Azerite - Worst Itemization in WoW's History

Battle for Azeroth Items and Classes
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09/27/2018 12:48 PMPosted by Lore
09/27/2018 12:43 PMPosted by Duckle
Weird, I wanted Uplifted Spirits, Font of Life, and Overflowing Mist on my gear for healing, but instead I have Elusive Footwork, Fit to Burst, and Boiling Brew. As you know, those three do absolutely nothing for mistweaver, while the former three do nothing for brewmaster. It would cost me hundreds to thousands of gold to spec swap even once per day, and since I do m+ as brewmaster and any raiding as almost exclusively mistweaver, that's a pretty frequent occurrence. It would actually save an insane amount of gold to just have a 2nd monk, though I wouldn't do it personally.

There's also the part where I'd even have equal ilvl azerite pieces pretty quick, since azerite over 340 might as well not exist despite my 370 ilvl.

And you believe the process of leveling and gearing a 2nd monk would be more efficient than farming those 340s on your main?

To be clear I'm not arguing - legitimately trying to make sure I understand this feedback.


Yes.

Remember when legendary system was capped at 4 before the hotfix in Legion ?
Its basically the same, but worse: can't drop from any content beside anything that you can do once a week. Tell me how it wouldn't be more time efficient to just grind on multiple character until you get what you need ? Its all about odds.
09/27/2018 12:27 PMPosted by Lore
09/27/2018 12:22 PMPosted by Fiascoh
If I wanted to play brewmaster or mistweaver right now, I would be significantly better off by making a 2nd monk. Is this really the design you were going for?

Not at all, and I'm curious why you feel that's the case. It isn't in my experience as someone who is currently playing a tri-spec monk.


I'm always curious how blues and devs in general seem to talk like they were playing a completely different World of Warcraft.
09/27/2018 12:27 PMPosted by Lore
09/27/2018 12:22 PMPosted by Fiascoh
If I wanted to play brewmaster or mistweaver right now, I would be significantly better off by making a 2nd monk. Is this really the design you were going for?

Not at all, and I'm curious why you feel that's the case. It isn't in my experience as someone who is currently playing a tri-spec monk.


Azerite armor availability outside of Mythic + dungeons is lacking big time. If you want some of your best traits or want to stack multiple of the same trait at an item level higher than 340 (which is literally required for traits like Pack Alpha to be even remotely usable because in your precious dev teams infinite wisdom, decided to make animal companion nerf pet damage by 40% and then not even mention important information like that in the tooltip. Serious, What the hell is wrong with you guys, that information is important, you shouldn't be hiding that crap) you are FORCED into doing mythic plus. All of the best rewards come out of that those mythic plus dungeons and gear that is not exclusive to the weekly cache is spamable.

The entire system is bad. Would it have killed you guys to maybe make some more azerite gear drop in raids (some traits occur on multiple pieces of gear inside of uldir), or have the raid drop trinkets that weren't absolute garbage (ghuun trinket sims and performs similarly to other trinkets FIFTEEN item levels below it, and it's not just that trinket, ALL of the uldir trinkets at least for me are awful when compared to the offerings in Mythic +, how is this acceptable Lore)?
I get that you all have alts and such...

But azerite gear isn't even fully solved for main toons yet.

20% differences between traits isn't acceptable. It's nice that the difference isn't 30% any more but 20% isn't ok either.
Blizzard thinking they've solved the tuning issue is so soooooo out of touch.
I don't have a problem with azerite. i think it's a solid system and that the forums are ridiculously overstating the negatives of the system. It feels good when you get an azerite drop and every piece has at least one solid hybrid option for casuals to make it easy to not have to carry multiple sets. Yes they aren't optimal traits normally, but you are a casual, why do you care? I have cleared 3/8 heroic and all of normal Uldir pugging with mediocre resto azerite traits, and good balance traits acorss 2 sets of azerite gear, and am 1600 in 2s casually and we we will probably be 1800-2k rating in the next couple of weeks.

