Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Feral Cat Raid Dps Rotation (WOTLK)

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If you want an updated post for 4.0/Cataclysm Feral Cat Raid Dps I suggest you check out this post instead.

It is time for a real treat. Nothing less than a fairly easy overview on how to dps in raids as a feral cat druid. There won't be anything easier than "fairly easy" when it comes to feral cats, since they're arguable the most difficult class to do nice damage with (just count the good feral cats you know and that's your proof). Love is stepping in and writing this one, since I don't know jackbanana about dpsing as a druid. He wrote it for our guild (although he's actually the only active feral cat in it at the moment, where are you feral cats?), but I thought anyone could want to see it (I've got his permission for this, I think). If you're interested, Love has also shared his connosseurship on a post about Cataclysm Feral Cat Talent Changes.

Feral cat's rotation, isn't really a rotation, and it's sort of complex even in its simplest form, but I'll try to list the core rules in order of importance.
The idea isn't to keep your "rotations" perfect, since that is impossible, but don't let that get you down - instead try to break the lowest priority rule.

Most important
  • Maintain Savage Roar, any amount of combopoints will do.
  • On clearcast: Shred
  • If at or below 35 Energy, and if Tiger's Fury is up, use it and immediately use a Combo skill or Finisher to avoid overcapping
  • If over 80 Energy, Berserk (wait a few seconds if your TF buff is up and you'll still manage to use Berserk twice in the fight)
  • Maintain Mangle debuff (ignore this rule if there's an arms warrior in the raid, or bump it up a bit if there are many classes in the raid dpsing with bleeds
  • Maintain Rake without clipping
  • Rip at 5cb pts
  • If Rip and Roar are too close to each other in duration, attempt to desync them by using a low cp Roar (They can't run out at the same time, as it would cause considerable downtime for one of them, namely Rip)
  • Faerie Fire up! Best if it's done in the pull, causes very little threat, so a heroic throw/icy touch will hold. Refresh when pooling.
  • Shred for combopoints - This rule will happen quite often despite being far down
  • Pool to 80-85 energy, shred to avoid overcap. If you go over that amount, the Gods of Blizzard will give you a clearcast and make you overcap, which will hurt your brain.
Least important

Example start of a dummy-style fight:
Faerie Fire while running towards the boss -> Mangle to give peoples bleeds a buff -> Roar to boost your own damage -> Rake -> Shred -> Tiger's Fury for more energy -> Break the rule about not zerking with TF buff up and use Berserk -> Shred once or twice, depending on if your previous skills scored crits can gave double cmbpts -> Rip -> Shred -> Probably need new Roar here -> Probably need new Rake here -> Priority list will probably be at the bottom now which will lead to: Shred like a madman and retain buffs/debuffs aka. John Fucking Madden

Most guides will tell you to also use Ferocious Bite when Roar and Rip are over 8 seconds duration and your energy is 35-40, but I disagree. You need at least TF to have a reasonable chance to get a short Roar and 5cps to Rip up without too much downtime.
Rip can crit for something like 10k when fully raid buffed, and if a Fer. Bite causes more than 6 seconds of Rip downtime, it's a probable dpsloss. Ideally you shouldn't be in a position during Berserk where you'd want to FB, but that is probably the only time where it might be good.
I feel I'm starting to rant, so I should probably stop right here to avoid overcomplicating it ^^ There are a thousand small details and rules that will further increase your dps as a feral, and the more you manage to take into account, the better. But keeping it simple, managing the top5 rules and avoiding damage/debuffs will help the raid more.

Oh, and hit the buttons hard! A true feral has to buy a new keyboard every other raid! BLARGHBLARHG! *Grin*

Monday, August 30, 2010

Shamans can aoe too?!

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I've leveled alot of shamans, and one thing I really love about the class is that I feel like I learn something new about them each time I give it a go. So I am currently leveling my fifth (yes you read that correctly) shaman (although I only have one at 80, the others only made it to 70+). What on earth could be new with this one? Oh so many things, it turns out!

(hobo shaman is hobo)

Like I've mentioned before, they've finally decided not to leave shamans completely hanging on the aoe-front. Considering aoe is the only cool way to make dps nowadays, and especially in lowbie dungeons, this is extremely welcome. No more mages will be laughing at me behind my back because I can't keep up with their pesty Blizzard. Because you really want to spend all your mana on your aoes, the best way to level a shaman now seems to be enhancement. That way you can save all your mana on just Magma Totem + Fire Nova totem all while slugging your way through mobs. Melee is my main damage component, but Fire Nova and Magma Totem combined is like 60% of my totals. If you play as an elemental you have to "waste" all that precious mana on lightning bolts and chain lightnings, we can't have that. Also to be honest, elemental shaman is the most boring spec currently in the game. I've played two to 70+ (one to 80) so I should know!

At level 30 you get the possibility to put down four totems at once, instead of one at a time. when this was implemented in the game, like just before summer (it feels like, but I'm not completely sure), shamans all over the world wept a tear (or probably floods) in joy. That was one of the best buffs -ever- made to the shaman class, end of story. But because you want to place your fire totem so that it can hit as many enemies as possible, I still recommend you only have the other three totems in your Call of the Elements bar. This way you can place your buff totems wherever and then throw your magma totem into the fray where it makes the most damage. Since Magma Totem is extremely expensive, you don't want to put it down until you're absolutely sure the tank won't move anymore with the mobs. Being able to put down buff-totems like SoE, WFT and Mana Spring before engagin in combat is sometimes nice, but you don't always want your Magma Totem to accompany them.

What else is new? Well, imagine my suprise when I got a quest for a totem relic at around level 20. This totem relic, called Totem of the Earthen Ring, is an equippable gear piece which counts as all your other totems, so no need to fill four bag slots with your totems anymore! Go Blizzard! It seems Blizzard has given shamans alot of love recently, and the best way to find out about it seemed to be to level a new shaman. I could just have read the blue posts and patch notes I suppose, but this way is way more fun :P

Also, as for any weapon buffing class (like rogues too, and I've written about it before), it might be worth checking out which weapon buff is the best for the current level and weapon. One mistake I often see people at low levels do is assuming that whatever is the shiznit on level 80, will be the shiznit any level. This isn't true since at low level there will always be new ranks of skills, making them better than the lower ranks. In this way I noticed that at around level 40ish, Frostbrand Weapon worked better than Flametongue and Windfury Weapon (i.e did more damage). I got a comment about it, but I had tested it by combatting with each wepaon buff for a couple of minutes, and the statistics had its say. Frostbrand simply did the most damage. When soloing Frostbrand is comfy since it slows runners as well.

Enhancement also make for half-decent healers at low levels. I don't mean you should sign up for healing without a heal-spec or heal-gear, but don't be afraid to step up to the task if the healer decided to ditch you mid instance. Just tell the tank the facts - you'll oom easily and have fairly slow heals - and you'll probably do well while waiting for a new healer.

And while I'm at it, ranting about shamans, what the heck is up with Lava Lash? I have an enhancement shaman on level 80 too, but he's mainly resto and had elemental as offspec (I respecced my offspec since elemental is dangerously boring). I just can't get Lava Lash to feel like a worthwhile skill. I don't know what to do of it. Where does it fit into my rotation? Should I even waste time on using it at all? Even with my best of efforts it's like 2-3% of my total damage, which of course is better than nothing at all but still so incredibly bad that I wonder why enhancement even have it. The reason is probably simple enough, enhancement shamans actually occasionally have gaps in their rotations. Times when everything is on cooldown and there is nothing to do but to wait for these cooldowns to come up again. Lava Lash feels like a toy to be used while waiting. It doesn't really make anything, but gives us the sensation of using our wait-time in a valuable way. "Here, you don't have anything else to do so you might as well push this button". Please clarify Lava Lash for me, is it useful and have I just missed its points?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hybrid is the new black

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Argh, I'm getting so many things to write about that I'm starting to mix them in my head. If I had the time to write more than one post per day, I totally would.

Today I thought I'd talk about hybrids vs pures, an issue that has gone on since the dawn of WoW. Well actually it's more about the idea of pures and hybrids, the idea of some classes being more for buffing and some classes being more for dpsing. There is in fact a couple of classes in WoW that might be considered "selfish" classes while others are more of "altruistic" classes. WoW did for a long time try to move classes more towards the selfish, pure style, but maybe today it would be better if we all started moving toward the hybrid idea of team work and working together to achieve a goal. WoW is after all based on team work, so it seems weird that there still today are some classes that don't have to care about their team mates at all in a raid situation. I'll try to make myself a little more clear.

