Archive for November, 2010

30
Nov
10

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The world is shattered.  My first impressions.

The Good:

  • I like stumbling across unexpected changes in the world.  Its really refreshed the game.  I knew about Menethil and Stormwind in advance, but Southshore blew me away when I got there.
  • The new auction house in Stormwind is awesome.  Kudos to the Blizzard artists on that.
  • All the new flight points.  If nothing else, its given me a reason to run around and collect them.  For the many players who are going to level new characters in the revamped Azeroth, this is a good move to cut down on the travel time.
  • Peacebloom vs. Ghouls.  There’s a zombie on your lawn.
  • New Deadmines.  Its still a level 18-20 instance, but I ran through it as an 80 to see the difference.  The bosses now have boss abilities, instead of just hitting harder than a non-boss.  The story has changed.  There are some new models used for the mobs.  The final boss is great.  Also, Stockades is good with some nice changes.
  • New elites around the world.  As I traveled around, I kept running into level-appropriate elite mobs scattered around, like Yetimus the Yeti Lord and Bloodvenom in Hillsbrad, for example.  I assume that there are quests to kill them.  I find that fun.  It should make a challenge for leveling players, and maybe give them a reason to group up, kind of like Durn was back in the BC days.
  • So far the game has been amazingly free of bugs.  Even the patch day downtime was tolerably short.  Great job by Blizzard this time around.  I hope that the Cataclysm launch goes this smoothly.
  • The new fish mouse cursor when you go fishing.  Its little details like this that make the game appeal to all types of players.
  • New cooking and fishing dailies.  I’ve always enjoyed this.

The Bad:

  • Leveling is way off.  My horde alt got three levels from two quest hubs, and that’s with no heirloom pieces.  I’m outleveling zones before they are done, and outleveling my professions.  Its a hassle to stay in a zone that is 5 levels below me just to get my herbalism caught up.
  • The addition of the Gilneas tabard to the game.  It really, really bothers me that people (including me) will be Exalted with Gilneas before the worgen are even introduced as a playable race.
  • The multitude of new horde flight paths means that I keep getting flagged for PvP just from running around.  A lot of these new spots are on major roads.  At some point, griefers are going to figure this out and start jumping players of the opposite faction who run past the new flight points.
  • The new druid tree form.  When I first heard about it, I thought it would look awesome to have a huge elder tree appear during the raid.  However, it really does look silly.  The tree in my dungeon run yesterday looked like it had a blue afro.  Thank goodness there is a glyph to get the old look back.
  • Missing lore explanations.  Did you notice the change in leadership in Ironforge and/or Thunder Bluff?  For those who didn’t read The Shattering, there are no obvious in-game explanations for the Ironforge one (I haven’t played horde to see if there is an explanation for Cairne).  You’d think that everyone in Ironforge would know what happened to their King (no spoilers here).  You’re told in the new cinematic on making a level 1 dwarf, but not everyone is doing that.  And what happened to the Defias?  Even my wife, who doesn’t pay any attention to lore, noticed that they were missing.  (I’m not looking for explanations in the comments – I already know.  I’m just saying that the answers should be found in game)
  • After the initial “ooh, shiney!” period, I’m back to having nothing to do.

The Ugly

  • Ravenholdt rep.  I had been farming rep killing the Syndicate mobs in Durnholde.  It had a nice loop to follow, and the respawn rate was such that when you finished the loop you could start over.  Now that the Syndicate mobs in Durnholde are gone, I’m having to farm in Stromgarde Keep.  The path is not as nice and the respawn rate is slower.  Even with the Pilgrim’s Bounty reputation boost, rep was much slower than before.
  • The complainers.  People complain.  Changes make people complain a lot.  Enough about the portals already!
25
Nov
10

Can Everybody Quit Talking About Portals Now?

Deathwing comes, destroys half the world, makes enormous changes to the game that we have played for all these years, and the biggest topic on everyone’s mind is… portals.

How disappointing.

To all the complainers:

Its a mild inconvenience for the next couple of weeks, assuming that you are still actually doing anything in Northrend.  If you, like so many of us, are spending your online time reading Trade chat in Dalaran, then this has had no effect on your life.  After December 7th you’re going to spend all of your time in Azeroth and the new zones anyway, so the missing portals in Dalaran and Shattrath will be almost a non-issue.  I understand your reaction, but try to look past the present and see the long term view.

