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

LFR Tool…shrug

The LFR tool has some more details announced, but really its as expected. You’ll be sorted into a 25 man raid team, and given an easier version of the current content. Game By Night posted about it, and asked why it is not creating more of a stir, after all it should affect the entire MMO Community.

I made a comment to him:

“Why aren’t bloggers talking about it?!”
Because I think it will fail, but my blog is almost a Blizzard bashing blog anyway, so I don’t want to be too negative.

We have a raid finder tool already, and nobody uses it. Maybe making this across a series of realm is good, but as I said in my blog – it is almost pointless for current raids, but fantastic for older ones.

An old raid can be stomped by players who have no clue, but current tier content will be difficult regardless. I hate pugs, this will be like pugs on speed, wielding chainsaws.

Yup, Chainsaws. Speed freaks yelling gogogogo, and pointless wipes. I hope I’m wrong as I really need something like this so to support my progression, and I am planning to use it a lot.

To give it any less than an incredible amount of patience and time will be a poor review, and impact poorly for MMOs in the future. Blizzard is trying a new thing here and that should be applauded. Lets raise a glass to 25 man random Raids, and hope that the people joining them are useful, informed, and tolerant.

If they really wanted the feature to be a 100% seller it would be available for old school raids too. That would meet the transmogrification needs too.

Continue reading

Warcraft’s Dungeon Difficulty

I’ve been trying to write a post about the difficulty of heroic 5 mans for a very long time, but kept deleting them as they ended up being too much of a rant (even for my standards – sheesh).

With the initial release of Cataclysm expansion, then the exposure to Heroic modes the dungeons felt fairly tough, and at the many in the community saw this as good and a return to the difficulty of The Burning Crusade. Then the Trolls were released and they made the other dungeons seem friendly. There was a slow softening of the mechanics in the old dungeons too.

As its still on my mind this post has two parts; the first was my initial impressions when the cataclysm dungeons were released, and the second is where my head is now that we’re about to get the last 3 dungeons for this expansion. Continue reading

What non-tanks need to know: CC

Dangfool/Kallixta from the Blog Azeroth shared topics created this thread, and its darn topical to me:

It was a little change and we’ve had some time to adjust. What’s life like now that Tanks need not worry as much about threat? What should tanks be aware now they have one less thing to stay aware of? What bad habits have DPS been freed to pick up?

While the change to threat is the obvious inspiration for this topic, it could just as easily be “What non-tanks need to know about tanking?”/”What tanks need to know about non-tanks?” We’ve never had that as a shared topic either.

The TLDR version of this post is:

  • Crowd Control is critical to a successful run – this has not changed since day one, and the threat change has nothing to do with it.
  • Interrupts are not optional. Dps need to do them, and so does the Tank. ZG is a bastard if nobody uses interrupts on trash and bosses.
  • If you don’t understand the fight script / mechanics, then ask beforehand. There is only shame on you if you ask afterwards, or don’t ask at all.
  • If you can’t do more than 7k or better dps on a single target, non-moving fight then do not sign up. You’re not ready. By comparison I’m wearing a jumble of gear that is basically similar to tier 11, and I can do 8-9k as the tank. You had better be able to keep up with me.

It resonates as the Tanking change has made Tanking better for threat but had no affect on the overall skill in the LFD community. It even looks like some dps have taken the stance that as Tanking is now easier then the fights are easier. No! The threat change means that it is much harder to pull threat, but all other constraints and limitations still apply.

I Tank the ZA/ZGs regularly to try to cap my valor points each week. Typically this means spending 45 minutes to 1.5 hours in a single run, hammering my way through the instance. Often I’ll do these back to back, as I get a few nights a week to play, and I don’t want to “waste” them on other activity when I have Valor to earn. This provides me with a wealth of experience on what it is like as a Tank in the LFD system.

For example recently I tried to complete ZA three times.

