Friday, December 31, 2010

Three against... What?!

It was the night before New Year's Eve, when the Three Stooges took off again. With some fuzz with the contents of their bags they rummaged through the auction houses, banks, inns and stores of Stormwind, weeping for their trusty Northrend purples which had gone stale with the new, shiny greens of Cataclysm.

With much rage and crying they set their foot in Blackrock Caverns, the place they so fittingly died in the last time they were around.

"Off we go", claimed Laiskajaakko, as he entered the Cavern with Bishopgeorge. Without much ado he launched to the first caster mob, unaware of the fact that his brother had just exited the instance to show Förgelös, the middle one, where the Caverns entrance is.

Score: 1-0 for the instance.

Much rage and laughter commenced, as the three of them proceeded the instance. The first 'boss' with his lovely chains of appreciation caused the second death in the trio, when Bishopgeorge - instead of running straight - decided to run in circles around the feller. In the end, Laiskajaakko had only ten or so hit points left when the big bad boss went down, with all the cooldowns gone and potions chugged.

Score: 2-1 for the instance.

Onwards behind the shoulders of Raz the Insane or whatever his nickname was, and down the tunnel to Corla, that damned priest of the dark forces. The encounter is definitely done to humiliate us who want to have a real challenge in the instance, because it's quite impossible to complete at this level, with the dps available to the gear available. There just isn't enough dps to kill the beast beauty with the standard combination of the holy trinity: tank - dps - healer. I say standard, because none of us is a hybrid, nor do we have any pets to play with, pets which most of the time bring another party member to the foray, really.

Naturally it was a wipe. Twice even, even though we tried to rotate the one standing in the light ("Don't look into the light!").

Score: 8-1 for the instance.

"The heck with it", decided Bishopgeorge, and as the group leader put us into the LFD. Which, amazingly enough, filled the group before we got back from the spirit healer. (Ok, well, almost.)

And the instance was a breeze. The only problem was the fact that Laiskajaakko had never been in the instance before, so every boss was a new experience. There were wipes and deaths, but in the end the final verdict was that the instance was easy but designed so that it would be a real challenge for the three of us at anytime soon.

Score: 20 - 6, for the instance.

After which it was time to recuperate in the gentle care of Stormwind. Over the instance run there was next to no chat, no help, no advice from the two extra members, even though they had been in there several times. Laiskajaakko had to ask for guidance in Corla (ok, so the debuff's wear off, thank you) and that furnace master feller (now I know I have to drag him through the lava, thank you for telling that to me after the first wipe even though I asked). Without the constant chit-chat over the vent among the three of us, the instance experience would have been very, very shallow and dry.

Due to the fact that you have to know where the entrance is, the three decided that it was time for Bishopgeorge and Förgelös to gain their Sea Legs and Sea Horse. They went for the boat, stood on the same pier, but couldn't see each other: the glorious side effect of the phasing system. Upon reaching Vashj'ir the two landlubbers started doing the quests as planned, while Laiskajaakko did some mining and monster bashing, granting the two 'off-phased' brothers some extra experience. Which was nice and everyone was joyous.

Long story short, the three rode into the Throne of the Tides and engaged the first boss in there. That Nazga or what her name is. Anyhow, we got our behinds handed to us in a very grand and typical manner, as Bishopgeorge missed the healing que while yawning loudly, wiping first Laiskajaakko (Heals, please, Hello!) then Förgelös (Could we really have some heals here, please?!) in rapid succession. The only excuse was... "hmmmh... aye, that was partly the fault of the player, partly... hmmh..."

So we called it a night.

Förgelös put it nicely, and I have to agree with him on every word. You see, he said: "Despite everything Copra/Laiskajaakko claims and writes in his blog, one has to admit that the developers at Blizzard have really put some effort to the new areas and instances. So much so that you can really see that the polish isn't just skin deep."

Like I said, agreed. And I have never denied that WoW is extremely well done, polished and completed with great care.

It's good to end the blogging year with these warm words and wish all of you readers a very nice New Year.

C out

Thursday, December 30, 2010

On challenge in WoW

I've mentioned already this week that there seems to be less and less challenge in the game, especially Cataclysm has taken majority of the solo game challenges off. The railroaded themepark questlines are so secure and sure to guide new player through the 1-60 to the great unknown, unchanged Outlands which stands suspended in time out there.

At no particular point there is any considerable challenge presented to the player, not even the 15-50 instances provide any meaningful challenge to the groups at that level due to the fact that the players mostly overgear the content. I've also noticed that there are usually one or two characters in a random group at the 45-55 range (at least) who are either a couple of levels higher or lower than the rest. This in turn means that the ones lower get carried through and the ones higher get to carry the rest.


There are challenges in WoW later on, and a quite huge amount of them, really. Let's list some of them for discussion:

  1. Run only LFD PUGs and not lose your temper at all.
  2. Endure a jerk in a random LFD group.
  3. Gear up after getting into level cap.
  4. Gear up for raiding, even though it is now possible both by doing heroics AND normals.
  5. Find the right strategy guide and accompanying videos to heroics and raid instances.
  6. Learn the instances by heart before committing to them, see 4.
  7. Learn the raids by heart before committing to them, see 4.
  8. Play some minigame while waiting for a random group and beating yourself every time, unless you are blessed with a guild running at the same level and progression.
  9. Do not leave a group in an instance in which no-one understands the basics of crowd control at all. This applies to the instances from Dire Maul onwards, really, only to be forgotten in Outlands.
  10. Level outside the pre-planned storyline.
  11. Level without killing anything.
As you can see, learning to play your class isn't included. Naturally. That is not a challenge, that means only that by going through the quests and questlines you should have learned everything there is to learn. At level cap you should be a master already, even though it takes 10.000 hours to master anything

We all know it doesn't take 10 000 hours to level from 1 to 85 anymore, though...

Anything else I forgot to mention as a challenging thing in WoW?

C out

PS. I know a certain German reader who will point out that 'to have fun' would be one, but I doubt I wouldn't be playing the game still if I didn't have at least some kind of fun with it, right?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Not at all!

I admit, the lasts few posts have been the same old me again: complaints and critiques of the game as it appears to me. This post is supposed to be something completely different. Not at all like the previous ones.

First of all, my first contact with the Shattering was in fact a new alt, an Undead Hunter with whom I blasted to level 18 I think. What a joyous ride that was! The quests flow from the beginning in such a way that you are really 'living up' a story of an up and coming hero rather than one of the guys at the cemetery, like it earlier seemed to be. The phasing provides a pull which is otherwise impossible to achieve and you really see the world change from a scene to scene.

After playing the worgen and goblin starter areas and seeing the gnome starter, I can say that the beginning player's starting experience has been streamlined and polished to the extreme. The only pitfall in this is the possibility that the starter areas are lacking the challenge one would expect to see in a world torn by constant war and strife.

But the biggest fun came later on with the Undead: there is this particular quest at the border of Silverpine Forrest and Hillsbrad area, where you get to be the questgiver. And you get to had three quests to three different kinds of characters. No more spoilers, but this quest was the first time in the game where I laughed with tears in my eyes to a scripted event. And the follow ups with the questees later on were a cracker, too, but not the way the original quest would have suggested...

At the high end levelling areas one cannot be but amazed of the quality, continuity and flow of the story itself, and contrary to what Blizzard said about quest hubs (something like "players want to see their minimap blinking with yellow exclamation marks"), they condensed the hubs instead: only few quests usually doable in the same area and at the same time, continuing the story or two simultaneously only to be finalized in a sort of climatic encounter before leaving for the next area. Well, the same worked in the new revamped 1-60 quests, too, but in the end levels it's even more profound.

What really warmed up my cold heart was the fact that the crafted gear is again worth a thought: even the first BoE gear which is craftable by a blacksmith are worth the while. I replaced WotLK purples with the first three pieces I could do and without a single doubt! I haven't checked the other crafts yet, but I bet that the tailors have the same situation at their hands as soon as they get enough cloth in their hands. I can only hope that this continues to the cap, because it would seem a waste to be subjected to the instance and point gear only.

In saying that Blizzard provided more of the same you would be making an underestimation: they provided even more of the same, but with some very innovative approaches. However, in railroading the play experience the game has taken quite a few steps towards the massive multiplayer solo game, and by doing that the group content will suffer the most in the end: people just do not know how to cope with the group content, blasting away with the ways they have learned while soloing. Then again, one of the nifty little things Blizzard provided the players with are the progressing quest chains: you get both experience and the next quest of the chain on the fly, and these combined with the instance create a very, very interesting concept. The same system has been used in the wilds where you may find a quest while doing another (triggered by random kill or an area like a cavern) which liven up the questing itself, giving you the illusion of free form or sandbox quests.

