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Liveblogging the BlizzCon WoW Class Panel

Robin Torres, @cosmiclaurel
August 3, 2007

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We're still live on the BlizzCon floor, and now we're liveblogging the WoW Class Panel after the break. Stay tuned for news about classes, talents, and everything you need to know about how Blizzard developed the class you chose for your character.

2:37 Rob Pardo says if you loved your class when WoW shipped, that's me. If you like them now, that's Tom.

Ranger class is now hunter. Some classes didn't make the cut originally like necromancer and blademaster.

First hero class: Deathknight.

2:39 Concentrating Coolness

Why paladins added to horde and shamans to alliance -- classes were coming closer together so they made the switch. Now the hated classes are on the opposing sides.

2:40 Deathknight system incorporates new resource system.

More classes aren't always better.

Balance Criteria:

All classes should be able to solo to max level

Every class should have a role in a 5 person group

Every class should have an important role in a raid

Every class should be competitive in PvP, but not be equal to another class in one on one PvP. Every class should have a spot in a 5v5 situation.

Most importantly, every class should be fun! (yes!)

For example, Warriors used to only press taunts in groups, but now changed for more fun.

2:45pm Tom Chilton

Purpose of talent system is to differentiate character.

Talent System Development

Apparent for need for customization.

Buying talent UI used to be more like buying skills from a trainer.

Class Balance

Alternate talent/gear specs... making them playable (e.g. Shadow Priest, Protection Paladin, Feral Druid)

They've emphasized getting gear for the different talent specs.

Gear contribution for HoT and DoTs.

Gear used to have more offensive stats, but now they've increased the return of investing in stamina and now added resilience.

General Class Philosophy

Raid, solo, group and PVP -- should be viable for all

Shouldn't have significantly different rules for spells in PVP vs PVE. It should be more cohesive.

2:50pm Not every talent will be optiized for every aspect of the game. Should have to make tough choices about your talent spec.

Talents shouldn't pigeonhole you too much to one specific activity.

Balance is ever-changing, even without changes to the game. What used to be overpowering, over time lessens when people find strategies to counteract. So they try not to have "knee-jerk" reactions.

Beware of shocks to the system. Not everyone nerds out on the forums. Don't want people to log in and feel like they are playing a completely different character.

2:54 Kevin Jordan - changes since before TBC


Bears tanking and cats killing. Wanted to make sure druids could be viable tanks or DPS in groups and raids.
Not just a soloing spec.

Feral and Balance just don't mix. So planned for mixing with resto.

No matter what, you still want to heal sometimes.


Traps in combat and the reliance on Feign Death.

Pet scaling (holding aggro, tanking) -- allows for bonuses for the pet in all the important places.

Misdirection (group/raid utility). To add to group/raid utility instead of just DPS.

2:58 pm Mage

DPS king (single target vs. AoE) -- so AoE king

Water Elemental as a talent -- so as not to be a fulltime pet class.

Spell Steal and Invisibility -- really odd things to break the mold with this class typically more than others.

Paladin (lots of boos)

That's the same reaction as last time.

Horde playable -- more distinct from a shaman

Protection tanks, ret dps, holy healing (much laughter)

Few tweaks needed for tanking and applause for much more needed for ret dps.

Successful spec is for healing and tank. So trying to give ret a boost.

Retribution itemization pitfalls.

Priest (cheers)

Shadow Priest in PvE (damage, healing, mana battery)

Bring alternate specs to be more playable in PVE instead of just PVP.

The Holy Trinity (Circle of Healing, LOLWell and Spirit of Redemption, aka improved death) -- much laughter and applause.

Still struggling for those last two.

Discipline Tree... what's the focus?

Shaman (applause)

Alliance playable

Totems vs. Blessings.

The scaling problem (Arcanite Reaper and beyond) -- used to be feared and now hasn't scaled so well

Rogue (much applause some boos)

Best single target DPS (much to mage's regret) -- for close range, though

Not enough utility so Improved Sap.

Swords vs. Daggers. Which should be the more damaging spec? Ongoing battle for balance.

"Stunlock" and increased health in Burning Crusade. You used to be able to die before leaving stunlock and if not then would kill the rogue even with head start. So now more fun.

3:06pm Warlocks (huge applause and boos)

Pet scaling (Demonology)

Reliance on fear -- never ending struggle.

