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

Raiding is a Party not a Sport

Maintaining the weekly raid roster is a bloody hard thing to do; just ask any recruitment or guild officer. With the holidays, life, and general grumpiness of raiders these days, there is little to do except be constantly supporting the ego and feelings of the current team, and potentially recruiting for replacements at the same time. WoW Insider has a post up that talks about the concept of rebuilding years, akin to a sports team that has an off year while they train up younger players.

The sports team analogy does not mix with WoW though, due to the expectation and flexibility that raiders have vs the sports teams. In fact I think the sports team example actually makes it worse for the players who are left behind because it might make them think the social mechanics are different to what they really are. Why?

  • Raiders are not in financial contracts, and nobody is being paid.
  • Raiders cannot be forced to login.
  • An off-season for a raid team is enough for many to leave, or slow further.
  • There is no glamor or praise for the bench & support roles.

So cut it with the sports analogies. Also the job/work comparisons are moot too for exactly the same reasons. You think I go to work for fun every day? I can see that the amateur sports team comparison as closer to the raiding structure, but it still misses the range of social & community aspects that MMOs teams often have.

Ok then, what would be a good comparison? Dinner parties.

  • You probably want to attend because its meant to be fun. The invite list is finite, but sometimes a bit of stretch can be accommodated.
  • If you’re invited regularly it means you’re probably in a core group of some sort who often catch-up.
  • You’d like to believe that the people are friends, or at least will be civil to each other. You also might not like your old friends new partner, but hey – its their mistake.
  • Real life or other events will get in the way and make you late or not attend. The importance of the person in your life will probably dictate if you go. If the devotion is akin to family you’ll probably go regardless and apologise, and might even ring ahead.
  • You’re meant to bring something to the party as a gift, but its ok if you don’t. The gifts are just like Pots, Food, and Flasks. Some people never bring anything, and everyone knows who they are, but its unlikely they’ll be abused for it.
  • Sometimes you’re a ring in that hardly knows anyone, and that is a double edged sword. You might end up standing in the corner (or dead on the floor) half the night.
  • God help you if its a date too – as you’ll be scrutinised the entire night by strangers.
  • Some parties suck and are a total waste of time. Other parties are good even if you don’t do a lot, as you just hang out with your friends.
  • There is a chance of meeting some new people, or knowing them better.
  • And if you’re desperate for people to attend the party you can just invite almost anyone and see what type of person you get. Generally that does not work very well though.

So what does that mean for raid composition? Well that is where you need to remember that just like the birthday party the participants are looking to have their expectations met, and the people running the party have a huge amount of work to do while its going on. They carry the balance of all these aspects with them.

They stress about it all through the process, and they plan all that they can before hand. Sometimes all the plans go to hell 5 minutes before the party should start, other times the party goes badly mid way through (anyone got a bad uncle or mom who drops in?). During the party they are the hosts who try to keep everything flowing. And afterward they are the idiots who have to clean up, and deal with any issues.

What can you do as a good Dinner Party attendee / Raider?

  • Don’t be an ass if you don’t get an invite. Sometimes there is just not room.
  • Bring a positive attitude, and bring a gift or two.
  • Respect everyone, and know when to keep your mouth shut.
  • Don’t expect that you can just turn up with two extras, even if they’re hot.
  • If you really miss out, get off your ass and organise your own party. Do that for 5 weeks and then talk to the normal leads – your attitude might have changed a bit.

As an aside, these comparisons come to mind too while I wrote this, and while they’re a tad odd they are still very demonstrative:

  • When the Fury Warrior throws up in the garden and needs to sit quietly inside for 5 minutes, its the raid leaders who arrange that break.
  • When the Princess can’t be happy until everything is just her way, everyone groans quietly but keeps on anyway.
  • When that loud annoying nerd won’t shut the hell up about Dr Who, its the team leads who must assign somebody to “handle” him.

In closing – respect the raid leaders and organisers, and try to have fun. They have far more to stress about that just one person. I hope all your parties are fun and you get a heap of gifts.

Quick Tips for Brewfest Boss

As Brewfest Holiday event is half way through, I thought I’d put up some simple guidelines (far too late) for how to get through the very short fight that is Corbin Direbrew.

direbrew and his dwarven allies in the Brewfest holiday event

That black hearted sod Direbrew is just an ale swilling mongrel. Kill him.

For everyone:

  • If the Tank or Healer is undergeared, then the Dps should burn down the spawning dwarves as too many can the healer’s job difficult or the tank die.
  • If the Dps are all undergeared, then you’ll need to kill the Brewfest maiden who spawns, as she stuns people.
  • Roll Greed if the loot is not your primary role.

For Tanks:

  • If you are undergeared/newbie, say so at the start. Better to let folks know that have a Mage try to Tank 6 monsters.
  • Start with an AoE attack opener, to gather up the boss and three adds. This is really important to do well.
  • Then get a good threat lead on the Boss (duh).
  • Throw in an AoE affect every now and then, or taunt the extra monsters that spawn around the place. That makes the group happy. If the Dps are idiots or rude, let the monsters hit them.
  • Roll Need on the +Dodge and +Stam trinkets. They’re not too bad at all, the dodge one especially.