If we think of Cataclysm from the newcomers point of view, then the overall experience has improved to cater the complete noob in a fantasy game: it provides interaction, specified and achievable quest targets and guides and ushers you onwards with the story and out into the world. The ongoing storylines really push you beyond the earlier level 10 barrier Blizzard reported, as they continue way beyond that limit.

So from the newcomers point of view, Cataclysm made WoW even better.

For the veteran quester who has seen the content up to WotLK the new levelling experience is a refreshing change to the old one, providing new insight into some quest types and using phasing as a real tool in advancing the story. Also the fact that you have to find the instances in real before you can queue to them via the Dungeon Finder is a refreshing thing, and urges people either to go through the quest lines in the area to reach the conclusion in the instance or to explore the area to find the entrance. As I haven't reached the cap yet (only lv83) I cannot say what changes in there, but I expect it will be even more of the same as it was in WotLK, causing me to turn my face on working with my alts.

All in all, Cataclysm turned WoW into a roller coaster which urges you to go by the numbers. It's not a bad thing considering the changing customer base, but it's not exactly what the genre requires to improve as whole. I for one am having the feeling that by streamlining the system Blizzard has gotten rid of the danger and challenge in questing, and for me it is not enough to have that sense of challenge in the heroic instances alone.

So for the next time I would love to see some sense of challenge, possibility to fail even if you do your best and more emphasis on group content. By this I'm not saying that the instance content is bad, quite the opposite: the instances I've been so far are top notch and entertaining, the bosses are different and have various mechanics and all. But the change from WotLK facerolling with AoE damage to the crowd control required style seems to be too abrupt for the majority of the players and the questing and levelling content doesn't help the players to understand this change.

Was that pep enough for a change?

C out

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No sandbox

I have been wondering the same thing over and over, especially now as I have tried to start a total pacifist project. How WoW actually guides, ushers and urges us players to do things in certain ways.

The actual social tools are adequate at best, and the game mechanics teach us from the first level on to mind our own business, solo everything we encounter and kill all sorts of creatures to advance. Later on we're taught to steal from inns (look at the Dalaran cooking quests!), that torturing is ok if someone else says it's ok (Kirin Tor quest in Northrend) and so on. Even the Heroics late in WotLK taught us that it's ok to be a jerk as long as the mobs die.

Now the issue I'm having at the moment is the fact that the game requires us to kill, maim and destroy from the beginning. You cannot start a worgen without going through the worgen starter area, which requires you to kill in the second quest. And you cannot skip any quests or you get stuck with the starter Gilneas for good. It's like an island, ending in digital void all around. I have pictures to show that, maybe I'll enter them in here later on.

So I started another 'new' class combo: gnome priest. And guess what?

The first quest is to kill 6 deranged gnomes. You cannot skip that quest, but at least you can get out of Gnomeregan to the Real World by just skipping all the starter quests. But then you are gimped from the beginning: the quests out there start from level 2 or 3, so you are out there with your lv1 toon, fiddling your fingers.

So I've been running around the world and I've been able to get to level 3 by now, with much more played time than you'd require for the normal level 5. And the worst thing? As I haven't been able to do more quests than the few delivery quests, I don't have any money to purchase herbalism which would be both an experience source and money maker.

WoW definitely is no sandbox game to pass your time. Everything you want to do outside the theme park box gets you in deep end of the pond and there is no real light at the end of the tunnel.

Maybe I should transfer some gold from my banker to this toon to get going?

C out

Monday, December 27, 2010

I don't have the guts

Christmas came and went: now we're trying to suffer the rest of the fabulous food that we just couldn't eat up. Oh, yes, and I'm back at work, filing things.

The little time I spent playing went to doing some secondary things, like working on AH, starting a non-violent pacifist gnome priest and levelling some unnecessary tradeskills on my secondary toon, my spriest. I have been deliberately avoiding taking my warrior out of the closet, because I am confused, scared and mixed up with the tanking in the new instances.

I just do not have the guts to take up on a PUG to run the instances.

The reason is the same as it was with the WotLK endgame instances and taking up on raiding: I fear that I'm not good enough to do it and that I ruin the evening - or the instance - for the rest of the group whom I will never meet again.

The change in the way how tanking goes changed quite a bit, at least in my book. The last few heroics after the Shattering (before Cataclysm hit) really showed me that I just couldn't handle several rampant mobs at a time: to let one pass is two misses too many for me. When I'm tanking I want to have things under control, and nothing should go past my presence. "Thou shall not pass!"

But... the run with the Stooges and my two PUG's with my shadow priests showed me that even though the instances are pretty simple - especially the trash mobs - I can't expect to keep all the threat on me all the time. Blackrock Caverns was pretty simple but the Three Stooges will have hard time with the encounters later on where one has to be tied to the beam, you know what I mean. But as a tank in a PUG... not my bowl of porridge. Throne of the Tides is even worse, as some of the boss encounters evolve around the idea of multiple mobs spawning around the area: the group - which was two-three levels higher than my spriest, but I still scored the second highest dps... - wiped twice due to mismanaged aggro and lack of attention from the druid tank. Knowing the lack of area threat generation of a protection warrior, I can't see myself enjoying the red Threat Plates on my screen alongside the screams of agony from the group members. And accusations after that.

Oh, I know. There is this group of people who say that because you are in a guild you shouldn't have to PUG at all. Sadly the majority - read all - of the active guild are at the cap already, running heroic modes: knowing how nice it was to go through the same instance time and again, there is bound to be next to no interest to return to the normals after gaining the option to run a heroic. I'm assuming this and I doubt I'm too much off with this.

So, I'll just level up by questing which is nice. With the current rate of advancement I'll be off the boat once again.

Only because I don't have the guts to ruin others day by messing around in my tanking.

C out

Friday, December 17, 2010

Three rode to Mt. Hyjal and found themselves in Blackrock Mountain

Oh, well. Back to business. The three stooges nights are the highlights of my WoW playing, definitely, even though last week started to look like something that was not too appealing. Questing among thousand others, trying to steal kills and bosses and just trying to be the fastest in a mini-instance - or elemental realm or whatever they are - to get the quests done.

Last night started as one such thing. Questing among not-so-friendly competitors. The darn hurry rubs on very fast, especially after you try to kill ten foozles and notice that someone picks them up with a dot just before you charge into them.

I was ready to kill after two such quests. Add to that the fact that at least three Obsidian nodes were stolen from me as I was fighting the mob guarding it.

Then we got to the same mini-instance and the recognition was immediate. The instance was a tribute to ancient game called Joust, with wing flapping and awkward 3d movement with a bird that really couldn't decide whether it was a brick or a sparrow.

It took a while to get the hang of the controls, but in the end it was pretty fun, actually. Though I still think that Joust was much better in it's 2d design than this 3d version of it. Still it was a nice tribute to one of the old arcade games.

At which point Förgelös, our resident rogue, started pestering us with the quest to enter the Blackrock Spire. Heedless to that we plunged into the questlines involving the Inferno area, and soon noticed that all three of us were cursing the quests to kill, collect and escort small furry things from the blazing Inferno to safety. Grumbling and mumbling filled our Vent channel as we worked to finish the hippie themed quests of the area: the only one which was fun was the last one, in which you saved bear cubbies by tossing them down from trees to a trampoline... go figure!

And off we went to the Blackrock. After some misplaced hearths and travelling, we found the new instance. Without much thinking we plunged in, head first as usual, not noticing that it really WAS an instance.

Few seconds later all toons were dead and three of us laughing the earlier frustration off.

After almost completing the instance we came to the conclusion that this was what we needed: to be against unbearable odds, chain-dying in places where everyone went dancing through. Not the over-dumbed down quest chains which were way too easy and simple even compared to the ones presented in the beginning of Northrend area.

Short note on the warrior side: you can say anything about levelling as protection, but the fact is that it hasn't gotten any better. I switched to the arms spec I had without changing any gear and I killed mobs in half the time. The only difference was that in protection I didn't get any damage from normal equal level mobs, but then again, who would bother? With arms I was running from a mob to another, combat healing on the run.

And the gear is clearly aimed for the dps side of the specs. Already replaced my chest and shield with way better greens than what I had in IC purple. Gearwise Förgelös was the lucky-duck in the group: everything changed from the earlier and he is now the one with the highest gear score of the group.