I will say though, that the sheer number of traits, combined with how much they alter playstyle does make it challenging to balance though and when you combine that with the low availability, it definitely makes it frustrating, because you sometimes feel that you need to adopt playstyles that aren't fun to you because that just happens to be the traits you have on your best azerite gear, and nobody wants that really.

At the end of the day, I'm not sure if the benefits of the new system justify a complete transformation of the legion artifact weapon system though. IMO, a "patch" for artifact weapons to update the system for azerite necklace would probably have been just as satisfying if not more so, without the negatives. Oh well, opportunity lost.

tl;dr Yes there are some fundamental issues with the azerite system, but they are mostly academic because most of the player base will not be impacted significantly by the negatives in a way that prohibits them from engaging with and succeeding at virtually all casual BFA content.
I don't mind the azurite system overall. I do however agree with every point the OP makes. The system has been very poorly handled.

They have tuned the traits so that the traits on raid pieces (or at the very least having 1 of them) is best when in raid. Outside of raid however, they are way way down the list (at least for rogue). Raid gear for raid, and mythic gear for mythics, is flawed design imho. Good gear should just be good gear.

So you need to aquire high ilvl azurite gear from M+ dungeons, except you can't. Having the only source be your weekly chest, and that only being a possibility among many is extremely poor design. Apparently there is bad luck protection, so seeing as how I haven't gotten one yet I assume I am almost definate to get one next week.

I only started playing after the bfa prepatch had already hit during legion. I am informed however that lego's used to be on a pure rng basis and the players told blizz it was unacceptable and it eventually got changed. Azurite gear takes that rng availability and multiplies it by 10. Who thought that this would be acceptable?

I for one feel they should both:
Put both a random azurite piece and a random piece of other loot in your weekly chest.
As well as making Azurite pieces drop from mythic+ dungeons. I know why they didn't. They most likely felt the challenge lvl of a 2 or 3 is not high enough to justify a 355 az piece. Lets face it, if you ran one of these and got a crappy 340 az piece you could have gotten from a normal, you'd be mad. I say to hell with that. Keep the similar brackets for when you get high pieces, but round up for the first bracket. So M+2-7 can drop 355 az pieces. M+8-10 drops 370s, 11+ 385.

What key you get is random. If you get loot at all is random. If that one piece of loot is an azurite piece is random. If that azurite piece is the one you want and not the other, random. So much random means it doesn't matter too much if occaisionly people get a piece they "didn't really earn". I mean you can go to normal raid with 340 mythic 0 gear and get 355s, so I don't see too much of a problem here.

Or yeah just give us access to all the traits tied to our neck and do away with the gear completely.

As mentioned by others, simming is needed because it's the only reliable way to see if the dps loss from that crappy trait, cancels out the ilvl upgrade or not whenever you do get a new piece. It has nothing to do with the complexity of the traits.

Yes alot of the problems come from the imbalance of the traits. Some traits being so good as to invalidate a 30 ilvl upgrade is stupid. However the tuning was handled poorly. The low end underperforming traits should have been buffed to be competative.

If the trait I have worked for and stacked is still as strong as it was, but is no longer best, there is much less harm than if it's now useless. Sure having to go seek out new gear is still annoying, but least I haven't lost any power. I am just seeking upgrades which is pretty much MMO life. The only time it should be nerfed is if the trait makes that class' dps go above and beyond anything any other class can do.

All traits should do around the same lvls of damage. The point of the different traits should be in how they acomplish it and how they interact with or change the rotation/talent choice and such.

Azurite choices should be between things like:
This trait changes your rotation and requires a little bit of extra skill to get the most out of, but if done properly gives the highest dmg.
This trait is passive and gives great ST damage.
This trait gives a bit less damage over all but works for AoE as well.
This trait is bursty, has it's damage front loaded.
And so on.
Then we have choices, we customise our char, and if we get a piece that doesn't have what we want, we aren't losing out completely equiping it for now while we hunt that "BIS" piece. I am aware most seem to want them all to provide some sort of meaningful change in how the class/spec is played but not everyone wants that complexity (Activision demands a 6 year old should be able to master the game), so this would be a compromise.

