Ordos is a funny encounter

I like the Ordos fight because it is simple. I dislike it sometimes because that simplicity makes people take the fight less seriously, which in turn make the encounter difficult. Essentially if Ordos’s mechanics were added into a traditional raid instance I think the fight would be considered easy.

Ordos requires one of your characters to have gained the Legendary cloak, run your way past a few fire creatures, and then dps him quickly, while moving the boss away from the huge pools of fire he drops, and having the Living Bombs applied to your raid members moved away from the rest of the people.

ordos-wide

It is in concept exceedingly simple. It is made difficult by being a primarily PuG fight where the quality of players is determined randomly. The fact that getting that Legendary cloak is required is not at all an indication that the player knows anything about what they are doing, and/or might be using a totally different character.

Last night for example I took my Druid as Boomkin to the Ordos fight. Now as a Death Knight in melee I know this fight is terrible because the Tanks don’t move and generally the living bombs go off amid the raid group. It is a cluster of fail. But hey, apparently we just run back and repeat wipe until it dies. That is PuG open world raiding (apparently).

As a Boomkin I was able to stand well back, stay away from everyone else, and dps. Twice I was selected as the bomb, but healed my way through the damage so I could keep fighting. It was easy.

It was so much easier as range dps that I cannot think why (if given a choice) anyone would do anything except stay back as range. That is what is so “funny” – the encounter is a repeated death run for melee but range get to sit back and ping and only stress about a single fight mechanic? Funny. Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe there wasn’t that post from Blizzard about melee friendly stuff. Or maybe they were not at all talking about Ordos. The kill grants huge ilevel gear (thunderforged 559!) so every PvE person will be trying to do this, and that the barrier to entry is so blistering low that we can expect all sorts of casual attitudes.

Good. Funny. I’m going to be a slacker now in Ordos too. The game wants a slack approach, then by golly I’ll live up to that challenge. Bring on the Alt Army of Noob.

I’ve parked that Druid right at the top of the stairs in front of Ordos, so I can switch, tag, kill, and loot whenever it pops each week. I’m going to park my noobie Warrior there soon too, and perhaps get a small bit of Thunderforged gear which will be great for transmog.

Grumble. Funny.

Melee friendly raids, ah, cool, pardon, come again?

Ah, such wonderful flame-bait, blogger-bait, and diversive material; how-do-we-define-melee-friendly from WoW Insider’s post and the related interview from Blizzard. I’m blogging it as it is an ongoing joke amongst some of the melee folks I regularly chat with. I love it when I hear a fight is melee friendly, especially when it comes from a non-melee (really healer, its not easy up the backside of this giant ogre). The WI blog is a long post, and worth a read if you have not looked.

Then join me here as I meander through my thoughts a bit…

Q. How do you know if a fight is melee friendly?

A. If the dps contribution on excellent attempts or a range of kills does not have melee behind in the overall damage done then the fight is probably not unfriendly to melee or range.

Any other measure is not based on what the players are doing, and should be questioned. It is overly melee friendly if the range dps cannot keep up with the melee, and vice-versa.

Q. How do you design for melee (or range) friendly?

A. At a high level view, not in a minute by minute breakdown.

I think it is ok for fights to have bias. The balance should be across the raid instance content, and also hopefully across the phases; but not stress about within one phase, or even one fight.

I love a good melee fight. Primarily that is because a lot of my time over the years has been played on a Death Knight. Before that I played on a Warlock or a Paladin, but only rarely did dps as the Paladin because early days the Pallys were not so hot in dps. So at the time that Wrath came out I switched to a DK and have only hooched around on a Boomkin, Warlock, or Shadow Priest as range dps since.

Secondly I’ll add to that I’m a little lazy these days in fights, or said another way I prefer fights that have mechanics that make sense, and that when combined form complexity in the encounter.