Group One:

  • The first Shaman healer left straight away, and I suspect he/she didn’t want to run ZA. The second Priest healer stayed until I left.
  • One of the dps (Warrior) insisted on pulling, and wiped us on two occasions. He was kicked, just after the first boss.
  • Nobody killed the Scouts, even when they had a Skull icon over them.
  • The Mage dps did not want to CC, and had to be told every time.
  • I quit after the 4th wipe, which due to battle res was my 5th death. We didn’t successfully kill the 2nd boss. Apparently a key fault was mine for not gathering up all the small birds, although I was regularly dying due to the amount of damage from the same birds…I’d say they we not being dps’ed at all.

Group Two:

  • We started in ZA again, with two Hunters from the same server, but different guilds. They were clearly friends, and both hated to trap. One didn’t seem to understand the idea or a re-trap at all. The other was slow, but generally polite.
  • The Hunters left just before the 3rd boss, both quit without explanation. They were replaced by a Mage and Hunter from different servers, who also didn’t know how to CC properly.
  • That team also had a Rogue who didn’t like to sap or interrupt, and just responded with “Lol” when asked. I decided early that he was a waste of oxygen, but was at least more useful than the Paladin dps who stood in front of the bosses next to me and did less than 5000 dps.
  • I quit just after the 3rd boss when the dps started insulting the healer. Now the healer was doing an average job, but to my read was busy keeping the fire-standers alive more than herself, so perhaps not valid criticism.
  • So many deaths.

Group Three:

  • Polite. Everyone said hello when we started.
  • I joked about having a metal head suited only to tanking, and the healer (priest) thought I was cake to heal and we started a casual banter through the rest of the run. Even when we had the odd death, it was ok as the mood was lightened.
  • The dps Shaman and Mage used CC regularly, with the Mage never being needed to be told. The Shaman was not as good, but got better as we went.
  • We lost a Warrior to a disconnect, but gained a DK who was basically the same. Both did what they should have, and despite them having average dps (~10k) they were still useful.
  • We completed the run after a long time, but we finished. Even the otherwise silent players said thanks at the end, and I would contemplate recruiting that healer if she was not on another server.

Now I know that a few examples do not create a rule, but the disparity of attitudes seems to be present in almost every session I sit down to play in.

What needs to change:

  • Crowd Control is critical to a successful run – this has not changed since day one, and the threat change has nothing to do with it. If your class can CC then you must learn when to use it, how best to use it, and how to reapply mid battle.
  • Interrupt the casters, mobs, bosses…etc.
  • Don’t be told every time to do it. Just use it and assume it’s needed.
  • Don’t face pull through moving, stay aware.
  • Don’t pull if its not your role. A tank may ask for a Mind Control or other affect that starts a fight, but nobody should ever take it upon themselves to start a fight when they’re not the tank. You just look like an idiot when some or all the group wipes.
  • Ask for help if you need it.

It is not a revolutionary concept to think that people should know what their role is, and do it without complaint. Further I have more respect for people who are less skilled or unsure, but will ask a question than those who will proceed regardless and just make a mess.

Asking questions and making mistakes is how some people (like myself) learn. I respect it. Staying silent just gives the impression that you are OK, and don’t want or need advice. If you are silent in a group I assume that you will be quick, efficient, and not screw-up too much.

Happy fighting, and may all your LFDs be graceful, educational, and error free.

At least a few upgrades

Last week I was finally able to purchase the third t12 item, and I decided to craft the 365 weapons rather than waiting for either a price drop, or a totally lucky drop in Firelands. It feels good to have some upgrades.

It took me a long time to get the third t12 item, and I worked hard for it – was it casual? Yup. But you can get stuffed if you think it didn’t take a very long time. I’m not the best geared in my guild at all, but considering that I have never had a raid upgrade in Firelands, and have barely stepped in there, being around position 12 to 14 on the guild list is a small achievement.

Today I read news that the t13 items will not be available for purchase with Valor, but other gear will be. Initially I was totally disenfranchised by this. I think this is OK as long as the gear is almost the same as the tier gear. A tad less powerful is fine (eg. missing a Tier set bonus), but if the items are no more powerful than the 5 man rewards, then I will not be grinding Valor at all – and cannot see a reason to do the 5 mans beyond the basic gear-ups.