Some classes have alot of buffs, and some have nearly none. I always enjoy playing on my hunter/warrior/rogue for the sole reason that I don't have to care about buying reagents and remembering to buff people when raiding. When healing on my priest I have to remember to throw Fortitude on that poor sucker who just died and got ressed. I have to interrupt what I am doing to buff my fellow team mate. Same thing goes if you're a mage or druid. Talking about druids, they have to stand ready to interrupt whatever they're doing to throw a CR or Innervate on whoever needs it the most. Some classes, like rogues, dks and especially dps warriors have nothing to think about but their own dps-rotation. Sure, rogues might have to ToT once in a while but the point is that some classes have extremely little to think about when it comes to the rest of the raid compared to other classes, and in my opinion this should change.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think that anyone playing a dps warrior or rogue is a selfish douche bag. Blizzard has chosen these designs for the classes and there isn't really anything you as a player can do about it either. But if I mained a warrior or rogue, I would enjoy the possibility to be of greater use to everyone else in the raid. There are plenty of shamans/druids/paladins being picked out for raids now just because of their buffs, I bet rogues and warriors would like this as well. And mages just have their intellect and food really, and most raids would do well without that. What if mages could choose to use Ice Block on some other target than themselves for example? It is these kind of changes I am looking for.

I actually wouldn't mind some classes being the pure dps classes, if that at least would be somewhat difficult. Looking at top dpsers at different fights we can see that warriors, fire mages and assassination rogues usually top these lists by far. This shows that being able to fully concentrate on your dps rotation is extremely valuable. I will be honest and tell you that I haven't played either of these classes in endgame, but I have played fury and fire mage on 80 and I can say that I don't find it particularly challenging. Especially not when you compare it to the rotations of feral cat druids or enhancement shamans (I find them difficult anyway) - classes that are also expected to do other things than dps all while juggling what probably is the most difficult dps rotation there is (especially druids).

One could argue that doing the most dmg is sort of a raid buff, that by killing the enemy faster you actually help the entire raid, since that is the main goal of the fight anyway. But honestly, how many players are chosen today solely on the fact that they do good damage? They would have to exceptional damage, and no class is that good since Blizzard wants to keep things fairly fair. So imo either have the division we have now, but then have some classes as exceptional dps classes whose sole reason it is to make sure that damn thing dies, while others do less damage but provide the raids with valuable buffs (this is how WoW was back in Vanilla actually), or make everyone equally valuable to the raid both through damage and buffs. As of now buffs are far more vaulable to a raid and some classes have simply been left without. In a 25man raid you could easily bring 6-7 druids but you would never ever bring more than 2 rogues/dps warriors. Druids can play different specs, but that's just it - their ability to bring more buffs to the raid makes them more valuable. A druid is in fact four classes in one, with great combat utility, and we need to see more of this utility in the poor classes who today only can offer their dps to get a raid spot. Maybe remove CR and Innervate from druids and give them to the pures instead?

Hybrids have all these buffs because they used to suck badly. No one would bring a druid to a raid in Vanilla unless they had specced Innervate. People brought paladins just for the blessings. But things have changed dramatically since then, and pures are now in the position hybrids were in Vanilla. Hybrids have been made as good as pures without the pures gaining any of the utilities hybrids got back in Vanilla. Pures have been standing still while Hybrids moved forward. It is time pures got some of that hybridness.

WoW is about team work. Is it really a good idea to still have classes that don't have to use raid frames when raiding? That play in a way that doesn't in any actual way include the necessity of communication? I once talked with a hunter about the necessity of communication and he said that "he didn't need to communicate, because he knew exactly what to do". Yes that is probably so, but there are classes in the game that need to know not just what they need to do, but what everyone else is doing as well. To some classes communication is a corner stone in their raiding. Some classes use skills that don't directly benefit them, but that benefit the rest of the raid instead. As a fury/arms warrior you don't have one single skill that is used for the sole reason to help someone else in the raid (correct me if I'm wrong).

Blizzard has realized this to some part. When Dk's came they were given the equivalent of Strength of Earth Totem as a buff and Windfury Totem as a possible talent. I want to see this spread of buffs even more. Why not give Rogues Shadow Protection buff? Why not give warriors Blessing of might buff? Either make all classes into teamwork classes or make their selfish ways more difficult to handle. No class should feel like the rest of the raid is mere by standers that are there to buff their own dps. I really think everyone should have to handle the responsibility of having to think about their team mates now and then.

What would you prefer? More like in Vanilla with a clear difference between buff-oriented and dps-oriented classes or more of a mix for everyone?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fallout 3 - mod it like you mean it

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Fallout was released two years ago but has since then undergone some changes, most recently opening up to modding (and before that a couple of DLC's which added new quest areas) which makes it worth trying out again and so Love has dusted off his old Fallout 3 to give it another re-run to see what has happened.

Fallout is one of the best game series ever made. Not "probably", not "perhaps", but definitely. It goes without saying, but you can't say it too often either. So having said that it's understandable that it was with much anticipative angst that people were looking forward to the most recent part in the series - Fallout 3. Since the game was placed in the hands of a new developer Bethesda, and not the original creator Black Isle, it means someone else than the ones who had made Fallout into the awesome concept it is, was taking over the legacy and putting their interpretation over the game. Fortunately, the ones taking over were no nobodies. Bethesda have done their fair share of huge RPG-universes in the past, most notably Oblivion, and people were anxious to see what Fallout 3 could turn out to be in their hands. Awesome or dreadful. It turns out to be both, but not inbetween.

To explain myself we probably have to take a closer look at Bethesda. To understand the good and bad parts of Fallout 3 we have to look at the good and part parts of Bethesdas idea of a good game. Bethesda is a game developer whos made a name for themselves as really good story tellers. They usually put alot of effort into making their game worlds as immersive as possible when it comes to dialogues and character build up. Bethesda does these parts great, and so also in Fallout 3. What Bethesda never has done any good however is more about the mechanical bits of the game. Bethesda feels like a bunch of pen & paper rp-players who've been forced to adapt to the digital world of the computer and don't really know what to do with things like game physics and graphics. A game isn't just supposed to be a good story, but Bethesda often seem to think that as long as people enjoy the narrative, they'll overlook or forgive flaws in physics and graphics. This is only true to some part. Easy explained Fallout 3 looks like Oblivion in a Fallout setting. The graphics and physics are exactly the same - good looking but odd in the same time. The story line is great and characters that you encounter around the world generally interesting. There is of course the PipBoy and other Fallout-trademarks implemented into the game and anyone who's played the other parts of the Fallout-series will feel right at home.

Unlike the other games in the series, Fallout 3 is 3d instead of 2d. People were concerned about the feel to the game after this rather massive jump in dimensions, something that hasn't always worked well for other games of other series throughout the gaming history (Sonic for example). This is probably one of the biggest changes to the game world that Bethesda has done, but it works really well. Bethesda presents a beautiful dystopia, if such a thing could exist, and it is really more fun to be able to sneak around corners in 3d than in 2d. That extra dimension actually gives a whole new dimension to the game (see what I did there), and doesn't at all remove the feel from the other series, but rather enhances it. In the old games you could get into tense situations by being chased by more enemies than you could handle. In Fallout 3 you can be jumped by mobs from behind or around corners, which makes the entire world even more eerie and dangerous. So with any Bethesda game there is nothing wrong with the overall feel and immersion of the game.

It is worth noting however that Bethesda aren't as good as the dark humor that was Black Isles trademark for the Fallout-series. A little bit of that certain feeling has been lost, but Bethesda could've done so much worse when it comes to administering the legacy of this game. And in other areas of the game there is alot that could've been done alot better.

The problem lies in the details, details that in the end will become like huge splinters in your eye, because you can't stop thinking about them. Bethesda are extremely bad at constructing character graphics, for one thing. People move in bizarre ways and look really odd. Even if the character profile and story is great, you don't get the feel that you're actually talking to a real person, which could be bothersome when Bethesda is trying to make you feel something for them. It often happens that you simply shoot someone down just to get rid of their annoying behavior. Not because they're annoying characters, but because they move around like robots with ants in their pants. So even though some characters are just awesome, like Moira the crazy wannabe writer who uses you to learn more about how a person can be hurt, everytime you look at her you wonder if she's been hit by a truck because she moves around so weirdly.

Don't even think about zooming out to see your character in third person view. Although this is according to the the standard of the previous games, I strongly advice you never to do that. The animations of you character are hilariously bad. Jumping, running and "strafing" (or whatever it is your character is trying to do when you push those buttons) looks like your character has suffered severe damage to his backbone, removed it and replaced it with a stick. This takes me to the physics part of the game, which could make its own post really. The physics of the game are to the most parts so badly programmed that you wonder if you entered Twilight Zone somewhere along the way or if you've had a little too much of that rad-coke.

When shooting an enemy they can explode into red goo, or fall in literally any direction. They can easily get stuck in just about anything when falling making them end up in Lovecraftesque death positions with limbs all over the place and twisted in possible and impossible angles. They can also just hurl away and start bouncing around and probably never fall down to earth again. A car can come falling from the sky. Just like that. The problem with the physics of Fallout 3 is that it seems like Bethesda has a fairly advanced movements motor, but hasn't applied any weight to objects in the game. This means the game has to calculate how the body would move in weightlessness, something that usually ends up in total, mind-boggling chaos. Items/bodies more often than fall downwards rather than any other direction, but that's about the weight they seem to have gotten. And even then it happens that bodies fall upwards. The physics of Fallout 3 seriously never end up confusing and amaze you as a player, it is almost worth playing the game just to see what can happen to loose objects. "WTH?!" is something you'll think alot when playing Fallout 3.

