Monday, May 31, 2010

Algalon down!

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Yes, yesterday I managed to get my first ever kill on the all mighty Algalon. I realize I am somewhat "behind", considering I'm actually part of what calls itself a "serious raid guild". But we never made it to Algalon before ICC and then suddenly no one wanted to try it anymore (lewt lewt!). And that although we only had one heroic mode left to finish - Mimiron. Ah well, I found a pug that does achi-runs in old instances every week, last week we did One Light In The Darkness and yesterday Algalon. Well actually the pug found me. I'm not very interested in achis overall. I mostly do them because they spice things up a bit, not so much for the achi itself. But two weeks ago a friend of mine called me and asked if I wanted to tag along to kill Yogg-Saron hardmode on my shaman. And I thought, sure why not. That time we didn't make it, but we rescheduled for last saturday and made it. We tried Algalon then too, but since you've only got a one hour timer to make it we never did. This saturday we were more succesful however and got him down after some tries!
He's really not that difficult. There are two phases of which the first one is the most difficult one. The main issue is to avoid the Big Bang and by keeping everyone topped for the Collapsing Star explosions (that do about 50% damage to everyone in the raid). Once we got those two mechanic under control things went smooth.
Actually I thought the Algalon fight was slightly boring, the Yogg-Saron fight has way more things to think about and things to do. Algalon was mostly about alot of healing and moving away from the Big Bang. Not as easy as it sounds of course, but an overall rather disappointing experience. Maybe we've been spoiled with overly dramatic fights in ICC, thinking about Putricide, Lich King, Blood Princes and such. I was expecting more from the end boss of all end bosses (lore wise Algalon is about as end boss as it gets). On the other hand I am glad that it wasn't too difficult considering I was doing it in a pug and you don't want to get stuck with that forever... (even though it's only one hour per week you don't want it to take too many weeks to get done).

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Is your class faceroll?

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The discussion as to whether a certain class is extremely easy to play or not seems to never die. Considering the changes that Blizzard continously do to the game, classes can go from being easy to difficult and back to easy again in a matter of months. And it's really interesting to see everyone call something "faceroll", except the ones who are targetted as the facerollers. It is also interesting to see that most people would call any class but their own "faceroll" in the right circumstances. Why do we all think we're having such a hard time?

But first, some clarification is needed. In the game that WoW has become there are few classes that aren't easy. If by easy I mean "can get to 80 fairly fast and not do sucky dps unless you're retarded". There is a world of difference between a class that has an easy time doing things ok, and doing things great. When people say that something is "faceroll", they generally seem to mean that the class has an easy time to do a great job. Topping dps meters isn't much of an effort. But of course easier doesn't have to mean easy at all, but still easier.

So what is an effort? What makes a class more difficult than another? Easily explained some classes have a rotation that is easy to control, whereas the more difficult dps classes have a rotation which is easy to screw up and extremely unforgiving once you do. I'll keep this discussion to dps classes, since tanks/healers have a special situation.

There are some factors that decide whether your class will be easy or difficult to do a good job, and I won't take trinkets into the consideration here;

Skills
First of all you have the set of mashable skills which make out the basic arsenal of attacks of any dpser. Some have no cds and some do. Most mashable skills have a cd of less than 15 seconds, or it wouldn't really count as a mashable skill.
To mention a few;
Shadow Priest - Mind Flay, Vampiric Touch, Shadow Word: Pain, Mind Blast (sometimes) = 4
Arcane Mage - Arcane Blast, Arcane Barrage (sometimes), Arcane Missiles = 3


Uptimes
Uptimes are different debuffs that you have to keep track of to maximize your dps. They sometimes increase your overall damage without actually doing that much damage themselves, but this differs greatly between classes. You need to know the optimized application rate to get the most of your uptimes. Not all debuffs are worth using at any given time, and some debuffs have priority over others.
To mention a few;
Elemental Shaman - Flame Shock = 1
Balance Druid - Insect Swarm (sometimes), Faerie Fire and Moonfire (sometimes) = 3
Destro Warlock - Curse of Elements (sometimes), Immolate = 2
Survival Hunter - Serpent Sting, Black Arrow = 2
Feral Druid - Savage Roar, Rip, Faerie Fire (sometimes), Rake, Mangle = 5

