Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Patch 3.3.3 - Tanking Warriors

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The second class I'd like to look at for patch 3.3.3 changes are warrior tanks. Unlike with priests, we've actually got some interesting changes over here. And no, I won't cry about the Bladestorm nerf. Enough people have done it already (with some cause imo) and besides this is about tank warriors.

There are three changes here I'd like to look at, which overall are great buffs actually.
First up;

"Thunderclap: This ability now counts as a ranged attack, granting it double damage on critical strikes instead of 150% and ranged miss chance, and still cannot be dodged or parried."

The change to "ranged attack" means it will be counted on your melee/ranged hit chance instead of your spell hit chance like before. I am unsure if ranged hit chance is affected by weapon skill, but looking at how hunters work I've gotten the feeling that you need less weapon skill to hit with a ranged weapon than a melee weapon (EDIT: Please enlighten me if you know anything about this, I am quite curious about how it really works). One of the great benefits of Thunder Clap before was that it was usable no matter what skill you had with your weapon (dks, druids and paladins all have plenty of skills that are unaffected by their weapon skill so there is nothing OP about this). Well well, in any case it now also deals double crit damage (more threat!). I am leaning towards thinking about this as a buff to the skill.

The second change is a double one to one skill - Revenge. First of all they've increased its damage by 50%.

"Revenge: Damage done by this ability (base and scaling) increased by 50%."

Which of course is just a straight up 50% buff of the skill. But there another change to it which needs some more commenting.

"Improved Revenge: This talent can no longer trigger a stun, and instead increases damage done by Revenge by 30/60% and causes Revenge to strike an additional target."

So, Revenge doesn't stun anymore. I know Blizzard has tried to move away from all kinds of RNG stuns they'd previously implented in the game, and the Revenge stun was among the few left in the game. It used to have a 50% chance to stun the target, which is quite high. It is obvious this change has come due to pvp issues. The stun was probably too good. Since I don't pvp, and especially not with my warrior I don't know much about what this will mean for pvp prot warriors. What I've heard is that they're greatly OP at the moment (or before this patch anyway), and this isn't the first nerf to them anyway.

But what does this change mean to us pve warriors? Well actually, it's a great buff. It increases our aoe damage somewhat, which is quite needed. The point damage increase of revenge is huge, so overall this means a great increase in threat for us. The loss of the stun effect is a lesser problem. Since you couldn't really control when it was going to stun or not anyway, it wasn't very usable for interrupting casts and such. It just slightly lowered your damage input, and was completely useless against bosses. I did enjoy the stun effect when solo questing, but the great increase in damage will most likely come way more handy. And we're now even more able to take on several mobs at the time. So this is a really good buff.

The last change I'd like to look at is a minimal one, but still good.

"Vitality: Now boosts Stamina by 3/6/9%, up from 2/4/6%. Strength and expertise benefits have not changed."

A slight buff to our hp is of course always welcome. Yet again a straight buff. It's funny since they actually decreased the hp of paladins slightly some patch ago, although I've always thought my paladin and warrior tank (which have about exactly the same gear) have about exactly the same hp. Small adjustments which Blizzard feel are necessary, this time for the benefit of us warrior tanks.

So people, we've got three buffs to be happy about here, of which two are really good. Enjoy your warrior tanking!

Again this will be the last post I write for some days (I might write one tonight though) since I am going away for some day to celebrate eastern! Happy eastern to ya :)

EDIT: PS, check out the time this is posted ;)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday Picnic to Karazhan

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Me and Love had planned to do a little picnic to Karazhan yesterday, and invited anyone interested in our guild (level 68+ though for obvious reasons) to join us. We actually got a whole raid together and had some real fun! We had some lowbies with us, but mostly level 80's who wanted the achi or just a nostalgic trip (in my case). The only down was probably that we were a little too overpowered and all the boss fights ended too fast ^^ And maybe that I didn't screenshot enough! Hilariously enough I had my first wipe on Chess ever. Love who played Blackhand was a little too cocky and charged right in. Unfortunately Blackhand was still the lowbie he had always been...

Here are some pictures from the event (and I will force you to look at them like some old relative showing holiday pictures!). We plan to head to some other BC raid next, but don't know where yet. Probably Sunwell or the Eye.

Us fighting Maiden of Virtue. I remember back in the days when you had to spread out, and got stunned and had to dispel that really nasty dot she placed on someone. Well that wasn't really an issue anymore...

Hell has frozen over! Boomkins are flying! Two boomkins in the hurricane on the Oz event of the Opera. Aren't they cute. Living out their dream...
The "secret" bedroom of Medivh. So he sleeps on the top of a stone pyramid? Eh, someone has megalomania...
View from Medivh's balcony. Quite impressive. Unfortunately (?) you couldn't jump from it.
Cat attack in some off corridor. Eep!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Patch 3.3.3 - Healing Priests

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Patch 3.3.3 has been added and as usual, there isn't much in it for us healing priests. There has been some bugfixes and some other changes as well, but only two are worth noting, one slightly more notable and one that's just... meh. Well, that's how it's been for the past few patches for us healing priests, and I suppose having no change at all is better than a change for the worse. So what has happened?

Let's start with the uninteresting one, so we get it over with.

"Renewed Hope: now has a 60-second duration, up from 20 seconds, but a 15-second cooldown."

This one is simple. Alot of classes have gotten a talented reproccable buff changed to be more "stable". Buffs like enhancement shaman Unleashed Rage, DK's Abomination's Might and mages Arcane Empowerment, that used to fill the combat log with their repeatable proccings, have now become stable buffs. Others like druid Mangle and our own Renewed Hope have become a 60 sec duration instead of the old 20 second one (I'm unsure on the old duration of mangle, but it was about as short). Blizzard just doesn't want these buffs, which proc all the time anyway, to fill the combat logs, and either make them last longer or forever.

This change doesn't really change anything, and I strongly doubt we'll notice a difference when healing. Like I said, this is probably done due to technical practicality than anything else. Boring!

On to the next.

"Glyph of Power Word: Shield: The heal produced from this glyph is now more correctly treated as a heal for purposes of procing effects that are caused by heals, such as Divine Aegis and the weapon Trauma. "

Digging through the patch notes, we find this little beauty. It's not much, but I'll grab onto anything when what we get is so lame! The fact that the Glyph of Power Word Shield heal didn't proc "procs upon heal" effects has actually really annoyed me over the past months, and I was at first really glad they'd decided to fix this. I immediately logged onto my priest to see if they had finally fixed the one thing that has been a splinter in my eye - the fact that the glyphs critical heals doesn't proc Inspiration. After 10 shieldings on random people in Dalaran before I got a critical heal with the glyph (although I have nearly 30% crit... fail rng Blizz), I noticed that no... they have not fixed this.

I don't know if they think it would be too good. It's an instant heal after all and it would be a fairly easy way to place Inspiration quickly on the raid. But so is using Circle of Healing or Prayer of Healing! My guess is they've just overlooked it. Again. So this change is a small step for the better, but not completely there yet.

That's unfortunately all folks. Blizzard still seem to think priests are just fine the way they are, and I still agree with them. Yes, healing priests actually are just about perfect at the moment. But I still like to complain... :P

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Class Quests - Rogue

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Class Quests are special. They are among the few quests in the game that still suffer from old problems, although many players are basically forced to do them. Also as they are unique to a class they're usually especially long and tedious, for some reason. There seems to be two types of class quests, those that reward you with some type of gear, itemized especially for your class, and those that reward you some key feature to your class. Some classes have been lucky enough to have their special key feature class quests optional, like druids. Other have not been so lucky, like shamans (more about those poor sods another post though).

The reason I wanted to look at class quests are partly because it would be a good guide for anyone trying to complete the quest, and mostly because like I said - these quests are special. They deserve some extra attention. It's for anyone interested in some interesting trivia about the game, or to get a heads up so you know what kind of quests are in waiting for a particular class. Just remember that these posts about class quests (because I intend to do several) will be spoilers, as I will be telling how to complete them. Do not read it if you're one of those hard core have-to-complete-everything-myself kind of persons.

Today I thought we'd look at one of the rogue class quests called "The Manor, Ravenholdt". It is unique in that way that it is the only quest where Blizzard actually deceives the player deliberately (or do you know of some other?). And it is also the only class quest which could really be said to be spoiled somehow. So if you want an interesting experience unspoiled, read no further. I did this on a horde character, but to my knowledge the quest is exactly the same to the alliance side. You just have to run from Southshore instead of Tarren Mill.

You get the quest from your rogue trainer, very sneaky actually. I didn't see any exclamation mark above my rogue trainers head, I just noticed she had the talk option "I've got something important to say to you" or the like when I was going to train for level 24 skills. I asked her what she wanted and she snuck me a letter. The letter tells me that Ravenholdt has taken an interest to me and that I should contact them for further information. A Seal of Ravenholdt is also enclosed in the letter which I am to give to Fahrad, none less than Grand Master Rogue of Ravenholdt. The letter also tells me that my cunning will be tested and that part of the test is to find the Manor at all.

