Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Years Eve

The year is officially drawing to a close today. Hope you had as good a 2009 as I did, and I hope you have an even better 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Shadowmourne Update

The decision on how we as a guild would handle Shadowmourne was finally made tonight. As I had mentioned it came down to three of us who had perfect, or nearly perfect attendance records and would bring tremendous value to the raid team. Last night the officers made the decision that the first handful of Primordial Saronites would be rolled on and handed out to the crafters so they could get patterns. Then the next five or so would be handed to the person who is to go on and make a run for Shadowmourne. It was also decided that because the Guild leader couldn't decide which of us three would get the axe that we should all roll and the highest roll would win. We had that roll tonight. Of all the rolls I have ever made, I knew I needed to win this one, and with a roll of 72 I did. I will be the sole recipient of the 60 shards I will need to collect in the quest chain before I can complete the Shadowmourne quest.

There can be only one.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sayla is back and refutes the wow tourism theory

To quote and axoim, opinions are like "something", and everyone has one. It's certainly no surprise to me that MMO players are some of the most opinionated people you can find, and just occasionally some of them write a blog. Like Sayla over at Mystic Worlds, which I have been following for a few years now. Unfortunately Sayla took a bit of a break over the Summer but she seems to be back now and pretty handily lays low Syncaine's entire theory about "wow tourism". Though I doubt that was her intention.

Syncaine's theory involves rabid mobs of WoW players buying new MMOs, driving up expectations and fanfaire about the game, then leaving in droves never having had intentions of staying in the first place. His theory states that the players are, unintentionally or not, destroying these other MMOs. I've written responses to his theory, which I find to be completely without merit, but no response I've written is anywhere near as succinct and thorough as what I just read from Sayla. Those market forces I've written about previously are all summed up quite nicely.

In short:
You’ll need to do it DIFFERENT or BETTER than, where I’ve been before.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Saurfang is down

It took us four additional attempts this evening, but we finally killed Deathbringer Saurfang on 25-man. Looking at the mechanics of the fight one would think this was actually an easy fight to complete, yet the entire rub of it is control of the blood beasts and deciding what to do with the people who get the mark of the champion. If too many people are getting hit by the blood beasts then you end up with too many Marks of the Champion too early and Saurfang either heals too much or you end up losing too much DPS/heals. If you can maintain discipline, and not allow the blood beasts to get "stuck" on the melee and can kite them well enough and not allow anyone to get hit, the fight is really in the bag.

This boss kill was a hard one coming for us, probably taking about 10-12 attempts, but we did it. And none too soon with the next wing opening in seven days.

Loot etiquette

Along with the apparent controversial nature of the new LFG system comes along loot etiquette controversies as well. You can't go a day on the forum without seeing a host of threads pertaining to people upset that someone rolled need on a piece of gear they think should be reserved for their class alone, or like me, have general misgivings about the restrictions of the new rolling system. As explained by Blizzard:

There has been some confusion regarding looting items when using the new Dungeon Finder system so we would like to take a moment and provide an explanation for some of these new features.

Anytime players are matched up with other players using the Dungeon Finder system, the looting option is automatically set to “Need Before Greed” which is designed to be a fair system that rewards items to the classes they are designed for. While there can be some finer details on how this works, here is an overview on this system:

  • The “need” option is only available for both armor and weapons that are designed for your class. Caster classes and hybrid caster classes can roll “need” on items with intellect and/or spell power while melee classes cannot. Melee classes and hybrid melee classes can roll “need” on the items without intellect and/or spell power. There is an additional restriction that only allows characters to roll for armor items if it’s the armor type that is designed for their class. So since cloth armor is designed for mages, priests, and warlocks only they can roll “need” on these armor types. Then leather armor is for druids and rogues, mail armor for hunters and shaman, and plate for death knights, paladins, and warriors. Keep in mind that these restrictions only apply to items above a certain item level since the breakdown of stats is very different in the early leveling area of the game.
  • We also introduced a “disenchant” option that is open to all classes on all items whenever a player with the sufficient level of skill in enchanting is in the group to disenchant the item that just dropped. If the winner of the item has selected this option the item will automatically be disenchanted and the resulting material(s) placed in the character’s bags instead of the item. Just like it was before the patch, disenchanting any item is not reversible and the item is permanently removed so you should only select this option if you have no plans to use the item or trade it to another player.

  • The “greed” option is open to all classes and all item types but the players who roll greed will also roll against those who select disenchant. The reason for this is that if an item is not a high priority and/or eligible to be rolled “need” on, then other players running the dungeon have an equal chance to get a reward for defeating the encounter.
As far as how the whole Dungeon Finder system works, it matches up characters with others in their entire Battlegroup instead of just their individual realm. Once a dungeon is completed players go back to their respective realms where they cannot communicate or trade with players on other realms, so any items you gained in the dungeon can no longer be traded to another character in the group. If you are considering giving an item to another player, you must do so before either character leaves the dungeon.

We appreciate all of the feedback from the community so far and we will continue to monitor and resolve any questions or issues as they come up.
No more rolling need on Leather or cloth spell power items if you are a Holy Pally. And no more rolling on Cloth spell power items if you are a Resto or Balance Druid for example. The real problem with this is that greed rolls and Disenchant rolls are giving the same priority, so if you want something and can't roll need on it you'll have to roll greed. If anyone else rolls DE and wins, you don't have the option to ask for the item afterward because it's auto-DE'd and the winner gets the mats and not the item itself. This of course only occurs if you have an enchanter in your group, but I can say from my own personal observations running four characters through dungeons daily, that most groups have enchanters in them.

To get around these artificial limits a great many are simply rolling need on anything they can, instead of observing what were considered to be the "universal loot etiquette" that has held sway up until this point. Not surprisingly the "new" practice is causing somewhat of an uproar. Not uncharacteristically Blizzard has responded, I think recognizing the conundrum they've created:
I know in the past the general rule was to roll need for main spec, greed for offspec, and then pass for the disenchant. With the new system it works a little differently in my play experience. Now my groups tend to roll need on anything that is a main spec or offspec upgrade, then greed/disenchant if you have no use for the item. If anybody really wants the item they speak up on it and we work it out from there.
Which of course calls into question the entire need of a greed roll to begin with. Except that is causes loot drama on the runs where it occurs. This is a case where I can see both sides of the debate. I'd be equally perturbed to lose a piece I actually needed rolling greed to someone that DE'd it as I would rolling need only to lose to someone rolling need for the piece as off spec. So what are we to do collectively about this? Unless Blizzard either rolls back the loot preference rules, allowing us to go back to the older need/greed etiquette and giving DE a lower priority than greed rolls, or I think we'll have to simply accept that off spec rolls are going to be need rolls from here on.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ignorance is ignorant

In followup to my previous post on the subject, and in response to yesterday's WoWinsider article I have a great deal more to say. First and foremost I wish to say that there is only one time I would probably publicly ridicule someone in a group, and that is if they were intentionally doing something that was counter to good practices. Something along the lines of a Rogue rushing into a room to agro everything then vanishing, leaving the rest of the group eating a room full of pissed off NPCs. I've actually seen that. Short of that I wouldn't say anything publically, though I might mutter to myself how badly a run was going. And most likely if a run were going that badly I would make a judgment call and either stick it out or leave.

However, let us look at the letter the ladies at WoWinsider got recently and which they themselves responded to.
Dear Drama Mamas: Last night, I was running H CoS on my mage, gearing her for frost PvE (I know it's not optimal, but it is viable -- and my favorite). The group I was in consisted of a hunter, death knight, shaman (healer) and paladin (tank). The pally tank was fully geared in at least ToGC gear (if not ICC), but the other DPS were obviously just graduating to Heroics. The tank was upset that my DPS was only slightly above his and that the hunter and DK were well below him. He proceeded to insult and belittle the DPS for being below him and started swearing, because he thought we would not be able to get the extra boss (and therefore the extra badge). I told him to stop being so rude, that the DPS were here to gear up and he should lay off; he just told me I was a scrub ...