For Dps:

  • Wait for 2-3 seconds for the Tank to get some threat.
  • Use Single target/dots on the Boss as openers.
  • Stand in the AoE affect if the Tank uses it. They’ll get aggro that way.
  • If the Tank or Healer is undergeared, then burn down the additional monsters quickly with either AoE or single target, but keep damaging the boss too. A good misdirect is wonderful for too.
  • You might need your battlerez ability if something odd happens. Please be prepared to use it.
  • The +Stamina trinkets are useless for you, don’t roll Need please.

For healers:

  • I have no real idea, but the healers don’t seem stressed by this fight at all. Some have been doing Dps as well – one Shaman did almost 6k. YMMV.
  • Keep yourself alive, then Tank, then the best to worst of the dps (duh).
  • If the Tank or Damage crew is using any type of AoE then stand in it. It’ll keep the nasties away from you.

My level 84 Warrior has successfully Tanked the fight against dps who far out-scaled her; to the point where the dps were doing very nice damage, but i was still able to hold threat. One fight saw a Mage doing 22-23k dps while I still held aggro on the nasties.

Happy Brewfest. Hic!

Death Knight Tier 13 Set Bonuses

Death Knight Tier 13 bonuses, as published by WoW Joystick (or whatever that blog’s name is now):

  • Blood, 2P — When an attack drops your health below 35%, one of your Blood Runes will immediately activate and convert into a Death Rune for the next 20 sec. This effect cannot occur more than once every 45 sec.
  • Blood, 4P — Your Vampiric Blood ability also affects all party and raid members for 50% of the effect it has on you.
  • DPS, 2P — Sudden Doom has a 30% chance and Rime has a 60% chance to grant 2 charges when triggered instead of 1.
  • DPS, 4P — Runic Empowerment has a 25% chance and Runic Corruption has a 40% chance to also grant 710 mastery rating for 12 sec when activated.

Overall this looks interesting, and subject to so many smaller factors like up-time and usage that I can’t see any of these as great overall; useful, but not great.

The bonuses also seem somewhat different to some of the other class bonuses in the tier 13. Priests and Hunters specifically seem to have a direct damage increase here, and although I hate to be doing cross class comparison (as its often not at all valid), it does seem odd. Continue reading

Stealing 10 things about me

Azerothian Life wrote 10 things about me, and I thought it might be nice to nudge this into a post here too.

  1. I really love what I do for a living, despite the fact it is stressful and takes up too much of my time. Busy is better than bored any day of the week. If I was not being paid to muck about with software and applications, I’d probably be doing it anyway.
  2. I grew up in the outer suburbs of Melbourne Australia, and really didn’t like it. Now that we live in the inner city I can see the appeal, especially for folks who have kids (there is a comment to be made about age and perspective, but I’m not ready to admit that fully).
  3. My favourite music is not repetitive music. If the artist’s music is not different from what as come before its likely that I won’t listen to it.
  4. I really like my DK character in warcraft, and still think I have a lot to learn. eg. How to use Dark Simulacrum correctly? No idea yet.
  5. I’m in love with my wife. Probably should go without saying, but its important.
  6. I enjoy a good metaphorical soapbox, making generalisations, and the discussions that ensure.
  7. I wish I had more patience, and am amazed by anyone who can remain calm while stating a request for a third time.
  8. I think there is so much more to be developed and created in the online industry, for both games, mini-applications, and full blown service based applications. It is exciting.
  9. Conversely I’d an advocate of offline as a viable range of product to develop, and also as a valid choice for life. Sometimes being away from technology is fantastic too.
  10. I think being subversive is often useful. The difference that is typically wrong is the intent of the action. I feel that changing expectations and pushing boundaries is good – the intent and timing is the key between a good or evil action.

What are yours?

No more casual vs hardcore?

I think we need a better set of terms for players than Casual vs Hardcore. The two terms cause constant arguments and are about as subjective as calling somebody out for not being ethical.Your ethics are not mine, just like your version of Hardcore will be different from mine.Is it time spent, completion-ism, performance, consistency, background knowledge, or what..? Well its all those things and more.

Once its (obviously) recognised as being subjective, the problem then becomes that the same vague interpretation and personalisation that affects the terms Casual and Hardcore also apply to almost every other set of words you’d use. Viewing any of the options as definitive extremes poor and it becomes an absolute disaster when you try to use one word to surmise a person’s goals.

There is also the problem of viewing the terms in isolation within a single game like World of Warcraft, or broader to all MMO’s, or even to open as wide as possible to any type/style of gamer. For this measurement I’m sticking to Warcraft. The reason is that a measurement of games is too wide, and the same person might play 12 different games, and play each in a different manner. By way of example I play WoW, a few iPhone games, and some basic strategy and card games. I cannot think of a way that the play styles and dedication could be rationalised in a cohesive manner. Solitaire is too different from Warcraft; its comparing Apples to Spacecraft.

