onsdag 21. januar 2009


My original plan for this post was to blog about WoW as a racial issue, and then out of nowhere, patch 3.0.8 arrives without warning, at least a week eariler than anticipated.

The new patch offers a variety of changes and improvements, as well as the occasional nerf and one or two classic "THEY WHAT???"-moments. One of these are, of course, lifting the hit penalty on Titan's Grip. Having toyed around with TG on Naxxes 10 and 25, plus Sartharion 25, I grew quite fond of it in a humourous sort of way. When you get six Whirlwind crits on trash with that large weaponry in both hands, you're bound to go a little "Whoooaaaahahahaha!" in your chair. Numbers like that just aren't natural.

Until today. The patch went live, and the TG hit penalty removal became reality. And suddenly, a plethora of not very great players with not very great gear and not very great knowledge of why stats like Expertise and Hit Rating matter ("They don't do no damage fo' suh', I'm'a socket AP evarywhar!") are able to out-DPS seasoned combat rogues and enhancement shamans in decent gear just because the class they play let's them. Playing fury well demands finesse, skill, focus and reactivity. It also demands Expertise and Hit Rating capped. Playing fury poorly, on the other hand, just demands two huge conkers with big damage and AP. And who cares, really, as you'll still do tons of DPS? This is not a good move from Blizzard towards an already very, very powerful class.

And speaking of which - Deep Wounds (for now) remains at 30%. It has been both called for and confirmed that something has to be done with this, but so far, Blizzard seem unable to know just what. The prot warrior in me rejoices at this decline, of course - free threat on crits? Yes, please! - but from a balance point of view (especially after having raided as fury) I understand why other classes see this as insanely powerful. The amount of rage-free, ticking damage DW creates from a class that often crits 40-45% of it's attacks is more powerful than I can imagine was ever inteneded. My suggestion to solve the issue would be to simply make it a proc ability (like Bloodsurge's instant Slams or Revenge), costing 20 rage and a global cooldown, lasting 6-8 seconds, available for 5 seconds after a crit with an 8 second cooldown. It would still be worth it, it would still be powerful - but at least, it'd require a bit more finesse and concentration (though, with the current crit rate, you'd likely have constant uptime on it, making it a viable rotation tool).

On the prot side, we finally - and I do say finally! - get a 30 yard Taunt. Seeing as paladin's get the same, I suppose it's really just a matter of balance, but still, I remain pleased and happy. Should be good in timed Stratholme, with Arthas running off like a maniac after the third boss every time. Not to mention - now I can aggro Dann from an even greater distance!

The single most important change in this patch, however, adresses an issue I've been crying for over the last year or so:

As the lone rallying voice of the "Human females fit in Mechanostriders" humanitarian organisation, I can now raise my fists in the air and yell "RESULT!". With lifting the racial restriction on mounts, Blizzard opens up a lot of ridicule (I smell tauren on ostriches any day now, an aberration against the mind for sure), but on this day of celebration, all such ridicule must be allowed to pass. For finally, finally, we have proven once and for all - human females DOES INDEED fit in Mechanostriders.

fredag 16. januar 2009

Things to do in Northrend when you're bored.

After a solid five and a half hour Naxxramas tonight, my head was screaming for a break. And just as I'm about to log, I get hijacked into tanking heroic Strat. As I'm clearly not being given much choice in the matter, i decide to make as much fun as possible, and silently equip my Fist Of The Deity, making sure I remain defence-capped, of course, but still, shits and giggles. All goes well, we manage the timed run and the drake drops for our pallie, and I can't but ask, "Did you even notice?"

And apparently they did, but hey, it worked, right? Se we pulled off heroic Violet Hold with a desperately undergeared mage, and for the first and probably last time in the history of the world, I experienced topping a damage meter on Erekem. Wanting to see how far I can pull this "tanking with a DPS fist"-affair, I suggest further instances, but alas, the group dissolves for matters such as sleep, food and generally not sitting in front of a screen all night.

