Archive for September, 2008

29
Sep
08

DKP reset?

We have been using our fixed cost standard DKP system since our guild started raiding about a year ago.  There is some inflation, as we anticipated when we started using it.  A typical night of raiding earns a player about 8-10 DKP and we have been raiding once or twice a week depending on attendance.  Our most experienced raiders have accumulated over 100 DKP, so they are well ahead of where a new player starts out, but not outrageously so.

We are deciding now if we should reset DKP for WotLK.  We won’t be raiding until we get to level 80, anyway so the DKP won’t be used for a while.  It feels like a good time to reset.  In fact, it feels like a good time to completely revisit our DKP system.  But some people are a little upset at the prospect of losing all the DKP they have accumulated.

Thoughts?

29
Sep
08

Forever a Noob… Shadow Priest edition

In my spare time I have been leveling my third toon to 70. This time I went with a priest. When I first made him, he was going to be holy so I could heal for my group of friends as we all leveled together. Then I ended up playing more solo than in groups, and found holy to be a dull soloing spec. I dropped the priest completely and leveled a paladin 1-70. Now I have picked up the priest again, and I went with shadow for solo leveling.

For comparison, my main – the rogue – was easy to level. My dps was high so mobs went down fast. Stealth allowed me to pick my fights and avoid danger. Stun abilities kept me from taking too much damage. I could usually fight one mob after another after another for a while before having to stop and bandage or eat. Once I got Vanish then I was able to escape from bad pulls or adds.

My second toon was a prot pally. I had him prot specced from the very start because I wanted to learn the abilities well to make it easy to jump into tanking at 70. Leveling him was a chore. It took forever to kill a mob, and I had to drink to get my mana back after every couple of kills. Except for the few places where I could AoE grind, it was horrible. His survivability was incredible, though. I could accidentally pull 5-6 mobs and between his high armor and his bubble I’d get away.

Now I am leveling this shadow priest, and it has been ridiculously easy so far. My dps is not as high as a rogue, but its high enough to kill mobs pretty quickly. With PW:S I can avoid damage. Psychic Scream lets me manage bad pulls and adds, and Spirit Tap returns my mana to me fairly quickly after a fight.

The difference between the rogue and shadow priest has been how long I can go without eating or drinking. Since the rogue was fighting up-close-and-personal, he inevitably took damage and had to stop and eat or bandage periodically. With the priest, Spirit Tap gives me back mana after every kill so I rarely have to stop and drink.

I was in Winterspring at level 58 and I went into the valley where the 59 elite ice giants wander around. On my rogue I never would have attempted that, because it only takes a few hits to kill a leather-wearing rogue. On the priest – EZ. I pulled, SW:P, PW:S, dps for a few seconds. When PW:S went down I feared it and dotted. Had my PW:S up again before he got back to me, and Mind Flayed him the rest of the way down. I finished the fight with 100% health and still 25% mana. Crazy.

As long as I could pull one at a time, I could take out mobs that were red to me, usually with ease.

Now that I am in Outland it has not been so easy. The mobs hit harder, and their damage has gone up faster than mine has. Vampiric Embrace isn’t keeping me fully healed anymore. Time to do some research. Then again, I keep hearing how badly Shadow Priests are getting nerfed in WotLK, so maybe I should go Disc or Holy.

A nice thing about the priest class in WotLK is that they may be able to use a lot of the same gear for either shadow or holy spec. Since +damage and +healing are being replace with +spellpower, I should be able to switch spec depending on the raid needs without having to swap out a whole set of gear. We’ll see.

28
Sep
08

Work Schedule

Sorry about the lack of posts.  I used to post from work, but my new schedule makes that hard.  I hope to get back to more regular posting soon.

28
Sep
08

Will 10-man raiding help or hurt casual guilds?

Whenever we can’t get enough online for a 25-man raid, we go to ZA instead.

In guild chat one day, someone asked “How do I get to go to ZA?” Before I had a chance to type out a response about gear requirements and difficulty level, another member blurted, “You have to be an officer.”

Now that is NOT true, and is a perception we immediately worked to stamp out. It does happen that our officers are the ones that tend to have the gear and skill necessary for ZA. But its not an “officers-only club”. We don’t even have enough officers to make a full ZA team. Truth or not, though, if the perception is there then it can create animosity between the officers and members and eventually lead to /gquits.

