Saturday, November 29, 2008

What to do at level 80?

I hit 80 on my Shaman the 26TH and have had opportunity to run a few heroics and about three quarters of 10-man Naax (awesome BTW!). Naturally at end-game one would be running as many heroics daily as possible in order to eventually get some nice badge gear. And raiding if you can as well. My Naax run was a PUG and my guild isn't up to running any raids yet with only about 14 or 15 of us being 80 as of yet. So what does one do with all the time in between heroics and the odd PUG raid? Dailies of course! Well, dailies and farming. And in my case leveling two additional characters with important trade skills!

In the Outlands the dailies were very defined, and there wasn't a great deal of travel involved to get between any of them. But that isn't necessarily the case in Northrend. It can literally take more than five minutes to travel from Dalaran to the Ebon Blade quest hub out of Icecrown, which is one of the three major daily quest hubs. The other two are the Kalu'ak, out of three neutral villages along the coast of southern Northrend, and the Oracles out of Storm Peaks.

I've had opportunity to do the three Kalu'ak dailies and the six Ebon Blade dailies but haven't done any questing what so ever in Stormpeaks as of yet. The Kalu'ak dailies are a little on the novel side. One requires you to gather some fish with a neat and then use the fish to lure a bull sea lion to a waiting female sea lion in the name of getting them acquainted. Kind of cute. Another requires you to drop into a series of small villages and kidnap some kids. literally. And the third requires you to run around a war zone and pick up a few supply crates. All in all they collectively should take you no more than about 15 minutes, but that might differ if others are doing them at the same time. The Ebon Blade quests aren't as bad but the dailies I've witnessed to date are tied to small areas which causes problems when even a few people are doing them simultaneously. That just wasn't the case in BC dailies where very few of them caused problems if say 5-6 people were doing them at any one time. Which is unfortunate considering how much time Blizzard had to truly plan all this out.

I can only assume that Blizzard will be unveiling new dailies in the coming weeks and months because the three main hubs in game now won't last people very long. I earn 1500 rep a day from Kulu'ak and already find myself about 6k into revered. And with Championing, Ebon Blade could take very little time at all to level to exalted. If I were to guess, I'd say we could expect more dailies centered around Ulduur, which is to be patched into WotLK in patch 3.1. Let us just hope that those, if indeed that is their intention, are more akin to the Shattered Sun Offensive than what we've seen thus far.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Depends on the definition of overpowered

Tobold posted an interesting question yesterday regarding whether Death Knights were overpowered. Since I've been playing my Death Knight recently and had conducted considerable research on the class prior to its release nearly two weeks ago I think I have some solid impressions on the matter.

First and foremost what is overpowered? I've heard many definitions of what it might be, but doesn't it really come down to a particular point of view? At our core I think most of us are partisans, each looking out for the well being of our favorite class above all others. Which of course is only human nature. My favorite class in WoW is the Druid, which I happen to not be playing at the moment. For some, their favorite class might be the Paladin, or the Warrior or Rogue. The point being, that out impressions of other classes are made through the eyes of our chosen class.

So just what is overpowered? Is it defined by the amount of negative posts on the official WoW forum? How many people post or even read that forum? I think we can all agree that whatever the number is, it is a small fraction of the total playing WoW today. We already know anecdotally that on maintenance day (today for instance) and on days where the servers are experiencing problems many more people than normal flock to the boards and they screech to a halt. So we know from that that some small number actually peruses the boards on a normal basis. I call those who flock t the board to complain a tempest in a teacup. So from my point of view forum posts can not define what overpowered is or isn't.

I do not think I can define overpowered, but I think I can recognize it when I see it, to coin an old adage. Take for example the Retribution Paladin. Just a few short weeks ago--in the first two weeks immediately after patch 3.0.2, the Retribution Paladin was as seemingly close to god mode in WoW as you can get. Especially in PVP where it wasn't all that unusual to see one charge into a small group of players defending a tower or flag, or even just standing around and not only kill them all, but walk away nearly unscathed. There were all sorts of denials by Paladin players, or rationalizations, but in the end a truth was known. There wasn't another single class in the game that could replicate with any sort of regularity what was being seen on a daily basis on the battlefields. That, to me, is the definition of overpowered.

