Warlords of Draenor Alpha Build: PVP Season 16

The upcoming Warlords of Draenor alpha build included a couple of PVP sets that didn’t make it into my initial review, so… uh, enjoy!

Thanks, MMO Champion, for posting the thing!

Rogue Season 16

Warlords of Draenor Alpha - Rogue PVP Season 16

Oh man,  that’s not good.

Part of the problem here may be using the male human as the display model. Other race/gender combinations shift the proportions around; on a female draenei or blood elf, those enormous pauldrons will probably be a more manageable size and the overall effect less… eyesore-esque.

Pros: The two daggers on the belt look fantastic. The striped trousers have an almost pirate charm, especially from the back.
Con: I’m so done with putrid green. The shoulders make me sad.

Check out the full preview on MMO Champion.

Paladin Season 16

Warlords of Draenor Alpha - Paladin PVP Season 16

Holy crap, that’s a paladin?

You know, I like this. There’s a lot of grey-black, to the point where you lose some of the feeling of depth, especially when you look at the set straight on. But the overall effect, and it’s actually enhanced by that face-covering helm this time, is one of strength and raw power. The chest and shoulders of this set scream “I am an unstoppable killing machine and will crush you like a tiny insect, mortal.”

Note that he appears to be missing a belt. Hopefully that will be worked in later.

Pros: Paladins get to look terrifying for once. I like the leather buckles on the gloves.
Cons: The pointless scraps of blue fabric detract from how hard the whole set feels. The boots look like they’re the wrong colour.

Check out the full preview on MMO Champion.

What’d I miss? Think my crusade against toxic green has to stop? Let me know in the comments.

WoD Alpha Build 18443: Tier 17 and Mythic Armor Preview

A new alpha build for Warlords of Draenor is on the way and that can only mean one thing: making catty comments about the recently released Tier 17 and Mythic Armor previews. Now, this is all still in alpha, so there’s a chance things might change before WoD is finally released, uh, whenever its release date is.

(I am so not up on that sort of thing. I’m here for the clothes, people.)

Still, might as well get an early start, right?

Hunter Tier 17

WoD Alpha - Hunter Tier 17  hunter1

Would you like some bland with that bland?

Sorry, hunters.

I know I shouldn’t be so quick to judge, but, while this surpasses the shockingly low bar set by Tier 16, it looks this tier isn’t going to restore hunters to their former glory. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it, really. This isn’t a cyclopean laser helmet or weird orbs stuck to your shoulders. It’s just… boring.

I mean, the shoulders have to have a cool animation or something, right?

WoD Alpha - Tier 17 Hunter

Um, I’m going to assume that’s not working as intended.

EDIT: Ohhh, okay. This makes a lot more sense.

WoD Alpha Build - Hunter Tier 17

In this version from MMO Champion, you can see the shoulder animation (badass), the belt (also badass, but a little big), and the gloves. The overall effect is better than Wowhead’s version and definitely elevates the set from snoozefest to pretty cool. Still not impressed by the helm or boots, but I’m sold.

Pros: The shoulder sculpts are awesome. The belt is awesome, but probably too big for a lot of transmog sets.
Cons: Wowhead’s renders suck sometimes, you know?

See for yourself on Wowhead: Link 1, Link 2.

Check out the male human on MMO Champion.

Warlock Mythic


Okay, I kind of like this one. The helm is awful, but they almost always are. The rest of the set, though muted in palette, has enough to hold my interest. The robe is subdued, but unlike the Hunter Tier 17 the metalwork around around the waist looks like it has some craftsmanship to it.

Mythic Warlock


And that belt.

Blizzard, the next time you’re drawing up a massive, face-covering helm adorned with ridiculously large horns, I want you to stop, look at yourself in the mirror, and whisper, “Why.”

EDIT: MMO Champion has a version that includes the spectacularly large shoulders. They’re worth talking about.

Warlords of Draenor Alpha - Warlock Mythic

Here they are from the front in all their pointy glory. From this angle, they’re kind of cool but not all that impressive. I have  to say, I’m 100% done with toxic green smears and particle effects on Warlock gear. We get it, you’re evil, move on.

Warlords of Draenor Alpha - Warlock Mythic

But just check out the back! I am loving, loving, those horns. You can actually see where they’ve been severed and fixed onto the back.

Now if only I could give that green paint a scrub.

Pros: The belt is awesome.
Cons: The helm makes me cry, sure, but it still sucks less than Tier 16.

See it for yourself on Wowhead.

Alternately, check out the male human on MMO Champion.

