Archive for December, 2010

27
Dec
10

Cataclysm Questing is Too Linear and Too Short

Some people in my guild were saying how they enjoyed the questing in Cataclysm.  I disagreed.  The quests themselves were fun, but the entire questing system, in my opinion, was poorly done.

Us old-timers remember questing in the days of vanilla WoW.  Quest givers were everywhere and they didn’t show up on the minimap.  You had to run around trying to find them, tucked into caves or mines or in houses in the woods.  Once you had their quests, then the objectives could also be anywhere, and they didn’t show up on the map.  Quests were handed out haphazardly, often making you run back and forth over and over to the same area for different tasks.

That was rough.  It sometimes made questing very tedious.  You often had a full quest log as you were trying to figure out 20+ different quests simultaneously.  It was extremely inefficient.

Burning Crusade was better.  It introduced more concentrated quest hubs, so there was less searching for the quest givers.  You still wound up with a full quest log more often than not, but the objectives were planned out a little better than in vanilla.

Wrath went the step farther and staggered the quests.  A quest giver would give you something to do, and then upon completion you’d get the next set of quests.  It made the questline sensible, and allowed for better storytelling within the quests.  Your quest log was rarely full.  Still, there were side quests and optional storylines that you choose to do or not to do.  There were group quests that gave nice rewards if you could find five people to do them together.

Cataclysm has taken it a step farther.  Is it too far?

Now, the quest givers give you one or two quests at a time.  While leveling, my quest log never had more than 5 quests in it at any time.  Once you finish those, they give you the next ones, or tell you who else to go see.

The problem?  You cannot skip a quest.  An entire zone is essentially one single questline.

In vanilla and BC, if a quest to kill 20 foozles seemed too annoying, or if a quest item had a low drop rate, then you could choose to skip it and move on.  Sure, the Loremasters among us would never do that, but for the majority it was an often-used option.

In Wrath if you skipped a quest it might cut you off from finishing that particular questline, and maybe keep you from doing a few more quests and seeing some lore at the conclusion of the story.  But it wasn’t crucial to most players.

In Cataclysm, if you skip a quest you are screwed.  You can basically cut off the rest of the quests in an entire zone by skipping a single quest.  In my opinion, that’s too much.

A common criticism of WoW is that you are “on rails” with no freedom to make choices.  I think that the Cataclysm questing has taken that too far, and I truly do feel like I am at Disneyland, blindly following the line as it weaves back and forth to the eventual ride at the end.  I am a spectator in the story rather than a participant.  (I was a spectator in previous incarnations of WoW as well, but I think they gave a better illusion of having choices).  The ridiculous number of cinematic cut scenes in Uldum make it even more like I am just watching events rather than taking part.  They aren’t epic, like the Wrathgate was.  They are just scripted evidence of my irrelevance.

I preferred Wrath questing better.  You had to explore to find the quest hubs.  If you missed one it didn’t keep you from questing in the other parts of the zone.  If you chose not to fight the 5-man elite quest mobs outside Wintergarde Keep, then it was no big deal.

In addition, this time around I had half the number of levels (5 vs 10) and much greater real life distractions, and I still managed to get to the  level cap in significantly less than half the time I did in Wrath.  That reinforces my belief that Blizzard has completely de-emphasized leveling in this expansion in favor of heroics and raiding.  That’s a bit of a disappointment.  With a two year development cycle, you would think that they could get both the leveling/questing AND heroics/raids fleshed out more thoroughly.

Summary:  I love the instances, enjoy the heroics, approve of the gear progression system, but don’t like the new questing philosophy.

24
Dec
10

For Comparison

I just looked back in my blog archives.  I published my “level 80″ post on December 22nd, 2008.  That is 39 days after the Wrath of the Lich King was released.

I finally reached level 85 last night, December 23rd, 2010.  That is 16 days after the release of the Cataclysm expansion.  Keeping in mind that this time around I had significant real life distractions, leveling in Cataclysm was really, really short.  And I am one of the last people I know to hit 85.