The question now is do Death Knights stack up to that? I'm not entirely sold on that idea, but I can say that they are clearly very powerful. They're akin to the Retribution Paladin, which one small difference. They heal through the act of doing damage. One spec (Blood) more so than the other two however. Paladins have to stop DPSing to heal, which to some in this argument might make a difference and to others doesn't. However, it's that healing ability that I think makes most of the difference. Each of the three specs is roughly equal, but I think Blood has an advantage. There literally is no downtime between fights and I went 8 strait hours leveling from 65 to 68 without stopping to rest or eat even once. Admittedly that was with the fantastic starter gear, but even in Northrend I can duplicate that feat. But here's the rub, I can do the same thing with my Shaman too. As could others I know. So is that truly a sign of being overpowered? I'm not convinced.

Ultimately how Death Knights perform in the battlegrounds and the Arena will rear its ugly head. And as we've witnessed in the past, Blizzard will wield the nerf bat based on the loudest whining on the forums. Arguments of significance on either side not withstanding.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Leveling and immersion

A second weekend since the launch of WotLK has come and gone, and my Shaman is now level 78 and my Death Knight is still level 72. I had decided last week to focus solely on my Shaman so I can complete his level to 80 and start getting him somewhat geared for Naaxramus, which I hope we will begin raiding sometime mid-December. While I've logged many hours over the past 10 days, I have to say that most of the quests have been pretty easy. And the quests are plentiful in all zones, so you can probably level from 70 to 80 without ever stepping inside an instance though I'm not sure you would want to do that. I got one upgrade my first instance run, and have slowly been replacing items from instance runs, or from the odd quest regard ever since. And I finally replaced my ugly ZA head and shoulders last night from the Stone Halls. Gear certainly makes that leveling experience easier, but it isn't the mob difficulty that is the issue for many right now. Familiarity is the issue.

In BC there were actually a fairly small number of quest hubs in each zone. But that isn't the case in WotLK. There are several quest hubs in each zone, and because the zones are all larger than the zones in BC you can easily miss hubs as you travel around. One thing I would have liked to see is a more linear progression from one hub to another inside a zone. Or at the very least something a little more concrete that enables players to locate these quest hubs.

While I might have a small complaint in that regard, I have nothing but praise to heap on Blizzard for the level of immersion they created in WotLK. Particularly in the Dragon Blight. Not only do you get the absolutely fantastic quest chain that leads up to the titanic fight between the Alliance and Horde at the gates to Icecrown (Wrathgate), but it then leads you through another chain that sees King Wyrnn invading Undercity. Absolutely stunning! You can not help but feel the very nature of the Scourge invasion, and feel like you are part of something very much larger as you attempt to stem the tide of the undead.

I think I've probably leveled a little faster than the average person, and I should hit 80 within the next 2-3 days. But I feel fairly confident when I say the average person should be able to level to 80 within 3 weeks.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

WotLK one week old today

Happy anniversary WotLK! Yes, WotLK is one week old today and things are finally beginning to ease up in the starter zones. I've been leveling two characters simultaneously, so I'm probably leveling somewhat slower than most people. And consequently my Shaman is only level 4 and still in the beginning stages of the DragonBlight. And my Death Knight is level 72 and has finished the Borean Tundra and about half of the Howling Fjord. There are visibly less people in the both starter zones, so questing there is now much easier. Which is great because those zones weren't designed for 10k+ characters running around in them anyway. Its also becoming a little harder to get groups for the starter instances (Utgard Keep and the Nexus). I sat in the LFG for most of the afternoon on my level 70/71 Dk yesterday afternoon and never did get into a group. I would say the majority of players are now in the 73-75 zones and running the next level of instances.

