Friday, May 29, 2009

Leveling through PVP?

Earning XP via PVP was the one aspect of WAR I really liked and always wished Blizzard would introduce into WoW. I had lost all hope until now that they would even do this:

It's something we're very interested in doing. I'm confident you'll find out more soon. :)

Now wouldn't that just be the bomb? Original post here.

Enough about gear already

So we beat that one to death I think. Lets get back on the "doldrums" discussion instead. Since the doldrums have started a bit early this year I thought I would lay out how it normally works. Usually in June people start to get itchy and want to take some time off from WoW to actually go outside and see the Sun, or entertain aspirations of dating. Parents take some time off to spend more time with their kids, or take family vacations. The end result is that most guild suffer hits to their raiding teams and begin to have problems with raid attendance. Many guilds disband or combine with other guilds or go on grand recruiting sprees and for a while raiding still sputters. But then after a short period things usually bottom out and raiding gets back to a modicum of normalcy as the guild sees a bit of progress in their raiding once again.

And things are good throughout the month of July. The "new" raid team has been raiding for a few weeks and not only is getting used to raiding together, but people are getting some much needed upgrades. Then comes the month of August and the people who took off the Summer start to come back. And this is when the guild drama begins anew as people who left their spots open for others to fill over the Summer displace those who filled those spots. And sometimes a good deal of indignation and drama ensues, though to be fair some times the transition back to the "core" raiding team happens without any drama as well.

My own guild is following the recruiting spree model right now. We've invited probably 12 or 13 people over the past couple weeks and all but 4-5 have left already. To be honest most of those aren't much of a loss since they really weren't geared to the level we're currently raiding at, or just didn't have the wherewithal to raid effectively. The remaining few are not bad but some need some gear and need a little more experience. A couple though are pretty good so in the end I think we've made some progress. We'll just have to wait and see what happens in August as those who took the Summer off come back and want their spots back.

This Summer is not all together typical, not only because the doldrums are start a bit early, but also because Ulduar was just released a few weeks ago and most guilds are still slogging through the middle of the raid. The people who have filled the spots in our raid group right now are not being carried. No, instead they are having to earn their gear like everyone else on the team right now and I think will have a compelling argument to maintain their spots.

For those guilds that follow this route there is risk to inviting without following the normal, more careful methods that are used the rest of the year. Guild hoppers are not always looking to become a permanent part of the team but are rather more interested in obtaining a few pieces of gear before they leave for another guild. That gear, which undoubtedly would have gone to someone else who is looking to remain and become a permanent member is a waste and the worst aspect of raiding over the Summer. I myself never did obtain my Tier 7/7.5 shoulders (i hated the way they looked anyway) because I lost the roll on 4 occasions to people we had invited to our team when we ran Naax. And lost them another two times to people who were on the team already. That's just one example of what can, and does happen to raid teams that don't exercise restraint while recruiting.

Raiding might not be all about loot, but anyone that says they don't want some loot along the way is simply not being completely honest.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Speaking of gear

Since we've been speaking about gear quite a bit lately I've obviously been thinking along those lines. And it occurred to me, as I was earning honor for my PVP suit for my Shaman just how ugly it is. Then I started thinking about previous "sets" I really did like, like the Druid tier 4 and tier 5 for instance. Wouldn't it be nice if instead of Blizzard creating all new sets using all new art work every arena season, or every tier they instead offer a means to upgrade the stats on existing sets you already have?

As far as Druids go, I liked the old tier 4 set the best and I'd still be wearing it today if that were possible. I'd love to be able to update the stats on that old set instead of having to change my set every 10 levels, or have to go through three tier sets every "end game". That isn't to say that Blizzard should get out of the new art business, just that the capability should be there for those who would rather keep an older set instead of everyone all wearing the same stuff every expansion.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gear progression part 2

Now that you understand a little history and the current progression means lets get to the meat of how progression works currently and is meant to work. Players progress in their gear as they level by picking up the odd quest reward and from 5-man instances. When they hit 80 they are expected to start running Heroics, which as I previously mentioned, drop badges of heroism in addition to the loot off each boss. The loot off each boss is fairly good and there are a number of instances to run, so you should be running these and obtaining at the minimum, an all blue suit before heading into Naax-10. And I say Naax-10 because you won't be competitive in Naax-25 in your blues, and without some level of Naax-10 gear. That is, unless your group is willing to carry you and get your geared up. There is also a good number of craftable items which can be made that are comparable to lower Naax-10 gear, so you could get a leg up by picking some of those up as well.

