Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So what do you think about exploiting your way to the top?

I've been quite vocal in the past about people using exploits. And even more vocal about so called hardcore raiding guilds using them to propel themselves to the "top" where they can stroke their e-peens in front of us. There have been many guilds who've been caught, and the latest--Exodus--makes a good point when they ask Blizzard pointedly why they didn't treat Ensidia in the same fashion on previous instances where they were said to have exploited bosses.

Remember Karate Chop? He and the rest of the raid team got the death penalty for using an item (they knew they shouldn't have used) they received from Blizzard in the first place. Permanent ban. Exodus receives a 72-hour suspension, but no perma-ban. Ensidia gets absolutely nothing for their exploits of game bugs and gets to keep their achievements.

Interesting when game developers are in bed with groups of their players, isn't it? Not.

Interesting reply from one of the Exodus raiders in answer to a lot of posts in that thread:

Aight I guess here's something you retards keep forgetting.
What did Ensidia do when they EXPLOITED 2min Hodir?
They contacted blizzard about it.
What did We (Exodus) do when we EXPLOITED Yogg-0?
We contacted blizzard about it.
Ensidia doesn't even get a slap on the wrist or a negative forum post.
We (Exodus) get thousands of forum post, Ensidia and thier fanboys act like little kids and scream like bitches untill we get a 72 hour suspension.
Fair? No.
Favoritism? Yes.

Exploiting is exploiting. GG Ensidia.
Also if you think Flower Power isn't an exploit then here's this.
Flower power got hotfixed right away,
and so did Immortal gaurdians.
Because they they both abuse game Mechanics.
"Offense: Abuse of Game Mechanics
Details: Circumvention of normal combat mechanics to defeat the Yogg-Saron encounter inside the Ulduar raid instance."

Ensidia should have recieved the exact email we did, they abused game mechanics,
-Milkyhoof out

edit: If Ensidia would have been the first to find the bug on Yogg-0 they would have used it to get a world first,just like on Hodir in the past when they were the first to find a bug, and then they would have emailed blizzard, not have gotten banned, and euro fanboys would be all over thier dick like a fat kid on pizza.

What kind of class would you design?

I’ve often thought of this subject over the course of my time playing WoW. More so in the past couple years than in the previous two. And especially now. If you were able to create your own character in the game you were playing, what would you create? Since I play WoW I’ll discuss the subject from that point of view.

Generally speaking I like hybrid characters. First and foremost hybrid characters are not what they are generally being spoken of being these days in WoW. Hybrids are archetypes that have disparate abilities, like a ranged or melee damage ability, and a separate healing ability. I do not link the ideal of hybridization to tanking roles, since that is simply a specialized DPS role. Instead, hybridization—at least in my mind—is tied to healing, which means Druids, Shaman, and Paladins are the only hybrid classes in WoW as far as I am concerned. As I said, I am partial to hybrids because I prefer classes that have abilities that strictly limit or remove downtime, and have abilities that enable the character to withstand more of a beating than other classes have. I'm more apt to solo play outside of my raiding, so you can see how a hybrid plays to what I tend to enjoy the most. Generally hybrids are therefore limited in their damage abilities to balance out their healing abilities when compared with pure damage classes. I’m fine with that.

I also like the ideal of being able to pick and choose abilities. The talent trees in WoW work fairly well, but I were to develop my own “class” I would take things a little further. I’d radically redesign the talent trees in WoW and enable a multi-class system whereby any DPS “class” could pick and choose a number of abilities in their class’s talent trees, as well as spent a number of points on abilities from another class. A player could in this way choose to be all offensive—having no defensive or hybrid characteristics; or they could be all defensive, having limited offensive or hybrid characteristics; or they could take a moderate number of offensive and hybrid abilities to suit their play style. The means of having to spend X amount of points in a given tree to get an ability further down the tree could be kept and would serve as a means of control.

Since I’ve been talking about Rogues recently I’ll use that as an example. My class would be something along the Rogue combat build with points in the Priest Discipline or Holy tree. Or with points in the Druid Resto tree. How far down you extend into your primary tree would then become a tradeoff with how many healing abilities you wanted or how powerful you wanted them to be. I’d probably keep the “dual-spec” system as well, so you’d most likely see players running around with Rogue/Priest or Rogue/Druid specs along with Rogue/Warrior or Rogue/Paladin specs. What about Warrior/Priest for non-raiding and Warrior/Paladin for raiding? Obviously all of this would be extremely difficult to balance, but would it be impossible? I don’t think so.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Faction Change?


Rogue or Druid Dilemma

I am amazed whenever I see, or am reminded of someone that has been playing a specific character for a very long time. For me a long time has essentially been no more than a year and a half, but I know people that have been playing the same character since the launch of WoW. To me that is an alien concept because I haven’t been completely happy with any character I’ve created in my four years of playing WoW. Hence my alt-a-holism.

I’ve been explaining my current dilemma recently, and that continued to play out somewhat over the weekend. I spent a good amount of time over the weekend completing the leveling of my Rogue into the Outlands, where I’d hit level 62 by yesterday morning. Then the remainder of the day I spent on my Druid in order to better compare energy regeneration, capabilities, rotations and trying to get a good feeling for what to do. I also spent a little time on my Paladin last night and ran some dailies.

One of the issues that is perplexing me at the moment is professions. I never took any appreciable profession on my Druid (although he does currently have 450 skinning) because I guess I had some reservations about the character. Likewise I never took anything on my Rogue. With my Druid I’m completely happy how the class works in a purely PVE questing or farming role but not so much in instances or raiding. I suppose I could try a bit harder to figure out an initial DPS rotation and then test out different things after that to see what really works. But I really dislike the AOE capabilities of the cat. It simply takes too much energy and you can’t really expect to get more than 3-4 swipes in on any given group before you are completely energy starved and sit back in single target mode waiting on regeneration.

By comparison I don’t have any very good AOE ability on my Rogue yet (outside of blade flurry with its 2 min cool down and killing spree which I just got yesterday morning at level 62. It also has a 2 or 3 min cooldown), though at level 80 I would get fan of knives which I’ve seen used to a lethal extent in many raids. So I think I really have to give the point to the Rogue.

When questing on the Druid, if I take any damage it’s a simple matter of popping out into caster form and casting a couple HOTs on myself and then drop back immediately into animal form to continue on with what I was doing. There simply is no downtime. On the Rogue there isn’t a great deal of downtime, but the downtime I do experience is annoying. Point to the Druid.

In those situations where I get adds I can usually burn them down fast enough to not worry about it, but occasionally I take quite a beating. In cat form I can use health potions now, and if I need more healing while fighting I can always switch to bear form and pop frenzied regeneration for a second heal. On the Rogue I have only the ability to use health potions and do not yet have any ability to clear the effects of spells. I will get Cloak of Shadows at level 70 that will do that however, but unfortunately I don’t have anything of the kind on the Druid. On the Rogue I can vanish if things get dicey and I don’t have any spell effects, or damage effects that cause DOTs. Don’t have that on the Druid—once I’m committed to the fight and emerge from stealth I’m there until I’m out of combat or can run off far enough to pop shadowmeld. That’s not really vanish, but it’s close enough I guess. Taken all together it’s very close but I think the Druid eeks out the point on all this.

