Archive for April, 2011

26
Apr
11

Looking forward to…

One of my favorite memories in WoW came in Zul’Gurub.

I remember the first time that I fought Bloodlord Mandokir, back when we were level 61 (just after BC dropped, but we went back to do ZG).  The person leading the raid explained the fight and told us that Mandokir would “level up” whenever he killed someone, making him tougher.

Knowing the mechanic did not prepare me for the humor of Mandokir shouting “DING!” when he killed someone, followed by a call of “Grats!” from one of the other bosses in the instance.  I just about fell out of my chair laughing.

That is still among the funniest moments I have had in the game, and something that really gave me insight into the humor of the developers.  I’m looking forward to hearing that again in the new and improved ZG.

21
Apr
11

Hurry Up with the Patch!

Premise: Blizzard is waiting too long to release Patch 4.1 and is allowing the player base to slowly wither away.

My guild has always been a pretty good microcosm of the general trends in WoW.  We’re a pretty diverse group and not too focused on any one thing, so just about any pattern in the game at large is reflected in the guild population to some extent.

I didn’t collect actual data for this, so my observations are purely anecdotal.  With that in mind, overall online time in my guild has plummeted drastically in the past few weeks.  Whereas a few weeks ago you could find 15-20 people online even on a non-raiding night, now we are lucky to have 8-10 on and we are struggling to populate raids.  The decrease has become most obvious in the past two weeks, so I conclude (unscientifically) that the rate of player loss has accelerated lately.  That’s just in my guild, but as I said we are usually pretty typical of the game as a whole.

The dropoff has become quite notable among our most devoted players.  You know those players – the ones that you can count on to be online every night, even if they are just sitting in Stormwind doing nothing more than talking in guild chat.  Those players are often AWOL these days as well.

If the patch had dropped two weeks ago, with the new heroics and mechanics changes, it would have been just in time to hold the interest of many bored players.  If it had been released this week it still would have been close.

Now that it seems like it will be next week at the earliest, I am just looking at damage control.  I’m wondering how many people will already be 2 or 3 weeks offline by that point and simply won’t come back.

Blizzard has always had the “when its ready” philosophy and I can respect that.  However, this has dragged on for quite a while now.  I only wonder if its affecting other guilds as badly as it is mine.

14
Apr
11

Leveling as subtlety

The last time I played as a subtlety rogue was while I was leveling in Burning Crusade.  Needless to say, the entire game has changed since then.  Subtlety gets a bad rap because its hard to use in raids.  However, its extremely efficient when leveling.

Our guild needs a dwarf rogue for the Stay Classy guild achievement.  Since I know that class so well, it makes sense for me to be the one that will powerlevel one.  Last week I started a rogue and set off into Azeroth.

I did outfit him in four pieces of heirloom gear.  That upped my strength a bit, but the general playstyle would be the same even if you had no heirloom items.

As a subtlety rogue, you start with Shadowstep from level 1.  You also have Master of Subtlety.  Since those abilities both boost the damage of your Ambush, you’ll want to start using Ambush as your opener as soon as you get it (level 8).

Very quickly, you learn the way of the subtlety rogue.  You stealth to within 25 yards of your target.   Shadowstep to get behind him, then Ambush.  That first attack should take a level-appropriate mob down to less than half of its health.  It also gives you two combo points.  You can probably finish it off with a 2-CP Eviscerate.  Almost every non-elite, non-named mob for the first 60 levels can be two-shot.

Then re-stealth and repeat.

The great thing about Subtlety is the way it makes you feel like a real assassin.  You stealth past everything that you want to avoid, and find your target.  You then two-shot it with Shadowstep-Ambush-Eviscerate, then re-stealth and walk away.  Especially fun are the quests that ask you to kill a named opponent.  Sub rogues are very efficient at this, avoiding all of the trash and guards along the way.

Because most of your damage while solo leveling comes from Ambush, your talent points are best spent to maximize that attack.  Improved Ambush, Opportunity, Initiative, and Find Weakness are the talents you want to work toward as you accumulate talent points.

