Spinks calls patch 3.2 the "Filler Patch", which seems about fair in terms of the game's plot. However, based on the news that's come out about the any-minute-now PTR launch, the filler does have a bit of bulk behind it on the incentive front. Because the game now has a month or two of testing in its future, we're in an odd middle ground where the value of certain incentives will be up in the air. What is worth focusing on now, or putting off until 3.2?
Things that may be EASIER now....
- Power-leveling professions. The patch will be buffing the self-only profession perks across the board to allow for epic-quality gems to be added to the game. I don't often delve into market projections, but I'd imagine that some people may switch their tradeskills after the patch.
- Obtaining items with MP5. Blizzard has announced that existing and future items with MP5 on them will be receiving approximately 25% more MP5. If your class benefits from these items, e.g. if you are a Pally healer (Blizzard is attempting, once again, to nerf crit as a mana regen stat), you might find less competition now than in the future.
- Collecting those last few emblems/gear drops in 5-mans? The change to tiered badge drops will accomplish their primary goal - luring raiders into 5-man content they outgear and outperform. Unfortunately, the changes would also mean that the majority of players interested in 5-man content will be interested only in maximizing their acquisition of emblems. Bringing along players who actually still need stuff from 5-mans could impede that goal. Indeed, with the daily 5-man quests offering emblems from the HIGHEST tier, but ONLY to groups that complete the entire dungeon, the penalty for failure of a PUG has never been higher. Right now, demand is low and players might actually bring you on their PUG runs rather than wait to get a raid-geared player. After the patch, players who actually need the upgrades might not be so welcome.
Places where you might be better off waiting....
- Large scale farming of any pre-Ulduar-25 content. If you're not afraid of the PUG scene, the same work will award you better rewards after the patch hits.
- Buying epic flight skill. You might not even want it anymore, and, if you do, you can save 1000G through faction discounts by waiting for the patch.
- Working on Argent Tourney dailies for rep and Champion's Seals. It sounds like all of the new daily quests will require Champion status, and some will also require Crusader status (exalted champion status with all five cities) and/or your side's tournament faction. We do not know if there will be an additional new currency, but you will be able to purchase a portable bank squire for 150 Champion seals. My guess is that there will be additional quests to allow for faster seal acquisition, though, so don't despair just yet if you can't stand some of the current dailies. Also, you might want to finish any other daily reps you are working on, to clear time for the new stuff.
Working on Alts?
This gets its own subheading for sheer variety.
- There will be a new heirloom chest piece, with an exp bonus that stacks with the shoulders. We don't know what currency it costs, or how much. If this item works like the shoulders do, the melee leather could offer the best bang for your seal/emblem costs. Your mail-wearers won't even know the difference before level 40, and lose only armor value afterwards. Even your plate-wearers get some benefit from the stats. (Caster cloth is also a potential bargain, though your balance druids and elemental Shaman may be more likely than melee to miss the added armor while solo.) I'm not delaying any alts just because of this one, but it is a small perk.
- Previously discussed mount changes and other travel tweaks will save travel time. This one mostly affects characters in the 20-30 bracket (currently no mounts, 60% after the patch), and from 40-70 (100% ground at 40 and 150% flight at 60 post patch).
- WoW will finally get experience-locked battleground twinks. If I had a twink, I would not touch it until the patch, after which you can guarantee that it will never accidentally level out of your bracket. In exchange, locked twinks will be segregated into separate battlegrounds, making the battlegrounds safer for players who just want a brief change of pace. Ironically, Cheerydeth, with 4 heirlooms and counting but no particular aversion to gaining levels, might actually be well positioned to terrorize the mid-level battlegrounds of Azeroth post-patch. Also, some class-based travel perks will become available in the 10-19 twink bracket thanks to the mount changes, and 60% ground mounts will be coming to the 20-29 and 30-39 brackets.
- Shaman Totem Changes. If you have avoided rolling a Shaman because you can't be arsed to bother with totems (it's the only class in WoW that I have yet to reach level 20 on), the new totem drop option may be what you've been waiting for.
Cosmetic Rewards for the Long Term
One thing that I've found striking about the Argent Tourney, and its planned expansion, is the emphasis on cosmetic and utility rewards. This content will collectively represent a massive expansion in the number and variety of mounts, minipets, and tabards. It will even include the option to teleport to the daily quest area, and a squire who will serve as as a portable bank.
For the most part, these rewards will remain equally valuable into the next expansion. The same cannot be said of gear upgrades. (For the moment, we do not know if there will also be new gear available, though the Conquest gear would probably dwarf it in any case.) Heirlooms are also a bit more long-lasting, since you will continue to be able to pass them along to new alts that you roll up next expansion.
Some players aren't going to be interested in any of these things, but I do think that Blizzard's increased focus on them is noteworthy. Perhaps this is some small way of trying to create content that will remain rewarding as the next expansion looms and arrives.