Best dueling class, but WoW isn't a dueling game. Stigma carries over into arena, even if not the strongest class.

Warrior (saved the best class for last)

Rage mechanic (fun vs. balance) - killing faster and pushing more buttons. Scales exceptionally well. Trimming that to the right place make the class less fun to play.

Best at what they do (with enough money for constant talent respecs). Looking into being more viable in different areas of the game.

Where is the room for the rogue if rogue can't wear plate but warrior does DPS.

3:09pm Back to Tom for Hero Classes

What are Heroes?

Classic Warcraft 3 characters. Either didn't fill enough of a primary role in the original WoW or didn't feel right being played from level 1.

Epic feel -- should be very different from the other classes, such as the new resource system for the Death Knight.

Lots of ideas

Forking classes from current classes or additional talent trees. But no, because the character classes wouldn't feel distinct. Would all be watered down.

Multi-classing -- a secondary class or a hero profession. For example, a warrior would become a deathknight. Would water down the different character classes. How is a warrior death knight different from a warrior death knight, etc.

What is a mage deathknight or druid deathknight -- wouldn't feel right.

Class morphing -- the character class would stop being the old class and then do the quest and become a deathknight.
Players would feel they were losing existing characters. What if you don't like the new one. So they decided to unlock instead of create new.

Because tanks are hard to find for groups, they chose Deathknight as a potential to alleviate this.

Class balance concerns

Balance implications

Many new heroes could be too complicated

3:15pm The future of classes

Death Knight -- major new introduction

More class spells and abilities 71-80

New content can be designed in ways because characters can do new things.

Extended talent trees.

3:16pm Q&A
Shamans (applause)
Maybe crowd control from 70 to 80 as spell or talent. Tried to be very measured about who gets crowd control.
They do bring a lot of group utility, no crowd control at level 70.

Druid tree form -- too limited - inability to cast all resto spells. Can only be a backup healer.
Do plan to extend abilities. Decurse and unpoison in tree form. Wanted the tree form to feel different, but will reduce limitations.

Q: Thank you for addressing pitfalls. Holy Priests in PVE. Nihilum and Death and Taxes don't bring holy priests to raids. changes?
A: They will make changes to lightwell and circle of healing. Must be afraid of overcompensating. A lot of holy priests shifted over to shadow priest. Not just an issue with holy priests -- also because shadow is more compelling and pallies shine in healing efficiency. (Q wants the changes so his girlfriend will keep playing).

Q: Other Warcraft 3 abilities into WoW?
A: Constantly evaluating if those spells and abilities will translate and finding right time and place for them.

Q: Ret Paladin - shrinking for some time. Now what will happen with Death Knight is introduced. It is already small, won't it disappear? (lots of applause)
A: Not just ret pallies will be attracted to death knights. Ret pallies will get more raid dps instead of just burst oriented dps. They must be careful not to overdo it on the PVP front.

Q: With the addition of Death Knight, won't that reduce rogues even more in raids?
A: Pre BC raid size went from 40 to 25 so that will affect how many of classes to get in raids. Adding another class will change the group composition. All classes will shrink in raids, but they will be played by the people who have changed to Death Knights. (not being played by robots)

Q: Low Pop servers who have only one raid guild -- how will that be changed.
A: They are looking into how to adjust population in current servers.

Q: Hybrid trees being valid.
A: As you move down a tree, you should be able to do different hybrid roles. Takes a lot of finesse to get those talents just right.

Q: Addition talent points for class -- how to stop nightmares in arenas?
A: Your class will also have new talent points to counteract. (Do I wanna be the 51 20 guy?)

Q: At the last BlizzCon, pallies in the back of raids. How can holy pallies move forward?
A: Depends on how you spec. Holy is extremely powerful for mana efficiency for healing. You don't have to play at range, but should allow the ability.

Q: Warriors used to be the only viable tank. Now bears are even with warriors, sometimes better. Now pallies not so much. Will they be equal?
A: AoE tanking is now very good for prot pallies. But there will be improvement on protection tree such as comparable number of hitpoints as warriors and bears.

A: Aggro. Gotta go. But we are expecting to spread it around in the expansion.

3:31pm More questions will be answered tomorrow in the class discussion. End of panel.

Thank you for coming! Dungeons and Raids panel is next and we will be liveblogging it, too.

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