Bethesda has changed the turn-basedness of the previous games into the Vats-system, allowing the player to semi-pause the game to choose different areas of the enemy player to hit, with different percentage scores presented to tell you how big of a chance you have to actually hit that particular body part based on your skill what that weapon. This means you can either play Fallout 3 like any old shooter, simply running around and using your own aiming skills to shoot down enemies, or have statistics do the shooting via Vats. The statistics of your character applies to both these systems however, which means that in Vats you can change the percent-chance to hit different areas and outside Vats the damage and spread of you weapon is affected by your skill with that weapon. Vats is also affected by action-points, which means you can only do a certain amount of actions through the Vats-system. This is to ensure that both systems work about equally well and that none is too easy to use. Unfortunately both of these systems suffer from huge flaws that in the end makes Fallout 3 into a rather bad shooting game. Yet again the criminal is the physics motor.

Trying to describe how a body moves around in the game world is difficult, because there isn't really anything in the real world that would behave in such a way. Enemies, and you, react to every little object in the world when moving around. That means that enemies running around will bob up and down like a fishing-bobber when moving about an area, making it really difficult to try to aim at. Trying to anticipate and predict the enemies movements for that perfect shot is near to impossible. Shooting stuff outside of Vats is best done on enemies standing damn still. Vats has its flaws too however. It doesn't seem like the Vats-system is correctly programmed to what obstacles does to shooting. This means that it can show you to have 90% chance to hit an enemy in the head, but when you try to shoot Vats ends up shooting some pebble that happens to be in the way. When using Vats you might be aiming in the right direction, but anything in the way will probably be hit instead and you will have wasted all those shots on shooting the grid in a fence or things like it. Vats is best used when you have a really clear vision of sight, and definitely not when you're crouched behind objects like one wants to in shooting games. The shooting aspect of Fallout 3 is because of these flaws rather crude and has to be worked around constantly to make due. The player constantly has to compromise his actions to what the physics motor will allow, which ruins immersion pretty effectively.

So far it sounds like Fallout 3 is a horrible game and completely un-playable. And yes, Fallout 3 has very many problems about it that makes it difficult to enjoy the good portions of the game, the story-telling and characters (and also it is always easier to talk about the bad stuff than the good stuff). Fallout 3 offers hours of interesting game play that deserve a chance. Fortunately, Bethesda have in some sense realized that there is room for improvement and that anyone else probably would do it better than them. Hence, they have opened Fallout 3 for modding, making it possible for anyone skilled enough to enhance the aspects of the game they find lacking the most. And there has been alot of enhancing done. Unlike Add-ons, mods actually change how a game works, which means you can change, remove or add aspects to the game as you please. All of the above mentioned problems and flaws of the game currently have a mod that tries to fix the problem somewhat. A mod is only a patch in the end of course. What Fallout 3 really would need is a code-overhaul, but since that won't happen and Fallout 3 definitely is worth experiencing at least once, we'll have to make due with band-aid mods instead.

There are mods that do just about anything - changed graphics that make people look less unreal, more detail to different items, enhancing the rp-factor of items, adding quest-lines and new characters, adding creatures, making the game more difficult etc. Not all mods work well together, but there is a lot of them so you can pick and choose pretty much as you like and end up with a Fallout 3 that suits your likings.

As an example of mods that one might like, Love went with the following;

- Fallout Wanderers Edition: A huge overhaul to many aspects of the game, enhancing the RP-experience. Adds for instance the necessity to eat, drink and sleep. Fast travel is changed, so that a motor cycle is needed, which has to be maintained with fuel and repairs. You can no longer carry half a military base around which means you have to restrict yourself to a select amount of weapons. Not being able to carry around enough ammunition to kill half the wasteland but actually feel a little exposed. When encountering enemies you might actually choose to avoid them instead of going in and Terminate everything you see Schwarzenegger-style. You will actually have to treat injuries. These are just some things that this mod changes.

- Marts Mutant Mod: Adds a couple of new enemy types. Most importantly it gives all the enemy types already in the game more variables when it comes to color, size and things like it, making the enemies more unique and interesting instead of a hoard of clones.

- Project Beauty: Remodelling of some character faces which makes them look less beaten by the bad-programming-stick.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Some things about WoW confuse me...

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When playing any kind of game you'll always stumble across things that make you wonder how the designers and developers ended up choosing that particular solution for something, anything. WoW is no exception of course. Here are some of the things I have been wondering about recently, some of them are of a pure estetic matter, others actually a little more about game mechanics.

The vomiting druid
Love often mentions how much it annoys him that druid vomit when using Berserk. Well actually they get a bunch of leaves over their heads, but when standing behind a char as you usually do when playing it, it looks like a stream of vomit. What does leaf-burst looking like vomiting have to do with berserking? Looking at other similiar spells like Bloodlust, Bloodfury and Enrage, we can see a red line. They often include the character doing an emote of /roar or similar, and sometimes turning red (or big with Bloodlust, dunno about Heroism). But leaf-burst vomiting? No I can't figure what Blizzard thought when they decided that's how the emote for druid Berserk should look.

That's some really evil looking thing you have over your head there...

The lost totem

Did you ever notice that Tremor Totem doesn't give a buff? It doesn't give a debuff either. There is in fact no way to tell if one is up, other than looking around for it, or ask your local shaman if they used it. Well of course it -does- give a buff, since you can see it in your combat log as well, and it obviusly works, but it won't show in your buff bar for some reason. In a raid setting, this seems like a stupid solution. I can see that I am affected by Mana Spring, Windfury and Flametongue Totem and all the other totems also show buffsa or debuffs, I can even tell if I have Sentry Totem up! But not Tremor Totem? Why not? Would it really be too much to ask to have it show?

Hello there tremor totem

The trainers

There is no shaman trainer on horde side on the entire continent of Eastern Kingdoms, to my knowledge (if I am wrong, please tell me!). This is extremely annoying, because every two levels that I ding my shamans, I have to do all the damn travelling between continents all over again, and even without BoA gear leveling goes really fast nowadays. Why is this? And shamans aren't the only one who have problems with their trainers. I also bother me that some classes don't have trainers in certain cities. Rp you say? Come here and I'll throw a totem at you. If I want to level my warrior in Ghostlands or my hunter in Silverpine, I should be able to do so without all the hassle of having to run all the way to another continent or city to be able to train. Yet again there is the choice between rp-factors and comfy-factors, and in this matter I think rp is secondary. It's not even that difficult to invent an rp-story that makes all trainers reside in all cities. There's a druid trainer in Silvermoon right? And paladin trainers in Undercity? So why can't we have the other trainers get there too?

And I've always wondered why Blizzard haven't put any trainers in Outlands and Northrend? The reason is quite obvious, they want people to have an incentive to return to the "old world". It's not a good reason. It's like Sony removing back compatibility from ps3 because they want people to buy less ps2 games and more ps3 games. Then make better games for the ps3 silly, removing the back compatibility was probably the most stupid thing you could do! Ok it's a side track, but I am glad I got that out of my system. Anyway, Blizzard doesn't have a -good- reason for not having trainers in Outlands and Northrend. There are still reasons to go to the old cities, like the auction houses for instance, the probably biggest reason for people to return nowadays anyway. Not having trainers in the new areas is only making it tough on the leveling people, why would you want to do that? Well maybe they have it too easy now already and Blizzard wants this to have us waste time on something at least. Heh, I could almost make this into its own subject for a post. What do you think about the trainers?

The Flightpaths
It's not so much the flightpaths as the paths leading to them. In places like Orgrimmar, Stormwind and Thunder Bluff, running to the flightpath means you'll be dismounted. I know it's a minor thing, since all I lose is like 10 seconds but it still annoys me! It annoys me because I see no good reason for it to be this way. Love speculated that maybe Blizzard didn't want people to be able to stand with their mount ontop of the Wind Rider, but since you can do that in most other cities that doessn't seem like a plausible explanation. I think it's just so simple as to that damn RP-factor, again. And again, I have no issues with RP at all, I even think it's fun but it has its time and place and this isn't one of them. Please let me stay mounted when running to my flight path, there is really no good reason not to.

The LFG-Tool
I don't know much about the exact inner workings of the LFG-Tool and how it actually works when it collects people from all over into a nice little group. It's an awesome tool and to a big part responsible to all those alts I am leveling. Being able to do midlevel instances has just made leveling chars so much more fun imo! But how come, when I get a group and one of the dps declines, it says I am being put in front of tthe dungeon queue, but the tank/healer disappears from the group? Does the dps declining from this particular setup somehow make the tank/healer end up in another group? This is extremely annoying because it means that just because some other dude decides he didn't want to go after all (or just is afk), I have to wait for another 10 min for the tool to find my group a tank. I'd really like to know more about how that works...

Can you think of any other odd/weird design choices in the game?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Maintain connections

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Since I dinged 80 on my little warrior I've put quite alot of effort into gearing it. At least alot in my standards. And that made me realize what a huge difference it makes whether you know or don't know someone on the server you're on. Since most 80's I've got are on the same server as my main I haven't had much trouble with this before, but now every gear piece is a struggle to get. A friend of mine has also recently dinged a warrior 80 on a server other than his mains, but he at least has some friends on that server, I have none at all. Let's look at all the things I have to struggle with on a daily basis!

