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.

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GuildOx Stats on WoW Raid Decline

GuildOx have used their outstanding stats to create a story around the frequency of raids being conducted by guilds. As could be expected, guild raids appear to be in gradual decline.

GuildOx (..) has discovered that raiding guild activity has fallen 50% since the beginning of 2012.

This is by no means a doom and gloom message for raiders. Most raiders would already accept a large drop-off in attendance and activity as a reality, and one that reflects the length of time in the game since the last content patch for Cataclysm. Not shattering news, except to see the an approximate value indicate the drop-off is around 50% since the start of 2012, and since mid April the figures really hit a steep decline.

raid graph decline from GuildOx

As the stats continue we’ll likely see the population drop far further, especially in response to a release date. In previous years my (various) guilds have taken the announcement of the release date as a point in time to decide our plans, and that typically calls for an ending to raids in prep for the new expansion.

The stats do not include LFR or include content which is not current, so while the graph is an indicator it should be taken with due consideration. The real message here is not new, it is one of understanding the degrees involved which is interesting; rather than worrying that a decline exists.

The guildox writers indicate that a jump start is needed when MoP is released, which is a fair expectation and fair desire. What is uncertain is how many raiders are needed to return to Warcraft when MoP is released so that the raid community can thrive again. Population doom and gloom abound in the blogs and forums, but MoP can still be expected to sell well, as it is a Blizzard product after all and many raiders return for the new game each expansion. Will the bounce be enough to ensure a thriving raid community? Not sure.

What I’d love to see is the same graph with all the expansions plotted to demonstrate the population behaviour from say 2006 to 2012. A holistic view, with the spikes for each batch of raid content would be interesting.

World of Warcraft Cosmic Map, showing Azeroth ...

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First thoughts on Launch night

Logged in late-ish due to real life, but was able to get almost all the way through level 80 in about 4 hours time. So levelling will be faster than I expected if that remains consistent. My guess is 4-6 hours per level if doing chained quests and instances.

  • Login took about 15 minutes.
  • This is the first launch night I’ve been able to play, and I did not have a single crash or outage. That is both as it should be and impressive.
  • The two new dungeons I tried were good, with solid basic mechanics and only a small amounts of trash. If you followed the strategy they were very easy, with only a small chance of major screw-up, if you don’t then everyone will be in pain. That is the lesson we need! With the gear we have they can still be brute forced, but I suspect/hope that will be different for the heroic modes.
  • The giant tentacles and the jelly fish lift in the water instance where the source of a few off colour jokes. I had to mute vent when the “Cave Penis” comments started, especially as the tentacle has a knockback affect.
  • I suspect that the drops we saw are not upgrades on 251+ gear, but they are usable by level 78s and there was a huge amount of BoE blues and greens dropping, so I’d say that my alts will be well geared when they need to start. Any gear around 245 might be replaced though, which is great for characters using 187s and 200s.
  • Thus far the new gear models are nice.
  • Flying in old world is great.
  • Going back to Dalaran was the quickest way I saw to learn the new Blacksmithing, Mining, First Aid skills above 450. I have both a Kirin Tor ring and the Argent Tabard, so getting back to Northrend is easy. Likewise getting to the old world with the Death Knight gate spell. No idea where to set my hearth to as yet.
  • Player compression in the new zones is as expected, and will stay heavy. I was still able to get some of the quests done, but decided that doing the 5 mans was a better way to spend time.

Silence is Golden and Restive

It has been quiet of late in the Eye of the Storm.

My primary reason for this is because I’ve been very busy in real life will all sorts of distractions, and both blog time and game time have been greatly reduced. But that is not the full story.

The deeper truth is that nothing in the recent month or so has been worth commenting on in detail. Frankly it’s been better to play far more casually when I can easily fit it in and just wait for stability and consistency in the game, than get in and try to adapt to or work around all the changes and updates. A recent patch tweaks some of the classes, but the pre-level 81 wait is entertaining but not critical.

All the balance issues, strange affects, bugs, and outright rip-off prices of items will change in time, so there is no real point stressing about it now. Stepping back for a time now was a darn good call, and I am looking forward to the new game.

In a few days we’ll have rounds of patches, mod updates, and all sorts of malarky (my new favourite word), so I plan to relax and laugh through it.