But wait. Shits and giggles, right? And Mitsune really want a rep-ding with Kirin Tor. How about...

...how about if we two-man Halls Of Lightning on normal mode?

Yep. Works like a charm.

torsdag 15. januar 2009

Raiding and you.

Following up on last weeks dilemma concerning specs and what to do, I landed quite firmly on a 15/5/51 protection spec as my intended target, and started gearing up accordingly. The baptism of fire was a timed run in Strat, followed by this evening's run in Naxx25 as one of the offtanks. I was of course fully repaired, stocked up on flasks and buff food, available for invite before the intended raid start and in generally as prepared as I could be.

This raid would, however, soon develop into an exercise in the not so noble art of playing for one self, and not the guild. Already at first raid buff we find that not one of the three retribution paladins have Blessing of Kings specced (though one has shown up in a PvP hybrid spec, just in case we'd face horde at the portal). Of the two other warrior tanks, one is fiercely specced for PvP, the other has sacrificed Anticipation for Improved Disciplines and Improved Spell Deflection. Neither are willing to respec, as these players insist that this is the spec they want, this is their max DPS output spec, they can't afford it, and in the end one of our holy paladins port to Ironforge to respec for Kings, costing him 5% crit.

This, to me, isn't how this game is played. When you sign up for a 25-man raid, you're not doing it for loot. You're not doing it for achievements or badges. You're doing it because you are part of a guid, part of a team, whose main target is (and always should be) to maximize the potential in each other. Of course you put a draenei in the melee DPS group. Of course you make sure Replenishment finds its way to the healers. Of course you spec for the raidwide buff that will improve the overall performance of everyone, caster and melee alike. And of course you ease the healers' job by maximizing your avoidance as a tank - both in spec and gear.

So why is it so hard for these players to be a part of the team? In all honesty, it should be said that they are in no way bad players, and our guild is skilled enough to achieve fairly decent results even with sub-optimal settings, but still - refusing to even try something that might be an improvement on behalf of principle really isn't temwork. It's selfish, it's cheap, and in the end, it is what will get you demoted as soon as someone is there to take your place. This isn't a game of resting on laurels - it's a game of working hard to achieve the best. If you can't accept that, you should play Alterac Valley. I hear they're LF t0nk for Drek over there.

onsdag 7. januar 2009

I like trolls.

I really do. My favorite ever instance is still Zul'Farrak, I get a small thrill just thinking of the Zul'Jin fight in Zul'Aman, I still remain hopeful that the Zul'Gurub raptor will one day drop for me. I'm not particularly fond of the rastafarian emotes, I'll admit, but at least they didn't make them sound like Canadians or Borat - it could, to a large extent, have been worse.

So the idea of a whole troll zone in Northrend thrilled me from the beginning. Even after release, after listening to weeks of rants both online and IRL about the horridness of the place, after hearing my roomie's yells of "*insert strong curse*" every time a quest there bugged (and they do!) at 4am, I went in there with a sense of expectation. A little bit of "how bad can it be?", a little bit of "mmmm trolls" and a little bit of "I'm sure it's just a hype anyway". Boy, was I wrong.

Zul'Drak is, for all intents and purposes, a questing hell. The topography is ridiculous, the size of the area is far larger than the content presented should allow, the location of elements are often so random it really makes no sense at all, and the lore is (especially after having experienced the Wrathgate and Voldrassil content in previous zones already) plain boring. The worst thing is, however, the constant nuisance of questing.

When doing the regular quest-chains, you start where you're supposed to, clear the hub, move on to the next hub with a "Talk to the NPC"-quest. It's an established pattern that have served the game surprisingly well up until now, considering the blatant simplicity of it. In Zul'Drak, Blizzard appear to have experimented with the scattering of chains. When you start out, you find yourself charged with a 3-man group quest and no less than two new directions through NPCs within the first ten minutes. In short, unless you can find a group or help right away, you're bound to this hub for a while, even after you clear the regular solo-content. The scattering of hubs continues as the first thing you get from one of the new NPCs is yet another "go there and talk"-assignment, and just to put some icing on the cake, you get to pick up random quests in the field while getting there as a bonus. By simply flying around the area without doing anything but establishing hubs, you find yourself on three full hubs within a very short amount of time.