Cooldowns
Most classes have some sort of cooldown skills which for a short amount of time increases the overall damage. You need to keep track of the optimal time as to when to use a cooldown to get the most out of it. To for example use it when you have nothing to hit on would probably be a great waste of potential.
To mention a few;
Retridin - Avenging Wrath
Fury Warrior - Recklessness, Death Wish
Shadow Priest - Dispersion

Procs
Sometimes you have to stop what you're doing to use a whole nother skill. A proc means that you have to keep track of all your procable skills and be able to adjust to the proc fast.
To mention a few;
Balance Druid - Eclipse
Survival Hunter - Lock and Load
Retridin - Art of War

Resources
There are currently four and a half different resource systems in the game - energy, mana, rage and runes (and runic power). Some classes have to give great consideration to their resources (energy and runes and mana in some cases) whereas others have to think about it way less (Rage and mana in some cases). This makes alot of difference to whether a class is easy or difficult as we will see further down.

Now, my examples are just examples. And I'm far from pro on every class so I have probably missed out on some skill here or there. But the point is that all these things, skills, uptimes, cooldowns, procs and resources decide whether your class is more difficult than another. It seems quite safe to say that the more of these you have to keep track of during a short period of time, the more difficult your class will be to do a good job. Something that is difficult to measure but definitely makes a great difference are different synergy effects between these factors that you'd might have to keep track of to do optimal damage. Synergy can be seen as a sixth, invisible layer that affects all the other factors.

So which class is the easiest?
A quick glance at Arcane Mages will make you want to say they are. But looks can be deceiving. It is true that Arcane Mage-rotation basically revolves around one single skill. But if we look at the other things on the list - mainly uptimes, procs and cooldowns - things don't look that easy anymore. Arcane Mages have one proc to keep track off (Missile Barrage), one uptime (Frost or Flame Ward for Incanter's Absorbtion) and no less than six cooldowns, Icy Veins, Arcane Power, Mirror Image, Evocation, Mana Gem and Presence of Mind. That means that although Arcane Mages only uses one mashable, they have to use eight other skills successfully to do optimal damage. Much of this revolves around using the cooldowns and procs to streamline mana management. And most of these things are on longer cooldowns which means you rarely have to take split second decisions when dpsing as an arcane mage, it allows for some planning ahead.

No, my personal favorite (in easyness) is Elemental Shaman. On single-target fights Elemental Shamans have two skills (Lightning Bolt and Lava Blast), one uptime (Flame Shock) and one cooldown (Elemental Mastery) to keep track of. An elemental shaman usually has no mana issues whatsoever (as opposed to Arcane Mages) and therefore doesn't have to use Thundershock for optimal damage. That means they have four things all in all to keep track of to do good damage, which is less than half as many as an Arcane Mage.

But, which class is the most difficult? If we follow my recipe of "amount of things to keep track of = difficulty level" it seems to be Cat Druids that are the most difficult. They have one skill (Shred), five uptimes (Savage Roar, Rip, Faerie Fire, Rake, Mangle), two cooldowns (Berserk and Tiger's Fury), one proc (Clearcast) and combo points to keep track of. Those are ten things to keep track of, not counting the combo points. The big majority of these skills have to be juggled within a 30 second time frame with different prioritizing depending for example on current amount of energy and combo points (only exceptions are Faerie Fire and Berserk).

Enhancement Shamans are quite tricky too. I'm not sure of all their different skills and such but I always suck at playing them because I feel like they have too many things to keep track of, so they have to be difficult <.<

Like I said, I don't know every class like the back of my hand so these are just my guesses based on my own experiences. Considering all the changes that are being made to classes all the time it is quite possibly some class has turned into the easiest/most difficult besides these two without me knowing about it. But now you can count for yourself and see, how many things do you need to keep track of? Within what time frame? Is resource an issue? And so on.

I'd love it if you could tell me what different skills, procs, uptimes and cooldowns your class and spec has to keep track of! Maybe I can make a list to crown the final easiest/most difficult class.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How do you handle unethical behavior?

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In a really good episode of Star Trek Voyager, the holo doctor (who never gets an actual name) is confronted by a rather difficult choice. To save the life of a crew member he has to use the research made by a man who acquired his results through unethical ways, by experimenting on unwilling patients. The doctor reasons that if he decides to use those research results, that would be like justifying the means in which they were acquired, and decides that he has to find another way.