To the people complaining about the complainers:

You sound like grandparents.  Every time one of you writes “When I played we didn’t get our first mount until level 40!” you sound outdated.  That’s no different that saying “I used to walk to school in the snow” or “In my day we used encyclopedias, not this internet-thing.”  The game has changed, and the Wrath generation has had portals since they started.  Of course they will be annoyed when something is removed.  Try to think about it from their point of view.

 

23
Nov
10

Shattered

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.

- Obi-Wan Kenobi

Work and work for love and sex
Ain’t you hungry for success, success, success, success
Does it matter? (Shattered) Does it matter?
I’m shattered.
Shattered

- The Rolling Stones

Today the world is destroyed and remade.

I’ve got to admit, I’m feeling a little sad and nostalgic.  Even though I know that this is a smart move on the part of Blizzard, I still can’t help but feel a bit wistful.

I’ve been playing this game for over five years now.  Its been my escape when life is tough and my source of fun when I needed a pick-me-up.  Its been an addiction of sorts, but not in a destructive way.  I’m still married.  I still have a job.  And I have four level 80’s, three of whom are ICC geared.

I still remember the first time my night elf rogue  stepped off the docks at Auberdine.  The detail of the dock caught my attention immediately – the way the wood sagged with clear signs of age, and the appearance of the town being so surrounded by trees.  Today that is swept away.

People don’t react well to change.  Folks get upset when their favorite restaurant changes their menu.  Customers complain when the cable TV company changes the order of the channels.  Most of us get angry when our job changes policies, even if they are minor things like dress code or lunch hours.  We all get into routines and change unsettles us.

Last night when I logged on I didn’t do any of my usual rep grinding and I didn’t run any instances.  I didn’t do any of the pre-cataclysm events.  Instead, I got onto a hippogryph and just started clicking flight points.  I flew all over Azeroth, my finger hovering over the Print Screen button.  I snapped shots of Wetlands, Auberdine, Stranglethorn Vale, and a dozen other places that will be forever changed when I log on this afternoon.

Its bittersweet, but exciting at the same time.

_______________________________________________

Other Shattering-related things:

  • My 8 year old son has a character the he plays once a month or so.  He heard us talking about the Cataclysm.  He asked if he could log in to move his character.  My son explained that he left the character in Auberdine, and he doesn’t want him to be swept out to sea in the Cataclysm.
  • At least one person in my guild suggested logging out in Zul’Gurub to see where you would be when you logged in today.
  • In guild chat last night we talked about the shattering happening today.  I was surprised to see how many people didn’t know that it was coming.  They confused the shattering of the world with the patch, so they had no idea anything was changing before December 7th.  It reminds me how many of the players really don’t pay any attention to WoW other than the time that they are in-game.
  • I anticipate a lot of new class combinations being made today, so I have refreshed my supply of glyphs on the auction house.  I’m stuck just short of my pre-expansion gold target, so hopefully this will put me over the edge.
  • I’ve been a bit annoyed that the elemental invasion in Ironforge is still bugged.  I’d think that it would be a priority to get that right since it is a one-time event.
  • I hope that Deathwing is flying around for the next couple of weeks.  For those who didn’t watch the Live Raid during Blizzcon, you’re in for a shock.  He is huge.  What we currently think of as “large” dragons like Sindragosa or Nefarian are simply dwarfed by him.
22
Nov
10

Setting up Power Auras to remind you to backstab

Hi, my name is Dinaer, and I forget to backstab.

At first I was excited about our new Murderous Intent talent, giving us a change in our attack rotation when the boss is at low health (like Execute and Kill Shot have always been for warriors and hunters).

If you’re like me, then you have spent a lot of playtime in your spec of choice, and changes don’t come easily.  I keep forgetting to switch to Backstab when the target is low on health.  I don’t mean once in a while.. I mean I’ll do an entire raid and realize afterward that I didn’t Backstab once.  Grrrrr.

This is the ideal use for Power Auras.  Power Auras is basically a reminder add-on.  It gives you a visual cue when certain conditions (that you define) come up.  It can give cues for buffs, procs, debuffs, health, mana, or just about anything else you can imagine wanting to know about during combat.

