Unlucky folk who cannot play from Iran

Logo of Blizzard Entertainment

Its strange days when politics arise in discussions of MMO players.

A recent article indicates that Iran is blocked from playing World of Warcraft due to policy, potentially from within the US and matched by policy within Iran. It’s backed by Blue Post confirmation.

Our team has been watching this thread closely, and we understand the desire for more information about this situation. Blizzard Entertainment cannot speak to any reports surrounding the Iranian government restricting games from its citizens.

What we can tell you is that United States trade restrictions and economic sanction laws prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran. Several of you have seen and cited the text in the Terms of Use which relates to these government-imposed sanctions. This week, Blizzard tightened up its procedures to ensure compliance with these laws, and players connecting from the affected nations are restricted from access to Blizzard games and services.

This also prevents us from providing any refunds, credits, transfers, or other service options to accounts in these countries. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes and will happily lift these restrictions as soon as US law allows.

How on earth do the players in Iran feel about this?

Well I’d say they are pissed off, and I feel for them. If the same sanctions were established between Australia and America for some reason (perhaps we’re not forgiven for Australia the movie) then we’d suffer too with no actual avenue to resolve the dispute properly. It would be in the hands of the gods. They are also very relieved to hear that it’s finally a known problem, with the first poster in the Blizzard thread saying, “Finally, thank you GM“.

What can they do?

They can get a proxy/vpn solution and ignore the ban. Work around it and hope the accounts are not flagged somehow. Sure, that is paying extra to an external body just to play a game, but I think they have no other choices. I very much doubt that Blizzard will create a special version of WoW with all the meta-god-super-whatever removed, akin to the version of WoW dev’ed for China which has no undead. Continue reading

Which? Unholy vs Frost presence for PvE DPS

Aside

In the 5.0.4 Mists changes again the style and some of the details for Presences for DKs. All the detail of the changes can be put aside as the rule remains unchanged from Cataclysm: All PvE DPS DKs use Unholy Presence.

If you wish to know more about the changes then I highly recommend the summary threads on the EJ forums, as they are concise and clear. In fact the thread covers far more than just the presence, it gives good reasons for most recommendations, and tells you when the choice is immaterial. Go forth and commit mayhem. Continue reading

wow Beta Build 16030 for DKs

Aside

A bit of patch news on Beta, which sort of confirms my old impression that Death Knights were not going to get adjusted until after the wash and rinse of “live-ish behaviour” changes were seen. Meh, perhaps its just a coincidence. Either way, even if I see nurfs and buffs of staggering stupidity, I am glad that DKs are getting some love.

TLDR for this update is: More health for Blood Tanks, less Damage for Frost dps from Frost Strike. Expect this and many more items to bounce around, it is a long way from over, and the devs have some work to do still.

Continue reading

Initial thoughts on WoW patch 5

Here are a few thoughts from the first hours of playing Wow in post-patch-5 times.

  • I’ve logged in and respec’ed my Death Knight. It was easy. Simple in fact. I feel it might actually be too simple, but do not wish to be negative about an idea which I think has huge merit. Having talents which were default selection is no choice. I’m not decided if the current style has too little impact on gameplay.This is almost the D3 model for spec trees, and I hope that we are not seeing a merge into a single game philosophy (yes, that is drawing a long bow).
  • Some of the choices for DKs are still clearly for certain activities (pvp or tank, or…) and therefore we have defaults again. One or two talents are things that I’ll never take. Time will tell us if that is because the talents are shitty, or if I’m a grumpy belligerent old bastard.
  • If you liked the multi-tree specs from wow version of yore there are still a huge amount of games using that model.
  • I’ve seen that minor glyphs have basically almost no mechanical effect, or are totally cosmetic. Major ones do less than the Primes used to, but one or two are bloody fantastic. Overall the glyphs need work – I’m a bit underwhelmed by glyphs and talents because somebody could still perform their role fine in a 5 man without picking any talents or glyphs. That seems wrong.
  • I’ve seen the new collector’s edition mount and pet, and watched people fanark around on their many mounts. Its a good change.
  • I’ve watched people login an alt and get the ding! of shared achievements. I don’t care at all for achievements, but like that almost everyone else likes them and therefore its a nice change.
  • I’ve not yet seen group looting, but am excited by that due to a propensity to farm old instances.
  • After running three instances I can say that Unholy Death Knights are essentially the same as before. Thank god. I’ll get around to testing Blood and Frost at some stage, but they look the same on paper too. Given Blood DKs already had a form of active mitigation it is the other Tank classes that have to learn what that means more than DKs.
  • Overall the complexity in the game is reduced, and it was the complexity in places where it was not feeding 90% of the player base.
  • I don’t care to train, test, or watch a pet battle. This patch just shares all my pets, and its unsurprising that I have hardly any at all. If I could unbind them and sell them I would.

Play for free, Up to level 13

A few weeks ago Blizzard announced that D3 was going to have a free play option for low level characters (FAQ here). I’m not sure why I missed this initially, but perhaps the silly work and wow cycle was as much eye candy as I could take in.