In PVE questing both the Druid and the Rogue perform adequately in comparison to one another. I’m leveling as combat on the Rogue, so I probably take a little more damage than I would in a dagger build using stuns, but I’m much better at handling adds. I’ll usually Cheap Shot > SnD (1cp) > SS > SS > SS > Evis or KP depending on the health of the mob. Either way it’s usually dead by the time Evis finishes or before the stun from KP is up. If I come up on mobs that are close together I’ll sap one (if possible) and kill the other. Then kill the first. If I can’t sap one I’ll CS one then burn evasion, Blade Flurry and Adrenalin Rush in order to burn them both down before Evasion is up. I’ve found this all works very well but I take damage and it accumulates as I go along until after a few fights I usually have to sit and eat, unless the mobs are a couple levels below me. Energy regen isn’t a problem because of talents. I regen energy 25% faster and currently have two talents that give me a chance to return 25 energy on finishing moves and another than gives me a chance to return 15 energy, so generally I’m able to keep high DPS, but can burst extra DPS when I get either of those procs.

I was able to run Ramparts and Blood Furnace a few times on Saturday and found I lag a bit behind others on the current AOE capability but also on single target mobs because most of my attacks are white hits. I’ll get a couple SS off and maybe an Evis before the mob dies. On groups where my Blade Flurry and AR is up I’ll burn those for some extra DPS. On single target bosses I use AR/BF with ruptures and evis for good DPS.

By comparison Feral Druids have no talents that affect energy regeneration, other than Tigers Fury which, if taken, gives you an ability to use the ability on a one minute cool down to return nearly a full energy bar. So it’s something that you normally want to use when your energy is close to zero, and requires the use of a global cool down. Generally I have to space out my attacks a bit more than I do on the Rogue but they tend to hit harder than my Rogues attacks do. When I attack a mob I’ll usually open with Pounce > Shred > Mangle > Mangle or Rip > FB. The mob, I think, lasts about the same between the cat and the Rogue.

Where things really tend to differ is in an instance setting. In comparison to the Rogue, as a cat I’m not greatly affected by haste, so I have no SnD ability to manage. What cats have is Savage Roar, which increases damage by 30% but consumes CPs like SnD does. In a multi-mob fight I’ll usually just mangle > SR (1cp) then either stay single target by applying Rip > Shred to 3-4 CPs then Rake or FB depending on the health of the mob. Or I’ll just try to AOE by Swip > Swipe > TF > Swipe > Swipe …. Energy regen and single target the rest of the way. Most of which will be spent in white hits. It sucks. If the mobs are doing AOE damage (physical) on the Rogue I’d hit Evasion to avoid it as best I can but in cat I only have barkskin to reduce the amount of damage I’ll have to take. Or I can get away from the mobs.

All together I have to give the point to the Rogue. Clearly better in an AOE environment, better damage avoidance, and the energy regeneration mechanic I think has advantages and is more predictable over the feral mechanic. I guess the trade off for that is the inconvenience of downtime while questing.

As I was thinking through some of this yesterday I still couldn’t really get myself to commit fully one way or the other. So there are evidently other issues and thoughts which are percolating around in the recesses that simply need to come to the surface at some point.

In the mean time I guess I’ll continue to level my Rogue and try to work through the rotation/priorities on the Druid. And continue to look in utter amazement at those people I know who have been playing the same class for four years.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Land of the Dead

Got an email from Mythic today regarding the new Land of the Dead expansion. One of the links was to this trailer which I found interesting, but when I was watching it the first thought that came to mind was "the Mummy came to WAR?". :)

Blizzcon livestream orders now available

I've been waiting for this to become available and it's finally here. Finalized my order first thing this morning, so I only have to wait for my Grunt now. Oh, and for all of the events that will happen during Blizzcon too :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Death Knight Q & A

I didn't bother to post about the Mage Q & A because it was so lackluster to have been a virtual waste of time to even read. The Death Knight Q & A thread was slightly better, but not much so. Read it if you feel you have some time to waste, but don't expect to learn any tid bits about where the DK class is going to be going.

Except this part:
If death knights continue to be good at PvP even after some of the defensive nerfs, we’d likely look at say Chains of Ice, the interrupts or the amount of non-physical damage they can do.
yeah, SCREW YOU BLIZZARD! No more Bullshit about balance. No more crap about making sure classes are "right". Just taken that god damn abortion of a fucking arena out of the fucking game!

Rogue update

My little Rogue hit level 54 last night, so I’m close to heading into the Outlands where I expect things will pick up even more than they have over the last week or so for him. I’d most likely already have been in and through the Outlands if it weren’t for the still horrible quests in vanilla WoW. I won’t beat that horse much more, so let’s just skip forward to what I am beginning to see as the strengths and weaknesses of the class. First what I really like is the strong DPS capability of the class. And keep in mind my Rogue is still very young and I have yet to see any of the real content of the game with him. So anything I say will be pertinent to vanilla WoW content only. That being said the Rogue is still one of the better classes I’ve yet played with a good ability to keep DPS up even in a mobile fight.

The class has several abilities for taking on groups of two or more mobs, from sapping an extra before a fight, to blind which gives a short duration “stun” to an add, to blade flurry if you are leveling as Combat. Blade Flurry requires X talent points, so it’s not something that is immediately available but does come in very handy when you do. Especially with adrenalin rush. I’ve burned down three mobs at a time with Adrenalin Rush/Blade Flurry in the same time it’s taken me to burn down one mob with a complete action bar and little if any health missing from my health bar. When I did run into trouble, getting out of it was usually a simple vanish away. Strong DPS with multiple means of controlling adds, and an ability to disengage from any fight that begins to head south. Win, win.

Where I think the class is somewhat weak is against casters and dots specifically. When taking on casters in a 1v1 encounter its trivial for the Rogue to control that mob so that either no casting, or very little casting occurs. But against a caster add the only thing you can really do is blind, gouge, or vanish. If you have been dot’ed then vanish isn’t an option as you have no means to clear dots for several more levels. Of course that is also the case with other classes, like Warriors for instance so I don’t mean to say it’s a class issue. It’s more of an issue introduced across many classes when Blizzard designed them, but in the case of the Rogue at least you will normally have a lower level of health than a Warrior and so are somewhat more susceptible to these kinds of situations. I’ve preferred hybrid classes previously because I really like to be able to heal, not to mention the utility of those classes. And I’ve run into certain situations, like the one I just explained where I miss that ability to heal. No ability to heal or low survivability in situations where you’re left facing multiple casters is something I think Blizzard should probably think about a little more.

As with melee classes in general, the Rogue class is fairly gear dependent. Perhaps not as gear dependent as some though. Even with many pieces of gear that are severely out of date still being worn I have few issues with completing quests or grinding on mobs, which still falls in line with previous classes I’ve leveled up like my Druid, and the Paladin. I am wearing the heirloom PVP shoulders and have the heirloom badge dagger, but everything else is quest reward or something purchased off the AH. Speaking of the AH, some people are completely insane for listing mid-levels greens for 30+ gold, and that is the reason why so many of my pieces are 10-20 levels out of date. Sorry, but I’m not spending that kind of gold every 5 levels to keep him updated. It’s really too bad the new heirloom chest items aren’t out yet because that would be one less item to worry about. I’ve found that weapons are simply more important than armor, so I’ve made an effort to keep my main-hand weapon updated within a few levels of myself.

I still occasionally have to sit and eat, but I think that is probably more to do with the Rogue being a little under-powered because of the gear situation than anything else. Despite those occurrences being on the fewer side of things, I still find myself missing an ability to heal and have passed more than one casual thought on the topic of “wouldn’t it be great if Rogues had an ability to proc small heals like Feral Druids and Death Knights?” I know Rogues (or anyone else for that matter) could use life-stealing, but I found the heals from life-stealing to be so inconsequential that I removed the enchant by putting another fiery on the weapon instead. A self-healing ability similar to what Feral Druids have would be just what the doctored ordered, though I do admit it might be considered over-powered by some.

