Wednesday, September 19

World of Warcraft Challenge Modes: The Timer Starts September 25th!

As you have probably already noticed when using player controls on your player portrait, there is a new feature added called "Challenge Mode." Challenge Mode is a new instance feature similar to Normal Mode and Heroic Mode, only once you select Challenge Mode, you are racing against time, as well as other guild's times. You probably already guessed that Challenge Modes are being introduced in the new expansion Mists of Pandaria. According to Blizzard, Challenge Modes will grant rewards that are a bit different from what we are used to from Heroic Mode. Instead of just valor/justice points, if you successfully complete a challenge mode and earn either gold, silver, or bronze medal status on time, you will be granted with an achievement as well as various new and unique looking gear, mounts, and valor/justice points. The rewards will most likely be only visible rewards, such as Transmogrification gear and mounts, which is why this will be mainly for show and for bragging rights. Hopefully this article will clear up any confusion that is in regards to Challenge Modes. Keep reading to learn more and be better prepared for Challenge Modes and if you are interested in new and challenging things!

The Mechanics
The mechanics for Challenge Mode is simple. Any gear that is worn that is higher than Item Level 463 will be scaled down, but any gear under Item level 463 will still remain below Item Level 463. So that said, a group with higher Item Level players will be scaled down to Item Level 463 to make the challenges fair for everyone. This is why strategy is a big key for these challenges. All stats will be affected with the 463 Item Level scaling, except for hit and expertise. Make sure you are hit and expertise capped before doing these! Just a side note, if you have been playing the beta of Mists of Pandaria, you will already know how this scaling works, as they have been scaling the Item Level of gear in instances to test the difficulty at that level. Back to the Challenge Mode mechanics! For right now, the instances that are being released in Mists of Pandaria will have Challenge Mode available for them. The instances are as follows: The Temple of the Jade Serpent, Stormstout Brewery, Mogu'shan Palace, Shado-Pan Monastery,Siege of Niuzao Temple, Gate to the Setting Sun, Scarlet Halls, Scarlet Monastery, and Scholomance. At level 90, just like Heroic Mode, Challenge Mode will become available. For the moment, Challenge Modes are sadly not available for the older expansion instances. There is no word on if they will make Challenge Mode available for those instances in the future. They haven't announced if they will be adding this to raids as well.

The Achievements 
Achievements are basically there for bragging rights, and I am pretty sure we can all agree on that. With the new Challenge Modes, they will bring new achievements, and new realm first achievements as well. Obtaining a gold medal first on a realm will grant you the achievement [Realm First! Challenge Conqueror: Gold]. It is assumed that everyone who participates in the Challenge Modes for all the instances will get the realm first. So 5 people should have this realm first, just like when a guild downs a heroic raid boss first, the whole group gets the realm first achievement. This is the only realm first in regards to Challenge Modes, there is no realm first silver or bronze. If you are going for the realm first, you have to be on your toes and get gold the first run for every instance! There is not a lot of room for error, so if you have been practicing this on the Mists of Pandaria beta, you might have the upperhand. It is also about footing and the strategy of the pulls. There are also other achievements such as the silver and bronze achievement, as well as the regular gold achievement. The basics to gaining this achievement are as follows: complete all nine of the Mists of Pandaria instances and obtain gold medal status on each one, and the achievement is yours. There are achievements for every instance, such as[Siege of Niuzao Temple: Gold], which each one is required to obtain the realm first or the regular gold medal achievement. Guild achievements are also possible with Challenge Modes, and yield new guild reputation rewards, which will be discussed in the "guild" section of this article.

The Gear
Doing a quick search on Wowhead, you can easily find the gear that will be rewarded by completing the gold challenges. Here is an example of a piece of gear that is rewarded. The item doesn't have any stats?! Why doesn't the item have stats you may ask? Well, if you have never tried Transmogrification, now's the time you get to use it! The items rewarded, as stated above, will be purely for show only, they won't have stats on them. Transmogging your current gear to this item set is your goal here. It tells other players that you have successfully completed one of the challenges, and obtained a gold medal. How does one obtain this gear? You have to earn the achievement: [Challenge Conqueror: Gold]. When you earn that achievement, you will receive your class-specific Golden Chest via mail. Inside that chest will be a full set of transmoggable gear, which then you transmog your current gear into that set. Simple as that! You can find your class-specific set by searching "Golden Chest of the" at Wowhead and you should see a list of Golden Chests. Search for your class's chest and you can see what your gear will look like.

Guilds, Spells, and Items, Oh My!
Guilds will play a large roll in the whole Challenge Mode scene. There will be much competition among guilds. Guilds can compete with each other in the Challenge Modes by simply trying to beat each other's time. A scoreboard will be available in the guild template screen to see which guild on the realm holds the record time for that particular instance. There are no additional rewards to beating the record-holding guild's time, except the bragging rights that your guild is now the record holder for that instance. There are some new items coming to a guild vendor near you! If your guild completes the guild achievement: [Challenge Conquerors: Gold - Guild Edition] you will see exclusive new items aside from the new items from Mists of Pandaria. The achievement requires your guild to complete every Mists of Pandaria instance on Challenge Mode and earn gold medal status. Once your guild achieves this challenge, a vanity pet will be available for all players in the guild at the cost of 300 gold. Pet is found at this link.

Were you pretty upset when Blizzard decided to remove the guild perk [Have Group, Will Travel]? I know I was. Well fear no more, instance summoning will return! With the new Challenge Modes, if you complete an instance and achieve gold medal status, you will learn a spell that pertains to that particular instance. For example, if you complete the achievement [Siege of Niuzao Temple: Gold], you will learn a spell called [Path of the Black Ox]. Each of the nine instances have a teleport spell when you complete the required achievement. The teleports have an eight hour cooldown, and do not share the same cooldown with each other. They work exactly like [Have Group, Will Travel], where they will summon your whole group to the instance. The new teleport spells only work on their respective instances, so you cannot summon a raid or anything like that. It isn't quite the same as [Have Group, Will Travel], but it is a start!

With the new achievements, there are new items. As mentioned above, there is new Transmog gear that is class-specific, but in addition to the armor there are mounts as well. There are four unique mounts that are obtainable when you earn the achievement [Challenge Conqueror: Silver]. The four mounts are all phoenix-looking mounts, and are called: [Reins of the Ashen Pandaren Phoenix], [Reins of the Emerald Pandaren Phoenix], [Reins of the Violet Pandaren Phoenix], and [Reins of the Crimson Pandaren Phoenix]. When you earn the achievement, you will get an item mailed to you called [Ancestral Phoenix Egg]. Take this item to Kai Featherfall at Mogushan Palace in Kun-Lai Summit to receive your choice of phoenix mount. Please note that these mounts are NOT account-wide mounts, so when choosing be careful in which color you want on your character, since you can't have all four on one character.

Will You Participate in Challenge Modes?
Challenge Modes sound absolutely fun! It calls for more guild interaction, and more challenge within the game. Not to mention, the vanity items are pretty darn sweet if you ask me. Other advantages like summoning party members will be vital as well when it comes to competing with other guilds. A question arises though: will this cause more drama within guild and party interactions? A question for another time, but for now, enjoy Challenge Modes when they come out on September 25th, and best of luck getting realm first!

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