Druid Mythic

WoD Alpha - Druid Mythic

Welp, you know, I actually kind of like this. The helm is a little much (well, unless your guildmates need a coat rack), but I like the colours and I can see the individual parts having second lives in other sets.

Even if the overall effect is a little more Madame Hydra circa Secret Warriors than any druid I’ve ever met.

Madame Hydra

I wonder how many runs it took for that staff to drop.

But while the set may be all business in the front, there’s most definitely a party in the back. Seriously, check this out.


Those wings are something special. They flutter, they move. Sure, they’re attached to pauldrons that frankly aren’t that great — workable, but the bug aesthetic makes them hardly everyday wear — but with those wings you just don’t care.

Heck, they’re almost enough to get me leveling my druid again. Wait, do I have a level 90 druid? I can’t remember.

I have too many alts.

Pros: Solid colour scheme, coherent design, ~wings~
Cons: The coat rack head is a bad thing, right?

View the set for yourself on Wowhead.

Priest Tier 17


The more I look at this, the more familiar it feels. Okay, so a priest in red and gold is hardly breaking new ground and variations on those teal blue inserts cropped up repeatedly in Tier 16, but I’m willing to forgive if it feels a little samey-samey. The robes aren’t over-designed or needlessly busy. It’s a testament to the extent Blizzard’s art has improved over the years that from some angles it looks like it fits well, instead of just clinging to the model’s body like a second skin.

Well, in the chest area, anyway. The skin stretched across skirt mesh remains a hot mess. I’m not even 100% if the distortion in the first orb is intentional.

But not all is mild ambivalence because check out those shoulders, you guys. Okay, so they’re not wings, but the gasping faces mounted on the priest tier 17’s shoulders are fantastic. 


Honestly, this shot doesn’t do them justice. The ghostly faces move in a way that perfectly evokes dark spectral forces trapped beneath cloth. The light show — the beams of blue light pouring from their mouths — is also on 24/7, so there’s no standing around, waiting for your special effects to proc. I even like the turquoise sigils carved into the gold of the shoulders. I like to pretend they’re for containment.

EDIT: Via MMO Champion, here’s another look at how the light effects might appear.

WoD Alpha - Priest Tier 17

A+ shoulders, friend. A+.

Though, honestly, I’m looking forward to the holy and discipline priests explaining to their friends why there are dark forces trapped writhing in their pauldrons. “Oh yes, oh yes, the light and, uh, all that. But they’re cool.

Pros: Those shoulders rock my world. The colour choices aren’t bad. The bandaged hand gloves are neat-o.
Cons: I like the veil effect but the shape of the helm makes it look like a bottle opener. What’s with that belt? Did the art department just get bored?

EDIT: The belt mystery has been solved. Still not to hot on the “lumpy strip of fabric motif,” but that skull!

WoD Alpha - Priest Tier 17

See the set for yourself on Wowhead: Link 1, Link 2.

Alternately, check out the male human on MMO Champion.

What do you guys think? Am I on the mark? Are those insect wings the actual coolest, or what?

Let me know in the comments.



The Worst of Tier 16

Patch 5.4 is finally here, bringing with it old-school rep grinds, sparkling treasure chests and Huolon dead on the ground because you zoned in seconds too late and that’s happened four times okay four times goddamnit Blizzard, uh, I mean new tier gear.

Thundering Onyx Cloud Serpent

Pictured: A mount I am learning to despise.

Blizzard has been hit-or-miss with its tier sets this expansion, but 5.4 is a step beyond. Compared to the season’s solid, surprisingly thematically consistent PVP gear, Tier 16 feels like the results of a Project Runway episode. There are a handful of dazzling successes, considerably more best described as “mediocre but inoffensive,” and then there are the bad ones.

And believe me when I tell you that the bad ones this tier are bad.

So which classes lucked out and which classes are getting a verbal smack to the head from Nina Garcia? Let’s find out.

3. Mages: Chronomancer regalia

Mage Tier 16 - Chronomancer Regalia

Don’t mind me, just chillin’ in my time-hoodie.

This one’s probably contentious, but I’m sticking to my guns.

See, my problem with the Chronomancer set isn’t just about its looks (though, frankly, I think the silver and blue version looks like a pair of hooded pyjamas). It’s symptomatic of a larger problem.

Blizzard, learn to edit. Please.

We’ve all seen the improvement in the quality of WoW’s artwork in recent years, but I’ve long felt that Blizzard’s gear conflates “more intricate” with “better” to its detriment. I mean, look at this:

Mage Tier 16 - Chronomancer Regalia

With my sincerest apologies to your retinas.