I am ok with the personal loot system, but some of the restrictions on trading need to be lifted. Main one I can think of is the fact that 2 handers, 1 handers, and off-hands are all seperate categories. They should just all be weapons. A few times people in my guild have had high ilvl 1 handers drop that they don't need because they have a higher 2 hander. They can't trade it however because it's their highest 1 hander.

Higher ilvl items that aren't an upgrade because wrong stats (mostly a problem with rings) is a bit harder to fix. Maybe they should just inbuild pawn and a good simbot to calculate accurate stat wieghts (and trait dmg lol) so the game would know if it's an upgrade or not and tell us without us having to stuff around with mods and 3rd party sites. A guy can dream.
Ill be skipping the rest of this expansion. This is insanity. The last time I facepalmed this hard was when Ion said Flying killed world PvP.
Jesus !@#$ing Christ.
09/27/2018 12:48 PMPosted by Lore
09/27/2018 12:43 PMPosted by Duckle
Weird, I wanted Uplifted Spirits, Font of Life, and Overflowing Mist on my gear for healing, but instead I have Elusive Footwork, Fit to Burst, and Boiling Brew. As you know, those three do absolutely nothing for mistweaver, while the former three do nothing for brewmaster. It would cost me hundreds to thousands of gold to spec swap even once per day, and since I do m+ as brewmaster and any raiding as almost exclusively mistweaver, that's a pretty frequent occurrence. It would actually save an insane amount of gold to just have a 2nd monk, though I wouldn't do it personally.

There's also the part where I'd even have equal ilvl azerite pieces pretty quick, since azerite over 340 might as well not exist despite my 370 ilvl.

And you believe the process of leveling and gearing a 2nd monk would be more efficient than farming those 340s on your main?

To be clear I'm not arguing - legitimately trying to make sure I understand this feedback.


At some point you're respeccing between tank and healer pretty regularly. Since Azerite gear is so limited, you'll have more chances to get your Azerite traits.

Gearing from M+ is not too bad, the biggest limitation is Azerite Gear frankly. So if I want to heal sometimes and tank sometimes and want to swap a few times in a day, its cheaper to boost a monk with gold, level it, and spend a week or so gearing it. From there you just keep up.

Its not about the 340's, those aren't bad to get. Its about as the xpac goes on, the very limited 355+ pieces that we are getting over the course of a few months. Which will get worse as I get higher ilvl pieces.

I don't want to farm 3 copies of the same helm if both Bear and Cat both have the best traits there.
09/27/2018 12:27 PMPosted by Lore
09/27/2018 12:22 PMPosted by Fiascoh
If I wanted to play brewmaster or mistweaver right now, I would be significantly better off by making a 2nd monk. Is this really the design you were going for?

Not at all, and I'm curious why you feel that's the case. It isn't in my experience as someone who is currently playing a tri-spec monk.


Because:

09/26/2018 06:19 PMPosted by Lore

As to the point about reforging costs: these costs get so high because we want the behavior you're describing -- reforging constantly depending on what you're doing -- to be unsustainable. Our intention is that you either build out multiple sets of gear for different situations, or you lean towards traits that work in a variety of roles (even if they're maybe not the absolute best for each in particular). We added the reforging system to help ease cases like, for example, a DPS who suddenly finds themselves needing to transition to being their guild's main tank, not as a means for constantly re-adjusting traits like a second set of talent points. Maybe the current system isn't achieving that, but if it isn't, we're likely to become MORE restrictive on reforging, not less.


you literally just said that???? if we can't reforge, and have to walk up and chase different gear on our main for two specs, it's just better for the chances of dropping to play one as DPS and do everything as DPS and drop everything for DPS and then making a second one and trying everything for this alt. if we want an azerite piece that drops from the same boss for both specs then we lose a chance to get it for the off spec.

it sucks really bad, because then I'll have to gear the alt all up and run two times everything and god if the alt gets lucky and suddenly become more geared than the main I would be so, so very sad.

imo this is the worst, even worst then farming AP for all the specs artifacts in legion. thank god i'm not into hardcore things, I'm very sorry for you all who are
09/27/2018 12:59 PMPosted by Yura
I don't want to eventually carry around 20 azerites in my bags all xpac.