And incidentally, now that I've had the chance to run both Borean Tundra and the Howling Fjord twice I would say I prefer the Borean Tundra. The quests seem easier generally, and give better upgrades sooner, that the Howling Fjord does.

Also, one week in and we are also finally seeing some of the prices for ore and herbs coming down. Cobalt ore was selling for 12+ gold per ore in the first day or two after release. And it's now down to about 4-6 gold per ore as of last night. Given a couple more weeks I would expect to see Cobalt ore selling for about what we used to pay for Adamantite ore toward the end of BC.

Isn't it interesting how things tend to proceed along a path of equilibrium?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

WotLK expansion is finally upon us

It's been five days since the expansion went live, and by now I think we've all had a chance to form some opinions about the expansion. First and foremost in my mind is how virbrant and beautiful the artwork is. Blizzard has surpassed everything they've done previous to this and I applaud them for it. I love the varied environments in the different zones, and the immersive feel of it all. Blizzard continued their previous policy of providing ample quests to level everyone from 70 to 80, seemingly without ever stepping into an instance. Though I do not suggest that. The rewards available in the early instances are very nice and should be upgrades for everyone except the best geared. My shaman is geared in a few Kara epics, but the majority are badge or ZA gear and I was able to replace the gloves I was wearing from early Kara in Utgard Keep. I was even able to put a +28 spell power enchant on them immediatly because the required materials are much cheaper and easier to obtain that the +20 spell power enchant from the Outlands.

All that being said, it's been somewhat frustrating in that even with two starter zones it has been at times very difficult to complete quests with all the players roaming around. I had intended to get in early and blow through the first several quest hubs in hope of staying ahead of most of the player base. That didn't happen and I was left struggling through the first quest hub along with what seemed like the rest of the server. And that problem compounded itself over the next couple of days. I applaud Blizzard for seeking to break up the players into two starter zones, but at least in the Fjord, the inital quest are is too small to support any more than a moderate amount of people at one time. I'm running a second character through the Borean Tundra right now and those quests seem simpler to complete, even with the same amount of people there for some reason.

Of course the problem will moderate once the majority of people spread out, but I was thinking in the future Blizzard might consider the use of their new "phasing" technology for the immediate quest hubs like they did with the Death Knight quest chain. That could prove to be a boon that enables players to quest unmolested and allow a natural spreading of players.

I started a Death Knight immediatly Wednesday night at midnight and found very quickly that the class is everything I had hoped and expected it to be. And as of last night I entered the Borean Tundra with him, having taken a rather leisurly pace through the Outlands. I had started as Unholy with remaining points in Blood, but yesterday switched to Blood with a few points in Unholy and some in Frost. I really have to say that Blood specced Death Knights are as close to god mode in WoW as you can get (along with Ret Paladin). I absolutely love the staying power of that spec and don't plan on switching again any time soon. I literally quested and grinded for 8 hours yesterday, going from 65 to 68 and never had to stop or eat or heal once. You can walk around with literal impunity, and can take on elites of same level or higher without having to worry whether you will survive. It's just not a concern.

Obviously I will record more of my thoughts on things as I get further into WotLK with both of my characters. But my inital thoughts are that Blizzard created a masterpiece, and I think them for it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Weekly maintenance gone wrong (Update)

The servers did eventually come back up around 1am EST this morning, but there was still missing in-game mail and there were many other problems with PVP gear venders that apparently necessitated another round of maintenance this morning. The servers went back down for an advertised 3 hour maintenance at 7am EST and are still down. While I understand sometimes things happen, they seem to be happening with some regularity lately. And that isn't making me very happy. I've been trying to complete my Netherwing grind before the expansion hits and I lost an entire day of rep yesterday. I was working on it again this morning when I got up only to find out the servers were going down again. I'm not entirely certain this bodes well for tonight's expansion launch.