A principal example is Lei-Shen from Throne of Thunder. I think it is a great fight because:

  • As an end boss it is unforgiving of mistakes. Good. It frustrates the absolute crap out of me that a player can grief his team by repeatedly making mistakes, and sometimes even dedicated players make mistakes (that might feel like griefing), but it is worse when a fight is too easy, and I support end bosses being tough.
  • Almost every attack or mechanic has been used before on the raiders in trash, pve areas, or a previous boss. Bloody excellent. No excuse for not understanding the basics. The complexity comes when responding to multiples at the same time.
  • With the exception of the “blue swirls of ephemeral bad” near the boss, the bad poo on the floor is blisteringly obvious. When one quarter of the floor space lights up and sparkles just after the lightning reactors overload…yes, you, you’re standing in bad stuff. MOVE. B-res pls lol.
  • If done well, both Range Dps and Melee Dps have roles to do which means that no style is significantly disadvantaged. In LFR and Normal that is, I never saw Heroic mode, but can imagine it is as much fun, expect with razor blade thick-shakes and booster rockets.

Continue reading

Heroic Guardians in MSV defeated

The raid team are not resting after finally killing the Sha of Fear (getting the Guild to 16/16 Normal), and last night we were successful in killing the Stone Guardians of Mogu’shan Vaults on Heroic.

It is a tough fight for the healers, especially if the team are not coordinated. That said, a few of the raiders really knew what they were doing, as it looked to be a wipe, but the living players continued to fight, killing the dogs just as it enraged. If one of the 4 dead folks had lived a little longer (myself included) then we’d have probably not even hit the enrage. Any kill is a good kill when its the first.

The shorthand description of T14 H1/16 never looked so good. Screenies will go up later.

Loading screen for the Mogu'shan vaults

Arrrg loot in LFR and the Useless Ordinary Legendary Gem

This post is brought to you by the word: Random.

I was going to whine about loot in LFR, as a run through Terrace and the first part of Heart of Fear saw nothing. But then I got lucky in the second part of Heart of Fear LFR, and got the Gloves token which I’ve now had drop 4x times. Arrrrg. No weapons, side grades, other drops for ages. Oh, working as intended? Random rewards are fun. /sarcastic

On an actual positive note I have now handed in and completed the first stage of Wrathion’s quest-line for the “Ordinary Legendary Gem. Now the slow grind up to 6000 Valor points has started, and we’ll see how far behind the curve I am. I doubt patch 5.2 is 6-7 weeks away given the news and press flying around.

I love the fact that the Legendary quest line is a pain in the arse and bloody difficult for a casual player. Blizzard got this right. it should be driving those players crazy, and should not be something that we feel is deserved; earn it. I get a good quest line and the promise of more great stuff to come.

Not that the “Ordinary Legendary Gem” is actually useful as it requires a Sha Touched Weapon to be slotted into, which is also RANDOMLY DROPPED. So the Ordinary Legendary Gem” is actually a “Useless Ordinary Legendary Gem“. I’ve decided to treat the gem like getting the Left Binding in Molten Core. Now begins the stupidly long path of getting the other random thing to drop.

My Death Knight could really use a Sha Touched weapon for Tanking. Really, really, handy. Random and hard for LFR upgrades is poor, random and hard in a Legendary quest is perfect. Its like the two are the same now. Just saying.

wrathion

Random in Boss fights?

A good find about how good or bad it is for encounters in PvE to be heavily or lightly scripted, which is interesting given how much the degree of “random” affects fun.

Tobold wrote:

In my opinion there is too little randomization in MMORPGs. They are nearly totally deterministic. Before combat even starts you know what the monster will do, and what keys to press in which order to optimally defeat it. Thus combat involves no thinking, only execution.

As Craig Stern says, the solution is not making the result of button presses unpredictable, but to make the opponent unpredictable, or the starting situation. That is why card games work: The cards you draw are random, but what you can do with them is not. And in a MMORPG the monsters could be made more unpredictable as well. Why do people need to know in advance what the boss mob is going to do after X minutes to beat him?

posted by Tobold Stoutfoot at 8:54 AM on Nov 18, 2012

To be fair, its better to read the entire post and linked articles.