I would be really happy if one day I had 20 azerites with a good ilvl to choose from.

With the current system I'm expecting to end the exp wearing 355's.
I currently have 14 pieces of Azerite Gear in my bags, and I don't even swap specs. I'm holding onto everything in case you nerf/buff more traits, or I am forced to switch specs 'cause demo continues to get ignored. 14 pieces of gear for 3 slots.

Compared to the 3 pieces of gear that I *might* have been holding onto when tier was a thing while I waited for the 4th to drop. It's BS.
09/27/2018 12:55 PMPosted by Lambach
09/27/2018 12:48 PMPosted by Lore

And you believe the process of leveling and gearing a 2nd monk would be more efficient than farming those 340s on your main?

To be clear I'm not arguing - legitimately trying to make sure I understand this feedback.


Lore. you cant farm them. Thats the problem. I have to make a new monk to get my raid lock outs or 2nd shot at weekly chest. There is no way to farm azerite gear.


340s. You can get 340s from Mythics, from World Quests, from Warfronts, from LFR. You absolutely can farm 340s. I've been collecting all 340 traits myself just because who knows what's happening with the wheel of balancing going on right now.

I'm not a fan of the current Azerite system balance, but you absolutely can farm 340s. If he had said "Is it more efficient to level a new character than farm 355s on your main?" I would have taken issue, because yeah, a new character might actually have an easier time picking up 355s. But not 340s.
09/26/2018 06:19 PMPosted by Lore
Few things I'd like to comment on here.

First off, thanks for putting this thread together. Even if phrases like "Worst Itemization in WoW's History" are a bit hyperbolic (seriously, I can't be the only one who remembers farming level 30 dungeons for AQ40 resistance gear), you've summarized a lot of the discussions we've been seeing around the community very well. It really helps us clarify exactly what we need to be focusing on.

I'll speak to each of your points as best as I can:

Regarding targeting specific traits: I think we've said this a few times now, but just to reiterate, we believe that's merely a symptom of the imbalance between traits. Ideally, the gap between them isn't so large that you feel it would be hugely beneficial to grind out the perfect set.

The point about traits being "useless and uninteresting" is interesting considering that you also make the point of "every gear change requires simming." These two points are kind of at odds with each other. The way to solve the simming issue would be to make the traits more simplistic in nature. Similarly, making traits with more outside-the-box designs leads to more complicated questions of "is this better or not," which in turn encourages more simming. Either way, it's an interesting challenge, and one we're taking to mind as we move forward with traits in future updates.

I think we agree that re-farming traits doesn't feel great. I don't have a solve for that issue to share today, and to be completely transparent it may be something we simply have to accept as a downside to the system for other reasons. But we agree it can be a bit of a downer.

I mentioned the imbalance between traits before, but just to expand on that: that's why we've focused so much effort into tuning Azerite traits over the past few weeks. With this most recent round of tuning, we think we've gotten most of the really egregious outliers dialed in, but please let us know if there are any you still feel are so good that they're worth huge sacrifices in terms of item level.

As to the point about reforging costs: these costs get so high because we want the behavior you're describing -- reforging constantly depending on what you're doing -- to be unsustainable. Our intention is that you either build out multiple sets of gear for different situations, or you lean towards traits that work in a variety of roles (even if they're maybe not the absolute best for each in particular). We added the reforging system to help ease cases like, for example, a DPS who suddenly finds themselves needing to transition to being their guild's main tank, not as a means for constantly re-adjusting traits like a second set of talent points. Maybe the current system isn't achieving that, but if it isn't, we're likely to become MORE restrictive on reforging, not less.