In the age of wowhead.com and such, finding the Manor isn't that tricky, but I can imagine the difficulties of my predecessors. Once you find the path it is dead-obvious of course. Just run from Tarren Mill/Southshore and across the river. The Manor is located in the north-eastern mountains and the path starts at a huge tree. Like I said, finding it could be a little tricky, but it's not hidden (unlike some paths in other class quests).

As you close up on the Manor, you will have to go through a cave-like tunnel first. Now...

SPOILER WARNING

this cave is part of your test. There will be a chest to open in it. If you do, a level 33 elite will spawn and kick your ass. He says something with the meaning of "people who are unprepared deserve to die, hahaha" or close to it. I was quite chocked when this happened to me and can honestly say I hadn't the slightest clue this would happen. Even though I've done this quest before! Blizzard are really sneaky. They place this really pretty chest in front of you, and you die if you open it. Ok, if you're fast enough you can vanish. I wasn't fast enough though <.<
You complete the quest by running through the cave-tunnel and turn it in by Fahrad himself.
SPOILER END

This is a really interesting quest event-wise. Reward-wise it is not so interesting. You'll get some experience of course, and reputation with Ravenholdt and that's it. I suppose it is mainly there to make you aware of the existance of Ravenholdt at all, since you probably wouldn't find it unless specifically sent there.

So why would you want to know about Ravenholdt? That is a very good question actually. As of today, there is no known reward to getting to exalted with Ravenholdt. With Wotlk Blizzard added the achievement "Insane in the Membrane" which requires you to become exalted with Ravenholdt, but this is the only thing reputation with Ravenholdt might bring you. Blizzard must've had some plan with Ravenholdt at some point, but for whatever reason they never got through with it. Voices on the internets say it was intended to be a quest hub, but they never got around to it and so now it is nothing really.

Also, gaining reputation with Ravenholdt are among the most tedious things you can do in WoW. Up to revered is fairly easy, as the mobs in Durnholde Keep give rep up to that point. It is time consuming of course, but easy grinding. The mobs even have forced respawns so you won't have to wait around much. Getting to exalted however, requires you to turn in Heavy Junkboxes. These can only be acquired through pick pocketing, so you either have to be a rogue or know a rogue. You can open the lock boxes, but don't empty them as this will make them disappear. Something like 1400 lock boxes are needed to get all the way to exalted. Yes you read the right figure, 1400. Apparently this takes at least one full day played time to complete. That is 24 hours of just pick pocketing, minimum. Crazy? Yes. That is why the achievement reward is the title "the Insane" ;)Some macros to speed up your turn in process can be found over here (just scroll down some).

It sort of makes this quest even more curios though, since it is a very unique quest, that leads to the faction that Blizzard forgot.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The switching of characters - when is it ok?

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As I've written about at some other occasion, WoW is a game that consists of both an indivual part and a social part. Therefore, anything you decide to do is based on whether you're going to do it alone or whether you're going to do it with someone else. The main question is, just as in real life - will my actions affect other people?

Sometimes however, it feels like people think that since this is a game, you don't have to take this question as seriously. That assumption, or view point, isn't all wrong. After all, any decisions or actions in a game rarely end up in disastrous results. That is part of what makes it a game - your actions are mostly "fake" actions. There'd have to be a fairly twisted chain of events for anyone to say die or get physically hurt by your actions in a game. I think this being the case is actually the main reason people think their actions are less important in a game. No one will actually be physically hurt by it and therefore they can never be that wrong.

I might stray off the point off this post slightly, I just wanted to clarify that it's quite common that people take less regard to their fellow game companions than they would to someone outside a game, even if the action is equivalent. Or so I have come to believe anyway, you're free to disagree with me of course ;)

The problem is, and like I said I've written about this before, when the views of people who see a game as "just a game" and the people who see a game as a "serious hobby" clash. The first group go "you're ruining my fun by taking this too seriously" and the other group goes "you're ruining my fun by not taking this seriously enough".

This time I thought I'd look at character switching and the different ways these two groups of people look at it, and why it could become a problem. Maybe I've even got a solution for it, we'll see.

Character switching, simply put, is when someone plays one character alot and then changes to another. The difference to playing alts is the time spent. Most people put a little (some alot of) extra effort into the character they consider their main. Because they do that, they also like other people around them to take that character a little more seriously. This is the character they prefer to play, the one they want to learn everything about, the one they want to master! In return, they want the effort put into that character to be rewarded with the possibility of joining raids (if you want to raid, which most people do nowadays) and improving it further through loot.
Alts are a compliment to the main. A little something to tinker with on the side. The main will always be in focus.

Sometimes people decide they want to change their main to another character. There are some different reasons for this, of which I find both ok. The problems arise when you try to combine these reasons.

The first reason
It will happen that you realize one day that the class you're playing simply isn't fun anymore. This could be due to changes that Blizzard have implemented, changing the class in such ways that the very reasons you played it aren't present anymore. Or maybe you've played a class for a very long time and feel that you really want to try something else in the game. These are completely valid reasons. I don't ever expect anyone to play anything that they don't enjoy. I wouldn't do it and I don't desire anyone else to do it.

The second reason
Some people however, have a different goal with their characters. Remember what I said about the main? You want to learn everything about how they work to perfect yourself. Getting new gear is a step or a piece of the puzzle in this quest, but definitely not the main objective. But to some people, getting new gear is the main reason for them playing a character. They're not actually interested in becoming über at their particular class, their char is just a means for them to satisfy their need to gear up. One could say the "high" to them is improving through gear instead of skill. I don't have anything against this reason either. Improving through gear is a very rewarding way to feel that you're getting better at something. It is one of the things the whole of WoW circulates around. It isn't as abstract as "skill" since you can easily see that one gear piece is better than another, it's a definite number. Skill however can change from setting to setting and from moment to moment. You might not feel that you've acquired the skill for something until you've tried it many many times. Skill is a slower kind of reward.

The problem is when these two clash of course.

I've known people who played 10 different characters they've called mains. As long as they play individually that is not a problem at all. But as soon as they want someone else to take part in the improvement in their character, I at least, would like for them to have more long termed goals than just gearing. I don't know how many times I've helped someone with something time consuming, or hard to get, just to see them ditch that character a week later.

Some people have played the very same character for years. They do 10 runs a week to get a special mount in an instance. How do you think it feels for them to see that special, hard to get mount fall into the hands of a character that will no longer be played in a couple of days?

Now don't get me wrong, like I said people can realize that they don't want to play their main anymore simply because it isn't fun or because they want to explore something new. The difference is these people usually switch main no more than once per year, if even that. But some people switch characters like underpants and still expect everyone around them to take every new character as seriously. They still think they "deserve" (such an odd word to use somehow) an item as much as someone who's really fought to improve their main, through good and bad, over several years.

If I show up with a new boyfriend every month and tell my parents "I'll definitely marry this one, this is for life" I am quite sure they won't take it very seriously and won't invest as much interest into it as if I had only done it once.

What is the issue here? It is that some people take stuff although they don't really care about them. They don't stop to think "well ok, this would make me very happy now, but do I really want it? Will I use it later on?". It seems like they think "oh purplz, must have".

And here we get back to my point at the beginning. If these people would be thinking "well it's just a game and doesn't matter anyway" they should be needing at all because if it doesn't matter to them they should leave it for someone it does matter to.

But instead they're probably thinking "my small happiness right now is worth more than their big happiness over a long period, since it's just a game anyway". The decision is made easier somehow, and actually probably not even consciuously, by the fact that it's done in a "fake" setting.

But you are still dealing with real people. Real people who will feel real annoyance over your behavior if you disregard their feelings. So take a step back and ponder your actions - how will this affect people around me? Are my demands reasonable? How would people react in "real life". Chances are high people will react the very same way in a game.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

How to! Warrior Tank - Level 60-69

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Wow! There hasn't been a How to! Warrior Tank for almost a month. Hope this will cheer you up! The reason for the delay is mostly because the server I've got my warrior on, Tarren Mill (which happens to be the same server Ensidias on) had some real up time issues the last month. There were several evenings in a row where it was simply offline. It put me off-track somewhat since I played other chars while I waited for the server to come up (they usually just crashed again though) which then took my attention more than I had expected. But, now I am out into Northrend, the final frontier (for this expansion) and will now give you my experiences about tanking in Outlands, which I have just left.
I was really happy to leave old Azeroth and get started with the fresh, fun instances of Outlands. I actually really enjoy most of the instances in Outlands, as they are way better planned than the last instances of Azeroth, which I covered in my last post.