In any regard the accepted progression pre-patch 3.1 was Heroics > Naax-10 (OS-10/EoE-10) > Naax-25 (OS-25/EoE-25). With the introduction of Ulduar in patch 3.1 Blizzard stated they expected progression to work from Naax-10 > Ulduar-10 and Naax-25 to Ulduar-25. However with Emalon now in the Vault of Archevon you can get also get Tier 8.5 pieces from VoA-25 and Tier 8 from VoA-10 as well. In fact I recommend raiding VoA-25 because unless you are in a very hard core raiding group you likely won't see any of the Tier 8 or Tier 8.5 pieces for quite a while. They're in the latter half of the Ulduar and Ulduar is considerably more difficult than Naax was. That definitely can give you a big leg up on the progression tree if you are lucky to have your pieces drop and win the rolls.

Other wise you are at the mercy of Emblems again. The Badges/Emblems have been so popular because they give you a definite means to obtain specific pieces you may want. In the Burning Crusade people ran Heroics for the Badges of Justice and paid little attention to anything else. Unless you were completely new to level 70, anyway. Unlike the Emblem system now, there are considerably less choices on the Emblem vendors now than there were on the Badges of Justice vendor then. While you may not care more for the loot that may drop from Heroics, it is a great deal better than the loot tables from the older level 70 heroic bosses. And beyond the few items you will probably want off the Emblem of Heroism vendor your progression will very clearly be up and into Naax-10 or perhaps Naax-25.

With the limit of choice through the Emblem system Blizzard is giving players a subtle push into the raiding end-game. But again the limited choices for gear you can obtain through the emblems you will be getting while raiding puts you back into the waiting game for specific pieces to fall off specific bosses. Luckily in Naax some items are in multiple boss loot tables however.

I think the system, as currently constituted, works very well for most players initially. But after a few weeks of running heroics and raiding you've probably already purchased everything you need off the Heroism or Valor vendors. It was six months between the introduction of WotLK and Naax until patch 3.1 and the introduction of Ulduar, which is a very long time to raid without much chance for some gear progression. Ulduar resets the equation and gives people a lot of room for upward progression. Especially since it's a great deal more difficult and people will take longer to gear up. But it doesn't change anything overall. You will get to a point where you are able to purchase everything you need from the Conquest vendor and then will be back to waiting for specific things off specific bosses.

What it all means is Blizzard purposefully has put a throttle on gear progression. Expect to spend a lot more time raiding to get smaller upgrades.

Taking a moment

I got a couple of really nice upgrades last night. First, I'm the first person in my guild to obtain a Tier 8.5 piece (pants), and I also got a ring off Flame Leviathon. So my WoW Heroes score went up considerably last night. I'm now the 29th best geared Death Knight on my server, so I'm finally making some progress on that upward trek.

But what I really wanted to mention was my UTTER SHOCK at how much damage I was able to pull off on one small mob pack before XT in Ulduar last night. I'd never done more than around 5k on any pack previously, but last night I did over 10k on one pack. Yes, you saw that correctly. 10k with those two new upgrades.

That's some crazy stuff going on right there. The other guy that did 10k DPS on that pull is a Rogue btw. Fan of Knives seems to be working out quite well for them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gear progression part 1

While we're on the subject of how one goes about getting PVP gear, I thought we might discuss the current PVE gear progression right now as well. Throughout the Burning Crusade Blizzard created a new way of earning gear for your character, independent of individual instances which had been the only means of obtaining gear previously. Many people were forced to run specific instances upwards of 40 or 50 times hoping a boss would drop the one piece of specific loot you needed. Back in that day, where each class' class gear, was often spread out among several bosses in two or even three instances, there were no tokens to be found. Instead, the bosses had a chance of dropping the individual piece you needed. Since they would also drop the piece other classes needed it created a tremendous time sink as it often took months to obtain your full level 60, pre-raid, suit. Once you began raiding the same system was in place as well. Individual class set pieces were dropped from various bosses. Tier 1 dropped from bosses in Molten Core and Onyxia's lair, and Tier 2 dropped in Black Wing Lair and it again could take months of raiding to obtain your full set.

