The War Within: Warbands Preview

Get a closer look at the new Warbands System with the World of Warcraft development team.

With public access to The War Within test phase just around the corner, we want to share more details about what’s in development for Warbands.

What are Warbands?

The new Warbands system being introduced in The War Within will encompass all of the characters on a player’s account as well as the items, collections, and progression they share.

It’s important to note that your Warband is limited to characters within a single region (i.e., Americas, Europe, Korea, Taiwan) but spans every realm, faction, and even subscription you may have within that region

Many aspects of World of Warcraft have been shared across your account for a long time—essentially a Warband. This includes your collection of pets, mounts, transmogs, heirlooms, and more. With the release of Warbands, we are significantly expanding what additional aspects of the game have Warband integration. To name just a few changes:

  • New reputations and Renown tracks will be Warband-wide.
  • A new Warband bank will allow you to easily store and share items between your characters.
  • The ability to collect most item appearances with any character in your Warband, regardless of their ability to equip the gear.

Goals of the Warband System

Before getting into the details of each change that players will experience with Warbands, we want to share the main goals we are aiming to accomplish with the system’s introduction:

  • Make playing alternate (alt) characters easier and more enjoyable – Data shows that many players already have an alt or two (or ten) and enjoy playing them,  so we want to make playing them even better.
  • Switch between characters without falling behind – There will always be a lot of character-specific progression in World of Warcraft, such as high-end gearing, but wherever it’s appropriate, moving progression onto your Warband should allow you to freely play multiple characters without losing efficiency or long-term progress.
  • Acknowledge the player behind the screen – In other words, wherever possible, we want to celebrate your accomplishments within your Warband, not only on your character, so you can carry those accomplishments with you to whichever character you choose to play.
  • Clarify which aspects of the game are account-wide versus character-specific – It hasn’t always been clear which parts of the game apply to your characters versus your account. We've taken this opportunity to clarify these differences in the UI, as well as replacing the term "account" with "Warband" throughout the game.

Let’s get into more details of what Warbands will entail.

Warband Conversions

One of the major undertakings of Warbands is to convert aspects of the game which are currently character-specific to become Warband (Account) wide. This conversion process is being developed to run automatically upon your first login after The War Within pre-expansion patch goes live. This means players won’t need to log into each character for the conversionThere may be some wait time for the system to process your Warband upon first login, however. Please be patient while this occurs, as it involves processing a lot of data!

Warband-Wide Reputation

Once The War Within launches, most new and many Dragonflight reputations will become Warband reputations.

When you have a Warband reputation, any progress you make on one character will be shared with all your characters. Rewards will also be unlocked for all characters, although the form this takes will vary per reward. Warband-wide rewards will be granted only once, while some rewards will remain character-specific and need to be collected on each character.

Once a reputation is converted to Warband-wide, reputation progress will display as the furthest that any character in your account has achieved. If you were at Renown 5 for Valdrakken Accord on one character and Renown 10 on another, your new Warband Valdrakken Accord Renown will be 10.

We opted for the furthest progress earned because, for many reputations, progress is not earned evenly. You can earn a lot of front-loaded reputation from doing campaigns and other one-shot quests. The thought behind this was that if we added all the reputations earned across all characters together, this would create an unfair advantage for players who play many alts over those who spend their time on one or just a few characters.

Here is the full list of converted reputations from Dragonflight:

  • Renown
    • Dragonscale Expedition
    • Maruuk Centaur
    • Iskaara Tuskarr
    • Valdrakken Accord
    • Loamm Niffen
    • Dream Wardens
  • Standard
    • Wrathion & Sabellian
    • Cobalt Assembly
    • Artisan’s Consortium
    • Azerothian Archives
    • Soridormi

The few reputations we opted not to convert, including Winterpelt Furbolg and Glimmerogg Racer, were due to not fitting within the fantasy for those reputations. Winterpelt Furbolg has a language learning component that doesn’t make much sense to be shared across characters, and the Glimmerrogg Racer reputation feels more like a personal standing in the snail races than an actual reputation that should be shared. These are also minor reputations that wouldn’t be as impactful Warband-wide.