So if I find even the small amount of downtime I’ve encountered thus far on the annoying side, why am I considering playing the Rogue further? I like Stealth. I like burst DPS. I have that with my Feral Druid as well, plus the ability to heal but I found raiding as Feral to be less than ideal. The rotations are complicated to say the least and I just don’t think I’d be happy with it, though I find PVP and questing great with it. I’m really looking for a class that I can be happy with—PVPing, questing, running instances and doing some ad-hoc raiding on. If it weren’t for the complicated nature of feral DPS I’d simply stick to my Druid. Well, I’d still wish they’d give feral a vanish ability, but outside of that it’s all about the DPS.

I have yet to do any PVP with the Rogue but I already know I can’t heal. Once I hit 70 I’ll have Cloak of Shadows which I can use to clear dots and steal myself against casters but I think I’m going to miss the healing in PVP. Which of course means I’m going to have to be a little more selective in the battles I fight in than I normally am. Where I know I’m going to enjoy the Rogue is in Raiding. Mobile, strong burst DPS, great AOE DPS at 80….. what isn’t to like there?

Honestly I don’t think I’ll be able to stick with just two classes. I think I can feel that already. My DK will remain my “main” but I’ll probably be playing my Druid and the Rogue in that secondary role though I don’t anticipate chasing achievements with either of them like I have been with my DK.

Is the Midsummer Festival emblematic of a deeper problem?

Anyone playing WoW currently knows the Midsummer festival world event is in high gear. It started ostensibly started on Sunday, but anyone that completed portions of it last year was unable to participate in it this year due to a bug that didn’t reset any of the quests for those users. You can imagine the haranguing Blizzard took over the embarrassing issue on the official forums. And I suspected late Sunday night that it wasn’t going to be something Blizzard took a great deal of time to fix. I was not disappointed to learn that Blizzard had indeed fixed the issue by the rolling restarts of the realms Tuesday morning.

What I was surprised to learn when I was running around honoring and desecrating the fires throughout Azeroth, Outlands, and Northrend however, was that something is not right in beantown. Harken back to May during Children’s week when we learned Blizzard hadn’t updated the world event to include Northrend. Children’s week remained exactly as it was in 2008, though now we are told to expect Children’s week (again) to finally come to Northrend in path 3.2. The Midsummer Festival is exactly the same—it too wasn’t updated from 2008 so level 80’s are asked to travel back to Zangarmarsh in Outland to kill level 70 Ahune in SP. Characters that are not yet 70 have the option of killing a Lieutenant in a cave in the Burning Steppes instead. One would have expected Ahune to move to Northrend, or perhaps another creature to rear his head there with level 80 gear. Unfortunately that isn’t the case, but another strange occurrence is evident as well, and that is there are fires in Northrend to honor/desecrate but no quest or achievement associated with them. It has every appearance that work was begun on updating the world event to include the new expansion but wasn’t finished in time. Strike 2.

There have been grumblings on the official forums for the past few months questioning why Blizzard hasn’t been able to accomplish more in the game than they are. And a lot of complaining and questions about the very annoying inability to launch more instances problem that plagues nearly everyone on every server every day. Blizzard of course has put the best spin on things as they can, but it appears to me at least that Blizzard might be stretched a bit too thin on the WoW development side these days. When a company that is renowned for it’s relative polish and not shipping games or content before they are ready, to now have two back to back events in their current condition it should make one wonder what is going on.

We know that several senior developers have transitioned from WoW to the as yet un-named MMO Blizzard is currently developing. We don’t know how many developers have transitioned with them. We don’t know how many developers are still working on WoW as compared to say, this time last year. Did Blizzard perhaps move too many people to the new MMO or the next WoW expansion team? I wonder.

I’ve said this many times in the past, and I’ll undoubtedly say it again in the future. There will come a day when WoW is supplanted as the leading game in the market. But that time is not today. And it’s not likely to be tomorrow either. Every new major MMO that has been released in the past two years has been touted as the WoW killer, and every prognostication has turned out to be untrue. At this point it would take a truly tremendous game to supplant WoW, along with a healthy dose of WoW’s current players to be truly dejected by WoW. Sorry folks, I just don’t see that right now. But that doesn’t mean Blizzard should become complacent. Blizzard needs to operate as they did in the early days of WoW’s release back in 2004 and 2005 where they were the contender. They need to keep their eye on the ball and not allow upcoming products to distract from supporting their bread and butter.

More on Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacob's departure from Mythic continues to echo around the gaming industry today and bloggers are beginning to comment more than their initial reactions by this point. Tobold and Lum published their takes on Marc Jacob's departure from Mythic this morning.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Marc Jacobs given the sendoff

I think everyone knew that WAR was somewhat of a disappointment, and as head of Mythic's development Marc Jacobs is taking the fall. I'd take this as an indication that subscribers have fallen well below the 300k range they were at earlier in the year. Perhaps Bioware can turn it around, but it doesn't usually work out that way.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rogue is up to bat

After some consideration I decided to give the Rogue a shot. He's now sitting at level 47 so I still have quite a ways to go before he'll be 80, let alone raid worthy but I'm finding the leveling experience to be pleasurable (excluding the quest bracket holes I've mentioned previously). Thus far the downtime I was somewhat worried about hasn't occured though I do have to occasionally sit and eat. Its far enough in between that its hardly noticable thus far so I'm actually looking forward to seeing how much better this experience will get.

Before I got too far into my leveling I did a bit of reading and took the advice from a great many of them in deciding to level as combat. I didn't have enough Emblems of Heroism left to buy both the Dagger and the Sword for him, so I bought the Dagger for his off-hand and have been buying a new main-hand sword every 5-10 levels. My current sword (Bloodrazor) should last me until Outlands when I'll be able to pick up something better fairly quickly. And I've put Firey enchants on both for a little extra DPS boost.

As with the other characters I've recently leveling I'm really looking forward to getting to Outlands where I can do some real analysis of how easy things are against what it was like with my DK. That isn't my intention in this whole exercise of course, but it does give one a sense of perspective when taking part in various conversations about different classes--something I think a lot of people lack.

My goal isn't to replace my Death Knight as my main toon, but to find another class I am truly happy with that I can do things with when I'm not raiding. Its not that I can't do things with my DK like run Heroics or bag achievements, but having another class to putz around on whenever I don't feel like playing the DK is what I'm really looking for. I'd also like to be able to raid with this second character as well, catching the occasional Naax or Ulduar when possible. Unfortunately I just haven't found that second class that I am completely happy with yet, though I'm really hoping I am with the Rogue.

All changes are not created equal

It was a very busy week at Blizzard last week, as they released a flurry of additional information regarding patch 3.2. The earlier information regarding the new mount and travel form requirements, new heirloom items, and the earning of XP in battleground was very encouraging. But many of the additional details that were released late in the week were surprising to say the least.