Recognizing the frustration many players experienced with this system Blizzard began experimenting with a token system in the original Naaxramus. There, the bosses would drop a token, instead of the individual class pieces that were keyed to multiple classes. The individual winning the token could take the token to a vendor and purchase the piece for their class. This system enabled more classes to more quickly earn their set pieces and enabled Blizzard to reduce the size of the loot tables on a lot of bosses. Blizzard carried this system forward into the Burning Crusade but also instituted a second system for earning gear independent of individual bosses or specific loot tokens.

Once you started running Heroics in the Burning Crusade you would earn Badges of Justice for boss kills. In addition to whatever loot the boss would drop, they would also drop a badge that you could accumulate and use to purchase gear off a specific vendor -- the badge vendor -- in Shattrath. The new badge system was wildly popular and players began clamoring for more and better gear obtainable through it. Old vestiges of frustration with bosses not dropping specific pieces of loot resurfaced and Blizzard responded during the Burning Crusade with two updates to the gear on the badge vendor.

The token and badge system was carried forward into WotLK but while the token system remained identical to the system instituted during the Burning Crusade Blizzard made some changes to the badge system. In Burning Crusade there was one type of badge, called Badges of Justice, that could purchase everything and anything from the badge vendor. When Blizzard updated and added to the gear already on the badge vendor anyone that already had enough badges could simply buy the new gear on the spot. And it lead to people that had never raided, or that had never gotten past Karazan, getting gear that was comparable to gear from much higher raid instances.

In order to correct that Blizzard created tiers of badges in WotLK. From Heroics and 10-man raids (Naax, EoE, OS) bosses would drop Emblems of Heroism which enabled you to purchase gear comparable to what would drop in the early 10-man raids. Emblems of Valor dropped off bosses in all the beginning 25-man raids (Naax, EoE, OS) enabling you to purchase gear comparable to what dropped in the early 25-man raids. And with the recent introduction of Ulduar, Emblems of Conquest drop from Ulduar-25 and Emblems of Valor from Ulduar-10. From the outset this tweaking of the badge system seems logical, however instead of adding to the limited amount of gear available from either the Heroism or Valor badge vendors Blizzard created the 3rd tier -- conquest -- which clouds the gear progression for this system somewhat and has lead to a similar feeling of of frustration experienced during original WoW.

While it's still likely some people might still need or want to purchase items off the heroism or valor vendors, most raiders have long since purchased everything they need from those or are now getting better gear from Ulduar-25 or the Conquest vendor. There is no longer any reason to run heroics or any of the earlier raids when you can run Ulduar-10 (for the gear, not for the emblems) or Ulduar-25 instead. Many people commented on this problem when Blizzard announced how they were going to handle emblems in Ulduar but they stuck with their plan. As they so famously do from time to time, they simply stated "they were fine" with how things were going to work out. It was all part of their larger plan, but it still leaves players with a dilemma now in that most often they are back to waiting for specific pieces to drop off specific bosses and running raids perhaps long since past their intention to do so.

I only speculate, but I would expect Blizzard to follow the same scheme with the introduction of Icecrown some months down the road by introducing a 4th and perhaps a 5th tier of emblems for the 10 and 25-man raids. More uncertain is what they will do with the upcoming raid that is to be introduced in patch 3.2. I would expect them to continue using Emblems of Valor and Conquest there as well for the 25 and 10-man raids respectively, but one never knows with Blizzard.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Why aren't there any weapons available from honor vendors?

So a little level 1 alt on the official forums would like to know. Actually I would like to know that too. Up until WotLK there has always been an array of weapons available through the regular honor system, in addition to the other gear. In BC Blizzard also made previous season arena gear available through the honor system as well. But in WotLK Blizzard changed their attitude toward "welfare epics", continuing to enable access to most arena gear from the regular honor system but making weapons arena system only.