And finally, regarding the tuning passes: like I mentioned, we think we've got most of the major outliers dialed in to an acceptable level at this point. There's likely to still be some adjustments here and there, but we don't believe we're going to need another big wave of Azerite trait tuning like you've seen over the last few weeks. To put it another way: if one trait is far and away the best compared to every other option, sure, we should probably do something about that, but we don't expect that to take the form of a widespread tuning pass going forward.

Also, to Ion's comment about new traits being introduced: he was referring to new traits on new gear added in new content, with higher item level, that replaces your old gear entirely. We're not planning to add in new traits to existing items, so don't worry about holding onto old Azerite pieces just in case their traits change.


You are shilling out so hard trying to defend a broken and unfun system that I legitimately feel bad for you. I miss the Devolore that used to actually speak his mind. I remember back when you co-hosted a WoW show with MikeB and that other dude. You were honest back then because you weren't on the payroll.

I bet that Devolore would be on the player's side right now.
09/27/2018 12:48 PMPosted by Lore
To be clear I'm not arguing - legitimately trying to make sure I understand this feedback.


I just want to not have to carry around a huge sack of gear. Keeping track of which piece goes with which set is a huge pain. Sometimes I'll get an "upgrade" and realize that it's better for one spec and not the other. Then I'll have to set that one to, say, holy, and then my existing "holy" piece of gear may get reset for ret. I have to go run calculations on everything to figure out which one is the best option for which spec (and it sounds like in a few weeks that may change!) I've had to reforge pieces multiple times.

It just feels BAD. I spend most of my time doing dailies and such in my Ret gear, and then do instances, raids, etc. with my Holy set. I'm basically running around with Holy attributes in my Ret gear on most pieces because I can only get one decent Azerite piece for that slot, and on other slots I have 4-5 choices and all are crap and all are fixed to one spec.

I can imagine this would be even worse if you liked to heal, dps, AND tank.

Every other recent expansion has been multi-spec friendly; all the gear STILL has +INT, +STR, etc. on it. Why can't it switch abilities depending on spec just like the gear switches stats?

I won't even start on the new non-friendly WQ rewards of 2-H weapons with INT, or the 1H weapons with no INT. I'm rocking blues on both specs because the 1H epic quest reward of the day is tank or DPS only.

It's hugely frustrating; I cancelled my account (I have like 16 days left) and if there was ANY sign that Azerite was going away and multi-spec was going to be more friendly, then I would be all over buying that new shiny boat + 6 months sub. I loved the initial quests and story, but the gear and playstyle frustrations are just so much that I am not having any fun.
09/26/2018 11:32 PMPosted by Mafic
There has to be a middle ground between having too many unique traits and all traits balanced the "same".

If all traits are balanced the "same" then there is no point to getting optimal gear which defeats the entire point of a MMORPG to see progression.

Likewise if all traits have huge variance in performance that isn't good either if you can't target certain traits.

Had WoW devs stuck with a vendor progression system they could have avoided all these issues. Move away from RNG loot boxes.

Bring back vendors.


It doesn't matter how MUCH the variance in performance is.

There's two possiblities:

A) All traits offer the exact same performance, in which case why even bother having multiple traits if the end result is the same?
or
B) Traits offering differing levels of performance, no matter how small the variance, in which case the "best" trait will immediately be known and be the only "viable" trait and the only trait people will be willing to choose. In which case, again, why bother having multiple traits if one will be the "correct" trait?
09/27/2018 01:00 PMPosted by Kralael
<span class="truncated">...</span>
And you believe the process of leveling and gearing a 2nd monk would be more efficient than farming those 340s on your main?

To be clear I'm not arguing - legitimately trying to make sure I understand this feedback.


Yes.

Remember when legendary system was capped at 4 before the hotfix in Legion ?
Its basically the same, but worse: can't drop from any content beside anything that you can do once a week. Tell me how it wouldn't be more time efficient to just grind on multiple character until you get what you need ? Its all about odds.


