Thursday, October 23, 2008

WoW Patch 3.0.2

It's been a long and shall we say, interesting couple of weeks since I last posted here on the blog. I've been busy with school work, work, and of course continued leveling of my two alts. One of which--my Shaman--hit 70 about 10 days ago, and my other--my Druid--still languishes at 63. I finally got to the point where it was taking more and ever more time to level each, and had to devote more time to the character I was leveling with my wife. So it definitely isn't disinterest that prevented me from blogging, but rather that I have been spending every available free moment in game, or in my school work.

So, it's been a week and a half since Patch 3.0.2 was released. General thoughts are that the patch was a success from a design stand point, but not so much in its delivery. The live servers have been plagued with instabilities with horrible lag spikes and instances that crash almost nightly. And not for short periods either, but for prolonged periods during prime-time play time. There have been entire evenings ruined, where not a single instance run could be carried off because of it. Still, things are beginning to look a little better. Most of the lagginess seems to have been cleared up over the past couple days at least. And I'm sure Blizzard will clear the rest of the problems up in the short term. Just in time for the expansion, set to be released on November 13th!

The Patch - so what do I like about "the patch"? At first I didn't really give much thought to the new achievements. But strangely over the past 2-3 days I've found myself warming up to it. I've found myself actually pursuing various achievements, and I'm generally someone who has never paid much attention at all in the nearly four years I've been playing, to the intangible "rewards" one earns for doing world events, or what have you. Including titles. I could have really cared less about titles. That is, up until now. I spent a good portion of yesterday afternoon running around Azeroth finishing up the Trick or Treat achievement for the Eastern Kingdom, and unlocking areas in zones I had never visited. I have a great deal more of that to come before I finish. In the end, I think I'm enjoying the achievement system more than almost any other new patch related item.

I can see in PVP just how the new skills and talents have worked out. Ret Paladins are now incredibly powerful. Very few others--and I do mean VERY FEW others can actually defeat a ret pally 1-v-1. In fact Ret Paladins are now known to roll into small groups and wipe them out. Its amazing to watch, until you realize you're one of the poor slobs receiving the wiping. Paladins of course, received a small nerf last week (within days of the patch going live), but it hasn't done much to tone down the huge burst damage potential these walking gods have in PVP yet. For my part, I'm absolutely loving my Shaman. In all actually this is my second Shaman. My first is Enhancement--was and always will be, and I leveled this one as Enhancement up to level 65 when I respecced him to Elemental. And I love it! I am amazed at it's mana efficiency. I've played a Mage and Warlock to end-game also, and neither of them is anywhere near as mana efficient as my Elemental Shaman is. Of course I'm comparing pre-patch Mage and Warlock to post-patch Elemental Shaman, but even then I watch Mages and Warlocks in the groups I run in (raiding and instancing) and while I see them have to drink fairly regularly I can go through entire instances without having to drink more than once or twice, if even at all. My spell rotation has much more to do with my mana efficiency than anything else. I can crank up the chain-lightning to lightning bolt percentage to maximize DPS on groups of mobs, and scale that down when I need to regen a little more mana. If I simply spam LB for single target DPS I never have to drink at all. I find myself anxiously awaiting the dual-spec system to be put in place so I can run as Elemental/Restoration.

Rouges and Warriors also got huge boosts. If you thought Warriors tore up the battlefields before the patch, then you need to observe them now. What can you say about Rogues other than they have increased DPS? All of it means that survivability of the classes on the receiving end of their attacks has become an even greater issue that it was before. Thus far, while I find I love my Elemental Shaman, I haven't found myself with a great deal of survivability in BGs. Thunderstorm is a pretty neat talent, doesn't offer any real degree of survivability. It knocks back everyone immediately around me about 15 yards, but doesn't impart a snare of any kind. So anyone knocked back is immediately back on you. Even if you do get off a frost shock. Alternatively, you can drop a totem and run, hoping to gain enough distance to safely heal. But I haven't found that to be a terribly effective tactic yet.

My opinion on the new inscription system is still up in the air. I've only seen a handful of glyphs that I thought were of much use, but I'm hoping that might change over time as I see more. And of course the huge nerf to raid bosses--their health and the damage they do--just makes whatever you happen to be doing now raid-wise that much easier. I personally think that's beneficial to allow more people to see more end-game content prior to its virtual retirement next month.