WoW Wednesday: Classifying Corruption

Corruption is an odd name of the game when it comes to World of Warcraft’s new patch, “Visions of N’zoth.” With any form of player character progression, a system that directly influences player gearing and customization has positives and negatives. However, when it weighs heavily on how your avatar functions on a fundamental, it is inevitable to find flaws in it. This week we will discuss Corruption, it’s place in player power, and if the system functions on a pure level.

The first question to address is, ‘What is Corruption?’ Replacing the Warforging and Titanforging systems, Corruption is the new ‘power increase’ mechanic designed to make player-gear more enticing. Functioning similarly to the previous systems, Corruption has a low chance to proc on any gear obtained through drops, such as Raiding or in some rare cases PvP. However, taking elements of the failed Benthic System from Nazjatar Corruption instead carries with it varied powers.

Coming in three different tiers of corruption (From +10 to +40). Each tier has certain effects tailored to it, with the lowest resigned mostly to stat bonuses. The highest, however, have incredibly powerful effects ranging from massive area-of-effect attacks to gushing bleeds. Some weapons, such as Sk’shuul Vaz, feature effects which draw on player’s already impressive stats to magnify their power and throughput.

This Corruption grows over time with the more corrupted item pieces you equip. Starting at zero and potentially scaling infinitely, every twenty levels imparts another greater impediment. Starting at just one corruption, your character will occasionally be halted by grasping tentacles, with later additions creating stunning mirror images. When your corruption maxes out you will not only gain increased power output, but you will rapidly take a deadly amount of damage. Corruption creates a risk-reward system based on what you’re willing to undertake with your current gear choices, while offering mitigation via the new legendary cloak and Heart of Azeroth Essences.

Initially there was quite a bit of trepidation with this system. Benthic gear was notoriously broken throughout Azshara’s Eternal Palace and Nazjatar for its special abilities. Such gear could easily be acquired and powered up while imparting benefits that outclassed even Mythic content loot. Where Ion Hozzikostas, World of Warcraft’s current lead developer, stated that item level should be the indicator on what is superior gear, the mathematics of stat multiplications and resistance increases against certain attacks made Benthic Gear a greater asset than any could dream of. Such is the issue, to an extent, with Corruption.

From its early days of implementation, the system has seen radical and controversial changes. The Public Test Realms saw massive widespread changes in terms of Corruption and number crunching up until launch. Even now, at the time of writing, traits like Infinite Stars dominate the current Corruption Meta. Classes that often underperform, such as Arms Warriors, who lack steady AoE and cleaving in Raid Teams are now preferred for most compositions, as Infinite Stars can proc on high-multi strike abilities such as Bladestorm and during Sweeping Strikes (both of which strike multiple targets rapidly) when coupled with DoTs and bleeds.

This was pushed to its apex of an issue when Corruption received nearly a dozen changes across the various tiers and abilities during the previous reset. This reset, in the middle of the Mythic Ny’alotha race between the world’s top Raiding Guilds, disrupted entire team makeups and individual character decisions. Let me paint for you such an example:

Intending to push your gearing curve you and your friends run Mythic +15 dungeons all week. Like Titanforging, Corrupted Gear only has a pittance of a chance to drop. It is incredibly unlikely, unless you are running multiple dungeons in short bursts and clearing well above the time limit, that you will see many pieces drop. Instead you’ll need to rely on your weekly Mythic+ Cache to deliver the guaranteed loot drop. If you’re lucky enough to receive an item type that CAN have Corruption, you need to hope that it is of the optimal tier within a certain range of Corruption.


Now, suddenly, the next week all of your hard-earned best-in-slot pieces are useless due to heavy nerfs. That is what happened during the Mythic Ny’alotha race, and to many players worldwide.

That is, if you are fortunate enough to avoid a crippling bug that occurred during the patch’s early weeks. Several players (including myself) were ‘locked’ into their loot types from week to week since launch across multiple sources. Some players could only get Trinkets from their Mythic+ Cache (which cannot become corrupted), while others could only get boots from Horrific Visions or pants from other sources. Meaning that, if you were unfortunate enough, you could essentially spin your wheels gearing for weeks and never see a piece of corrupted gear.

While I reached out to Blizzard to deal with my version of this bug, and there are many forums detailing similar instances, this is not a ‘known issue’ at this time. Despite internal team-members suffering from the exact same issue, this currently is not on Blizzard’s radar.

On paper, Corruption is a VERY good system. It rewards creative choices and maximizing what you can do with what you acquire. A greater issue comes, however, at the sheer exclusivity of Corrupted gear. If you have average luck, or especially a streak of good luck, you can quickly find yourself soaring past all barriers to your class’ ability to perform. However, if you are particularly unlucky, you’ll find yourself falling behind in short pacing.