The process gets even faster once you get the Premeditation talent.  With that, you can alternate openers.  One mob gets the Shadowstep-Ambush opener.  When it dies and you re-stealth, Shadowstep will be on cooldown.  So you Premeditation-Ambush the next one, setting you up for a 4-CP Eviscerate which will probably do the trick.  Then restealth and repeat the Shadowstep-Ambush opener again.

I didn’t bother to get such iconic subtlety talents as Honor Among Thieves or Hemorrhage.  I’m soloing, not instancing, so HaT is not very useful and very few things live long enough for Hemo to be worthwhile.

The down side to a sub rogue is that if something survives your initial Ambush and Eviscerate, then it takes forever to kill it.  Without HaT and without a group the CP generation is slow, and you’ll be energy-starved most of the time so you sit there watching your autoattacks while you wait for energy regeneration.  Also, without HaT or Energetic Recovery, my performance in an instance would be pretty poor, if I was running instances.

So far I’ve taken the rogue to level 59.  I’ll admit that this gets a little repetitive.  I have had no trouble killing any target I choose within a few seconds through the Shadowstep, Premeditation, Ambush system.  Its certainly efficient, if a little dull.

If you want to feel like a real assassin, give subtlety leveling a try.

11
Apr
11

Call to Arms! – my take

Blizzard revealed their pan to fix the LFD queue problem using a bit of social engineering.  I won’t go into detail.  I’m sure that everyone who reads WoW blogs has already heard about it at length.

First – my feelings…

Everyone’s first reaction was that dps classes would be really upset about this.  I honestly haven’t heard a single person complain about it.  (well, on the official forums there are complaints, but I don’t give any credibility to most of what is in that cesspool)

I am fine with this.  If it works, then I get a reward – faster queue times.  Now, I’m not a big pet and mount collector so the rewards don’t hold tremendous appeal to me.  Flasks are nice.  Gems are nice.  I don’t feel like I’m missing much by not getting any goody bags.

Next, my predictions…

This may work temporarily.  I’m sure that there are some DKs, warriors, druids and paladins out there that only queue as dps or heals, but might consider queueing as a tank for the reward.

I don’t think it will last long, though.  I don’t think that this system is going to influence the experienced, full-time tanks.  My impression is that its aimed at those who could tank, but don’t because they are intimidated by the requirements of tanking.  The rewards, while somewhat appealing, are not sufficient to make tanks want to withstand the trials of tanking pug groups.

I speak as someone who has a tank toon, but refuses to tank pugs.  This won’t make me change my mind.  Dealing with the snarky comments of overly-entitled dps is more than I can deal with for my $15 a month.  I hate marking targets, and I double-extra-hate when people try to puff up their own leet skills by boasting that CC is for losers.  I hate having to taunt off of dps that won’t follow a kill order.  So for me, this is not going to have an impact.

So, for a while this might make a small uptick in the number of tanks in the system.  As they burn out from the abuse, they will realize that the rewards are not worth it and stop queueing again.

What to do…

Its worth giving this system a try to see how it works.  Maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Big Bear Butt suggest that the rewards should be more substantial.  I disagree with that.  Right now, the rewards are just enough to be a slight enticement without creating friction or overt jealousy.  If they gave out the Spectral Tiger mount, as he suggests, then as a dps I would be pretty ticked off.

I think that the only way to get tanks to queue is to either make tanking easier or give the tanks some additional power in the group.

By making tanking easier I mean either going back to the infinite AoE threat model of Wrath (which I don’t want) or make the marking of targets easier or automatic somehow.  I don’t think that this is a good solution.

They can give tanks more power by giving their vote double-weight to kick someone.  If the tank marks targets and a dps ignores the kill order, then it only takes the tank and one other player to vote the bad player out.  Yes, that could be abused, but I think it would mollify a lot of the complaints that tanks have about inept dps.

Possibly the best thing I can envision is a rating system for pugs.  We see many online communities, including Blizzard’s own forums, where people can upvote or downvote forum posts to weed out the crap and highlight the good.  Imagine at the end of each pug you could give any of the players an upvote or downvote.  Over time players would accumulate a rating from their peers.  If a system like this were implemented somehow in the game, so that bad players had longer queue times or that no more than one bad player ended up in a group, then I think the pug system could be improved.