23
Dec
10

Is There a Mastery Cap?

One topic I have been asked about several times since patch 4.0 is Mastery.  Specifically, players (especially assassination rogues) are told that they should reforge to mastery, and so they want to know if there is a cap.

The answer is:

  1. It will vary depending on the mastery that is specific to your spec
  2. You have no chance to reach that cap currently so don’t worry about it

Now that the basics are presented, here are the specifics for rogues…

Assassination

Mastery is Potent Poisons.  It gives a 28% increase in poison damage, plus an additional 3.5% per point of mastery.  There is no apparent cap on this.  If you somehow got your mastery beyond 100%, that’s just more damage.

Combat

Mastery is Main Gauche.  It gives a 16% chance to proc an extra off-hand attack, plus 2% per point of mastery.  This has a cap that you would reach if the chance to proc the off-hand attack reaches 100%.  When that happens, the extra attack will happen every time, and any additional mastery will not gain anything.

At 2% per point of mastery you would need 42 points of mastery to reach that cap.  The conversion at level 85 is 179.28 mastery rating = 1 point of mastery.  Therefore, to have 42 points of mastery you would need to have 7530 mastery rating to cap.

Subtlety

Mastery is Executioner, which increases all damage by finishing moves (and the attack speed bonus of SnD) by 16%, plus 2% per point of mastery.  Like assassination, this is a straight damage increase and as such it should have no cap.  You can exceed 100% on this and it only means a bigger increase.

I suppose its possible that there is some additional mechanism in the mastery system that has not been revealed that would change these calculations.  At the moment, there is no need to worry about a mastery cap.

21
Dec
10

Rogues… Discuss

I’m not at the level cap yet, so I an not yet able to say how rogues are playing in heroics and raids.

For you rogues that are already running heroics and raids, how is it going?  Are you happy with your damage output?  Which spec are you playing?  Are you getting a chance to use your sap/stun/blind/kick and other utilities?  Most importantly, is it fun?

Let me know in the comments.  I want to know what to expect when I get to 85 this weekend.

20
Dec
10

Does anyone pay attention to guild achievement points?

One of the commonly used guild progression tracker sites is GuildOx.  A quick look at the GuildOx main page shows the world rankings in raid progression.  As I write this, Paragon (Lightning’s Blade – EU) is #1, having killed 3/12 heroic raid bosses.

Raking guilds by raid progression is a long-time tradition in WoW.  For guilds like mine, its never been a concern since we are not a progression guild.  When I have checked sites like GuildOx, out of curiosity, my guild has ranked around 35-50 on raid progression on my server.  Are there actually 35-50 guilds on my server that are “better” than mine?  Not hardly.  But guilds have different areas of emphasis and some are not measurable in a simple ranking system.

Now take a peek at GuildOx again.  Down on the left side there is a menu, and one of the options is Guild Achievement Ranks.  Now that is interesting to me.

Will anyone who visits GuildOx even click on that?  Does anyone care?  Guild achievements are just for fun.  You don’t get anything from most of them except the satisfaction of cooperative guild activities.

But isn’t that one of the points of a guild?  Cooperation?  When we saw that we could get a lot of guild achievements, our membership was really motivated.  Despite all of the heroics and questing and gearing and other stuff that is going on, we had dozens of guildmates who volunteered to fly around the old world and work on guild achievements.  There was rapid-fire achievement spam in the chat pane.  It was an absolute blast.  No one earned any gold or fluff items from it, but we had fun and did stuff together that helped build guild camaraderie.

As of right now my guild, which rarely ranks in the top 40 in raid progression on my server, is in the top 50 in the world in guild achievement points.  More than likely, very few people will even look at that list.  But we know, and we’re a better, more cohesive group for having done it.

20
Dec
10

Getting There, Slowly

Its hard to believe it, with as much time as I spend in game, but I haven’t even reached level 84 yet.