With new daggers and all.

The night was a success. The Three Stooges are riding again.

C out

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sad long silence


I had almost forgotten I had a blog. All this due to a couple of weeks of travelling due to work related things, then being hyperactive in RL and finally getting a new computer - which was broken to begin with - to cut my actual play time in shreds.

And then the ultimate waste of time, Cataclysm.

Of course I had to try everything. Worgen, goblin, undead hunter, Vash'jir, Hyjal.

First things first. I started a long time 'dream class' of mine before the Shattering hit: Undead Hunter. And I admit, hunter is the face rolling machine to level. The experience is spoiled only by the fact that the starter area has been reduced to a no fun hand holding guidance, even though the quests themselves have been linked up into a better flow of the story. This is where Blizzard has really made the most improvement: the story of the character really flows and you are moved from one part to another when needed. No more the minimap is full of stars exclamation marks, but only few which you can do at the same area. And the real treat of the undead story progression comes when you are leaving the Silverpine Forrest. The quest in which you are being put into the place of a quest giver. I have never laughed as much while playing the game, except when we're really wiping with my brothers. If you do not want to play an undead, do yourself a favour and play this far. And a bit further, as the story continues later on...

Cataclysm came and it was time to see the levelling areas. Vash'jir and Hyjal at the second wave of levellers == not fun. Everyone and their cousins have this urge to get to the cap as fast as possible, as if they were afraid that they might start liking the quests, stories and the deep - and quite often - fun lore of it all. The main gripes of the whole charade is the fact that the quests, especially the most interesting ones, are designed for single player, only to be raped by hundred player characters simultaneously. Kill stealing and other obnoxious and anti-social traits rule the areas, when people just tag a mob and let others kill them. Or just pick the collectable stuff while you are killing the mob guarding it.

So I have dropped it. I'm not in such a hurry to the cap even though the guild is most certainly about to start the first 'raids' soon. We will have the next expansion in what, two and odd years, so why hurry to the end and be bored with no content?

Goblin starter area screams for comment: played it and didn't like it. It just doesn't fit my mindframe, it's too 'contemporary' and it overdoes the pop-cult references abundantly. Just my bowl of porridge there.

But the worgen starter area. Goodness gracious! Everything seems to fit the story in here. And the game: the werewolf people fits the overall game like no other of the added races ever. The story is just as grim and gloomy as you could expect, the only thing that left me cold was the actual voice acting. It just sounds so off from the british accent you expect that it isn't even funny. One could have expected Blizzard to put as much effort to it as they have put on everything else in the game, to make the Victorian setting sound as one (or as we see it through Hammer Studios movies and Sherlock Holmes' interpretations) as possible.

The only thing I regret about the expansion so far is the fact that my dream of levelling up a worgen druid who would kill nothing to the cap has been shattered by the fact that you cannot get a worgen out of the Gilneas without killing a wild worgen or two. Or at least as many as the quests require, add a few scourge in the mix. This was confirmed by a GM who helped my character to respawn after I had explored the whole area available for play the other night, when I noticed that everything was phased, there were no creatures (save spiders and stags) in the area and even the trees were absent. And the world ended in a shining, transparent wall beyond which there was nothing towards Hillsbrad and only a bottomless crevasse towards Silverpine. Even Shadowfang Keep was absent from the area around Wall of Gilneas!

So this is what I've been doing for the last few weeks. Thanks to the people in The Wild Hunt, I have forgotten my calling to write: you know who you are.

Maybe it is now safe to try the levelling areas again. Off to Hyjal with the Three Stooges again!

C out

Monday, November 15, 2010

Public Service and yawp

For the next two weeks I will not be responsible for the blog. Due to work reasons I will be around Europe, and not able to play nor write.

That was the announcement part. Now some reflections over last weekend.

- I will not make the Old World Loremaster title: I have effectively avoided my main character for several days now, and about 200 quests are piling into a pile which cannot be done in time. Too bad.
- I have taken a step on the dark side again: my horde toons. Where as in Alliance, the bickering, name calling and rude behaviour started at around lv40, in horde it started already around lv33. Tank didn't do that, dps didn't do that and everyone was merry when the group disbanded. Not once or twice, but every other group does the same.
- How easy it is to be a ranged dps! No worries like healer or tank have, just blast away and keep your aggro below the tank. Then again, some dps do not understand this and blame the tank.
- How difficult is it to handle runners? Some tanks do not get this at lower levels and instead of preparing for a runner and pulling back towards the 'safe area' where the group came from - thus buying more time to deal with the runners - they push the pulls forward and blame the dps for not killing the mobs in time.
- Oh what crap the AoE damage has become...
- Levelling through randoms is way too fast. The worst part is the fact that you over level your gear and do not get decent replacements fast enough. My lv35 mage is still wearing her lv28 stuff and that's not unique.
- and levelling the gathering professions... My druid is running lv45 randoms while still roaming in lv26-31 areas for herbs... not being able to gather from the instances!
- Why can't there be a possibility to gather a node which is - say - 5-8 points above your skill? That way you could spend some time at a node knowing that you MAY get it if you're lucky. Now you are tied to an arbitrary number below which you cannot even try to pick the bloody flower.

That's all for now. I had an existential walk on Sunday, wondering why I'm playing at all, what am I thinking I'm getting from playing and what the hell am I trying to replace with playing. All I came up with was that I've replaced the mindless watching of TV to MMO's and that it's as good/bad waste of time as TV. Instead of watching good stories I 'act' in decent ideas of stories.

Maybe more on that later.

Play nice!

C out


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What to raid and what to loot..

Cataclysm is getting closer and closer and a lot of players are realizing that the world of warcraft as we currently know it will 'cease to exist' when Cataclysm hits the shelves. Its not that all of the areas will be destroyed, its more the fact that the old content of WotLK will be soon forgotten (as the old-world and Outland was). As a result, players are trying to gather all their last achievements which will become feats of strength, and trying to get the mounts which will vanish.

On the other side of the spectrum people are looking forward into the near future. What will be the way class X should gear in Cataclysm and what will be the best spec to level in. And that is my current dilemma.

In the past I always did raids with my warlock. A fairly OK geared character which could usually be found in the middle of the top 10 dps. But, as more locks joined the raid, I requested the Raid officers for a switch to my druid healer (there is always room for more healers it seems). So it was done and rather quickly my gear was boosted from 2 parts of the regular T10 to 4 parts of normal sanctified T10. Now with my lock, who didn't need that much gear, I had carefully saved up some DKP. But, with 2 specs to tend to I quickly tore through my DKP and am now back on bidding minimum and hoping nobody wants the same item.

My dilemma now is that by the end of it all, I'll have a fairly complete healing kit, capable of being at the top of the healing charts (which I've already, suprisingly, found myself several times)and will be a valuable asset to the raid till then. But what will it bring me when Cata hits? The person who will want to quest in the new expansion instead of just heal random dungeons? Sure I can go quest in my epic healing gear, but that will not bring much joy I fear.

So, what to loot? Should I stay with my current decent healing gear and collect feral stuf from now on and leave my raiding buddies to fate? Or should I keep working on my healing gear and grind my teeth when cata hits?(Or, as a side trail, should I go for boomkin as apparently ferals won't be doing that well at the start of cata...)

I for one am going to keep working on my healing gear and will trust in Blizz to provide me with decent enough gear to level through the content. But I don't think everybody will do the same and I'm affraid many raid leaders will grind their teeth till cata hits due to the priority settings of its raid members and naggers who want to raid a different instance/boss for specific gear.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Wasting the little time I have (YAWP)

I'm wasting the short time I have for the Old World Loremaster achievements. Currently I'm on the Kalimdor side and had the pleasure to waste around 5-6 hours to them over the weekend. The rest of the whole Saturday I spent playing other toons for a reason or another.

The one I'm currently most fond of is my banker Druid, who is of Restoration spec. I have ceased to do any quests with this toon and while I'm waiting for the random dungeon, I try to get his herbalism up to the dungeon level. Which is impossible because there seems to be constant need for healers in the dungeons. I have about one minute to get into a dungeon, barely enough to spot the next herb node.

I've now been doing that from lv29 upwards, and over the weekend I got him to lv42. What I've noticed so far is that there are awfully lot people -especially tank classes- who haven't ever visited the instances they get into via the LFD now. Also the intolerance of other peoples' inabilities, poor play or lack of understanding grows the higher the level comes: I hadn't seen a single cuss fight before Uldaman nor anyone been kicked or leaving a group in progress. However, after lv40 - and opening of the Maraudon purple stones area - this seems to be a recurring thing.

