would mean nothing to the person doing the challenge mode being it will be scaled down, so having a piece with tertiary stats from the first tier in warlords would be just as valuable as having one from the second or third tier.
So while that could be considered as someone going above and beyond to make a set just for the challenge modes with all speed on it or all life stealing on it, which undoubtedly would help with challenge modes, they were not designed to interact with them so there is no saying what bugs or unexpected things could happen being they are on the gear, even in small amounts, and this would need to be tested for balance purposes first. Don't put it past people to build specific sets for running old scaled content either. I know I would make a set if I knew it would be best for me and I am not even hard core about it.
Reforging Being Removed:
Don't think that challenge modes where designed with reforging in mind, think again. They were designed thinking that people would reforge their gear to whatever is the best stat for the scaled technology. They knew that their player base would take every advantage they could in trying to get them done and they were designed to meet the challenge for those people that were smart enough to do so. With no reforging people will not be able to handle pick which stats they want just for challenge modes. Sure they can farm gear with the stats they want but that will take longer and they can not switch to their challenge mode reforges just for them. There will be some rebalancing needed to work with reforging no longer being in game.
No More Snapshots:
A good player with abilities that snapshot what they do will use that to their advantage and get the best possible DoT on a mob when they have the appropriate temporary buffs. It might not seem like a lot but trust me, good timing of your abilities that take a snap shot of their damage can be large. With no more snapshots in warlords the balance needs to change, not much, but just a little bit and they will need to take that into account for challenge modes.
No More Breakpoints:
As mentioned in reforging, one of the things people would reforge to were haste break points. With no more reforging and no more break points, just like with snapshots, there might need to be a little bit of adjustments that need to be made. It might not be a huge thing all on its own but with all the other changes this too will need to be taken into account and balanced around.
We are getting our stats squished down which I figured everyone knows by now unless they were living under a rock or they got hit in the head by some stray debris from something a gnome blew up, presumably accidentally. Being everything in the game needs to be adjusted to work with the new stat squish it would not seem like a stretch to say that challenge modes would need to be adjusted as well. And as something that is scaled to one specific level of gear and not intended to be over geared, it has a set difficulty level involved and the balancing needs to be a hell of a lot more precise than the redesigning of the older raids which they might not care if we over gear to work in the squished world.
Profession Bonuses Being Redone:
Okay you can call me out on this one because blizzard has not specifically said they are doing this but listen to me first before you say that I am talking out of my ass on this one. They will be removing or changing many if not all profession bonuses. How can I be so sure about that? Logic of course.
With fewer gem slots in the game having your character be a blacksmith that can add two gem slots becomes insanely over powered as a profession. Every character that is serious about doing their maximum potential will become a blacksmith just for those two extra gem slots. The addition of them would be incredibly insane in warlords where few pieces even have a chance of having a gem slot on them.
Lets not even start on jewel crafting where those two stronger gems would mean so much more than they do now. If you only have two gem slots having two better gems in them is a huge increase over what we have now when you have 14 slots or so and only two of them have better gems in it. The effect of those better gems means so much more when you only have two slots than it does when you have 14.
And what about leatherworkers with better bracer enchants, will we even still have those? Or scribes with better shoulder enchants, will we even still have those? Or, well, you get the idea. With the removal of enchants and gems being so abundant and on everything professions need to be changed to adjust for it. Challenge modes are designed with today's profession bonuses as they expect that everyone that is doing a challenge mode is someone that wanted the challenge and people that usually want a challenge take advantage of their professions. There would need to be some rebalancing here as well.
Every expansion some talents change and this one will be no different. While we are not getting a completely new talent tree for the first time in, well, ever, there are going to be some changes to talents, or so we have been told. Some talents might be removed, others will be reworked, and there will be added level 100 talents. With everything else changing around it as mentioned in the previous points, how these work can very well be unexpected. Time will be needed to tell if these changes do not turn mages into challenge mode gods where they can solo gold. Sure it is not likely at all, but who knows how things will work out. And being this is a wild card along with the other things it would be best to adjust the challenge modes to better work with the new talents.
We might not know what is being removed or how much is being removed but we know for a fact some things are being removed. Control things like CCs and the such. For anyone that has ever done challenge modes, even myself with extremely little experience, we know that control can sometimes be huge in making the timer. The challenge modes are designed for people to use all their tools. Sure there is some cushion there where you can still get gold with a very talented team and no control at all, but control makes it easier sometimes and it was originally designed with that in mind. So with various abilities being removed it is quite possible that some adjustments will need to be made to the challenge modes. Whereas they expected every group to have something to deal with a certain pack or abilities the pack did, with some things being removed, that might not always be the case and that is why they will need to adjust the challenge modes to deal with fewer CC options.
Just a complete guess here but I believe that, in blizzards mind, they will think people have other things on their mind at the time they remove the challenge modes so much so that people might not actually miss them. I am going to guess they will be removed at, or near, the 6.0 patch, the prepatch for warlords. Which means people will be doing whatever prepatch event they give us to do then we will all be working on leveling to 100 and running new dungeons and gearing up for new raids and testing new abilities and building up our new garrisons and catching new pets and exploring new areas and doing new things that we won't actually be caring about running old content. So, like I said, while it is only a guess, they are removing it to work on them when people would be least likely to be doing them anyway. That is of course assuming they ever add them back which is no slam dunk mind you.
So while I am really upset that I never got a chance to do them all because I thought I had all the time in the world or might not even get a chance before they remove them I do support them removing them. The reason for that support comes from the fact that so much is changing that to fix challenge modes to work as intended they would basically need to completely redesign them from the ground up to deal with no hit and expertise, fewer gem slots, fewer enchants, tertiary stats, the stat squish, profession bonuses, talent changes and skills removed.
I just think they are better off spending the time it would take to fix them making warlords better, more clean and finished, when it comes out. I am glad to see they are setting their priorities straight and taking care of the new and not the challenge modes.
Sure, challenge modes are something that have no time table, you can do them any time and they are meant to always be the same experience. As scaled content you can do it whenever and it will always be just as difficult, or easy, as it was when you did it 6 months or 2 years ago. But that is the thing, they can fix it any time they want, it will always be there. It will always be scaled content. It will always be just as challenging as it was intended to be, even if we do it three expansions from now.
So I support them not wasting their resources on fixing them currently. I do hope I can get them done before they are removed of course but if I don't and if they do come back, who cares if I did them now or if I do them a year from now. They will still be the same exact challenge they were intended to be.
Now, with all that said, I do support blizzard in removing them, but if they never adjust them and never bring them back and I never get to do them, I might be a bit more upset. Over all blizzard is doing the right thing removing them now and being it is so rare they do the right thing, we might as well enjoy that for this moment, they are doing the right think and thinking about us for once.
The Queue: Archaeology, specs, and a personal note about this column - *Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the *World of Warcraft*. Adam Holisky (@adamho...
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