The crafteds
Since I can only have one profession, and it happens to be alchemy, I have to ask strangers for help with every single craft that I need - gear, gems, enchants etc. Fortunately, most people actually are rather nice and helpful when it comes to this, and don't try to abuse their power situation. There is always someone who tries to overprice, but they're generally a minority. I often find people who not only do items for free, but sometimes even throw in extras for free, thank you! Well needed for a poor girl like me. Sometimes I have to resort to AH, which can either turn out to be really expensive or really cheap. If I'm lucky I can find complete bargains like 20 Scroll of Enchant Shield: Defense for 5g each (I am now selling them off for 50g each and earning a nice buck from that), other times I have to accept that I have to pay 200g for some leg armor. Since my warrior is a side project, a hobby really, I don't often have to buy what I need right away though. I can wait until another day and see if the prices are more reasonable then, instead of making that desperate buy.

Hmm... no.

The flying

Epic flying mount... It can either be your best investment ever or your worst buy ever. Many people think that since you can fly around grinding mats faster, it will soon repay itself. If you want to spend the next coming week grinding mats then be my guest, I don't and therefore I put those 5000g on gear instead. The point is that if you're all alone on a server with no other char or profession to earn you money, 5k g on a flying mount is a -huge- investment that has to be thought through carefully. My friend borrowed money from one of his friends so he could buy it and has now had to spend the last week grinding money to repay it. Was it worth it? Maybe in the long run, the very long run. To me, 5k g just is too much money yet, and I want to spend it on something else that will get me into raids faster.

The raids
Speaking of raiding, and this is the real bitch, since I don't have achievements for anything on this char, trying to get into a raid is really difficult. And that means I can't get the achievement! Or the gear. This means I really have to convince every damn raidleader that I know the tacs very well, I have done the instance one trillion times, so please please give me a chance to prove it. I have succeeded sometimes. Since I am a tank it happens that people become desperate enough to let me join even if I am udnergeared. But I will stay undergeared until people let me join, and gearing really takes time since no one will let me join because of my bad gear... and so on.

The money
If I could just, like my friend, borrow some money from someone to buy nice gear, I could start doing raids and maybe earn some more money. It's just like in the "real world", if you have money and connections, you'll get more money and connections. If you have nothing like me, you're in the shit.

The guild
This is a tricky one. If you're all alone on a server like me, trying to get into a nice guild with the same goals as you is probably the best way to go about getting started. Since my warrior is just a hobby project and not something I want or can put too much time into (I have other chars who need love too), I have decided to stay out of guilds. The only guilds I can join right now are the social guilds, and social isn't really what I lack - it's power! The power to get myself into raids to get gear to get money. Well gear doesn't automatically equal money, but the more gear I get from raids, the less money do I have to put into buying it instead.

This will work!

My warrior currently has about 4800gs and I have real problems getting into VoA10, even with the achievement. Don't even think about ICC or even ToC. Most weeklys are out of the question as well. I have to haggle my way into the raid but quite frankly I don't have that much to offer. Without the connections I am at the hands of nice peoples mercy, people who bring me along either because I am their last hope or because they want a challenge or because they feel like doing a nice deed for they day so they can sleep well at night. How often does that happen? Not often I can tell you (more people should have trouble sleeping). And then I read about Manda writing in her blog that her newly dinged druid, 3300 gs gets to tag along into ICC25 (!), just because her guild says so. That is so not fair, I would sell my undead soul for such an opportunity (any takers btw?). And my friend just recently dinged his warrior 80 but is already closing in on me on gear because he has friends on the server who can help him out. It shows what a schmuck I was to choose a server where I knew no one. It also greatly illustrates the power in having the right connections. So I better start making some...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Adios Aoe?

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So they decided to remove Volley from the game all together. When I first read about its removal I thought it was just one of many, many odd bugs in Beta. But then a blue post verified that Blizzard actually intended to remove the spell entirely as it wasn't especially hunterish to begin with and competed with Multi-Shot.

It of course started an outrage among hunters, no one wants to be the schmuck left without an aoe nowadays. I know that everytime I level a char that gets their proper aoe far into the game, like priests and rogues, I get annoyed since I just can't win damage done in instances no matter how well I play. When I recently discovered the change to Fire Nova they've made for shamans I was happier than I've been for along time (wow, that makes me sound like a sad person, but I was just really happy :P). I just started leveling a litte shaman (that's how I noticed) and I spam that spell everywhere I go. I even buy expensive mana potions of the AH just so I can use Fire Nova more when instancing, it is so much fun! Now I even win damage done over thunder clapping warriors and consecrating paladins! As a shaman! Who'd ever have known. Hunters also seem to have forgotten that they still have Explosive Trap, and with the Trap Launcher I've heard rumors about it might in combination with Multi-Shot replace Volley just nicely.

But it also made me think, what has AoE become? It didn't use to be so important, but has turned into this abomination. Everyone wants the best AoE spell. Yes it is fun being able to dish out 20k+ dps on trash, but is it really necessary? Will that make you or the raid have an easier time later on LK hc? No of course not. Well actually Lk is one of few raid boss fights where good aoe does become very handy at times, but overall aoe is for killing trash. It is really a very secondary spell, and yet we put so much into it. So what if you didn't win damage done on trash? who cares really? I am sure no RL with any competence would.

AoE can come in handy when leveling. Being able to pull together a bunch of mobs and then kill them all at the same time is of course very comfy. But is it necessary? As a rogue, killing mobs one after another is the way you have to do it (unless you're combat in which case you can pull maybe three mobs at once!). And you don't hear them complaining? Apparently questing and leveling can be done well even without a good AoE spells. Sure it's handy, but that's still a long way from necessary.

I've often complained about the fact that instancing today is about spamming one button, especially if you're dps. Just use your aoe and your set, there really isn't much else to do in heroics today. Is this how we want it to be? It is only in Wotlk that aoe has gotten this prominent role in our dps rotation, well it's not even a rotation is it? It is mind numbing spam. It has often annoyed me that people think they're so damn cool because they can win dps by spamming their aoe. It's not like it's difficult! The hunt for aoe has even made me invent my own aoe as subt rogue, by using Shadowdance and applying Garrote on every target I can to have my own, pretend-aoe.

And yes it is fun to see 30 crit-numbers flying over your screen and feel like an allmighty god. Looking at the trashpulls in ICC it's not really something you'd want to have to kill one at a time either. Blizzard seem to have put themselves and us in a kind of evil loop of aoe. They give us strong aoes, then packs big enough so that we have to aoe them and then more aoe so that we can aoe them. Looking at the raid instances we have today, few of them actually have trash that are aoe-friendly. Naxx perhaps, Ulduar doesn't really and ToC doesn't even have trash at all. So where does this aoe frenzy come from anyway? The answer is of course - heroics.

I don't think Blizzard had planned, intended or even anticipated what heroics would turn into after giving us all the awesome gear that we have become. In the beginning there were very few heroics where people just aoe'd their way through. It's hard to believe but heroics used to be difficult once upon a time, they used to be heroic. Now a heroic instance is like a walk in the park for most people. The trouble is, you couldn't do anything else than aoe even if you wanted to nowadays. Try to get your rotation started on a mob and it'll be dead before you reach your third spell. Aoe is the simplest way to deal with mobs, because they're too easy to deal with in any other way. And somehow this spamming of aoe in our daily randoms have made us believe that we actually need our aoes. That they're among our best spells. That a class without an aoe is like banana split without bananas (I love tasty metaphores). Sure you'd have the ice cream and chocolate and all but there's no banana! It's not worth eating!

The truth is that aoe is no banana. It is not that important. A class without a proper aoe will do just fine. The single target damage is what has downed those difficult bosses and will most likely still be in Cata. The Aoe is an illusion. No wait, it's a lie.

What do you think AoE has become in Wotlk, and what changes would you like to see?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It's a good day to fix Lightwell

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Anyone who's followed my blog for a while should've gotten the idea about my thoughts on Lightwell. Ok maybe that's not fair, the only time I've had a longer say on what I think about it was 8 months ago ^^ Long story short, I think it's a great spell with great potential and they really should make something good about it.

Back then I wrote;
"Ok I can think of one thing; they should change the mechanics of Lightwell. It's a great spell and a great idea of a spell, but no one likes it because of how it works. You have to target it to use it and honestly, how many dps like to retarget? Even for a split second? Even if it saves their lives? Not many. My dream come true would be if they made so it works like the lightwell in Trial of the Champion does. A beacon of sprouting heals. Yeah that would be completely awesome and sooo good from a healer perspective. And not likely to happen. But they could at least make it so that you don't have to re-target it to get heals. The mechanic is there, because you don't have to target the Mage-table or Healthstone-thingy to activate what it does (just click it, which is miles away from targeting it). Maybe it could have an aura of healing? So when you get close to it it heals you automatically? Yeah I wish..."