I can see where they are going with this. Basically because there is a lockout, if you wanted to get gear for 3 specs, but can only get 1 drop (correct me if I'm wrong please) a week at best, then it's actually faster to have 3 toons, one of each spec. Ergo - toon 1 would be farming tank gear, toon 2 would be farming dps gear, and toon 3 would be farming healing gear. Otherwise you're stuck at farming 1 set of gear, say tank, and at best using "hand me down" lower level gear for the other specs, or waiting a very long time to get gear for the off specs. So say it takes 4 weeks average to get gear for each spec. On 1 toon you're looking at 3 months, on 3 you can do it in 1 month presuming you have the time to farm on 3 toons.

Hope that help you see their POV.
09/27/2018 01:01 PMPosted by Zoopain
or have the raid drop trinkets that weren't absolute garbage (ghuun trinket sims and performs similarly to other trinkets FIFTEEN item levels below it, and it's not just that trinket, ALL of the uldir trinkets at least for me are awful when compared to the offerings in Mythic +, how is this acceptable Lore


Emphasizing this bit. My warlock has a 360 Vanquished Tendril off of G'huun and it sims below WQ trinkets and dungeon trinkets.

This makes no sense.
09/27/2018 01:03 PMPosted by Sorvete
09/27/2018 12:27 PMPosted by Lore
...
Not at all, and I'm curious why you feel that's the case. It isn't in my experience as someone who is currently playing a tri-spec monk.


Because:

09/26/2018 06:19 PMPosted by Lore

As to the point about reforging costs: these costs get so high because we want the behavior you're describing -- reforging constantly depending on what you're doing -- to be unsustainable. Our intention is that you either build out multiple sets of gear for different situations, or you lean towards traits that work in a variety of roles (even if they're maybe not the absolute best for each in particular). We added the reforging system to help ease cases like, for example, a DPS who suddenly finds themselves needing to transition to being their guild's main tank, not as a means for constantly re-adjusting traits like a second set of talent points. Maybe the current system isn't achieving that, but if it isn't, we're likely to become MORE restrictive on reforging, not less.


you literally just said that???? if we can't reforge, and have to walk up and chase different gear on our main for two specs, it's just better for the chances of dropping to play one as DPS and do everything as DPS and drop everything for DPS and then making a second one and trying everything for this alt. if we want an azerite piece that drops from the same boss for both specs then we lose a chance to get it for the off spec.

it sucks really bad, because then I'll have to gear the alt all up and run two times everything and god if the alt gets lucky and suddenly become more geared than the main I would be so, so very sad.

imo this is the worst, even worst then farming AP for all the specs artifacts in legion. thank god i'm not into hardcore things, I'm very sorry for you all who are


Picard facepalm indeed. I saw the same response and thought: Eh, did he not read what he wrote in this very thread on that very topic? It begs one of two possibilities: A.) He simply forgot (which makes little sense, but OK, not malice, just ignorance). B.) Someone else is typing on his behalf.

I'm really hoping A is the case. But, that's like choosing which pig has the best lipstick. They're both pigs and they're still ugly options.
Reposting this here since this thread got unlocked and is receiving attention

First: Some positivity! BFA isnt all bad, it just has some exceptionally squeaky gears that need grease.

On the positive side, I personally REALLY like how warmode talents were handled. Some people will make arguments that a lot them should have been baseline anyway, but while I can see that perspective I actually disagree.

I like having ~10 talents that all impact my play. I want all of them, but can only choose 3. BUT! I can change them on a whim.

Its a well done system, imo.

Onto the squeaky gear that is the main topic of this thread; Azerite should have been the pve equivalent. To that end:

Keep traits in a 3 tier system, but put them all on the Heart. You can select 3 from each tier, so 9 total which keeps it consistent with the current system. Heart remembers spec choices and autoswaps when swapping specs, and chosen traits can be changed anytime you could normally change talents/warmode talents. I cant believe the the reforge system exists, when the costs associated with respeccing have been weeded out of the game over time. It was player unfriendly back in Vanilla and was removed in later xpacs, it is player unfriendly today and should therefore be removed asap.

