Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Five Hidden Laws of WoW

Doesn't it feel like sometimes games claim to use one kind of rules but in reality they run by a hidden set of rules designed to mock and frustrate you? A lot of this comes from biased thinking, meaning that when something has started to annoy you is when you'll start noticing it and you'll think that it stands out. You rarely recognize when things go your way but more often when things go bad. I swear that some games just seem to know how to tease you though. I don't know how many times I've said I'll give up grinding for something in WoW only to have it drop the minute later (proving I did not quit grinding after all, but I would've! Eventually...).

Continuing on with another post based on some notes I found in an old notebook of mine, this one is about video game logic or lack thereof. These notes (this post and the previous one) were written closely together so clearly I was in something of a pissy mood, hateful about players in general and my game luck in particular when writing these. Remember that these are written tongue in cheek, are based on my experiences alone and you might not agree at all. Also I use words like "always" very loosely. At the time they were probably just an attempt to vent some anger from my side. After (at that time) five years of playing WoW I thought I had its tricks pinned down - I knew that it worked around hidden rules that were designed to lure us into trying just one more time. Fake instant gratification!

1. In a group, whoever plays the worst will always get the loot.
All the entries on this list are frustrating, but I wonder if this one is not the worst one. I was ok with people who played badly (aka did bad dps/healing/tanking and/or a lot of mistakes) to get some loot. In fact this "rule" even worked to my favor on occasion. I clearly remember bringing my lock to Vault of Archavon once, playing utter crap and being the one to win the loot out of at least a handful of rollers. Playing badly is one thing, it can happen to anyone. But the amount of times this seems to have worked in the favor of the jerkwad of the group, I can't even count. You know, that one person in the group who seems dead set on ruining the day for everyone unlucky enough to be grouped with them. Numerous times have I've had people like that in my group, seen something really cool drop (even random epics, mounts or the like) and 9 to 1 the Ruiner of Fun would win it. Just to write "Lol! Screw you guys!" and leave with a digital finger aimed at the rest of the group. Oh sorry, I mean "LOL!!!! SCRUW U GUYZ!!!!".

Every... time... -

2. Percentages are not what they say they are.
This might take some explaining so bare with me, but this is true as day. Imagine yourself fighting some kobolds in Elwynn Forest, chuckling at their cries of "No take candle!" and having a generally good time. Say, just hypothetically that you've got 100% hit chance and 10/10 swings are actually landing. Now imagine further that you somehow get a debuff that reads "10% reduced hit chance". "Ok" you might think. "So I'll only hit 9 out of my 10 swings, no biggie", shrug and move on to the next Kobold. The Kobold end up being the one laughing however as you stand there, wildly flailing your weapon at them, suddenly having a hit chance that seems closer to 1/10 than anything else. What am I trying to say? I always felt, nay unconsciously known, that debuffs that reduces stats had more than twice the actual impact than it claims to have.

It's like the game can't handle statistics and probability properly. I know this is how the human mind works (hence the existance of this list), meaning that we often think in either/or rather than in actual probabilities. But I thought a game, based on solid, programmed numbers would be better than that! As it is I often wonder if the game just runs by the commands "doesn't miss much" or "misses a lot", rather than actual percentages.

3. You always get dazed when you want it the least.
Which usually is always. But sometimes you're lucky and don't seem to get dazed much at all. You can bet your life (and it will be your life) that whenever you're being chased by a ganker you will get dazed by a mob. Or when you pull an elite. Or when you try to ride out of Zul'Farrak after having pulled half the instance.

4. If you run between mobs to avoid aggroing them you will pull both and their stealthed friend.
See point 3. on this list for what will happen next by the way. This is just classic irony or perhaps Murphy's Law. By trying to avoid to get into trouble, you'll actually end up in trouble, and a lot more of it than if you had just wo/manned up in the first place and dealt with it rather than trying to chicken your way through. But I just hate it when I am simply trying to get smoothly from point A to point B (which happens a lot in WoW), I'm not in the mood for any skull bashing and this Gnoll just knows he has to ruin my day. So he brings his friend. And where the hell did THAT guy come from?!

5. It doesn't matter which class you bring, stuff for your other class will always drop.
This one is for all you alters out there, you know my pain! At one point I was juggling quite many, and did some 10 VoA runs each week (day? Don't remember how often they reset). And I swear, the more alts I had the more it felt like I lost out on loot. Which you know, makes sense, because every loot that dropped was something I could've used on one of my other alts. And I guess the more alts I had the more I got the sense that loot dropped just to mock me. Ok, maybe I can scratch this one and just write it down to me being damn unlucky. Or probably averagely unlucky.

Well this person had no trouble finding gear! -

Bonus entry!
6. If you get jumped by someone while questing and you're about to own him, a paladin will come out of nowhere and kill you when your opponent is at 5%.
I think the title speaks for itself and I think this just happened to me when I wrote this list.

Ever felt particularly out of favour with the WoW Gods? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!


  1. To be fair, humans are terrible at comprehending statistics. The lowered chance to hit, for example - reduced by 10%, they say? What that means is that EVERY ATTACK has a 10% chance to miss, or that each attempt only has a 9/10 chance to hit - EVERY TIME. Statistically, this should even out to 9 hits to one miss, but it also means you have a bad streak and get 9 misses out of 10 attempts. If you get enough samples, then, yes, it should trend towards the sensible ratio, but chance seems to have a quantum element to it - if you observe it, it always seems to get crazy :)

    Bonus observation: there is a 50% chance the Paladin will be the same faction as you. Because Paladin.

    1. Ah, I love that quantum element part, I think it describes it pretty accurately! After all the game is designed around us getting a sense that there is always something to get around the corner or with the next kill. This "not definite, but probable"-feeling is what has us coming back for more all the time. Sometimes it just seems to work against us instead, and rather than enticing it gets frustrating (but still has us come back for more, so I guess still working as intended).

    2. I've seen people accuse Blizz of lying about the drop rate of an item, like Rivendare's Charger in Strat 1.0. Sometime after Wrath launched, they changed it to 1/100 chance ... so people that ran it over 200 times were in high dudgeon about the fact they hadn't seen one. Then our guild's MT went in on his DK alt and got it the first time out. Statistically speaking, between my 99 unsuccessful attempts, and his one successful, we met the formula But tell that to a forum rat. :)

    3. Haha ah, so unfair! This happened between my brother and my ex as well. Brother got it first try (or very quickly) while my ex ran countless times and never saw it. Luck of the draw, but I can see how it infuriates some people ^^

    4. It never has dropped for me ... always wanted it for my Lock. But I'm happy for him. I'M NOT BITTER.