3.2 First Impressions (3 days late)

August 6, 2009 at 8:04 pm | Posted in General, Tanking | Leave a comment
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I was a bit surprised the patch dropped this week.  I was predicting in vent Monday night that Blizzard likes to tease us for a few weeks – let the pundits assure us its this week, then this week, then this week before finally giving us the goodies.  Well, I was wrong obviously.  Somewhat happily, but man, does patch day suck. 

Actually, it started Monday night.  A group of us went into EoE and for some reason I kept getting LUA errors.    On top of that, my Pitbull was all messed up.  I have no idea what happened there, Sunday it was fine, Monday it was back at the default mode.  Ugh. 

My impressions of 3.2 after I finally logged in on Tuesday -

  1. Never do a heroic until you’ve done it on regular mode first.
  2. Laggy as all get-out in Dalaran.  It was quicker to run around rather than wait for my mount to appear (ironic since mount cast time was reduced to 1.5 seconds in the patch).
  3. Outside of Dalaran, not laggy at all – even the instances were ok!
  4. Timoth Jones was simply mobbed.  I counted myself lucky that I could open a dialog box and turn in my quest for 5 tokens.  It was a bleeding miracle I could open it again and browse the new epic recipes.  I came back down to earth when I couldn’t buy any – they were all ‘item busy’.
  5. You won’t recognize the New and Imroved Argent Tournament.  I was lost before the taxi dropped me off.  I was able to find the AT QM (in the tent where you pick up the Thread From Above quest).
  6. Never do a heroic until you’ve done it on regular mode first.
  7. The new Heirloom chestpieces are sold here for 60 Champion Seals :(
  8. The new Heirloom chestpieces are also sold in Dalaran for 4o Badges of Heroism!
  9. No, I can’t reconcile #6 and 7.
  10. There is a summoning stone at the Argent Tournament.  I found it.  Once.  I’m not optimistic for a repeat visit without an escort. 
  11. The entrance to the instance the northern door/entry/grand hallway.  I think. 
  12. Those guys hit HARD! 
  13. Never do a heroic until you’ve done it on regular mode first.
  14. Blizzard’s UI isn’t too bad, actually.  I really missed bartender, but Pitbull (or X-Perl)? I may just run a few more instances and raids without them and see what’s what. 

I didn’t get on Wednesday.  I went to see Funny People after my guitar class.  Good movie, if a bit long.  Adam Sandler is turning into a real actor – who knew?

I got on Thursday morning after the maintenance and was finally able to buy my epic gems.  I got the +SP, +agi, +Stam, +Hit, +Hit/Expertise, and many others.  I cut them and put them on the AH.  The new gems seem to be going for 4-500g a pop which I will gladly take.  Dalaran seemed to have much less lag, thankfully, so hopefully things will settle down.

Questions I Have Been Pondering Lately

August 3, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Posted in DPS, General, Tanking | Leave a comment
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I’ve been pondering some questions about WoW lately and I thought I’d jot them down.  Hopefully, some of you may have the answers, or suggested resources to find the answers.  But if not, at least they’re written down somewhere so I can come back and remind myself about them when I have time. 

  1. Can a fully spec’d and geared bear out DPS a bear-spec’d slightly under-geared cat?  Or a cat wearing full tanking bear gear?  – I’ve been pondering this since some recent raids in Uludar and Naxx where I tanked, but also did DPS (on Loatheb for example).  My bear DPS is pretty consistent around 15-1700 and I was surprised to see my Cat DPS in the same ballpark, maybe a bit higher, but not obviously so.  I need to test this out on a battle dummy one of these days and see what the results are.  I know there are several factors that will come into play – bears need rage to produce DPS, can they sustain it without tanking (ala fury/arms warriors)?  And I’m not the smoothest cat in the pack – my rotation is not the best.  The bulk of my catting comes from doing quests where I’m killing widely spaced mobs, so the AP boost skill and the bleed skill aren’t second nature to me.  I will do this soon, so keep an eye out!
  2. Do I really want to roll a new druid just for the moonkin set? – Yes, the Big Bear Butt just covered it, but I swear I’ve been thinkin’ on this for some time.  I’d like to try moonkins out, but I don’t want to build up a set on Noze and I don’t want to respec just for it.  I’d rather build up a new toon completely.  Does that even make sense?   Maybe a NELF?   Probably not since I’d want to take advantage of all the heirloom gear I’ve gotten for my priest (lvl 45 wee!) 
  3. Will I ever get off the pot and roll an ally toon to see what there is to see over there? – Yes, the Big Bear Butt  (I’m not a stalker, really) just covered it, but this has been something I’ve tried several times.  I even have a bastard collection of toons on another server (gasp!).  A 30-something warrior and teen-aged pally, shammy, and mage.  But will I put the effort into it and make it work?  I dunno.  I’m not sure I want to keep up with these guys or not.  I think perhaps Anvilmar might be an option.  I can set up a pet selling syndicate in the neutral AH’s, take over the chanting mats market, and level a toon.  But which toon/race?  I’m fascinated with gnomes.  Seriously.  But I love druids (see question 3).  Humans have that reputation bonus which would rock hard.  Draeai get a hit bonus racial.  And dwarves are….well, not one of the races I’m contemplating.  And which class?  Again, so many possibilities.  Not a rogue, warlock, death knight or hunter.  I’m not a big fan of melee (unless I’m tanking) so probably not a warrior or Pally (though I’m fixated on healing lately and I want a shield).  Who k nows,  I’ve got awhile to go on Knowscrusher before I decide to start someone else.  Or maybe not.  Maybe I’ll just get bored one night and re-roll a questing alt for kicks n giggles. 
  4. Aside from the non-combat pets in the capitol cities, what Horde/Ally only items are there to sell on the neutral AH’s? There is that one ally recipe from bloodmyst isle that sells for 500g, but is that it? 