People just don't use it today (and with "people" I mean dps) which means I have to find semi-usages for it all the time. It still works fairly good, but its grandness doesn't come out. I can always place it over at some lonely offtank or by myself, and I even sometimes use it as a marker for where people should run in different boss mechanics (oh the shame, have we fallen this low...). Considering many dpser, even in serious heroic progress endgame guilds like the one I am currently in, barely take the time to run off to bandage themselves or otherwise hide/avoid/remove damage from themselves, Lightwell just wasn't easy enough to use. Everytime I see someone using it I have to pull my chin off the floor.

My Lightwell currently heals for over 4k every 2 seconds, that's no shitty heal. And yet people seem so reluctant to use it, like it was poisonous or something.

But I still love that damn thing! I've been trying to keep track of it to see what Blizzard will do to it in Cataclysm, if anything. First wow.com hinted that it might be put aside in the talent tree to become that obscure, lonely talent that only weird priests spec (not far from what it is today actually). And then mmo-champion (that lovely old chap) comes around and gives me new hope again with this very small quote from Ghostcrawler;

"Lightwell
How to make lightwell work: Change clicking range to 15y, Make clicking it not change target
As I have said previously, this is the plan. We just haven't been able to test it yet, and the talent has enough baggage that it's hard to get players to even try it."

These suggestions - increasing range and especially making it so that it works more like the warlock healthstone-stone - is exactly what I was hoping they'd do to Lightwell, and it would certainly make Lightwell alot more easy to use for those simple-minded dps out there. Mind you that Ghostcrawler hasn't promised us any pony here, he's barely promised us the photo of a shadow of a pony, but I'm willing to grasp onto anything! This means I can at least hope that Blizzard have this on their drawing board somewhere (probably in the basement though). Then again, considering they haven't done anything about it thus far, or even said much about it, I must conclude that Lightwell is pretty far down in their priority list and might turn into one of those things that will be fixed in a patch instead.

He also says that the talent has baggage, and that is very true. But that is where we hard-working and nagging priests come into the picture. We will have to take a crash course in advertising and make sure that Lightwell sounds like the best idea in the world for a dps to use. I already nag on my dps to use it, and it works so-so of course, but I am sure that is because of the flaws of Lightwell today. If the above mentioned changes were to go through I could say that there would be no more excuse not to use it, and be damn right. Maybe make a deal with the RL about minus-dkp ;)

At least there is hope for Lightwell, a very small but bright hope that this awesome spell finally will be awesome. It has actually made me rethink my decision about not going holy in Cataclysm. If they make Lightwell into a proper spell there is no way I will be able to keep my hands off it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Gemming your tank

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One thing you will have to do alot when dinging 80 and that I haven't mentioned much before is gemming your gear. Whether you're a tank, melee/caster dps or healer you'll probably put alot of money into gems so it might be worth to get it done right the first time (I know from personal experience how much it sucks to gem something wrong). This time I thought I'd look at tanking gems, as they're pretty much the same over the four different tanking classes.

There are two questions to be answered when you're going to gem a socket.
The first one is; which gem is best for this particular color? Easy answer is; Solid Majestic Zircon. The other is; do I have to care about the socket bonus? Easy answer is; No

These questions need to be answered for any class and spec and gemming as a tank is actually rather easy, generally all you want is stamina, stamina and some more stamina. There are very few socket bonuses out there that are worth gemming anything else for, actually only 9 stamina socket bonus or more would be worth it. The only exceptions are if you are under defense cap as dk/paladin/warrior or if you need a certain color to activate your metagem. Your metagem should be Austere Earthsiege Diamond by the way, no matter what class you play (yes, more stamina). That means you'll need a red gem somewhere among all those blues to activate that meta. Some solve this by placing a Nightmare Tear into one socket, which counts as any and all gem colors.

I wrote about the reasons for stacking stamina in another post about warrior tanking, but this is true for every tank class;

"- You can never have too much stamina
(...)
- Any other stats are secondary to stamina, but it's nice with hit and expertise too of course.
- Even if you gain stamina on an item, it has to be proportionate to any amount of avoidance that you lose.

It's hard to say how much hp avoidance is worth, since it depends on how much hp and avoidance you already have, and what kind of mobs you're going to fight. But remember that hp is a definite way to survive incoming damage attacks while avoidance only gives a chance to survive incoming attacks. People call it "Effective" vs "ineffective health". Avoidance is ineffective because as long as you don't have 100% of it, there is always a chance it won't help you at all. Avoidance also only helps against physical attacks, whereas hp helps against any attacks (though death knights have talents that convert avoidance to magic avoidance I think)."

In case you need more defense or (defense is no longer a stat in the game). In case you want to activate a socket bonus somewhere, here are some other stamina-stat combinations that will do that;

Purple (Red/Blue)
- Defender's Dreadstone (Parry/Stamina) (Not for druids)
- Guardian's Dreadstone (Expertise/Stamina)
- Regal Dreadstone Regal Eye of Zul (Dodge/Stamina)
- Shifting Dreadstone (Agility/Stamina) (Only for druids)
- Sovereign Dreadstone (Strength/Stamina) (Not for druids) (Not recommended)

Green (Yellow/Blue)
- Enduring Eye of Zul (Defense/Stamina) (Not for druids) (Unlike Parry, Defense isn't a wasted stat on druids, they do however benefit so little from it that you very rarely want to gem for it) This gem is no longer in the game.
- Vivid Eye of Zul (Hit/Stamina)

Any of these are acceptable tank-gems, but remember that stamina really is the best way to go (as of yet, this might change in Cataclysm).

Another tip is to start looking for cheap gems as soon as possible, since prices on gems can fluctuate wildly. If you don't know someone who can cut gems, or can cut them yourself, it's a good idea to look for gems on AH every now and then and stack them up in your bank for when you ding 80. A gem should never cost more than 200g, and they rarely cost less than 100g. Most servers seem to sell gems for around 100-130g, depending on demand.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cataclysm Masteries - Tanking

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After having looked at the masteries for healing, and concluding that they're pretty core- enhancing and fair, it's time to look at the tanking masteries to see if we can draw the same conclusions or something else entirely! Yet again, this information comes from wow.com.

Death Knight
Each time you heal yourself via Death Strike, you gain 50% of the amount healed as a damage absorption shield. Absorb increased further by mastery rating.

This is from speccing into the Blood tree. That Blizzard intended to make only one tree really viable for tanking is no news, and it will be really interesting to see how death knights will respond to this. One of the big charms of being a death knight, and in my opinion also one of the big problems about them, was the possibility to easily switch between tanking and dpsing. This meant that some thought they could be tanks just by switching to frost presence, but it also meant a unique way of tanking. It's also sad that Blizzard are removing this feature of Death Knighting (it's a real word) just because they're actually too lazy to keep on balancing the trees to work both as dps and tank-trees at once. They simply bit of more than they could chew with their vision for death knights, but I think it's sad they're giving up and turning Death Knights into this standard solution. As for the mastery, it's hard to say how much a blood Death Knight will be using Death Strike when tanking, and how much 50% of one Death Strike will make a difference. Considering the mastery requires it one can assume it will be part of the standard rotation and used as often as the runes allow for it. And as always, absorbtion is awesome for damage reduction so this could turn out to be really good, probably alot like Savage Defense works for druids today.

Druid
Increases the damage absorbed by your Savage Defense ability by 32% and increases the damage done by your Cat Form bleed abilities by 20%. Absorb and damage increased further by mastery rating.

32% sounds like they've really given this particular mastery some extra thought and balancing. I wonder why everything about druids always has to be so damn exact? Every other class gets "10% increase to X" but druids always get like "13,5% increase to X". Doesn't that say something about the problems with the class? I certainly think they do. It's like druids are theorized around fours different systems - casters, healers, tanks and melee - and therefor none of them work well because they always have to work with eachother in a way that is just not possible. I get the feeling that whatever they thought they needed to fix with Death Knights by making one tree the official tank-tree, they should've done long ago with druids. Ok, maybe I'm putting too much into this number, but it's really symptomatic about druids. One could also discuss how good Savage Defense is anyway, and this counts for the Death Knight Mastery too, since you need to be able to actively hit a target to benefit from the ability at all, something a tank might not always be able to do.

Paladin
Increases your chance to block melee attacks by 16%. Block chance increased further by mastery rating.

Yet another uneven number, and I don't know why they specify melee attacks either. Is there something else that one can block? Maybe it's just to not confuse anyone, or maybe it's because they're changing how block works in Cataclysm, I don't know. I'm no fan of block, never have been. Block used to suck so much they simply just doubled (I mean like doubled!) the amount of damage that block will reduce. But it's still pretty sucky. Bosses in ICC can easily hit for like 25k and reducing that by some 3-4k now and then just seems so lame. And it doesn't do anything for magic damage at all, so realying on it too much isn't going to keep you alive against those Frost Breaths.

Warrior
Increases your chance to block by 10% and your chance to critically block by 10%. Chances increased further by mastery rating.

Yet another block mastery, which doesn't suprise me since warriors always have been all about blocking and Blizzard will never ever change that, any less than they will remove totems for shamans (not that I want them to do that though). This is slightly more personal than the paladin mastery with the increase to critical block, which I assume is about the talent Critical Block. It could also of course simply be some new feature to blocking coming in Cataclysm, I don't think so though. Critical Block gives a chance to block double the normal amount (double again!) and this might actually make block become decent if it's up often enough. Then it will eventually just turn into working like extra armor, which is boring but efficient.