Azerite gear would only exist to empower the traits, much like the set bonus' they are replacing. Only remove the Heart level requirement for higher tiers of empowerment. The Heart already gets stronger from AP, double dipping into that system is redundant and therefore unnecessary. Basically, there should be no "Heart level" at all, just the Hearts natural ilvl that grows bigger over time due to the AP grind. And yes, that ilvl boost would also increase the potency of the traits themselves now that they are on the Heart, in much the same way that currently a trait on a 385 is stronger than the same trait on a 340.

This also opens up interesting design space. Ask yourself; other than seeing 120 instead of 110, did our character actually have any progression this expansion? The answer is no. We didnt. Azerite is not a progression system in its current state, as having gear constantly need a higher Heart level to do things means that any "progress" you make is constantly reset. One could even argue that we've regressed in many ways due to losing the legion artifacts basically immediately as they were turned into nothing more than stat sticks, and then the legion legendaries at 116 when their special effects got turned off.

Anyway, traits on the Heart opens up a solve for that; new ways to unlock traits:

-Class/spec traits (tier 1): You start off at 110 only knowing a couple, as you level up you learn more.
-Zone traits (tier 1 not class/spec): Unlocked through completing that zones story. War campaign for opposing factions zone traits, as well as your own faction flavored traits (battlefield focus/precision)
-Role traits (Earthlink, gutripper, other tier two): quests from class trainers to make them relevant again
-Utility traits (tier 3 traits that are typically absorb shields, healing, movement speed, etc): Quests from Magni that are more interesting than just "oh hey, you spoke to me so your Heart now gets +15 ilvl"
-Raid traits (any tier): attunement quests. Nothing crazy, basically just enter the raid, blap a boss, unlock traits.
-Engineer traits (any tier): quest from Engi trainer upon reaching high enough skill to make the goggles.
etc
-New traits could then get added pretty easily, as they are separate from gear. They could introduce new traits right now, without waiting on 8.1 (or future major content patches) to add that gear.

What this solves from that big list of problems that OP put forth:

-Reforge cost is no longer an issue
-Once you unlock a trait, you've unlocked it
-Higher ilvl azerite armor should ALWAYS be an upgrade
-Rarity doesnt matter so much in this propopsed azerite system
-Simming becomes easier as traits are no longer gear bound.
-trait imbalance isnt as impactful when it comes to upgrading to a higher ilvl piece
-reintroduces the sense of progression

To make it even better, prune away all the "bad" traits that only proc extra damage and dont do anything else. The only way to balance them is to make them all the same damage wise, and at that point there really only needs to be 1 of such a trait. Basically, thunderous blast should have never existed (among others). Tidal Surge is fine though, because it also has a special effect beyond damage. Replace pruned traits with more class/spec traits that more closely resemble Warmode talents; things that actively change up how we play are better than passive damage boosts.

While making the current azerite gear more available would be good... what people are missing is that its a band-aid over a gushing wound. Because of trait tuning that 385 still may not be better than your 340, simming will still be hard (though a bit more accessible), etc.
Very few suggestions for improving this system. Let me take a stab.

Make traits be items you loot/craft/whatever.
Make azerite armor have sockets of specific types.
You socket the armor with the traits.

So an example armor has, say, Type A socket in outer ring, Type B middle ring, and a Type C inner. That type corresponds to the type of trait you could socket there. Let's pretend Type A is moderate throughput, Type B is defensive/utility, and Type C is lower throughput. Raiding, M+, and rated PvP could give armor with an Type S socket which are baller (like Archive of the Titans or Battlefield Focus).

So now players would try to find the right combination sockets on the armor, which would be fairly easy to do, while they also collect their favorite traits to socket. We could remove reforging entirely, because it's much easier to get a "good" azerite armor piece now, and the grind comes down to getting the best traits.

This doesn't solve every problem with the system, but it sounds FUN to me, and is more dynamic than current you-get-what-you-get traits on armor.

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