Real Life has conspired to thwart me here.  I made a commitment to level with my wife when the expansion came out.  In an unfortunate bit of timing, she started a new job just days before Cataclysm, which has severely curtailed her game time.  As a result, I have spent many hours in game without her, and I’ve had to pursue activities that would not lead me to level up in her absence.

In our short snippets of play time we’ve worked through all of Mount Hyjal and Deepholm, putting us more than halfway through level 83.  Next up is Uldum.

What am I doing to keep busy if I can’t level?

  • Every day I do the cooking and fishing dailies on multiple characters.
  • I spend a lot of time crafting glyphs and netherweave bags and playing around in the auction house
  • I’ve been buying up cooking mats to get my guild to the Set the Oven to Cataclysmic achievement and unlock the first cooking feast.
  • I have tried to level my tradeskills, but I have not been able to completely level up all of them because I cannot access the vendors in Twilight Highlands yet.  I’ve gotten the easy ones – fishing, cooking, and first aid – done.  Also skinning.  Still working on leatherworking, inscription, tailoring, enchanting, mining, and engineering.
  • I have not gotten very far in archaeology.  For one, it was giving me XP and I was going to level ahead of my wife by doing it.  I even tried turning off XP gains to do it.  But – and I hate to say this because I know some people love it – its pretty dull.  I can only do it for a short while before I feel like I am wasting my time.  I’m not into pets and mounts so there is little draw for me.
  • I’ve worked on my paladin, getting him to 82 in Vashj’ir.  I don’t want him to be my first toon to the level cap, though.  Also, He is specced only into Prot and I’ve not had the guts to try tanking with him yet.  Leveling as prot has not been bad at all.

I do feel a little bothered in my current situation. Back in the Wrath release I also leveled slowly due to time constraints at the holidays.  However, leveling took longer in Wrath.  Despite my slow start, I was not that far behind my guildmates when I reached the level cap.

In Cataclysm, leveling was over in the blink of an eye, even for many casual players.  As I have plodded toward the level cap at a glacial pace, I know that I am falling behind.  Its an uncomfortable feeling, and another reason why I wish the leveling part of the game was a bit more robust.

Fortunately for me, I know that I’ll catch up quickly.  Thanks to having a large supply of gold, I’ll be able to buy up BoE items from the auction house and speed up the gearing process once I reach 85.

So, fair warning to any who come here looking for rogue advice.  Most of you will probably be raiding and doing heroics before me.  In previous expansions, I wrote raid guides for rogues that were pretty well-received.  I hope to get to that as soon as I can, but it may be a little while longer.  I won’t write a guide until I have done the fight myself, and that’s not going to happen for a couple of weeks yet.

17
Dec
10

Raid Readiness for Rogues

In Cataclysm, it seems that all three rogue specs are viable.  Assassination and combat play very similarly to the way the did in Wrath.  Subtlety has changed quite a bit and its in a better place than it was in Wrath, but its still looking a little rough for two reasons:

  1. its maximum damage potential seems a little lower than combat and assassination
  2. it has a very complicated rotation in order to achieve that damage output

For those reasons, I think we’ll see most rogues raiding as combat or assassination, the way it has been for the past two expansions.

The old advice was that rogues should let their weapon determine their spec.  If you scored a sweet sword drop, then you went combat.  If you found an awesome dagger, then you went assassination.  That’s still mostly true to this day, although weapon upgrades are a bit more common.  If you really prefer to play combat, you can probably go out and find a good sword or fist weapon that will work for you.

Also, the differences are no longer so severe.  It used to be that combat rogues definitely wanted to dual-wield swords for the Sword Specialization proc.  Nowadays, the off-hand weapon is all about speed so all specs are using 1.4 daggers as off-hands.  Armor penetration was removed, and both specs prioritize agility over everything else.  That means that the main difference between the two specs is the main hand weapon.

There are other smaller differences.  For assassination, mastery is a great secondary stat, while for combat it’s not.