Overall there are two different types of masteries for tanks, the absorbers and the blockers, which is in line with how Blizzard is having the tanks work now. Absorbtion has historically always been vastly superior to blocking, but Blizzard are at least adressing the issue and trying to improve block. It's interesting to note that Death Knights, who can't block at all, were the tank of choice in the beginning of wotlk because of their great capabilities to absorb damage. Same thing with druid tanks in BC. Since then things have evened out quite much, and I can't really say that one tank class is superior to another anymore, not as it used to be anyway. I really don't like block as it is today. I don't think they should remove it as I like the general idea, but they definitely have to make it a more viable tank stat. How many tanks out there ever chooses block rating on an item over dodge/parry or stamina? For threat maybe.

On the other hand the two absorbtion masteries require the tank to be able to strike the target for it to be useful, something that is not required from block. Block is useless against magic, but a death knight/druid out of range of it's target won't benefit at all from their absorbtion masteries. Maybe these things will even it out between block and absorbtion in the end. I suppose that is what Blizzard is trying to find out now during Beta testing.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The most dangerous mob

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A long time ago I read somewhere about which mob in the game had killed the most players. I think it was some official WoW-data, but I can't remember where exactly I found it. This was like 4 years ago though. before Wotlk and even BC, so maybe me not remembering isn't so strange.

The mob was one of the ghouls inside Stratholme, I think Fleshflayer Ghoul, but might also have been the Ghoul Ravener. I remember thinking "yeah that makes total sense, those bastards sure kill me everytime I try to do that damn instance". This was back when 60 was the best you could be, and Stratholme was one hell of an instance to try to get through. I'm still awe struck by those mighty people who managed to do a Timed Baron Run back then! I don't think there's much as difficult around in the game anymore. Lk hc perhaps. Stratholme still today comes pretty high up in my list on instances that contains the most annoying mobs, although the ghouls aren't the most annoying ones in that instance actually. I remember that back then they hit insanely hard, and that combined with every other annoying mob in there usually gave them the killing blow.

I think about those ghouls still today and wonder "what is mob is killing the most players today?". Surely not those ghouls anymore, very few people do Stratholme at all today, and even less "properly" leveled for it. I think that list included bosses, and those ghouls still topped the list on player kills. It's not that strange after all, a boss might kill more people at a time, but with longer intervalls, since not that many people did raid back then. Stratholme was a 10-man raid at first (or was it even 15?) but they eventually changed it to a damn hard 5-man instance instead. You really needed to be awesomesauce to get through that instance without 10 wipes and without it taking 5 hours. For anyone without a raiding guild or the time to raid, Stratholme and Scholomance was the next best thing. If you weren't there you can't really imagine how horrible it was. Look at me sounding like those old farts in Monthy Python! "When I was young we had to eat a beating for breakfast, and like it". Seriously though. If you want a feeling of how it was you could go there with a level 60 char, and some level 60 friends and complete it. No BoA gear allowed!

I've tried to locate that list since, a couple of time actually. No luck. If I were to tell you which is the most dangerous mob in the game today, it would be a total guess. So let's guess!
First of all I think there are probably plenty of midlevel mobs that are quite dangerous. At level 80 people tend to get better and better gear, and the mobs don't become tougher and tougher really. On the other hand people spend less and less time in mid-levels, leveling has never been so fast as it is today. Another factor to consider is that some mobs are dangerous not in themselves but in their context. Like the Scarlets in Scarlet Monastery. No single mob in there is any dangerous, but the fact that they easily run and pull more mobs make them very dangerous. The most dangerous mob doesn't have to be located in an instance at all of course, but that is usually where the slightly tougher mobs are, where overpulls are more easily done and more players available to be killed.

So let's consider the factors that need to be present - the mob probably has to be part of a pack, I doubt there is any one mob out there capable of holding the position of #1 without the aid of some friends. It also has to be somewhere where alot of people go, either an area for questing or an instance that is done alot. There are some tough quest mobs like the seal in Zul'Drak and the dragon in Dragonblight, but I just don't think people fight those often enough. Quests and the mobs you have to fight when doing them are usually only done once, and then never again. Daily quests are repeated, but Blizzard have actually tried to make most of the Daily Quests as easy as possible so that people don't have to spend all day completing them. Back in BC I can imagine Kazzak was one of the mobs that killed the most players. Remember him standing there screaming all day? That was from all the player aggroing him when they were doing the dailies in his area. I don't think the mob is from a raid, since the trash in ICC isn't especially tough. ToC doesn't even have any trash, and the Ulduar/Naxx is mostly just done for weeklys nowadays. Of course the bosses of ICC are done pretty much so maybe it could be one of those? But are they done much enough, compared to heroics? I think not.

Taking all this into consideration it probably has to be some level 80 heroic instance mob that kills the most players today. Taking it from there I would guess some mob either from PoS or HoR, the two most difficult heroics out there today. The caster mobs just after Ick are pretty tough, and people usually wipe on them when trying to skip them as well, so they're definitely nominated for the position. The waves in HoR usually wipe people too, but from personal experience I'd say the caster mobs in PoS are more troublesome. People seem to know what to do in HoR now so I actually have few problems with that instance nowadays. I think it's easier to get into PoS with bad gear than into HoR. I often wonder what some people do in PoS at all, because their gear is so bad, but I rarely get stuck with extremely undergeared people in HoR. As an example - my warrior has about 4500 gs, I've ended up in HoR once and in Pos like 5 times. Pure chance? Maybe, but I don't think so. And I do feel that the two instances are about as difficult when it comes to mobs, you just need slightly more skills for HoR.

So what is my conclusion? I think the Ymirjar Flamebearer is the mob killing the most players currently in the game.

Which mob do you think is the most dangerous?

Friday, August 20, 2010

The daily chores

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I don't consider myself a WoW-addict. Honestly. Even though I play the game alot (alot), I don't feel the urge to play whenever I don't have the possibility to do so. There are few things in the game that I feel I really have to do. I don't really know what qualifies as a gamer addict nowadays, I bet that if I told someone who knew nothing of the game about how much I played they'd be seriously worried. We gamers know that it's not that simple of course. I don't watch any TV for instance. None, zip, nada. Suppose I spend all those hours not watching TV on playing the game instead? Probably, but some don't see it that way.

So I'm not an addict. There are some things however that I really enjoy doing in the game. Some things I feel I want to do as often as possible because if I don't I will feel a certain loss, like I've missed something, or failed something. Let me see if I can make it a bit more clear.

Some year ago I always did my daily transmute on my transmute master, for example. When I went on holiday and was unable to do so I was quite bothered by the fact that I lost all those possible transmutes. I logged on wherever and whenever I could just so I could get those transmutes done. Since then I don't care about my transmutes anymore, but they did matter alot to me once. Nowadays I try to do a heroic daily and fishing daily on my warrior as often as possible, preferably each day of course. I need the emblems and the money on that character, but I don't do much else than that on that character. I usually start my gaming day by doing them so that they're done for the day and I can go on thinking about other things. If the weekly isn't too horrible I try to do it on all my chars, 9 at the moment so it usually takes a while. If the weekly is very tedious (like this week we have Malygos, and I just can't stand that place even if it's fairly simple nowadays) I just can't be arsed about it and only do it if someones begs me to come. I usually only do random heroics if I really want some frost emblems for some particular gear, or if I really feel like healing/tanking/dpsing with a particular char. These are some examples of my daily gaming routine.

My routines are rather few so there are probably alot of people who are way "worse" than me when it comes to this. I'm a very modest collector and chore-maker (outisde of playing too!). For example a friend of mine does weekly, VoA and daily on all his chars everytime he can (and he has like 6 80's). I think it's overkill of course, but I suppose it pleases him to have done this every week. I suppose that he feels a kind of loss, or like he missed an important chore if he failed to do it on some of his chars. It makes him happy, I guess, to get it done. I am quite sure he wouldn't do it if it was utterly boring, and the sense of fulfillment you get when having done that thing you wanted to have done is quite pleasing.

Love on the other hand has few such things. I am guessing however that this simply has to do with the fact that he mostly only plays one char and he has done everything he can accomplish alone already on that char (except Insane, but he's not that crazy). But for the rest of us there are still some things to do, small projects that we feel we want to complete all the time.

And I guess most of us have these kind of things that we just really want to have done, because it feels like we've accomplished something. Be it collecting rep with some certain faction, collecting mats to craft something for golds or doing heroics, there are some things we want to complete every day. I suppose it's the same feeling people get after having been training or called their grandma and said hello or paid their bills or whatnot. It might sound wrong that we want this from a game, but on the other hand it is quick pleasure packed in a really fun setting and most importantly it's completely uncomplicated. Just log on, do your thing and profit. I don't think it has much to do with the game per se. It's just a quick fix of satisfacton that happens to be in a game.

What is your daily routine?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gdkp

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I did my very first Gdkp run yesterday, and it was loads of fun! A guy in my guild had collected a decent group for 25man ICC, and we did a couple of heroics too like Marrowgar, Gunship, Rotface and Valithria. The end result was one of the most fun pug runs I've ever had, even with some wipes and other things that usually lowers morale.