Why do I bring that up? I’ll refer back to it later.

——————————————————

When Burning Crusade came out and endgame raids changed from 40-man to 25-man, there was a virtual avalanche of guilds falling apart. Guilds with a solid core of 30+ raiders suddenly had to leave members behind as they tackled the entry endgame raids. Gquits abounded, feelings were hurt, and guilds collapsed under the weight of the drama.

My guild suffers from one of the most common problems of casual raiding guilds – we have just barely enough raiders to run 25-man raids. Even before the current raiding lull, about one out of every three scheduled raids would get canceled due to low attendance. Hardcore guilds can demand and enforce attendance… we can’t. So sometimes we don’t have the numbers to raid.

In the future of WotLK, once we have players at level 80, if we schedule a 25-man raid and not enough show up the obvious solution will be to do a 10-man raid instead. This is a potential problem. If we have, say eighteen players who showed up for the raid, and we have to leave eight of them out, then feelings will get hurt. This is not a new problem. As long as there have been raids, there have been players left out of raids. As long as there is a system in place to handle it then its not a fatal problem.

What could make that especially troubling, though, is that, early on during the “learning” of the instance, the players who should go to the raid are the best players – the ones that know their classes well. That tends to be the officers of the guild. So it could easily create the appearance that the officers are getting preferential treatment. That’s a good way to convince your other members to leave. Again, whether is is true or not is unimportant if the perception is there among your members.

Now I refer back to our problem with ZA, mentioned at the start of the post. We have had to deal with this problem already. It only comes up every now and then, though. We deal with it by doing Kara instead, because anyone can do Kara without worry about gear or skill so we don’t restrict who can go. In WotLK with 10-man versions of every raid I think the problem might be a little harder to deal with, especially early on before any of us outgear the raids.

How can we tackle this?

  1. I have already heard of guilds making the decision to change exclusively to 10-man raiding in WotLK. Deciding that in advance would allow players to make their decisions to stay or go as they see level 80 approaching, and they realize whether they will be in or out of the 10-man raiding team. I don’t really want to do this, but we’ll see how things play out.
  2. Make sure that we recruit heavily on the way to level 80 so that we won’t have attendance issues. That’s easier said than done, though. There should be a resurgence of players after the expansion hits, so there will be a good pool of players to recruit from.
  3. If neither of those happens, then we will have to make a point to rotate less-skilled players into the 10-man endgame raids to create the perception that its not an officers-only club. That might lead to a few wipes, but its a better option than losing members and guild drama.

This is where the people skills of the Guild Leader and the officers have to come out. If little fires can be put out quickly then it won’t result in big-time drama.

On the plus side, though, we should have more options to do with our 10-man teams. I know that our top 10-15 players are as good as anyone, and our guild progression has been held back by inconsistency from our #15-30 raiders. Right now we can only do Kara or ZA as 10-man runs. Maybe with more options will come more opportunity.

Overall I do think that 10-man raids are a good thing.  As a guild leader I also see the potential situations that can arise from it.

19
Sep
08

On class balance and homogenization, pt 2

not coding wrote a very nice rebuttal to my original post about class balance.

It takes all types to play this game. WoW has an amazing ability to appeal to PvPers, hardcore raiders, social butterflies, crafters, pet lovers, and even trade channel trolls. But each of these types has their own priorities in the game.

For some people, the first thing they ask about the changes is “how does this affect PvP?”  For others, its “How does this affect my guild’s raids?”  or “How fast can we get to the level cap and start endgame?”

not coding and other commenters immediately thought about the positive impact that the class rebalancing can have on raiding. I see that, and I agree with those conclusions.  Many guilds will have an easier time putting together raids if there are no “required” classes for certain boss fights.

My first thoughts about the changes were not “how will this affect raiding?” but more of a gut-feeling reflection of my dislike of the blurring of the lines between classes.

My reasoning has nothing to do with game mechanics or raiding. Its more of a lore-based line of thought,  coming from someone with a very long history of playing tabletop RPGs and reading fantasy genre literature.  I expect a lot of people will not see it as I do because they are not coming at it from that perspective.  To me, the classes should be as distinct from each other as possible, because that’s what makes them different classes.