The question here is; would it be ok to use something which has been acquired in unethical ways, even if it's for something "good" (definable of course)?

First of all I'd like to say that I don't agree with the Doctor in this episode. I don't think that using unethically acquired research in anyway has to justify the means in which they were acquired. I usually apply a simple "what would I want" to any moral questions, and I would of course not want to be part of any freak experiment against my will. But if the harm was already done, I think I would prefer the results to be used to save lives rather than be discarded. This doesn't mean that getting the research in this way was ok in any way. Besides, how much of our knowledge today doesn't origin in research which has been acquired in what we'd today consider rather unethical? We improve, not by discarding our mistakes, but by learning from them and finding new ways to get understanding about things.

So anyway, now that I've made that clear I'd like to make a further point. This kind of dilemma can be found in a game like WoW too. People behave unethically all the time (unethical as in alot of people don't agree that it is a good behavior) which I have mentioned in some posts before. I can think of two good examples and I'd like to ask you what you'd do to handle them, if at all.

The Battered Hilt
It has become something of a standing joke in trade chat of my server (and surely of other servers too) to sell a "Ninja'd Battered Hilt". Although many of them probably aren't ninja'd at all, I am sure alot of them are. And if someone admits to having ninja'd it, aka stolen it from the rest of the people who also rightfully should have had a chance to it or needed it more, would you have any second thoughts as to buying, it at all?

I will go against what I just say here and say that it is wrong. In doing this, you might not justify the behavior, but you'd definitely encourage it. People see that they can actually sell their ninja'd item, which is the very reason they ninja'd it in the first place. Kinda like stolen art. If you buy stolen items, you encourage the whole idea of stealing items to profit from them. But you want the Battered Hilt of course and the ninjaing has already been done, so would it be so wrong? The difference to the example with unethical research in the "real world" is that us players have very little power against taking action towards players who steal items, whereas I hope that governments around the world have more power to prevent unethical research from taking place (but maybe I am naïve). WoW is based on such a big part on mutual trust and the will for everyone to be kind to everyone else, that there isn't much we can do but govern our own actions. Only the GM's has the final say.

The NINJA guild
It is similar to my previous example, but on a bigger scale. On my server, and again probably on several others, we have an official ninja-guild. A guild whose members openly admit to being ninjas when pugging with other people. Maybe you would avoid any pug raid in which one of these guild members happen to be the Master Looter (which I do), but would you go to any further lengths to "punish" this unethical behavior? The problem is that you would have to punish every member of the guild, even those that have never ninja'd anything, since you wouldn't know the ninjas from the non-ninjas really. On the other hand, those people agree to share their guild tag with commonly known ninjas without doing anything about it and maybe they deserve a little taste of the "collective punishment" as we say in swedish?
Would you for instance turn them down if you pull your own pug group together? Say "sorry, I don't invite ninjas". Would you be arsed? And if you really needed that healer and the only one you get is one from this guild, would you still stick with your policy or bend it some this once out of convenience?

Again, our only way to affect other people in a game like WoW is by making clear that we don't accept that kind of behavior. We can't throw them into jail (ban their accounts) or take what they stole away from them, so the only way we can hope to change that behavior by setting our foot down and say "we don't want anything to do with people like you" (and ticket a GM and hope for something to happen). That is, if we can be arsed.

The problem with any system that allows players to report unethical behavior is that it can, and will, be abused. A game like WoW is somewhat similiar to real life in this way too. We have to go to the "police" (GM's) when we have an issue and then wait for their bureaucracy to take its time before something might happen. Like I mentioned in my post about ninjas, Blizzard doesn't think it's big enough of a problem to put man power enough into it to make sure people stop doing it. And unethical behavior overall really isn't much of a problem, yet. But when people get away with it so easily, they won't be able to stop themselves from doing it (or so it seems anyway). And maybe that means we need a little social courage to step in.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Good Bad Items - Tank trinkets (lowbie)