So what is Gdkp? I'm sure you've stumbled across it somewhere, it's becoming quite the hype nowadays. The general idea is that it's a regular run, but all the loot is bought instead of rolled or otherwise distributed via some loot-system. So if something drops that you really want you simply bid on it and hope that you're the winning bid. There are several things about it that makes it a really fun and good system.

First of all, the final amount is shared at the end of the run. This prevents anyone from nerdrage quitting or leaving because "mom said so" or other non-valid reasons. And even if someone does leave, it only means everyone else gets more of the money!
Secondly, this is probably among the best ways for someone to gear their under-geared alt. No more having to have 5800 gs to be able to run ICC. Just tell everyone you have 50k g to spend on gear and you're very welcome. The overgeared people don't feel like they're boosting slackers, since they earn money from it in the end.
Thirdly, seeing a good item going into bid and people go into bid-war is quite amusing. And it's an adrenaline rush if you're in it yourself.
Fourthly, no one will roll/claim an item just for the heck of it, unless they're really rich. In normal pug runs you might lose an item to someone that will use it for their "off off-spec" and that's no fun.
Fifthly, you might get nice gear for really cheap prices if you're lucky. Yesterday I bought Zod's Repeating Longbow for 100g! No one else wanted it so I got it cheap, and didn't have to waste a roll on something no one else wanted. If people use penalty rolls one roll is worth way more than 100g imo.
Sixthly, some people have their BiS gear in the "wrong" armor profficiency. But as long as you're the high bidder, no one will complain. Yesterday a shaman managed to get a cloth item (awesomely itemized for ele shammy), which would otherwise would have made people grumpy.

There are different ways to go about doing this kind of run. What we did yesterday meant everyone shared on the totals in the end, even the badly geared people. To be honest we had no one who had really bad gear, I think 5500 gs was among the lowest. I did see in trade today however that some do this by having half the raid as boosters with awesome gear, and half the raid as buyers with lousy gear. Only the boosters get to share the money in the end, on the other hand this gives even less well geared people a chance for some nice loot. We wanted a decent raid since we were aiming to do some heroics. These are all factors that can differ widely in this kind of raid and depends on what kind of buying clientele you want to attract.

Some people argue that buying gear is wrong. The only reason I can see that this is a valid argument is in that since everyone participated in the kill, everyone should have equal opportunity for the gear, not just the rich people. But since everyone who joins this kind of raid knows what's it all about, one can't argue that it's unfair. Hopefully you'll only join if you actually have some money to spend, and feel that it would be worth it. No one is forcing anyone to anything. But some seem to argue that the whole concept of spending money on gear is a bad one, immoral in some way. But people readily spend 5-10k gold on crafteds? This is the exact same thing, only you spend it on bops instead of boes. Even if you are outbid on an item, you still gain from it, since a part of whatever that dude paid for it will end up in your pocket. So even if you lose you win.

We started out yesterday with a start bid of 100 and raising 100. We quickly realized this was too cheap and made it start at 500 raising 200. Some items were sold cheap, because only one person wanted them, other items like Dislodged Foreign Object hc went into bid war and sold for 8,2k. Still cheap actually. Alot of people would easily pay that sum if this item was on AH instead, and way more. The difference is that on AH you'd be fighting against every other caster on the server (and faction). In a Gdkp run you'll "only" be fighting against every other caster in the group.

I noticed yesterday too that people were being cautious about bidding at first. I was one of them. One didn't want to feel stupid or whatnot by bidding a high sum of g on some gear piece. What would everyone else think? "haha he's paying 4k for that ring, what a schmuck". But if it's an upgrade it's an upgrade, and only you can decide whether it's worth it or not. 4k g for someone who has 200k g isn't much. 4k g for someone who has 5k g is quite alot.

Sure one can argue that whoever has the most money gets all the gear. But the feeling I got from yesterday was that whoever wants the items the most, gets it. And honestly that is exactly as it should be. In the end I think this is the best way to distribute loot within a pug that I have tried so far, and I highly recommend you to try it out! Just make damn sure you trust the Raid Leader ^^

EDIT 20/8: Could be worth knowing that we each earned 2300g from this run (minus whatever one had bid on items of course). And that was from cautious bidding, so it should be seen as a minimum.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I want Shadowmourne too

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Way back in Vanilla I got myself an Anathema/Benediction, one of the coolest weapons ever made. I still have it, collecting dust in my bank where it has been the last 3-4 years. Eventhough I didn't raid I got my hands on the materials needed and got the quest done in what was probably one of the most epic moments of my WoW-playing life. I'm not one of those people who will tell you that everything was so much better before. I hated the 40-man raids. I hated the way some specs sucked balls for everything (shadow priest, boomkin/cat druids to mention a few) and how everything was done so slowly. The game is better now. Blizzard have had the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and fine tune the game mechanics throughout the 5 year existance. But one thing was definitely better before - the epic weapon quests. The quests for Anathema/Benediction and Rok'delar/Lok'delar are probably the best deisgned quest chains in the game. Not because they're long and tedious (because they are) but because they end in an epic show down, your skills versus the game, and one hell of a reward if you make it.

If you weren't around in those days you might need a short recap on what these quests were all about and what made those particular quests so awesome. The really short version is that you had to collect some really hard to get items. For the Anathema/Benediction quest which was priest only, you needed Eye of Shadow which you either grinded various demons for or bought off AH. I myself bought it for some hundred gs, a big sum at that time. You also needed Eye of Divinity, which was only obtainable from the Molten Core boss Major Domo. If I recall correctly, there was another loot system back then. You didn't have to be there for the kill to be able to get an item. You only had to be in the raid. I remember someone advertising the eye in trade chat and I bought a place in the raid for some 500g. They summoned me in and I looted it from the chest.

Would you believe it, I still have Oil of Immolation in my bank even after all these years. Time to clean up?

To finalize the Anathema/Benediction you needed the item called Splinter of Nordrassil which was obtained through a really epic quest event. In this quest you were supposed to save the lives of some peasants fleeing from a demon. You had to save a certain amount of the total or you failed the quest. In the beginning this quest was fairly easy as anyone could help you do it. Later on Blizzard changed this however so that only other priests could help you out (or if it was the other way around, I don't know, but I had to do it alone the first few tries anyway). This was no easy quest. Those peasants died really easily and the demon could one shot you if you came too close to it. The demon also spawned a bunch of skeletons which of course went to hit you when you were healing. It would quickly turn into a real mess where you would need every inch of your skills to succeed. I remember farming mats for Oil of Immolation which was the only way you could deal aoe damage as a priest back then, no Holy Nova and definitely no Mind Sear was available to me! After some fails I eventually got help from another priest also on this quest, but it was still one hell of an event. Finally succeeding and getting that item was one of the coolest and entertaining things I've ever done in WoW.

I also remember helping a hunter friend with his Rok'delar/Lok'delar quest. That too had to be done alone, without outside help from anyone. You were supposed to subdue 4 elites wandering around in different areas of the world. These elites were really difficult, especially since you had to kill them all alone. That meant even no pet. That meant kiting the damn things for 20 minutes each time! I only helped my hunter friend my keeping other mobs in the area off his kiting track. I couldn't heal him or damage the elite he was fighting in any way or he would've failed the quest. When he finally got those epic gear pieces, he had earned them entirely on his own skill as a hunter.

Since then, nothing like it has come our way. Sure, we got the possibility to collect fragments for Val'anyr, Hammer of the Ancient Kings when Ulduar came. But that was a group effort even if the end result landed into one healers hands. That particular healer didn't have to do anything special really, the Val'Anyr was basically grinded together by a raid and having it doesn't say anything about the player, but more about that players guild. Having Anathema/Benediction or Rok'delar/Lok'delar meant you had succeeded in completing a really difficult task, one of the most difficult things you could do back then, and all alone.

And now we have Shadowmourne. Eventhough the possibility to raid with a good group is necessary to obtain this item, focus still lies on individual performance. Not as with A/B and R/L but way more than with Val'Anyr or Thunderfury. I want this too! I want an epic quest chain of awesomeness which ends with me having to complete the most absurdly difficult event ever and get the coolest reward imaginable, and I want to have to do it alone. It will show everyone out there that I am a great player. Everyone can have a great guild but only a few people are skilled enough to complete that kind of quest. I have seen countless people with awesome gear and awesome items and yet when you put them in a situation out of the ordinary they fail to perform. I wonder how it's even possible, but a guild with patience or a player with connections can make wonders happen. Gear is easily obtainable for anyone nowadays. You have to be slightly skilled to have heroic 25man LK loot, sure thing. But should those items be the only way to prove yourself? Why can't there be solo-quest chains for the rest of us? Make them ridiculously long and difficult, but make them.

I want another Anathema/Benediction quest! It is about damn time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cataclysm Masteries - Healing

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Coming Cataclysm we'll have to get used to looking at our talents in a new light. We no longer have to choose as hard core between doing two different things, but can mix and match more to our liking. Or at least that is what Blizzard is hoping for, by shortening our talent trees so that we can go into several if we like, and still do our job. Instead, we will get a bonus to whatever tree we pick as our favorite aka place the most talents into, called a Mastery. So to as at least differ roles somewhat and not have everyone being able to do everything. I am certain of course that there will still be "bestest" specs to be had, but hopefully there will be more room for utility and fun talents than before. We'll see.