Considering the quality of play and mastery of their class, no one is good enough to call others noobs or anything else derogatory at these levels. The spec and gear choices are very limited and neither contributes too much to the overall performance anyway: everyone levelling up by the dungeons only are submitted to the mercy of the loot distribution rng and the 'Satchet of Helpfull Goods' doesn't help at all by giving only melee gear to a spellcaster.

So loosen up people who are levelling through the LFD: The less you cuss and swear, the less you play and gain. Everyone makes mistakes and only one rogue has had the guts to call me a noob as a healer after the tank ran off out of my LoS and caused a wipe. Granted, that rogue was brought back to earth after that and he left after hearing that he won't be healed unless he starts to take care of himself. By the tank, mind you!

I mentioned that Satched of Helpfull Goods. Someone in Blizzard forgot to change the settings of that, because it's offering me different grades of perfectly viable Feral Druid gear all the time. They have forgotten that they changed the talent system and made every spec viable for levelling, thus making the spell caster druid specs more numerous than the feral ones. Hello! I'd like to have at least one piece of usable gear from the satchet! I have now dual spec for Resto/Balance and I'm doing well in one gear.

So I dps'd both normal and heroic HoR the other day. Arms is VERY viable in dps: being at the top of the heroic HoR just showed me that my ragtag gear set and mediocre understanding of the class can save the day. For me to wait for the rage to build up enough to use skills - or have them all on cd and wait for that - is too slow in a way. But that's what playing warrior is nowadays, from what I've gathered this is the case with more or less any class there is. The slower pace makes the game 'easier' in a way, but feels sluggish.

All in all, I wasted the best of the weekend doing everything else than questing for the achievement. Now standing at 483/700, having about 15 quests to drop off and I'm still in Ashenvale. I have huge areas with tens of quests, the only thing is to choose the right one and get next 50 or so done in a breeze.

What has amazed me is the fact that there are so many quests you can find only by exploring and how many of those I have passed earlier due one reason or another. Also the quality of the quest chains is much higher than I remembered, though there are only few and between of those which really bring more to the lush graphic presentation of the world.

So many to go. So much to choose from. So little time.

C out

Friday, November 5, 2010

Are there really so many paladins in the game?

The question posed in the title is the final thought of our three man evening. All the loot were either cloth or plate with intelligence or spellpower in them. The weapon drops were either caster weapons (staffs and an odd dagger with spellpower) or with intelligence. Are there really so many paladins in the game that IC 5 man instances have to feed them all the gear there is?

Taking into account that our Three Stooges is the holy trinity at the most basic: warrior tank, rogue dps and priest healer, we saw only one or two pieces which would have even been feasible for us to use. Except our priest who overgeared all the drops even remotely usable.

Short rewind.

The evening was amazing in many ways. First of all, we were all online in time. In fact, we were a bit ahead of the normal undecided timeframe. Second, we played very, very poorly. And third, if our priest has had an uncanny way of disconnecting at a critical moment, last night that went into ridiculous amounts.

We skipped the heroic from the start and went directly to IC: Forge of Souls was our first aim, as we had plenty of time then. One shot, no real problems except Bishopgeorge disconnecting on trash mobs twice, freezing on Brohnjam and looting while tank and dps were having fun. Revenge is sweet, as we will learn later on.

Pit of Saron proved what I stated earlier: we played poorly. First of all, we decided not to pull the wandering mob from the beginning and I launched my attack on the skeleton constructs, pulling them further into the instance. In a short while I noticed that we had company, as a group of smaller skeletons plunged on me: Bishopgeorge had stood on the higher platform just a tiny bit too far and pulled the whole group we had decided not to pull.

You can imagine the name calling, brotherly picking and jesting about slow priests which ensued...

But that's not all, mind you.

Garfrost was a pushover, Krick/Ick as well. But the incline from the latter up to the tunnel seems to be our worst enemy: this time we rode as one group, stopped at the higher platform and it was my turn to make the mistake to go just a bit too far: I pulled the first skelton group before others were ready. Everything was fine, as Bishop had full mana, and off we went. Until our resident -evil- rogue went a bit too far behind the group and pulled the next one.

Death and destruction, and off we went to fly the goose. I mean, how come Blizzard hasn't fixed the ghost mode griffins yet? Instead of being the superfast griffin express, its the wounded overweight goose trying to carry the passenger back to blood and tears...

The new try was easy peasy and next time we won't be skipping the mobs in the incline. No need, as we fell them even by making incredible plunders and mistakes (no one is innocent, mind you!).

Tyrannus. Our old arch nemesis. He's our puppy now, as long as a)everyone takes notice of the Overlords Brand, b)DPS stays out of the way of Forceful Smash and c)healer stays online till the fight is over, or almost over. All of the three happened, and not in any particular succession. We got him on the third try, after trying new spectacular ways of dying.

But we made it squeaky clean to Halls of Reflection!

Falric and Marwyn are a joke, really, if you think that we as trio can do them without a problem. Granted, it's still normal and all. Kill sequence in the mob waves established as

Priest > Mage > Shadow Mercenary > Sharpshooter > Others

and it worked. However, Bishopgeorge took care of providing us with extra suspense in the fight by disconnecting, freezing and looting while others were fighting to such an extent that Förgelös and I came up with a solution (which came our motto of the evening):

First we kill the priest and then we start the party.

You see, this went on in the escape from the Lich King gauntlet. Our first try was a prime example of this. We started it as usual, killed the first zombies quite ok. Bishop had been acting wonky from the start, not quite disconnected but jumping back suddenly due to lag or something like that. As Förge and I were fighting the Zombie Shaman, Bishopgeorge started running towards Lich King!

Death, destruction, kill, wipe. "Bishopgeorge has disconnected."


The next try. Everything goes well until the second ice wall, we kill everything in more or less in time, and in the middle of the heated fight Bishop starts to laugh uncontrollably, frozen in the middle of the mobs.

His mouse had died, battery depleted.

Death, destruction, wipe. "Bishopgeorge has disconnected."

Third time was just poor playing, as Förgelös decided to go to Lich King and save his strength.

After this we decided to give up and went through the LFD HoR. Heroic proved to be impossible due to Bishop disconnecting three times before we even got to Marwen.

Normal was a faceroller, even though the group had three warriors, priest and rogue. The two warriors were both Fury, dual-wielding 2-hand axes and spreading devastation way more than required.

All in all, not a total failure of an evening for the Three Stooges, but interesting questions remained.

First we kill the priest from now on, and start having fun as tank and DPS. That's for sure.

C out

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Impressions of warrior roles

My main role is that of tank, specifically protection warrior. I levelled up as one, took a secondary spec as Arms as that was the least loved PvE spec there was in warrior specs and stuck with it.

4.0.1 brought many changes with it. Most meaningful for me was the fact that the button mashing and responsiveness of the action buttons was replaced with skill queues and much slower paced, cooldown based gamestyle. I'm still fighting to be patient enough to wait for the skills to be ready, and usually end up banging the same skill twice due to queuing.

The whole issue I have with the current, slowed down action system is that of learning the new pace of play. In addition to this the AoE threat generation of protection warriors was lowered to almost non-existing, meaning that in multi-mob pull the over effective ranged DPS will steal one or more mobs from the tank even in the best case scenario. The only guidance I can give is to let them have it, as in 5 man heroics the DPS will kill any normal mob fast enough to survive the onslaught. The tanks responsibility in multi-mob pulls is to protect the healer nowadays, instead of protecting the whole group as it was before the 4.0.1.

With single target threat there is no such thing as aggro problem. Really. Shield Slam and Revenge take care of the needed aggro and if you take care and push that Heroic Strike there as your rage dump, you will fly high above even the most aggressive ranged DPS there is.

Mainly because of that sluggish feel to the protection play I have recently been playing as Arms dps. Granted, my DPS gear is lousy, mainly quest blues and a couple of lv200 purples to shine it with, but still there is some nice DPS to give in the encounters. Seldom I sit at the bottom of the DPS meter after a heroic, just above the healer (that happens, too, but then the rest of the group is in tier10+ and even the tank delivers outrageous 5k+ damage). On the average the DPS goes in the range of 3.3-3.5k depending on the heroic: the more there are multi-mob pulls, the lower it goes as there are not too many area DPS options open for us. On the other hand, in single target boss fights I can easily go above 4k as the Execute still brings in nice crits when the mob is below 25% of it's health.