Would introducing more randomness be good?

I think it would be terrible – consider that if you really want to make the bosses challenging then you make them more intelligent…..say they don’t have a threat table anymore, they just crush anyone who tries casts a heal.

Same issue in pen and paper – for some reason (story) the big bad orc (high CR monster) wails on the fighter, not the cleric.

I can see the point about execution and predetermined strategies removing “creative” aspects, but really the 4th wall is so present in an MMO that it is just differing personal perspectives for how far the slider between real and scripted the entire game is. I also think that some random is ok, but too much will be very disruptive to the players, as their outcome for victory is too much outside their control.

The card game in Tobold’s example is not a good match to the game style events in an MMO, given how different the perspective is, but does help my point: who likes playing solitaire when the game cannot be won?

Trial of the Champion had the pvp based fight which was excellent, but it still came down to a set of abilities, and a priority based kill order. It was also hated by a few raiders.

Another random fight was Lord Ryolyth in Firelands – who was basically impossible if the randomness didn’t go your way. That is a shitty way to spend an evening.

Go have a read as the discussion on both Tobolds and Craig’s blog are good stuff. Happy Killing.

Hallow’s eve arriving soon

The wonderfully macabre Halloween holiday event of Hallow’s End is set to start on the 18 October. Like previous years it will probably contain a set of quests based around the Headless Horseman attack, putting out fires, and vanquishing him in the graveyard of Scarlet Monastery. I suspecty Wowhead’s guide will be updated shortly.

For people who are chasing gear the event typically offers some role based upgrades at current Raid level. I’d bet we will not see patch 4.3 before the 18th of October, so that means the rewards are probably going to be around ilevel 365 items, as per the Brewfest and Molten Front level items.

Enough to get you into a Firelands normal run, but not de-value the current raid rewards (does it really de-value?…another time for that discussion).

What can you expect?

Some great Rings for most raid roles (melee dps, caster dps, and healing last year) which you can get a lot faster than the Daily quests in the Molten Front, a one-handed Sword (Agi based), and a Plate Dps Helm. Good stuff for almost all classes, although some specs don’t get love there at all. Continue reading

Nefarian is dead

I am very pleased to brag that the fine folks of Insidious have finally killed Nefarian. It took over 60 attempts to kill him, over many nights of switching, burning, and altogether just flying back in to the instance for one more attempt.

Easiest part of the fight: the jump in at the start is great, just don’t miss that first platform. Actually maybe the lift on the way back in, that killed a few folks.

Hardest part of the fight: the interrupts in the dragonite spawns have to be done within 1.5 seconds, which makes Australian latency somewhat a limiting factor. Sometimes I’d be fine, others it would wipe the raid to miss one. This is bloody frustrating, and changing that cast time to 2 seconds would make a world of difference.

Getting into the Pillars, whilst also interrupting the dragonite thing – sheesh. Honestly the “pillar” boss was the thing that I screwed up overand over. Remembering to kite the adds in a small area which is also not on Ony’s flank is tricksy too.

nefarian

Finally the Lich King falls

Finally last night I got the Lich King kill on a guild in ICC10 last night. Very happy to have done it, and very pleased that it was on my Death Knight.
I’d happily be next LK

We went through a slow steady change in strategy, which tweaked the raid composition for the successful attempt to include a Death Knight and Warrior tank, instead of Paladin and Warrior combination. We also had some folks who were newer to the fight that others, and while I didn’t rate myself as having no knowledge of how to execute the kill; there is nothing like success to solidify the feeling that we were getting it right.

A big thanks to the guild Insidious, the raid team members who fought tooth and nail to get it done first, and particular thanks to our gm for having so many darn useful toons that made switching roles easy.

Also to our resident shadow priest for doing such a great job on the spirits in phase 3. Ram and Nesty – first round is on me; in fact I’d happily buy a drink for the entire guild.