I can understand his frustration. He feels like he is missing out on a chance to get an extra badge. However, I don't think it is necessary to verbally abuse other players just because of their place on the meters. If we had been in ToC or one of the new five-man heroics, I think he would have a point. But CoS is a lower-level heroic than those instances, and the DPS were par for the course.

... I don't think it is fair to mock someone because their toon isn't as geared as you would like it to be. Isn't that why they're here? I guess my question is, who was right? I get that the general rule is for the DPS to be above the tank. But how is that fair when your tank is pulling near 3K DPS? How can he ask that the DPS be competitive if he isn't willing to run low-level heroics with them? Do they (we) deserve to be made fun of because our alts are not as geared as their mains, because we are here trying to gear them? Signed, Abused and Confused
I've been seeing more and more of these types of stories on the forum lately. While the LFG system in my view is wonderful it also has the side effect of bringing people that probably didn't run too many pugs previously back into the fold. Those people either didn't run pugs because they couldn't stand the run of the mill people who pull groups they aren't supposed to, target mobs not being tanked by the tank and therefore continuously gain agro, or are just not good healers. Take your pick, there are undoubtedly a million reasons why a lot of people preferred not to run pugs previously, with the problems associated with putting groups together being only one. Those people instead formed static groups and ran dungeons with them.

Patch 3.3 came and changed all of that. Now it's much simpler and much faster to use the LFG system. You can earn a tremendous amount of badges in very little time and that allure is just too much to ignore. Now those people who are used to playing with high quality players are instead being grouped with people that might be less skilled or geared than they are used to. Nothing wrong with that and I've yet to personally see anything like what the ladies at WoWInsider responded to, though I very often see DPS in groups that are much below myself or are just low in general. Again, nothing wrong with that. As long as things go smoothly.

So lets take a look at what just happened to me and then lets take a look at that letter to Wowinsider again. I have been running my four most geared 80's through the daily random dungeon for Frost badges in order to buy Primordial Saronites for my Pally's Shadowmourne quest. Two of those characters are well geared and could easily fit into any ICC-25/10 run (or any other raid) for the weekly quest as well. One of them right at 5k gear score, and which I actually consider to be medium-high geared. He also could get into any weekly raid, but my fourth character had been benched for some time (my Rogue) and had just two pieces of T8 and the remaining pieces were assorted Heroic ilevel 200 purples. He is definitely good enough to run the daily random for Frost badges, but no where geared enough to run the last couple weeklies and so I have been putting in many hours this last week running him through countless dungeons to get badges in order to upgrade all his gear. He's now in 4 pieces of T9, has a 232 pair of pants, has a 232 dagger to go with his off hand 213 dagger, a 226 belt and neck, and some other pieces that are not too bad. In fact all that I really want to replace at this point are his ilevel 200 bracers and his 200 ring. I'd like to replace that ilevel 213 dagger too, but I'm not overly worried about it right now. He's definitely good enough as of today to run pretty much any raid we're likely to currently see as a weekly. I say all this as back ground so you understand that I'm on a mission, and I would think that I'm not alone in that.

So there I was in LFG, taking an invite to a random dungeon and porting into the Forge of Souls. Of the three new 5-mans, it's the easiest but definitely more difficult than previous dungeons. You can't "graduate" into heroics and expect to start running these. That is unless you are to be carried, yet what about the tank and healer? They clearly will have the hardest tasks in FoS as there are multiple caster mobs that are not easily tanked for typical AOE bombardment. There is a lot of AOE damage that will be thrown at the party and the healer has to be on his or her game to keep everyone alive. Yet that is not what I just saw in my last FoS run. The Mage died on the very first two mobs, literally killing himself in one shot from the spell reflect. That wasn't the healers fault. The next set of mobs just up the ramp was though. The tank, healer, and mage died. My Rogue and the hunter survived and killed the last two mobs at which point I inspected the healer. I had already seen he had a 3100 gear score going in, but I wasn't expecting to see ungemmed/unenchanted purple gear to go along with some of his blue unenchanted gear. The healer was simply not geared well enough for the content, nor even prepared to be a healer. I don't want to link to his armory and call him out, though I would like to discuss his gear briefly and illustrate what I think a lot of people like me are finding frustrating at times.

Head - Gaze of the Somber Keeper - gemmed but no head enchant
Neck - Frozen Tear of Elune
Shoulder - Mantle of the Tribunal - no shoulder enchant, but since it's blue would you put one on anyway? He didn't.
Back - Wisp Cloak - no enchant
Chest - Chestguard of the Broken Branches - no gemmed or enchanted
Wrist - Bindings of Wicked - enchanted, but with hit on it, it's not a healing piece.
Hands - Malfurian's Handguards of Conquest - not gemmer or enchanted
Waist - Binding of the Tranquil Glade - no belt buckle and second gem
Legs - Leggings of the Snowy Bramble
Feet - Earthgiving Boots - not enchanted
Ring 1 - Signet of Purity -
Ring 2 - Voodoo Signet - Hit/not a healing ring
Trinket 1 - Tears of the Vanquished
Trinket 2 - Harbinger's Wrath
Weapon - Surgeon's Needle
Off-hand - Handbook of Obscure Remedies
Ranged - Idol of the Flourishing Life

From his gear you can see he is newly 80 and either does not understand that he needs to pay closer attention to his mana regen capabilities (415/243 MP5 w/658 Spirit) or is completely unaware of his class mechanics and shouldn't have been attempting to heal at all at this point, let alone any of the new 5-mans. I have no issues with people who are a bit under performing tagging along, but the tank and healer slots are key and you need to make sure you are prepared for that position before you subject others to your failings. This individual is just an example of what I see as a problem that has taken hold of the PUG system lately. People are given an inch (new fast LFG system) and want to take a mile (unprepeared and want to be carried regardless).

Now lets look at that email again. The poor Mage is admittedly undergeared and complains of being belittled by the tank who is evidently frustrated with the group. The problem is these types of stories, and mine, are told from a point of view that isn't necessarily shared by others. The Mage can not possibly know how many previous groups said tank might have had to bite his tongue through, or know whether the tank has already had to drop previous groups and be penalized with having to wait out the penalty timer. The Mage has no way of knowing how many bad players the tank has had to put up with that might have pulled extra groups, or evidently don't understand the necessity of targetting the tanked add(s). All the Mage knows is her DPS is low and she wants to tag along in a heroic to get to free loot. The problem with her story is that we have to take her at her word on the swearing though we have no idea what the tank actually said or how he said it. And we have no idea how sensitive the Mage might actually be. We also have no idea just how low her DPS is. If she's below the tank in DPS then I can sort of see the point of the tank that perhaps she needs to be running regular dungeons instead. After all I am a stickler for proper progression.

All that being said, if I had been the tank I probably would have just kept my misgivings to myself and finished the dungeon without a word. What I want in any run is a quick and smooth run, and as long as the dungeon was going to be finished I probably would have been satisfied with that. But that's me. The problem as I really see it are these ladies at WoWinsider who are dispensing advice to the public that seems to cement this attitude of entitlement and instant gratification. You have the right to expect when you join the group that everyone knows their class and their roll. And you have the right to expect that everyone will contribute to the group's success. You do not have the right to expect that you can literally walk along behind the group and do nothing while the rest of the group gets you badges and loot. That's simply not fair. So before you decide to send WoWinsider more letters complaining about people who seem to be a bit frustrated dealing with people who have entitlement complexes, please look in the mirror and ask yourself one very simple question. Should I really be here?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In defense of ignorance indeed

I read an interesting post on wowinsider this morning. It's another of a recent trend toward lower and lower expectations that quite frankly disappoints me. While I am very much supportive of the new LFG system, I am not very supportive of under-geared or under-performing characters coasting along if they cause problems for the run. That might sound awful elitist of me, and perhaps it is, but I have my own "ethical" stance on dungeon/raid running that I would like to see a whole lot of other people using as well. Simply put I won't subject a group to my performance until I'm sure that I should be there. And as I mentioned before, I feel very strongly about the intended progression of things and I do not like to see people trying to skip that. Especially off the backs of others.