When it comes to future conversion of reputations, the current plan is to work backward into older expansions, converting many old reputations over time. As it’s a time-consuming effort, it will take a while to implement. Similar to reuptations within Dragonflight, there will also be a limited number that won’t be converted, usually this will be because it doesn’t make sense from a fantasy perspective or because it involves a character-specific choice. For example, Aldor and Scryer in the Burning Crusade and the Covenants in Shadowlands won't be converted because they represent per-character choices.

First-Time Quest Rewards

Part of Warband reputation implementation is in satisfying the goal that players with many alts don’t have an intrinsic advantage over those who focus their playtime on a single character. To accomplish this, we are introducing a new concept with quest rewards. Players can earn a bonus quest reward for any quest completed for the first time on their Warband. An additional, different, bonus will can be granted for completing a quest additional times.

The most common way we anticipate granting this bonus inThe War Within quests is when rewarding Warband reputation. Specifically, we plan for quests to only give reputation as a first-time completion bonus. On additional completions of the same quest on alts, players will earn a bonus reward currency similar to Dragon Isles Supplies instead of reputation. This currency will be freely transferable across the Warband and can be used to purchase various Warband-level rewards such as cosmetics, mounts, and pets.

With this setup, you can complete quests for any character you want without impacting your reputation or progress. Whichever character completes them first will earn the reputation for your Warband. This also avoids the situation in which a player who plays many characters can rapidly advance in reputation over someone who only plays one character.

What About Diplomacy?

The human racial Diplomacy is currently designed to grant a bonus 10% to reputation for players who choose that race. Unfortunately, with Warband reputations, this racial causes problems due its character-specific nature.

We don’t want players to feel compelled to play a specific character or race to earn Warband-level rewards more efficiently, so we will convert this race-specific bonus into something new. We’ll share more information on it at a later date.

Earning Achievements for Your Warband

Achievements have always had an account-wide component to them. Some achievements (those with a blue shade) are fullyaccount-wide. Progress on these is shared across characters and completion is for the entire World of Warcraft account.

There have also always been character-specific achievements in which progress and completion of these achievements is per character. These achievements show as complete if any character on the the account has completed them. Often, the rewards earned are also character-specific.  

In the past, we have displayed your account-wide achievement point total in some places (like at the top of your achievement pane) but only your character total in others (like in guilds).

With the introduction of Warbands, we want all achievements to be considered “Warband” achievements. You, the player, accomplished them, so you should not feel like you need to complete them on more than one character or feel like you do not want to play another character because they are missing achievements.

Given this, we are eliminating the concept of a character-based achievement score. From now on, a total Warband achievement score will be tracked and displayed instead. This score will be the sum of all account-wide achievement points plus the points from any character-specific achievements completed on any character.

We are also converting many achievements to be account-wide. In fact, we will be converting approximately 2000 achievements from across all expansions. The philosophy we are following for this conversion is that if an achievement has the possibility of sharing progress across characters (e.g., do x things), we want to convert it so all characters can share progress on it. It shouldn’t matter whether you returned 50 flags as a defender in Warsong Gulch on a single character or whether you like PvPing on 10 characters and did it 5 times on each.

There are a few rare exceptions to this, however. Specifically for achievements where doing the activity on one character is part of what makes it hard or interesting. One such example is Insane in the Membrane.

The hard part of this achievement is maxing out diametrically opposed reputations. We don’t want to undermine the accomplishments of those players who have completed these particularly difficult achievements in the past, so we won’t be converting achievements like this.

In addition, any achievements that would not benefit from shared progression across characters, such as Memories of Teldrassil, will be left character-specific so you can see what cool things you have done on specificcharacters for posterity. But again, this will have no impact on your achievement score, rewards, or ability to complete achievements.

We have also taken a look at the rewards granted by achievements. For these, we mostly want them to be Warband-wide. Therefore, in many cases we are making the reward go to the entire Warband, such as for most titles. In other cases we are simply converting the entire achievement and its reward to be account wide. For example, dungeon teleports earned by Keystone Hero achievements, will become account-wide, both in the achievement and the reward.

