Archive for September, 2010


I’m getting excited

You know what’s getting me happy?  The reports coming from beta saying that the heroic instances are hard.  Love it.

Some of my most loved and hated memories are of heroic Mechanar back in Burning Crusade.  When we first started running that instance, we would routinely wipe on the pulls in the first room.  We would get through the room eventually, but it took us a half hour and several attempts where we would run out of the entrance to reset it.

As we improved – not so much in gear, but in skill – that room got easier.  Of course we reached the point where we could burn through it without even marking the CC targets, and it was a real measurable indicator of our improvement as players.

Karazhan was a similar experience, but here I’m just talking about 5-man instances.

The difference between then and now  – in Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard changed the game to be more inclusive.  We all know that CC was essentially removed from the game in Wrath, but back then your ability to do your role AND use your CC abilities was the test of your play.  In those BC heroics, a hunter that could chain-trap was invaluable.  Warlocks ran with their succubus out for their CC. If you had a rogue with you, every pull began with a sap.

Keeping a mob trapped/stunned/rooted continuously for the whole duration of a fight might not have been sexy because it didn’t show up on damage meters, but it was so much fun.

I’m not advocating that we go back to the days when only the most elite players could do the high end content.  I am hoping for a happy medium.  I’m hoping for a game where an average player can get through the heroics, but that a mistake will still be costly.  I’m looking for a game where pulling three trash groups is bad, instead of efficient.  I’m looking for instances where I’m going to use more than 3 abilities from my spellbook.

Time will tell, but early reports sound promising.


The Rating System. Or, Why Good Gear Turns Bad

You’re all decked out in your iLvL 264 (or higher) ICC gear.  You’re a WoW superstar.   You hit monsters so hard that heroic instance bosses have stopped fighting you.  They just hand you Emblems of Frost when you enter the instance.  Your heals are so big that you can resurrect inactive accounts.

You might think that your uber-gear can carry you easily to level 85 in Cataclysm.  After all, its just 5 measly levels, right?

So lets say that you’ve got your nice ICC gear and you’re sitting at 315 hit rating, putting you exactly at the poison cap.  You check your tooltip, and you see that you have +9.6% melee hit (currently, 32.77 hit rating = 1% melee hit).  Cataclysm comes out, and you venture forth into the new content.  You’re proud of your ICC purples, so you refuse to take any gear from quest rewards, even when they might be upgrades.

In short order, you level to 81.  A quick check of your tooltip gives you a surprise.  Your 315 hit rating now only gives you 7.8% chance for melee hit!

Suspecting a bug, you continue to blaze through new zones.  You’re all jazzed when you ding 82.  Your buzz is killed, though, when you check the tooltip and see that your 315 hit rating now only gets you +5.9% melee hit!



Scaling is a big reason that the Rating system was implemented.  If you had a piece of gear that said, “increases hit by 1%,” then that would be 1% no matter what level you are or what level your target is.  That wouldn’t scale well with higher content, so Blizzard doesn’t do that.

Instead, you get hit rating, crit rating, etc..  With those, they can make your character scale by changing the conversion from rating to % as your level increases.

You’ll see similar changes in your crit chance.  Even though your gear is not changing, your percentages are decreasing.  That’s because the conversion from rating to % changes with each level, and it changes a lot.


Whitetooth at Elitist Jerks has been datamining the rating conversions for the current beta build.  Nothing is set in stone yet, of course, but what he has so far is:

  • at level 81, 40.3836 hit rating = 1% melee hit
  • at level 82, 53.0304 hit rating = 1% melee hit
  • at level 83, 69.6653 hit rating = 1% melee hit
  • at level 84, 91.4738 hit rating = 1% melee hit
  • at level 85, 120.109 hit rating = 1% melee hit

Lets say that you want to get to +8% melee hit.  As a level 80 rogue in Wrath, assuming that you had full points in Precision (+5% hit) you would only need an additional +3% hit from hit rating to reach that goal.  To get that 3% hit you need 99 hit rating.

Now at level 85 in Cataclysm you want to do the same thing.  Precision (first tier Combat talent, so everyone will take it) is now +6% hit instead of 5%.  Therefore, to get to 8% melee hit you only need +2% from your hit rating.  To get that you need 2 x 120.109 = 241 hit rating.  That’s a significant change.

You’ll see that as you level in Cataclysm, your existing gear becomes less powerful because the rating conversion changes.  Of course, we expect that the new gear we get in Cataclysm will be itemized with appropriate levels of hit and crit rating.  It mostly means that any “caps” you have come to learn will need to be refigured.


My Plan for Cataclysm Raiding

As I’ve mentioned in this blog before, my guild is a social guild that raids.  We have on our roster somewhere between 35-40 raid-capable players, but only about 15-18 of them are the type who would go out of their way to log on specifically to make it to a scheduled raid.  The rest will happily raid if they happen to be online at raid time – the ultimate in “casual,” I suppose.

Also, there are widely varying levels of ability, ranging from a few players who could probably compete for a spot in a Top GuildTM to others who barely beat the tanks in dps.

A lot of other guilds in this situation would have cut their raids down to 10-man a long time ago, leaving a very elite core group that could compete for server progression.  That’s not our guild.  We like the company and the social atmosphere.  We like giving opportunity to new raiders.  We like raiding with no pressure.  We love to share in the glee that a new raider feels when he gets his first loot from a raid boss.

And we’ve found a good balance between 10 and 25 man raids.  Our core team does 10-man runs during the week and has cleared ICC and a couple of hard modes.  On the other hand, our 25 man raids go on weekends and can routinely get the first 7 bosses of ICC down, but not much else.

