Gone fishing, err Hunting, but watching WoW regardless

Aside

I’m still watching the blogs and news for WoW despite not being subscribed. Interesting to see what others are still doing in game, and to reflect that it does not entice me back into a subscription yet. Later probably, but now – not at all.

One interesting set of information has been launched around the “cosmetic class items” as a way of rewarding players for participation and also allowing for character customisation. A good and interesting mini-feature. I see bags and quivers for Hunter types, and spell books for caster types (or is that a libram for Paladins?). These could be bracer on the hip, or shoulder of character models, hand from belts, attach to forearms, or even float about the character(?).

What would be great is to see them merge with the colour palette of the character gear as well. Why? Well the spell book looks fantastic as concept art, but will be way too hapy-happy-joy-joy for a soulful purple-black themed Warlock. Keeping the emo kids happy is somewhat important, and most of us MMO players are emo about something or other.

Anyway, I’m glad they’re adding these and hope vials, off-hand frills, sub-weapons, hunting kit, crosses and prayer beads, ioun stones, boot knives, random pockets, ghost-haunted crowns, and all sorts of other widget-like oddities might come. Collect them all…buy them… Happy Killing, TyphoonAndrew.

Hmm. Does itemisation count for adding new WoW classes?

Another happy random topic out on WowInsider – What classes would you like to see come to WoW? I wrote:

I think they got the monk very right, except that the Monk wears leather as implemented in WoW. The game’s presentation of monks before this (via Scarlet Mon and others) was as cloth wearers and it would have been interesting to see them as cloth wearers.

So hmm, on reflection my comment was not especially on topic, but I felt it needed to be said.

Itemisation in the game wold have to change a lot to add cloth which is agility based from level 2 upward, and it would also have not helped that only a small range of uses are out there for leather with intellect and spirit. So perhaps the leather wearing monks were an easier path to introduce.

(…note: I’ll say as a lead in to this post that I liked the amalgamation of armour type with stats that was performed. Having some classes gain Hit from Spirit to reduce the range of stat combos which needed to be supplied by boss kills was clever.

I’ll say too that I am mostly for leaving the classes as they are. This is more a post about options, rather than an actual wishlist. I got the Monk class I said I wanted, but now that I have it I’m not keen as it was implemented. That is all my problem, as I accept the choices that Blizzard made happily.

Lastly I know that opening all the classes to all the races is an option, and it is another option that I’d like to see never happen. The story reason for adding anything to the game should be profound and strong. A Pandaren Death Knight is just not likely, especially in the numbers of players who would do it. Saying no to that spread of class race mixes is not a bad thing.

The ideas below conflict with that. Sorry.)

So then now we could see (but probably won’t) a cloth wearing class added? Not so sure. We have 34 specs in play at the moment, with 3x wearing plate, 3x wearing leather, 3x cloth and only 2x wearing mail.

spirit-healer

We’ve had Monks and Death Knights as new classes, so having more plate and leather conflict is going to be disruptive. We still have a single class using Plate with Intellect (caster plate) though, and the same problem in Mail caster gear. Perhaps that is a major force in what class style is introduced – add something which has less major rework required at the low end, and can give diversity to the gear spread at the high end.

So if a class was to be added it could be added to the mail category wearing Agi based and Intellect based armour. Hmm, what classes might use intellect based mail armour?

  • Demon Hunter? Uhh blarg. Too much like hunter.
  • Warmage? Or call it a Warden. A dps caster, a healer, plus melee, plus Tank who wears heavier armour than cloth, but still not a plate wearing, weapon wielding melee guy. Mail suits that concept a lot. It might have 4x spec options to keep adding breadth of choice into the game. It makes for a further mess in the spec line-up.

And now onto even stranger thoughts…

Or perhaps a class is added where their armour sub-type changes according to their active spec? Just because we have the alignment to date does not mean it actually needs to be maintained. We’ve always seen classes change their choice in weapons to suit a role, so why not their choice of armour?

Or perhaps we might see every class which has current specs which are very similar redone? i.e. Fire mage vs Frost mage, vs Arcane mage is essentially a range caster dps with a flavour and play-style. Good on them. Same kind of thing with Rogues, and certainly same kind of thing with Death Knight unholy and frost. A disc priest and holy priest also both heal, but do so in very different ways.