Does this mean Corruption is necessarily a bad system? Certainly not. Most issues here could be addressed with simply making Corruption standard across ALL items, including the option to purge gear. Corruption does, in many aspects mathematically, fundamentally break your class role which is something that has been demanded by the player base since the ability pruning of Warlords of Draenor. That possibility of pushing a class beyond its apex role through gear customization opens a realm of possibilities about how even Tanks, who have an impressive amount of utility already, can change how they fundamentally process encounters.

In terms of fundamental mathematics, Corruption requires some time to gestate. This was a system that, frankly, required another month or two of testing. But given that it becomes more accessible and manageable, perhaps with higher tiers locked behind more difficult content, I want to see it return. N’zoth’s influence across Azeroth, and particularly our equipment, makes not just for interesting storytelling but a fun new way to approach class-balance and utilization. This risk-reward system where numbers aren’t always clear but are instead focused on fun experimentation makes for a more interesting product overall.

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WoW Wednesday: What’s New in Season 4?

Ny’alotha awakens and with the rise of N’zoth comes Season 4 for Battle for Azeroth! As the last Old God begins to unfurl the lengths of his millennia spanning plans, champions of Azeroth gird themselves for a war for the fate of the world. With Season 4 officially beginning this week, we’ll be diving into everything that’s new with its release.

Ny’alotha, The Waking City

First and foremost is the release of Battle for Azeroth’s fourth and final major raid tier, Ny’alotha, The Waking City. With its newfound freedom, N’zoth has begun his long awaited siege on the waking world. Enroaching upon the Forge of Origination, Azeroth’s land-scouring reset button, and the Engine of Nakk-Shalak, its power source, it is only a matter of time before the Old God removes all hope. Desperate to end the threat before everything its lost, Magni Bronzebeard, the Speaker for Azeroth, and Wrathion the Black Prince prepare a desperate gambit. In order to destroy N’zoth forever, they must besiege his very seat of power and hope that the corruption does the hearts of its heroes…


Following the previous raid tier, Azshara’s Eternal Palace, Ny’alotha, The Waking City continues to follow a linear progression system in its boss encounters. While there are several ‘choice’ encounters that players can rotate through, each of the raid’s twelve boss encounters are mostly linear in their progression.

Following previous concepts from the final raids of Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor and Legion, Ny’alotha features an immense host of cosmetic rewards including one that will only be available until the Shadowlands pre-patch. Rewarded for defeating N’zoth on Heroic and Mythic difficulties only, the Uncorrupted Voidwing will close a loop with the Black Prince that remains unanswered. With the corruption of Twilight Dragons and their servitude to the Old Gods, what future does the doomed flight have in Azeroth?

New essences will also abound for players venturing into The Waking City. Similar to the Aqueous Reliquaries of the Eternal Palace, Encrypted Ny’alotha Texts can be combined to form the raid’s Heart of Azeroth Essence. These Texts will only drop from five bosses, including The Prophet Skitra. Like previous raid-progression systems the amount of Texts you can collect per week will increase with higher difficulties. Mythic will reward the most week-to-week.

Looking for Raid Wing 1 and Mythic Difficulty will open the week after your region’s particular launch of Season 3. Players are advised to complete the introduction storyline and gain the first few ranks of their new legendary cloak, Ashjra’kamas, Shroud of Resolve, before entering. You can read up on that and the Horrific Visions systems from our previous coverage.

Step Into the Arena!


Battle for Azeroth 
Season 4 brings a new and glamorous title to the mix, “Corrupted Gladiator.” With the rollover into the next season of Rated PvP, both personal and matchmaking ratings will normalize and return to zero. This means a fresh start for all players seeking to carve their name into the halls of conquerors.

Returning to Season 4 is the graduated Elite Gladiator System, rewarding players who advance their rating with progressive unlockables for your Elite Notorious Gladiator sets, as well as the seasonal tabard, enchantment, and cloak. Those looking to claim the Gladiator Title and the Corrupted Gladiator’s Proto-Drake must also win an additional 50 games in the Elite bracket (2400+). Those looking to claim the “Corrupted Gladiator” title must place in the top 0.1% of rankings in their region, as well as claim 150 victories in 3v3 Arenas during Season 3. The returning Gladiator’s Dreadflame enchantment appearance will still be attainable for those who hit 2100 rating in Season 4.

Returning to Season 4 are temporary seasonal “Elite Class” titles. These titles will be awarded to players who reach the Elite bracket. Several PvP exclusive Essences will continue to appear in Conquest Chests at week’s end, including Conflict and Strife. Others such as Blood of the Enemy can be unlocked through several PvP encounters. Like their PvE counterparts, these Essences have various ranks and may require improving your personal rating to unlock higher tiers.

At this time, Gladiator PvP sets from Seasons 1, 2 and 3 will be unavailable to purchase until a later date.