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A sort of revisit to my old post about good bad trinkets for level 80 tanks, I found a really nice tank trinket for a lowbie tank (and will tip about some others while I'm at it). When questing with my rogue I stumbled upon a quest I rarely do and noticed that the reward was quite nice. Not for a rogue perhaps, but definitely so for a little tank. Especially since trinkets are so scarce at low levels (and stay that way forever it seems). And there are no BoA tank trinkets either! So here is a nice substitute;
There's an elite giant in Stranglethorn Vale named Mok'Rash. He's very rarely killed, and therefore a rather special quest chain is missed by alot of people. He resides on the small island just outside of Booty Bay and isn't too difficult if you're about the same level as he is (level 42, don't forget he is elite). When killed he always drops a green item called Monogrammed Sash. The item not only is an equippable gear piece, but also a quest item. The quest is to return the sash to its rightful owner, which happens to be Hecklebury Smotts over on the quay bridge from where the Booty Bay boat goes. If you decide to turn the Sash back to Smotts, which means you'll lose the sash, he'll reward you with a followup quest to kill another elite giant, Negolash.

And the reward for killing Negolash is the item I am thinking about here - Smott's Compass. It is a trinket that gives 12 dodge rating straight of the bat. The quest is obtainable already at level 35, so if you bribe someone to help you, or have one of those mythical "friends" I hear everyone talk about, you've got a really nice tank trinket to keep you company for alot of levels ahead. At level 35, 12 dodge rating is worth nearly 2% dodge, not shabby at all. And it's good for all tank classes!

At level 58 you can do the quest Cruel's Intentions, after some prequests, to get another really nice tank trinket - Regal Protectorate. I've had that trinket up until level 80 on many of my tank chars!

Then at level 65 you can grab a Mercurial Stone, crafted by alchemists. The extra stamina and hit makes it really nice and by this level the old Smott's Compass probably won't give you that much dodge anymore and can safely be replaced.

These are just some few tips as to where you can find some lowbie tank trinkets, because they won't exactly rain down on your head. These are easily obtainable and quite good!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Top 5 Most Annoying Items

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Yay, another list! I'm currently leveling a little rogue and have since level 35ish had to kill a whole lot of trolls. It made me think about the fact that there are some things, items, in WoW that really annoy the heck out of me. Everytime I have to experience them I feel the nerdrage boiling inside me. I won't tell you just yet why the trolls in particular made me think about this, since it has made the number 1 on my list. And no sneak peaking!

5. Food
Yes, it annoys the heck out of me that although Blizzard have been buffing us players plenty, they haven't made the food able to keep our pace. This is especially annoying when you're a mage because the food you're able to conjure will mostly be useless. Who wants to have to eat three times to get full mana/hp? That's more than a minute of waiting around. And the most annoying part is that the solution is so dang simple, one wonders why Blizzard hasn't changed this a long time ago. Just simply make all food based on percentual hp, instead of a fixed amount. If they worry that this would remove the needs for ranks, one could still imagine rank 1 gives 1% hp/mana, rank 2 2% hp/mana and so on. And anyway, why do we need different levels on our foods? Would percentual gain be that OP? I doubt it. All the food with fixed gains are dang annoying, and unfortunately that means most of the foods out there.

4. Items that force players into doing stuff
I am thinking Toy Train Set. I am thinking Piccolo of the Flaming Fire. They are fun sometimes. But mostly they're just annoying. I am glad there is a Wind-Up Train Wrecker, but he just isn't enough! Why can't all those items work like the D.I.S.C.O party ball, where you have to actively click on something to participate. Why do they allow items that force us to listen to emotes? Fortunately enough I can remove myself from these items, at least most of the times. But I really hate it when someone pops the train set after some wiping in a raid. That's so annoying... it's almost fun. ^^

3. "Special" skins that are worth less than regular skins
Some skins are worth alot of money, like Rugged, Thick and Heavy Leather. Annoyingly enough however, you have a chance to get a "special" skin when skinning. It's rare and cool and worth shit. Most hides and dragonscales for example. Everytime I skin a mob that drops rugged leather and instead gives me a feckin hide, I know I've just lost 1g. Same goes with dragonscales, which fortunately only drop from dragonkin. No one wants those silly hides! So I should be able to decide for myself if what I skin turns into a skin or a hide.

2. Shaman reagents
Shamans are special. Instead of having to buy their reagents, like everyone else (they don't even have to buy ankhs with the right glyph), they get their reagents on drops. And those drops are common. Extremely common. And no one else can use them for anything, but everyone still gets them. Every damn player in Azeroth has to do the fiddling with Fish Oils and Fish Scales everytime they kill something remotely related to a fish, just so shamans can have an easy supply of their reagents. Reagents they most likely won't use in the first place because there are glyphs to remove the need for those too!

