[Classic] Discussion following Live Chat with Devs

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WoW Community Council
#1 - Aug. 26, 2022, 2:28 p.m.
Blizzard Post

Following a live chat between the Classic Devs and the Classic Community Council members, I wish to start a thread to discuss the topics that were covered and to make it visible to the classic community.

I won’t give my opinion on this first post, only listing what was discussed, feel free to correct me if I miss something or got something wrong.

Disclaimer: None of these are guarantees

Edit: Just to be clear, those ideas are from Blizzard, not the Community Council.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room…

iLvl squish for T9/T10/S7/S8

The proposal of reducing the iLvl (and in turn the stats) of items from ToC and onwards (That is T9, T10, Onyxia, Ruby Sanctum, S7 and S8) was made.

The stated goals of this change were as follow:

  • To give more relevance to Ulduar once ToC is released.
  • To increase the difficulty of ICC by reducing power creep.

Furthermore, this change would also reduce power creep and gear disparity in PvP for Season 7 and 8.

ToC lockout changes

It was mentioned that the overall goal for the changes to ToC lockout was to make it similar to ICC lockout. 10 man and 25 man with the ability to change between heroic and normal on a per boss basis, although it was said that there are challenges with this kind of change because of the way ToC works.
Additionally, the amount of gear drop might be looked at to deal with the fact there would be less lockouts for ToC.

Server/Faction balance

Another big topic of the live chat was regarding server and faction balance. The proposal for a large bonus to the underdog faction on a server was presented as well as the potential for a larger bonus to both factions if a server became balanced.
The question of server transfer pricing was asked and the provided answer was that there would be free transfers offered similar to the current free transfers we have right now.
Edit: Correction, what free transfers were since they aren’t available right now

The overall sentiment seems to be a willingness to find a solution to the server/faction balance issue.


There was a discussion around Wintergrasp and what will be done to make it playable and enjoyable. The current stance seem to be to first test it on the beta and monitor it and make changes accordingly.
Right now, as I understand it, it would be many instances of Wintergrasp running at the same time and it would be cross-server similar to a battleground.

This led to the question of VoA access which with the way it is currently going to be implemented would mean VoA is opened almost 24/7. (Only one person need to win wintergrasp for a faction on a server for it to be opened to the whole faction on that server)

Another question regarding the issues with balancing a game mode that has a distinct objective for each side was also presented and balancing for Wintergrasp would be looked at over the course of WotLK Classic.

Fresh Servers

Finally, it was said that the goal would be “as few servers as possible” with at least one per region in order to limit the chances that fresh servers turns into single faction servers.

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WoW Classic Game Producer
#4 - Aug. 26, 2022, 9:18 p.m.
Blizzard Post

Thanks for posting these notes and commentary, Vay, Cleavis and Mispeled. Was really great talking with you and the rest of the classic community council folks yesterday.

I wanted to chime in and talk about the “ilvl squish” in ToC/ICC a bit more, and provide even more context for anyone who is reading this who may have some questions about this idea (and I do want to stress, it’s currently just an idea)

There’s actually several goals, here, with two being the primary:

Give Ulduar time to breathe

Going to start with a little history recap here; In original Wrath of the Lich King, Ulduar occupied an interesting design space as even the normal modes for many of the bosses were a pretty large cut above Naxxramas 10/25 in terms of difficulty. For many people just joining World of Warcraft during at the start of Wrath of the Lich King, Naxx was potentially their first raid and as Naxx was so accessible, it had huge participation. Ulduar however, had much lower participation and many groups that were successfully clearing Naxx and the other Tier 7 raids suddenly found themselves struggling.

Overall a few different things were tried including some nerfs to Ulduar as well as trying to get a new raid out to players to bridge the gap between Ulduar and Icecrown Citadel. This raid was released around 3 1/2 months after Ulduar, and was released with gear equivalent to another full tier up from Tier 8 gear, with the addition of heroic mode which provided an even larger ilvl jump over normal mode than rewards for defeating hard mode encounters in Ulduar were. By early World of Warcraft raid tier standards, Ulduar had a relatively short run before being effectively replaced and outclassed by significantly better rewards from a much more accessible raid in Trial of the Crusader.

As years have passed, we think its safe to say that Ulduar is now regarded as one of the best and most unique raid experiences in WoW, and those that enjoyed it undoubtedly felt like it was cut quite short. We want to make sure that Ulduar is front and center during its time in Wrath Classic, and still has healthy amount of time to breathe before Trial of the Crusader is released, and by extension, Season 7 for Arena is introduced. This bridges to the next major goal for this change…

Don’t Cut Arena Season 7 Short

Early on in discussions to plan Wrath of the Lich King Classic, we knew we wanted Ulduar to have a good long run, and the first Idea we considered was simply making the Trial of the Crusader tier (Tier 9) much shorter, potentially up to half as long as Ulduar (Tier 8). However, the major problem with that plan is that we’d then need to either start Arena Season 7 right in the middle of Tier 8 and create a situation where PvP gear would be in many cases BiS to PvE raiders for multiple months, or start Season 7 late and have it be a very short, truncated season.

Arena seasons need a certain amount of time to breathe as well and this idea of a truncated season did not sit well with us at all. By going ahead and releasing Trial of the Crusader at a time that makes sense to line up with Arena Season 7, that feels much better for PvP-focused players.

In addition to the goals above, we also had 3 other main secondary goals:

Encourage Older Raids to remain Relevant and worth doing for Alts and PUGs.