I'm uncertain as to the exact reason for this particular change, though there had been a constant din of disapproval from hardcore arena players in BC that casuals were getting good weapons. That despite the fact that the best weapons came only from current Arena play, or from Raiding. I see no reason why that couldn't still be the case now.

As it stands, unless you are willing to participate in arena play and can obtain the needed rating for even the lowest ilevel weapons available through the arena system, the only way for you to obtain any weapons what so ever is through raiding or Heroics. We can completely discount regular 5-man instance weapons because they simply are not adequate for either raiding or PVP.

Most people choose the raiding route as far as I can tell, which I think is not the most ideal route. Take me for example. I had been working on leveling a Paladin, which I wanted for healing BGs. I had no real intention of raiding with him since I raid on my Death Knight, but it looks like if I want a really decent weapon I'm going to have to.

In the back of my mind I really wonder if this new philosophy isn't geared toward making arena play even more popular tham it is currently in some corners. There are a lot of people who participate, but there are even more who don't and Blizzard has been pushing to get their arenas into E-Sports. Recently inking a deal ESL TV indicates they are becoming more serious about the effort, so it would seem to be in their interest to get everyone involved in arena play. Perhaps forcing people to participate in order to get weapons -- the only weapons that will also give you added resilience -- is intended to help in that regard.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cox customers on east coast unable to access WoW

Sometime around noon EST a cut fiber on the Cox network has disabled all access to the Blizzard network, making it impossible for mid-eastern coast Cox subscribers to log into WoW. Normally internet protocols would reroute requests along another route, however, Cox seems to have their backbone configured to only route packets bound for Blizzard through this one route and it stops at (

So much for a leisurely afternoon of leveling my Paladin to 80.

[Update] Cox restored network access to Blizzard's data centers by 4:30 pm EST.

Blizzard wins Wintergrasp....we lose

The effects of the change in honor and battle-ground quests have been as foretold. Over the last couple days there have been noticeably less people in Wintergrasp. I've even personally seen people who were unaware of the changes asking for others in the raid group to share the daily quests because they were unavailable to them. When they were told in raid chat that the quests were now weekly they uniformly were dismayed. Not a one of them stayed.

There was even a funny statement from one raid member last night "WTB Horde" as we basically crushed through the walls and into the relic room virtually unscathed.

So, Blizzard, you win. You succeeded in de-incentivizing people to play the very battleground you used to help sell the expansion to begin with. People now run Wintergrasp, by and large, to get their weeklies done and to gain access to VoA for that week. Then they head to greener pastures.

Thanks for taking the low road instead of taking those other steps you alluded to so many times but refused to take.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Albino Drake

Just before the release of WotLK Blizzard introduced the new achievement system. One of the achievements requires you to acquire 50 mounts, for which you are rewarded an albino drake mount. At the time it was fairly difficult to get to 50 mounts and required you to grind up Netherwing and Kurenai rep in order to meet that requirement. Now of course it's much easier with the plethora of new mounts released in WotLK. And so I finally completed this last night on my DK.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Blizzard you fail

Get this about Wintergrasp....

If you used to do the dailies every day of the week, you are correct in recognizing that the change to a weekly format will result in less honor and Stone Keeper's Shards for you. We never stated otherwise.
Yeah, you read that correctly. Zarthm just said that in one of the mountains of complaint threads on the forums regarding the nerf they implemented in Wintergrasp today.

Apparently when they earlier said

All Lake Wintergrasp daily quests have been changed to a weekly format. The honor and Stone Keeper's Shards rewarded for completing these quests have been increased to compensate.
They never said it. Regardless of the fact they also changed the honor you get for the victory quest from 5k per day to 3k per week. What an utter debacle this whole thing has been.

Blizzard screws us over Lake Wintergrasp

Just saw patch 3.1.2 is going live today, which among other things means:

All Lake Wintergrasp daily quests have been changed to a weekly format. The honor and Stone Keeper's Shards rewarded for completing these quests have been increased to compensate.
Except they're not compensating in any way the loss of honor this is going to cost people who continue to play Lake Wintergrasp.
All of this is in direct relation to the horrible lag that often happens during Wintergrasp matches. Wintergrasp has become one of the best means for earning honor, and because it's not instanced it attracts a lot of people. Instead of figuring out how to entice people to run other BGs instead, they decided to de-incentivize players from playing Wintergrasp.