Today I thought we'd look at the different healing masteries to see what we can look forward to.

Druid
Increases the potency of your heal over time spells by up to 20% based on the current health level of your target (lower health targets are healed for more). Healing increased further by mastery rating.

Pointing out that resto druids are all about hots, this doesn't come as a suprise. This is a very good mastery as it is affected by the current health level of the target, making it count when you really need it.

Paladin
Your healing spells also place an absorb shield on your target for 8% of the amount healed lasting 6 sec. Absorb increased further by mastery rating.

As I've said thousand times before, absorbtion really is the best way of healing. This doesn't aid paladin aoe healing at all however, which probably means that Blizzard want to keep paladins at what they do best now - point healing.

Priest
Holy - Your direct healing spells heal for an additional 10% over 6 sec. Healing increased further by mastery rating.

Giving holy a hot-component to their direct healing spells is also in line with how holy works now, combining the best of druids and paladins into something that works inbetween.

Disc - Increases the potency of all your damage absorption spells by 20%. Absorption increased further by mastery rating.

Incredibly boring mastery, with a simple increase to the efficiency of disc healing main component. Very good nonetheless.

Shaman
Increases the potency of your direct healing spells by up to 20%, based on the current health level of your target (lower health targets are healed for more). Healing increased further by mastery rating.

Sort of the "opposite" of the resto druid mastery. The resto shaman role isn't as cut out as the other healers really. I could probably write a whole post about that alone, but the problem about shamans are that they are neither tankhealers nor raid healers. They usually call themselves "melee-healers" but what kind of a role is that really? Shamans are extremely dependant about their targets being within range of chain heal, or so they think at least, and rarely do anything but spamming this spell in raids. I would love it if Blizzard could give shamans the courage (and skills) to use their other heals as much. Chain heal is good, but it feels like we let shamans use it the way they do because they're not good at anything else. On a sidenote. The mastery buffs chain heal well so all shamans should be happy.

My first impression with these masteries is that Blizzard doesn't seem to want to change anything in the way we heal in Cataclysm, compared to how we do it now. On the other hand we should look at masteries as improving the very core of our healing style, without it implying that we're not supposed to do anything else. Initially I was kind of bummed about not seeing some interesting masteries, the most interesting one is probably the hot component to holy priest healing. Instead masteries should be seen as defining one heal style from another, but as we have seen from different talent specs there will be alot of changes to the way we heal in other aspects, like dpsing while healing. Masteries are probably there to make sure whoever places some more talents into disc, and therefor intends to play as disc, should be noticeably better at doing that than someone who has placed most of his talents in another tree. Because we can now go far into several tree, Blizzards expects to see us do some cross-over specs, and there must be some way to distinguish the one player from the other.

Healing looks really interesting in Cataclysm, even if the masteries don't look so exciting at a first glance. They're well cut out for each class (and spec) in any case. Most importantly they're all about equally good compared to eachother and what good they will do to that particular class healing. Considering all the changes we have seen so far in Cataclysm Beta we must also take everything with a grain of salt. There might still be alot happening to the masteries. In that case I think Blizzard would change everything entirely, as it looks now it's pretty clean and neat and if there would be a change it would be to the very concept of masteries. But we'll see!

You can read more about other masteries over at wow.com (which also was source for this information).

Monday, August 16, 2010

Warrior Threat Values

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This is an outdated post, to check out the new data on highest threat skills for warrior in 4.0, click here. 

I've been trying to evaluate how much damage reduction Demoralizing Shout/Roar provides for some time now. Turns out, it's not as easy as it seems. I usually prefer to test things in actual combat instead of using various simulation programs. Not that I actually think that the one result is of higher quality than the other, but simply because it's more fun. I've tried weapon enchants this way, and different gear pieces and skills. Demoralizing Shout/Roar on the other hand proved to be a little trickier.

First of all, the problem about Demoralizing Shout/Roar is that damage reduction is affected by so many other things which you'd have to take into account somehow. I realized it would be impossible for me to test DS in an instance because of the different factors that would interfer. Things like absorbtion shields. The biggest issue about trying it in an instance is simply that nearly everything in heroics nowadays dies too fast for me to be able to first watch how much the mobs hit me for without DS, then apply DS and watch how much they hit me for afterwards. We're talking at least 15 seconds worth of fighting if you want any kind of datas. Even ore preferably since I'll probably dodge a big portion of the incoming hits making it impossible to determine anything about any damage reduction.

The alternative was of course to do it under slightly more controlled circumstances. Alone against some mob that would live for a while so that I could collect some data. I asked Love to help me by healing me while I would simply stand against a mob and watch what DS did to incoming damage. First we had to find a mob which wouldn't be too difficult. I chose the tree-thingy mobs in Crystalsong Forest. But after some tries I noticed another problem. The difference between no-DS dmg and DS dmg wasn't huge enough to make it easy to spot a difference. One would have to collect an average really and that would take some time. Time me and Love haven't had the last few weeks. So I've put this project somewhat on the shelf for the moment. Not entirely though, because I decided to check the allmighty internets for some answers meanwhile.

It seems most of the things said about the effectiviness of DS is quite old. From around 2008 or so. As far as I know there hasn't been any major changes to Ds since then however which means that information is still probably quite correct. Apparently the overall damage reduction from DS is about 10-15% depending on what kind of mob one is fighting. The discussions on the internet generally concern not whether DS is worth using or not. There is no doubt that DS is worth using considering that it only costs one gcd every 30 seconds. Even if the overall damage reduction (physical of course, but that's pretty obvious) would be much lower it'd still be worth using DS.
The discussions are rather about whether it is worth to spec into Improved Demoralizing Shout in the Fury tree as prot, or not. In wotlk warlocks got a change to Curse of Weakness which made it better than the non-improved DS. There are also some hunter pets that have a better atkpwr reduction than DS. Although no hunters use Screeching pets in raids, there is often someone else who can provide this debuff. Considering Imp Ds costs no less than 5 tp it's not really worth it. You can only get a mob to 0 anyway and DS will do that well enough. And in any case it matters someone else will do it better anyway.

So I haven't found much to say about DS unfortunately. while rummaging around on forums and whatnot to find out more about it I did stumble upon something else quite interesting and not entirely in the wrong topic either. This is something I've been looking for myself - a simple list on threat values for different warrior skills. Unlike the other tank classes, warrior tanking is alot about prioritizing and using procs the best way. Paladins tank on rotation, dks too depending on spec (and using Rune Strike procs) and druids only have like two skills they use regularly.

Devastate 1 - 1042
Devastate 2 - 1253
Devastate 3 - 1475
Devastate 4 - 1711
Devastate 5+ - 1961
Sunder Armour - 975
Revenge - 4522
Shield Slam - 7242
Conc. Blow - 3385
Shockwave - 3164
Auto attack - 882
Heroic Strike - 2599
Thunderclap - 2605
Heroic Throw - 3417
Damage Shield - 542

All the creds goes to the creator, someone over at EJ, I did not collect these numbers (unfortunately I don't remember the name, but googling around on Demoralizing Shout should make it turn up). I took this from Tankspot however and the guy there had taken it from some guy over at EJ. It should be noted that these values too are a couple of years old by now. Some changes have been made primarily to shield block which affects Shield Slam, our best threat skill. I still think these values are fairly accurate, mostly because it makes sense when tanking. Also take into account that these exact threat values apply to the stats that warrior had who collected them. What we can see from this is mainly which skills have higher threat values, less focus should be put into the exact figures as they won't fit with your char.

What can we make out from these values? When I tank, Devastate actually plays a minor role in my skill usage. Unlike BC when it was one of the most important threat skills warriors had, it's nowadays used mainly as a filler and to proc Sword and Board. In raids one would want the Sunder Armor debuff up too, but ten seconds sooner or later doesn't matter much. As it is now I use Revenge as soon as it is up and then Shield Slam. Shield Slam has the biggest threat value by far, but Revenge hits several targets nowadays. On raid bosses Shield Slam I use them the other way around with Shield Slam prioritized over Revenge. News to me was how much threat Conc Blow does. I thought one mainly used it for the stun component, but looking at its threat values one can see that it is as good an opener as any other skill. It is funny to see also that thunder clap has a higher threat value than devastate, even after five applications. Yet again one shouldn't underestimate the tanking potential in thunder clap. I usually use it as my very first skill because it has a longer range than melee swings (if I start out without rage I begin with taunt though).

Spamming Devastate is mainly to get Sword and Board to proc. This means skill prioroty on a boss should be;

- Keep Thunder Clap up (unless some other class already has that debuff up)
- Keep Demo Shout up (Same as above)
- Use Shield Block (before using Shield Slam preferably, perfect opener)
- Shield Slam
- Revenge
- Devastate until SS or Rev procs.
- Keep Heroic Strike active (since it uses its own gcd it can be used while using other skills)

Nothing new there really, but it's still fun to see some more specific numbers (as exact as they can be after a couple of years ^^).