Wintergrasp changes:

* To provide players with a more transparent notification of when Wintergrasp battles occur, as well as better control zone population and stability, several changes have been made.
* Players now have the option to queue for Wintergrasp from a Wintergrasp Battlemaster in any capital city or by simply entering the Wintergrasp zone.
* Queuing will begin 15 minutes before each battle. If chosen, you will automatically be teleported to the zone. Any players in the zone who have not been chosen from the queue will be teleported out when the battle begins.
* The queue system remains active for the entire battle. As soon as a player leaves, a new one will be chosen from the queue.
* Trying to enter Wintergrasp during an active battle for which you have not been chosen will teleport you out. Please note that, as you are now able to fly over Wintergrasp, you will only be teleported out if you try to land and join the battle.
* Level 80 players get higher priority in the queue than lower level players. In addition, a random selection of queued players will be taken from both the Battlemasters and the zone itself.
* The queue will accept up to 100 players from each faction, resulting in a maximum battle of 200 players at a time.

It appears Blizzard has finally given up completely on the ideal of having truly open PVP and I find this very disappointing. Despite the earlier changes that resulted in the daily Wintergrasp quests becoming weekly there were apparently continuing concerns that Blizzard felt could only be addressed by these announced changes. I never thought the previous changes would “fix” all the problems people were experiencing and reporting in Wintergrasp, but I have witnessed much better lag in Wintergrasp over the past few weeks which anecdotally indicate fewer people in Wintergrasp than previously. So Blizzard’s plan to now create a pseudo-instance of the entire zone during battles, and randomly choose who gets to participate in the battles is somewhat surprising to me. At least on my realm I don’t believe there are more than 100 people from either faction that participate in any given battle, so the change really won’t change much. Unless Wintergrasp becomes more popular that is.

All in all I still believe that Blizzard would be better served by addressing the issues with the older battlegrounds that make them somewhat less appealing than Wintergrasp. Wintergrasp is obviously very popular, not only for the Wintergrasp tokens and stone keepers shards, but also for the immediate access to the Vault. The honor I normally get for a match, excluding honor from the now weekly quests is around 900-1000 honor so it still gives better honor than some older battlegrounds, but usually less than I get in the average AV or EotS. Obviously fewer people are playing in a given battle judging from the current lag (or lack of), so what is driving these current changes?

DK nerfs:

* Blood Strike now gets 50% of its total damamage increased for each of your diseases on the target. (Up from 12.5%)
* Dancing Rune Weapon now lasts 12 sec and costs 60 Runic Power. (Up from 40 Runic Power)
* Veteran of the Third War now increases your total Strength by 2/4/6% and Stamina by 1/2/3%.
* Scent of Blood 10 sec cooldown has been removed.

* Frost Strike now causes 55% weapon damage (down from 60%) plus 110.55 (down from 120.6) at max rank. It can now be dodged/blocked/parried.
* Icebound fortitude cooldown has been increased from 1 min to 2 min.
* Chaisn of Ice now reduces the target movement speed by 95%. (Down from 100%)
* Frost Presence now increases Stamina by 6% instead of total health by 10%.
* Blood of the North changed from 5 to 3 ranks. Now increases Blood Strike and Frost Strike damage by 3/6/10% and gives a 30/60/100% chance that the Blood Rune will become a Death Rune whenever you hit with Blood Strike or Pestilence.
* Lichborne now lasts 10 sec (down from 15 sec). Cooldown reduced from 3 min to 2 min.
* Toughness now increases your armor value from items by 2/4/6/8/10%. (down from 3/6/9/12/15%)
* Threat of Thassarian (New Talent, Tier 8 ) - When dual-wielding, your Death Strikes, Obliterates, Plague Strikes, Blood Strikes and Frost Strikes have a 30/60/100% chance to also deal damage with your off-hand weapon.

* Scourge Strike now deals 40% of weapon damage (down from 45%) plus 317.5 (down from 357.2) at max rank. Total damage increased by 10% (down from 11%) per each of your diseases on the target.
* Desecration has been reduced from Tier 7 to Tier 6 and reduced from 5 to 2 ranks. Now slows the target in the area by 25/50% and no longer increases damage.
* Unholy Blight now Causes the victims of your Death Coil to be surrounded by a vile swarm of unholy insects, taking 30% of the damage done by the Death Coil over 10 sec.
* Desolation (New Talent) - Your Blood Strikes cause you to deal 1/2/3/4/5% additional damage with all attacks for the next 20 sec.
Of all the currently announced changes in the upcoming patch, these are perhaps the most egregious to me. Yet another round of DK nerfs are inbound, with many of them directly attributable to Arena play. Some of them are fairly serious. I have yet to tank on my DK so I can’t speak with appreciable knowledge regarding the nerfs to IBF but I can speak to the changes to Desecration and Unholy Blight. The nerf to Desecration is one of the changes attributable to Arena whining and is just another example of how Arena play has impacted negatively the PVE game play of players who don’t Arena. In some instances the slowing effect of Desecration was nice when helping a kiter on mob fights, but the part I’m seriously going to miss about it is the 25% strength increase. That’s equates to a a direct DPS nerf. Combined with the change to Unholy Blight, which is being changed from an AOE damage ability to a single target dot (30% damage from a Death Coil over x seconds) will impact overall DPS on trash (don’t say it doesn’t matter) to an unknown quantity on single target fights.

The Unholy Blight change is being characterized as a means to “clean up” rotations, but I think it’s actually part of a larger attempt to make Blood more attractive. Blizzard has stated on a couple of previous conversations that they wanted to do that so take together with the buffs to Bloodstrike I think this is one attempt they are using to help that along. Unholy Blight can add up to anywhere from 10-14% of my overall damage on a group of mobs so it will definitely hurt me there, but it also forms a fairly constant and consistent amount of damage on bosses. What I don’t know is how much, if any the change, will ultimately add up to on boss fights. If a particular Death Coil hits a boss for 2k damage, the dot from Unholy Blight would add up to 600 damage over 10 seconds. Considering Unholy Blight would normally tick at anywhere from 200-600 or so per second previously this seems like another DPS nerf. If my thoughts hold true it might lead me to invest those points elsewhere instead so I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the PTR for more information

I guess what really irks me is the larger context which all of this is being done. These changes are just the latest in a string of other changes since WotLK was released. A lot of which seem to be in answer to very loud and vocal complaints on the official forums. While Blizzard has said they do not make changes based on forum posts, I am extremely skeptical of it. Constant negative feedback from forum posters being relayed to developers would probably change attitudes and assumptions over time. That’s just normal and I believe that is exactly what we’re seeing from Blizzard now and previously. And not just with the DK class either. Case in point is the incoming nerf to Frost Strike. I don’t see too many NPCs complaining about Frost Strike or Unholy Blight, or Desecration but see plenty of players complaining about them on the forum every day. And where are they seeing these abilities, but in the Arena?

It doesn’t help matters that the vast majority of those complaining on the forum haven’t the foggiest idea what they’re talking about either. Most of them are simple lemmings that are allowing their opinions to be swayed by other unknowledgeable players. They’re simply piling on and adding to the mess. We’ve seen it all before many times with Warlocks, Rogues, Warriors, Paladins, and others as well. When will people learn to study something before they spout off? When will people think for themselves and learn to think critically? Perhaps too much to ask from today’s culture.

Druid nerfs:
Only slightly less egregious than the DK changes, the Druid changes are outrageous. Especially because Blizzard came out and listed representation in Arenas as the leading factor in much of this. If you haven’t heard by now staple abilities of Resto druids like Innervate and Lifebloom are being changed. Why? Because they are too powerful in Arena play. Not in raiding, but Arena play. The spell coefficient and final bloom amount of Lifebloom are being changed negatively but the mana cost is remaining the same, meaning of course mana conservation in raiding will become a much bigger deal than it already is for Resto raiders. Added to this of course is the 20% nerf that is incoming for Replenishment. We were talking about it in raid last night and the healers are despondent over the changes. Can’t say I blame them.