People will continue to do exactly what they are doing now -- running other BGs between Wintergrasps. These changes won't fix the lag but will reduce the honor you earn day to day. Instead of earning 35k honor for completing the victory quest each day per week, you now get a whopping 3k honor per week.

It's an outrageous change that should never have even been considered, let alone foisted on the players who PVP. They're not going to reduce the cost of PVP items to accommodate the loss of honor people will now be able to earn (minor pieces cost 30k+ and major pieces cost 49k+ honor), so you do the math. It'll now take considerably longer to attain honor gear, giving arena players a decided advantage over time for gear.

Bad move Blizzard. Horrible decision making process you've got there. If you want to popularize Lake Wintergrasp as a major selling point of WotLK expansion, then don't be surprised when people play it. If you find your systems can't handle the lag (they're can't), then figure out how to spread people out without this de-incentivization debacle you've now foisted on us. Figure out why people would rather play Wintergrasp than Warsong Gulch and fix that.


Doldrums and what you can do about it

As I had mention, the doldrums are a normal phenomenon that in WoW every Summer that seems to be starting a bit early this year. We were short again last night for our raid into Ulduar but were able to scrape together a few new players that had just been guild invited in order to get the raid going a few minutes late. Unfortunately we were forced to endure 12 wipes over a two and a half hour period on the Iron Council, whom we had downed two to three times previously. Thursday we endured pretty much the same on this crew, so that was two days with probably 20+ wipes on this boss. And this is really the most agonizing outcome of the doldrums--that those remaining who continue to raid suffer from the inexperience of those to replace the players that left.

Whether you continue to raid is a personal choice you'll have to search your own heart for. But the real question comes down to what can you do in order to survive the coming few months of the doldrums when the main past-time seems to be taking a back seat to real life for a lot of players. The answer of course is achievements, PVP, leveling an alt, or learning a new skill set on your character.

Bringing the achievement system into WoW was one of the best things Blizzard has done with this game. It reinvigorated, to some degree, older content and gave meat to a system of informal goals that most players had been using individually heretofore. It gave a real means of comparing yourself against others in a competitive sense. And it certainly is something you can use to while away the Summer work on if you chose to do so.

PVP is another aspect of the game that I've always said is an acquired taste. PVP can be, and often is, brutal. Especially to the new players. But luckily there is no personal loss from the many deaths you will endure while learning to PVP and to acquire the gear you'll need to be truly successful there. Work toward putting together a PVP set. All the main pieces of arena gear obtainable from the honor vendor cost between 39k and 49k honor, so you should be able to obtain one piece of armor every few days. Say it'll take anywhere from two weeks to a month to put together the main set of helm, shoulders, chest, legs, and boots. After that you'll need two trinkets, two rings, cloak and necklace which are all around 30k honor as well. Say another two to four weeks for those remaining pieces. All together you're probably looking at six to eight weeks of solid PVP game play to keep you busy.

I myself like to PVP and have been accumulating a full PVP set, but I've also been leveling a Paladin which I intend to heal with and I plan on learning to tank with my DK as a secondary talent spec. I already have a fairly decent pre-raid tank set but I need to round it out with a few more items before I attempt any real tanking.

Between leveling and gearing the Paladin, and learning to tank on my DK (not to mention complete his PVP set) I know I'll have plenty to do over the summer. What you need to decide for yourself is what you will do. Its all a matter of perspective. Will you get lost in the doldrums, of will you make it into an opportunity?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Summer Doldrums are beginning in WoW

You can already see the initial wave of it with less people signing up for weekly raids and established raiding guilds beefing up their recruitment. Not to mention established raiding guilds announcing they are folding or halting raiding. It's something that happens every Summer, but seems to be starting somewhat early this year. Surprisingly early considering Ulduar has only been out for a number of weeks.