Here’s what is true for all three specs:

  • All three specs benefit from using a fast off-hand weapon.  Right now, that means off-hand daggers for all three
  • All three specs benefit from a slower main hand.  For assassination and subtlety that means a slower (1.8) dagger.  For combat it means a slow sword/mace/axe/fist.
  • With the current mechanics, all three specs should use Instant Poison on main hand and Deadly Poison on off hand.

Still, its great that rogues can raid on any spec they choose.  Here I’ve made three guides for preparing your rogue to raid.  It goes through enchants, gems, reforging, spec, and rotation.  Honestly, they are pretty similar.  The main differences are the specs, of course, and some specific enchants and reforging advice that one spec might prefer over another.  I hope that they help.

Assassination Spec

Combat Spec

Subtlety Spec

As always, thanks to the folks at Elitist Jerks for working out a lot of the mechanics.

14
Dec
10

Rogue Glyphs in Cataclysm

I was surprised to realize that I might actually use Glyph of Feint.

In Wrath, a strictly PvE player would never use Glyph of Feint.  Its been around, but really, how often would you use feint?  There was a time when Feint was more useful.  Certainly in Burning Crusade we used it to shed threat.  But in Wrath, tank threat seemed limitless.

Feint has served its purpose more than once.  When Ulduar was current, I never died to XT-001’s Tympanic Tantrum.  My Feint would reduce the damage, and keep me alive.  Similarly, Festergut’s big explosions were survivable with Feint even if I missed an inoculation.

But was it worth glyphing it?  Not hardly.

Lets see if Blizzard follows through on its promises.  If, as they have said, tank threat is lower, incoming party damage is higher, and healer mana is precious, then Feint suddenly becomes a useful part of our toolkit.  You can save healer mana by avoiding incoming damage and push dps without pulling from the tank.  These are familiar concepts to long-time rogues, but this skill was all but forgotten in Wrath.

Lets look at our Glyph options:

Prime

There aren’t a whole lot of tough decisions here because so many of those are specific to a particular spec.

For a combat rogue, you’ll clearly want Sinister Strike since that’s used so often.  After that Adrenaline Rush will probably have the biggest impact on your damage totals.  For a third, you could go with Slice and Dice or Rupture to make your rotation easier, or Revealing Strike for its damage bonus.  Killing Spree and Eviscerate are less attractive options.

For Assassination, the Mutilate and Rupture glyphs are pretty obvious choices.  Vendetta looks appealing at first, but mechanics are showing that the Backstab spam in the last 35% of a boss’ health is where Assassination is really shining.  Take the Backstab glyph in your third slot to boost that.  Don’t take SnD because your talents refresh that automatically.

For subtlety, Slice and Dice is vital to help smooth out the complicated rotation.  You’ll probably be using Backstab quite a bit as a combo point builder, as Hemo is proving to be a poor choice just as it was in previous expansions.  Take the Backstab glyph to help with that.  For a third glyph, its your preference between Shadow Dance or Eviscerate.  Don’t take Rupture, since your talents refresh that automatically.

Major

The choices here are not going to impact your damage, really.  They are meant to enhance your playstyle.  Go with glyphs that help with the abilities that you use often.

Lots of these glyphs give PvP utility.  However, most raid bosses are immune to things like Blind and Sap and the silence effect from Kick.  Here’s the ones that I’d recommend for PvE:

As I said at the start of the post, Feint is a good to remember f there are bosses with large raid damage phases.  If you find yourself using Feint with any regularity, then this glyph will keep it from disrupting your dps rotation.  (As a contrast, the Cloak  of Shadows glyph only reduces physical damage.  That would be extremely situational in PvE but very useful in PvP)

Sprint is a good option, especially on fights with a lot of moving or target switching.

Expose Armor is a nice choice if you’re the one applying it because you have no warrior to Sunder Armor.

The Tricks of the Trade glyph is an interesting option, which is exactly what a non-essential glyph should be.  At first glance, it seems to be for selfish rogues that can’t stand the thought of boosting someone else’s dps.  The real question is, does the removal of the energy cost boost the rogue’s damage more than the 5% decrease on the target’s damage?  If so, then it is a net gain in overall raid dps.  Theorycrafting seems to show that this is the case, in which case you would want to go with this glyph.  Its not a huge difference, though, so its not essential.