One thing we really like in Classic and Burning Crusade is that older tiers of raiding continue to see participation even when that content is no longer current. This means that there’s a large variety of things to do for your alts or on off-nights, and due to the overall flatter nature of gear and ilvl progression in those earlier versions of wow, this makes these older raids more appealing to continue to run. By lowering the ilvl of ToC slightly, this makes running Ulduar hard modes appealing and a worthwhile investment for longer than it otherwise might be. As mentioned above, Normal ToC gear is so much better than even Ulduar hard mode gear, that most guilds would very likely drop Ulduar completely, and it would be less appealing to alts much faster.

Allow us to increase difficulty slightly in later tiers without changing bosses or the mechanics themselves.

We have a ton of reverence and respect for the encounters in Wrath of the Lich King Classic and wanted to make as few adjustments here as possible. Slightly lowering overall player power going into a raid like ICC allows our modern, more savvy Classic players to have a bit more of a challenge in that raid without needing to make risky changes to the encounters themselves. And with the progressive raid buff system that comes in later in ICC, we still feel like this raid will be accessible to raid groups of varying skill levels after some time passes.

Curb a bit of the wild scaling that occurs with such massive iLvl jumps between tiers

Kris Zierhut was one of the designers responsible for planning itemization during original Wrath of the Lich King, and he’s back on our team now working on the Classic version. He often times says that a stated goal of gearing and scaling in original Wrath was to avoid the situation we got into at the end of The Burning Crusade where certain classes and roles scaled so well that they had to make major systemic adjustments to Sunwell Plateau to compensate for this. The most notable example of this is “Sunwell Radiance” which effectively reduced the avoidance of all tanks by a flat, massive amount. While effective, this debuff never felt great because it meant that the progression of your character meant little when you got to Sunwell, as there was a global debuff that negated the benefits you got from your hard-won gear across the board.

As alluded to above, Trial of the Crusader’s injection into the overall design of raid progression in Wrath of the Lich King conflicted with those original goals and intent, and ultimately led to the same type of scaling problems that were faced late in The Burning Crusade. We feel that an adjustment here could help with this concern when we get to ICC, and add up to a more interesting experience overall.

We totally understand that at face value “nerfing” gear is a scary prospect, but we are committed to taking extreme care to not make too many waves, and ensure that in relative terms, classes and roles that excelled later in the expansion will continue to feel powerful as they progress.

Thank you for reading if you got this far, and apologies for the length of this, but floating a change like this really needs a thorough explanation and reasoning for context. We wanted to start this with a focused group of community council members, and we’d love to get feedback on this in the coming weeks. We still have time to make further adjustments to this idea.


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WoW Classic Game Producer
#9 - Sept. 2, 2022, 8:20 p.m.
Blizzard Post

Hi Everyone,

Wanted to chime back in here now that we’ve had a few days to digest feedback around this and think on it some more. While we do still feel that adjusting the ilvl curve in the last half of the expansion would be a net positive to the experience overall we cannot argue with the idea that, taken at face value, a nerf is a nerf and that still stings. As a result we’ve studied the commentary from players carefully and come up with an alternative to the original suggestion based on that feedback.

Instead of “nerfing” item levels in ToC, we’d like to see how everyone feels about buffing item levels in Ulduar normal slightly (6 item levels) and Ulduar Hard Modes significantly (12 item levels). Past that, we’d make no other changes.

This would put Ulduar 25 normal gear at 232, placing it 6 ilvls above Kel’thuzad, Sartharion, and Malygos 25 gear and making even normal feel much more rewarding in comparison to Tier 7 raid end-bosses. This would also put hard mode gear at 251, which is definitely a very significant step up in power. This means that Ulduar 25 Hard Mode gear will be slightly higher in ilvl than Trial of the Crusader 25 normal gear (ilvl 245). This might be an alarming jump at first, but there are a few factors that led to us believing that this would be a net positive.

We are doing Pre-Nerf Ulduar

During Early interviews, we suggested we likely would not be doing a “pre-nerf” system to most raids in Wrath of the Lich King Classic, as the changes were not very extensive for most raid dungeons. This remains true, however, after we started actually digging into the data around raid changes that occurred during original Wrath, we realized that Ulduar actually had received fairly massive nerfs both while it was current content and immediately afterwards. As a result we will be implementing pre-nerf modes to Ulduar, including the hard mode bosses. These changes in some cases may make bosses and hard modes significantly more difficult than their final state, and we feel justifies the power gain in hard mode rewards. Just like in 2009, we are somewhat concerned that if we implement pre-nerf Ulduar and ship rewards as-is, it may not feel sufficiently rewarding.

Availability and Volume of Ulduar Hard Mode Gear

In contrast to heroic raids later in the expansion with fully fleshed-out, higher item level loot tables, the loot tables for hard mode boss kills are the same as normal but each boss (other than Algalon) grants one additional bonus piece of gear at the higher item level. Across the entire raid this means that there are a maximum total of around a dozen pieces of additional gear available at this higher item level, per clear. While we would be making these items significantly more powerful, they will remain difficult to obtain and this is not a huge amount of extra items at this level of power, at least not compared to a full tier’s worth of heroic-difficulty items.

As for how this impacts PvP, we still need to evaluate Season 6 gear for similar adjustments there so that Arena players didn’t feel they had to raid Hard Modes to compete. We don’t believe we’d totally re-itemize Season 6 gear, but a few upward adjustments would likely occur to offset this.

All told, our goal really is to make Wrath, and particularly Ulduar the best possible overall experience it can be. We love Ulduar in particular and we think many of you do as well, and want to see it shine. Rewards are one of the knobs we can turn that can really impact the experience, without having to make any kind of other mechanical changes. After some thought we think these changes are a good way to make this phase of the game feel better and maintain relevance for a bit of time after Trial of the Crusader releases, without making later phases feel worse.

As previously mentioned, this is still totally just an idea, and we’d love to continue to get your feedback on it.

Thank you!