Yet again I had to spend some hours in Outlands to up my professions before I could go into Northrend, actually I dinged 70 before I left Outlands because of this. The quests and mobs in Northrend give way more exp however, so you should go there as soon as you can (although I think 68 is the lowest if you want to be eligble for the quests). I dinged 70 at approximately 5 days and 2 hours played, which is quite a slow pace.
The very first quests in Outlands will offer you a nice set of new gear pieces and alot of experience. You'll probably jump 58-60 like nothing. Since they've boosted the amount exp given and reduces the amount of exp needed for you to level, one doesn't have to do much more than Hellfire Peninsula and Zangarmarsh to level for Northrend. Actually, when combined with instancing you don't even have to do all the quests in these two areas. The fast leveling is the main reason why it's so difficult to keep your professions at a good skill level.
EDIT 24/9-10: Between level 61-64 you can collect the Fel Iron Plate set (Breastplate, Pants, Boots, Gloves Belt) that give nice stats and good set bonuses! No defense unfortunately though.

Glyphs
There is no glyph slot for level 60! We'll have to wait for level 70.

Talents
Congratulations on Shockwave, yet another really awesome tankskill in your arsenal of awesome tankskills. Now you have to fit it into your tanking rotation. You don't want to use it too soon, since stunned mobs won't give you any rage. My recommendation is charge - thunder clap - shield slam - shockwave - demo shout - John Fucking Madden. By giving the mobs that moment between charge and shockwave to hit you, you'll have plenty of rage to do anything you want to after it.You might have noticed that I've "ignored" Deflection in the arms tree. The reason is simply that up until level 60, having the means to tank something is more important than avoidance. Stamina can mostly cover for the lack of avoidance at lower levels, later on avoidance will be more and more important however (although stamina will continue to be a very very important stat). Now that you've gotten Shockwave, we can look more into talents like Deflection and Toughness. Of course, if you ever feel that keeping aggro really isn't the problem, but dying alot is, then taking these talents earlier might be better for you. For me, getting talents like Devastate and Shockwave were more important and that is why I have chosen to talent the way I have.

Now that we do have Shockwave however, we are, like I mentioned, free to grab those talents that aren't in the Protection tree but still rock ass for tanking. Actually, after Shockwave my first choice was Deflection. 5% parry is really good. I also chose 1 talent point into Improved Spell Reflection once I had gotten that skill at level 64. There are alot of caster mobs in instances in Outlands, and they shoot quite hard. As you still don't have any means of silencing caster out of melee range (and won't have until level 75) this talent might come in handy. It's definitely not necessary though, so that is 1 tp you can put wherever you like. Other talents I recommend are Improved Heroic Strike, Toughness and Armored to the Teeth. Imp HS is for easier rage handling, and is what I personally chose, Toughness is for more dmg mitigation, which is always good of course and AttT is for more threat. So pick whatever you need most, but remember you'll most likely grab all these eventually anyway as they're all part of a good tank spec.
So we have a little more freedom at the moment to grab the talents that fit our tank style. For myself I chose like this;

Level 60 into Shockwave
Level 61-66 into Deflection
Level 67-69 into Improved Heroic Strike

Skills
Like mentioned, you'll get spell reflection at level 64. It is a great tool, although not completely easy to use. When solo playing the proper time to use it will be quite obvious, and it will make it alot easier to kill tougher caster elite mobs for instance. When tanking I often noticed I lacked the rage to use it (it costs 15 rage) exactly when I wanted to, so it needs a little planning. One good way to use it is when you've got a group of mobs and one caster standing a little off. If there's only one caster you can charge to that one and collect all the melee around it. But if there's two you can charge the one caster and grab threat on the other by reflecting its first spell back onto him.
At level 68 you get Commanding Shout, which will replace wherever Battle Shout was in your rotation. It gives you a really nice hp boost, so try to keep it up at all times. There is a glyph that increases its duration which you can glyph either at level 70 or replace an older minor glyph with (I recommend the first option though). Battle Shout will probably be the better choice of the two when solo playing however.

Instances
There are alot of instances in Outlands. I won't mention them all since that would take all day (for both you and me). I'll talk about the ones you'll most likely encounter before heading for Northrend, and those are Ramparts, Blood Furnace, Slave Pens, Underbog and Mana Tombs. The instances of Outlands also drop some gear with alot of sockets. Some of them even have as many as three. If you can afford it, and you should if you've followed my pointers on how to make money, you could socket them with epic sockets or at least blue quality Northrend ones. At level 65 ish I had around 1500g. Use either Solid (stamina) or Enduring (stamina/defense). I chose enduring simply because they were way cheaper at my server, but otherwise I recommend going for straight stamina. Like mentioned, stamina is generally a better stat for lowbie tanks than avoidance, and will keep on being an important stat all the way to raiding.
You still get satchels for completing instances in Outlands, but they'll rarely give you anything useful. For some reason, Blizzard haven't given the satchel rewards the amount of stats that corresponds to Outlands gear, which means they'll generally be alot less good than anything you can find in Outlands. Strange, but true. So there is no reason at all to do a random instance mainly for the satchel award, which was the case at lower levels.

Ramparts Level 60-62
One of my favorite instances, it is just the right amount of long and difficult. Actually the bosses of the instance aren't the tough part, but there are some really tricky pulls and some tricky mobs in there. The last boss, the fire dragon, used to be really hard, but it seems they've nerfed because I never died when fighting him like I used to on other chars. Ramparts is one of those instances where you'll easily pull too many mobs. Remember about those general rules about tanking I wrote about some while ago? This is a great place to practice them. Drops a pair of nice tankboots, the Ironsole Clompers, which I was unfortunate enough never to get :/

Blood Furnace Level 61-63
An overall easier instance than Ramparts in terms of pulls. There are some really tricky mobs however, like the Technicians that place bombs (that do alot of damage) and the Summoners that.. well summon stuff. Also, the Fel Guards at the end of the instance, that randomly retarget can be quite troublesome.
Slave Pens Level 62-64
Also an instances with some mobs that you have to keep an extra eye on. Some mobs fear, potentially making you pull more mobs, and some mobs will root you, which will give you no chance of tanking a mob that isn't in melee range (since you won't get Intervene until level 70). The last boss, Quagmirran also drops Unscarred Breastplate which has three socket slots and is definitely something you should get your hands on!

Underbog 63-65
An overall really easy instance although quite long. The last mobs fear and the second last boss could prove somewhat of a challenge, at least relative to the rest of the instance. The mob packs just before the second last boss are probably the only tricky ones since the fear and shoot poison from afar and thus can easily make you overpull.
Mana Tombs 66-68
The trickiest part of this instance is the escort quest, which you most likely won't do. If you intend to do it however, remember to clear the instance before starting it, as the escort will take you into places you don't have to run otherwise. The first boss drops a nice shield - Shield of the Void - which you will replace at level 70 anyway, so you won't 't have to be too sad if it doesn't drop. If you're still running around with that shield from Scarlet Monastery though... this is the time to get it upgraded.

That will be it for this time, and the next post will be the last post! Except of course if I make a compilation, conclusion kind of thing in the end. Yeah I'll probably do that. Good luck with your tanking!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Combo points and why they don't work well

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First of all I must admit I actually rarely play combo point using classes. My druid is mostly resto and sometimes feral tank, and I've never given a rogue a good shot (although I am trying it again). Whenever I do come across having to use CP's however, I stop from time to time to reflect over the usage of CP, and if I really like them or not. Like mentioned I've just started playing a little rogue (again, I have a higher leveled one which currently just serves as my bank alt, poor chap), and yet again I had to take a moment to think about CP's, what Blizzard wants us to do with them and if it works as intended.

Just as with Mao China, Blizzard will say something is perfectly fine and working just as they want it until the very second they officially change their mind. I really don't blame them though, promising ponies has turned out to be a dangerous business. Any hint of anything can easily burst into nerdrage on the forums. They give the little finger, community grabs the arm. I don't actually know what Blizzard thinks of CP's, but I haven't heard much about it which indicates that they, at least officially, don't think it's much of a problem. Well, I think there is a problem, and here is why;

The original idea about CP's is that you're rewarded with the possibility to do some special attacks after using your regular ones. The more ellaborate your attack is, the more CP's you're awarded, Ambush gives 2 CP for instance since it requires using daggers, stealth and being behind your target, whereas Sinister Strike only awards 1 CP because it doesn't require anything. Furthermore there are alot of talents that help you in adding more CP's to the target, and I'll get back to those a little further down.

I actually do like the general idea of this system. By using your regular playstyle you're awarded the possibility to use some special, extra good attacks, hence the term "finishing move" I would guess. But honestly, is this really how it works today? In fact, these special attacks have turned into the necessary regular attacks. The finishing moves aren't really finishing moves anymore. What consequences does this have to the rogue/feral cat playstyle?