Healing the Plague Quarter

July 31, 2009 at 4:06 pm | Posted in Healing | 3 Comments
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The Big Bear Butt had a funny (as usual) and interesting (as always) post a few days ago about healing the Plague Quarter in Naxx.  For those not in the know, BBB has picked up healing recently and I’ve enjoyed his thoughts on the process. 

His post got me thinking about the plague quarter, though and how to heal it.  Well, how to heal Heigan and Loatheb specifically.  The rest is a relative cakewalk (aside from those damn gargoyles). 

I think Heigan and Loatheb both play up a druid’s strengths tremendously.  By that, I mean these fights let HoTs really shine.   How?  We’ll start with Heigan. 

During Phase 1, Heigan has a debuff that makes it last 8x longer to cast a spell.  This is a horrid debuff because even though Heigan doesn’t hit very hard, the tank does need some heals.  But this debuff doesn’t really impact the druid all that much.  Whenever I notice it on me (usually by seeing the cast bar for Regrowth stretch out waaaay to long), I just cancel the spell and refresh my HoTs.  It’s lovely because 8x instant is still instant! 

We also shine during Phase 2.  Or rather, we can if we want.  We can through out Lifeblooms and Rejuv’s liberally as we run the gauntlet (and sing Diana Ross’ “Last Dance” over vent).  Just make sure to keep an eye on one or both of your tanks.  To tell you the truth, though, I don’t heal very much during Phase 2.  I’ll try to throw out one per person or so, but no more.  Some folks just can’t do the dance.  While that’s fine, I’m not going to waste my mana delaying the ineveitable.   Yes, it’s harsh, but I love being the arbiter of life and death!

Loatheb highlights the pure joy it is to be a tree as well.  Being able to heal for 3 seconds every 20 sucks, but I also think it’s an interesting mechanic and forces us to concentrate on how we place our heals accordingly.  We want to get the maximum amount of heals done during those 3 seconds.  There are two key elements to making this happen:

  1. You want your lifebloom stacks to expire during this time.  This is key because a big portion of the healing benefit from LB comes from the bloom (is it 50%?  I’m not sure).  To have this happen, you need to make sure your last stack is applied when there is 7, 8, or 9, seconds left before the debuff resets.  Why?  Because then the bloom will trigger at 1, 2, or 3 seconds before the reset, or in other words, when the healing window is open.  Remember, this is only the last stack.  If you want a full 3 stack bloom, you need to start casting around 15 seconds or so (depending on haste) to get all 3 up in time.  Keep in mind, though, that each stack resets the timer, so you can cast one, do something else for a few seconds, then cast again.  Just make sure to get the last one in time! 
  2. Cast Regrowth so that the initial heal lands during the open window.  This is kinda like the opposite of  Lifebloom.  Here you need to start your casting 1.5-3 seconds before the window opens (depending on your haste, test this out before the fight starts). 

If you’re able to do this, you get the most out of your heals and can still get in a Nourish during the or Wild Growth as well.  Finally, remember to cast rejuvs whenever you’re not doing anything else (usually between your last LB and your Regrowth).  You should be able to fit 2-3 in on random raid members (don’t forget you self)!  

Do all that, you will keep your tank alive and go a long way towards keeping the raid up as well.

Meta Gems 4 U!

