Impressions of new content for patch 5.3

I played the new content released in the WoW patch 5.3 last night, and here are a few observations (also here is Wowheads guide – which is darn handy).

Overall: Great to see new lore. Excited to have two new scenarios, specific quests to advance the story, and an experience across both the old world and Pandaria. Great too that the legendary quest keeps rolling, and I cannot wait (but will take months and months) to get the high level cloak.

Pandarian-LoadScreen

Whatever comes in 5.4 will hopefully still value that cloak’s ilevel 600. Otherwise it seems a short term reward. Or imagine what the next jump after 600 will be, and how that will devalue all other gear for the patch.

But … no way in hell I’m doing the “gather 150×4 materials” every bloody week. I started the quest yesterday, and it took hours and hours to progress through it. I’ve got around 450 of the 600 drops needed, and I’m already really bored with doing the same four tasks:

  1. Kill mobs in one of the four areas, infrequently opening boxes too. At the moment I can kill and loot mobs faster than I can sneak past mobs to loot boxes. Druids however can loot the boxes in bird form and snaffle them quickly.
  2. Kill one of the special bosses which randomly spawn. After death they drop a better amount of each material, but they also can now (hotfix 223 May) be tagged to the alt faction and also take a bit of time to kill. That change at least means it is faster to gather the mats.
  3. Escort a caravan, so that it arrives safely and hope than a faction opponent does not dps it dead. The caravans as so easy to kill its a joke. Trust me – I took revenge on a horde group by nuking their caravan.
  4. Find the random exploded boxes. Periodically somewhere on the map a lot of boxes spawn all spread out. Run around looting them for 1 or 2 mats per box.

Dull, dull, double-dull is all I can say about this weekly quest.

I’ve already read comments from other players saying they’ll do this quest twice and then never again. My advice is to do this now while people still want the pet and the few other odd rewards so that you gain the advantage of big groups killing those NPCs. It is a blisteringly stupid move to create such a grind.

But apparently it is great for alts, as they can gear up this way? FFS no. Each weekly grants a 489 item when better rewards are in the new heroic scenarios, but only if you have also looted one of the special drops too. Derp.

scenario-screenie

Otherwise the scenarios and new quests are great. Fast, easy on normal, and fun to blow through. I get the impression that after a few times I’ll recognise all the lore elements and begin to get tired of them, but for now it is something new to play through. My last task is to get the end of the “help the lost old hermit” chain, for the boots, and then that will be all the lore done. A few nights and the content is “encountered”.

Regardless, I hope you’re liking it. TyphoonAndrew.

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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

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Diablo Beta thoughts

After completing the Diablo Beta I have some thoughts.

It is a good game, and feels basically ready. I’m looking forward to it. In the Beta test I played a Barbarian almost through to the end, and a Wizard through to completion. I’ll go back and try the other classes now, but probably not play them right through, as I want to also play them when the game is actually live.

Play-style wise I’d recommend that every player try each class; they really play differently. Music was nice, sound effects, nice, and the few special encounters and scenes I saw (Sword of Leoric) were really nice. Well done Blizzard. Continue reading

The King’s Speech

Poster for the Kings SpeechThe King’s Speech is an excellent film. The presentation of the time period of King George VI’s ascension to rule was very balanced; the film presented a believable perspective on the background events leading into the war, but also did not let that storyline overrule the main two aspects of the story which involve the personal relationship between the king and the therapist, and the king’s treatment. All lead actors were effective, and the minor cast provided enough depth to re-enforce the primary characters.

This is a character film, and as such the performance of the lead characters is paramount to the overall impact of the film, and pleasingly Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helen Bonham Carter are all excellent.

Score: Score 8.5 out of 10

Bad: The inclusion and portrayal of the archbishop and Winston Churchill was a little blunt. This is the only slightly negative thing I can think of to present as a “bad”, and it was basically non-existent.

Good:

· All leads were excellent.

· Period presentation was detailed and totally believable.

· as an Australian it was curious to see an American doing an Australian accent well, and a few Australians being altogether very British.

· I would happily see this film again in the future, and would consider buying it.

Edifier Soundbar Review

Out of the blue recently I was offered the opportunity to test a few portable sound devices, so like any true blood geek I jumped at the opportunity.