Its been around for a while – long enough for Blizzard to incorporate their own version into the basic game.  I never used it because I thought it cluttered my screen.  However, this is a perfect use for it.

1.  Install Power Auras from Curse or WoWInterface

2. Open the interface from the minimap button or from the add-on list in the interface menu.  You’ll see something like this.

Well, yours won’t have any auras in yet.  Click New to make a new Aura.  A configuration screen will come up.  The Power Aura configuration screen can be a little intimidating.  There are a lot of options.  It looks like this.

Here are the key parts of this screen.

The top section is where you pick a graphic.

The checkboxes at the top give you choices of which set of graphics you want to use – ones that already exist in the game, others that you downloaded with Power Auras.  The slider bar right below the Text Aura checkbox is the selector.  Slide that back and forth to see the array of different graphic choices.

The three slider bars below that will set where on the screen your aura will appear.  I chose a crossed sword picture, and it appears off to the left of my character.  You can also click on the Animation tab further down and set the picture to pulse or grow.

The key section is the bottom part.  That’s where you define the conditions for the Aura.

1.  The first part that you have to set is the “Activation by”.  In the pull-down menu.  Choose Health, since we want the aura to happen based on the health of our target.

2.  Next you need to click the Enemy Target box at the bottom.  That tells the aura that its your target’s health and not your own health that is being watched.

3.  Move the Threshold slider to 35%.  That tells it to start the aura when the health gets to 35%.

4.  At the very bottom you see both Spec 1 and Spec 2 boxes checked in the picture above.  You only need to have it checked for your assassination spec.

That’s it.  The other things you see checked are not as important.  It the box above, it has Mounted, In Vehicle, and Resting X’ed out.  That means that the aura will not activate if any of those things are true.  That’s not likely to come up, except maybe on the Flame Leviathan fight when I can’t use Backstab anyway.

Also you see the Alive box checked so that the aura will only activate if I am alive.  Duh.

Once you are familiar with Power Auras you can probably thin of a lot of uses for them.  Trinket procs, boss buffs or debuffs – most of them are pretty straightforward to set up.

19
Nov
10

Rogue preparation for Cataclysm

The expansion is less than three weeks away.  You’ve got some spare time on your hands.  You could waste time chasing silly frills and achievements (like me) or you could get all hardcore and try to fine-tune things so that you are ready to rock come December 7th.

Here are some things to check out.

(1) Fix your spec…

When patch 4.0.1 hit, did you put a lot of thought into your spec?  Or did you just click what looked good?

Now that you have had a chance to play around with the new talent trees, you should look again through your spec and examine where your points are.  Are you making good use of the new mechanics?  Are there talents that you specced into that maybe aren’t as good as you thought?  Have you tried all three talent trees on for size?

Re-read your talents.  Are you making the best use of them?  (for example – are you assassination rogues remembering to use backstab when the mob health is under 35%?)

(2) Choose your profession…

If you plan to change your profession in Cataclysm, then the time to change is now.  It will take you some time and a few thousand gold to powerlevel a new profession from 1-450 before December 7th.

In Burning Crusade, rogues usually took LW to make ourselves the BoP crafted gear.  Blizzard has since changed its approach on that, and the crafted gear is BoE (and often quickly replaced by running heroics).  I personally like making my own gear, but I don’t think that’s the driving force behind my choice of profession.

Some of us take our professions to make gold.  Gathering professions are great for that, as are inscription and jewelcrafting and alchemy after you get over the initial cost of leveling them.

In general a lot of players like to min/max with their professions – taking the one that provides with the greatest dps bonus.  For rogues, the professions perks in Cataclysm are mostly similar to the ones that we have now, but scaled up of course.

  • Skinning will give you a +80 crit bonus
  • Blacksmithing will give you extra gem sockets in your wrists and gloves.
  • Enchanting will allow you to place a +40 agility enchant on each ring.
  • Engineering gets the epic engineered goggles/helms that have been in every expansion.  Plus they get the utility tinkers that are moderately useful.
  • Inscription gets improved  shoulder enchants
  • Jewelcrafting gets the JC-only gems that are better than the other available gems
  • Leatherworking gets improved wrist enchants
  • Tailoring gets a cloak embroidery with a periodic AP boost
  • Herbalism gets a 20 second haste boost (2 minute cooldown)
  • Alchemy gets a new alchemist’s stone that has Mastery rating.  They also get the Flask of Enhancement, which is like Flask of the North in that its stat bonus is not great but it will work in arenas.