And, for the most part, we’re happy this way.


mean-old Deathwing threatens to change all that when he ushers in Cataclysm.  The shared 10- and 25-man lockouts would eliminate our current raiding method, since our core players can’t do 10 man during the week and 25 man on the weekend.

I think I’ve found a solution.  The key is that there should be be four raids available at launch, instead of just two like when Wrath came out.  (I’m including Obsidian Sanctum in the Wrath count, but I don’t count Malygos… one boss with no trash does not make for a fun raid)

From what I’ve seen, Cataclysm is shipping with four raids – Grim Batol, The Firelands, Skywall, and Blackwing Descent.

My guild has two nights of 25-man raiding per week.  I envision a system where we schedule one or two 25-man raids for our two nights, depending how long the raid instances are.  That will be announced in advance, and players will be told not to get saved to either of those raids during the week.  However, the other two unscheduled raids are fair game for whatever: 10-man runs, pugs, etc…

Then we can switch off from one week to the next.

For example,

  • For Week One we can schedule 25-man Grim Batol and/or Skywall.
  • That leaves The Firelands and Blackwing Descent free for people to pug, or run in a guild 10-man for faster progression and achievements.
  • In Week Two we can schedule 25-man Firelands and/or Blackwing Descent
  • That would leave Grim Batol and Skywall available for people to pug or run in 10-mans.
  • and so on…

This depends on a lot of factors, including the relative difficulty of the raids, their length, gear requirements, and our ability to coordinate our players.

However, if we can get this to work, then we won’t have to choose between 10 and 25 man.  We can still straddle that line between the two, just like we always have.  Sure, our progression will be slow, but that’s no different than our current situation and that doesn’t bother us.

Everyone is so certain that guilds will have to choose between 10 and 25 man raiding.  I don’t see it.  So… what are the flaws in my idea?


The Countdown is On

Patch 4.0 is on the PTR, and while we don’t know how long it will be tested before going to the live servers, it certainly sends a reminder that time left in Wrath is short.

When patch 4.0 hits it won’t immediately change the world, but it will change our class abilities, talents, and playstyles.  It will change our UI (and break our add-ons), change our glyphs, and rewrite our spellbooks.  We’ll have Mastery and Reforging and hunter Focus and paladin Holy Power.

I remember when patch 3.0 dropped before Wrath, and the resulting changes made everyone dramatically overpowered for the level 70 content.  My guild was just working through SSC before patch 3.0, but after the patch we burned through most of SSC and went into Black Temple and cleared through much of it.  Will that happen again?  It doesn’t look like it, from early impressions.  Our talent trees are being compressed rather than expanded.  Healer mana regen is being reigned in.  Could there be a spike in dps, in anticipation of the higher health pools in Cataclysm?  Time (and PTR testers) will tell.

There is a slight sense of urgency now.  There are a few more things that I want to get done in Wrath before Deathwing arrives on the scene.  I still need the Kingslayer title on my main.  I want to do a couple more guild ICC clears to get others their title as well.  I have some more reputations to grind before things change.  I have no interest in hard modes, but our guild does need to get a couple of Halion kills in for those achievements as well.

I have never tried the PTR before, but this time I might go for it just get a taste of what’s barreling toward us.


Bored? Go work for someone who’s INSANE

With things winding down, a lot of people are tackling tasks that they just never had time for.  Whether its doing the Loremaster achievement, running the Opening of the AQ Gates questline, or grinding out Bloodsail rep for the hat, there are some long, long, long grinds available for those who have the time.

But the biggest grind is the Insane in the Membrane feat of strength.

I’m not suggesting that you go out and do this.  It takes a special person to tackle that series of rep grinds.  Even myself, who has over 30 exalted reputations, wouldn’t really consider attempting this achievement.

But for those who do… they need rogues.  They need rogues baaaaadddd.

One of the reputations for the Insane title is Ravenholdt.  There is only one way to get to Exalted with them, and that’s by turning in Heavy Junkboxes at Ravenholdt Manor.  LOTS of them.  Thousands. And there’s only one way to get Heavy Junkboxes, and that’s by pickpocketing mobs in the 50-60 range.

See where this is going?  You can sell your services to a non-rogue going for this achievement.

Two approaches to this:

(1) Go out and pickpocket a whole bunch of Heavy Junkboxes.  Then advertise in Trade chat that you’re selling them.

(2) Find someone who is already doing the Insane title, and offer your services.  Agree on a price per Junkbox in advance.  Then go farm them.

A good place to look is on your realm forums.  There is often someone advertising that they are looking for a rogue to help them.

You can do stealth runs of Lower Blackrock Spire, pickpocketing every humanoid that you see to collect these.  Also, Tyr’s Hand in Eastern Plaguelands is a good spot.  The spectators in the Ring of Law in Blackrock Depths are a good choice as well.  You don’t even have to kill anything (unless you are seen).  Use the Glyph of Pick Pocket to help.

Its probably not the most efficient way of making gold.  But if you’ve got nothing else to do, its a way to pass the time.


Classic WoW:
Dinaer - 11 Assassination Rogue
Cepheid - 13 Prot Warrior
Cartho - 11 Elemental Shaman

Retail WoW:
Dinaer - 120 Assassination Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
Cartho - 120 Elemental Shaman (US - Quel-dorei)
Derence - 120 Prot/Ret Paladin (US - Sen'Jin)
Metius - 120 Shadow Priest (US - Sen'Jin)
Liebnitz - 120 Arcane Mage (US - Sen'Jin)
Darishin - 120 Resto/Balance Druid (US - Sen'Jin)
Fastad - 90 Subtlety Rogue (US - Sen'Jin)
September 2010
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