The primary exception to rewards being Warband-wide is those that are intrinsically per character, such as Dreaming of Wyrms.

Another exception is achievements that celebrate highly prestigious accomplishments on a specific character, like the Gladiator: Dragonflight Season 3 achievement, whose title and progress will remain character-specific.

To address how we  progress for achievements across characters—for most achievements, we are adding your progress across all your characters. For example, if you have done 200 personal crafting orders on each of 3 different characters, the Personal Crafter achievement will immediately be completed upon login.

There are a few achievements where it only makes sense to take the highest value across your characters, such as the Reach Level 70 achievement. In most cases, these are not being converted as there is no benefit. For the exceptions where there are, we will use the highest value you have reached on any character.

Shared Flight Points for Your Warband

We are converting flight points to be account-wide. For standard flight points you have yet to learn, you will only have to collect these on one character, and they will be unlocked across your Warband. Flight points that have already been collected on any character across your account will be unlocked for your Warband.

Preserving Map Exploration

Map exploration is an interesting subject to consider as we worked through how we wanted the Warbands system to work. Initially, a plan was in place to convert map exploration to something available account-wide. After further reflection, we decided it was better to preserve map exploration as it is. Not only can it be fun to reveal new parts of a map, but it also provides experience and can help you keep track of the areas you’ve already explored.

For those who may not be as interested in re-exploring every map on all your characters, we are adding The Warband Map to Everywhere All At Once toy.

No Currency Confusion

Like map exploration, it was decided to handle currency a little differently. Rather than making it fully Warband-wide, which could create potential confusion,  we opted to make it easier to transfer currency between characters in your Warband instead. This will help avoid confusion over spending the wrong currency on the wrong character.

With this new flow, instead of relying on buying a special item and mailing it to an alt, you can directly transfer any shareable currency from other characters to the one you are currently playing within the currency User Interface (UI).

Currencies intended for purchasing Warband-wide items such as cosmetics, pets and mounts will usually be completely free to transfer between members of your Warband.

There may be some cases in which a currency is earned on a character with the intent that the character will be the primary user of the currency, but where we want to allow players to shift any excess currency to an alternate character. In those cases, there will be a slight loss in the transfer of that currency. This is akin to older currencies in which this value loss was accomplished via an item purchase, such as Cosmic Flux from Shadowlands.

Note that there will still be many currencies that will remain non-transferable because they represent important character-based progression. Two examples of these are the Crest and Flightstone equivalents in The War Within.

Lastly, we will be taking a pass on all older currencies and enabling Warband transfer on many where appropriate.

Items and Gear in your Warband

While gear is one of the primary forms of character-specific progression in World of Warcraft, we are adding a variety of improvements to items and gear to make managing and collecting them more convenient and alternate character-friendly.

Warband Bank

The Warband Bank can be accessed at bankers throughout the game. It will provide up to five tabs with ninety-eight available inventory slots each. Each tab can be purchased for an increasing amount of gold. These tabs can be customized with an icon and organized like a Guild Vault. This bank is in addition to your individual character bank vault.

Any non-soulbound item can go into the Warband Bank. All characters in your Warband can access the bank to freely deposit and withdraw items. The bank will also behave like the reagent bank, allowing you to craft using reagents from it without having to withdraw them.

In addition, the bank will allow you to deposit and manually withdraw gold across characters in your Warband.

There is one limitation that is worth noting. Like pet battles, players who play multiple characters simultaneously on multiple World of Warcraft accounts will find that only the character that logs into the realm first will have access to the Warband Bank.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that we would like to update the UI and functionality of the character-level bank to also use tabs like the Warband bank. While this won’t be done at the launch of The War Within, we are planning for it to come soon after. When this change occurs, bags will no longer be needed in the character bank. It’s intended that this change won’t alter the number of slots currently available in your bank. It will just shift those slots from bags to tabs.