And as Arms I very seldom see the sluggish feel take away the fun from the play.

Arms as a tree is a peculiar one. You have distinct separation of PvE and PvP talents in the tree, some of which are not at all useful in the other role. I can see several of the talents I passed work extremely effectively in PvP, but have no use in PvE encounters. Then again, either way, the build is very, very easy to come up with, even without any EJ originating number crunching.

Strenght is still the main stat to go for, as long as you take care of the cap values in Hit, Crit and Haste, in that order. For hit the cap is 263, still, and anything above that is a waste (Correction: The current hit cap for melee is 8% which equals 246 hit rating. That 263 was the base before 4.0.1., adjusted by talents.). I think the cap for Crit is around 70%, so as much as you can muster is best and the same with haste. As long as you keep strength a the primary focus on gemming, you should be doing great, really.

At least that's been my philosophy, and so far it has served me well.

All in all, even though I've seen Fury warrior in 5 man heroic delivering above 11k DPS, I can say that Arms is a valid, but not as shining DPS spec. Like before, Arms will not rule the DPS meters, but will deliver without a fail.

The overall impression of these warrior specs for me is that the slower pace requires a lot of practise and slowing down properly requires that your computer can handle the game at reasonable frame rate during the combat. The queuing will ruin your day if you lag, but as a plate wearer, the result shouldn't be catastrophic unless the boss hits unexpectedly hard.

Warriors are definitely the crop of the earth: not necessarily the best of all classes for their selected roles, but best in what they do, and most definitely the steadiest and sturdiest of them all. We are the cannonfodder and the ones who stand last: not something any other class can say.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Startling discoveries (YAWP)

This weekend was a bit of a disappointment, not only because my objective with the Loremaster of Eastern Kingdom proves to be more time consuming than I thought, but also due to real life coming into the way of reaching it. Still lacking some 27 quests from the achievement, and then it's about 300 quest in Kalimdor. Kalimdor should be easier due to the fact that there are big quest areas which I haven't even tapped yet (like Sillithus and Tanaris) and the questing should be more condensed. Then again, kill ten rats kind of quests take their time anyhow, like in Eastern Kingdoms.

What has been an eye opener on the Old World questing (startling discovery #1) is that the most interesting quests and quest chains begin either from a random drop or from a quest giver who either appears randomly or requires certain attributes or circumstances to give the quest to you. One such questline is in Stranglethorn Valley on Alliance side. There is this soldier who will go on patrol and if you save him from being killed by the warriors from the Kurtz army, he'll give you the quest starting a chain of 5 quests (six quests for the achievement, actually). But only if you happen to be around when he gets attacked!

I waited for the bugger to start walking for 42 minutes, and the quest chain was done in 10. Wasted time when you compare to the normal quest in which you have to kill, say 30 Ogres in the Searing Gorge: that killing quest takes about 15 minutes and you get to do another quest on the side.

Of course, the low level questing is pretty boring if you really aren't for it, and for me all the waiting and flying took it's toll also. So I ran the Headless Horseman and a heroic with all my 80's toons. With my spriest I met the most incredible fury warrior I've seen so far (startling discovery #2). This warrior banged constant damage of five figures in Drak'Tharon Keep and boasted for having done over 16k crits on Lady Deathwhisper couple of nights earlier. My recount had 9880 for his dps over the whole instance, with crits over 12k.

At the other end of the scale, as I was running Culling of Stratholme with my baby DK in his Unholy, I could come up with 3.2k. The startling discovery #3 was as follows. I got in there just before the gauntlet after the inn. The tank ran on as I came in, and we cleared the gauntlet. At the same time as I came in, came a mage and we took care of the dps part of the run. So we cleared the gauntlet, came to the end of it and started to wait for Arthas to join us. We waited. And waited. And... this mage asked if anyone had talked to Arthas before we started. "Oh, I didn't know, I'm here for the first time", responded the tank.

Sure as can be, his gear were quest blues and greens and he was tanking in heroic Culling of Stratholme. No wonder the dps had left after the inn, fearing they would fail in the gauntlet.

The funny part of this? We had to clear the gauntlet three times. First to get through it, second to get back and third to get through it with Arthas. And for the majority of the run, I was tanking more than this 'tank to be' who really knew the basics but sure as hell couldn't handle the aggro. The healer paladin was a professional, though, and he switched to healing mainly my DK instead of the tank. 

Malganis was our puppy and I scored some 6k crits in there. (Startling discovery #4)

To cap this all, I got finally switched my banker druid's profession from skinning to herbalism. As I started to pick it up with the herb collecting, I made the final startling discovery: I got experience from using the skill?!

Come Cataclysm, I think I could make a Worgen priest or a druid and make the pacifist levelling thing, only healing in random dungeons LFD style and picking flowers!!

As the final note: I think I have to take a bit more serious approach into the blog, as Kadomi from Tank Like A Girl (one of my big influences) has put this blog into her list of warrior blogs. I'll take the protection and arms route, but more of that later. I have ideas already, but do not expect any real number crunching. Most probably more on the routes on how I find things and how they work for me.


C out

Friday, October 29, 2010

Turning with the wind

Those who know me better can verify that I get excited pretty quickly on some idea. And my interest in that idea may dwindle as quickly as it is incited.

Yesterday I tweeted that I might take up on - or in fact propose - leading a guild raid in some earlier instances. I had a plan and I had the interest and I was very much pepped up with the whole thing. Until I checked our guild's current raid schedule. The ICC runs are already in a state in which the only one running is 25 man, three times a week. No tens in some time now and the odd raids -scheduled- are old world reputation and achievement runs. To which there are not many joining, but then again, in 80's gear they are all soloable.

So I got dishearted and decided to stick to the Loremaster stuff instead. If nothing changes, that will be my main interest for the time being.

This lead me to think about the raid leading and beginning it. It would be pretty hard for me to think about starting a PUG, barely knowing the encounters as a raider, let alone take on the leading. Sure, I have read the strategies and know the basics of the encounters, but knowing how different the actual encounters are from the videos or strategies to execute, I doubt severely that I could do it. Successfully.

The current state of the game is such that the LFD 5mans do not teach you anything about grouping, group or class dynamics or goup roles. Levelling content 5mans are - especially the LFD PUGs - just facerolled and most of the time the healer is actually more bound of DPS than healing: the self healing capabilities (and mitigation) of the tanking classes are showing already at low levels, rendering the healing to a couple of HoT's at best. DPS can go rampant and tank lose the aggro and still there is only a little risk of anything going wrong. Only a really messy add pull causes a wipe in there. I've healed a RFK with my lv32 Druid in which I did more dps as healer than an enhancement shaman. And we did the instance without a problem.

Anyhow, the Three rode again yesterday.

First of all, we tried a new composition by having my baby DK first as dps for Headless Horseman and a random heroic. I was a bit amazed that this poor little DK in his green, blue and lv200 purple gear could deliver more dps than Förgelös, who is in way higher gear alltogether. On Headless the difference was significant, but in Gundrak it was even bigger.

In Gundrak my main dps run was against the tanking DK in all purples. Granted, he was tanking and more active due to that, but still I managed to out dps him on each and every boss fight, and in the last boss quite nicely. We passed Eck, as usual, but as the rest of the group left, we decided to go and see if we could do it by ourselves.

I had a tanking spec done - blood one, naturally - but my gear is almost all dps. Just a slight improvement by two or three pieces, but nothing crucial. Dodge at 10%, Parry at 12% and no real understanding on tanking as a DK. My buttons were a mess and I really hadn't even considered what the skills really do.

Add to this, Bishopgeorge's connection had an uncanny trait to disconnect at the most inappropriate moments.

We wiped twice, first due to the fact that I just didn't have the whole grasp of my skills. Second because our healer all of a sudden disconnected. And third wipe came from these combined.

Fourth one. I used every skill to see how and what it helped. In went Army of the Dead, Dancing Rune Weapon, Icebound Fortitude (aye, keep it up all the time) and so on.

And down went Eck.

I realized it only later that we had downed him on HEROIC.

From there I switched to my prot warrior and off we went to Pit of Saron. Now this instance, with which we struggled for so long, seems like a walk in the park. Garfrost is a big lump of meat, Ick/Krick almost annoying fight and Scourgelord Tyrannus is just a blabbermouth. For some reason we always seem to be able to pull the mid-climb mobs on as and wipe: that's just sheer negligence and should be done with. The sad part of this run was that as we ran it for Förgelös so he could get new daggers, no such drops were seen. We had one irritated rogue among us for the rest of the evening.