Blizzard has really tried to balance the benefits that you get from the various professions.  However, as it currently stands it looks like agility is going to be a much better rogue stat than any others.  If that ends up being the case at level 85, then the Leatherworking wrist enhancement will be worth more to us than any other profession perk, as it currently provides 130 agility over the non-LW wrist enchants.

Jewelcrafting, enchanting, and inscription also provide agility bonuses.  So does blacksmithing, by having more slots for +agility gems.  The skinning and tailoring bonuses are OK, but probably not quite up to the +agility perks.

The bonuses provided by engineering are currently very mediocre for rogues.  The gathering professions are good for making gold, but their dps perks are not competitive with the crafting professions.  If your goal is strictly to get the most raiding benefit at 85, then you’ll probably want LW/JC or LW/BS.

Protip: you should look to see what recipes are still yellow or orange when you are at 450 skill in your chosen profession.  Gather the materials to make some of them.  That way you can get some quick skill-ups as soon as you log in on Cataclysm day.

Other tip: if you haven’t been through an expansion before… the materials needed to make Cataclysm crafted stuff will be outrageously expensive for the first few weeks.  If you plan to have two crafting professions (like LW/JC) then you had better have a whole lot of gold stored up.

(3) Fix your button bars

Do you have Sap keybound or on a button bar?  If you are strictly a PvE player, you probably haven’t used it in a couple of years.  Put it someplace convenient.  How about Blind?  Gouge?  These abilities, which saw virtually no use in PvE content in Wrath, may very well come in handy in Cataclysm.  Don’t be the guy that says, “Wait 1 minute – have to put that spell on my bar” when the party leader makes crowd control assignments.

(3) Practice, practice, practice

Its easy to write this off.  Someone might say, “We’ve got weeks of leveling and running instances to figure everything out.”  I’ve got an answer to that – you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

When you go on your guild runs into 5-mans at level 81-85, you want to bust your rear to tear up the damage meters and properly CC your assigned targets.  Why?  To show that you know your stuff.  When you hit level 85, and your guild officers are choosing the raid team, you’ll have left an impression by your performance in all the content leading up to the endgame.  Don’t miss out on this opportunity.

This is especially true if you are planning to play a new spec.  I hear a lot of people talk about running as subtlety.  I find that to be a pretty challenging spec to play well.  I’m sure that its great fun when soloing, but in a 5-man group it might be hard to keep up with the other dps.  Try it in some runs now.  Get to a training dummy. Do what you can to work the kinks out.

I worry that the performance of other rogues will reflect on me.  I remember at various times in the history of the game when you would hear in conversation, “Paladins are terrible tanks” or “enhancement shaman do low dps” or any number of similar generalizations.  I don’t want to hear “rogues do bad dps” when I hit level 85.  I’m counting on all of you to do your part and give us a good name.

(4) Read, read, read

There is no way that the game will be properly balanced on release.  Blizzard will be tweaking spells and classes for the first few months of Cataclysm.  You want to keep up with any patches so that you’re not left behind when things change.

Find your resources and bookmark them.  Whether its my blog, Elitist Jerks, Encrypted Text, the brand-new official forums, or any of the numerous rogue blogs out there, don’t miss the news as it happens.

One more thing that is not rogue-specific.  Make sure that your play goals still connect with those of your guild.

One blogger that I read said that he wants his guild to be ready to raid within two weeks after the release date of the expansion.  I personally wouldn’t want to be in that guild.  I like the leveling experience, and I enjoy the questlines.  I don’t plan on racing through the content just to get to endgame.  (can it really be called “endgame” if it starts two weeks into an expansion that will be around for two years?)

If your guild is planning to drop from 25 to 10-man raiding, try and make sure that you’re still part of their raiding plans.  If you suspect that you might be on the outside looking in, its time to have some conversations with the guild officers.

Excited yet?