Warbound until Equipped Gear

Warbound until Equipped is a new type of gear binding that we are introducing in The War Within. Gear that is Warbound until Equipped can be freely traded across your Warband but becomes Soulbound once it’s equipped by a character.

In the past high item-level account-bound gear hasn’t been available because it could be used and freely traded across characters. For example, it would be too easy to transfer a high item-level account-bound ring between characters if it did not bind to a character when equipped. Players would be tempted to trade between all their alternate characters depending on who they were playing. This isn’t the type of gameplay we want to encourage or support.

With the introduction of Warbound until Equipped (WuE) gear, we are excited to start providing this much higher item-level gear more often in a manageable and beneficial way.

We are still working out more of the design details, but the current plan is to have WuE gear available within raids, dungeons, and the new Delves feature. Whenever you earn loot, you will have a small bonus chance to gain an additional piece of WuE gear as personal loot. This gear will be at least one lower tier than other loot from that source (currently a full upgrade track lower (e.g., Hero-> Champion), and it could be gear usable by any class.

Simply by playing, you will occasionally collect gear a single tier lower than your current gear, which could be sent to help an alternate character or even to use for a new class you’ve been meaning to try.

You will also occasionally stumble on Warbound until Equipped gear elsewhere while playing, so keep a look out.

Enhancing Your Transmog Collection

Collecting transmog appearances has long been something that has required players to plan gear runs on a per armor type basis, even though item appearances are shared across the account. With the introduction of Warbands, we want to make collecting appearances much more Warband-centric. To help players continue to expand their collections and style their alternate characters how they want, in  The War Within any character can collect any item appearance, regardless of if they can equip the item or not.

Class-specific appearances are an exception and will still be collectible only by that specific class. Most class-specific items can only be collected by those classes through a set piece token, and others are often only aquireable by that specific class anyway. Overall, it’s intended that this restriction has little influence on your ability to collect the majority of the transmogs that you want for your Warband.

It’s important to note that these changes only affect your ability to collect appearances. Existing rules on which characters can use any given appearance are not changing (e.g., a Priest getting a plate helm drop will unlock the appearance for your plate-wearing characters, even though they cannot use plate appearances themselves).

With this change, we also wanted to allow you to view appearances on any character of any class or race within the appearances UI.

We are also making it easier to collect appearances from unbound items. You will no longer need to equip the item to add it to your collection. Any time you destroy an item via disenchanting, deleting, selling, etc., you will automatically collect the appearance. There is also a new flow to directly collect the appearance from Bind on Equip (BoE) gear that you cannot equip by converting it to “Warbound until Equipped” instead.

Existing gear in your character-level bank or bag inventory will be automatically added to your transmog collection when you first log into that character.

To account for these changes, we are making a slight adjustment to how rolling for gear in raids with Group Loot works. Any gear that drops with transmog appearance you haven’t collected yet will have the Transmog option to roll for it rather than the Greed option (Transmog has higher priority).

When rolling Transmog, any gear that drops that can be equipped by your current character will get a higher rolling priority than those rolling with characters who cannot equip the item (e.g., a priest will always beat a warrior when both roll transmog on a piece of cloth gear).

Everyone All Together—Updated Character Select Screen

We have updated the Character Select screen so you can see your entire Warband in one list of characters. You will no longer need to swap between realms to see characters on those other realms. The one exception to this is if you have multiple World of Warcraft subscriptions within one account. In this case, you will only see the characters on the account you’re logged in on even though all your characters across subscriptions are included as a part of your Warband.

We also thought it would be fun to see some of the characters in your Warband hanging out together.

For the launch of The War Within, you will only be able to assign four characters to this one scene. We are working on building more of these scenes for you to collect in the future though. We’re excited about earning more of these scenes as we play through the expansion and hope you will be, too!

As a final point on the updates to the character screen, to make it easier for you to decide which character to play at any given moment, we have also added a bit more information about each character during character selection.

The Warbands system is an evergreen feature that we plan to continue expanding into the future. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback as we continue development on The War Within. Happy alting, and we’ll see you in Azeroth!