And off the Halls of Reflection we went.

To be honest, Falric/Marwyn would have been a nice, concise and pushoverish fight, had our healer stayed online through it all. He disconnected around the last wave before Marwyn and we just couldn't push him over the edge. Our first try and he got away with 1/6 of his health.

Second try on Marwyn was pure joy: down he went and without a problem. Too bad the shield didn't drop, it would have made my evening. It's the only improvement I can get from 5 mans anymore, so it would be nice to see drop.

But we have a new brickwall in our way. The last part, the evasion from the Lich King with Jaina. We just do not have enough firepower as it currently is to down the mobs fast enough. Sure, we can do it up to the last wall, but then the lack comes apparent and Lich King collects more souls for Frostmourne.

Next week it will be more Pit of Saron and Halls of Reflection. Hopefully with better luck with gear upgrades, as that is all it seems to be about.

C out

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Whose quests are they really?

I tweeted today that I have made a terrible find, which isn't a surprise at all. All who have read this blog any longer than last few months know that I love stories and quests and have been very much disappointed with the heroic/raid kind of playing. Now I took my warrior, switched to Arms dps and started doing the Loremaster achievement in earnest.

And I'm loving the quests which I'm unfolding. Which I have not completed. Which I have neglected back then, or abandoned because I over-levelled them outrageously.

Granted, my main interest is to do the Old World quests before Cataclysm. I know, it's a bit time intensive goal, especially as I know already I'll be travelling due to work things for two weeks during the time. On the helpful side, I have already almost two thirds done of them, in Eastern Kingdom I just crossed 577/700 quests done as I was checking Wetlands for unfinished quests.

Before that I finished the Grizzly Hills achievement and found some nice quest chains which can easily go neglected if you are just levelling up. The Drakuru-chain is obvious, as it has an achievement in itself, but how many really stumbled upon - and completed - the Arugal chain? I do not have to finish it, but I want to, really.

While I was doing the Grizzly Hills quests I noticed something I don't think I have noticed before. The odd quests and small chains in the Old World emphasized this notion even more.

Whose quests is the player character actually doing?

As far as I can see, the quests are always important to the questgiver, and are of utmost important to them. I can't remember right from the top of my hat any quests or questlines where the player character was impelled to do the quests for personal involvement or which would have revolved around the player character in any real way.

The personal involvement of the player through her/his character's personal involvement is seriously missing in the quests, as far as I can tell.

Like in the business world, the reward of money or gear isn't enough a drive to make the quests enjoyable or rewarding to the player. (In some recent studies on salary being a reward in a job they found that after certain salary level the salary ceases to be the reward or reason to work for more.) If there is no personal involvement or enticement, the player is pretty much alienated from the questing and thus the quest-reward cycle feels like a grind, something you must do to get on with the game, to level up.

I'm a strong advocate for choice in quests and equal reward for making a choice that affects the position and demeanour of the character in the world around him. You make the choice and you face the consequences rather than you do the deed and the NPC enjoys the outcome.

What would be your solution to this lack of personal involvement in WoW quests?

Monday, October 25, 2010

The truth comes out of an infants mouth (YAWP)

Not exactly an infant, naturally, but a small kid. In this case my youngest son, 9 years, who got the luxury of playing his DK on Sunday while I was first having a nice jog and then a long walkie with one of the dogs.

His DK was lv60 when we got his UI set up and I left. When I returned half an hour later, he had gotten almost one level more, without problems in the quests and was already stating that the game feels easy. After another hour and a half the DK was lv62, my son had needed help with only two quests and he was convinced that the game was easier, his unholy DK was a brutal killing machine and the mobs in Hellfire Peninsula gave more exp than earlier.

Who am I to agree? The truth in this case came from the mouth of a young gamer who knows neigh English, plays a game which he shouldn't even touch and who has earlier - before patch 4.0.1. - been suffering from utter difficulties with the levelling process.

I also confess that I did the unthinkable and installed Carbonite once again. Only to rationalize my Loremaster project, that is. And I have to say I was very, very pleasantly surprised after I got it running on my machine. Gone is the heavy and straining memory usage, the addon works fluidly and the new additions are pretty nice, too. Partly with the help of it I finished the Grizzly Hills loremaster part in a breeze, and still had time to read the quests.

Next stop Zul'Drak and then it's all Old World till either I finish the Loremaster or Cataclysm hits. I have already made a decision that I will queue for randoms only as a dps on my warrior, as this gives me a bit time to do quests on the side. I did tank only one boss over the weekend, all the rest of the few randoms I was dps.

Like someone commented earlier in Twitter: Why bother with the gearing if I'm not raiding?

C out

Friday, October 22, 2010

Three again

The patch still haunts me. Sure Auctioneer got an upgrade, but for some reason it's not working on me, so I have to install it anew. Out with the bad air, in with the good.

So the Three Stooges rode again. First it was guiding Bishopgeorge, our resident evil healer, with his talents, gems, reforging and skills, so he could heal us. However, the action bars and their bindings seemed to cause more problems than anticipated, and the game client didn't help by freezing on him at awkward times.

However, after some half an hour or so we launched to our meeting with the Headless Horseman. I started repeating a phrase even before we went to the queue, that "do not touch the pumpkinhead, do not touch the pumpkinhead". Guess what? Both Förgelös and Bishopgeorge moused over the pumpkinhead, disconnecting almost simultanously and losing the first fight! Bishop had a faster boot, and could toss one heal before the flaming bastard unfortunate soul was released. So, we went for another.

Did I mention that Bishopgeorge should have checked his glyphs, too?

The second run. Random dps got frozen and I -the tank- too my chances: it worked for a change! Alas, the Headless Horseman was killed and everyone was rejoicing.

So Bishop checked his glyphs, made them work and off we went for a random.


Nice, I thought, as I ran to the first mobs at the entrance. Weird, I thought as I was doing over 3k dps on the mobs. "Is this really a heroic?", asked Bishop, because it was too easy to heal for him. "Yes, it is", I had to reply. 

Even more weird was our threesome consensus when the DK putting out some decent 2.5k dps died in before the first boss. "This can't be heroic!", claimed Förgelös. "Yes it is, I queued us on heroic", I said with confidence. 

And she died on the boss. And on the first hulking giant.

And then I noticed that the hunter in the group didn't rise above my 2.7k dps at all.

Turned out that the DK had just dinged or had had very, very poor luck in the gear draw. His gearscore was around 1k after the instance. The hunter wasn't much better, gearwise, but he was obviously a smartass and alt of a raider: Bishopgeorge died more than once, and after the second death -as he was running in- this hunter a) started a vote to kick Bishop, reason: slack, and b) asked "could we go faster, gogo" while we were waiting for the healer.

Sufficient to say, I took that as a sign he wanted to see the whole instance, lead the group to Amanita and proved that it was a heroic. At one point Bishop got a revelation, message from above or just woke up, as he noticed that he didn't have Fade bound in the action bars, and thus was like a plum ripe for picking for the mobs in rampage...

The rest of the instance was pretty uneventful and goes without a note that either of these extra members in our team didn't as much as thank us.

We had to contemplate the situation for a while after the run, because this was pretty unheard of: we, the ones who go to die where others run amok laughing, were actually boosting -not only one, but two!- newly geared players, and only our healer got killed! What the heck is going on in the game!

Then we cleared FoS and PoS only to learn that it is possible to wipe still even though we are super elite boosting machines, and that there is something wrong with the ghost flight as the ghost griffons fly at the speed of a snail. Going uphill. On fine gravel.

As usual, the time passed too fast on the route, and as we started to bang the doors of Halls of Reflection it was way past our bedtime. "Our playtime always comes to end when we come this far", went Förgelös, quite a bit annoyed for the fact that he hadn't had a single upgrade the whole evening. Which was true, in fact. 

So we decided next time spend our whole evening trying to best the Halls of Reflection. Only because Scourgelord Tyrannus is our puppy and we are so good in the boosting.

Because we can!

C out

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's not fun anymore

I did try my best to overcome my gripes with the current state of warrior tanking, but I just couldn't. Really.

For some reason the whole thing doesn't seem to work. Don't get me wrong, I like the talent change and the challenge it poses to all classes. Even though the talent system is so streamlined that you could call it a dumbed down version of the earlier one, there are less options to really gimp your toon down to unproductive leach. In fact, there are none at the moment: the PvE and PvP specs perform pretty nicely in the other function as well, thanks to overlapping talents.