I think part of the problem is that Ulduar is considerably harder than Naax was and people are in shock over it. My own guild is having a hard time of it lately after making very good progress up to Auriaya, with multiple wipes throughout the evening the norm. And I think that has begun to wear on us as a group. between the allure of nice weather and the grind that Ulduar is over Naax I can see why people might decide to be somewhat scarce these days.

Blizzard has already responded in previous patches by nurfing encounters and abilities in Ulduar but it's still a fairly difficult place overall. Whether less hardcore guilds survive through the summer or continue raiding is a question that only time will tell.

Something funny going on at Free Realms

I've been meaning to post this for a few days now but I got tied up leveling my Paladin (level 78 now) and just hadn't had the time. However once I read a congratulatory post on Lum's site tonight I just couldn't remain quite about this any longer.

It's no secret that I do not care for SOE, however I guess what really got me "worked up" about free Realms was the outburst of game enthusiasts regarding how Free Realms was going to take over the gaming economy. We hear this with every new game that comes along, yet even mature bloggers and players were saying it about this new come along. Now we learn that Free Realms has a million players, though I am highly skeptical of that claim. You can easily make multiple accounts and all it takes is an email address and I've seen claims from people that they have 3 or more accounts. Why, I simply can't answer that but they do.

Also what is the status of those supposed accounts? SOE sent out "trolling" (read SPAM) emails last week to people that read as follows:

Dear Customer:

We are sending this e-mail because we have received a request to reset the password for your Station Account bub. If you did not initiate this request, you may simply disregard this e-mail.

Click on the following link to generate a new temporary password, and have it e-mailed to you at this address:

[link snipped]

Password reset may only be done once every 24 hours.
Thank you.

(This is an automated e-mail. Please do not reply.)

Sony Online Entertainment
The email is HTML with some graphical features, like the large FREE REALMS graphic at the top. The link (which I snipped) takes you to a page that doesn't ask you to change your password at all, but instead takes you to a page which not surprisingly, you can sign up for Free Realms.

I don't have a SOE station account but used to play Star Wars Galaxies years ago. So there is absolutely no reason for SOE to have sent me this email except that they are trolling for paying customers. Sorry SOE, but I have zero intention of being one of them. I find SOE's trolling for customers in this manner to be despicable and reprehensible and it makes me wonder how many of those supposed million players came to look at Free Realms because of emails like it.

I wonder how freely SOE will be with account information in the coming months? We can only wait and see.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blizzcon 2009

I've been vocal in the past with my disdain for Blizzard's decision to hold every Blizzcon in California. Obviously many people can afford, and do not mind, the travel involved. But there are probably thousands of people like me who would love to attend but for the exorbitant air and hoteling fees involved. Even if I could afford to pay the $1500 round trip air fair, and the probably 300-500 dollars for a hotel for the weekend there, I couldn't really justify the expense to myself. It would be a lot more fair if Blizzard alternated between east and west coast venues, enabling many more people to attend.

However, this year Blizzard is doing something additional that I have to give them props to. I can only imagine they recognized the points I related above and worked out a deal with Direct TV to offer a web stream of the convention for a nominal fee. Even better, anyone purchasing the pay per view event also gets the 2009 in-game pet. Obviously a promotional for Starcraft 2 which is expected to be released later in the Fall.

Want to do your part to protect Azeroth from interstellar invasion? Everyone who attends BlizzCon 2009 or purchases the BlizzCon Pay Per View event via DIRECTV will be joined by a new World of Warcraft in-game companion, Grunty the murloc marine. This tiny terror is fully armored and comes equipped with a gauss rifle, which he’ll occasionally fire into the air to make sure no invisible spacecraft are swooping in to attack.

BlizzCon 2009 takes place on August 21-22 in the Anaheim Convention Center. Tickets go on sale on Saturday, May 16, with a second allotment to be released on May 30. For further details, check out the recent press release and the official website.
I don't know about you, but that pet alone is worth the $39.95 pay per view fee. Thumbs up Blizz!

