Patch 4.2 for WoW inbound

Well its about to land, and none too soon. WowInsider has a post with the full notes, and its nothing overly different from the previous 3-4 weeks of patch notes. If you have not read the patch, this summary is useful and short enough to be scanned over while you are pretending to be doing work, study, or listening to a family member.

Frankly this patch is all about the content. Content is king for Warcraft now, and will keep the players engaged or frustrate them enough to bail altogether. I am looking forward to it and hoping that they’ve nailed something interesting. With the Star Wars chatter, a Warhammer 40k game in development, and many other distractions in real life – World of Warcraft is looking to revitalise the player base in a setting of increased expectation and limited tolerance for bugs.

Now some random thoughts…

  • How interesting and maintainable will the daily quests be? Like Sons of Hodir (grinding), or the Isle quests (ok, if a little chaotic). Given the quest rewards are buffs for regular raiders, and some are even nice for folks who have done hard modes, I expect the effort to be directly proportional to the reward. Yes, I’ll see you there regularly as we grind. Pity the mongrels with many toons.
  • Will we be jumping straight in and raiding, or grunting through content and trash. In fact considering that its already been said that the trash is plentiful and hard – should we be pushing strategies for trash? Hopefully the zones are structured enough that we’re not clearing for hours.
  • Will we see players return, and if so (as I expect a few), will they bring drama? Anyone in my guild would be well warned to avoid making demands in the new days, especially if they’ve only just returned from hiatus. If you’re a returning play then consider the folks who played through – your seat may not be there waiting for you, but be patient. Raid leads will be wanting to see options, not complaints.
  • Will I even be able to lay without all my add-ons? Nope, I’m a cripple without a threat-meter, custom bars, and some useful nameplates.

Happy patching, modding, … sampling, looping, something*, and eating (PWEI reference).

Class balance changes for DKs in 4.2? Balderash!

GhostCrawler has posted some thoughts on class balance, as implemented in 4.2. It’s great that he is sharing, fantastic to see some of the thought processes, and disappointing that the processes he is sharing indicates that the game is continuing to focus away from where my focus is.

This is somewhat self serving post to give feedback into the community-ether, based upon the 4.2 changes as affecting Death Knights. Specifically to ask the question: Why in hell are PvP balancing items changing the PvE game?

Quoted from the Blue Post…

Death Knights

  • We added the cast time to Hungering Cold for PvP reasons. It is one of the most powerful forms of crowd control in the game, especially in Battlegrounds, and yet was impossible to prevent.
  • The nerfs to Obliterate and Howling Blast were made because Frost damage was too high in both PvP and PvE. Note that these values were hotfixed — you shouldn’t see damage drop further when 4.2 goes live.
  • The Glyph of Dark Succor change was to keep Death Strike from providing so much healing in PvP.
  • The Might of the Frozen Wastes change was a small tweak to help keep one-handed Frost relatively competitive with two-handed style.
  • The Unholy Might buff was to help catch Unholy up to Frost in PvE. Interestingly, we didn’t nerf Unholy damage at all in 4.1, but you can still see a small drop in their DPS because so many talented DKs went Frost. I’d love to have the discussion some time about how close two similar specs need to be before players will play the one that is most fun for them and not the one that does theoretical higher damage. Is it 5%? 1%? 0%?

So you see its stated plainly from the man with the nurfbat himself; DKs are being changed in their flexibility in PvE due to a PvP imbalance.

Take aside the straight damage tweaks and consider the introduction of a cast time for Hungering Cold: this is a key ability I use in almost every raid for controlling the mobs. For example the Nefarian fight requires add control, and a DK is a key choice for this. With a 1.5 second cast time (or 2 sec, I’m not sure) I’ll be standing still getting smashed in the face while I try to kite the adds. Totally counter-productive to PvE content.

Now in 4.2 I won’t be fighting Nef any more, I’ll be in Firelands, but the utility that Hungering Cold brings to the raid can be applied in a wide variety of ways, and to take this away removes a utility from the class. I love having utility, it means I assist the raid while doing my dps role. A dps loss is trivial when you are on add-control duty, but 1.5 seconds of damage while you get hit and potentially also suffer casting time push back…is poor. By counter example – are mages having their Frost freeze ability changed to a cast time?

I can live with the other changes, as I think they are part of the see-saw of balance that will always continue. So don’t take this as a blinding rave, its not. My point is that we continue to see changes in one area of the game which impact the other. An MMO Champion poster made a comment along the same path:

That Hungering Cold nerf, just because of PVP. Yet another example of why blizz should add a PVP only talent spec so the PVE players don’t get screwed.