My main issue with this system is that it places CP's on your target. Not on yourself. What other skills works like this? Well any kind of debuff really. Bleeds, dots and everything like it. Most classes have some sort of debuff needed on their current target to max their dps. And I don't have an issue with that at all. Knowing how to use your debuffs in a proper way is part of being a good dpser. But if we look at CP's again we see that rogues and feral cats actually have to stack debuffs (CP's) to be able to stack debuffs! If we look at it from another class perspective, what if the hunter had to place 3 serpent stings before he could use Steady Shot? What if the priest had to place 4 renews to use Flash Heal? What if the mage had to place those Arcane Debuffs on his target to be able to cast Arcane Missiles on it? No other class' skills work in this way. When we do find it, as in Swiftmend and Conflagrate we see skills that are especially good, since they need one (!) debuff/hot on the target to be used. They have this debuff/buff limitation or prerequisite since they are too good to be able to use at any given moment. Imagine having half of your regular skills depending on this prerequisite? Laughable, no?

Yes, a arcane mage does have to stack debuffs to be able to use their missiles to the max, but not on the target, but on themselves. That means they can switch target whenever necessary. Having stacked debuffs on a target that dies won't have been completely wasted. And most other classes only have to stack one debuff to be able to do really good damage, and extremely rarely more than three. Any rogue/feral cat druid will have to stack at least three debuffs on any one target to be able to do some real damage to it. This is the reason rogues/cats always beg to be kept on one target, they hate target switching like cotton hates fire.

I have never raided as a cat/rogue, it might be that the current CP system works better in that kind of setting. But when leveling, and doing lowbie instances, you rarely get more than 2 CP's to any one target, which is way too little to do anything good (except use Slice and Dice perhaps). This means half my arsenal is basically useless. I have to do 5 Sinister Strikes to place a dot on the target, that takes a lock 1 gcd to do. Not many mobs, not even bosses, live through 5 Sinister Strikes, and definitely not through the entire Rupture afterwards.

You can easily tell when there's an issue with a class mechanic, if you find talents that try to "patch" things up. Prot warriors for instance have alot of talents that reduce the cost of their abilities, simply because Blizzard still haven't really figured out how to make rage work in a good way. The talents have to step in and work as a supporting leg until they solve it. I believe this is the reason there are so many talents that give rogues more CP's (druids don't have this, just as with the rage issue). Talents like Honor among Thieves wouldn't be necessary unless Blizzard agreed that rogues don't get CP's fast enough already to use them in a proper way.

Ok enough ranting, there is a problem with CP's, no doubt about it. But what to do about it?
One simple solution would be to have the CP's collect on the player, instead of on the target. Yes this would change alot of the cat/rogue playstyle, but definitely for the better. Question is, would this make them too good? Well if you want CP's to be the allround tool of a class, which is how they work today, you must make them more readily available and accessisable than they are today.

The second option would to make the "special attacks" or "finishing moves" better. As it is now, they're not worth using unless you have more than three CP's up (exception with Slice & Dice as mentioned) and you rarely get so many off before the mob is dead. And again, I don't know how this works in raids, but am talking from a general (my) perspective. Make it so these finishing moves really feel like something special, like all that time spent stacking those CP's actually feel worthwhile. Don't have them belong to the general skill arsenal, but to the "ace up my sleeve"-arsenal, sorta like Conflagrate and Swiftmend work today. They're not a cooldown like Nature's Swiftness, Recklessness, Mirror Image or whatnot, but a special set of attacks which have some prerequisite and reward you by being a little extra awesome.

Yes, rogues and cats do damage while applying CP's, but that is the fact for any dpser. Warriors gain rage and do damage by hitting their targets and casters do damage when applying their debuffs. If they want us to use Cp's they have to decide in what fashion, and make them work that way.

As it is now, CP's dwell in the limbo area between these two possibilities. I think this is because Blizzard had planned them to work like in the second option, but they ended up working like in the first option, and they just haven't figured out which path they really want rogues/cats to follow.

This will be my last post for some days since I am off on a little trip to visit my grandpa. I'll be back around wednesday next week!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pets and why they annoy you

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Pets can annoy you for varying reasons. A person who's a bad pet handler could easily wreck alot of havoc in any party and/or raid setting. Just the other day we had a hunter in my raid who accidentally pulled some trash in ICC with her pet. Luckily enough that particular pull didn't end in a wipe, but it easily could have! And I always forget to remove aggressive from my pet after having done Anub'Arak in AN, which always turns out funny (not). I know Love did a massive overpull on the Defias Ship in Deadmines on one of his hunters too. I still remember it although it was several years ago, just because it was so much fun seeing him play like a real noob. But this post won't be about pet handling, although that is a subject one could write quite much about. Instead I'd like to talk about pet AI, the things the pet do (and don't do) which the player who controls it (and everyone around) has little control over.

Anyone who ever plays a class which uses some sort of pet (i.e. lock, hunter or unholy dk's), will quickly notice that the sunday programmers over at Blizzard have reached new lows with some areas of the pet programming. I'm not counting the occasional pet summons, like treants or shadowfiend, but the more permanent ones. The others ones are usually not out and about long enough to get you into any real trouble.

The first problem with pets, and one of the most annoying, is when they grab a mob and run away with it like they're some love couple fleeing from justice. You really don't want to send your pet in for some tanking, and see him just keep on running, probably aggroing alot of other nasty stuff while doing it. I've actually died because of this, because when you're in a camp of mobs you don't have much maneuvering ground for that kind of behavior. Death Knights won't encounter this issue as much, since they don't use their ghouls for tanking very often.

So why does this occur and what can you do about it? Well, I can't say I know much about programming so I can't answer as to why it happens in terms of code. I have noticed however that the issue mostly arises whenever the pet has to attack a target that is already moving. So if you pull something and your pet rushes off to attack it because you've got him on defensive stance, he will engage the mob while it is on its way towards you. It seems that when the game has to calculate the pets positioning towards a moving target, which then in turn has to calculate its positioning towards the moving pet, could turn into (and mostly will turn into) this chain of running off and not stopping. There are two solutions to this problem. Either you have your pet engage the mob first, which might ease the games calculating of positions and make them stand still. This solution takes alot of waiting around for your pet to engage the mob however. Or you can bind your pet "follow" action to a key (it has a default key binding already, but I prefer to rebind it to something more available) and press it whenever he is on his way off somewhere. Just press it and then have him resume attack again almost immediately and those two should stop the running around. It's about breaking the cycle of "move" commands the server is sending those two.

The second issue is one that arises for anyone that has a summoned pet up. That is whenever a quest asks you to take control over something. That something will then count as your new pet, and this could "clash" with your current pet. I did some questing in Zul'drak on my lock and noticed that if I let a quest summon a "quest pet" for me while still having my regular pet up, I couldn't use the new pet. I had to dismiss the quest pet, resummon my pet, dismiss that one and then resummon the quest pet to make it work. Apparently the game just didn't know which pet I was using anymore!

A third issue I've noticed has only happened to my DK so far. Since I am frost specced I don't have a permanent ghoul, but one with a 3 minute cooldown. It happens, quite often I might add, that the game thinks I've got a ghoul summoned, but I clearly don't. The only way to make the game realize it's wrong so I can summon my ghoul is to relogg. Sigh...

And a fourth issue, which happens to all three pet classes but is the most annoying for a lock; whenever you get into a random instance while in the air, your pet will be desummoned when you get out of the instance again. This isn't much of an issue for a hunter or unholy DK who can just easily summon their pets again. But a lock usually has a 10 second cast time on their pets and having to do this over and over again becomes tedious. The alternative is to land and dismount from your flying mount before ever entering a random pug. Also tedious.

All this aside...since pets really own and having a pet is such a huge benefit in most areas of the game we all know hunters, locks and dk's really deserve these pet issues. Can't let them have it too easy, can we? ;)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dropbox - your online sharing tool

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I read about Dropbox over at the swedish IT-newspaper site idg.se. Well actually Love did. He liked the idea and so we tested it out, and it works really well!

Dropbox is an online sharing tool, but not like youtube or the like. Dropbox doesn't share with everyone, it shares with whomever you give the access. Dropbox is more like a personal folder than an online billboard. Only difference to having the items stored on your own computer is that they're stored over at the Dropbox Company's servers instead. So why would you want that?

Alot of people run around with USB-memory stick nowadays. Anyone who has any kind of digital files they need to carry along with them, for funs or for business, usually uses this kind of device. I don't own any USB-device so my solution has been to simply mail text-files to myself to always have them handy wherever I go (as long as there is a computer with internet). The problem with my solution is of course that most mails won't let you send very big files. So it works for text-files, but not for videos or even maybe pdfs. To share it with someone you have to mail the files to that person.