What Allison Robert doesn't understand about why people are becoming more vocal about under-performing people is that players, by and large, do not want difficulty in completing runs any longer. It was always hard enough to find groups to begin with, so many people took the good with the bad to some extent. Now however groups are easy to come by and I think most people just want to get in, get their badges or some loot, and get out. I know I don't want to wipe in a heroic these days. All that being said, a DPS that is under-geared for something is much easier to accept than a tank or a healer, who clearly are the lynch pins of the group. It's not that big of a deal (to me) if all the DPS isn't on the same level, and I think one can safely ignore the person who might be doing half the DPS of others in a group. But that simply isn't the case for Tanks and Healers. Have you seen an under-geared tank or healer in the new 5-mans? It's not pretty.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It has begun

I haven't said much more about it but my quest to achieve Shadowmourn is in full swing on my Paladin. Unfortunately no Primordial Saronites have dropped from any of the bosses we've downed in ICC-25 yet. Which is to say, all 4 of them, so the fact that none have dropped yet isn't a terrible ordeal yet. But as we go back into ICC tonight to start the week anew we'll get through the first three, bringing our boss kills to 7 meaning we had better have seen at least one by the end of the night. It's certainly going to take longer to get the 25 Saronites I need to even complete the first step in the Shadowmourne quest chain. Which has made me reevaluate my like of thinking on it all. I'll certainly be asking the Guild Leader again when the first one does drop, but as far as I know they have yet to make a decision on how those will be handled. And I'm not so inclined to wait for 25 of them to drop at this point. I had thought the drop rate was higher anyway, so at this point I've begun what I like to call the mother of all farming. I'll certainly take whatever the guild is willing to give me, but I'm not going to let my fate rest in my guild alone. As of a couple days ago I am running dailies and as many of the weeklies on my 80s as I can so I can buy as many of the primordial saronites as I can myself.

I can probably farm enough badges to get 3 a week, though there might be the odd week I only get 2. And if I end up buying 1 or 2 a week I'd still be looking at probably 12 a month. At that rate it would take me 2 months of daily/weekly farming to get them on my own. If not longer.

[evening update] We cleared first three bosses and had a few attempts at Saurfang. Got one Primordial Saronite as I expected to see. And I also got Bryntoll, the Bone Arbitor as an upgrade to my Keen Obsidian Edged Blade. Very nice and noticible upgrade in DPS too, and with some luck in a few weeks I'll have another big upgrade to my DPS in the form of Shadow's Edge.

LFG quirks and problems

I'm still a very big fan of the new LFG system, however, the more I've used it the more I've noticed there are definitely a few quirks that still need to be worked out. A friend in the guild has been unable to log onto his main for three days now because he inadvertently logged out inside and instance, while still in a group when he was finished. He logs in only to be logged back out in about 1-5 seconds. Apparently it's something of a known problem that people have reported here and there in the technical support forum, but that doesn't stop people like him from doing what he did. It's a bug, and as it can lead to days of downtime it's something Blizzard should probably fix post-haste. And that's just one of the problems people are reporting that seem to be related to the LFG system. Can we see a patch 3.3.1 coming soon perhaps?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gunship down

I wish I could say that the gunship fight was intense and that we worked on it all night before downing it. But I can't. Quite honestly I think it was easier to polish off the gunship in 25-man than it was in 10-man. We 22 manned it and did it on the first attempt.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lady Deathwhisper down

It took quite a few tries as we refined a strategy that worked for our group, but we finally killed Lady Deathwhisper. We had killed her on 10-man but she was looking nigh impossible in 25-man mode where we've been having quite a bit of trouble with progression the past few months. That was until we put our heads together and came up with our own strategy that had us line up behind the boss and split the raid up so that an equal number had responsibility for either side. One group would be responsible for the adds from the left, and the other group would be responsible for the adds from the right. And we would give priority to killing the adds. So after the initial few seconds of DPSing the boss, everyone would kill their sides adds and have about 10-15 seconds to DPS the boss before the next wave of adds would come out. We have two hunters in the raid, so they were given the responsibility of kiting and killing the Deranged Fanatics, though you could do that with a Mage, Balance Druid, Warlock, or any other really hard hitting ranged character. The tanks would remain aware of which type of add came from the back and would pick it up if it were a Fanatic, and the melee in the raid would kill it if it were a caster.

With only a couple weeks left before the next wing is to be released I was very anxious to make progress. We definitely have Marrowgar on farm and it now looks like we have a very clear idea what we all need to do on Deathwhisper as well. I'm personally looking forward to seeing the gunship battle in 25-man because I've found it to be quite fun in 10-man mode. I'm curious how different it might feel in 25. And it's just a good, fun fight.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New LFG system controversial?

I have to admit that I was surprised by what I've been seeing on the official forums regarding the newly minted LFG system. True, I have some issues with it that can be easily remedied, but I think overall it's a winner. However, many people on the official forums are saying its a "social" killer and that there is no reason for "friends" to run instances together any longer. I simply can't see the point of these people. There is no less of a reason to run with friends now, post patch-3.3 than there was pre patch-3.3. I have a group of friends I run with on Saturday nights to complete all the achievements for "Glory of the Hero" and will of course be continueing until we complete all the achievements in the new 5-mans as well. That's just one example of why friends might want to run instances together, but it's hardly the only one.

The central problem with running PUGs previously was that groups were difficult to form. Players didn’t like the auto-grouping functionality because it had numerous issues, which meant that people were left with no other option than to spam the LFG channel, or leave themselves listed in LFG for up to three dungeons. Complicating this was that it was nearly impossible to form groups that were not the daily heroic or daily regular dungeon. There was no large segment of players on any realm that needed to run a specific dungeon, so it was the daily quests that drove what predominantly run that day. But also factored into the equation was continued reluctance of tanks and healers to participate beyond running the daily dungeons. And for all the same reasons. Players are often very under geared, or horrible and Tanks/healers just didn’t want to be responsible or have to partake in the consequences of it. A lot of players simply created friends groups to run their dungeons with and skipped the whole LFG system entirely.

Along comes patch 3.3 and the new LFG system, with a workable auto-grouping function. Groups are very easy to form now, not only because the LFG system pulls from a much larger pool (cross-realm), but also because the auto-grouping feature was re-written to include some intelligence. No longer do you have groups forming with no tanks, or no healers. And the feature also seems to be fairly good at matching players gear wise. It’s loose, as far as I can tell, but I haven’t been grouped with anyone in all greens yet. Yet, for all the ease of grouping, this doesn’t change the human element involved. The problem with horrible play is masked by the larger pool of players involved, but it certainly doesn’t remove it. A player continues to have all the incentive to group with friends that they had pre patch-3.3 because the reasoning to forgo the old LFG system were based in personal choices. I disliked the random PUG members who were obviously under geared, or would pull the random groups on runs, yet I PUG’ed every day. As often as I could. I also ran with friends when I could. As it were, I still do that today. I use the new LFG system to get groups, but when guild mates or friends are available I group with them instead.