10:35 Update - the servers are still offline. Blizzard posted a new note indicating they ran into unspecified "database issues" and no new ETR.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Weekly maintenance gone wrong

So much for coming home from work today to play a little WoW. The servers began to come up after a normal round of maintenance today, but very quickly went back down because of a reported in-game mail problem. Blizzard is reporting that the problem is going to take several hours to fix and will update us again around 5pm EST. At this rate I'll be lucky if they come back up before dinner.

Achievements part duex

When last I mentioned it I Had completed my Diplomat achievement and had started my Kureni rep grind in pursuit of the 50 mount (Albino Drake reward) achievement. I found the Kureni rep grind surprisingly easy, which made me wonder why I never did it on any of my other toons. I went from Honored (half way through) to Exalted in 24 hours. And that was basically grinding an hour here and there in between doing other things. Happily I now sit at 41 mounts and I'm within 3-4 days of completing the grind to Exalted with the Netherwing. Sadly I'm probably another 12 days out from the Skyguard, which I expect to give me the last couple mounts I'll need to get my Drake.

Beside that I've also been pursuing pets, of which I have about 36 as of this morning. For some reason I really want that skunk! And I've been spending time fishing the pools in Skettis looking for Mr. Pinchy, though he hasn't shown me a lot of love as of yet. Next to the magical crawdad, the pet I most wanted was the sinister squashling, which of course I never won in the 2-3 times it dropped for me during the Halloween world event, and which I never "looted" while trick-or-treating. Though I did get it on an alt!

All this new found desire to do things in game is a huge bonanza. I've found it great fun, and I know that many others are likewise. Really can't credit Blizzard enough for bringing this in!

How could you not have enjoyed BC?

I meant to respond to Tobold's post from yesterday regarding his continuing negativity on the Burning Crusade, but got wrapped up playing WoW instead. So today I wanted to comment on his post, which I feel is off base and out of touch. On the 3rd I had chance to comment on his attitude towards BC, but wanted to take this opportunity to go much further in my responses. While Tobold might not have been excited about BC, I think the numbers of players speak for themselves. Not only did WoW crest at BCs launch, but its player base has increased to over 11 million as of last month, and I would fully expect that to grow further once WotLK is launched later in the week. 11 million players is completely unheard of in the MMORPG market. And the significance of that number simply can't be ignored.

Take for instance another large company's offering -- WAR. EA/Mythic (not exactly tiny companies) designed and marketed WAR to be the WoW killer and yet the had to accept in very short order the reality of the situation they found themselves in. EA/Mythic has recently stated they have 800,000 players; a number that will undeniably decline with the launch of WotLK, if it hasn't already. It may increase again in the coming months, but the point is that not even the mammoth EA can unseat Blizzard from it's perch in the market. And that is saying quite a bit. I take issue with Tobold because many of his postings, while based on his own personal opinions, at times almost indicate he speaks for the wider population. If he did I think we would not have seen the growth of WoW that we've been treated to over the last 18 months.

Tobold goes on to say that WotLK is "too late". I'm not sure I understand what that means really. BC took two years to come to market, while WotLK took 19 months. If he is basing his opinion on the lateness of an expansion on the fact that power raiding guilds blew through content in months then again I think he is somewhat out of touch. Most guilds never stepped foot in Mout Hyjal or Black Temple before the recent 30% nerfs implemented with patch 3.0.2. It was only those nerfs that enabled a greater proportion of raiding guilds to complete Mount Hyjal and Black Temple. Something I think they very much appreciated. And if you look at WoWJutsu you will see that a very small proportion of raiding guilds are now in the Sunwell. I would argue that 18 months is a very good period of time between expansions--especially if you are an alt-a-holic as I am.

In WotLK I will be playing two characters initially--my Elemental Shaman and my Death Knight. And I will probably go back and pick up playing my first true love in WoW (my Druid) in a few months after I've gotten some progression on the Shaman and Death Knight. 18 months is enough time, I believe, to do pretty much everything you could want to do with two or even three characters. But even if you only had one, there still is a tremendous amount of things you could do in that time, and perhaps not even complete them all.