Basically its a huge mess, so as a solution I’m offering this post into the already overly populated sea of opinions; in the hope that it somewhat floats.

Joystick had a very logical summary last year, which covered the basics as far as WoW was concerned. If you’re hunting for a reasonable compilation of the basic issues, or a perspective of what the wider community was thinking around the mid-Lich-King days, then its a darn handy resource. Also check out some of these other links, which all cover the types of gamers in the Casual vs hardcore debate in some way. Even a post from the official forums. They’re all good. These linked posts also identify that many of the community fell outside the range of classifications in these posts too. Commenters offered up new types such as “Serious Hobbyists”, or “Definitely Time Crunched”, and so on. The posts, terms, and comments were all fine, but still missed the mark.

I also commented and linked a post many years ago (whoa – in 2008 no less) by a mate of mine who also had a perspective, mainly born from the conflicts found within a guild for the more casual members vs the more dedicated players. My take at the time was based around the amount of time it takes to explain to somebody else:

  • If you have to explain why you’re not hardcore in more than one sentence; you’re talking to a softcore or hardcore.
  • If it starts an argument or takes 15 minutes, you’re talking to a hardcore.
  • If you grief somebody for non-attendance you are hardcore (and a wanker).
  • If you have sacrificed a good time out of game for WoW, then you’re at least softcore. If you didn’t view it as a sacrifice, then you’re hardcore.
  • And if fun is more important than any of these questions; then you’re casual. In which case I’d like you to consider finding a great casual (not softcore) guild on your sever, or join ours.

Three years of time has only slightly changed my perspective, and generally I still hold those comments as true. They are though as lacking as the other posts.

For this alternate definition I’m mainly thinking of World of Warcraft, but I think that some of the logic should apply very widely. What I was thinking was changing from having two binary options to chose from, to creating more a Myers-Briggs personality type play-style measurement, which details what a person is using a short acronym (AELOSF – see below). A few of the pages above offered stylistic templates rather than binary choices too, much like a horoscope; where a player could read the description and pick one that matched them the closest. I guess I’m trying this as I fell through the definitions of both those approaches.

The Myers-Briggs style picks a set of paired terms that are fairly ambiguous, that can also be placed diametrically opposed to each other with a fair degree of logic – and then has the reader pick which they match better to. In effect they pick between the two extremes in the same manner as the Casual vs Hardcore, but where they sit is expanded due to the range of options in the definition.

These are some of the ideas I had for the juxtaposed measurements:

  • Professional vs Amateur – where a Professional is being paid money to participate, and an Amateur is unpaid. There is a very clear difference, although not overly useful to most of the community as I’d bet most people are not paid to play games. I’m not sure if this has practical application or not, and if it was applied, if it should be applied to a game on a case by case basis.
  • Experienced vs Newbie – where a Experienced player is one who is very familiar with the game, and a Newbie is learning the basic concepts. Now this is a far more subjective range, where there is a much greater range between the two ends. As terms they’ll create debate unto themselves, but I hope when added to the rest of the mix the terms themselves will become more descriptive of the player’s goals.
  • Unlimited time vs Limited time – where the unlimited person has high availability to play, and the limited person has almost none. This could also contain a sub-range of people who have interruption free vs constant interruption, but I’m not sure yet if that level of granularity is needed.
  • Optimal vs Relaxed – as to their use of their time and their resources. This is an interesting one, as the style of use of resources is the focus of many blogs and websites, and they themselves are often focused on maximum efficiency. The gold per hour type measurement, kills per raid, and if the player cares how long it takes to get a dungeon done. Some players are very relaxed and are not overly fussed if a dungeon completion takes 20 extra minutes, but others are excited by the prospect of beating a record, or even frustrated by 30 seconds of dead time after a boss kill.
  • Social vs Hidden – is a measure of how important the interaction with others plays is for their valuable gameplay. There are players who raid (which obviously requires other players) but would not otherwise interact with anyone. There are also the players who only play due to the social aspects, and there are players who may as well be playing a solo game, as they talk to nobody.
  • Focused vs Wide range of focus – are you a player who seeks to complete all your chosen activities? Professions, archaeology, or participate in both pvp and pve content, or have a range of alts vs. just one character.

So we end up with a set of choices, still somewhat binary, but not as restrictive as a single word.

I would be: (A)ELOSF.

This is because I’m an unpaid Amateur but Experienced WoW player, with very Limited time, who always plays Optimally. I highly value the Social aspects of the game, but tend to Focus on pve for a few characters only. The Brackets are there as I think almost everyone will be an “A” as far as World of Warcraft is concerned.

So what are you? What type of gamers are out there?

ps – The Dead Good Tanking Guide as a great comment:

I know, I know – why would you bother reading yet another diatribe about who falls into what category? But I’m working from the knowledge that the same could be applied to EVERYTHING I write, so I’ll continue safe in the knowledge this piece is no better or worse than my usual offerings. 🙂

He’s spot on, and added to my feed reader.