That will have a drastic affect on the tank population, and the amount of players we’ll see – so much so that I doubt it is even plausible for the Valor gear not to be almost as good. Not granting t13 rewards makes having those items more special, and I like that. If you are a raider and you got lucky enough to get them, then kudos. Just don’t penalise my role in the raid because I’ve geared a few items using Valor. That would be stupid.

So what does this all mean? It means I’m watching closing the announcements for gear as part of 4.3. Very closely.

LFD Quirks

I’ve noticed that the first group I get in LFD is typically a fresh run where everyone starts from the start. If for some reason somebody does not accept, then the next group will almost always be a mid-way through run of some form. Sometimes its early, other times is at a hard boss.

I have no idea if this is by design, and I think its good. But is it just me – does anyone know if this happens for Dps, or just Tanks, or if its just a strange consistency in recent randoms?

If its planned you’re typically going to wait for a group, it is sometimes better to get into a part way group so that the wait time (for the guys that wait) is overall the same from queue to completion.

A counter though is that joining a group that has issues might have you joining a group of terrible players, rather than replacing a terrible player. I guess there would be no pattern to that.

Tanking for Money

This is a simple one – When you tank in LFD you get around 80g extra, some points that you may not need (so convert to BoE gear) and the chance at a pet. I’ve been selling the pets for a reasonable amount of cash, and making some ok gold.Thus far a few more common Alliance pets (30-50g), a few rares (1000+g), and two Horde pets that hopefully sell for a reasonable amount (3-5k each?).

So the daily grind is not so bad in tank land. It is not a 1000-2000g per hour strategy, but being paid a little extra to suffer through the LFD is good. Pity the lowbie tanks don’t also get the reward – my mid 70s Warrior could use some extra cash too.

Happy Killing.

Cross-realm Raid Finder thoughts

Generally speaking this is another quality of life feature that I could see being useful. For folks missing achievements, gear and such its great. I can’t see many XR-raids being regularly successful in the current content, but might be for older raids. Like Nef, BWD, etc.

Hopefully it can be used for all previous raid content, not just the current expansion. Sunwell, BWL, AQ, etc all will be useful to run again – especially as people will be looking for gearsets.

Goal: cross-faction, real-id, and cross-realm, for both raids and dungeons.

Basically let us group up for anything, with anyone, and set some simple rules in place to make a forced balance, just like the LFD tool now. I see no reason to not allow cross-faction for runs, except that some look is faction specific. That is solvable via a rule that says the faction of the leader is dominant, and offer a vendor to switch it over if you get the incorrect faction loot.

algorithm for need vs greed rolls by role

I’ve bashed the LFD Call to Arms as not going far enough, and not being an effective solution; and as a blogger with no leverage or responsibility in the game that is easy to do. So instead of a blog post which grumbles, here is a blog post with a suggestion.

Item stat based rules for Need vs Greed, for group roles.

The random dungeon finder tool now filters on armour type, but no further. I’m proposing that there is an algorithm which can filter the Need vs Greed option even further, so that gear is far less likely to be awarded to the wrong role. Using this the players would be getting gear with a far higher (but not imperfect) degree of focus on the role they joined to execute.

We have four roles and a range of special cases for gear within the class combinations created by those roles (Range DPS, Melee DPS, Tank, and Heal). It’s a bad thing to see a Need roll on an item which will never be used, such as a Death Knight rolling need on a Plate item which has Int on it, or a Hunter rolling on a staff with Spirit.

Here is a suggested solution to improve the algorithm which filters Need vs Greed selection:

Use role based filters for all Need role which restrict based upon:

  • Apply a primary stat filter, where the item must have that stat present.
  • Apply a secondary stat filter, where any one of the listed stats must be present.
  • Apply a secondary stat filter, where if any of the listed stats are present then the character is excluded from the Need roll.

This allows for the armor type restriction to hold as currently implemented, and the armor type restriction would still act as a restriction. It allows trinkets, rings, necks and other non-armor type items to be classified using the stats assigned to the item. This mean that it is not an arbitrary assignment of priority, but one based on the stats which the item has and how they are valued as recognised by item weightings.