Outside the Resto nerfs there are also a number of Feral nerfs. Apparently Cat DPS is too high, but lets be honest about this. Cat rotations are the most complicated of any class currently out there. The people that are driving these changes are the crème of the crop with the absolute best gear available. Average players can’t achieve those lofty numbers and the nerfs will ultimately affect them the most. It’s another example of unfair and backward development that I simply can’t understand.

Mana regen nerfs
Mentioned previously, but Blizzard believes that mana regen is still too trivial. I’ve spoken to Mage friends who say that the previous mana regen nerfs were completely uneffective, that they can still spam their attacks with no mana worries what so ever. Same goes for Hunters, Shadow Priests and others. But if you talk to a lot of healers this simply isn’t the case. Blizzard wants to make it so that Mana becomes an actual concern to them? They want overhealing to be a concern to them? Perhaps Blizzard hasn’t noticed but their stock UI sucks and there is no mechanism for healers to know overhealing is happening without mods. And the amount of damage that is typical of boss fights these days really doesn’t give healers enough time to worry about such things to begin with. On many boss fights they are constantly spamming their healing abilities on set targets and any hesitation on their part can and does result in wipes. Under that kind of environment what is Blizzard doing by trying to make it more complicated?

Healing is already the most difficult and strenuous part of raiding. Blizzard shouldn’t be making it even more difficult because doing that is definitely going to have a negative impact on raiding overall.

Emblem changes:
A lot of people are in favor of the announced changes to Emblems, but after some thought I have to land on the “not” part of the question. WotLK is only 7 months old and Blizzard already wants to streamline progression so that you can skip Naax and Ulduar and step immediately into the new upcoming raid?

If you don’t know what I am referring to let me elaborate. Blizzard is currently planning to phase out Emblems of Heroism and Emblems of Valor and replace them with Emblems of Conquest which currently drop in Ulduar-25, Ulduar-10 hard mode fights, and in VoA-25. Emblems of conquest would drop from every raid boss up to and including Argent Arena-10. Not only that, but also from every boss in Heroics as well. Which means that people can easily earn enough Emblems of Conquest to outfit their characters in 2 pieces of Tier 8.5 without ever having stepped foot in Ulduar-25 or VoA-25. It also means they could gear their characters in 4-piece tier 7.5 if they so chose.

It changes the dynamic of raiding in a fairly serious way and obviates months of progression raiding for a lot of people. In BC progression was linear from Kara to Gruuls/Mags to SSC/TK to MtH/BT. Later when Blizzard added ZA progression was changed somewhat to add ZA around the Gruul/Mags difficulty. No one questioned how raiding was expected to be done but Blizzard seems to be throwing the old linear pathways out on its head. Apparently they want people to immediately set into Heroics at 80 (already done to some extent) and then after a short stint there head strait into Ulduar-25 or the new Tier 9 raid. I don’t see the point of that because ultimately it leads to a bad place for the game. Boredom.

I think people simply want something to occupy their time. Ignoring the truly hardcore raiding guilds that tear through content (after rehearsing it on the PTR) and then openly complain that it was too easy, most people take weeks and months to completely clear a raid dungeon and put it on farm. Few guilds on most realms have completely cleared Ulduar at this point, let alone done any of the hard modes, so it seems to me to be better to allow people to progress through the current progression path and allow them to enter the upcoming raid dungeon when they are truly ready. Giving people a shortcut will either lead to boredom or tear people apart because they’re attempting to raid content they really aren’t prepared for.

As has been the case in the past there is a chance that not everything currently slated will come to pass, and of course there will be additional changes announced in the coming weeks. I’ll keep an eye out and comment when new information becomes available. In the interim I’m a little less excited about the patch than I was previously.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

XP in BGs

We finally found out and I am optimistically hopeful that this turns out to be a boon for players like myself that have been clamoring for Blizzard to do this ever since WAR hit the streets.

War is an experience that few would choose to have in their lifetimes, and yet, in Azeroth, it is the way of the world as the Horde and Alliance continue to struggle against each other even as more imminent dangers split their focus. It is this experience that forges the novice into the hardened veteran and drives them onward to fame and glory. In Call of the Crusade, the opportunity to gain experience through war will become a reality.

With the upcoming content patch, players will be able to gain experience within the Battlegrounds for completing objectives and actions that yield honor in them. These objectives include (but are not limited to) capturing flags in Warsong Gulch, gaining resources in Eye of the Storm or Arathi Basin, or taking objectives in Alterac Valley. Player level will also affect the amount of experience that can be gained within the battleground.

For those that would like to opt out of gaining experience while in the battleground, you will be able to visit Behsten in Stormwind or Slahtz in Orgrimmar – both located near the battlemasters in either city – and turn off all experience accumulation for the cost of 10 gold. Players with experience gains turned off who compete in Battlegrounds will face off only against other players with experience gains turned off. Behsten and Slahtz can reinstate experience gains for players, for a 10 gold fee of course. Any experience that would’ve been accumulated if experience gains were not turned off cannot be recovered.

Find out more on Battleground Plans here-
The Future of Battlegrounds - Q&A with Cory Stockton: http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/info/underdev/battleground-qna.html
This sounds fantastic on the face of it, but with most things the devil will always be in the details. How much XP will we get for each of those objectives? Why not grant XP for each kill? Will everyone get XP for objectives, or only the person that actually accomplished them as some achievements require?

XP via Battlegrounds was the one aspect of WAR that I absolutely liked and I'm encouraged by the fact that Blizzard is finally implementing this too. Ensuring that an adequate amount of XP is earned for each objective, and for participating in PVP will be essential to ensuring this is as popular in WoW as it is in WAR.

Have you noticed?

Have you noticed that Blizzard is introducing a lot of "casual" content in the next patch? Not just that, but they're introducing game changes to mounts, most of the professions, some class changes, new heirlooms that stack with the heirloom shoulder's +10% xp bonus and a host of other things that seem to address a lot of the complaints that have been percolating for the past several months?

Players wanted easier leveling, or more accurately had been petitioning Blizzard to enable starting of all new characters at level 55 as is the case with Death Knights. What did Blizzard do instead? They created new heirloom items, of which the chest pieces will also have the +10% bonus to XP. And that bonus will stack with the shoulders bonus for a total of +20%. That doesn't fix in any way the big holes in quest brackets in vanilla WoW but it will help get you through them a little faster. And will have a much bigger impact in those brackets where there aren't any holes.

Blizzard also is making changes to the mount system (also) which casual players should find very appealing. I have to admit that since I'm an alt-a-holic I like this change quite a bit too. Lord knows that the travel required for questing beginning around level 30 in vanilla WoW is really absurd so I was very happy when Blizzard reduced the level requirement for mounts to level 30 in Burning Crusade. Lowering it to level 20, and then making flying mounts available at level 60 will just make things all the better. Best of all they finally made the non-epic flying mount 150%, and increase from the abysmally slow 60% flight speed it has been up until this point. That alone is something to look forward to, even if nothing else were to be changed in 3.2.

One has to wonder why all of these changes are being made now however. Calls for fixing the leveling problem have been going on for months, and people have been complaining about the ridiculously slow non-epic flying mount since Burning Crusade. Why all of a sudden is Blizzard making these changes now when they had refused to do so previously?