July 25, 2009 at 12:55 pm | Posted in General, Healing, Tanking, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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gemsgemsgemsgemsgems

 

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I got a nice healing headpiece this week in Uludar – Lifespark Visage.  No, it’s probably not ideal (I’m not a big fan of haste on my druid), but since it was replacing a blue (!) hat and we had no clothies wanting it, I rolled and won. 

Anyway, as I was reviewing my meta gem options, I figured it would be a good chance to blog about whats out there.  If all goes well, I’ll review feral metas as well.  Thankfully (or maybe not), there are no plans for new metas in 3.2, so this post will be relevant for a few months at least. 

Resto Meta Gems – My criteria for these are metas that have +SP as their main ingrediant.  Some may argue that +Crit gems may also apply, but they’re wrong.  With that criteria, here’s what we have

  1. Bracing Earthseige – +25SP and 2% reduced threat
  2. Ember Skyflare +25SP and + 2% intellect
  3. Forlorn Skyflare +25 SP and 10% silence duration decrease
  4. Revitalizing Skyflare 8MP5 and +3% critical healing effect
  5. Tireless Skyflare +25SP and minor run speed increase
  6. Trenchant Earthsiege +25SP and 10% stun duration decrease

The Bracing Earthseige is the standard gem for resto druids (and probably most healers).  +25SP is expected, and reduced threat is a good thing.  But is it always a good thing?  I can’t remember the last time I pulled aggro while healing.  Well, there was one fight (forget the boss) where preloaded my HoTs on the tank and the boss’ companions turned me (and the other tree in the group) into sawdust in no time flat.  And there is a boss or two where the tank spends as much time kiting as they do generating threat, but by and a large, reducing my threat further isn’t a major concern. 

The Ember Skyflare is an interesting choice adding 2% Intellect to the 25SP.  But Int isn’t a major (resto) druid stat – all it does is give us a larger mana pool and mana is of even less concern to us than threat.  Which would also seem to rule out the Revitalizing Skyflare.  Resto Druids certainly don’t need more MP5 and we’re not a crit-centered healing class (Blizzard’s efforts to the contrary). 

The Forlorn, Tireless, and Trenchant seem to be mainly PvP gems, though a silence or stun duration decrease does have it’s appeals.  Resto druids get away with a lot with all our instant cast heals and HoTs.  I love the Heigan fight, for example because I don’t really have to worry about Spell Disruption  all that much.  Yes, I avoid it, but when I see it’s on me, I just shift to renewing my HoTs until it disapates.  But we are subject to silence, of course, and stuns.  Hmmm, this brings up another question – which bosses have silence or stun attacks?  Do you know of a list anywhere?  I may put one together if I don’t find one and if there are several, one of these gems may be worthwhile. 

Well, those are the six options.  Are you as underwhelmed as I am?  I will investigate the number of bosses that silence and stun, but I’m guessing they won’t be numerous enough to justify the gems (or else I’d be able to rattle off 3-4 of them by name).  So for me, it looks like I’ll be sticking with the Bracing Earthseige.  Reduced threat ain’t all that, but it’s better than the alternatives. 

Feral Meta Gems – My criteria for these metas are much broader than for my resto gems.  Why?  Simply because there are many more desirable effects for tanks on the metas – armor boosts, dodge increases, stamina, etc.

  1. Austere Earthsiege +32 Stamina and +2% armor from items
  2. Destructive Skyflare +25 Crit rating and 1% spell reflection
  3. Effulgent Skyflare +32 Stamina and 2% reduction in spell damage taken
  4. Invigorating Earthsiege +42AP and occasional heal on crits
  5. Powerful Earthsiege +32 Stamina and 10% reduced stun duration
  6. Relentless Earthsiege +21 Agi and +3% crit damage

Hmm, I woulda thought there were more.  But let’s look at what we have. 

The Austere Earthsiege is the standard gem for beaer tanks and it’s easy to see why.  Tanks can NEVER have enough stamina or armor.  True, armor doesn’t affect magic damage which seems to be all the WOTLK rave these days, but still, HP+Armor=good.  The Effulgent Skyflare may give it a run for the money though.  Instead of an armor boost, it reduces spell damage taken.  As we just discussed, there’s lots of magic and spell damage floating out there that just flits through armor.  This is a very good gem indeed.  Better than Austere?  Maybe. 