Why is it so hard to have different affects in PvP to PvE? We already have different cool-downs, and some abilities not active in PvP, wouldn’t it make sense to continue this separation?

I’ll go a step further and ask what the value of Hungering Cold is when it has a 1.5 second cast time? After that duration a PvP player will move away from the DK and the affect is totally wasted. In PvP the enemy is constantly moving away from the DK anyway, and HC was a way to keep them close. So by adding this the use of the ability will become less in PvP, and therefore less overall in the game. So the nurf applies a change which makes pvp control harder, and pve harder.

Lets not even start to chat about the affect of being interrupted while casting now, or what happens when you’re locked out of the spell school…

Enough of this malarky, I’m off to the pub. Happy Killing.

DK Tank feedback

In the link from WoWInsider on the Firelands video was also some chatted about DK Tanking. If you’re a DK tank you should scan it.

My 2c: MAKE THE DEATHSTRIKE TIMER 12-13+ SECONDS. FFS.

The huge deal with DK tanking is that its hard to get right, and when done well is excellent. It is easy to do poorly, and be a pain for your group. Bring the player, just don’t bring an inexperienced player, or a player who has not done the fights before, or somebody who might not be perfect. Bring the player.

A key part of that is making sure you use Deathstrike at an optimal time. “Optimal” does not account for Movement, fire, interrupts, diseases, and all the other shit that you do while Tanking. Which means that often you have to use other abilities rather than DS.

Make the time that the false HP stay a little longer, and we have some flexibility. It’s not rocket science.

Rage of the Firelands Trailer is very nice

Now this is how you make a patch trailer. Nice affects, uses mostly in-game animation, and a classic “oh noes, the darkness, but lets face it together”. Its very nice and shows:

  • a hero we like,
  • our characters in play,
  • the monsters we’ll be killing,
  • the story arc,
  • and a sense that you can make a difference.

Awesome. Happy burning.

A set of well timed achievements

Its has been a whirlwind of activity, and a huge week or so in WoW news for me.

  • the Guild (Insidious on Nagrand US) has cleared all the normal content again, this time in a single raid lockout. Its a further step in the locking down of our capacity and speaks volumes of positive nouns on our approach. In short: we set out to do what we planned, and have proved it was no fluke.
  • I was able to join some of the kills which completed the “Defender of a Shattered World” achievement; which grants the groovy title. Nothing like a title to make you feel you’ve actually done something significant. The DK is filling out well now.
  • Also snapped up the 25 Exalted reputations on the Death Knight as well. For characters who have been around since the origin this is an easy one, but it has taken a long time to get on my DK, mainly as I don’t farm rep very well – I’m impatient.
  • Lastly I’ve decided to Tank a bit more. I still hate the design of the Cata instances, and have not “enjoyed” tanking since Wrath. So I’m starting slowly with easier stuff, and to mix and match the classes I play with in order to get a bredth of exposure to the instances. As needed (or where no other choice exists) I’ll switch to Blood spec and belt things with a two handed mace. Pitty the fool who pulls aggro from me without a good reason – as that silly bastard will die…”oh, the Taunt must have been on cool-down.”…

In non-Death Knight news…

  • My baby Warrior is now level 70, which means I can run the Wrath dungeons. I’m really excited about WotLK zones and instances, and I might just level through instances for a while so I can re-play those dungeons. I particularly like Utguard Keep; as it really feels well designed, and flavoursome.
  • My alt Shaman is getting closer to level 50, which is needed to progress the professions. I don’t think I’ll level it past that in any hurry, but it would be nice to grab the next set of glyphs and gems. Shaman as Enhance feels like a hodge-podge of two playstyles, and I’m not sure it makes sense. Being limited in cooldown abilities is frustrating after playing a Death Knight, where as a DK it is the choice of which you do – not so much only having 3 options and then waiting for them to refresh. Admitidly it is probably a very different class to play at level 80-85, and being level 43 is not a fair perspective.
  • My Druid is 83 now, and still killing everyting in sight with a frenzy of laser-pew-pew Boomkin energy. Boomkin is such a flexible playstyle, and the Druid offers some very nice back-up options should I pull too many mobs (never happens), pick a fight I can’t win (nope, never), or just pull aggro in an instance (c’mon, Warlocks do it so it must be ok).

Happy Killing folks.

Sulfuras, Hand of Ragnaros – at last

It took a long time, but I finally own a legendary. The Hand of Ragnaros is a total mongrel to get, and I can promise that I will not be in Molten Core farming there next week!

Now I have this it means the Guild has also started the downward spiral of achievements for the guild, I hope to see some other poor bastard farming for the legendary gear.

One can wish that we will eventually have a nice set of Legendary items to gloat over.

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