Marvelous Mythic+

With the start of a new season comes a plethora of adjustments for the Dungeon Delvers of Azeroth. Whereas there is no scaling adjustments akin to Season 3’s brutal changes, difficulty and health will increase more in line with what players are used to from previous seasons. Key depletion will, however, be far more intense, and failed dungeons have the potential to scale down by multiple ranks. A host of Mythic+ dungeon mechanics, including several found in King’s Rest and Freehold, are seeing nerfs due to the heavy and punishing damage they can rapidly deliver. The Quaking Affix has also received a massive change; no longer will players be able to damage themselves but the damage increase for their fellows has increased from 20% to 40%!


With N’zoth’s growing reach across Azeroth and the waking world, a new Mythic affix has been introduced as the Seasonal Affix: Awakened. Similar to last season’s affix, Beguiling, each Mythic 10 dungeon and higher will have a series of pylons scattered around the instance. Whenever these pylons are interacted with, you will be dragged into the dreaming world where a Lieutenant of N’zoth and his minions are contained. After they are defeated you can return to the waking world, allowing you to potentially skip large swaths of the dungeon! But beware: each Lieutenant left alive will join the final boss when you face them.

Additionally, the Season 2 affix, Bwonsamdi’s Bargain, will return on dungeons that are Mythic 9 or lower to encourage you to play depleted keys. Mechagon, 8.2’s megadungeon, also enters the Mythic+ rotation with its two major halves divided up. The Junkyard will feature the exterior portions of Mechagon and its first four bosses. The Workshop will feature all encounters inside Mechagon City itself, and is more boss heavy than it’s predecessor. Hard Mode will not be eligible for players engaging either wing in Mythic+.

Upgrading Gear Tables!

Alongside the opening of Ny’alotha, The Waking City, players will find new loot with increased item levels in their weekly activities. Baseline rewards in Normal, Heroic, Mythic and Mythic+ content have been increased by 30 item levels, putting them on par with previous raid tier rewards.

Gladiator PvP Gear now begins at item level 430 in both the Conquest Chest and regular rewards from Rated Player vs. Player activities. Like last season, players will be able to choose from at least four different rewards in their weekly Conquest Bar. On weeks when the gear rewarded is neither a piece of Azerite Gear, trinket or weapon, players will be able to choose between two different item slots of gear.

Emissary rewards for World Quests have likewise been increased and several items may re-roll or update their stats with the star of the Season. Throughout Season 4, gear may have the chance to become corrupted by N’zoth’s growing influence, and bring with it dangerous new rewards. These can be mitigated by venturing through Horrific Visions, which are vital to your progression in the new Season. You can read more about it here!

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WoW Wednesday: The Legacy of the Black Emperor

SPOILERS AHEAD!

 

Much to our excitement, and my own surprise, Patch 8.3 has been announced! “Visions of N’Zoth,” will take players to the sleeping city of Ny’alotha, where an untold terrors await the champions of Azeroth. There the old god, N’Zoth, has laid dreaming for untold millennia. His dark fortress is one just on the other side of a dark reality; a world of twisted promise for what he plans to unleash upon a slumbering titan. But in the sleeping city, there rests a familiar face.

Along with extensive data-mining about new Allied Races (which we’ll talk about in the coming weeks), an old friend was revealed:

Wrathion, the Black Emperor: Despite all his schemes, Wrathion could not avoid succumbing to the madness that claimed his father. With his mind corrupted by N’Zoth, the Black Prince is a force of unbridled hatred, capable of annihilating all who oppose him in blood and flame.”

This patch brings forth the final conclusion to a tale of power and absolutes. For this WoW Wednesday let’s take a moment to discuss Wrathion, the Black Prince, and the steps that opened him to corruption in more than just his legacy.


Players who leveled through Azeroth’s new world in Cataclysm might remember seeing Wrathion, just not without his characteristic turban. Lain by the black dragon Nyxondra, players first encountered the Prince as a humble egg being studied by Rheastrasza. This red dragon wanted more for her black brethren, who’s patriarch was busy on bringing about the end of the world for a second time. Corrupted wholesale by the influence of the Old Gods, the Black Dragonflight had become pawns in their bid for freedom and were eager to corrupt the entirety of Azeroth to get their way.

Introduced to this earth-shaking conflict well before his technical birth, Wrathion would be freed from his father’s legacy by Rhea’s efforts. Using a titanic device known as the Eye of the Watchers, she did the impossible and managed to purify the egg of its corruption. Quickly secreting it away, Rheastrasza was slain by Deathwing for her hubris, and the egg thought destroyed.