While Tobold might not have been excited by BC, I think the numbers indicate that most people were. I absolutely loved it. BC addressed many of the core issues that people had issue with in vanilla WoW. BC opened up raiding to a much greater proportion of the player base, and also increased accessibility to PVP by creating multiple paths to PVP gear. And in many cases PVP gear was useful in raiding as well.

BC also addressed another issue that people had great problems with in vanilla WoW--gold. In vanilla WoW many people had a very hard time making gold. Some people didn't, but it was a complaint heard often enough on the forums that I think it would be hard to deny. BC changed that. Gold flowed like honey in the Outlands, and if you weren't able to make a few thousand gold leveling from 60-70 then you were doing something dreadfully wrong. Then Blizzard went further and brought about daily quests. I'm still convinced the main reason for doing so was to combat gold selling and buying, and I'm fine with that. The gold selling and buying market was thriving pre-BC, and even in early BC when people wanted to buy epic flying mounts. But we've all seen a drop off in gold buying since the inception of dailies. And we can take the increased "marketing" of gold sellers through spam in the major cities as anecdotal evidence of how much harder it's become for them. I also do not see bots with great regularity any more; something I am keenly thankful for.

Yes, I greatly enjoyed BC, and I will miss it. Yet I am looking forward to WotLK and I'm sure mourn its passing in another 18 months as well. That feeling alone tells me that Blizzard hit the proverbial nail right on the head. And I'm very happy to express that while others express their disappointment.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Death Knights

With only a little more than 2 days remaining before the expansion goes live, many peoples thoughts will rightfully be turning to what they'll be doing in the fabled land of Northrend. And of course, much of that thought might center around Death Knights. I, myself plan on leveling a Death Knight starting Thursday. And if you have been paying any attention to the beta, then you've probably formulated an opinion or two on the class. I like what I see. Death Knight, while perhaps the most complicated of classes to play, seemingly will be a blast.

Yet I think Blizzard made a couple mistakes with the class. A few weeks ago Blizzard rolled out patch 3.0.2, which introduced new spells and new talent trees to the game and also introduced the new Inscription profession. Yet they left introduction of the Death Kinight class out of it. I argued that Blizzard should have included Death Knight in the patch because as of Thursday when level 70 toons will be shooting up to Northrend on their venture to level 80, everyone else playing a Death Knight will instead be far behind either in Winterspring, Eastern Plaguelands, Silithis, or just entered Hellfire Peninsula. Death Knights start at level 55, and will just hit level 58 upon completion of their solo introductory quest chains. That means it will probably take anywhere from 1-3 weeks for those players to level from 58-70 depending on how much they play. And of course that means those players will also be ignoring leveling of any other level 70 character they might also be raiding with. I have a level 70 Shaman and my Death Knight to level, and I really need to level both to 80 before Christmas. Not just level to 80 by that time frame, but also have somewhat geared so that we can start entering Naax for our 10-man raiding. If you work or have other commitments that will not be so easy. Though if you live in your mothers basement and have no life then it might not be. I think it would have been much better served for Blizzard to have released Death Knights weeks ago and given that time to players to level from 58-70 so that they could then enter the expansion along with friends.

Another mistake I think Blizzard has made with the class is professions. When you create the Death Knight the only skill you find yourself with is first aid, which is appropriately leveled for level 55. From that point on you will need to level first aid up to 375. However, if you wish to attain a trade or gathering skill, you will have to start from 0. Which of course means traveling back to the starter zones if you want to level herbology, or gathering enough ore to power level mining from 1-250 through smelting. Mining just requires you put enough effort in ahead of time to collect the raw ore for your Death Knight. Herbology is an entirely different picture however. There simply is no way around the requirement for your Death Knight to have to spend days or more tramping around the old zones to gather herbs. I think Blizzard should have instead given Death Knights two "freebies", other than first aid, allowing the Death Knight to choose two skills of any kind one time and starting them off appropriately leveled for level 55. Having not done that means anyone planning on playing a Death Knight will necessarily have to add additional time to leveling those skills to the overall leveling process.