Could it be that anecdotal evidence indicating WoW has been losing players are closer to the truth than we'd thought? Because we all know the greatest impetus to make a company like Blizzard make changes to a game like WoW than the community has been requesting is the bottom line. A few months back Blizzard announced they still had around 11.5 million subscribers, but I wonder what that figure is now. Perhaps I'm simply reading too much into all this, but I have a very hard time believing that Blizzard is giving us all this out of the goodness of their hearts.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Whats a poor alt-a-holic to do?

I've found myself avoiding raids lately or hoping that they might end early. You see my guild that I joined in April when I returned to WoW has had a very difficult time progressing in Ulduar-25. At first we seemed to be doing fairly well but guilds that were weeks behind us have now passed us by and we're moribund at 8/13. We endure many wipes on progression nights and the confidence I had in the raid group has all but disappeared. Most fights I'm simply too busy fighting to really notice who are the people having the worst problems, but I certainly notice the results. We'll either lose people early in the fight and have too little DPS to finish the boss off, or casters/ranged/healers will get killed and then you'll start to see the melee die. Whatever the problems are I've become very frustrated and that is really where my alt-a-holism got its claws back into me. Reconstituting raid teams during the Summer Doldrums does not always go smoothly.

I gave up on my Elemental Shaman after a brief stint PVPing where I quickly relearned why I stopped PVPing on him months ago. Not to mention Elemental Shaman have no true AOE capabilities and are too tethered to totems and their mechanics to my liking. Then a few weeks back I finished leveling my Paladin that had been idled around level 45 and found that I ultimately disliked the bursty, cooldown driven nature of the DPS and didn't like the static nature of paladin healing. I then started looking at my Druid again and finished leveling him but found I really don't like the complicated nature of Cat DPS now in raiding circumstances, though I love Resto and think Tanking is just fine. I'll most likely continue playing my Druid as Feral tank/Resto, but I still feel restless. I like DPS the most and want something to do.

So Paladin is out. Shaman is out. Where's that leave me? I have a 70 Warlock, a 28 Rogue, 24 Warrior and a baby Mage to choose from as well. I doubt seriously I'm willing to level the Mage after the horrible experience I had with the first few levels. Blizzard killed baby casters with the mana regen nerf a few patches ago. Basically kill something and sit and regen for 30-60 seconds. I have a 70 Mage on another server and he wasn't half as hard to level as this new Mage is. Yeah, no thanks Blizzard.

The Warrior and Rogue are certainly options. I have a 60 Warrior on another server and used to raid with him back in Vanilla WoW and have a 70 Rogue on another server as well. So I'm familiar with these two classes to some extent. One thing that concerns me with leveling pure DPS classes over a hybrid class is the possible downtime required between fights due to damage taken and the inability to heal it. I hate downtime, which is one of the reasons why I love hybrid classes so much. At least Warriors have something of a self-healing ability in the Fury tree with Bloodthirst, but Rogues have none that I am aware of. Rogues have stuns to avoid damage, yet every reputable source available tells you to level as Combat which doesn't really rely on stuns.

The Warlock is a another option though I dropped him back in the waning days of BC for my Shaman because I grew disheartened with the class. I might decide to revisit the class yet I'm just not feeling terribly excited about it for some reason.

Give me a class that wears plate, can stealth and has terrific AOE capability and we'd be in business! Now that I think about it, Blizzard just give DKs vanish and stealth and we'll call it a day!

What I would like to see for Druids

I had mentioned I had decided to level my Druid. BTW, I hit 80 on Saturday and had been running BGs like mad all weekend long to get some PVP pieces. I really missed my Druid, but only someone who plays with me and has known me a while would truly understand the depth to which I love this class. Just take it on faith that During Vanilla WoW and BC I lived, ate, and breathed Druid. Anyway, I really missed it and finally got back around to playing him again. I knew that there were some serious changes to the class in WotLK but hadn't really understood just how complicated some of those changes could be, or how lacking some of the Druids abilities still are.

The short of of it this: Resto Druids are fantastic. They are great healers with extreme mobility and several "oh shit" abilities. Don't change a thing. Bears are in a good place as far as I can tell, and are still terrific tanks. I haven't plumbed the depth of every boss fight on my poorly geared Druid yet, but I think the core of the tank capabilities are there and are fine. I'll see and I'm sure, say more about Feral tanks as I get into more difficult content. Cat DPS is too complicated however. And I think it needs to be relooked at.

Yesterday I ran several Heroics and ran a Naax-10 though, and got a very good opportunity to see that I just don't have a handle on Cat DPS yet. Think Affliction Warlock melded with Rogue. Cat DPS is all about keeping bleeds on the target, plus conducting large direct damage attacks (Shreds known in Rogue lingo as Backstabs) that have a directional requirement to them, all the while keeping a short term buff up on yourself (Savage Roar) and when possible using those combo points on another bleed instead of on Savage Roar. Like I said, its complicated and it relies on energy just like a Rogue's abilities do which makes it even more complicated considering that energy regenerates at a set pace. All too slowly when you are trying to burn down a boss.

It's too complicated for average people I think, and for me who hasn't touched my Druid in seven months, I'm still used to the pre-WotLK abilities so it's very strange. While leveling you usually don't delve into much more than Mangle > Rip > Mangle > FB so you aren't really exposed to all this. And since the instances I ran from 70 to 80 I did as resto (which I still love BTW), I missed out on those indicators. Another aspect that I definitely think needs to be relooked at is Swipe. I like how Blizz gave Cats an AOE capability, but Swipe takes a huge amount of energy so you can really only get a few AOE attacks off on any given group of mobs whereas Rogues can spam Fan of Knives till the cows come home. Personally I think cat Swipe should act very much like Fan of Knives and should return energy based on the amount of targets it hits thereby bringing it on par with FoK. That would go a long way to increasing viability on all the trash mobs in between Bosses.

None of this is to say that Cat DPS isn't great, because it is. It's very noticeably better than in BC and I have absolutely no problems with it in PVE outside instances and raiding where I think the mechanics need some rework.

Bear tanking still feels very familiar however. I tanked several bosses in Naax-10 last night and did pretty much what I did in Kara, Gruuls/Mags, SSC and TK. One big difference now though, that I absolutely love, is the change in bear Swipe. The omni-directional AOE attack is absolutely fantastic. Run into a group or pull them to you with FF and start swiping. Throw in some Mangles and Berserk/Mauls and voila, you have absolutely zero trouble hanging onto an entire group of mobs regardless of what the DPS does. Good times and I honestly can't think of too much I'd like to see changed on the bear side of things, though I admit I've only just tapped into things at this point.

Resto is nearly perfect and doesn't need any changes as far as I can tell. I've healed normal instances, Heroics and Naax now and Resto Druids are in a very good place. What I do wonder is where Blizzard is taking Resto and Bears in the next expansion. How many HOTs does a Resto Druid really need? Rejuv, Regrowth, Wild Growth, Nourish.... Tranquility... Where you going Blizzard?

My 24 hours of optimism is now over

I had been optimistic about the recent Shaman review and had taken some of their answers regarding totem mechanics to mean they really understood where the community wanted the class to go. Well good ol' Ghostcrawler took the opportunity to kick us in the nads yesterday afternoon to make sure we knew who was really in charge. So much for Shaman ever coming on par with the other caster classes.

We've already announced our intention to change some of the totem mechanics.