When Savage Defense came out, I took a look at the Destructive Skyflare and other crit-boosting gems.  Then I realized that SD procs as much as possible with my current crit rating (thank you swipe spam!) and so more crit wasn’t needed.  As for the spell reflection?  Well, if anything, I’d prefer the spell damage reduction of the Effulgent.  The Invorgorating Earthsiege would be much more attractive if it boosted Stam instead of AP.  And if the occasional heal didn’t have an internal CD.  In the comments for this gem, it seems the heal is about 2% of the total (~750-800hp) which wouldn’t be bad if it proc’d frequently, but it seems to have a 45 second CD which makes the heal nearly useless.  So skip this one.

When I was stacking agility, the Relentless Earthsiege was my choice.  The 3% crit damage boost was a nice bonus and extra threat.  Now that agility is being nerfed (along with dodge), it falls way to the back of the pack along with the Powerful Earthsiege.  I didn’t take Primal Tenacity

Crit Crap Go

July 25, 2009 at 11:28 am | Posted in General, Healing | 2 Comments
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Crit

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Crit is a great stat in WoW, but I’m not a big fan of it for healing, especially for Druids, but I think it applies to the other healing classes to some extent as well. 

People love to exclaim their big crits – and huge numbers help kill the boss more quickly.  But do healing crits help keep the tank alive?  I’m going to argue that they don’t and my main argument is the fact that you can’t count on crits to happen when you need them.  In fact, you need to assume they won’t happen and this reduces their impact when they do happen. 

Huh?

Let’s use a simple example.  Say a tank has 35k HP and your healing spells heal for 5k a pop (on average) and your crits go for 15k (on average).  You need to plan your spells based on repairing 5k a cast, right?  You want a spell to land when the tank  has 26-29k HP.  That will top him off nicely.    If a crit lands, some of it will completely top off the tank at 100% but most of it will be wasted overheals.  If you plan for a 15k crit, though, then you can wait until the tank drops to 20K and you’ll still top him off.  But if it doesn’t happen?  What if that 15K crit is just a normal 5k heal?  Now your tank is at 25K and you’re two heals ‘behind.’  

I know the example is over simplified and doesn’t take into account many, many factors.  But the fact remains that anticipating a crit will leave you scrambling to catch up when it doesn’t happen and if you don’t plan for them, they will be largely wasted when they do happen. 

For me, I’d much rather be able to have a higher ‘base heal’ (i.e. 7k instead of 5k in the example above) and a smaller crit amount (12k instead of 15k) because that enables me to maintain a higher level of consistent healing.  I’d also be able to heal longer because I won’t be spamming heals and wasting mana in an effort to recover from a ‘missed’ crit. 

What do you think?  I’d be especially interested in Pally healers since they are the class that seems to crave crit more than the others.  What happens when the big nuke heal doesn’t land?

Bagman

July 16, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
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bags

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Eblis has been making the Glacial Bags for a couple months now.  It’s not the easiest process in the world – it takes four moonshrouds and four ebonweaves and THOSE are on a 3 day CD.  So that means it takes you about 2 weeks to make a single bag.  Whenever I make one, though, I’m not sure what to do with it.  It is the biggest bag in the game (along with Haris Pilton’s Bag Gigantique and the unique Dragon Hide Bagoff Sarth) so it should be in big demand right?  Well, not really.  The mats for the bag run around 800g and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were closer to 900g or more on many servers.  That’s a steep price for what is, in effect, 2 extra slots.  So steep, in fact, that they don’t sell for 800g or 700g or even 650g. 

So I’ve sent a few around to my main toons to use.  Eblis has a couple and so does Nozecrusher, but now I’m debating if I want to fully deck out those two (and then all my toons) with these bags.  I mean, do I need those 2 (then 4 then 6 then 8 and up)extra slots?  How badly do I need extra space? 

There’s an old saying that goes something like this – the amount of space you have is how much junk you will accumulate.  I’m find that’s definitely true at home, at work, and even in WoW.  I’ve got various rep tokens from the one time I went to AQ-40 and ZG.  I’ve got sanguine hibiscus and bog lord tendrils and marks of sargeras in case one of my alts wants to go back and get those reps.  But they won’t.  But I just haven’t gotten around to cleaning out my bags and getting rid of that flotsam and jetsam.

Nozekrusher has the biggest claim on space since he has an entire bag devoted to gear (and sometimes two bags if I’m not sure if he’ll be healing or tanking).  But honestly, he doesn’t need any more space.  Raids and instances are set up now to not have tons of junk dropping to fill up slots so I can do a full heroic or two or three with just a half frostweave bag worth of empty space (about 12 spaces) or so.  It’s even easier with my tundra mammoth which lets me sell my junk off quickly and easily. 