What if those differences were rolled into the Talent choices in the early talent trees and new and very different spec choices were added? Such as:

  • Unholy DK becomes a range caster and summoner. It suits a nice little angle of on the lore which has always been present and I do not think it would hurt greatly. It also has the advantage of adding Plate Int a new use, although also makes itemisation in the class more painful. Perhaps they also use staves and such of the casters too. The cross-itemisation might make the fight for gear more prolific, but it would also widen the range of use.
  • One of Disc & Holy is subsumed and Priests get a melee “pugilist” spec. Friar tuck with a staff, maces, or some such? (very close to what I thought a Monk would be like)
  • Hunters get a spec where they have no pet at all, but instead move into melee mode. I know that “melee hunter” is a great meme, but it would finally make my Hunter playable o suit my style.
  • I don’t know what to do with Mages and Rogues, except to make their alt-odd-spec something which changes their mode of play. How do you alter a Rogue to be either range or a heal/tank? I don’t think it can be done well. Perhaps these guys are the real straight dps in their role.

And finally what other classes might we see have a go?

  • A summoner type. Ala the Witch Doctor in D3? Hmm a clothie. It makes a sort of sense except it feels overtly niche. What is the Warcraft lore reference?
  • An engineer-ish Tinker? Very odd cross-over with the Engineering skill, and it would make an overly bold steam/magic-punk addition for my taste.
  • Bloody Bards. As healers and damage they make sense, they could provide the cross range of buffs. Armor type for bards feels like Mail as well.

cropped-nerbian-entrance.jpg

Happy hunting.

Patch 5.2 Class Review – Death Knight

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GC has delivered a short blog as a review and update on their perspective for Death Knights, one part of a series for each class as a reflection of the changes made in patch 5.2. The intro to all the class updates was:

We don’t alter classes lightly, and every change comes only after a great deal of player feedback, developer thought, and careful analysis. We also know that while class changes can help keep things fresh, they can also mean that there’s a need to re-learn things about your character that you thought you already knew. We want to make this process clearer, more understandable, and easier to adapt to as we move into patch 5.2, so I’ll be working with World of Warcraft Lead Systems Designer Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street to write a short blog series that will provide an overview of the important changes coming to each class.

For the DKs is worth a read (source)…

We had three main goals:

  • Make some less attractive talents more compelling.
  • Improve quality of life for Unholy Death Knights.
  • Give a small PvP buff.

We didn’t feel like Death Knights needed many changes overall, and we try not to change classes for change’s sake, especially midway through an expansion, so you’ll see fewer changes here than for some other classes.

To address some issues with less attractive talents, you’ll see buffs to Death Siphon (more damage dealt) and Conversion (less Runic Power over time).

Unholy’s quality of life changes were mostly to solve the problem of “orphaned” runes. A Death Knight would, for example, Blood Boil twice and then Scourge Strike, leaving two Frost Runes, which weren’t sufficient to use Festering Strike. Now Icy Touch activates Reaping, which will allow those Frost Runes to convert to Death Runes. We also made Plague Strike apply Frost Fever to reduce the need to use Icy Touches. We also made Summon Gargoyle no longer cost Runic Power and changed the damage done to both Shadow and Nature to synergize better with Unholy’s Mastery, Dreadblade.

While we think Death Knights are in a good place in PvP overall, we did agree with the feedback that Strangulate has a very long cooldown for what it does, so we lowered its cooldown and also lowered Asphyxiate to match. Finally, it is worth pointing out that the tier 14 2-piece ended up being overbudget to the extent that we were concerned DKs would keep using it in the 5.2 raid. We nerfed the set bonus and buffed Death Knights to compensate. Blood is in a good place overall, but we did buff Blood Parasite dramatically, because it was just undertuned.

In pondering what this means…

Overall – yes, DKs are in a good place and do not need a large set of changes.

Further every time a class gets refined in a significant way the changes swing up and down to find a new point of balance. I’d rather not have a large set of changes applied mid-expansion even to fix Unholy’s dps output. Frankly it does not make enough of a difference to me. I love Unholy the most out of all the specs, but will use whichever Dps style is better overall for me. In a month we’ll be able to review the changes being introduced for priests and monks and evaluate if they needed tweaks. I bet they’ll need tweaks.

I think most DK players have a similar ethos. The choice given to players for which spec to play when each spec is basically the same is somewhat of an illusion; a final max will be found through theory-craft, and it will likely become the default. e.g. Mage, Hunter, Rogue, etc specs too.

Talents – Conversion is a great talent, as it is passive. A nurf hurts a little, but if overall damage is altered to compensate (as indicated) then ok cool. No worries. That meas it might be worth mucking around wit the others. Death Siphon is a wonderful ability that I use in raids regularly to help the healers, and if it does more damage then that helps my Dps role. No bad there.

Timmy’s been upgraded – Overall an update to Unholy was needed, and i totally agree with Timmy being altered so that he is more usable. This does not alter the need to understand the complexity of when to use Timmy, or how Timmy might affect the raids – and that is excellent as Timmy’s idiosyncratic behaviour is one of the complexities that I think Unholy should keep.