The biggest difference I see from pre-patch 3.3 to post-patch 3.3 is that players can actually expect to be able to run content, largely of their choosing, on a schedule of their choosing. There were interminable periods every day where you would simply sit around trying to find groups. It was something that nearly everyone complained about at some point, yet is something the people who are now complaining that the new LFG system destroying the so called “social” aspects of WoW are seeming to forget. At most I have had to sit around for 10-15 minutes to find a random group. Most of the time I’m able to hook up with a PUG within 5 mins as DPS. When I run as Holy on my Paladin I’m grouped nearly instantly. I ask you, where is the down side here? Because I certainly can’t see one.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Paladin Progress

As more and more time passes I have become increasingly happy with my change from my DK as my main to my Paladin being my main. The additional versatility the class has offered me has opened many avenues of game play, and I'm taking advantage of them all. My guild raids three days a week in 25-man, running ICC-25 and TOC-25/Ony-25/VOA-25 now where I DPS as Ret, and I've gotten back to the point where I was with my DK a few weeks back. On Friday nights I heal in our 10-man group, other raids I tag along on during the week, and heroics daily. On the weekends I'll often switch to Prot and run through some older raid dungeons or what have. But it's really my Holy spec which I am most pleased with.

I've raid healed as a Resto Druid, Holy Paladin, and did a little bit as Resto Shaman at the beginning of WotLK. While I still like Resto Druid healing very much, I'm completely impressed with Holy healing. Holy Pallys might not have true AOE healing abilities, but then again when you can through out 17k+ bomb heals in 1.5 seconds which also heal 10% of that to 5 nearby players do you really need that? 1.5 seconds? Yes, with only an easily obtainable 600 or so haste you can be that monster too.

As for me, I'm still specced and glyphed for Flash of Light healing. It's exceedingly mana efficient. Especially in a raid setting where you will usually have ample mana regen floating around. And it's quick. With Beacon of Light on a tank I can raid heal and tank heal at the same time. As I said, I'm very pleased with it. And in as much as I have been enjoying Holy healing, I'm just now starting to get into the stats and gear that are at the higher levels of the totem pole. 2523 sp, 26% crit, 478 haste, 348 mp/5. My crit is a tad low, but that is simply a matter of a few drops. Namely a new necklace and pants, which should put me at 29% crit. I'm shooting for 30%, and as soon as I can replace my gloves and boots I'll be over that. Couple weeks and I'll be there.

There really isn't a lot to be said about Retribution. Truly it is face rolling. All the power of a charging rhinoceros, and a bubble/hearth to keep you safe. What isn't to love? Especially in ICC where it's chock full of undead, and you do extra damage to those with Glyph of Sense Undead socketed. 1% extra damage can add up to quite a bit over the course of an evening. I creamed everyone in ICC-25 last night, except for one DK who wildly out gears me. Yet he only beat me on total damage, or single target boss damage by small margins. I shudder to think what it would be like if we were similarly geared, or even better, if I had Shadowmourne! Does it sound like I have a goal?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The sense of entitlement is getting to me

Let me get this strait. I'm a stingy jerk if I object to you being able to roll DE on an item, using my DE ability without my consent. I'm a stingy jerk if I object to the entire new DE process if it means I'm the one who's skill is being used and don't even get any of the mats generated from my own skill. I'm a stingy jerk if I object to the new DE capability if it negatively affects the price of DE materials on the AH, which were down as much as 1g per dust on Thursday on my realm. And I'm a stingy jerk if I just plain object to the enchanting changes as a matter of principle. But I'm a Ninja-looter if I use the need/greed roll system in a way you don't like?

Rolling NEED on an item, using the mandatory roll system is not ninja'ing. Ninja'ing is IMPOSSIBLE under the current PUG loot system. Ninja'ing could only happen under the old system where people would typically pass on items, then roll and the item would be taken by someone who did not win the roll. Or Ninja'ing is when the master looter in a raid takes something and refuses to pass out the loot to those who were rolling on it. Using the enforced roll system that was instituted in patch 3.3 is simply following the rules, and your sense of artificial loot rules where you want everyone to roll greed on things is your problem, and not mine.

What this all boils down to is a sense of entitlement that many people seem to have. They feel entitled to the skills of others without the requirement that they do exactly what those others did to get them. The feel entitled to effectively have three professions, while the enchanter is the only person who is not treated in like manner. They feel entitled to have the rules changed in a manner that benefits them greatly, and feel entitled to be able to also dictate how someone used the newly imposed need/greed system.

I frankly do not care if everyone but me thinks differently. The changes that enable people to access my enchanting skills without my consent are wrong. The new need/greed rolling system has ridiculous loot rules. And all the drama on the official forums, and now on Tobold's blog regarding people who roll need is simply a symptom of something that is very wrong with a lot of people.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Taking matters into ones own hands

Some friends and I in my guild had been talking about it for a few weeks prior, but the horrible time we had with Sartharion really cemented it for us. If we were not going to be able to have any real progression on the 25-man side of things we would take matters into our own hands and have it on the 10-man side of things. Five of us had been working on "Glory of the Hero" on Saturday nights anyway, so we simply chose five others to come with us to form a 10-man group. I can't say we blew through Icecrown, but we didn't take more than 3 attempts on any one boss, and we cleared it. Now that we all know the fights fairly well, I think we'll be able to clear the place in couple hours.

Our intent is to really push things. All of us are a bit frustrated with the progression we've had on 25-man content, so we all want to get those achievements, mounts, and see the content we haven't been able to there. Looking at my recount data this morning, it looks like just one of the DPS is a bit light, though I'm sure he'll pick things up with some upgrades. And what's more the group was really gelling, so it looks like things are going to work out quite nicely.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I have the POWAH!

Today I log in to relate an anecdote to you. The holiday season is upon us, and that often means disruption of our carefully choreographed raiding schedules. Such was the case with me yesterday as the day had finally arrived that I was to attend my wife's Christmas party. Perhaps many of my older, married, readers can commiserate, as I resigned myself to attending this party and sitting with people I didn't know for hours on end. Thursday also just happens to be a raid night as well, and we were expecting to jump back into Icecrown. I happened to be logged into WoW trying to finish some dailies and get an instance run or two done before we needed to leave and the last thing I said in guild chat before logging out was "Good luck guys, I have to head out for the Christmas party. Hope you all wipe for hours and don't kill anything in Icecrown so I don't miss it!!"

That might seem like a really awful thing to say, yet it was meant in good spirit and as we're fairly close in the guild, everyone accepted it in the spirit I meant it. So there I was driving home late last night after the party and anxious to log into WoW to find out what I had missed. Two seconds after logging in a friend posts in guild chat that I had cursed them, and others chime in. They ended up having to call the raid because the guild leader, his mother, father, and brother all lost power for an hour. That's two DPS and two healers down, and apparently not enough replacements online to keep the raid going. Needless to say I chuckled. I made my wife happy by being the good husband, and I didn't miss the raid.

Yes, I have the POWAH!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New LFG system a winner

I had ample opportunity to use the new LFG system yesterday. While I think there are a few updates that need to be made to it, the current changes are heads and shoulders better than what it was replacing. The main problem with the older LFG was that you either allowed the auto-group feature, which would pair you with anyone that also had the option enabled, or you didn’t and would then have to build your own group. Enabling the auto-pairing function often made for interesting groups, to say the least, as you would find healers who were not actually healers, and tanks who were often more squishy than the DPS was. And it would only pair you with people who were looking for that specific instance you were looking for as well. And those are the two reasons why people, by and large, never used the pairing option at all. Yet trying to build a group manually was often frustrating, unless it was the daily heroic or normal dungeon.

The new system not only enables you to select specific instances, and pair you with others who have similar gear levels as your own, but the new system also enables a “random” choice that replaces the old Daily Heroic and Daily normal dungeon quests. Not only does this new system fix the issues that perplexed players with the older pairing mechanism, but goes even further by enabling players to enter a theoretically limitless number of normal and heroic dungeons on a daily basis. If you participate in a “random” heroic dungeon, the lockouts are ignore by the system. I was able to run H-TOC twice last night as an example. Even better, for each random dungeon you participate in you get two badges of frost for the first random dungeon of the day, and two badges of triumph for each dungeon after that. And 13 gold. For each. How cool is that? I started the day with 39 badges of Triumph, was able to spend 35 on a new Idol, and still have nearly 50 afterward. If you want a full set of Tier 9 232, have no fear, you’ll get it in short order.