Some folks are pack rats – they still have quest rewards from the Crossroads sitting in their bank or messages and supply crates they never got around to delivering – so I won’t claim to know how many bag slots everyone should have, but I will say there’s a definate economic consequence for bigger and bigger bags. 

Netherweave bags are the standard alt bags at the moment.  At 16 slots, they’re nearly unfillable for questing alts.  You can hold all your quest items, food, elixirs, drinks, extra gear, replaced gear and tons of grey and white items and still have room to spare.  Plus, they’re very easy to make (just one stack of NW cloth per bag and a thread) and therefore cheap (~10g a bag).  So decking out a new alt with new bags will run you around 50g, or about 4 dailies.  The Imbued Netherweaves, by contrast cost around 50-60g each, mainly because they take more mats to make and those mats are more difficult to obtain because they come from outside professions or require farming.  Not many folks will pay 250-300g for an extra 10 bag slots.  Frostweave bags are the current standard.  They take a lot of mats, but those are readily available (3 stacks of frostweave cloth and 12 infinite dusts), but they’re definitely not cheap, running 85-95g each.  This is the bag for your main, of course, but you’d think long and hard about equipping your alts with them.  (I’ll admit I have, but mostly because I had extra bags to spare).  

Keep in mind that we haven’t even touched on bank bags yet.  These are just the 5 bags we carry around (or is it 4 with the backpack?  nuts, I’m not sure, so I’ll keep going with 5).  Keep adding up all these bags  and you’re talking about serious gold, for what is, in effect, just two extra slots per bag.  True, that’d be a full 10 extra slots with a complete upgrade of your carrying bags but is it worth it?  If you make the jump from Netherweaves to Frostweaves, you’ll gain 20 extra slots which is nothing to sneeze at, of course.  But it’ll cost you close to 500g to make it happen.  Is it worth it?  That’s your choice. 

Back to the Glacial Bags.  For me, I don’t think it’s worth the huge cost for just a few more bag slots.  And since that seems to be a common sentiment since no one seems willing to shell out the gold for them.  So since I won’t use them, and I can’t sell them, I guess I won’t make them, which is a shame since I was really looking forward to those bags. 

And what about the “Seaweave Bags” or whatever from the next expansion?  I’m sure there will be a 22 slot basic bag us tailors can make, and hopefully they won’t be too difficult to make.  Will I deck my toons out with them?  To be honest I couldn’t say right now.

Does Balance Have to Mean Everyone Can Do Everything Every Time Equally Well?

July 15, 2009 at 3:58 pm | Posted in General | 2 Comments
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I don’t think it does.  Blizzard has been wrapping itself around the axle trying to get every spec in every class capable of doing every thing it was ever imagined doing as well as every other spec in every other class that has ever been viewed as capable of doing the same thing. 

My question is why? 

What’s wrong with having a PvP tree or spec?  What’s wrong with having healers that excel in one areas – insta-cast HoTs for a druidic example, but lack in other areas (AoE healing).  What’s wrong with having DPS classes that are definitively better than hybrid classes?   I know, I know, Bring the Player, Not the Class, diversity in roles opens up the game to more players, yadda yadda yadda.  But I think Blizzard does this with dual specs and their attempts to homogenize the game further takes away the uniqueness each class brings to the game. 

Let’s look at warriors.  They have their three trees are protection, fury, and arms, right?  Protection is the ‘tanking’ tree, obviously enough.  The bulk of the extra threat, extra armor, health-boosting talents are there.  But what about fury and arms?  Do warriors really need 2 different DPS specs?  Is there such a surplus of tanks that we want to stack our raids with Titan-gripped and Mortal Striking warriors?  It used to be that Arms was the ‘PvP’ spec because of Mortal Strike and Fury was the PvE spec because, well, it wasn’t Arms I guess.  But why was that so wrong?  Where is the huge difference between the two trees that it’s unreasonable for Blizzard to say – “we’ll ensure Arms is balanced for PvP and Fury is balanced for PvE.  You can play how you want, but don’t come crying to us if your Arms DPS lags in Uludar or your Fury resilience won’t stop a murlock icebolt.”elephant balancing

Back in the day, respecc’ing for PvE and PvP on a near daily basis was a pain, but that’s not the case anymore.  With dual specs, a warrior could save his PvE spec and PvP spec (or DPS and tanking or tanking/PvP) and be done with it.