Everyone, however, was deceived. For in killing Rhea and destroying an egg, Deathwing had destroyed one of the red dragon’s own clutch. Wrathion, still unhatched, was quickly secreted away to the Vermilion Redoubt, one of the Red Flight’s hatcheries and sanctuaries. There he would remain until eventually being, ‘collected,’ by the rogues of Ravenholdt Manor. Hatching from his egg, Wrathion swiftly took charge of the shadowy organization with one goal in mind: Deathwing and all of his corrupted brood must die if Azeroth was to survive the Cataclysm.

Empowering a rogue adventurer, Wrathion set his champion upon Deathwing. Subverting the assault on Wyrmrest Temple and preventing the literal end of the world, Wrathion’s Agent traveled across Azeroth to attack the Black Dragonflight. It would be by his orders that Creed, Nalice, and even Ravenholdt’s own Fahrad would be revealed and slain as Black Dragons. Using his knowledge of the void gleaned through his time in the egg, the Black Prince created the tools for rogues to deliver the true lethal blow on Deathwing. Now the last free Black Dragon of his flight, he recruited those of Ravenholdt who would travel with him and vanished from the public world.


With the emergence of Pandaria, Wrathion traveled there after experiencing a terrible vision. Foreseeing a return of the demonic Burning Legion, Wrathion is set on uniting the Alliance and the Horde by any means necessary. Even if that requires one to decimate the other in total world war. Initially throwing his lot in with both the Horde AND the Alliance in an effort to bid them into war, Garrosh Hellscream’s rule as Warchief tips the scales into a terrible manner during the war. Throwing his support behind the Alliance, the Black Prince quickly finds himself at a crossroads.

Taking relics from across Pandaria to heighten his own power and tip the scales of chance; the heart of the Thunder King, a Lance of Lightning, even basking the power of the Celestials. But yet the War spirals on and not to his liking. With the Siege of Orgrimmar and High King Varian Wrynn’s allowing the Horde to continue existing, Wrathion’s plans were foiled. Instead of believing that one made the other truly stronger than if they were alone, the black dragon was instead certain that were they to be divided, even for a moment, all of Azeroth would fall.

Thus, he decided to create a second plan. A better plan. Conspiring with the bronze dragon Kairozdormu and the infinite dragonflight. Freeing Garrosh Hellscream, Wrathion sent the pair back thirty-five years to an alternate Draenor. There, Garrosh took it upon himself to create a second Orcish invasion, one that threatened to tear Azeroth asunder. Uniting in the face of such adversity, the Horde and the Alliance tore through to the other side of the Dark Portal to quell this invasion.

But Wrathion watched throughout. Taking the opportunity to recruit the Alliance’s elite forces to his guard, the Black Prince kept an especial eye on the Kirin Tor and Cordana Felsong. Only when his former champions found him, did the dragon often quickly take his leave.

Thus, the Legion came, and Wrathion was nowhere to be seen. Though his plans were not unfathomable.


With the beginning of the Blood War, the Black Prince was already eager at work. Despite being an outcast from his own race, Wrathion was eager to discover any information he could find to further his kind. It began, initially, with seeking out the location of the Dragon Isles. This was the dragon’s greatest hatchery, their greatest stronghold, and their best kept secret. Even as he searched for more, his eyes were everywhere. Blacktalon Agents were present not only in Nazjatar, watching the developments of Queen Azshara’s trap, but they too were waiting in the old lair of Deathwing to watch a particular Spiritwalker collect a dark essence.

Finding his searches coming to dead ends, and with N’Zoth freed by the naga queen, Wrathion knew that time was short. With an Old God left unchecked for the first time in over ten thousand years, it was possible that anyone could become a victim. Anyone could become a thrall of darkness. Scouring the world, Wrathion left a journal for his old champions to direct them to an artifact of power.

Scouring the library of Shen’dralar, the records of the Pandaren Lorewalkers, even searching the ancient titan facilities, he looked for a way to purge the taint of the Old Gods, even on a small scale. Believing that the Forge of Origination, a titan artifice that could create an apocalyptic scouring of Azeroth, was key Wrathion searched the Vault of Archavon and beyond. Eventually, his feet found him before Karazhan and the spectral remains of Medivh, the Last Guardian. Taking his words to heart, Wrathion prepared to make his plans to change the future by any means necessary. Even if that meant tipping the scales of fate once more.

Taking all he had learned in his travels, Wrathion prepared a plan those familiar with the Void Elves may find familiar. Standing in the darkness, much like the Shado-Pan, he intended to both ‘poison’ the influence of the Old Gods and weaponizing the power of the void against it.

Once more, this comes to the forefront in “Visions of N’Zoth.” Doing what he does best and picking his Champions carefully, Wrathion will delve into the darkness where the Void lingers the strongest. Helping the Champions of Azeroth in rooting through the corruption of Ny’Alotha, he will assist them in forging legendary cloaks (once again) to protect them from the darkness. But as we’ve seen so many times before, undoubtably when one stares into the Void, the void too stares back…

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