There are, however, a few changes I would like to see. One of the issues I saw right away was that the new LFG system does not allow you to queue for groups and raids at the same time. Or random dungeons and specific dungeons at the same time. Or dungeons/raids and battlegrounds at the same time. I’m having a hard time comprehending why Blizzard would have erected those barriers because I would think that anyone interested in running a random dungeon might still have specific dungeons they want to run and would rather run whichever popped first, rather than waiting longer. And if others are like me, they’d like to be able to queue for a raid and a dungeon at the same time. Other wise you could be sitting in Dalaran for lengthy periods of time queued for a raid that may never occur. It wastes time and opportunities. The same can be said about the barrier preventing you from queuing in battlegrounds while also queuing in dungeons.

I was telling my wife last night after getting through several dungeons that I really like the new system. Given some updates like those I just mentioned would make this new system absolutely perfect. Props to Blizzard for a job well done.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Icecrown Citadel

Patches are something that are universally lauded and despised at the same time. While they bring new content and mechanics, they also bring instability to the servers and tremendous lag to the gamers. I was finally able to log into WoW around 7pm EST last night, but Dalaran was so laggy I had to flee and find solace in the windy crags of Icecrown instead. In the company of my newest pet – my little Core Hound (what? You don’t have an authenticator yet??) of course. Tuesday is normally a raid night for us, but by 7:15 only about half our raid team had logged in and I honestly wasn’t sure we were even going to raid. So I decided to give the new Looking For Group system a run for its money. I had great expectations for the system, and I’m happy to see that despite the problems we were all experiencing it did exactly what I had hoped it would. I opted to select the first of the new 5-man dungeons instead of the random option, and it took all of 4-5 minutes to pair me up and port me in.

Of course, that’s when I discovered my X-Perl was borked, because I had no target frames and couldn’t tell who I was actually targeting on those AOE fights. I had already updated all my mods that had updates, so it looks like I’ll have to make sure I keep checking for updates over the next few days. The X-Perl issue is kind of a big deal for me. In any event, we worked our way through Forge of Souls, which I was pleasantly surprised to find was a very short two boss instance. I had neglected to read anything about the new instances, though I had heard you had to run them in order, in order to “unlock” the others. So imagine be me working my way through the instance with four others who I think knew very little about it as well, and without really know if, or who, I had targeted at the time. Was interesting to say the least. We did complete it without any problems, and moved directly into the second-- the Pit of Saron--which I also found to be fun. Unfortunately I had to leave before we killed Tyrannus because the guild had decided to raid Icecrown, so it probably won’t be until some time this afternoon before I am actually able to complete it.

I wish I could say more about Icecrown Citadel, but we didn’t get very far. We cleared all the trash up to Marrowgar, but we had all the same issues with people not staying out of fire, or people taking too much damage from the spikes, etc. I didn’t want to take away a doom and gloom opinion last night because people were having problems with mods, and what not, so I determined I’d just chalk up the issues to that and hope we did better the next night. Again, I hadn’t read up on any of the Icecrown stuff, so I was a bit under-prepared myself. I didn’t die to the fire, or the whirlwinds, but I did get WTFPWNED by his saberlash. Key safety note – do not stand in front, or even along side him. I was along side and he still split me in half, dealing a cool 28k damage to my 24k health pool. Ouch. We didn’t finish the fight but I saw enough to know it isn’t technically hard. He has to be positioned facing the back of the room, with the melee fanned out in a short arc around his back and the ranged fanned out in an arc further back. Periodically he shoots a beam if blue fire along the floor in a random direction, and whoever is along that trajectory just has to step to one side of the other. He also periodically causes a spike to rise up under someone and does 10% damage to the individual each second until they die. The spike has to be DPSed down and the individual healed. Then every now and again he will go into a whirlwind phase where he randomly targets someone and chases them while whirlwinding. As the whirlwind does surprisingly little damage, it’s not terribly important not to let him hit you, but during that phase it is important to pay attention to the fact that you need to stop DPSing him toward the end of that phase, as the tanks work to grab his agro again and reposition him. We had some issues with that last night, and whole groups of people would get whacked as he decided to do a saber lash while facing whatever direction he was facing at the time. If you are in front of him, you will die. After about 3 attempts on him we got him to 60-65%, so I’m pretty sure we’ll get him down once everyone’s mods are updated and people stop and think about the fight a bit.

To my surprise I saw I was getting Explorers League reputation. I had just decided to start running quests and what not to level that rep up, and now I see I don’t have to do that after all. I’ll get all the rep I need right there in the raid.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


It's patch day and the servers are astoundingly unstable. If you are like me, and judging by the forums there are a great many of you who are, you are basically seeing one of two screens right now.

Where you sit for a while before you get an all-expense paid trip to

Honestly, I can't say I expected much different but I really was hoping that I could get in and get some dailies done before dinner. I doubt I'll be able to get anything done tonight.

In the mean time, if you haven't kept up here are the patch notes for 3.3. Check out Wowinsider's patch page as well.

Less is more - especially in a down economy

I touched on this back in October, and EA apparently agrees, announcing recently that they expect to trim their annual game development to 40 or fewer games. The same principles that apply to the MMO market, apply to the PC game and console market as well. In fact, they’re both part of the larger entertainment market to begin with, and I think EA is simply dealing with the reality of their deteriorating condition at this point. Unfortunately EA is being disingenuous to the press in describing why they’re making the strategic change.

But Riccitiello stressed that the planned cuts were not the result of previous strategic misteps, but rather a move that better position the company for the future. That "means fewer titles, and needing less personnel against that side of the business," he said. "We thought of it as an offensive, positive step toward the evolution of our business."

The market is flooded with competition and quality has not been a hallmark over quantity at EA. So to say they’re simply making strategic decisions is silly to say the least. If EA had been profitable, does anyone seriously believe they’d be making the cuts, along with the personnel cuts that will go along with it? Of course they wouldn’t. The first step in reform is honesty, and I would hope EA would, at this point, simply be honest and regain confidence of their investors by introducing a strong plan to centralize their development, and which also includes their MMO properties. And quite honestly, I don’t see the free social gaming aspect of this plan paying off much in the long run. I’m still very much of the opinion that less options are better, which enables the developers to concentrate resources to make what they do develop better. See, that’s the crux of the issue entirely. Players want quality, yet what they’re seeing is quantity. Developers are rushing out properties that are poorly planned, poorly developed, and poorly supported, and then bewildered why the gaming public turns away en masse.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Let the Jockeying begin

With news that patch 3.3 might be landing Tuesday, the interest in Shadowmourne amongst the melee classes that can use it in my guild is heating up. A week ago I asked one of the officers what discussions amongst themselves had they had about the 25 Primoridal Saronites. Especially since Icecrown will be rolled out piecemeal and the first "wing" will only have four bosses and that condition is likely to last weeks. And I was told they hadn't even thought about it. Well, needless to say I lit a fire under them about it because the Shadowmourne wanters would not be the only competition for the Saronites.

Also, I was determined what happened with the mace in Ulduar didn't happen in Icecrown. Essentially the guild had all the healers roll when we first started running Ulduar, and the winner of that roll would get all the shards. Unfortunately after getting 4-5 shards the healer who won that roll stopped playing. 4-5 shards wasn't a terrible amount to lose, but there ended up being 3 or 4 healers who were working on it after that and the shards we did loot were spread out among them. We never downed Yogg, so even if one healer had them all to begin with, we still wouldn't have the mace in a healers hands. From my perspective though, the process we used to decide who got the shards wasn't ideal. For such weapons, I think it better to give the opportunity to a reliable individual who would best be able to use it first, then let others get their chance. Otherwise you end up having what happened to us.

For the axe, I asked the officers to talk it over and decide who would get the axe first, and as of Thursday night I was told it was down to two people. Myself, and I would assume one of the officers who just switched to his DK for raiding. We're both reliable raiders, so either would make a good option (memememememememe) for the raid. What's most important is that especially the first one needs to go to a reliable raider who has high attendance, which means that axe will bring a lot back to the raid team. Both of us have nearly 100% attendance.