So in brief:

Cata planning

  • Choice of main: I’ve all but deciuded that my Death Knight will go forward first as into the Cataclysm expansion. It was a hard choice, but the class is still the most entertaining of my current 5 level 80 characters.
  • The system requirements for Cata are not altogether restrictive, and I’m darn pleased that my current system will run the game. I suspect that if you’re playing v4.0 now then Cata will run the same. Huzzah!
  • I’m doing a bank clean-up now, keeping the odd stuff and quest items that might be handy later, but otherwise.
  • The dragon trailer is excellent, good stuff. I liked it, glad it was created, and look forward to the game even more because of it.

Blizzcon

  • Not being there I can only reflect on the information that has been posted since; and it was underwhelming. Now I’m not surprised that it was a very dull Blizzcon in terms of revelations and changes, because frankly we’ve had a huge amount of information released already, and it is so close to the release of Cataclysm.
  • I think it is also OK that the event was not a Warcraft event, and that it has a focus across all the Blizzard games, rather than just their golden goose.

Patch 4.0, 4.0.3a, then patch 4.0.0.0.0.b…etc

  • The Cog Wheel of Death, which freezes the pc is just plainly unacceptable. I don’t like it, and it makes the game harder to play. A bad bug which was made far worse by the Headless Horseman which was released at basically the same time. Glad they fixed it, but that was trash.
  • Gear reset, was good in the end and a blip in terms of the classes I play regularly. Reforging is an excellent addition to the game, and something that I think will be copied into almost every other MMO in the future. Its game changing in a balanced and good way.
  • Class reset, I guess Paladins got a good work over, and that always happens in each expansion, and Hunters have been majorly adjusted to be less like casters which feel right to me. Stay tuned for more class tuning.

Guild planning

  • My guild is asking all the tough questions about what we do for Cata raiding and teams. An expansion is the perfect time to throw all the previous structures and plans to the wind and re-build. Even when the process is painful, I like that it is happening.
  • If your guild is not doing this, then you might want to either ask if it needs to, or consider another guild – I say this because I think the overall affect on guilds is huge in Cataclysm.
  • We’re also seeing some drama through this, but nothing that won’t be resolved soon, and a storm in a teacup in a month or so.

I’ll be posting and raving at a normal pace soon, when we have all sorts of new leveling junk to ponder.

Happy killing, have a great silly season, and I hope Deathwing kills you in glorious fire.

Cataclysm Announced

wow-cataclysm

We new it was coming, and even though I kind of figured that it would bring lots of new stuff, I’m stoked. Bring on the real hi-res cinematic, confirmation of details, and all some such news.

This news will also bring a death knell for the guilds that have players thinking about stopping though. I can see many players not liking the fact Deathwing is the major bad guy, because we’ve seen him before and many of the players who played BWL were also doing Naxx, and might have been pissed off that Naxx was re-made for WotLK. I can see a few going on hiatus too until the expansion is released, with a “why bother” attitude. Several months from now will be a perfect time to release a new MMORPG game.

I’m excited and willing to give Blizzard the benefit of the doubt. I want to see and fight in Icecrown, kill Arthas, and can see Cat being something positive for the World of Warcraft.

  • Damn me, a Worgen Death Knight will look totally awesome too.
  • Level 85 seems an odd choice, but *meh* I’m sure it can work. It is just a number after all. Will this mean a change to the regular gear trashing that occurs? Given we’re seeing 80 gear that ranges from iLevel 187 to 245, a level 85 Epic must be over iLevel 300.
  • A new Secondary profession is a good idea, no idea what in hell it will do. Lore related?
  • Go download the 100mb trailer, its worth it.

Prot Paladin Talent Build

Update 2: This post is now out of date due to the changes in Cataclysm, and has nothing specific to level 85 tanks anymore.

I can tell you that builds for Paladins have changed in an incredible range of ways, as to has the rotations and use of resources. The Holy power addition means a Paladin Tank is no longer just a AoE tank – target switching is real for all Tanks now. If you don’t like switching targets and loved being lazy then Paladin is probably the best choice for tanking, but you’ll readlly need to be careful and change your style to be effective.

The EJ Forum is the best place to start, read the first sections, and then jump across to TankSpot for more information.

Update: A new post for Paladin Tanks at Level 80 is here, updated for 3.3.3.

The patch v3.0.2 has me thinking of how to spec, and honnestly I just don’t know. I’ve tried to silently troll the usual forums for builds, but found a storm of activity with no clear winners.

So here goes…Here is a spec that is for a level 70 Prot Paladin, is heavy on Tanking, and has little flex into the other talent trees.

Edit: As 3.1 is fast approaching, consider this spec out of date. I’m sure the basics will be ok, but I’m not claiming this is accurate anymore.

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