But the game feels unresponsive.

Before the patch, when I pushed a button, the skill happened. WoW is very much renown for this, being very responsive in the combat, and thus very enjoyable to play. Yesterday I ran a couple of heroics and Headless Horsemans and it just didn't feel right. Even if I take the inability to hold aggro in a multi-mob situation off of the equation, the combat felt like it just wasn't following my commands.

In this I'm in the same boat with Baenhoof of the Tankatronic blog, where she says:
The one thing…the ONE thing that I cannot fucking stand about this patch is the goddamned ability queueing. I dont -want- to have to WAIT until a dev lands onto one mob before I can tab over to the next (tab is fucked up now, by the way) and slowly hit that one, too.
I like mashing keys. Its fun. Its part of the reason why the warrior is my main and not the paladin or the DK. The ability queueing feels sluggish and unresponsive and needs to be gotten rid of. It was part of the reason I enjoyed WoW over say, Aion- everything was more streamlined and tended to feel faster.
I’d really appreciate a choice to revert back to the old, quicker way of doing things- and from the look of the official forums, so would everyone else. 
She points out exactly what I mean: it feels sluggish, and I feel I don't have control over what is happening in the game.

Then again, if I'm to believe Spinks and Kadomi, I am not any good as a tank, either, as they state that nothing has really changed in the way the warrior should be played and haven't noticed anything changing in the playability of our class at all.

The other option is that my computer or addons are borking the game, but that doesn't hold when I'm very content with the other classes I'm playing (DK, Spriest and druid). They seem to be up there, performing nicely, so why the protection warrior feels so like he's sleepwalking?

I'm just no good at it, and where the other classes have gotten the fun back into their game, the warriors got the work part back. Like a moonkin in one of the heroics said: "your class got the raped in the patch, pal" after I voiced my concern over the well being of the rest of the group.

That is exactly how I feel. It's more a work than games.

It is not fun anymore.

C out

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Patch always breaks something

Addon breakdowns aside, why is it that a patch always breaks the fundamental game somehow? Is it because of that list of thousands of bugs in the code which still wait to be repaired? Or is it just fault in the testing procedures?

WoW is acclaimed for being the most polished MMO out there, a game which is said to be the benchmark of polish. Right, WotLK worked nicely for the last few months of the expansion. BC did the same and Vanilla, too. If you do not count the disparity of the class balance which just got a new blow by the latest, most fundamental changes to the talents and skills.

So the first question is, why is there such a long list of unrepaired bugs in the game?

Because... I don't know. New content needs A-team to work on. Daily maintenance and content patching requires the B-team to work at their best, with the glint in their eye to be included into the A-team. The C-team... There is no C-team to patch and fix the bugs which have bugged the players for so long time, some even from the launch.

And now we have some real bugs to bug the players. Mouse-over lockout. Instance entrance lockout. Instance bugs like the Anub'Arak bug in the 5-mans.

The first two however bug me the most. I login and queue for an instance for the meager 10 minutes, only to get my computer freeze to the instance load window. Total. Lock. Out. Kind of freeze. Login and find myself from where ever my hearthstone is set, with 5 minute cooldown on LFD. Wait for another 10 minutes, hoping it will go through this time.

Happened to me once yesterday, a couple of times over the weekend.

How about the Headless Horseman? Game freezes the moment I mouse-over the event activation pumpkinhead. Finally get logged in and... I have the stuff in my bag. Whoo-hoo. Only if I was the tank this would have been a disaster. So what is Blizzards word of advice in here? "Make the dps to activate the event, don't mouse over the pumpkin if you are a tank."


Now I have been playing with the tradeskill window replacements because Skillet isn't working anymore. Even though LilSparky, who's responsible for the addon currently, has stated that it will be updated in the future. However, knowing he's working on his own tradeskill window replacement (GnomeWorks), it may well be the end of Skillet as we know it. And still no other comes close to Skillet in functionality, light weight and simplified outlook.

What can I say. These both issues have one thing in common. Keep It Stupid Simple is the best way of doing it. Or at least do it so that it all seems incredibly simple to the end user.

C out
PS. Lil'Sparky's Workshop, the tradeskill window enhancement, is updated, but I can't make it work. I have only zero prices to all products in there, so if anyone could give me a hint what to do to make it work again it would be appreciated. I like my things simple, effective, easy and working, you see.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend sidecracking (YAWP)

This weekend was fully dedicated to 4.0.1. changes. My main characters got their new talents, most of them -at least the main ones- got their glyphs, too, and two of them got their gear reforged. As far as I can tell, I didn't have to do anything on the gem side, as there was next to no changes in my needs for gemmed stats. Ok, my baby DK could use some hit rating to get it capped, but that's more a question of getting enough Justice points and reasonable gear to begin with: his weapon is still green and gear a mix of green-blue-purple.

I tanked once. Shocking experience. A blast -literally- through Utgarde Pinnacle, with several multi-mob pulls which people have gotten used to AoE through. Guess can the current protection warrior hold that kind of pulls easily anymore, especially when you consider the increase of DPS damage the clothies are enjoying?

Like I said, it was a shocking experience, but nothing much changed on my starter: Charge - Thundeclap - step back/side/more condensed spot - Shockwave - Cleave - Thunderclap and start cracking Shield Slams, Devastates and occasional Revenges into the mix. Oh, and with Incite talent, Heroic Strike whenever the rage gave chance. More or less with those we went and the result was a pretty enjoyable, though hectic, run. It felt like I had more to do and really had to work from time to time to keep the mage and warlock alive.

On my shadowpriest I got a nice surprise: after talents, glyphs and reforging, my raw dps on normal 80 dummy rose from 3.5k to 4.6k without a problem, and the effect from changing to elite dummy was mere 200 dps! After reforging my gear still has loads of extra hit in it, but this may well change when I get enough Justice Points to get myself a real DPS gear instead of this healer-dps mix I have gotten myself into. In the guild hc I ranked nicely to the second place in ICC25 geared people, so no problems (especially now that Event Horizon works!).

My baby DK feels awkward and I think the changes felt most in his performance. Still, I'm not at the bottom of the DPS and I could easily patch the misses of a pally tank in VH, saving our sad behinds time and again when he missed a mob or just took the wrong turn to the portal. With all that ICC level gear he should have known VH like the back of his hands... must have had a baaad day. 

But my pride and joy is my banker druid. At the tender level of 29 he was plunged into 4.0.1. and changed from balance to restoration. And I can undersign each, every and all comments stating that druid healing has become fun. Simple and fun from the low levels on (have to try that on my horde druid, who is balance by main). Though I have to agree with other bloggers who have stated that the LFD instances while levelling have been nerfed to the ground: only the bear tank in Scarlet Monastery caused me problems due to taking in so much burst damage from time to time, otherwise the tank classes self-healing capabilities are incredible. The warrior tanks (both protection and arms, even a fury tanked once!) I have had I have been able to nuke the mobs all along the way. Their self-heals just keep them popping from 50% to full without a thought. But it is fun to run around, keep HoT's on the tanks and tackle the other healing issues along the way.

The only one I had issues with is my baby mage on Horde side. At level 30 she doesn't get much talents and I just couldn't get hang of the fire spells and rotations on one run. I'm only wondering how the ones I ran Scarlet Monastery with my druid could pull the damage they did, but alas, I didn't pay attention to their specs or spells at all.

And yes. Copra is alive again. Boomkin is FUN! The new Eclipse mechanics make the class so much more fun to go than it was, and it is very, very rewarding to land those crits here and there.

All in all, weekend was a win. I even dabbled into the glyph market with very low level glyphs and scored some nice profits.

Now I have to go and play by the guidelines Spinks so generously put out. It's hard, but more fun now than it ever was. Even though it requires some change in mentality from all in a group.

Tanking, that is.

C out

Friday, October 15, 2010

While everyone is discussing the big things...

the small devils are at work.

I just received an reminder email from Blizzard/ about the 'new privacy options'. Which really makes me cry as I don't remember seeing one earlier.

We'd like to make sure you're aware of the new privacy options we've introduced to These options provide Real ID users with additional tools for customizing the service based on their preferences.
Real ID offers an optional, convenient way for keeping in touch with real-world friends you know and trust, whether they're playing World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, or one of our future games. The "Friends of Friends" and "Add Facebook Friends" features provide you with even more options to stay connected while you play:

Friends of Friends enables a player's Real ID friends to see the names of his or her other Real ID friends. This makes it easier for players to locate mutual real-world friends on and invite these friends to join their own Real ID friends list.
The Add Facebook Friends search tool displays the first and last names of a player's Facebook friends who are also on and allows the player to send these friends a Real ID friend request.