This was originally another rambling post with lots of examples, but I feel like I’m not expressing myself clearly, so I cut it short.  Suffice to say that there are certainly going to be positive aspects to the changes, but at the expense of some of the flavor and charm that the game had before.  I guess I’m a big fan of flavor and charm.

18
Sep
08

On class balance and homogenization, part 1

The idea of class balance and utility has been an overarching theme in a lot of the changes on WotLK. Blizzard is trying to make it so that no single class is indispensable, no one class is “better” than another. The newest thing is the removal of priest racials. This has been met with a mix of cheers and jeers by the WoW community.

My opinion – I think that this balancing act is a terrible idea, because it can’t be done successfully without losing part of what makes WoW great. The uniqueness of the classes is one of the very strong draws to the game, the PvE aspect in particular, even if there are minor balance issues.

For a lot of people, one of the best parts of playing the game is the character creation screen. You get to choose race and class, of course, but then you can fix the eyes, face, hair color, style, and facial hair. What is the point of doing that, and why is it so much fun?

Its fun because we WANT our characters to be unique. We desperately want our toons to be different than all the other ones standing in Ironforge or Ogrimmar. No one wants to play “Generic Warrior #2453″.

When I made my draenei priest, and then found out that it had this ability that was different than priests from the other races, that was COOL. It was UNIQUE. It gave the game a flavor and a level of personalization. Sure, some people specifically made a dwarf priest just for Fear Ward, and that was their only reason. Well, they are in the minority among WoW players.

Unfortunately, that uniqueness is gone, along with many other “unique” aspects of the game.

It was neat that Shadow Priests returned mana to their party… something that made Shadow Priests unique in their role. Now a bunch of classes can do it. It was interesting that hunters could redirect their threat onto the tank. Now other classes can do that.

As I see it, Blizzard has put the game mechanics ahead of the game play. Uniqueness is fun and makes the game interesting to play. See the key words here? Fun. Play. So what if druid tanks are a little better than warrior tanks, or vice versa? So what if BM hunters can out-dps rogues?

The hardcores are gasping at my audacity. “If warrior tanks are 0.5% better than druid tanks,” they’ll say, “then the game will be dominated by warrior tanks and no one will raid with druids.” Bull-pucky, I say. People who have fun playing druids will still play druids. That’s the way it has always been, and that’s the way it will always be. Does anyone think that top raiding guilds wouldn’t have been able to beat Kil’jaeden if they brought, say, a ret pally in place of a rogue? Baloney. If you play your class well you’ll be able to raid.

I’m very disappointed in all of these changes. WoW will become a more mathematically balanced game, but I think it might be less fun. Too much of this homogenization makes your toons just placeholders. Without the things to set them apart, there is no personal connection between you and your avatar. Time will tell.

At least we have haircuts.

16
Sep
08

WotLK Preorders and Collector’s Edition

I am a person who loves convenience. (I suppose you can read that as “lazy” if you want) If I can get something delivered to my door rather than drive somewhere and buy it, then I am all for it.

With the Wrath expansion, the Blizzard web site directs you to preorder at several major retailers… Circuit City, Best Buy, Gamestop, and Amazon are the ones I recall. However, yesterday when the announcement was made, you could only preorder the regular version of the game, and not the collector’s edition.

My wife is now an avid vanity pet collector, so I want to get one collector’s edition for the baby frost wyrm pet. Hmmm… what to do.

By the end of the day yesterday, Gamestop was preordering the collector’s edition, and guaranteeing November 13th delivery, but with a $15 $5 charge tacked onto the price.

This morning, Amazon added preorders for the collector’s edition, but with a limit of one per household, and the delivery date is November 17.

edit: Amazon is currently sold out of the C.E.

Right now neither Best Buy nor Circuit City are preordering the collector’s edition.

So… my choices right now would be

  1. preorder from Gamestop to get it on release day, but at a $15 $5 markup
  2. preorder from Amazon but wait until four days after release to get it
  3. go to a midnight release somewhere
  4. wait until regular business hours on November 13 and hope that the stores have enough collector’s editions in stock

I didn’t buy collector’s editions of the previous releases, so I have no memory of how many there were to go around. I’ve read online that people expect there to be plenty available. I’d hate to bet on that, only to find on release day that I can’t get one.

Its still two months off… I suppose I can wait to see if other suppliers start doing preorders.




Armory

Dinaer - 90 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Derence - 90 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 90 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 90 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 90 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
September 2008
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