A picture of the SoundBarThe first one is the Edifier MP 250 (a.k.a the Soundbar). It is a very simple and portable single unit speaker which improves the sound output of moble devices. It will work with anything that can plug to sdb (like a laptop), and also anything with a stereo plug (like amost every other audio device on the planet).

Here is a quick review.

The good stuff is:

  • It is darn small, and reasonably light.
  • No setup required (plug in, pause for recognition, then it worked straight away – fark!).
  • Comes with a nice handy carry sleeve, so that it won’t get wrecked by your other gear.
  • Far better sound quality than standard laptop speakers.
  • It looks nice – all silver and smooth, not a fugly blob of black plastic.

The bad (only the obvious and the trivial):

  • As it needs power from the USB, you’ll go through battery life in no time. Use it when plugged in to power and there is no issue.
  • No tech solution can deliver high end sound, especially high end bass sound in a manner to replace a good multi-speaker setup. Do not have the illusion that the SoundBar will be a home stereo. Better, but not a holy grail.
  • Carry case should be slightly bigger, so it can also hold the cables. You can squish them in, but it takes a few minutes.

Overall: It would make an excellent gift for a techie who works regularly with a laptop or ipod/iphone on the road, and for aus$60 its reaonsable. 

I didn’t want a Soundbar until I tested it, and now I am very glad to have it. It is already in my laptop bag.

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Warcraft Year in Review

This blog is primarily about World of Warcraft, so at years end this is the time to ponder some questions raised by the good folks out there in the community.

Q1. What did you do in the World of Warcraft in 2009 that you’d never done before?

A1. This is the first year that I’ve purchased pvp gear, and then gone on to enjoy using it. I’m starting to understand the appeal and reasons for pvp in world of warcraft. The time and gold spent in getting the gear ready was made really satisfying when I started to hold my own in pvp.

Q2. What was your favorite new place that you visited?

A2. Has to be the ToC instance, simply due to the fact that it has such an odd reason to be there, the story was large in terms of the experience we had, and yet I found it misplaced in the overall grand scheme of the game. The fact its strange makes it appeal, as it keeps me thinking.

It was certainly not Ulduar, as the boss fights in there have to be some of the worst for “cheap theme” or “trick mechanic” I think I’ve had the displeasure to experience.

Q3. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

A3. More time in game. My game time was basically back to being a casual player, and that is hard to take after playing a lot harder for a while.

Q4. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

A4. Probably getting the Crusader title, but I’m not a heavy achievement nut. Getting consistent top dps in some runs was nice for a while too. Or not reaching through the internet and killing other players…if I had force powers…

Q5. What was your biggest failure?

A5. Missing raids, and the way my real life wrecked my raid attendance. Going from a raid leader to a casual was a blow, but had to be done.

Q6. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

A6. A few things:

  • Patch 3.3 – hopefully the best patch they add until the xpac.
  • the flying book can be used by Alts
  • All the heirloom items

Q7. What do you wish you’d done less of?

A7. Pugging with asshats. I bet the spread of asshat will be wider, but somehow we’ll still have failure with the new tool too.

Q8. What was your favorite WoW blog or podcast?

A8. Outlandish podcast because they are a silly munch of folks who sound much like my guildies from years ago. Great songs too.

Q9. Tell us a valuable WoW lesson you learned in 2009.

A9. Gearscore means nothing. Your rep with old world means nothing, and the fact you can speak leet means less than nothing.

This post was brought to you by the shared topic/meme in the Blog Azeroth forums.

Oh, and my 5 blogs to spam with a similar post:

Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the ... meh, boom!In a nutshell, if you have seen the other three films hire this on DVD for a lazy or stupid Sunday arvo film. Or wait for TV. If you have not seen any of the other films (or didn’t care to remember them), then see something else. Don’t watch it in the cinema in any case.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5, and that’s because I enjoyed seeing Indy back on the screen more than anything else (the snake-rope joke and rocket launcher joke are top highlights). To a non-Indy fan 0.5 out of 5.

For: Cultural references are thick through-out the film, and if done with a little more restraint or subtlety might have been rather cool. Reds under the beds, government conspiracy, area 51 little green men, nuke testing, and a fantastic picture of what university life might have been like.

Against: The basic plot theme was ok, but the actual plot was horrid and predictable.

Quick: Indiana Jones and the … meh. Boom, wizz, ka-pow!

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