Dropbox works sort of like this, but with easier accessability and shareability, and more space to store stuff than the usual mail offers. Instead of mailing, Dropbox works like a folder where you simply drag-and-drop whatever you want to share with other computers. Now to access your particular Dropbox folder you need either a password or a certain domain-name-address, depending on where in the Dropbox you've placed the file. There are "public" folders in the Dropbox that don't require as much as a password to be accessed, only a certain address. That way anyone with a Dropbox can access those files as long as you give them the address to them, which is sort of like a short-term password.

There is a free version and a pay- for- it version. The free version offers 2gb storing space, which allows you to share most kind of files (except perhaps Blue-Ray files). As long as you continuously empty your Dropbox whenever you're done with a file it won't fill up.

Like I said, me and Love have tried this out, I've also shared some files with my dad, and it works really well. You drag a file into the dropbox, let it load onto their server (speed depending on your connection of course), and it is ready for anyone whom you give access to your dropbox to use.

The only drawback with Dropbox, as compared to a USB-memory stick, is that it needs internet access to work. So if you intend to run off into the woods and work some days on something without internet access, this won't work unfortunately.

To get started, all you have to do is jump over to dropbox.com!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Picross!

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Have you come across Picross yet? It is sort of like Sudoku, which came from nowhere and nearly over night became this huge success. Now it feels like everyone (usually over the age of 40) is doing Sudoku instead of the good old cross-words. This is a common phenomena with hypes from Japan, they just sweep over the world and find fans everywhere. Everyone knows what Sudoku is, and only in sweden we've got several magazines devoted solely to Sudoku. Not as many people have heard about Picross however, eventhough it is closely related to Sudoku.

Picross is like Sudoku in that it's about mathematical problem solving over a grid. The main difference about Sudoku and Picross is that Sudoku is only about aligning numbers correctly, after a set of rules, while Picross is about aligning markers correctly, after a set of numbers. The end result isn't just a grid filled with numbers, but a grid filled with markers that form a picture.
I never got the fun about Sudoku really. I tried it but to me it was quite boring just repeating the exact same procedure of aligning numbers. Although the procedure is repeatable in Picross as well, the end-result never is. Your reward will always be some sort of picture. Weee, pictures!
I've only found one small magazine in sweden which solely revolves around Picross problems, called "Japanska Bildpuzzel", although I know some of the Sudoku magazines also include Picross. There are also video/computer games about Picross, just as with Sudoku. I am currently ending every evening with some Picross puzzle solving on my NDS (the games called "Picross").

Just as with Sudoku, the first time you see a Picross Puzzle you don't really get much about how to solve it. And just as with Sudoku, the rules are quite simple to learn but difficult to master. The difficulty levels of the puzzles can vary between very easy to very difficult of course, depending on the size of the puzzle and the positioning of the markers, as some markers are more favorable to have than others in terms of difficulty.

I'll try to explain the rules, but it'll probably sound really confusing until you try it for yourself, and you really should! It's great fun!

Rules
The Picross Puzzle is made out of a grid composed by X*Y boxes. They can of course be smaller or bigger, sometimes the same height and width but don't have to be (the above picture is from a 35*45 grid Picross!). Along the X and Y axis are a set of numbers that tell you how many boxes are to be marked in the grid, but not where and that is the tricky thing about picross (just as in Sudoku where you know a number is to be somewhere in the grid but not where exactly). Where you should mark is determined in relation to the other marks. So if the grid is 15 boxes wide and the Y axis says there should be 3 boxes marked on row 14, you don't know which of the 15 boxes that should be marked, just that 3 of them total will be. If it says row 15 should be marked for 15 boxes it's simple, because that would be the entire row. If it says row 6 should be marked for 10 boxes you can mark the middle 5 out of the 15 because no matter where you end up having to put the 10 marks, the middle 5 will always have to be among them.

Well as you can see this really just turn out to be confusing. The best thing is to check out the internets for some Picross and try it out for yourself. As you solve them you constantly learn new tricks to make it easier. I found one page which seemed to have both a tutorial and a huge library of puzzles, so it might be a nice place to start out. Personally I solve my Picross on my NDS or by hand in the magazines (as you can see in the picture).

So get started and tell me what you think ;)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Top 5 most annoying mob-skills

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Everytime I level a new alt, or run through some old instance/raid content with my mains, I run across some mob-skills that are insanely annoying. I thought I'd share them with you, so you get a heads up at what to avoid like the plague (pun intended). These skills all have two things in common - they're all used by mobs in vanilla WoW and they all prevent you from doing what you want to do in some way. Back in the days, Blizzard seemed to take some special pleasure in designing skills that by themselves could kill an entire party and that often needed a special party setup to be countered. In their defence, many of these skills are used by mobs in instances that once were considered raid instances. And we all know raid instances are supposed to be tricky. I always dislike any kind of mob skills that continously and actively prevents a class from doing their job however. A stunned tank can't tank anything and a silenced healer can't heal anything.

5 - Stuns
There are some mobs in places such as UBRS, ZG and EPL that have a 2 sec stun (in ZG it's even a ranged axe toss stun), which seems to have a very short cooldown. If you run in these areas with the hopes of clearing the area quickly at level 80 you might very well end up dead, simply because you're stunlocked to death, very very slowly. This has happened to me a couple of times. At 80, if you're geared enough you might live it through, especially if you're some kind of class which does damage to your opponent even when stunned, like paladin retri aura, prot warrior damage shields or druids thorns. Any other class will definitely have to beware however.

4 - Add summon
The mobs that summon adds can be found at quite different places, but they're all very annoying. My first encounter with this type of mob were the Swarmer Scorpids in Barrens. If you happen to play a class which doesn't have some kind of counter-dmg aura or aoe, and by that level very few classes do, you'll have a hell of a time killing those little shits. The second room in Scholomance can easily turn into a sea of skeletons if you don't kill the summoners fast enough. Their summon skill has a 2 sec cast and they won't stop casting it until they die. In the old days you needed some really careful pulling and fast nuking to counteract these kind of mobs. In this setting it is ok, since they are part of the event. But when having to face these kind of mobs on your own, playng a class which has no counter measure for it except killing them one by one (rogues for instance), this can be a real nuisance. Fortunately they have buffed lowbie aoe quite alot, like giving priests holy nova at 20 and reducing spell interrupts to a maximum of twice per cast, which make these kind of mob skills slightly easier to handle nowadays.

3 - Charge Knock
This is quite similar to the stun, but adds a fly back knock to the effect. A knock that might have you pull more mobs, which happens quite often in instances like UBRS (the dragon guards that knock you down into the whelp room for instance). At other occassions this knock will just simply kill you, like with the stun you'll be stunlocked to death without being able to do much about it. This is the case with the Crimson Courier pack of mobs in EPL. The Crimson Guards in the scarlet area of Stratholme are another example of mobs with charge knocks. They can charge the healer enough to effectively prevent them from healing anything. What's even more annoying about these charge knocks and stuns are that they seem to be completely free of level restrictions. It doesn't matter if you're level 60 or 80, you'll be stunned just as much. Diminishing returns? Forget it. I'm not sure if this can be countered by standing close, like with the Titanium Vanguards in HoL. My guess would be no.

2 - Cadaver Worms
The Mangled Cadavers in Stratholme have a disease that used to be extremely annoying. So annoying in fact that you needed someone to cleanse it to be able to do the instance at all back in vanilla. And still at 80 it could really prevent the advancements of any class not being able to cleanse it. The disease is Cadaver Worms. I just read, when doing research for this post, that they had nerfed it. I used to be 10 minutes long, reduce your health regeneration with 100% and inflict 150 shadow damage every 10 seconds. That means your hp would slowly go down, and the only thing you could do against it was bandage or heal. The regular out of combat hp regen would not take place, and the eating of food would do nothing either. To be able to bandage you had to time the 8 sec bandage channeling perfectly between the two dot ticks.
Like I said, they've nerfed it (or buffed, depending on how you look at it) now to a 30 second debuff that reduces health regeneration by 50% and inflicts 150 shadow damage every 10 seconds. This is a significant nerf and this disease isn't much of a nuisance anymore. It used to be extremely annoying however, and I suppose the mere fact that Blizzard has decided to change it eventhough no one really does Stratholme except with their level 80 mains anylonger, verifies this.

1 - Enveloping Web
Yes, the very most annoying mob skill (that I can think of) is yet another skill from Stratholme. Back in the days this instance, which was a 10-man raid originally, needed alot of skilled people to complete. The baron run, which meant doing it in 45 minutes, was a real challenge. People were screaming for priest healers back then because of our abilities to dispel, cleanse and shackle undeads, which were really handy in that instance.
There is one mob in there that still drives me monkey-banana-crazy whenever I encounter it and that is the Crypt Crawler and its skill Enveloping Web. Enveloping Web, which is an instant cast so you can't interrupt it, will trap you (immobilize), increase the time between your attacks by 100% AND silence you for 8 seconds. Hah, take that! Imagine dealing with that back at level 60. It really renders the target nearly useless. As a tank, which usually is the target of this skill, you won't be able to do anything until the dps has nuked the mob down. If you happen to boost someone or even worse, do it yourself, you have to wait for the few seconds between the debuffs uptime (because the damn mob reapplies it almost instantly) to make some damage. Since the mob will move away from you when it has trapped you, you can't hit it. Since you're silenced you can't shoot it with spells. You're best shot at this is if you're a hunter who isn't bothered much by range or silences and can have a pet attacking the mob meanwhile.
Just thinking about this skill makes me angry <.<

Bubblers - Skills that are annoying but didn't quite make the list

The Scorpid Reavers in Shimmering Flats have a poison that ticks every 3 seconds for some minutes, making it completely impossible for a rogue to stealth or for any class (except shamans and druids) to bandage during the time. Very annoying.