Regardless, this is offering which I think is a benchmark for game distribution in today’s market: give the player an opportunity to see if they like your work. Do not expect that people will pay to test if the game sucks. They won’t. If they trail it, then they can pay for the full thing when it makes them happy, if not then they get caps and limits that might keep them interested periodically. That demo might be a week’s grace, or a level limit, or whatever style is suitable. Either way you get players who wish to play, not players who are angry about getting some of the money’s worth.

A long time ago I played and loved Master of Orion 1 and 2. When MoO3 was released I pre-purchased that game and regretted it straight away. It was a poor imitation of the old game, with bright and shiny graphics which did nothing to distract from the shitty actual play. A total waste. Since then I’ve been a mad and angry purchaser of any game product. Temple of Elemental Evil was a similar experience as while the game was technically playable the crash rate and list of things that when SNAP! was too large.

So now I rant about free to play capped options with furvor and wrath.

For Diablo 3’s free play option they chose a max level number like unlucky 13 for the free players. That is just too much fun. Well done guys, it made me smile.

The demonically-besieged world of Sanctuary needs heroes. Now you can join in the apocalyptic battle for FREE via the all-new Diablo®  III Starter Edition.  Available exclusively via Battle.net®, the Starter Edition allows you to fight your way up to the Skeleton King boss in Act I, and advance all the way to level 13, without having to purchase a copy of Diablo III.

Diablo 3 is enough of a game that I think I would have purchased it away way, especially as it has no ongoing subscription; but I might have avoided it early on if I hadn’t had a Blizzard annual pass. I feel the same way about trialing GuildWars2 – play it if its free to see if its good, but otherwise I’m not interested in paying box price to evaluate software anymore.

I generally assume that most games released are not worth it until I read staggeringly good reviews from multiple sources, and a friend says its good, and it is released. A little while ago I said “I’m planning a short return plunge into WoW briefly before playing Diablo 3, and possibly SWToR. I’ll wait till Panda-randa is released, then decide if I pick it up.” Now that more details are about I’ll probably buy MoP in advance. It is good enough and close enough that it is a low risk.

I still don’t like Pandas though. Perhaps that means I’m looking forward to killing a few.

Cheeky Upgrade option in Character Screen

Aside

Those cheeky fellows working in Blizzard have plonked an ad for Mists of Pandaria in the character screen you see after login.

It is not subtle or unreasonable, and after my initial reaction of “what the f?” I considered using that to purchase my upgrade.

It makes me ponder if we will see character customisation, race change, name change and such in that screen too. Heck it would even be handy to be able to buy month-by-month time as well. The user is logged in, so might benefit from it. All the special offers for pets and such could be there too.

Are you pondering that already Activision?

Started update, gone fishing…

I got up on Wednesday morning (Australian time) and started the World of Warcraft update. Like many folks I had to kick the updater in the guts a few times (started multiple times) so that it would work.

Then I saw the updating file message and was frustrated that after 20 minutes it had not moved from 0%. What in hell?

So rather than staring at the screen, I went to work. I don’t know how long it took, but the game tells me that its done and its 6 hours later. I won’t login until after I get home, eat, say happy things to the family, and then maybe eat more.

Would have been nice to see this start when patch started, but really has zero effect on my gameplay. I’m pleased that the Theramore event is not starting day one of patch 5 either, as I’d be feeling like the delay/outage/issues might rally create a backlash. As it stands now I’ll just read about it.

I was also very confused by the game loader when it replaced the Cata branding with Mists branding. That is silly – I have not purchased Mists as yet so why show me the title? Anyway I’m happy that it should be ready when I am.

Grumble.

What do I know about other classes and specs?

With the change in classes in the patch today we have all sorts of new stuff to learn. As a PSA I offer the following advice on the spec and classes. A sly review of the classes might be (ahem) useful.

DKst – Essentially there are two types, those you need to listen to because they are Tanking and they help the Mages and Hunters decide who dies first; and the rest. The first are called Blood spec, the second are called whatever you like. When I play my non-tank DK he names used are: “stop tunneling”, “move”, and “deathgrip it you tard!”. Most Dks do not know what DK stands for, but would guess Death correctly because its a leet word. Probably means Death Killerz.

Druids – Too many types, and way too many on the server. Lets face it – everyone has a Druid, and generally only the good ones get taken to raid; that is ex-trees and bears. Cats are misguided Rogues, and Boomkins are Mages who ate too many fish feasts. Get at least one in your raid and make them change spec every 3-4 trash pulls, they love that. Why else play a hybrid?

Hunters – There is only one type, and thankfully they will have no excuse to roll for non-missile weapons after patch 5.0. Handy at times for traps, and hated for the same reason. They perform their best at range, and I find the best range is about 10 miles from the raid team. A quick review of the armory indicates that Int and mana are still issues for some Hunters, so take one to a raid at your own risk.