I will however touch on one thing. If totems have super-gigantic ranges then their position matters a whole lot less (at least in PvE where they are rarely in danger). They become a whole lot more like other types of buffs. When and where you place them is supposed to matter. The design intent of totems is not that they are pretty much irrelevant to playing the class. That's not what the shaman is all about.
Shaman will forever be tied to a location based on their totems limiting mobility and mobile offense. Looks like my Shaman will remain retired. Sigh.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Shaman first to have their answers

I've been busy lately leveling my Druid, so I neglected to comment on this last week when it was posted. But it's just too good to pass up. Especially since a lot of the complaints these answers address are the prime reason I stopped playing on my Shaman. This is the first in an expected series of long question and answer posts from Blizzard for every class. WoWInsider was nice enough to post an analysis of the official Blizzard response here and here.

Reading through the official post, you can see that Blizzard is putting a lot of effort into figuring out where the real problems with the class lay. And I think they understand that the lack of mobility is a primary problem with the class. Especially in PVP where the totem mechanic is simply too limiting, so I'm optimistic in regards to what Blizzard will ultimately do with the totems over the long term. I think they're on the right track with their current thinking and should pursue making totems into specific short term spells instead of the buffs they give now. And should instead give Shaman group buffs like other casting classes.

Totems are not the only problem in regard to PVP however. Being tethered to a small area around your totems is bad, but the larger problem with Shaman PVP is having to remain still for relatively long periods of time to cast a series of spells is worse. That immobility makes Shaman easy targets. And the lack of any ability to disengage from attackers when every other casting class has one simply means that once someone sets their eyes on you you're good as dead. To address these issues Blizzard should give Thunderstorm a short duration stun or daze and should introduce at least one instant cast attack that Shaman can use while on the run. Shocks would work without the cooldown on them currently.

PVE raiding is in a much better position, but there are some areas that need to be addressed to. Again, the totem mechanic is limiting but the lack of any true AOE is a bigger problem for those that play the class. Right now the only AOE capability is through the Magma or Fire Nova totems. Both of which require the Shaman to run forward with the melee and drop in the groups. Since both totems are relatively short lived it could mean having to do this more than once as well, putting the Shaman in possible danger from whirlwinds or what have you. It also means that while running to the mobs you aren't DPSing. Fights that require movement are simply not feasible for Shaman AOE right now.

Fix the current totem mechanic, give Shaman greater survivability in PVP and give them a true AOE capability and they'll be in a much better position in my opinion.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

So, how does a Trooper hold his own against a Sith?

In Bioware's latest developer blog installment, they discuss the Trooper class. That question struck me as rather humorous, though it wasn't meant to be. The answer of course is to bring a lot of friends! "Happiness is a warm gun" indeed, so I would expect to see most people who do not play Jedi or Sith, to be walking around as troopers. Better make them compelling Bioware.

Yes I'm an alt-a-holic

Always have been, and most likely, always will be. I have reformed slightly since the release of WotLK, but I can start to feel the desire creeping back into me to play more and more classes again. In Vanilla WoW my very first character was a Paladin, which I hated and ended up only playing into the 20's. I switched to a Warlock, who I also only played into the 20's when I finally rolled a Hunter. I played the Hunter pretty much as my main until the mid-50's when I had to go away on a trip for about 3 months. When I got back I found my wife had switched servers (we had been playing on Eredar, a PVP server and she switched to Shadowsong, a PVE server) on me. Since we had been playing together I followed her to the new server and rolled a Warrior. On-demand server transfers were in planning, but hadn't been implemented yet, so my poor hunter sat idle on the old server while I power leveled the Warrior to 60 and started raiding MC and ZG with him. But very quickly I found out that raids didn't want me as Fury, even though I was near the top of the DPS meters every run. I was expected to respec into Protection, and I hated it. Within a short time I idled the Warrior and rolled my Druid.

Even though the guild wasn't all that happy about it I never looked back. Within a matter of weeks my wife and I decided to go through another server transfer, this time landing in Kargath, an east coast PVE server. It wasn't that we were unhappy on Shadowsong, but the time difference between us (East Coast) and Shadowsong (mid-western) was just enough to cause evening raiding problems for us. In any event we transferred and quickly found invites to a relatively new guild that was just starting to raid Karazan. I Was Feral and over a matter of a few weeks established myself as one of the better tanks in the guild. Eventually I became the main tank, and filled in as the OT on those fights that clearly didn't appreciate feral tankage.

Despite loving my Druid, I still had wanderlust running throughout me. I continued to raid on my Druid but ended up rolling a Shaman, Mage and Warlock alts, whom I leveled to 70 and raided with. And I rolled Rogue that I leveled to 70 and battle grounded with. With the WotLK expansion I was determined to be a little more disciplined in my approach to the game. I decided I was going to have two characters and that was it. Once of which obviously became the Death Knight you've seen me blog about repeatedly, and the other there for a while was my Shaman. I wanted a melee and a caster and I really liked the Shaman. Unfortunately raiding as an Elemental Shaman just doesn't excite me all that much and I more or less idled him.

That's when the vestiges of wanderlust started to set in again. I wanted a healer. I had my Druid, whom, I had switched to Resto when we transitioned to in SSC/TK and healed with all the way up through Black Temple. But I was non-committal about leveling him for some reason and allowed a couple guild mates to convince me into trying the Paladin. Like the class, but hate the healing style. Sorry that it took me leveling him to 80 to figure that out, but at least I have an inscriptionist now. I've since hopping back on my Druid and dual-specced him Feral/Resto. Gather two sets of gear while leveling is a bit of a drag, but I get more group invites than I can shake a stick at these days. Of course they want me for my healing, which I'm more than willing to do. Besides I truly like the Druid healing style. I love the mobility and the ability to keep heals running on characters despite stuns or silence effects.

I've decided to finish leveling him to 80 and resume my raiding and battleground habits on him as Resto. But raiding with him will be in alt groups. My Death Knight will remain my main for raiding and achievement purposes. Despite having said all that I'm still dallying with my Rogue and a new alt Warrior. And I've been putzing around with my Warlock lately as well. Nothing serious on these, but I recognize the signs of my boredom when I start to think anything but fleeting thoughts of my various alts.

Achievements just aren't enough. Once you get to level 80 there'll be a period of time where you will be happy to run multiple Heroics a day as you level your reputations. But once you start to raid you'll usually start running Heroics less and less, until at some point you stop running them all together. That is when the boredom usually sets in firmly and is when I start thinking about other alts since I'm not an overly social person by nature. A lot of people might be happy standing around in Dalaran or Shatt and shoot the breeze in general or trade chat. But I'm not. I'm a "do'er" and chasing achievements is fun, but just not enough to keep me busy.

So anyway, expect to see me blog about my Druid a lot more in the weeks to come. I doubt it'll take you long at all to realize what a Druid enthusiast I am.

Blizzard wasting their time?

So WowInsider would like to know. I've remained steadfastly quite on the Druid form changes up until this point because I hadn't really come to a firm conclusion until now. While I don't think Blizzard is wasting their time by any means, I am a little disappointed in the new forms and their lack of new animations. The older forms were truly lackluster and the Druid community had been "requesting" and redesign for some time before Blizzard promised it. So it had been something that a lot of people were waiting for with a great amount of anticipation. Instead of completely new art Blizzard instead updated the old models with additional polygons and a few minor art changes in the face. And the new models are only for Cat and Bear forms, so Resto and Balance Druids are left out completely and no new travel form is planned as far as we know.

Like myself, I think most people were expecting completely new forms all together. And not inclusive of cat and bear forms alone. Blizzard had an opportunity to bring a fresh face to the class and demurred. I do not completely berate the new artwork however--it is better than what we currently have and for that I do at least give Blizzard credit.