Any mob with a fear is usually extremely annoying. The first mob that comes to mind are the bats of EPL. This isn't game-breakingly annoying like the ones in the list however, so you just have to suck it up and handle it! The same goes for any mobs with skills that...

- Heal themselves for all their hp when they're at 3% and just about to die.

- Bubble themselves. Damn paladins are annoying even when they're npcs!

- Gives you a curse that reduces all your attributes by X% since that feels worse the better gear you have.

Have you got some own experiences with annoying mob skills?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wannabe tanks - Shaman

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It's been a little while since I wrote about warlock-tanks, but there has been so much to write about I don't know how to fit it all! I've only got time to write one post a day unfortunately. But I get to it eventually, so you just have to be patient.

In this second post about alternative tanks I thought we'd look at my favorite wannabe-tank, the shaman. I actually enjoy the idea of shaman tanking so much I've discussed how to make it a real, viable raid-tank with Love. We had some ideas and I might make a post about it. But since those are only dreams, and not facts, I won't talk about them here. This post will be about what a shaman-tank actually can do, and what skills they actually do have at their disposal, rather than what could be with some engagement from the Blizzard devs.

Shaman
Tankability: approximately level 1-40ish

The shaman tank has a smaller tankability level-span than the lock, but is before level 40 actually a better tank than a lock or hunter. The reason for this is that the shaman can use a shield, which means he can be a tank himself and doesn't have to use pets. I actually think low levels shamans make such decent tanks that it is a real shame that they can't queue for it. Before level 40 shamans have leather-gear, which doesn't differ very much from the mail-gear that other tanks have (or the druid bear-form armor for that matter). The shamans armor will be greatly boosted with a decent shield anyhow, so the difference to a "real" tank won't be very big. Most importantly, by being able to wield a shield, the shaman can block incoming physical damage, which a hunter or warlock can't. Edit: The drawbacks of a shaman tank are the same as with any other wannabe-tank, the lack of taunts and aoe-threat abilities. These will have to be worked around, and can be coped with fairly easy at lower levels, so don't let it get you down. So let's check out what makes the shaman a good tank;

- First of all, like mentioned they can use shields, which nearly make them like any other tank on lower levels. Later on, at 40+, the armor difference between the shaman mail-user and the tank plate-user (and druid dire bear form armor) will be too great to handle, but until then...

-Secondly, the shaman has a high-threat attack in Frost Shock, just like the warlock, to keep aggro on themselves. This attack also reduces movement speed of the target by 50%. Since it only has a 6 second cooldown it works fairly well to keep aggro. You get it at level 20.

- Thirdly, they can enhance themselves (and the rest of the group) with their totems. All the regularly used totems are also good for tanking, like stoneskin/strength of earth, mana spring/healing stream, windfury totem and searing/flametongue totem.

- Forthly, shamans actually have talents that improve their ability to tank well, more about that in the next section.

Specs
There is only one viable spec if you intend to tank as shaman, and that is the enhancement tree. The reason is simply because no caster can do much good when standing in close combat, as most of their abilites will be constantly interrupted by attacks. Also, the enhancement tree offers some talents that will improve the shamans tankability, such as;
- Toughness - increases the shamans health and reduces the effect of movement impairing effects used on them.
- Anticipation - increases the shamans ability to dodge and the effect of disarm used on them.
- Enhancing totems and Guardian totems - improve the shamans totems.

Normally an enhancement shaman would take talents such as Spirit Weapons, Dual Wield and eventually Lava Lash. If you intend to go hardcore shaman-tanking these are not recommended. Spirit Weapons does give you parry, but at the cost of 30% less threat! You'll have to choose and see which one you think is most beneficial, having parry or having more threat. If you don't pick Spirit Weapons you can't pick Dual Wield either, but you won't really need it since you're going to wield a shield instead!

There are also talents in the other trees that are recommended, such as Elemental Warding and perhaps Reverberation for more threat, in the Elemental tree.

Now remember, after level 40 you'll have to abandon this ship pretty much anyway, so you won't be able to grab all the decent tank-talents. You can try to hold on, and fight against all the lolbois who'll never understand the glory and commitment of shaman tanking, but eventually you'll have to fight against the Blizzard programming itself, and you know you can't win that.

Gear
Except for the shield, there is of course no tanking gear for a shaman. As with warlock you'll have to compensate the lack of avoidance by having alot of stamina instead, so stack it high (like a druid). Edit: Another good tank-stat to look for is agility, which gives dodge, amongst others. Caster shields and tanking shields have the same amount of armor usually, and since both caster and melee stats are useful to a shamans you can just pick whichever comes into your hands first, and then always upgrade to whichever has more armor.

Edit: There is a way to increase your avoidance as shaman actually, and that is by using pvp-gear which has resilience. I talked about the lack of proper tankgear for lowbies in another post, and the solution (resilience gear) is of course open for shamans to use as well. If you get really much resilience it might be possible to be crit immune even at low levels and thus extend the level range at which you will be able to tank (I have heard of a shaman who tanked like this in northrend raids, so it is possible with some dedication!).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mystery Files - Who is Cyrik Blackforge?

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When playing WoW you'll quickly learn that whatever the Blizzard Devs have taken their time to give a unique name and/or other unique features, usually has some special properties. It might be something as small as selling goods or dropping some unusual item, but they're still special in some way from all the other npc that surround them - 99,9% of the time. Because there are some things in WoW that seem like they're special, but they're really not. Or is it just that we don't know about it? Maybe there is something special hidden, like an easter egg. Every games has easter eggs, even WoW.

Today I thought we'd look at a character who's presence has mocked many questing horde. It is lord Cyrik Blackforge, located (at least for now, who knows what will happen to him when Cataclysm comes out) in southern Barrens where he guards what is presumably his own air plane from being bombed by vigilante taurens who seek revenge. He's not very good at it though as his poor air plane is bombed to smithereens many times a day. Ah well.

But who is this Blackforge anyway? He has a cool name, and even a special looks, which distinguishes him quite clearly from the other dwarves in the area, in all black. However, he doesn't drop anything special, and you can't interact with him (other than killing himj of course) whether you're horde or alliance.

Fact is, no one really knows what he is good for. The best quess people out on the internets have come up with is that he was planned to be part of a quest somewhere back in beta (or maybe alpha), but that never made it to the real game. One could wonder why he's still there, mocking us with his presence by suggesting importance where there is none, but maybe the devs still plan to do something about him, and just never get around to it. I can imagine they have more important things to do, at any given time of the day. Is poor Cyrik simply a forgotten-about backwater npc?

Maybe we shouldn't be angered at him for his uselessness, instead we should pity him for having to play such a useless role when he was promised fame and glory! (As I am sure that is the only reason an npc would agree to be beaten over the face over and over and over again). All day long he has to see his air plane get bombed, while never be able to take it and just fly off into the sky. And to all this he can't even relax into the anonymity of being just a figurant npc, instead he is targetted by every new player who thinks he has a special cause.

I feel for you Cyrik. Next time I see you I won't kill you, but give you a hug (from a distance as I am sure you'll interpret it as an assault and try to kill me). You'll be special for real some day, I'm sure of it!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The reasonable fee

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Chances are you've got some character (or toon as some like to call it) with a crafting profession. Chances are even higher that you've had to deal with someone elses crafting profession to get an item you needed, because very few people are completely self-sustaining when it comes to crafts i.e have at least one character with every profession (I'm soon there though, just gotta finish bs on my warrior.) And even if you do have every profession at your disposal, you might not have all the patterns out there needed!

And if you ever try to get someone else to craft items for you, or do something else for you like open a lockbox or port you somewhere, you'll notice that it often comes with a fee. These fees are often set around a standard, for instance the opening of lockboxes usually costs nothing while getting a gem cut costs somewhere around 10-15g. Where do these standards come from and what is really a reasonable fee to ask for?

The simplest answer would of course be to simply ask for whatever price you like. If people don't pay, they no get. You could do that of course, but you sure as heck won't make much money from it, unless you happen to be the only one who can craft that particular item, more about that a little further down. So what is a reasonable price if you actually intend to make some money from something?