 

03
Apr
11

What are the oldest WoW blogs left around?

We’ve seen a wave of notable WoW bloggers hanging up their keyboards lately.  It got me to thinking – how many old WoW blogs are still left around?

Playing WoW in the early days was quite a different experience than it is now.  There were not countless online information sources for you to browse through to learn every little detail about the game.  Your information came from Thottbot, or maybe Allakazam.  Wowhead came much later.  There were almost no YouTube videos.  There was no accessible Elitist Jerks forum.  If you wanted to learn about your class or a raid boss, your best bet was to read blogs.

WoWInsider goes back to November of 2005, so its the grandfather of WoW blogs.  However, none of the original authors are still with them.  Their structure makes it so they can be continuous even with frequent writer turnover.  Tobold goes back even farther but his blog is not just a WoW blog.  There was a huge surge in the number of personal WoW blogs in 2007, which is when I discovered the expansive depth of the WoW blogosphere.

I remember the first few blogs I encountered and read by in my early days of WoW – Resto4Life, Parry! Dodge! Spin!, BigRedKitty, and Frostbolt.  All  of those have long since shut down.  However, Frostbolt is still viewable, even though it is not being updated.  I started my historical research project there – looking through antiquated evidence on the corpses of dead blogs.  I decided to check out Frostbolt’s blogroll.  It is still listing the blogs that he read back in those days.

I went down his list of blogs, and the only two that were listed there that are still posting now are Kinless’ Chronicles and Gray Matter.  Kinless has switched to Rift.  Does that mean that Gray Matter is the oldest from the wave of early WoW blogs?  His archives go back to September 2007.

On a hunch I went to check Big Bear Butt.  I know I’ve been reading his stuff for a long while.  His archives go back to August 2007, so he started just before Gray Matter.  Maybe his is the oldest personal WoW blog still running.

Looking further, I found that one of my favorite bits of WoW entertainment, Need More Rage, has posts going to July 2007.  Could this be the oldest active WoW blog?

Nope.  Checking around some more, I found that Mania’s Arcania has posts going back to April 2007.  Mystic Chicanery has posts from February 2007.  Leafshine goes back even farther – to January 2007.

Kaliope’s WoW Crafting Blog goes all the way to November 2006.  I remember reading that blog when I first disocovered online WoW research tools.  I was kind of surprised to see it still up and running.  I know that WoWHead has satisfied all of my crafting research needs.  Its neat that she has kept her niche in the online community.

After lots of browsing around, the longest-running personal WoW blog that I could find is Blessing of Kings.  Coriel started the blog in December 2005 and has continued to post regularly until now.  That’s a pretty amazing feat of longevity, especially when you consider that the focus and high level of content has not diminished in all that time.

Have I missed any?  Are there any that have been around longer than Blessing of Kings?

01
Apr
11

Thanks for the tweaks

Blizzard is tweaking rogues rouges in the upcoming 4.1.11 patch

Rogues

  • Due to continual misspellings of the “rogue” class, we have officially changed the name to the easier to type “rouge.”
  • Pick Pocket now works on friendly players, bankers and auctioneer NPCs.
  • Vanish now has an additional 5% chance to fail for no discernable reason.
  • Rouges equipping helms that resemble eye patches now suffer a 2% hit penalty from lack of depth perception.
  • All archways, portals, portholes, and doorways now contain locked doors which require a rouge’s Pick Lock skill to open.
  • Sleight of Hand now allows rouges to roll a perfect 100 on boss drops.
  • Cheap Shot has a new more anatomically appropriate animation.
  • Rouges are now required to pick up all of their blades after casting Fan of Knives before it can be used again.
  • Rouges may now cast Stealth while Stealthed, entering the state of Double Stealth, which is not only stealthier than Stealth, but also causes the word stealth to cease to make sense to your brain. Stealth.

 

 




Armory

Dinaer - 92 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Derence - 90 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 91 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 91 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 92 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
April 2011
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