Paladin update

The view from level 70 is pretty much the same as it was while my Paladin was in his 50's and 60's. There is just literally no fear when leveling a Paladin as retribution. I remember when I was leveling my Death Knight through Hellfire Peninsula, Zangarmarsh, and Terrokar Forest how easy it was to take on elites while solo. Its just as easy, or even more so because you can heal if you absolutely need to, with a Paladin. Even elites that are a couple levels higher than I was at the time were taken down with no problems what so ever.

Anyway, since I last wrote about my Paladin a week ago I slowed down a bit as I slogged through the 50's. Not because of any issue with the class, but because Blizzard never went back and corrected any of the issues pertaining to excess travel required for those levels and because of the lack of quests in any given zone. Vanilla WoW really is horrible compared to the expansions and I really do wish Blizzard would either set aside a few people to spruce things up back there a bit, or start new characters at level 55 like the Death Knight.

Anyway, once I got to about level 55 or 56 I was picking up speed again and blew through levels 58 to 70 over the weekend. Sunday night I hit level 68 and traveled to the Borean Tundra where I hit 70 in just a couple more hours of questing. And that is really where I began to notice a slight decrease in my awesomeness. Again, not related to the class at all, which continued to have all the tools required to get the job done, but because there is a big boost between stats from the Outlands to Northrend.

When I first stepped through the portal to outlands I was at about 900 AP and sported about 3k health. When I traveled to Northrend I was about 1100 AP and about 4500 or 5000 health. Just about three quarters through the quests in Borean tundra I'm already at nearly 1300 AP and over 9000 health. Those kind of stats are found on the creatures in Northrend as well. They hit slightly harder, though I can easily keep up with the damage by healing through it thanks to instant Flashes of Light and Divine Storm, but because the creatures have a lot more health than those found in Outlands it takes a bit longer to kill them. It gives you a feeling of being under powered as you walk into Northrend wearing Outlands greens. Luckily the quest gear you receive in Northrend comes fairly quickly.

By now I've had plenty of experience to compare my Death Knight and my Paladin. Obviously they have different mechanics but I can definitely say that the Paladin has the advantage in survivability while the Death Knight probably has the advantage in burst damage. Overall they offer remarkable similarities in the damage they can take and deal, and their efficiency during leveling. Neither one has any, or extremely minimal, down time enabling hours of questing whereas classes like Warriors, Rogues, or caster classes require certain amount of regeneration time after a few fights.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Forays into Ulduar part 5

No screenshots today. I actually forgot to take them--not once, but twice! Anyway, we proceeded further into Ulduar-25 by downing Auriaya last night, but instead of going on to Hodir (who we struggled with Monday night in our 10-man raid) we went back to down Ignis. I had been waiting for Ignis because of the axe he drops before I got Rune Edge off the Iron Council. But I'm glad we finally went back for him because I was able to complete the achievement.

Despite the busy nature of Auriaya, the fight is pretty strait forward as long as the tanks know what they are doing. Separate the cats right away during the initial pull, and have a main tank that can actually kite Auriaya from one platform to another in order for the raid to avoid the void zones that are created by the death of the defenders. We had a lot of problem with that last night, and the previous night we worked on her. Ignoring the crazy defender cat that likes to jump around like a jumping bean, all that really needs to happen is the main tank walk backward 20 yards after every defender death. I know, hard, right?

Anyway, we finally downed her and can expect to get to the last half of the dungeon soon.

Monday, May 4, 2009

And they say DKs are OP?

I love to PVP and have been steadily PVPing on my DK over the past couple weeks to put together a PVP suit. I've now got all the main pieces and had started working on the ancillary pieces like neck, rings, and back. But my alt-itis hit me and I wanted an alt to heal in BGs with. My only high level character is my Druid, who is still languishing away at level 71. Long time readers of this blog, and my previous blog (unfortunately no longer available) will know that my Druid was my previous main and that I leveled him as feral. I tanked with him up through TK and healed with him up through Hyjal Summit. And I used to Heal in BGs with him

Unfortunately I've gotten spoiled by my DK. I've commented to my wife over the past couple weeks that my Druid just feels so weak compared to my DK. I can kill stuff fine, but I take a lot more damage while doing it. Especially in multi-mob scenarios. While it's easy to pop out to heal, its somehow a pain to do it. As I said, I've been spoiled.