This isn't an ideal situation, nor is it in theory all that bad. What really makes it frustrating, is the aforementioned size and topography. I did this with an epic flying mount, and even then it kinda annoyed me how much travelling you needed to do, and how boring it got after a while to constantly shake off aggro, steer between enough obstacles to make several Disneyland rides while always watching out for the 700K hp elite that roams the road, just waiting to oneshot you. I can't even imagine doing this effectively on a ground mount - the thought alone gives me shivers down my spine. The quests themselves do not help - it is clear that a lot of the ideas Blizzard had for the Death Knight starting area (which really is a powerhouse demonstration of brilliant design) that didn't fit, ended up here. No matter how interesting quests appear to be as they enter your questlog, they all end up in the same repetetive "ride-kill-collect-repeat" pattern. Northrend up until Zul'Drak have been soaring with great quests, fun and interesting ideas from the developers, making the quest process itself as interesting as the rewards. And then, out of nowhere, you enter a zone where everything really is just a disguised grind, bringing the thoughts back to how fun it was to get Exalted with Timbermaw Hold.

I do like trolls. But Zul'Drak is, in terms of design, a low point in World of Warcraft. I hope, for future content, that Blizzard too realize this, and keep up the amazing work they did in Dragonblight and Grizzly Hills.

søndag 4. januar 2009

Rant in Prot minor.

After half a year of listening to Ayms and Trix repeatedly politely enouraging/nagging me, and about a month or so of actually considering it, time recently came to take affirmative action: I abandoned my recently rolled level 63 paladin to transfer my old warrior to my new realm. Going from a PvE to a PvP server is, in spite of common sense, in many ways a relief to world play, as countless ganks only teaches you to play your class against THINKING (most often, that is) opponents that actually moves and reacts to your game (again, most often). You grow a whole new image of the game, and you realize that "safe" PvE wasn't really the way you wanted to play this game, no matter how much you spent your days flagged. Bringing an old friend to a new home begun to feel right, and so, the executive decision was made.

At that, I went from Hellfire Peninsula greens to T4/Gruul/S2/ZA-gear in about 40 minutes. And I realized: What do I do now? My 3.0.2 Fury spec belonged somewhere between the zoo and a trash can, 150% rested XP were screaming my name and I honestly hadn't a clue where to begin. So I went to to The Nexus with a few friends, just to discover I was putting on a truly spectacular display of amazingly bad DPS. We're talking 400 DPS on Keristrasza. It was embarrasing, to say the least.

So I did what every self-respecting player does: I read, and I read, and I read, and after five hours of forums, blogs, theorycrafting, respeccing and an additional three hours of UI configuring (not to mention a whole new set of key bindings), I felt ready to go again. Some fast grinds and a few select quests later, I was ready to take on Violet Hold, and lo behold - we are seeing 1400 DPS on Cyanigosa. This may or may not, of course, be due to circumstances such as a draenei tank and two paladins in the group, but it's still a solid 1000 DPS increase on a character that except for new weapons and a respec is essentially the same.

So. I'm where I'm supposed to be. And suddenly, a whole new problem dawns on me: Now, I wanna stay Fury. No matter how much my heart and soul lies with the whole "Charge, Thunder Clap and Shockwave"-mentality of opening pulls, all those hours of digging into the mindset of a Fury warrior have made it's mark. I've even begun work on stancedance-theories that, countary to common belief, may actually be a DPS increase for us. The question remains, will I be able to both stay Fury, experiment with my spec AND raid regularly? Time will show. Until then, watch this space.