The same goes for roles within the game, I think.  Why does every healer have to be just as good as every other healer at everything?  Shaman were once kings (and queens) of AOE healing.  They had enough extra to heal 5-mans, but if you had 3 resto shaman heading into Kara, you were most likely heading into trouble.  The same was true with Druids and Pallys.  Druids could cast on the run and their heals lasted through silences and other interrupts making them perfect for moving fights and PvP but their ability to handle spike damage was limited.  Pallys were the nuke healers – you put them on the tank and let them spam away.  Pallys couldn’t top off a raid or an off tank with a small quick heal though.  And Priests were the jack of all trades but master of none – they had a few HoTs, but not as many or as effective as druids.  They had some AOE and big nuke heals, but not at the level of Shammys and Pallys.  If you had to have 3 of any class of healer, you wanted 3 priests for that kara run. 

But here’s the thing – all four healing classes were in demand, weren’t they?  Of course they were – they’re healers!  But even with raiding – is anyone going to not have a raid if they don’t have a perfect healing setup?  No!  They’ll go with what they have.  But having that niche – knowing that the raid knows that the tank won’t die because he’s got pally heals, or raid damage won’t be a problem because a Shaman is on the scene?  That’s a good feeling to have. 

The only exception to this, that I can see, is tanking.  A tank, any tank, should be able to handle any fight thrown at them (unless it’s a special Gruul’s Mage tank-like exception).  You don’t want to be forced to bring a specific class of tank for a specific fight only then to switch them out again once the boss is dead.  I don’t think, though that all 4 tank classes need to be main tank material, for lack of a better phrase.  Let’s take druids.  I love tanking as a druid, but we’re the best OTs in the game – why not enhance us to excel there instead of forcing dodge nerfs here and HP buffs there to balance us with our plate wearing brethren?  Why not make it easier to pop into cat form and do better DPS in the middle of a fight than any other tank class, then switch back to bear form when the adds come?  We’d still have our place in raids, wouldn’t we?  Throw DKs into that mix – a presence shift and they go from aggro to DPS.  Wouldn’t that make it easier on the design team?   

These defined roles won’t break BTPNTC either.  Take a look at any guild recruiting post.  Are they looking for healers?  Tanks?  Nope.  They’re looking for Resto Druids or Prot Warriors or Holy Pallys or whatever.  They still want the class!  Why?  Because there is still enough uniqueness among the healers and tanks (and DPS, believe it or not) that specific classes help more than others in certain roles.  Blizzard should embrace that instead of work against it. 

However, thchair balancee biggest problem – the biggest imbalance if you’ll pardon the pun – remains PvP.  Some classes own other classes.  I don’t necessarily mind this as long as it’s circular and no single class cannot be dominated by another.  As long as it’s Druids who tend to own Shaman who tend to own Death Knights who tend to own Hunters who tend to own Rogues who tend to own Mages who tend to own Priests who tend to own Warlocks who tend to own Warriors who tend to own Palladins who tend to own Druids, I’m ok with that.  It creates rivalries and encourages outside the box thinking to beat your nemesis.  And when you do?  You are very very happy.  Unfortunately that’s not the case.  Some classes are so completely dominated by so many other classes, they just aren’t viable in PvP at all.  This is because Blizzard is trying to get all trees to work perfectly for PvP when they should be focusing on getting one per class right. 

Establishing acknowledged PvP trees would allow game designers to address PvP issues without impacting PvE play, and vice versa.  Lets say Mage DPS is too low in raids for example (I don’t know if it is nor not, it’s just an example).  Right now, designers can’t buff raid DPS without fearing that it will then make them overpowered in PvP.  But if there was a defined PvP tree (and PvE trees by consequence), the designers could adjust a talent deep in a PvE tree to buff raid DPS.  This talent would be unreachable for PvP specs.  A big reason DKs were so overpowered in PvP was because the talents they need to tank raid bosses made them effectively unkillable in BGs and Arena.  With a set PvP tree, Blizzard could offer a more desirable set of PvP-centered talents instead.  What is more desireable than being unkillable I don’t know, but you get the idea. 

PvP trees makes addressing PvP problems easier as well.  Too little resilience in the game?  No problem, a lvl 50 talent that boosts resilience could be buffed.  Too much resilience in the game after 4 seasons of arena gear?  Nerf that talent a bit. 

I doubt Blizzard will adopt PvP trees or go back to embracing differences among healers or tanks or DPS anytime soon.  But I do have hope that as they start to run out of fingers needed to plug the dam of class balance, they’ll reconsider having a WoW wetlands and let each class compliment and conquer the others.  Just as nature intended. 

What about you?  Do you like how Blizzard is balancing the classes and roles?  Will they ever get it ‘just right’?  or even ‘close enough’?

WoW! I’m on WoW!

July 10, 2009 at 1:46 pm | Posted in General | 1 Comment
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Marked Readers -

I’m proud to say that WoW.com has linked to my Druid Flight Form entry.  Thanks to Allison Robert for the link and welcome to any new readers. 