1. Troll Sweat
The by far most annoying item ever, which really makes me froth, is Troll Sweat. It's annoying because it drops from nearly every troll, it only stacks in 5 (which means it will clog your backpack asap) and it isn't even worth the bytes that comprise it. I know that there are addons that prevent you from looting worthless pieces of crap like these, but it really annoys me that I would have to use an addon just to avoid ONE stinking item. Ok I would probably use it to avoid those damn Fish Oils/Scales too. But still! The trolls sweats are everywhere! And they are... so... worthless. Nearly every troll I loot has one of these and I have to stop to empty my bags from them every 20th troll or so. And trolls are everywhere too! Nerdrage, anger, graaah!

So ok. I have released my rage about these items some now so I am a little more relaxed. But like I said I'm currently leveling a rogue in troll areas (STV, Hinterlands) and won't get away from them for long. And then I'll get a break from them for most of Outlands fortunately, but then they return in Zul'Drak! Although I am not sure if those trolls drop Troll Sweat too? Are there any items in WoW that really annoys you?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

When your computer thinks it's Sleeping Beauty

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A rather unfunny thing happened to me yesterday. I've never liked Windows, and especially not Vista (Fista) that I am using now. It works ok, but it annoys me to be constantly patronized by my own damn computer. "Are you really sure you want to do this? Really really?". Yes damn it, I want to do it or I wouldn't have pressed the button. And with all this overprotectiveness it still can't protect me from the biggest villain. Itself.

What happened yesterday completely shocked me however. I have handled plenty of bluescreens and other really odd happenings in different Window'ses before, but this one kinda took the price, because it was so dang unexpected.

After finishing my post yesterday I decided to turn my computer off. I accidentally hit "Sleep Mode" instead, because it's just next to "Shut Down" in my list. I thought "noooo, now it's gonna take forever to go into sleep mode and then I have to wake it before I can shut it down...". I tried to stop the process by pushing some keyboard buttons and clicking the mouse but no, the process was well underway and could not be interrupted. So the comptuer went into sleep mode and I pressed a keyboard button to wake it up. The fans started up but nothing else happened. The screen was black. It seemed that no mashing of buttons could get the damn thing to get out of sleep mode.

So I turned it off by pressing the power button and went to bed. And then I went up again and started the computer just to make sure everything was working ok. It started up with the fans and flashy blue lights, but the screen was black and the keyboard and mouse weren't activated. So I did another force-shut down and pulled the plug. Then reinserted it again and tried to start it up again. Same result. It was as if it was stuck in sleep mode.

I just stared at the computer. Like seriously? Stuck in sleep mode? How is that even frickin possible, I thought. Me and Love googled some about it (on his computer) and apparently it was a common issue, not only on Vista but on XP and Windows 7 too. I went to bed angry.

The morning after I dialed the web-shop from whom I had bought the computer and the guy on the other hand said "oh that problem" when I explained it to him. "Yeah it's quite common". Apparently this happens because USB-mice (which like everyone uses nowadays) screw with the shut down process if you click them while the computer goes into sleep mode which will freeze the OS in sleep mode.

Solution:
The immediate solution if you've already got the problem is unfortunately to open the computer up and remove the battery from the mother board. Yes not kidding. This means you might lose passwords and will have to reset date and time when you restart the computer. This is what my reseller told me and this solution did work for me.

The preemptive solution to make sure this never happens is to make sure that your USB-mouse doesn't count as a viable unit to take the computer out of sleep-mode. How you do this is different depending on whether your use XP, Fista or 7 but it's somewhere in the control panel. Another thing to do is make sure that you can't accidentally put your computer into sleep mode again. I have a sleep mode button on my computer for instance which I've turned off (so that pressing it doesn't do anything anymore). I've also switched place of my Shut Down button so it isn't so close to Sleep Mode in the interface.