I can't see the team remaining patient long enough for more than two of these to be made, before they start screaming for the saronites themselves. There is always the option of purchasing the Saronites, but I shudder to think how expensive that would be.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Peyton Manning

I'm sorry... I'm a huge Manning fan, and these are just too funny. Its an "oldie" and still a goodie!

Some more funnies :)


I've tried to relate a few helpful tidbits recently. Not only did I mention two mods that are particularly helpful to hybrid characters, but which are also tremendously useful for anyone else as well. And I recently posted about, which you can use to prioritize your gear progression. And now I'm going to tell you about RAWR.

I'm always surprised when I talk about RAWR to my friends and guild mates and I find out they have no idea what I'm talking about. Originally it was designed for Feral Druids back in 2007, but has since branched out to include every class, and almost every spec. So what is RAWR? RAWR is a character simulator; something I told you wasn't. With RAWR you can build your character, and experiment with different gear pieces, gems, enchants, and talent builds. Which means you can see the changes to your stats instantly, and the gear availability options will update automatically. Where is something you can use as a quick reference, RAWR is something you will want to use for in-depth analysis.

Because RAWR is a very complicated application, the first step to to using it should really be taking the tour. Thanks to the folks working on RAWR, here it is:

Once you finish taking the tour, and download the latest version of RAWR, you can jump right into using RAWR by importing your character from the armory. From that point it's a simple task of setting your filters, your sort criteria, and then choose which slot you want to start seeing options for. If you are like me you'll most likely spent way too much time in RAWR, but if you truly want to maximize your character, it's a tool that you probably also don't want to be without.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Do you need any other reason?

I have my concerns with SWTOR, but when you get right down to it, do you need any other reason to play than this? Seriously though, I like the classes. Especially now that they've all been announced (okay, Bioware still hasn't put up info about the already announced Sith Inquisitor) and we can see how Bioware intends to tap the lore. "[We wanted to] make sure we fulfill the fantasy first". Looks like they're doing that quite well. Joystiq and MMORPG have both posted recent news about some hands on testing they were able to arrange, though MMORPG offers a bit more details and general information.

Since I totally plan on playing Sith, I'm keenly interested Sith Warrior and Sith Inquisitor. Yes, I'm a Jedi fanbois! I started my "career" playing Star Wars MMOs as an alliance member in SWG, but switched to the empire about a year in. I rooted for Anakin in Episode 2 and 3, and look back on my days of loving Luke Skywalker back in 1977 onward as a simple case of misguided childhood mush. I am a true Sith, and have no wish to live the cushy life of a weak Jedi!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bad raids

I think I had one of the most disappointing raids last night, that I have ever had. Even considering we still have not progressed past the point where we can even kill Icehowl in ToGC-25 yet, though just occasionally we get to him. By the time that happens though, most of the raid is dead because of the worms. And no one is even considering going back to kill Yogg-Saran in Ulduar. Anyway, I digress.

Yes, last night tops the disappointment meter by a good amount. I've been after our GM lately to start running OS+3 every Thursday night so we can get the achievement and the Drake. But we literally spent two hours in there wiping. Miserably. Even with only 24 people we were hitting 100k DPS, so obviously DPS isn't the issue. And I can chalk the first 3 wipes up to changes that we were all unaware of. We started off with the zerg method, and easily blew Sartharion down to 25-30% by the time the second drake would arrive, but at 25% Sartharion and the Drakes would enrage and it would be a wipe. As I said, chalk those first three wipes up to changes, and we decided to go back to the "official" method.

Even on the zerg method, we had issues with people not getting out of the void zones, and getting hit by the lava, so imagine the issue as we did the encounter the official way and took the Drakes on one at a time, correspondingly moving them around the lava and everyone trying to avoid the void zones at the same time. It was a giant cluster, and I mean that in every sense of the word. The issues we were seeing last night are the same issues in other raid instances. After all, a void zone is no different than fire or poison. It deals with an ability to know what you are supposed to do and perform. All our guild problems with non-progression are clearly human related because we're about as geared out as you can possibly be without ToGC gear atm.

As clear as that is we do not have the will at the officer level to start weeding the weakness out of the raid team. Attendance drives your relative rank in the guild, which drives your continued raid availabilities. A full time raider gets first dibs on raid spots during the first 15 minutes of raid invites. Then casual raiders the next 10 minutes, then regular members the last 5 minutes. Occasionally we'll have too many people and an officer will ask if anyone wishes to sit out. So, you can see we have a fairly lax system of inclusion and it works more in the social aspect, than it does toward the progression aspect. We've had raiders that were actually pretty good who have left us over the previous months, I'm sure because of the progression issue. One of them went on to join my wife's guild, who I've seen just decimates the DPS charts. Every time I raid with them I just weep at the loss to my own guild.

I believe I've mentioned before that I'm not a completely hard core raider. I just love to raid, and while I feel raiding is not all about gear and doing something that no one else can do, I do want to progress and see all the content. Anyone telling you that they are happy to wipe for days and weeks is a liar. So, as I said, last night was perhaps the most disappointing raid I've ever had because we're talking about T7 quality raiding in full T9 gear. We should have been able to finish that encounter last night with ease, yet because of our continued player issues we failed utterly. And if truth to form holds next Thursday no one will wish to go back.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Enchanting change thread

Here's a REALLY LONG thread on the upcoming enchanting change thread. I'm not going to bother posting in it myself, as I've commented enough on the forums and there really is nothing more for me to add.

I vehemently oppose the change for all the reasons I've mentioned over the past few days. And here is a quote from someone that eloquently lays out the differences very well between the two camps.

Q u o t e:
they never were free. people have been earning them since the beggining. like i said im level 72 and still have yet to have an enchanter DE a f'in shard for me. in 72 levels man! i was resto all the way up to BC and all i did was 5 mans. what does that tell you? whos the greedy stereotype now?
They WILL be free. now u can have all the shards u want, without paying, asking , being polite or use a profesion slot. OF COURSE YOU LOVE THE CHANGE.

i dont fail to see why you love it,,, you fail to see why we hate it.
Then a little further down you have a reply:

no i dont fail to see why you hate them. if you are a decent person you shouldnt hate this new change at all unless you were an enchanting mat ninja. you want no one to have a chance at a roll? then dont run pugs and good luck trying to find someone to support your enchanting mat runs. when i was an enchanter i even sharded them for guildies who didnt even ask for them.
He says he doesn't fail to see why many Enchanters are incensed over the change, yet I think clearly he does. Evidently if I object to the change I'm a greedy ass? What? I'm not a decent person if I object to the change? What?

This is a perfect example of people "thinking" with their hearts and not their minds. Completing ignoring the principles involved is bad enough, but then to go on and accuse a group of people of not being "decent" because they have a difference of opinion on the matter is the very height of arrogance. How about I have a right to the fruits of my own labor? And you do not have a right to those fruits unless I consent? How about that?

Patch 3.3 next week?

Wowinsider is reporting that patch 3.3 might be rolling live next Tuesday, which is a bit earlier than we were lead to believe. I was looking at the calender and from Blizzards comments it was looking like the 15th would be about the date for it. Yet the Christmas world event begins on the 15th, and we all know how patches go--especially large ones. It would not be a good idea to launch a patch and start a world event at the same time.

Of course word that the patch is all but complete means Blizzard is going to stick to their plan to put enchanters into abusive situations. Truly sad, that. I expect better from Blizzard, so I find this very disappointing. On the bright side, it means Icecrown is nearly upon us, and I can start working toward my awesome looking Tier 10 set!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The EVE Dominion has landed

The Dominion expansion hit live this morning in EVE, which introduces a slue of interesting new functionality and change in important mechanics such as sovereignty. Unfortunately, as I anticipated I didn't stick with EVE and hadn't even been interested enough to log in this past few weeks to keep my training queue updated.