Here’s hoping you check back regularly.

Hunterz R Srsz Bznz

July 10, 2009 at 1:35 pm | Posted in DPS, General | Leave a comment
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troll

Marked Readers -

I logged on last night and there was a call to run regular DTK in guild chat.  My hunter Nosecrusher is 75 atm and I thought it would be fun to take him for a spin so I signed up.  I hadn’t done much with Nose in awhile and I’m not sure why – just a lack of motivation I guess. 

Anyway I switched over and jumped on the taxi to Gul’Drak.  (I ALWAYS get those two confused)  After I was summoned we started the run and I immediately knew I was in trouble.  We wiped on the second pull for some reason.  I’ll chalk it up to the fact that we were all playing on little used alts and were still getting the hang of things.  I died on the third pull because of a stupid ashtray (which was black and blended perfectly with it’s surroundings – stealth ash trays FTL!

The entire run, though, I never really felt comfortable.  My rotation was OK such as it is – poison sting and arcane/steady/group shot as CDs’ are up.  But I was always afraid my pet would inadvertently get sent off somewhere and pull a big bunch of whupass on us.  Or that I would mistakenly target the wrong mob and pull the next group too soon.  Or any number of other things – most of which actually happened last night. 

We finished the run and went our seperate ways and I couldn’t help but feeling both a little embarassed and more than a little sad.  Embarassed because I did not do my job well and that’s something I pride myself in doing, and I think is expected of me in the guild.  I should have done better than I did.  I was also sad because I remember the days when I did do better on Nose.  He was my first toon and my first 70.  I made my first forays into Kara on him and was very (and justifiably) proud of my chain trapping skills and unique Survival build.    But he’d been left too long unused.  The druid came up and quickly became my main toon and Nose gathered dust – tanks and healers were needed, DPS could always be found. 

When Wrath came out, I decided to level Eblis as my first alt because his tailoring had faction-specific recipes I wanted him to get.  Plus, I’d played him a lot leading up to Wrath and enjoyed the class.  So again, Nose languished.  And still does.  He’ll get to 80 eventually, I’m sure, but I see him now as more of a solo toon and an extra 2 profession slots. 

Hunters have a well known reputation as being EZ mode in WoW.  It’s the class that girlfriends and little brothers play and because it’s so easy to level with them due to their pets, many hunters get to the endgame without really knowing how to play.  While playing a hunter may be easy, especially solo; playing a hunter well definitely is not.  Your pet needs to be kept on a tight leash or else it can cause a lot of trouble – more trouble than it’s worth sometimes.  In addition to knowing when to send the pet into a fight (at the right target, of course), you also have to watch it’s health and happiness and what not.  All the while, you’re also watching your mana and health and avoiding ashtrays and looking out for adds etc.  It’s almost like playing two toons simultaneously.   All of which used to pose no significant problems for me – when I had time and actually played the class. 

I don’t think this is unique to hunter alts – any class you don’t play in a long time will take some re-learning.  I have similar feelings when I switch to resto on Noze after a long stretch as feral and vice versa.  It takes a quick heroic to get me into the swing of things.  I’m sure I could regain that comfort zone with Nose as well, if I played him more.  But I don’t and I don’t think thats going to change anytime soon.  :(

I do have a newfound respect for hunters though.  The good ones that is.  There are still plenty of huntards out there (unfortunately, Nosecrusher is close to being among them) but the truly good ones – who dish out hella DPS and never cause a problem in the raid.  Those folks rock. 

And I just saw this article in WoW on the decline of the hunter as a played/main class.  Somewhat related and an interesting development if it persists.  It also says that hunters remain a popular alt toon which sort of flies in the face of my premise :S

Druid Flight Form – The MOST OPest Thing Ever Done! EVAR!!

July 7, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Posted in General | 15 Comments
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Flight form

Marked Readers -

Blizzard hit a home run with Druid Flight Form.  No, I take that back, they hit a freaking grand slam.  No, I take THAT back.  They hit a freaking grand slam down 3 with 2 out in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 of the World Series. 

Against the Yankees. 