This marks the completion for me on all the normal 10 man content in the game; and as such it feels exactly as I expected. There is a feeling of a hard victory won, a sense of completion, and also a sense that there needs to be some follow-up achievements to reinforce that it was no fluke. The pull to do it again is very strong, so strong if fact that I would consider working very hard to have this achievement on a few characters, or at least get some good items from the LK on any character. The two handed mace that drops is very healthy for either my DK’s roles, the either staff is a very nice feral or caster option, and if I get lucky and can bring my boomkin into a successful run, then that would be excellent too.

Like our raid leader and a few other players, I have more than one character that I play regularly, and have no fear of switching them around to suit the composition of the raid. Often that meant I was playing as a Druid-boomkin recently, although for some reason (probably due to subtle pressure from me) I was able to keep my Death Knight in the group in last night’s run. I think I play the DK better overall, but am getting ok at the boomkin now too. The difference in dps output is related more to gear and the suitability of the class mechanics to the fight. Boomers are darn solid when aoe is needed, but lack flexibility for fights with single target dps that needs to switch often. I found a similar problem when playing an affliction warlock in TBC years ago. The ghost/spirits in phase 3 of the lich king fight would be very easy for a boomkin to kill, particularly due to Starfall, and the fact I always keep the knockback on Typhoon.

Enough joyous rambling for now – happy killing everyone. Ahem…woot.

Great Boss Fights

OnyxiaI was asked the other day what boss fights I really enjoyed, and it was a hard job to come up with a top one or two picks. So many bosses have challenged my gameplay in WoW. I love the fact that the bosses get more complex and tougher as you progress through the levels.

Start in Deadmines (tank and spank), move to Scarlet Monestry where a strat will help (Herod spins = move out), and then into ZF, DM, UBRS, and finally MC and ZG.

Bosses I liked

So instead here are the fights I really enjoyed, or would have liked to try.

  • Gruul’s Lair as a Warlock in the High King Mulgar fight is fun. Being the the guy who “tanks” Olm the Summoner using his own felpuppies is awesome. Add to the mix that you should also be doing a curse of weakness on Mulgar, and possibly a curse of elements on Krosh. You’re kept pretty busy.
  • Karazhan as an affliction Warlock on Curator rocks my world, especially when he goes into “spank me, I’ve been bad” mode. A well timed maximised Curse of Doom is awesome. Huge crits! Just make sure your Soulshatter is available, or you’re in for a brief world of pain.
  • URBS – I’ve always wanted to try kiting Drakk as it looks like fun. Hunters and Mages usually got this job due to tehir ability to move out of melee but keep him aggro’ed. I’ve only dps’ed as a warlock and healed as a pally for UBRS; such a shame.
  • Shadow Labs – Grandmaster Vorpil is a good fight that I’m still learning the finer details of. Those voidwalkers need to be kited/avoided and he boss kited up and down, and then the teleport + aoe burst makes you keep awake throughout. All while moving!

Bosses I Dislike

If you’re a WoW boss that is dependent more on luck than skill or strategy, I don’t like you.

  • Shadow Labs – Blackheart the Inciter – is utter rubbish. “Time for Fun” it aint. I like the idea that he mind controls, but as a Tank its just a shit storm trying to get aggro back so many times, and if your DPS wait long enough for it to be safe, you’re not going to kill him fast enough. You’ll also find youreself comming out of mind control in stupid states, often with good abilities on cooldown. Grumble.
  • Karazhan – Prince, as placement of those Infernals is random and can make the fight nigh on impossible.

The jury is still out on

  • Karazhan – Shade of Aran. I can’t decide if I really like this fight, or if its plain irritating. Its certainly easier as melee dps as you can stay close and just whack away, and no threat table makes him a great fight for everyone involved except the healers.

As I healed for a huge proportion of the later 50-60 content, I didn’t often have to stress about the finer aspects f some strategies. Then I switched to a range DPS class, and almost just had to track the Skull for kill order. Now that tanking is the focus, all the fights are different – and its excellent.

All of them are now interesting, even just the “tank and spanks” as they often have little tweaks that you have to watch for.