Some info can be found here

Now apparently this issue has been around since XP (said my reseller), and they still haven't fixed it for W7? What's up with that (although frankly I'm not suprised)? If USB-mice have such a high chance of freezing the OS like this, why is being able to use them during sleep mode still default? It's not like everyone knows what to do or have someone to ask when their computer suddenly doesn't wake from sleep mode anymore, which all the desperate forum posts without real answers out there bare witness off. And it's not like USB-mice are an unusual thing. How can they make two such prominent parts of a computer - the Sleep Mode and the USB-mouse - work so bad with eachother that the whole damn thing crashes? Note that it wasn't a special kind if USB-mice, like a special manufacturer, but the very abstract "some" kind. I can really see how the designers thought about this "ohh this kind of novelty won't be common for another 10 years so we don't have to worry much about fixing that humongous issue".

And you want us to pay 200 euro for this? FUUUU is what I'm thinking

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How to! Warrior Tank - Level 75-76

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Omg! There hasn't been a post about my poor warrior all of May! Well lets change that. I've finally dinged her 76, and the story continues.Actually, there isn't much new to add since last time. But still some so let's see what we can dig up.
You can continue the switching from the cobalt set to the saronite set. Some pieces are definitely better than others. Some are barely an upgrade, and therefore not that important to switch while others are big upgrades, it depends some on whether you've gotten some other gear through quests/instances too, so keep an eye on that.At level 74 you can do the quest "Wanted: Ragemane's Flipper". You'll find it in Light's Breach in Zul'drak. Be sure to read the quest text, it's awesome in itself. It awards your pick from a nice set of different tank weapons, so I strongly recommend you checking this quest out! Ragemane is a level 75 elite, and quite tough. At level 75 you get Enraged Regen though and that should help you solo him (I've done it twice so it's not that hard). Three of the rewards are good for a warrior tank; Crescent of Brooding Fury, Hammer of Quiet Mourning and Sword of Heartwrenching Slaughter (such nice names). They have some different stats and speed but they're all good. So which one to pick is really about what stats you like. I usually go with the Crescent, although it is really slow. Apparently alot of people recommend picking one of the faster weapons. There are mainly two reasons you'd want a faster weapon;
- More Heroic Strikes (since it's on swing)
- More auto attacks which generates more rage

I have no trouble with rage at this level whatsoever. If you feel like you do however, you should go with the faster weapons. The point with Heroic Strike is a good one, but having a slower weapon will instead improve the damage on your Devastate (in fact it is the high end damage on the weapon that matters, but slower weapons generally have more high end over fast weapons of the same level). To me Heroic Strike and Devastate felt about equally threat generating so I chose between the stats on the weapons instead. The Crescent has expertise, an offensive stat I really love for tanking. The mace and sword has dodge/parry instead, which are good defensive stats of course. So again, the choice is up to you. They're all about equally good so if you have trouble with survivability and rage -> fast wep. If you have trouble with being parried/blocked/dodged (and I do)-> slow wep.

At level 75 you can also get yourself a Deadly Saronite Dirk. It gives both hit and expertise! The Sun-fire Shuriken I mentioned last time has better survivability though, so yet again you'll have to choose between avoidance (or hp in this case) and threat.

Skills
We get one really nice new skill at level 75. It's not Heroic Throw unfortunately, we'll have to wait to 80 for that and I'm still angry that we don't get it sooner. It's Enraged Regen which is similar to the druids Frenzied Regen, but better actually. The druid skill requires alot of rage, whereas Enraged Regen only requires an "enrage effect". You'll probably have an "enrage effect" active 95% of the time when tanking because of Improved Defensive Stance. In the off chance that you don't, Bloodrage will do the trick. A nice hint to using Enraged Regen is to use Last Stand just before. Since Enraged Regen is affected by your total hp, Last Stand will increase its healing by 30%! Pretty dang nice when you need it.

Talents
Oh yeah, just as last time go on with what you're doing. I've finished Toughness and will now move on to Armored to the Teeth.

Instances
Two new instances again!Violet Hold
At level 75 you can grab a quests for the key to Violet Hold by a guy in the Violet Citadel in Dalaran. It doesn't have any nice reward, but well, you get the key and alot of exp. Violet Hold is a really easy instances with just one tricky pull. Actually the mobs come to you, but anyway.