Every class has their own thing that makes them unique – the thing that makes them ‘OP’ in the eyes of anyone who doesn’t play that class.  Pally’s with their bubble, hunters with their pets, etc.  But Druid flight form (DFF) is the perfect blend of uniqueness and OPness without skewing core gameplay.  DFF won’t win you any duels or let you slack in Uludar or let you complete 3-man group quests alone.  What DFF does do is make the rest of the game – the travel, the farming, you know, the boring stuff, that much easier to handle.  For example, I was Jacking Some Lumber yesterday and as always after I clicked on the axe to chop down the tree, I popped into DFF before the tree spirit spawned and could attack.  As I flew on to the next tree, I saw someone else – a non-druid – chop a tree down and then have to spend the 10 seconds needed to kill the spirit.  By that time, I had chopped down another tree and was flying away from the spirit.  Thats when I knew I had to list

THE TEN BEST THINGS ABOUT DRUID FLIGHT FORM

  1. Its instant cast.  This is the key to many of the other items below, but it deserves it’s own mention.  Right at #1.  I still chuckle after the group I kill Chillmaw with heads south to the Citadel.  I just pop into DFF and fly away while the other saps have to wait 3 seconds to jump on their mount.  Love that headstart!
  2. Harder to be dismount (impossible?).  I don’t know if I’ve ever been dismounted while in DFF, though I won’t say that for sure.  It’s possible that it’s happened while flying over Honor Hold or some other puke ally town.  What I do know is that it’s much harder to knock me back into human  (cow?) form than if I were riding some drake or something.  And if I am dismounted?  Well, that’s fine because I can
  3. Cast while falling – yes, this goes back to the instant cast bit at the top of the list, but this is vitally important.  Ever accidentally fallen out of Naxx’s summoning chamber?  or the citadel?  Or even done it intentionally?  Anyway, that ‘Up Up and Away’ feeling is tough to beat.  Jumping off a random cliff, falling out of sight (and mind), then come soaring back up.  That’s pretty cool.  Also, this leads to
  4. Gravity Chicken!  Yes, other classes can play this – priests, mages and maybe pallys, but ours are the most noticable.  How do you play?  Well, we used to gather in Shatt’s Terrace of Light, fly up out the middle spire as high as you could, then pop into boomkin form and free fall.  The last druid to pop into DFF (without going splat) wins.  I made a lot of gold (and paid a lot of repair bills) playing Gravity Chicken.
  5. Flight at 68 – Its only 2 levels, I know.  And since folks head to Northrend at 68, it may not have as much impact these days, but back in Outland days, this was a HUGE headstart on the other classes.  You have access to everything that requires flight, of course, but you also get a jump on farming which helps you make gold and boost your professions.  And speaking of farming –
  6. Farming! – I can’t imaging farming without being a druid.  Well, I can imagine it because I’ve done it, but I hate it.  You have to dismount for each node, then it takes 3 seconds to re-mount then you have to dismount again.  In addition to the time lost, it’s just a choppy visual to switch constantly from being on a big drake (or other mount) to standing on the ground (possibly with a pet of some sort).  Druids cannot mine while in DFF, but they can (or could, has this been changed?) pick flowers.  But even when mining, the visual is better than with other classes because the image size isn’t changed as much.  And on a practical level, having that 3 second head start to the next node can’t be underestimated. 
  7. No other flying mount needed – ever – I don’t have the netherwing drake.  I don’t care that my guild didn’t do the Naxx or Uludar hard modes in time to get whatever drakes they’re handing out.  I don’t feel compelled to take up engineering for the copter.  That entire line of achievements holds zero appeal to me.  Why?  Because I’ve already got the best flying mount in the game. 
  8. Best looking druid form – While this may be debatable once the new druid forms are implemented in 3.2, right now, and for as long as it has existed, DFF has been, hands down, the best looking form available to druids.  Say what you want about their dance, boomkins look like a hay bale with sticks. 
    Hay bale or Boomkin - you decide

    Hay bale or Boomkin - you decide

    We don’t even need to mention bear and cat form, and the tree of life, while a great form if you’re looking for an old-ladyish looking mascot, still reminds me of a bunch of asparagus. 

  9. Jacking some lumber - And all quests like it.  Just hit n’ go (btw, hit your DFF button with ~0.5 seconds left in the chop and you’re golden.  You’ll be in combat for a second, but will leave combat as you fly away). 
  10. Awesome quest line - Just as with getting flight 2 levels early, this doesn’t have much impact today.  3.1 removed the requirement to do this quest line, which I can understand.  But that doesn’t take away from the sheer coolness of this chain.  It was just long enough to get you involved, but not so long it was tedious.  It was hard, but not impossible.  You had to use all of your skills – tank, melee, caster, healer. 

So there you have it.  My ode to the Druid Flight Form.  Kudos, Blizzard developers and thank you for a good job well done.  

What about you, Marked Readers?  Anything about DFF that makes you incredibly happy to be a druid (and to laugh at anyone who isn’t?)

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