T14-2pc Dps set bonus – it was good enough that having the set bonus and using 483/476 gear was better than using 489 gear (I have the SimCraft numbers to prove it too). Yes, that might be “overpowered” a little, but it also means that the bonus provided a bridge for those who were struggling to get gear in other locations.

Blood – My gripe for Blood is still that the health shield disappears too quickly. I know it is manageable, but fight mechanics often are more important than the timing of Death Strike, and that means a shield dropping off without being fully used, or sometimes the runes are needed for other powers.

For the PvP changes – I honestly cannot say.

Issues to bitch about – as a class DKs have a very complex mix of resources to plan with – generate and use RP for some powers, but not others. It shits me. We have cooldowns on powers to ensure they cannot be spammed and be abused, but the DK class is as complex a beast that I’ve ever played (compared to Boomkin, Warlock, Tankadin, SPriest) in raids. i.e.

  • BattleRes requires Runic Power…why? This power is meant to be used to recover from a whoops moment, but often I cannot use it as I’ve just burnt RP doing DPS. Do druids have a mana/energy/rage cost to cast the bloody thing? No. What the hell.
  • Soul Reaper requires a Blood rune, with it’s own additional internal cooldown… why? Runes have cooldowns/regeneration already. Suggestion – take the blood rune requirement from it and let me spam it according to Blood Runes.
  • Outbreak alone is almost but not really enough to keep diseases up on targets when playing Frost (well the way  I play at least). This means using runes on “lesser” abilities. That is fine, but it is not as useful as it could be. Perhaps a tweak to cooldown? Not sure.
  • Bone Shield (blood) is not a fun and interesting mini-game. It is something to remember, which is just meh.
  • Blood Shield – as above.

Happy killing, TyphoonAndrew

Naxxramas Continue reading

Time for Tokens to die

Years ago the wow community were rousing about the token system was ok, but fundamentally flawed. The mini-game we play after the boss dies is another treadmill-merry-go-round where gear drops which is useless. As a design principle wow’s reward for effort is based upon re-trying the kills each week until you get lucky. Today I’m bloody mad about this as its been far too long that we’ve been suffering this. Rant incoming.

In our guild forums I wrote this class tokens:

On the token (issue) I think we’re screwed for two reasons: we need to take what we can in terms of characters who are able to join and raid above their match on the token, and we can’t get people to switch characters just to suit the bloody token system each major content patch. It is a bullshit scenario to be in, but I can’t think of a solution that does not have the regular raiders re-rolling each patch.

The token system was an ok idea to allow a boss to drop loot which would not be fraught with drama, as only a few classes could use it. Less people = less drama right? Wrong.

We have in guild now is one character with a token to himself, and half the raid split on each of the other two. Ah shit, gear drama. And I don’t mean people being bitches about loot, I mean that we see Tokens getting cycled for gold/de as we’ve had too many of one type and miles from enough of others. The drama is that our progression is slowed due to shitty luck. A boss dies but the drop is totally pointless.

Also with 4-5 players on each 2 tokens it takes huge amounts of time to gear those 9 players. It is not just 9 kills job done, because we have alt sets, and subs who join from time to time to help with the roster, which makes the distribution ever worse.

Just bring more people to suit the tokens? The server populations are shrinking and this is a totally non-viable response.

Bring the player not the class? Nope. Bring a balance of classes for the tokens. Oh and the tokens change each major content patch. Arrrg.

Reroll? Good god, have you seen how unfriendly the alts are? Forget that as viable for everyone except those with huge amounts of time to play.

The outcome is our raid group just has to suck it up, and keep grinding.

Honestly I am so sick of the loot rewards or issues around loot getting in the way of actually having fun with my raid team in World of Warcraft.

Fark this, I’m soon going to play something else. If Blizzard need a reason why I’ve moved to month-on month payments now, and will shortly consider reading a book instead of logging in they can start with this. Fark it. Destroy it all.

(p.s. what about suggestions for alternatives? Nope, I’ve done that for years suggesting ways that progressive “coins” or currency could be acquired each kill. Do a search on Gear on the blog… they’ll be a few.)

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.

MoP Class Planning Tools

To get ready for the change in patch 5, here are a few good resources that can guide thinking, and steer away from panic and fear of the unknown.

These are pretty much in order that you’ll be able to use them. There might be others around which are more specialised, but these are an excellent jump point.

wow build 15961 has DK changes. Yay!

Well the Beta build 15961 has DK changes coming to a server near us all very soon; well a change. Yippee. Cough. Now this is not assured, so perhaps this is the beginning of something beautiful. Oh hell, I’ll just cut to the chase, here is the change which will benefit so many Death Knights:

Now I think they’re just screwing with me. Continue reading

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.