First of all it is important to know that not all crafting professions are much asked for. Some like engineering are nearly never wanted, while others like enchanting or jewelcrafting are asked for every 5 minutes in trade. Yet again others like inscription are highly wanted but rarely asked for. The reason for this are connected to the properties of the goods that the professions produce. Glyphs are cheap to produce and often used in big quantities at a time, therefore it is best to sell them through the AH. Gems on the other hand are medium expensive to produce and used in a medium quantity (by the market) and are therefore sold both at AH and through trade. Enchants on the other hand are usually very expensive to produce, and often the demands are very select. Therefore they are mostly sold on demand only, and not so much through AH. Others yet (while not crafting professions) are of course only usable when demanded, such as portals, the opening of lockboxes or boosts.

So the cost to produce something, and the risk of producing it beforehand (when not knowing for sure if it will sell or not) will affect the prices some, and also decide whether it will be sold on AH or if you have to yell for a crafter in trade.

As mentioned before, exclusivity will highly influence the prices of an item. If you can craft something alot of other people can craft, you won't be able to ask alot of money for doing it, since anyone else could jump in and do it cheaper. There are even people who do stuff for free, so watch out! If you happen to be one of very few to know a particular craft, like say some of the vanilla enchants that only drop in raids such as MC, or like when the Glyph Mastery books were first released on the market, you'll be able to demand a very high price for your craft. This is the case if a pattern/recipe is either time consuming or expensive to get, since those factors will greatly limit the amount of people who know it.

And one last thing that will affect the prices are the effort the crafter has to put into something to produce it for you. If you provide the crafter with all the mats you only demand about 5 minutes of his life, and this factor won't count for much. But if you want to buy an item ready and made, it is reasonable to expect to pay for the time the crafter has put into getting those mats together.

For instance, the other day I bought some 4-5 pieces of the Tempered Saronite set all ready and crafted, paying a little more for each item than I would've if I had collected the items myself. Since I didn't have to go through all the hazzle of collecting the mats myself, I paid him a little extra for doing it for me. It doesn't really matter if he happened to get the mats really cheap or really easy, you have to use whatever effort you would've had to put into it as a base. I wrote some about this some posts ago.

So the reason most people don't use a fee for opening lockboxes is because it didn't cost them anything to skill their lp. I think the main reason however is simply that whatever's in the box rarely would be worth more than any fee you might pay, which would effectively end the necessity of opening lockboxes at all.

The reason you pay some 5-10g for a mage portal is usually because that is what the mage think his time is worth, although the actual item they use costs about 20s or so (40s perhaps).

The fees for other crafts like gems, enchants, tailoring and so on is usually a mix of making it worth the crafters time and repaying some of the immense amount of money he/she put into learning your particular craft (although your craft might've been "free", i.e from the trainer, any crafting profession still cost alot to skill up).

The fee you pay for crafts such as glyphs is based around the very simple "supply and demand". Glyphs high in demand are usually expensive simply because people pay for them. Glyphs low in demand are cheap because no one wants them.

So to conclude, here is a list to check before deciding your price;
- What amount of demand is there on your item? high/low?
- What amount of supply is there on your item? high/low?
- How much effort do you have to put into producing it? high/low?
- How much effort have you had to put into learning it? high/low?

The top two, supply and demand, are usually the ones that matter most, as in any market.

Maybe this has given you a little more insight around the working of crafting professions, so that you can understand the WoW-market better and profit more from it!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ghost Sweeper Mikami

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I do read the occasional manga whenever I find a good one, and now I have. Over at my favorite manga provider site onemanga.com I stumbled upon a manga called Ghost Sweeper Mikami. When I read about the plot I didn't know if it was going to be awesome or just really pathetic, but it got me interested anyway. Maybe it says something about me, but you can read it for yourself to see;

"A man and a woman are working together in their own business.

Not very interesting, you say?
And if they are ghost sweepers, professional exorcists exterminating evil spirits and demons?

Huh, not inventive enough?
Then what if the man is a total pervert, beyond hope of any salvation, and the woman is a total hottie?
And there are more babes to come!

What? Sounds like a standard harem manga?
Ok, then let's suppose that the woman is as avaricious as the man is perverse
And she knows how to use her charms to force the man into suicide missions for a starvation wage.

Still missing something?
Then how about a dark, hidden scheme that has been running for ages, which of course can't ignore the woman, who is one of the most powerfull ghost sweepers alive?"

Doesn't it sound lovely?

I've only gotten one 10th into it so far (it's over 350 chapters and going) but it has kept me really entertained. I end up laughing out loud all the time. Like I said it might say something about my kind of humor, but there you have it anyway ^^ I recommend it for anyone who wants some easy to read fun!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A quick buck on an empty pocket

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If you ever decide to start out fresh on a new server, for any reason, you'll quickly notice that you need money, asap. When there is no sugardaddy main to send you some hundred g in starting funds it might actually even happen that you can't afford your very first skills (this has happened to me)!

Although collecting money is quite easy, you might need some kind of plan when going about doing it, to be able to collect enough for some very necessary expenses in your way - level 20 mount, level 40 epic mount, all your skills, any imba gear you might find at AH and etc. Just one Frostweave bag could easily cost you 50-60g, which is no peanut money for a lowbie.

This won't be one of those "this is how to make huge amounts of gold in 24 hours" kind of guides, but just some easy to follow thumb rules to keep the cash flowing in a nice and steady pace. It might not make you ridiculously rich, but at least you won't have to turn into one of those sad to look at beggars, "can I has 2g for gear plx".

Most importantly
The only thing you ever really have to keep in mind to be able to make some money is - everything is worth money. In WoW, any kind of effort put into killing or collecting items will produce some amount of money. In WoW time definitely is money. The gold farming guides will tell you the absolutely most profitable way to spend this time, but all you really have to know is that you will make money whatever you do.

Secondly
Thumb rule number one is only true if you follow thumb rule number two. Save everything you find. It isn't worth anything if you don't collect it and sell it to someone, be it a vendor or a player. Killing a mob and not looting it isn't worth anything. When you're still a lowbie even any gray is good to keep, although I recommend keeping all the grays you can carry at any level. An empty bag slot isn't good for anything. Cram your bags! Is thumb rule number two.

Thirdly
Although grays are a good way to get started on your money making, it won't get you much money later on. The best way to make a fast buck is by collecting "whites", that is any item used in a profession. The fact that an item is white and not gray indicates that it is used in some profession, so it is really easy to distinguish whether an item is good to keep or not. If you have to choose between a gray and a white, the white will usually turn out to be worth more money. The white does come with a little more hazzle though, since you won't earn anything from it just by vendoring it. You have to place it on the AH.
Whites can either be collected by killing mobs (meats for cooking), or by getting a gathering profession such as skinning, herbalism or mining. Although all these are really profitable at low levels (and later on of course), you can check the AH to see which one makes the most money on your particular server. I have seen servers that sell stacks of leather for one tenth of another server, so knowing the status of your servers market for a particular type of goods is good before deciding which profession to get.

Crafting professions aren't much profitable until way later on in the levels. Actually crafting professions usually cost more money than they earn you, especially while you're skilling it. By selling meat, herbs, ores and/or skins, you're the one earning a buck from someone else skilling their craft! Since it is way easier for a level 80 to earn money by doing dailies and such, they usually don't feel their time is worth grinding mats for. So they will pay you to do it for them!
Unless you feel a desperate need to craft your own items, I strongly recommend collecting stuff for others to use. It is a great way to make some quick bucks!

Fourthly
Save all greens! Yet again with the saving. Up until level 30-40ish you can easily get about 1g+ for any green you find, no matter what stat it has. It's also usually not worth disenchanting until later levels (40+) so if you get the option in an instance, I would generally recommend to choose not to disenchant an item if it's below level 40. I do not know who wants to buy all these greens, but they always sell!

Fifthly
When finishing a quest and turning it in you often get to choose between some different rewards. Unless you're going to pick one because you actually need it, you should always check which one is worth the most to vendor. Sometimes the difference is several g!

Sixthly
To save you some time while questing, and not have to interrupt it continously because your bags are full and you have to go to AH to empty them, I also recommend getting a bank alt. Just any char, standing ready at the AH and postbox in any city who can do the job for you (or rather, your char) so that you can keep on questing instead. That way you can just "empty" your bag at any postbox instead, by sending it to your bank alt. Whenever you feel like it (although more than once a month) you log over to your bank alt and do the money earning business through that char instead. Saves alot of boring travel time.
On lower levels where you'll ding quite fast, and thus visit a city most of the time anyway, this is less of an issue. But later on, especially when travelling far away like Outlands and Northrend, this will become really handy.