For the Major glyphs, go with the abilities that you use a lot and you’ll be fine.

Thanks to Elitist Jerks as always for putting the theorycrafting and testing out there for us.

13
Dec
10

Rogue Pre-Heroic Gear

We’ve all heard that Cataclysm heroics are going to be tougher than Wrath heroics were.  Maybe we should put some effort into gearing up for them on our mad dash to level 85.

Here are some of the items that you can get from questing, instance drops, and crafting that are good to have going up to 85.  They are listed loosely in order from best-to-worst (which usually just means highest to lowest agility).  Remember that all of these can be reforged to tweak the secondary stats.

note:  I didn’t include much in the way of reputation items in this list because we can’t really start grinding rep until we get to the level 85 dungeons.

Head

Neck

Shoulder

Back

Chest

Wrist

Hands

Waist

Legs

Feet

Rings

Trinket

Weapons – Main Hand

Weapons – Off-Hand

Ranged

09
Dec
10

What’s new? QQ

This is a QQ post.  Please skip it if you’re not interested.  Its my blog, and I can QQ if I want to.

Three days into the expansion and I have yet to reach level 81 on any of my characters.  Considering how much I play the game, this is a sign that there is something wrong either with me, or with the game, or both.

I’m a little disappointed.  If you read my previous posts, you already know that.

Answer this:  what is new in Cataclysm?  I don’t mean new content like quests and new raids.  I mean new features… something completely new that was not in the game before.  Quests are quests, and while the specifics are a little different from one expansion to the next, quests, instances, battlegrounds, and raids are not new to the game.

When Burning Crusade came out, in addition to the expected new zones, instances, quests, battlegrounds, and raids, it added completely new features to the game.  It added:

  • arenas
  • new expanded talent trees with all-new talents
  • blood elves and draenei
  • horde paladins and alliance shaman
  • flying mounts
  • jewelcrafting and socketed items

Burning Crusade also dramatically changed raiding by cutting it from 40-man to 10/25 man, but that’s still raiding so I won’t count it as a feature.

When Wrath of the Lich King came out in addition to the expected new zones, instances, quests, battlegrounds, and raids, it added completely new features to the game.  It added:

  • the achievement system
  • new expanded talent trees with all-new talents
  • Death Knights
  • inscription and glyphs
  • Wintergrasp / World PvP
  • phasing

It also added 10/25 modes to raids, but that’s still raiding so I won’t count it as a new feature.

Now what did Cataclysm add?  In addition to the expected new zones, instances, quests, battlegrounds, and raids, it added:

  • guild leveling and achievements
  • archaeology
  • worgen and goblins
  • flying in Azeroth
  • underwater zones

That’s a pretty meager list, comparatively.

As I’ve said before, with the change in guild XP, the guild leveling is meaningless.  Right now, Premonition (the #1 guild in the US) and my guild are both level 2 and hit that mark at about the same time last night.  We’ll both hit level 3, 4, 5, etc… at about the same time also.  That’s ridiculous – Premonition should be miles ahead of my guild by any measure.  So that feature has no draw for me anymore.

All that is really new, then, is worgen and goblins, flying in Azeroth, and archaeology.  Am I missing something?

I can’t bring myself to be excited about questing right now.  I’ve been questing on my alts for the past month, and it seems like just the same-old-same-old.  At the same time I don’t want to rush through leveling as a stepping stone to get to raiding. I want to enjoy the game.

So what have I been doing?  Mostly staying in Stormwind and doing dailies, and leveling my professions.  I’ve barely touched either of the new zones.  Today I’ll probably work on archaeology.  I might not even hit level 81 until the weekend.  My guild will probably start raiding without me pretty soon.

I really want to find something in Cataclysm to get excited about.  Quests won’t do it.  Any suggestions?  What have you done that has excited you?




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)
December 2010
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