Mages – Apparently the hardest class in wow to play well in Warcraft. I asked them. There are three types and many sub-types, but all you need to remember is that they can supply a buff and food, although both are rare. Arguments about specs is what keeps the Mage community flowing, and if you want to distract one then either get the Hunter to MD the boss to them before the pull and blame them, or tell them that an alt spec is superior and they need to re-work their toon. Typically awesome dps, and the class colour (blue for the cheap seats) looks wonderful in screenshots which is really all we need to know.

Monks – sorry what? I killed heaps of these things in SM over the years, and yet they keep persisting. As a class they will be uber powerful at everything they try, and will become the new DKs for MoP. This means they will stay awesome through they first two tiers of raiding until we’re meant to get serious about it, then they’ll be nurfed harder than Paladins on patch day and all the Monks will consider rolling back to their paladins. As they are new just assume that every monk can do all things, and yell when they can’t read your mind…you know, like Druids.

Paladins – Almost the definitive hybrid class, as they wear plate so they are less girly than other hybrid classes, but still somehow wear dresses. And no, it’s a dress not a kilt. They are made up of confused Priests which heal, confused Warriors who tank, and confused DKs who stand behind the boss and whine about moving out of the bad. Take one of the first two types to your raid. With the update to buffs we’ll likely see some really cool transmog sets and “roleplaying” in the Deeprun Tram, but very little real Paladins in raids.

Priests – the best healing class in the game with Holy, and the best animation in Shadowform. Shadow pets, shadow powers, shadow spells; see a pattern? A Shadow Priest is just emo enough to compete well with a Warlock, but not enough to re-roll DK. Way too squishy, so smack them first if you have to kill one in a team. Their most irritating feature is that their class colour is white, which makes pasting class notes from websites a two step process (one more step than they deserve). I’m sure there is a petition out there somewhere to make the class colour charcoal, so the SPr will be happy. Oh and I didn’t mention Disc spec as if you do they don’t shut the hell up. Sheesh. Put them on mute.

Rogues – Until the release of the legendary item in late Cataclysm the Rogues had gone on strike and refused to attend raids, generally being replaced by Death Knights and confused Shamans in melee. Maybe they were stealthed? If you like being sneaky and standing behind people then you will like the Rogue class and are also probably a creepy little sod. Who likes that? Makes my skin crawl. They are known for very effective stuns in pvp and for bringing nothing to the raid; ever.

Shaman – Totems are still awesome, and very confusing to non-shamans. Just assume that whatever buff, effect, or spell you need can be supplied by a Shaman and tap them on the head until you get it. Take one along, at worst they have a self res so you can wipe faster the next time. Spec wise they have more choices that is fair given they were a novelty idea in the original beta which was taken too seriously by some horde and would not shut up. Sometimes confused for Mages in screenshots and damage meters; if you see a blue bar that is doing less dps its a Shaman.

Warlocks – Incredible lore and bloody incredible emo whiners. Now I wouldn’t mean to offend, but Warlocks are just so easy to pick on that it is a shame not to. Ask a Warlock what happened post TBC to the class then walk away from the phone. In MoP they have been tweaked and buffed, primarily by updating some animations and spell effects. Very important stuff. Also voted most likely to re-roll Mage when they realise that Warlock rotations are god-awful complex, and Mages have a UI with two buttons. Oh, and they get the succubus pet which has two roles: dps and fap-fap-fap.

Warriors – A Warrior Tank is a god amongst insects in the tanking community. First and last the Warrior will stand with you through every wipe and res, until finally they crack the absolute shits and tell everyone how to play. Often they are right too, as they’ve watched the mistakes so often. A tank’s role is to stand still or walk slowly backward, and the dps try to spin in circles and roll Need on every two handed weapon in the game. They are a simple class for a simpler time, before DKs, Monks, and all the other pixel based distractions which is not old school raids. A Warrior will always be able to complete the sentence, “back in my day…”.

So yes, essentially I am unburdened by too much class knowledge. Enjoy the patch today.

Love or Hate the Mists Artwork?

One thing I like about Blizzard games is the peripheral artwork and assets which get developed. When Panda-rama was announced I was very negative about the idea as it felt cutesie and childish compared with the dramatic setting of Cataclysm, Wrath of the Lich King, and The Burning Crusade. Wrath was my favourite by far in terms of setting artwork, holistic style, and zone assets.

Now that I look at the artwork for Mists of Pandaria I really like it. It has an elegance and classic “asian style” which is stand out as beautiful to an anglo Australian mutt like me. I like it enough to create a top banner for the blog using one of the boilerplate artworks by Blizzard. Imagine how cooler that same image would look with non-panda races fighting in it! Perhaps a bloodelf vs human monk fight. I just have to love monks finally being playable in the game after so many years of killing them in the game already.

The art is perhaps not enough to put at ease all my reservations about fur-covered-love-bears being introduced into the game, but enough to place them next to the other races I dislike a little like Gnomes and Goblins. Yes, I don’t like stunties – both races look like snotlings in fancy dress.