16
Nov
10

What’s left?

Last week, one of our guild members whispered me and asked, “why do you log in every day?”  It was an innocent question, but raises a deep point.

There are many who play the game driven by external rewards – things that Blizzard gives to them such as gear, titles, mounts, and other status symbols.  If you see someone sitting on the bridge in Ironforge, showing off his new drake mount, he’s probably one of them.

For those people, its easy to run out of things to do.  Ask them if they want to run ICC 10 this week and you’re likely to get a response like “Sorry – I don’t need any gear from there.”  They earned reputation only with the factions that had the best rewards for their class, and ground out enough badges to get their gear upgraded, and they have no more goals.

I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with that at all.  Its just that, for those players the game is probably very dull right now.  There are no rewards left to earn, so what is the point in logging on?

Me?  I can create my own intrinsic goals.  I don’t depend on Blizzard to give me a pony every time I log in.  I can still fly across Storm Peaks and appreciate the attention paid to the design of the sheer cliff faces.  I can sit in Dalaran and enjoy /g and /o chat for a long time without doing much of anything else.  I can grind Ravenholdt rep just to get another Exalted reputation under my belt (I’m not going for the Insane title).

I’m done with Loremaster and I got myself the Scepter of the Shifting Sands.  I finished the Netherwing rep grind.  I am not totally geared out – I still have a 245 wrist and 232 trinket that could use replacing, but that’s not a top priority because I’m doing fine without the upgrades.

Here are the goals I have set for myself before Cataclysm hits:

  • Get as many exalted reputations as I can.  There is actually a tangible goal for this – I want to help my guild get access to the Dark Phoenix Hatchling for having 55 exalted reputations.  We have two players the the guild with The Exalted title for 40 exalted reps, so we’re close.  I think we have 46 Exalted reputations in the guild.  It shouldn’t take long to knock out another nine Cataclysm reputations, but the closer we can get before the expansion, the better.  Right now I’m working on Ravenholdt (yuk), Thorium Brotherhood, and the Steamwheedle factions.
  • Hit 100,000 gold.  I don’t really need this much gold, so its just an arbitrary target.  I had 20k before I took up inscription, and its been a fun couple of months, highlighted by Glyphmas when patch 4.0 dropped.  The auction house business has really died down lately, so I’m having a hard time getting the last 10k that I need for this goal.  I have a few weeks left, so I should be able to grind this out even if I do it with dailies and herb gathering.
  • Get the Kingslayer title on my main. Done (finally).
  • Get another group of guildies the Kingslayer title.  This is a tough one because many of them have never tried the Lich King fight before, and its got a steep learning curve.  Still, its the least I can do now that I have two toons with the title.
  • Try to figure out subtlety dps.  After an initial adjustment period, my mutilate dps is back to being acceptable.  I still can’t out-dps the mages, but I’m back to beating the other melee again (most of the time).  I want to give subtlety another go.  At this point, my raids can “carry” me a bit while I work out the complicated rotations.

That’s enough to keep me busy for the next couple of weeks.  I’ll also be logging on a little less in anticipation of the marathon gaming post-expansion.  I still have a guild to run and get ready for the expansion as well.

15
Nov
10

I Want to Believe

Blizzard is really touting this “playable at midnight” thing for the launch of the expansion.

http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=27497533857&pageNo=1&sid=1#0

Now, the question is – can they fulfill that promise?

We all know that WoW’s servers have a tendency to overload on big patch days.  Blizzard seems to be going out on a limb here.  They are promising a playable game at midnight PST on December 7th.

I assume that there has to be some server down time as they flick the “Cataclysm” switch to ON.  When will that happen?  The night of December 6th, perhaps?  Do we believe that everything will be ready to go at midnight, Dec 7th?  Past history does not seem to support this.

When the Cataclysm launch date was announced, my first thought was, “I’m taking the day off of work!”  Then my second thought was “Why would I do that?  The servers will be down all day anyway.”  That’s based on years of experience with patches and launches.

All the hype is making me think again about taking Dec 7th off of work to install and play the game.  I might be setting myself up for disappointment.

What do you think?  Will the game actually be playable on December 7th at midnight PST?  Or do you expect hours and hours of delays and downtime?




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)
November 2010
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