The rules allow for an item within a armour type that a role might current role on to be corrected, like Int plate vs Dodge plate, or a trinket with only one stat, and allows for ignoring the Stamina values on gear. While this might disadvantage Tanks slightly, I am not sure of many items which would otherwise be selectable which would not also be valid choices for DPS characters – so the degree of impact is less.

All that we need to do is decide on the primary stat for each class & role combination, set a valid list of secondary stats, and also set some stats to exclude. It is worth noting that the inclusion of a stat in the included or excluded list is not mean to dictate a priority amongst them, it just means that this is a potentially valid stat for the class-role.

For example: It would be a shame for a range Tank to miss a role for an upgrade with Dodge on it just because a DPS in the same group rolls need.

The syntax is = Class Role: Prime-Stat / Stats Included / Stats Excluded

DK mdps: str / mast, crit, hit, expertise, haste / !int, !spirit, !dodge, !parry, !block
Pally mdps: as above
War mdps: as above

Druid mdps: agi / mast, crit, hit, expertise, haste /  !int, !spirit, !dodge, !parry, !block
Rogue mdps: as above
Shaman mdps: as above

DK tank: str / dod, parr, mast, exp, hit / !block, !int, !spirit
Druid tank: agi / dod, mast, exp, hit / !block, !parry, !int, !spirit
Pally tank: str / dod, parr, block, mast, exp, hit / !int, !spirit
War tank: as above

Druid rdps: int / spell power, hit, crit, haste, mastery /
Hunter rdps: agi / hit, crit, haste, mastery / !int, !spi
Mage rdps: as per Druid
Priest rdps: int / spell power, hit, crit, haste, mastery, spirit /
Shaman rdps: as per Druid
Warlock rdps: as per Druid

Druid heal: spi/ int, mastery, crit, hate, spellpower / !hit
Pally heal: as above
Priest heal: as above
Shaman heal: as above

As a basic this does it. It could be expanded to understand the ratio of Spirit to Int in comparison of caster items, where one is valued to dps higher than healers.

It could be expanded to ignore the rules if the person who could roll Need already has an item in that location which exceeds the item weight by ~20%. Meaning a player could not roll Need on a ilevel: 333 item if they already have a ilevel 356 in that location. For them it becomes a forced Greed.  That might mean that another player is the only one who can greed, or that nobody can roll need. You could also open the rolling so that if nobody is normally allowed to roll Need due to this rule, then the system lets them role Need if it is in their armour type. This way a offset item goes to somebody who might actually use it, not to disenchant or vendor.

And I’m sure there is a huge range of exceptions that might apply for funny items. No way in hell I was going to try and parse all of the WoWHead data to validate this.

On plan I think this is a solid idea. What do you think?

Happy Gearing

Reward the rare in Random Dungeons?

Blizzard has announced a new scheme which will reward the rare types of role in the queue with rewards. If you are the role that is most needed – you’ll have extra cash, pets, mounts, all the good stuff. But it feels like a solution looking for a problem.

It will be worth tanking – but only slightly more. Not significantly more, and as the reward is not gained for guild groups – so we’re actually discouraging friends from playing together. Why? It should at least allow 2 people to sign-up together, and 3 would be better. Would it matter if 3 guildies took 2 stranges with them on a run? Wouldn’t that speed the rewards a little too?

It won’t fix the fact that dps rolls on my Tank gear, and vice versa.

It won’t stop any role gear going to the wrong roles at all, which is what pisses me off the most. Almost every dungeon the loot from the last roll will be a series of Need rolls. Why? Because there is no recourse to stop them doing it.

It won’t stop people being rude, or kicking without reason.

It won’t stop the time wasters, the AFK’ers, and the gogogo-moron-boys.

It won’t stop Loot Fever. Except it could be easily stopped, as we have had roles for a long time, and its just lazy to think that we can code specially for Orbs, or for some mounts, but can’t figure out that gear with Dodge is a Tank item. Total bullshit.

I really hope my friends and guild are happy to keep doing runs, and I’d rather run with them than get a new mount. I’d rather walk.

Happy killing….end rant.