While I am anxiously awaiting the expansion, I am not anxiously awaiting have to spend precious time running around old zones leveling gathering skills. Overall I really like what I see in the class, but I am absolutely certain there will be nerfs aplenty in the coming weeks as people who were not part of the beta are introduced to the class. Death Knight will be come the new Paladin, and we all know how that's going to work out.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

WotLK will only sell 5 million copies?

Gamasutra/WoWinsider seems to think so. Personally I think that is levels of magnitude too low with over 11 million people currently playing WoW. 5 million copies is less than half of those playing, and there is simply no way less than half are going to want to play WotLK. Not only do I see the vast majority of players sticking around and loading up the expanions, but I also see thousands of new players coming into WoW with its introduction. And when I say the vast majority, I'm saying I believe something on the order of 80-90% of all currently players right now.

Monday, November 3, 2008

What will the next expansion look like?

Tobold had a tongue in cheek column regarding his prediction for the next expansion today. And while I don't doubt that he is 100% correct, it got me thinking what I would like to see. Tobold is apparently disappointed in what is likely to be seen in the next expansion, I guess because of his own personal point of view in that he wants to see new and exciting concepts that push the genre into unknown territory. My own point of view is not to break something that works just fine. Blizzard runs the proverbial 800lb gorilla on the block, and they have a responsibility to ensure its continued success. The model they have developed over the past four years has served them and us quite well, so why change it? People are very happy with the game in general. They like the raiding end-game, as well as the pvp end-game. So again, why would Blizzard change that model?

Burning Crusade went live in February 2007 and Wrath of the Lich King is going live on November 13th 2008. That's a little less than two years, which I feel is a pretty good span of time in between expansions. Though I think I would actually like to see the level cap raised to 100 next expansion, vice only 90. If it takes them two years, instead of one and a half to do that, so be it. I would also like Blizzard to revisit the concept of a hero class. I was fairly disappointed in their decision to create a separate, distinct stand along class as their first hero class instead of allowing out existing characters to "unlock" hero abilities. They probably ruled out my vision of hero classes because of the nightmare it would be to balance that, but they haven't actually had a much easier time balancing Death Knights either, now have they?

To me, a "hero class" is an existing character that opens themselves up to additional abilities and talent trees after a lengthy epic quest chain. And when I say epic quest chain, I mean one that would take months to complete and would require content inside raids to be completed as well as individual quest that require thinking. Imaging that! Thinking! And when I say new abilities and talent trees, I don't mean a simple handful of new talents and abilities. I mean entire new talent trees and spells which would make that character a devastatingly powerful being on the face of Azeroth. Hence my desire for the next expansion to be level 100 because heros could only start their quest chain at level 100.

It would, in my view, be time to revisit older content in the next expansion. Time for the Maelstrom, the Dream, as well as the Titans! Time to tie some plot threads together. There's an old god still roaming around somewhere, and he's corrupting the dream. Or is it an old god? perhaps it's actually Sargeras? And hence the need for the Titans to revisit a planet they haven't seen in eons. Obviously when one speaks of the Titans you know the Aspects would be involved as well, and that means Deathwing as well. Metsen, if you are reading this, dew eeet!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Achievements bring a missing aspect to WoW

I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but I really like the new achievement system introduced into WoW with patch 3.0.2. I've never been one to care much for titles or non-useful items gained by world events or the like. Yet I have found myself actively working toward achievements these past few weeks. Lately I've spend an inordinate time leveling up all the old faction reps, and ended up having to spend about 1k gold on runecloth yesterday to finish off Gnomeregon rep. But I finally got my Diplomat title, and I've now purchased all the non-epic and epic land mounts for the old factions (minus Gnomeregon since Dranaei can't ride chickens!!) and purchased all the non-epic and epic flying mounts. So I wake up this morning with 33 mounts in total (also have the AV Battle Ram) and have started my Kureni grind. Luckily that one doesn't take too much time, and I've also recently started my Nethwerwing and Skyguard rep grinds. With some luck, I should have my new Albino Drake flying mount in the next couple weeks.