Patch 3.3 excitement

You can see it on the official forums. People are getting more excited about the patch, and anticipating it's arrival to live. There was another flurry of questions on the forums yesterday asking if it was going to go live today, to which the CMs again answered in the negative. This despite word on the 20th that the patch was at least a month away, which would place the patch out on the 15th. Give or take.

For me, the patch will get here when it gets here. Though I am looking forward to it, I remain troubled by the change to the need/greed rolling mechanism that will enable players to also roll for disenchanting if there is an enchanter in the group. Players will be limited to what they can roll need on, as the new mechanism will enforce a set of rules that allows you to only roll need on specific types of armor that you can use. For instance, a plate wearing DPS could roll need on plate DPS gear, but not plate Spell gear. And could not roll need on mail or leather gear. Need rolls will still take precedence over greed rolls. And the third option -- disenchanting -- will auto DE the item for whomever wins it. I'm absolutely philosophically opposed to this change. It's the first change in the history of the game that enables other players to directly access profession skills I leveled up on my character.

There is a huge amount of debate on the official forums about these changes, and most of it surrounding the enchanting change. Not surprisingly most non-enchanters are fully supportive of it, and most enchanters are totally against it. I leveled enchanting on two of my characters, and have been considering leveling it on my Paladin just to be able to DE items for myself.

As I've mentioned on various forum threads, this issue is really about consent, choices, and consequences. First and foremost there is an consent issue with the enchanting change. Now, a player must consent to have his skills used by other group members. Group members either roll need/greed on items and take their chances at winning them, or typically an enchanter will roll greed on all items with everyone else passing unless someone actually needs it. That person would typically roll need. The enchanter would then typically DE the items and pass out the shards at the end. If the enchanter doesn't wish to do that for the group, then everyone is left with the option to simply need/greed the item. A lot of complaining seems to revolve around a minority of enchanters that roll need on everything, or who attain all the items in a dungeon when the group is expecting them to be DE’d and passed out, but who then runs off with the goods. A ninja is a ninja, and that is entirely another discussion. So I won’t cover it here now. Again, the issue is about consent. If an enchanter agrees to DE materials he is consenting to use his profession skills for the benefit of the group. If he refuses to perform that service, he withholds his consent. Group members always have the option to roll need on any item, regardless of whether or not an enchanter agrees to DE items for the group, which is the opposite side of the “enchanter stealing all the loot” coin. In this case that party member is not giving his consent to the enchanter to DE the item, and is not giving his consent to the group to enforce it.

Permeating the entire debate is also the issue of choices and consequences. Every player has a choice to make when they consider what professions to obtain for character. Typically a player will determine what professions best suit that character for money making purposes, or which professions give them the best advantages. In any case, the player can only choose two professions and Blizzard has been adamant that they had no plans to enable players to obtain a third (or more) professions on the same character. They’ve said on multiple occasions that WoW is an MMO, and that they wish to promote interdependence on the players. Which of course means there are consequences for ones decisions in the matter. If you choose to take Mining and Engineering for example, you can mine and make money through the sale of minerals, but you couldn’t prospect that ore for gems directly, and engineering really offers you no combat advantages inside a raid environment. Those are the consequences you choose to accept when you make them decision.

Yet in this unique instance Blizzard is removing the consequences of player decision making, and granting access to the enchanter’s skills to other party members without that enchanters consent. Of course, as many people have pointed out, the enchanter always has the option to roll greed on an item instead, which removes the ability for anyone at that point (except the enchanter of course) to get the item through the DE process. Yet we know how social pressure works. Enchanters that do this will be ostracized, and that also is something I vehemently disagree with. Blizzard is knowingly placing players in that situation and it is going to lead inevitably to forum drama as people are called out for it there too.

Others ask how this is any different from asking an enchanter to DE items for, as is often done now. The answer of course comes back to consent again. An enchanter has to agree to do it for someone, and this is simply not something that is greatly wide-spread. People that do not want to level up an enchanter to DE items for themselves end up vendoring items instead. It’s the exception that finds an enchanter to DE items. Which of course leads into the sale of enchanting materials. The new system is going to introduce wide-spread competition in the enchanting market place. Which I maintain as completely unfair. Especially as no other profession is being treated to the same intrusion. Miners are not being forced to have to roll against other party members for the ore they mine. Jewelcrafters aren’t being asked to roll against other party members for prospecting ore. Skinners aren’t being asked to roll against other party members for the leather and furs they skin. And engineers aren’t being asked to roll against other party members for the de-engineered items they get. As Blizzard has pointed out, in there are very few mines in instances compared to item drops, yet it’s the principle that is of importance here, not the quantity.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I. Want. This!

Just mouse over the stats of this weapon. Shadowmourn, the axe to end all axes! My Paladin would give his left kidney for this thing! Full details about the quest chain to obtain it is located here.

It's not the hours, its the roles

Tobold posted recently that he had crossed a milestone in WOW, having played 5000 hours of game time on his various characters. It got me thinking about the number of hours I’ve played over nearly five years (I actually go over five years in March 2010), but unlike him, I really don’t want to know the answer to that question. Personally I think it would only lead to an inevitable scolding from my wife were the truth of the matter to be officially known! Naturally I filed any thought of the number of hours played where it rightfully belongs—deep in the recesses of my mind, and skipped forward to thoughts of my alts and what, ultimately, I was trying to accomplish instead. The more I think about how I game, the more it leads me to thoughts about the gaming mentality I seem to have. I’m a “do’er” and I like things to do, which is perhaps one reason I am not so worried about the amount of time I play WoW, whereas my wife would probably wish it otherwise.

I’m a do’er, yet I’m seemingly an alt-a-holic, which if you think about it, is diametric. I was absolutely horrible in BC, though in the weeks leading up to the release of WotLK I told myself I would make a concerted effort to combat that. I’ve tried, though not always successfully, to keep my play confined to a small number of characters. As WotLK launched I was playing my Shaman as my main character, but benched him not very long into Wrath when I switched to my DK as my main. Now after many months of play on him, he is in the early stages of benching and I now consider my Paladin my main. Yet the Paladin is still not the only character I play on, and I despair of ever attaining that nirvana that others seemingly have found, and remain faithful to just one toon.

Tobold’s interest in WoW and what he’s doing in might revolve around his hours played, but mine revolves around accomplishing goals, and about filling roles. Let me lay it out for you as clearly as I can.

80 Paladin – Primarily I consider my specs to be Ret and Holy, though I often respec on weekends to Ret/Prot to finish older dungeons and level various reps. I’ll probably be spending more and more time as Ret/Prot as I look to finish up rep grinds for the main BC reps and start dipping into Karazhan for Violet Eye rep, and ZG for Zandalar rep. Not to mention farming for mounts in AQ40 and the like. I researched options that would make it easier for me to respec on the fly, and recently posted an entry about the mods I found, and as I think you can tell from my blog recently, have very much taken to the class. Raiding wise Ret is extremely powerful and offers group versatility like a range of buff and aura options, hand of salvation/freedom/protection, party mana regeneration through replenishment, and through the miracle of hybrid theory, a means to play a completely second role in the raid through a second talent spec. That for me is typically Holy. While Prot is my least favorite aspect of the class, I’m eminently happy with the class as a whole and find myself about as certain as I think I’m capable of being that this character will be my main over the long term.

80 Druid – I had great hope that I would return to my Druid, who was my “main” in BC and in Vanilla, but I’ve had great trouble mastering cat DPS. There are mods that could help with that, but Feral By Night appears to be the best of them, and I’m not all that taken with the centralized visuals that come with it. My UI is busy enough without all that being front and center in my view screen. I’ve begun looking into switching from Feral cat to Balance, but I’ve been somewhat disappointed with mana efficiency in preliminary testing. It may be that I simply need more spirit on my gear, or picking up Dream state, which I don’t currently have. I’ll keep looking into it, but whatever I do decide to do he will at the least remain a central character for me as I leveled Enchanting and Jewel crafting on him. I continue to love Feral tanking. Despite the range of nerfs to Bears early in WotLK, they remain fantastic tanks and my second spec will remain Feral bear for that purpose.