The purpose of these optional features is to help players merge and expand their social networks of trusted friends on by making it easier to add real-life friends to their in-game friends lists. You can easily opt in or out of any or all of them by managing your privacy settings.
 The way I read this piece of information is that the options are off by default and you have to go and opt in for them, though. It seems that they learned at least something about the touchy issue of gamer's privacy.

Anyhow. Nice job, Blizzard: as people are scurrying around with the changes of 4.0.1., they are not as prone to notice these small changes posed for their ingame privacy.

C out

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Someone always has an upper hand

Cataclysm hitting the game with all the changes to the guilds, talents, gear and stuff.

It's always like this. The friends and family beta, closed beta, less closed beta and PTR. And finally launch. The ones who get the upper hand in the next expansion are those who spend the better part of their day in reading the leaks, scrutinizing the news and blue posts and speculating on what will happen on the market.

Thinking of which, the same people who will anyhow consume the content fastest because they are running for the end game anyhow are the ones who are given the upper hand in the form of preliminary information which they can collect and put to use as plans for plunging through the content fastest.

Then again, there is always someone out there with the upper hand. Why the heck do that vocal minority have the right to spoil the fun from us who are not so keen on speeding through the levelling and willing to learn by trial the nooks and crannies of the new talents and builds? Why is it so that the whole concept of a MMO like WoW has turned into a battlefield between the players on who is faster, better and more vocal on how bad the others are?

Upper hand goes to those who devote more time to the game. Granted. But that shouldn't be taken off from the ones who do not spend as much time to the game, in the game or off the game.

The game should be equal field. Playground for all.


Monday, October 11, 2010

It finally dawned on me (yawp)

One raid, a couple of heroics and it came to me.

I'm next to no good as tank or dps and definitely not suitable for healing. I better stick to what I enjoy doing in the game, that being running the quests and reading the stories. I'm not up to raiding as it is, because I just don't master the classes I play well enough to contribute and so on.

Not really. It finally dawned on me how much gear really means in the final contribution to the group. In the last ICC25 I joined on my Arms dps spec I did pretty well. Or at least I thought I did, but then I saw the World of Logs numbers and started to weep. Lowest of the dps, just barely more than the tanks.

At the other end of the spectrum, I ran a couple of heroics and one normal on my baby dk, still partly in greens and just earned his first purple from the normal ToC5. The dps is inadequate, really, but still he's gear supports the role to a point that he's contributing, way more than my warrior to his.

The general difficulty of my warrior is the lack of gear in general. In the 25 man I am comparing to a group of full tier9 and above, where his gear is barely touching the tier9 level. The difference is immense: compare average gear level of 232 to 251 and you see it. Put that high end even higher and you are where my warrior is.

To conclude, that is the end. Patch 4.0.1 is bound to come soon, so no more of this end game sucks because its only gearing grind rhyme. It's going to be more on the omg the talents suck/rule/whatever from here to Cata.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Gear will be an issue


A new expansion, which will wipe the end game raiding instances from the map due to the fact that character progression skips the levels. Talents are wiped because of complete revamp of the talent system, which in turn will effect skills and builds.

And gear.

As in earlier expansions, the gear you get from normal quests is superior to the end game tier gear from the earlier expansion's raids. The precious Icecrown Citadel crafting recipes become a collectors item more than anything.

What bothers me really is the difference in content, especially the difficulty of the content to the two distinctly differently geared groups: the ones with Emblem gear and the ones with ICC epics. Emblem gear is the group who do the dailies and do not raid, thus lacking the cutting edge gear in general. Maybe a piece here, another there, but still lacking the majority of BiS'. The raiding group has been there, done that, gotten the epics and set is either full or one piece short.

Will the difficulty of Cataclysm be challenging enough for the better geared people, or will they just fast forward through it to the end game (and get bored before everyone else joins it)? Or will the difficulty be much higher for the less geared group, so that they really have to work for the end game in the end?

Or will it be as easy and simple as Northrend: you get so far exceptional gear in greens that the content itself becomes trivial.

That would be a disappointment.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sidestepping again (YAWP)

First things first. Blizzard has decided to commemorate the attack on Pearl Harbour by releasing Cataclysm on it's 69th anniversary. I hope this is just coincidence and not a sign.

Anyhow, the weekend. I spent playing this and that, for example a great night of going through old Vanilla instance Molten Core, Blackwing Lair and Ahn'Qiraj, but the main thing for me was that I finally got my unguilded crafter DK to ding 80. And noticed how the problems started right on the bat.

You see, with the quest blues and greens, I was smacking top dps in all the instances up till I dinged. After that, I feel like a slacker, not being able to even compete with the big guys. Funny part is, that even though my dk sucks in delivering, he's been just getting encouraging comments from the people I've ran heroics with. Mind you, HEROICS. I gently skipped normal 5mans alltogether.

Had I been tanking, I would have been scorned, called names and kicked from the groups. Like happened to that one pally trying to be a tank in better gear, wiping the group in the Gundrak. I stayed, with gear score below 2.5k, where as he left with his score of 5+k. Go figure.

So thus far my experience with levelling - or gearing a toon through 5mans - has been such that a melee dps is the one most easiest left alone in the instances. Tanks are under the most scrutiny, high above healers which in turn are high above all dps.

I think I start doing IC5hc's with my tank as dps. I wouldn't need to talk to anyone, just hang around and deliver. No more stress nor waiting for the one less fortunate soul who decides to do something stupid for which the tank gets the blame in the end for not saving their sorry butts.

One other thing about this DK. The first instance I applied to as newly dinged lv80 was Coren Direbrew. Ques what happened? He got both mounts on the first try. My other toons do not have the mounts as of yet. Sucks to be me.

On the other hand, I have checked the new talent builds through and I think I've found builds for my tank and his dps as well as my spriest. Of course the cookie cutter talent builds will come in no time, but as far as I can see the 'new' talent system is much easier to handle and is less prone to gimping your toon completely with 'bad' choices. The PvP talents stand easily out of the trees and are in some cases more a question of choice rather than crucial things. The main talents are still there, with the characteristics.

Last but not least. Last night. Guild 5man achievement runs. With my spriest. Great big fun. For example, it took us at least 15 impales in Gundrak before we got the Share the Love achievement. Zombiefest was a blast and no one died. Pupunen still has a lot to fill for the Glory of Hero meta, but then again, so does Laiskajaakko, my warrior. Not to speak about that newbie dk.

So I have again sidestepped from my tank. Shame on me. Have to correct that soon, as the rest of the guild seems to be smacking LK weekly now. Kingslayers everywhere, except in my roster.

But hey, I still have almost 2 months to go!

Friday, October 1, 2010

A night at the IC5-mans

Ah, well, the brotherly love again. We decided to tackle the Forge of Souls and Pit of Saron and if there was time before the sandman insisted upon his appointment, we would try Halls of Reflection just a bit.

To be honest, we did splendidly. The initial start resulted the death of our dps and healing only because one particular tank had forgotten to set the difficulty to normal instead of the former LFD PUG heroic. This corrected, Forge of Souls was a bliss: fast, fun, furious and sadly non-rewarding experience. All drops were mail or caster weapons, so Förgelös, our resident dps, still hits like a teddybear with his lv70 daggers.

Pit of Saron proved to be as much a lackluster considering the loot. The same pattern repeated itself, only mail and caster stuff, nothing for the poor rogue. Tank and healer are already so above the gear level even on their secondary specs that the disenchanting department made a good work this evening.

Our only real miscommunication blunder happened after Krick/Ick. Whereas I, the tank magnifique, remained to examine the carcass of the downed opponent, the clever duo of healer and dps mounted their trusty mounts and dashed the road uphill, triggering the incoming mobs. Tank was effectively separated from the rest of the team...

I did what a good tank always do. I made sure that if I go down, everyone else goes down. I mounted my trusty ram and dashed through the mobs to the group, pulling ten obnoxious vrykuls behind with me to their feet. Needless to say that the fight was pretty short and one sided.

After that, the rest of the instance was pretty uneventful. Even our former 'scourge', Scourgelord Tyrannus, proved to be nothing more than a bag of big words and boring promises, and we cleared the instance without any 'real' wipes: the one with the vrykuls doesn't count.

All in all, our final conclusion was that our group has the worst tank ever, poor healer and darn amazing dps.

None of which is true, really.