Yet my desire to heal in BGs remains so I was asking guildees what their opinions were and the majority said I should Pally heal. My Paladin was level 45, but I hopped on him and started leveling him up late Saturday night. In the matter of a couple hours I went from level 45 to level 48 before going to bed. Then leveled from 48 to 50 yesterday and 50 to 52 in a few hours this afternoon. I've dual specced him, running as Ret most of the time, but switching over to Prot in areas where I can do a little AOE tanking.

DKs come out of the starter are at level 57 (nearly 58) with some pretty nice blue gear, which makes blasting through the Outlands really easy. By comparison my Paladin is in a couple quest greens with the remainder of his gear AH purchased and he is every bit the meanie I was on my DK when I started him.

I obviously haven't gone onto end-game with my Paladin yet, but I can compare what I'm doing on him right now with what I was doing on my DK when he started. And it feels exactly the same. No fear is what I feel running around in this Rogue in plate armor. I was easily handling creatures 4 levels higher than myself singly and in doubles. Creatures my own level or perhaps a level more than me I could take on in groups of 4-5 with no trouble what so ever.

So what is it exactly that people bitch about regarding the DK and yet not the Paladin? Sure there are people complaining about Paladins in BGs, but I haven't seent he level of venom heaped upon the DK class associated with Paladins by a majority of people. Is it jealously? Are they frustrated that their class can't tear through mobs like butter or have no down time? If the case is akin to jealousy then perhaps they should think about whether they truly want to proceed with their current character. After all, each class has it's specialties and none of them can do everything that others can do. I'd dearly love to have stealth on my DK!

Right now I'm in the dailies and raid only mode on my DK, so I'll be spending pretty much all my free time levelling the Pally. And I'll let you know if my feelings change in the upcoming levels.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Children's week is upon us

Children's week was been one of my favorite events in years past, more so because of the funny pets you get when you take the child back to the orphanage than anything else. So I started in on this one at 12:01 am this morning. I got the quests the orphan gives you all done before I went to bed at 1am, and then started in on the achievements for the world event when I woke up this morning. Most of the achievements are easily accomplished, but one of them--"School of Hard Knocks" requires you to not only venture into four different battlegrounds, but also to accomplish 4 specific tasks.

In the Eye of the Storm and Arathi Basin you have to personally cap a flag. In Alterac Valley you have to personally assault a tower, which means you have to be the one that clicks the flag. Simply being in the tower isn't good enough for the achievement, and the same goes for the flag in Arathi Basin. And finally, you have to return a flag in Warsong Gulch.

Of the four, returning a flag in WSG might be the toughest. Despite warnings on the offocial forums that WSG matches would turn into tortuous elongated matches as both teams play entirely on defense, Blizzard allowed this achievement to go forward. And in my Warsong Gulch match this morning it was exactly that. We had one flag cap in the first 19 minutes (by me I might add) because both teams were either entirely in the throne room or in the middle. There simply wasn't a lot of offense going on. When there was though, everyone was on the flag carrier like white on rice trying to kill him and return the flag. I actually returned the first flag in the match but was dismayed to see I neglected to have my orphan out so I didn't get credit. Luckily I got a second return around the 45 minute mark that I got credit for.

Of the other three people who have some type of speed increase have a decided advantage over everyone else. I was able to cap the flag in AB and in AV because I was faster than everyone else and for no other reason. In both matches I sped off like a bat out of hell and strait to a tower in AV and to the stables in AB. I feel badly for everyone that doesn't have some type of speed increase because it's going to be extremely difficult for them to get caps in the short period this world achievement runs. And likewise I was able to cap a flag in EotS because I was faster than everyone else. I got to the center faster than anyone else on the rest of my team and killed the horde player who had just picked up the flag. I picked up the flag before anyone else who had just got there could. Speed helped me on that one, but it's going to arguably be the easiest of the four to accomplish.

As you can imagine there is a lot of complaining on the forum. Not only regarding that one achievement, but also about other achievements being buggy. People are reporting doing dailies and not getting credit for them. Or hearthing and getting credit, then logging back in later and finding credit has been removed.

Unsurprisingly Blizzard is somewhat dismissive of complaints.