If I could add just one thing to the achievement system though, I'd really like to see some additional rewards for various achievements added in. As well as other rewards that can be purchased with achievement points.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ret Paladins "nerfed to the ground"

A slight play on words by Ghost Crawler of Blizzard CM fame. Paladins will be enduring a second round of nerfs after the previous round didn't exactly calm the near universal outrage against the class in PVP. And as one can imagine Paladin partisans, including those on WoWInsider are outraged.

I love the comment by Zach Yonson at WoWInsider, which is a complete distortion. And erroneous in its supposition.

This is an extremely disappointing course of action in comparison to the complete absence of nerfs to Druids despite their utter dominance of the Arena format for three seasons (reducing Cyclone's range wasn't quite the solution, was it?). Paladin representation in Arenas went on sharp decline through all four seasons -- and this includes the Holy spec.
I replied and was replied to by even more nonsensical postings by others which I won't bother chronicling here. Zach's belief that Druids dominate the Arenas flies in the face of reality. While Druids do in fact do quite well in the 2v2 bracket, they are about equal with Priests in 3v3, and are behind everyone in 5v5. Evidence of this is easy to find at SK Gaming and Arena Junkies. And why is this? In 2v2 you have the least CC of any of the brackets available. Yet Druids have two CC abilities, and used to also have a short stun move (Feral Charge), which is no longer in reach after patch 3.0.2. And Druids are extremely mobile and their heals are mostly HOTs. So doesn't it make sense that they would dominate the smallest bracket? That mobility is put more to the test in the larger brackets because there are more people involved in a fight, and greater pressure can be put on a Druid. They spend more time fleeing and less time healing in most cases. And when more people can focus on the druid healer, their lack of means to deal with it come into force. Priests and Paladins do the best in the larger brackets because they can withstand that greater pressure.

In any event Zach complains that nothing has been done to change this fact (what, the fact that Druids are hurting in 5v5 and are only middle of the pack in 3v3?), yet he doesn't offer any examples of what he would like to do to "nerf" that dominance. The problem that he, and Blizzard runs up against is that you can't really change what people like Zach dislikes about Druids (and he's really speaking about Resto only, while has nothing to say about how utterly un-viable Feral is in Arenas of all brackets and how Balance is only slightly better) without utterly changing the class from the bottom up. You'd have to redesign the class, which simply isn't going to happen. You can see how Blizzard has made attempts to counteract some of the abilities that made Resto Druids so good in smaller brackets by how they moved key abilities around in the talent trees, yet I'm not sure the changes are going to have as great an effect in 2v2 as people would like to see.

What people like Zach are refusing to acknowledge is that we're not talking about a healer who is mobile and can operate with impunity in a 2v2 bracket. We're talking about a DPS telent tree that enables that class to dominate PVP any where that character is at the moment. We've been seeing Ret Paladins run into small groups of people and just decimate them. Being able to take on 2-5 other characters, kill them all, and walk away still alive is not balanced. Not even close. Yet we were seeing it in every battleground, every day here in WoW. Their arguments to maintain their level of capabilities are completely without merit and make no sense.

I screamed bloody murder over the nerfs that the Druid class endured between patch 1.8 and BC. Its still the single largest nerf to any class since the inception of the game. So while no one really likes nerfs to their chosen class, I can sympathize with Paladins. But it still doesn't meet the level of nerf that was doled out to Druids. And we can all see it is necessary. Ferals could not even hope to waltz into a group of people in a BG post patch 1.8 and kill everyone with little effort. Not even close.