On the subject of new instances or battlegrounds I think I have to side with Blizzard. There are ample 5-man instances in the 1-60 and 60-70 brackets, as well as in the 70-80 brackets. Besides the 1-60 instances you can pretty much safely ignore and be none the worse for the wear. It's no secret I am an alt-a-holic, so the hearloom items have been a godsend to me. Shoulders and weapons are all you really need to worry about as you level. Everything else can greens you either loot of buy off the AH. You can usually find a few more people actually running the instances in the Outlands, but since you'll probably only be there two to three days anyway, does it really matter if you run any of them? On my last alt I think I ran two instances and didn't notice any detrimental affect. Once you hit 68 you head to Northrend and its better gear and there are by all accounts ample instances there. I think what most people lament is that once you hit level 80 and start running heroics, you will quickly get bored with them. You will have run them all previously in the run up to 80, and you will undoubtedly run them several more times as you level your reputations with the various factions. Once you start raiding however, you quite likely won't step foot in 5-man instances again, or at the very least, step foot in them very in often. Good news though, in patch 3.2 there will be a new 5-man instance for you to rummage around in.

Battlegrounds are a different beast all together. Your level restricts what battlegrounds you can participate in, but I think most people wait until they hit endgame before doing any serious battlegrounding. Personally I'll hit a battleground or two every could days just to break up the level grind. At least that way I'll have a sizable amoung of honor saved up when I do hit the level cap. My Druid that I'm leveling right now (level 73) has nearly 30k honor already, so by the time I hit 80 I should be able to but two pieces of pvp armor immediately.

I think there are ample battlegrounds already. Instead, I think the problem is that only a couple of the existing battlegrounds are really good. Wintergrasp (even after the nerf to the daily quests making them weekly) and AV are by far the best places to get honor. After that is Arathi Basin and Eye of the Storm. And coming in last are Strand of the Ancients and Warsong Gulch. Warsong Gulch is the worst of the bunch with it's completely open game objectives that can, and do, lead to hour long matches that make your eyes bleed. Strand is slightly better because even if you are getting your teeth kicked in, at least you know there is a defined end point in the match.

The number of battlegrounds isn't the problem. The problem is that some of the existing battlegrounds are just plain bad. Blizzard nerfed the daily quests in Wintergrasp because people were going to Wintergrasp in droves and often causing massive lag. People still flock to AV, EotS, and AB because relatively good honor can also be found there, but outside those your choices are limited. At level 80 major pieces cost 30-49k honor, so you do the math.

Where I think Blizzard really needs to improve is in fixing the quest system in the 1-60 bracket. Despite increasing the XP gain from creatures and quests there are still glaring holes in the 40-49 and 50-59 zones and you end up doing a lot of travel in order to get from 40-58 when you can finally step through the outlands portal. Many people have asked recently for Blizzard to deal the final blow to vanilla WoW by allowing new alts to start at level 55 like Death Knights. Blizzard is thus far refusing to do that, so it makes it all the more important for them to go back and fix those holes they know exist. If they'd just do that I think things would be just fine, but again, thus far they are refusing to do that.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Inscription needs to be redesigned

I had thought I'd posted about this previously but a cursory look on the blog indicates I must have been dreaming. At any rate, I had mentioned over the past few weeks that I had started to level a Paladin though I'm not sure I mentioned I did get him to level 80. I never did mention that I picked up Herbology and Inscription on him and have since leveled that to 435. There really is not reason to level it past 430 since the only things that will give you points are the daily major research and the Northern cards, so I pick up a point every day and that's good enough for me. And I had been able to form a few first hand opinions on the trade, so I found it enlightening that Tobold and Gevlon largely agree with those opinions.

Inscription is by far the easiest tradeskill to level up. And that is saying a lot considering how easy Alchemy is to level; however it is also the least well considered of all the tradeskills (I do not personally consider engineering to be a trade skill). It's major problem, apart from every other trade skill, is that something a level 20 character purchases from an inscriptor can still be used at level 80. Once you settle on a set of Glyphs there is never a need to upgrade or replace them. There is no upgrade path so more than a handful of inscriptors can literally flood the market.

In the heady days of early WotLK and after the introduction of the new randomly learned glyphs in patch 3.1, inscriptor did make a great deal of money, but those days are long gone now. Only certain specific glyphs make any money now, and every inscriptor on the server knows it. You can make cards and hope you can sell the ones that aren't really worth all that much, or hope you are able to put together some Nobles decks though you should expect doing that to be a lengthy and expensive process. I decided after a few attempts that it simply wasn't worth it and decided to make my money from selling inks and glyphs instead. Between selling gems and glyphs and doing dailies I'm satisfied but I won't be hitting that money cap any time soon.

I'd really like to see Blizzard take Inscription back to the drawing board. Build in some upgrade path into the system of glyphs in order to give inscriptors a residual income.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Star Wars: The Old Republic Cinematic Trailer Released

I really, and I mean REALLY, want Star Wars: The Old Republic to succeed. I want it to be everything Star Wars Galaxies failed miserably to be, and more. However, unfortunately there has been a complete lack of information pertaining to "end-game". No one really has any idea what kind of game SWTOR will ultimately be and that has made it hard for me to get overly excited and caught up in the marketing hype. All we do know is SWTOR will feature strong storyline elements (questing) that are unique to each class.

Anyway, watch the trailer, it's VERY nice. The cinematic trailer begins at around the 4:30 mark.

Tuesday's edition of "I hate Tuesday"

Just occasionally Blizzard surprises us with simple rolling restarts, but most Tuesdays drag on forever as they conduct "regular maintenance". On special Tuesdays--like today for instance--they roll out a new patch that most likely means extended down times that they spring on us when the servers don't come up on time, and laggy in game performance for the following few days.

Oh and this patch holds YET ANOTHER DK NERF!

  • Frost Presence: Armor bonus is now 60% down from 80%.
  • Death Knight PvP Gauntlets: The chance to refresh a Frost Rune when casting Chains of Ice has been removed. When equipped, these gloves now generate 5 additional runic power whenever Chains of Ice is used.

[Update] What a frelling surprise!!!

We have encountered some issues and the maintenance on all realms will be extended by 2 hours. All realms not listed below are expected to be playable by approximately 1:00pm PDT.

The realms listed below that are undergoing extended maintenance are expected to be playable by approximately 2:00pm PDT. Thank you for your patience.

Probably some balding 40 year old male

This is just one aspect of the Internet, and how people act within it that I can never truly fully understand. Of course I can't understand anyone that doesn't live a principled life either, but that is a different conversation all together. Anyway, I had honestly never heard of Paladin Smaladin until a few days ago when I first read about this melt down on Tobold's blog. This morning Lum has a lengthier commentary on it all. Quite an interesting read.

Behind the story of the how and what is the even sadder story of the why. I've personally posted very few details about myself on this blog or my tech site because quite honestly I don't know any of you and like my privacy. I suspect none of you are any more interested in knowing more about me than I want you to know anyway. Besides, you're here for game commentary. People like Ferraro who post pictures of themselves (that aren't even theirs) and take on a persona that is wholly a lie are just sad people seeking the attention the attention they've never received. At their core they aren't happy with who they are and fall into a trap that is all too common these days.

TLDR: Be yourself and be happy. Find your value on your own and not within the whimsical opinions of others.

[edit] Here is Ferraro's Blog - Paladin Schmaladin and the real person behind the pictures "Ferraro" was posting as him/herself , Sarah Townsend.