There’s so much going on here.

Cut away the steampunk goggles-and-hood (in theory, a fine idea — in practice, eh) and those pointlessly spiky shoulders and you’re left with the robe. And the robe is bananas.

The robe is chains and spikes and little turquoise blue lights and swirls and bands and armored panels and browns and golds and whites and reds and it just doesn’t work. I appreciate the craftsmanship, but there’s hardly an inch of fabric that doesn’t have an ornate gold swirl embroidered on it and it’s making my eyes hurt.

Don’t get me wrong, the colours are beautiful — the golds and the reds and those perfect turquoise blues are gorgeous and delicate and could have been used to create something stunning. But there needs to be less going on. Otherwise, all your beautiful detail work will be lost in the noise.


(Oh, and, uh, can I just say that the “boob shelf” you’ve managed to create with the high neckline on female toons could use work too.)

2. Hunters: Battlegear of the Unblinking Vigil

Hunter Tier 16 - Battlegear of the Unblinking Vigil

I’m suddenly craving a banana.

This is what happens when you don’t have Tim Gunn on standby to pull you back from the brink.

Honestly, I’m not sure where this design came from. The Warlock set was obviously a nod to the mogu (more on that later, believe me), but this… I can’t see the relevance. Not to hunters or hunting or even current lore.

But, frankly, even if there is a reason, there isn’t an excuse. The helm is a steampunk take on a personality core from Portal 2 and there’s a dirty brown sheet tucked into what looks like underwear (that, of course, is being worn atop a pair of dark scale leggings — as one does).

The belt is, like every belt this expansion, needlessly huge. I mean, the buckle is almost as large as her head.

Hunter Tier 16 - Battlegear of the Unblinking Vigil

The belt is hiding the underwear right now, but take it off and you’ll see what I mean.

It’s a hot mess, but what frustrates me more than anything is that there are hints, here and there, that it could have been great. I love the copper, brown and light blue-green patina together. They’re gorgeous, they’re different, and they give the helm and armour an almost crafted feeling — like jewellery, made with care.

And then Blizzard throws in the green and the red and, buddy, it’s September. I’m not ready for Christmas.

I will say the shoulders are okay. The asymmetry’s interesting and the bauble on the left is a nice touch.

But, overall, I’m not impressed. It’d be the worst of the bunch, if it wasn’t for one thing…

1. Warlocks: Horned Nightmare Regalia

Warlock Tier 16 - Horned Nightmare Regalia

There are so many points of light that, and I’m serious about this, it actually strains my eyes.

This set makes me so mad, you guys.

It’s hideous. In fact, it’s so hideous its almost unredeemable. I mean, I know I’ve taken issue with the usual warlock aesthetic in the past, but what is this and more importantly how did it make it into the game.

Warlock Tier 16 - Horned Nightmare Regalia

Somehow, this article went to press without this image. Please forgive me a) for the oversight and b) for rectifying the same.

Unlike the Hunter set I talked about earlier, the Horned Nightmare Regalia at least finds its roots in Mists of Pandaria. The robe is reminiscent of existing in-game gear (at first, I thought it was a recolour) and the helm is an obvious nod to the mogu. So, the helm’s ugly, but at least it’s ugly for a reason.

Problem is, its particular brand of ugly doesn’t work with the rest of the set.

If you want grotesque for the sake of grotesque, you can’t compromise. You can’t throw a helm like that on a strapless mustard-and-purple dress with a mess of orange scales down the front and expect to strike fear into the hearts of your enemies. The alternative — a more elegant form of terror, where a dress like that (just not that one, as it’s awful) is appropriate — means scrapping the helm altogether.

If I was somehow granted an almost Godlike control over Blizzard’s art department, I’d lose the helm in favour of a mess of twisted horns growing out of the warlock’s scalp. For the shoulders, I kind of like the effect of horns bolted in place by silver, but the existing shoulder model has to go.


Warlock Tier 16 - Horned Nightmare Regalia - From Behind

Generic blue and gold pauldrons! The perfect complement to the bucket on my head.

This is why.

And then I’d completely rework the colour scheme and remove the LED lights that have been forcibly installed everywhere because Blizzard does that now.

And then I’d hurl that belt into the sea.

Dishonorable Mentions

Rogues. At last, the steampunk Hannibal Lector facemask I’ve always wanted.

Next up: Less ranting, more praise. The best of Tier 16 is still to come.