80 Death Knight – My DK is/was my miner/jewel crafter and was my Main for most of this year, but I’m in the process of benching him. Within a few weeks I do not expect to be playing on him much at all, except to mine ore. Ultimately it was the continuous series of nerfs, and my bent toward hybrid classes that did him in. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the class very much, but after consider testing between the DK and my Paladin, they, in the end, are very similar. At that point, I think the additional versatility that Paladin gives me simply outweighed my fondness for the DK class.

80 Shaman – I’ve played my Shaman for going on two years now, yet sadly he’s been on the bench most of this year and will undoubtedly remain there for the foreseeable future. Counting against my play on the Shaman is the fact I am not overly fond of the Elemental spec. It was fun enough while it lasted, but I really didn’t enjoy it much in a raiding capacity. I played him as Enhancement throughout BC, but I really hated the state of the class in a PVP perspective. Things have gotten somewhat better in WotLK, but not to a great extent. Switching from Elemental back to Enhancement for raiding simply is not very appealing at this point. Enhancement would offer me no benefit over what I already have with my Paladin, or had with my DK for that matter. I’d actually delete this character if I didn’t have some hope, however remote, that I might do something with him again some day.

80 Rogue – I created and leveled this character as an experiment. Back when I started playing my Druid again I was having even more trouble with competitive cat DPS than I’m having now and wanted to compare Rogue abilities and DPS against him. I commented a few times on my blog about the small annoyances of leveling the Rogue, but I did eventually get him to 80 and started doing some light raiding and PVP with him. Ultimately it was the complete lack of healing that really turned me off to the class. There are a few gimmicks that Rogues can do that are interesting, but in the large sense they and cat ferals are very similar in most ways, except that Druids can heal. I keep him around more out of continued general interest at this point, than any plans to resume playing him in the future. Besides, he’s a 450 Engineer and has access to the auction house right in Dalaran!

74 Warlock – my Lock, despite its languishing state this last year, is still a character I have some interest in. I had a goal at the release of WotLK to have one melee dps character, one caster, and perhaps one tank. I’ve actually had several melee characters at this point, though I believe the question of who that “one” will be is finally coming to fruition, but the question about a caster was thrown into doubt when I decided I really didn’t like raiding as a Elemental Shaman. I’ve given a bit of thought lately to reviving the Warlock to fill that role, however as I’m currently looking into Balance spec for my Druid, I’ve decided to hold off on this character a little while longer. If I find I like playing Balance well enough on the Druid, then my Druid will fill my ranged caster role, as well as my Tank role (Paladin also). I also have a baby Mage and Hunter in the offing to level should I decided I don’t like Balance enough. I’ve seen great things from Mages and Hunters the past several months, so if the Druid isn’t to be my ranged character, it would eventually come down to a competition between the Warlock, the Mage, and the Hunter

14 Hunter – There isn’t a lot that needs to be said about Hunters. I used to have a 70 Hunter, and my Hunter was actually my first high level (60) character, so I’ve got some experience with the class. I can very easily see myself leveling this character and using it as my ranged character, yet I just haven’t found the interest there to do it for whatever reason. The operative word is “yet”, because as I mentioned, it’s certainly one of my options for the ranged class I still want to have available to me.

12 Mage – as with the hunter class, I used to have a 70 Mage. Unlike the Hunter however, I used to raid on him. So it is still an option for me, though I continue to have issue with the squishiness of the class now that I had in BC. The same issue that caused me to stop raiding on him and stop playing the class all together. I would most likely finish leveling the Warlock, then the Hunter before I ever got around to the Mage (to be honest) and I’m not even sure how much of an option the Mage class is for me really. It’s certainly one, but how much of one is an open question in my mind.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cryptic could be the doom of STO

A friend of mine had scaled back his WoW playing time to play Champions Online, which he played in beta and paid for a life-time subscription. Is he playing Champions Online today? No. In fact, he canceled his life-time subscription and got his money back because of horrible customer service, and bait-and-switch tactics that Cryptic used during the release period. His experience was so bad with the company that he has vowed to me that he will never play another Cryptic developed game again. I have no experience with Cryptic, but I watched the hubbub over Champions Online with great interest as I looked forward to the release of Star Trek Online. And my worries about the game have become more manifest as I watched a very similar hubbub that occurred around the Champions Online release, happening in the STO beta. Let us just say that my hopes for this game are low at this point. Especially considering the extremely short beta period.

As of this point I don't see myself rushing out and buying this game at release. If I do play it now, I'm thinking I will wait for a good period of time after release in order to make sure I get a full view of the opinions out there. And most likely will wait for a free test period in any event. My opinion of Cryptic is just that low, and I really don't want to give them my $50 unless the game is just that fantastic.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

How MAXDPS.COM can help you

Are you an aspiring WoW player, just hit level 80, and want to know what gear you should be shooting for to step up your game? If you are, then you should look at MAXDPS.COM. MAXDPS is similar to other simulators available out there, but has a high level of polish and completeness that makes it a stand out in the crowd. And, as it covers all classes, and almost all specs, it's easy to see how it could be an invaluable tool for someone to help plan out their gear progression.

When you first visit the site you are treated to a page of news, with a bar across the top that contains links to the pages for the various classes and specs. To begin your explorations you simply need to click on the class link of your choice (hovering over the class produces a drop down menu of specific specs in each class that are available), which takes you to that classes page. The class page might look confusing at first, but it's actually well laid out and simple to understand once you know what is being asked of you. The site seeks to take your actual stats in game, and rank pieces of gear in order from the least helpful, to the most helpful in each slot. There are two input areas which you will need to complete before you can get those rankings however, and the first is along the left hand side, called "Item Options".

Item Options is simply asking you to determine which "levels" of gear you want to pull your rankings from and you can see there are sections for 25-man, 10-man, and other. Then a section for Gems under those. By default everything will be selected, though the default gems are blue. Simply deselect options you do not want considered, like 5-man dungeon or heroic loot as an example. Once you've decided which options you do and don't want considered, click the submit item options button at the bottom of that list.

The next section is "Input your stats" section, and is vastly more important. In this section you are going to be entering your unbuffed stats so that the site can then accurately rank items that would be beneficial to you. You can either use the import function in the upper right hand corner to directly import your stats, or you can enter them manually to suit specific circumstances. You should notice that there are three tabs for that section, so filling out the first tab is not the end of your task. Clicking to the second tabs allows you to set specific talents that affect your dps and abilities, and the third tab allows you to choose which buffs you want to affect the gear weightings. I normally deselect most of the buffs and choose only those which I give myself to come up with a specific solo gear weighting. This section is also why it's important to input unbuffed numbers on the first tab, because you should notice to the right there is "Current stats" section which will be off from what you see in-game if you didn't. Once you've filled out those three tabs, click the "Submit your stats" button.

At that point you can scroll down the screen and see a row of gear slot icons. Click on one to see a specifically generated list of gear weighted to your stats and options, with appropriate gems already pre-selected. Scrolling even further down should show you a list of the best enchants for that slot as well.

Realize the site doesn't include a character gear simulator, so it's not possible to "build" a character and have your available options update on-the-fly with the change in your stats, but it is quite useful for helping you decide which piece in each slot you might want to keep an eye out for as your next upgrade. What's more, you don't have to re-fill in all those options you already filled in the next time you visit. In the upper right corner you should notice an icon that says "save your settings". Clicking on that icon gives you a unique URL to come back to that has your settings pre-filled. If you change gear between now and then, simply update the settings, save the new settings, and click the save your settings icon again for a new URL.