But my item won't sell!
Don't be discouraged if your item comes back to you in the mail. There are three reasons this could happen. Most likely, you've overpriced it. This is usually easy to avoid by checking the current prices of a particular item before placing it (or getting an addon that does it for you, I don't use that however). Undercut reasonably and it will most likely sell. If you're the most expensive option, you probably won't sell. If there is no other item like yours already at AH, you can decide the price for yourself, but it comes with the risk of being undercut. It's something you have to accept.
The second reason your item didn't sell could be pure bad luck. No item is worth anything unless people want it. Supply and demand and all that. If you're really unlucky, even items that usually sell really well, don't sell just because no one needed that item during the time it was at the AH. It is rare, but it does happen.
The third reason is that your item simply isn't worth anything. Sometimes you find some whites and greens that just never sell, because the demand for them is so low, or the supply of them too high. If your item return to you for a third time, this is probably the reason and you can vendor it instead.

All these are some simple rules to think about when leveling that lonely little char. If you stick to these rules I can promise you that you 'll be able to afford just about any expense coming your way on your path to level 80.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fighting Lich King

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My guild has finally made it up to the Lich King himself and spent some hours trying to wrap our minds around the fight. Preparing by reading tactics and watching other people do the fight can only do so much. There will still be some parts of the fight you simply have to learn by doing, at least that is how it works for me. Sorta like having to build something yourself before you know how it really works. We haven't downed him yet or the post would've been named "OMG LK DEAD OMG!". We've managed to get to the second phase at best and there are some things that are quite crucial to think about each phase. If you get those right it'll work smoothly. So now we're taking babysteps forward, learning each new crucial part by trial and error. Now this will be from a healers point of view, since I've only ever healed it so far, but there is something in here for anyone interested in whacking the old LK some day, I promise!

Phase 1
There is really only one thing you have to get right in phase one, and that is the handling of Necrotic Plague. As a MT you don't have to do much. Just remember not to grab aggro from the Shambling Horrors, because they're supposed to be tanked by the OT. The OT will stand some 30 yards away from the MT and tank the Shambling Horrors. Whoever gets the Necrotic Plague has to run to the back of the Shambling Horror asap and be cleansed by some designated cleanser. Phase 1 completely revolves around getting this done properly. The disease deals damage every 5 seconds for 15 seconds and then it jumps to a new targets. By having this disease jumping between two Shambling Horrors (or a Shambling Horror and a ghoul before there are two Shambling Horrors) you can kill them very fast. Trying to have dps kill the Horrors is a bad idea since they have hp like some raid bosses.

The tanks will take most of the damage in this phase. The Shambling Horrors go into an enrage where they hit for around 30k dmg on an ICC geared tank. You can either have someone remove the enrage, like a hunter or rogue or have the tank stand it through with some cooldowns. Both tactics work, but of course having a hunter removing it is the absolutely best option.

The designated disease cleanser (in our tries it was me) will have to keep an eye out for the Necrotic Plague. It can't stay for longer than 4 seconds on any player or they will die (unless they are lucky enough to resist half the dmg, which has happened). This means it has to be cleansed even if the player isn't behind the Horror, but of course this will make things alot trickier. The disease will probably jump to another player, you will have to continue cleansing and all these gcds can't be used for healing which of course is bad. Also if there is no disease on the Horrors they won't die and they have to be dead before phase transition. Phase 1, like mentioned, is all about everyone getting the handling of the disease done properly. If everyone reacts in time and gets it to jump to the Horror, and the OT makes sure to keep it between two mob target so that it keeps on stacking, phase 1 will be really easy.

The only other thing to think about in this phase is the Infest debuff. It is placed on the entire raid and will keep on doing damage until the target is healed above 90% hp. In phase 1 this will be cake and really not much to worry about. In later phases this could be more troublesome because the raid will have taken more damage from other things (there is nothing that deals damage to the raid in phase 1 ecept Infest itself) and the healers attention will be quite scattered. Also a healer could be caught by a Valkyr, not being able to heal at all. But that is for later phases, in phase 1 there is really only one thing to think about, and that is the Necrotic Plague. I say it again and again because it's important! ;)

Make sure all Shambling Horrors are dead before you take LK to 70%. Because when he reaches 70% the first transition phase starts, and you don't want any Horrors there. If there is a Horror up and LK is closing to 70%, have everyone wait with damage until he dies (ranged can start shooting on the Horrors if they like, and don't have mana issues). Don't have melee go fighting the Horrors since you don't want the Necrotic Plague jump to any player. New Horrors might rise, but hopefully you'll be able to nuke the last percent to start the transition before it spawns.

Transition Phase
Immediately after the last Horror has died and you've nuked LK to 70% he will run to the middle of the platform. That is when you run out from the middle of the platform. He will channel an ice aoe that deals damage to anyone within 45 yards of him, so of course you want to stand as close to the ledge as possible.

Ice Spheres will spawn from him and slowly travel towards one player in the raid. Do not get close to them as they will knock you off the platform! Have ranged kill them. They're easy to kill so even one ranged can handle them alone (in 10 man).

The troubling part of this phase are the Raging Spirits that spawn. They spawn from a random player in the raid and the tanks need to tank these up fast and they need to be killed fast. They do alot of damage first of all, and secondly they do a frontal cone attack called "Soul Shriek" which will damage and silence anyone it hits. You will want to dispel it from a tank, since they can't taunt (and do some other skills depending on class) if they're silenced. But you probably know that already. As a dps make sure you don't stand in front of these Raging Spirits so that you won't be hit by this cone.

After 60 seconds the outer rim of the platform will collapse. You will want to kill any Raging Spirits still alive asap and run into the middle of the platform (to LK) as soon as LK has stopped channeling his ice aoe (Remorseless Winter).

Phase 2
Welcome to phase 2. We haven't gotten much further than this. Now there will be alot of damage going all around the raid. Huddle in the middle and wait for the valkyr to come. As soon as it does, any range will spread out (about 15 yards apart) and any dps will start nuking it.

Be ready to run from Defile. It is an aoe placed on the ground underneath one random raid member, who has to move away from it asap. No one must come close to it as it grows and deals more damage depending on how many people it damages.

Some of the reasons we failed (the times we managed to get to phase 2, because we had troubles with the plague handling at first) were;
- Too many Raging Spirits still alive, killing the tank that tanked them because one healer was targetted by a valkyr and one was targetted by defile.
- Defile under the valkyr which quickly spread because we had a very melee heavy raid.
- Valkyr bugging out flying too high for anyone to dps it!
- One player getting wow-error midfight. Not much to do about that one though ^^

It is a really fun fight however and I look forward to trying it again. Each wipe you feel like you've learned something new and can tweak yet another part of your playstyle. And I hope nothing bugs out next time we try, damn cheating game...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Is backpaddling really that bad?

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I know most people dislike backpaddlers like a snowball to the face. Backpaddling is part of the "keyboard-turning" universe which has even become something of a curse-word recently. Whatever you do, make sure no one sees you backpaddle or keyboard turn! You'll never hear the end of it. Some people even unbind the default backpaddle key just to make sure they don't accidentally do it. And today I heard a friend of mine had bound that key to a macro which would whisper her "stop backpaddling, nab" if she pressed it.

And even though I can only see one reason for ever wanting to keyboard- turn, and that is when being busy with your other hand eating something tasty, I actually think backpaddling has received more scorn than it deserves. Backpaddling is ultimately about positioning yourself, and therefore it has its good and bad moments. Let's look at when it's definitely not ok to backpaddle, and the few moments where it might be ok.

Not ok to backpaddle
There is one good example of a situation where you definitely shouldn't backpaddle. That would be any situation where anyone is trying to move out of something hurtful, usually some kind of fire or the like on the ground. Why is this? Because backpaddling is slower than strafing which means you get out of the bad stuff slower if you backpaddle than if you would run forward or sideways. And the longer you stay in bad stuff the worse of course.

The problem is that people act as if backpaddling always is about getting out of fire. Well it isn't.

Ok to backpaddle
In some fights you need to stand in a very particular place, like fights where you have to keep a special range to everyone else on a limited amount of space. Or like on Festergut where you want to keep range but also stay close to get to spores. This means your positioning will need some micro managing during fights, to optimize your own position with regard to everyone else and what is happening in the room at the moment. Being able to backpaddle a yard sounds way more practical than turning around to run forward a yard and then turn around again to face the right direction or strafe around. You could either press one button for half a second or press several buttons for a while to accomplish the same goal. And if you don't want be called a keyboard turned you'd also have to use your mouse to turn, which you don't want to do as a healer, where you need your mouse to target stuff all the time. With backpaddle you can move and heal at the same time.

Maybe some classes benefit more from being able to backpaddle than others. Healers, like mentioned, do not like to have to use their mouse for anything else than healing ever, but I can imagine most dps classes have less issues with this.

So, people backpaddle to get out of fire to position themselves in a better place. But at that moment backpaddling isn't fast enough and shouldn't be used. But when you don't need to position yourself fast, but with accuracy, being able to use backpaddle is way more practical than strafing around. So don't unbind it!