- The only difficult packs of mobs in VH are the group packs. Not because they're many, but because they stun, teleport and knock back. Really annoying, so be ready for it.
- There is one boss in VH that can prove to be difficult. Definitely not the last boss who is quite easy but Xevozz. The two first bosses of the instances are randomized, so if you're lucky you won't have to fight this guy anytime soon. But you'll have to eventually. If you're group is good enough you can just nuke him down. On low levels, this is rarely a possibility which means he needs to be kited. He summons spheres of doom that you need to stay away from. He will pause every now and then, but just keep semi-back peddling and try to keep aggro on him.
- Violet Hold doesn't let you do the pulling. Like I said the mobs more or less come to you instead. That means that once the instance starts you have to be active and ready to do your job, until it ends.

There are some tank drops to be had in VH actually, so keep your eyes open. There's a shield, some pants and a nice back depending on which bosses you get.

Drak'tharon Keep
I really like this instance. As with every other instance I like it has a nice pace, interesting mobs and fun pulls. The only thing I don't like about this instance is the second boss. He only shoots frostbolts randomly so it's really tough to get any rage which annoys me -_- There are a few quests for this instance, all acquired in Grizzly Hills by doing some prequests. "Search and Rescue" gives a really nice tank ring, and "Cleansing Drak'tharon" has a nice story about it (which is continued in Zul'Drak).

- The mobs in Drak'tharon actually hit quite hard. So don't do too big pulls!
- The first, second and last boss are really easy. The third boss, the T-rex, however can e a little tougher. He fears and puts a nasty dot on you. The dot won't go away until you're fully healed, and I've died twice from it -after the fight ended- because the healer didn't react fast enough :(
- The troll packs just after the T-rex boss are fairly easy. The patrollers use silence and fear which in combination can lead to nasty results. Be careful about how you pull here, because they chain easily. Trying to get control over the packs before you engage the patrol troll (hihi it rhymes) is highly recommended, because that increases the chance that the mobs stay on you when you're silenced and feared.

There are no tank items in Drak'tharon. Muradin's Lost Greaves from the last boss have some nice stats (alot of expertise! But they are dps really) but no defense :/

(PS. Sometimes I don't have links for the items I talk about here. That is because Blogger sometimes screws its own links, when you also have pictures, and that consequently deletes a portion of my text, which makes me really sad panda. That has already happened twice to this text for example, and it takes quite some time to find the missing part and rewrite it. The more links I have to make the greater the risk, so when I talk about many items I prefer not to make any links. Let's say it has to be either pictures or links! ^^ If you're curious about the items I talk about just search for them over at wowhead.com!)

Monday, May 24, 2010

The epic story

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Today Robes of Insight dropped for my rogue, that I am currently leveling. It really startled me. Although I have spent countless hours killing mobs (seriously, I don't want to count them) when leveling different chars, I haven't found that many boe world drop epics. With this robe I can think of five. And maybe I have forgotten one or two, so let's say 6 ish. Considering I've played this game for five years, that's little more than one world drop epic per year. Not so awesome. I have gotten some world drop epics in instances, like Eye of Flame in Sunken Temple once or Zom's Crackling Bulwark in PoS, but I don't count those. I mean those epics that no one else can roll on. Here is the story about my epics.

The Green Tower
On what turned out to be my first main, an alliance druid I played on my brothers account, I found my very first boe epic. It was in Stranglethorn Vale, when killing goblins. It was really great timing because I needed money for my mount and since I knew nothing of the game I had like no money. I had lent some money from an in game friend and by being able to sell this shield for some 70g I could pay him back at once. Actually, I wasn't completely alone when this thing dropped. Some guy had offered to boost me some by burning through some quests and he was the one doing all the killing. When I think back like this I was really a douche bag who took the shield from him XD
Thing is, when it dropped I didn't even know it was something special. I was that scrubby! But my brother who stood behind me instantly started shouting "omgomgneed!". So I just pressed need. Well back then I think it was greed/pass only, so I suppose I greeded. The guy did too of course but I won. This druid was the same char I met Love with by the way. Those were the times...

Wall of the Dead
My second ever boe epic was yet another shield. This time it was Wall of the Dead, when killing undeads on the graveyard area just by the alliance quest hub in WPL. Can't remember what it's called anymore, haven't been there for years, Chillwind Point? Anyway, I sold that one for some 100g ish, which was alot of money back then! Well at least it was for someone as poor and nub as me.

Kang the Decapitator
When leveling one of my warriors, the one I play the most, I did Jintha'alor with one of Loves chars. Can't remember which one now, maybe his druid. Anyway, Kang the Decapitator dropped and I wanted it for my warrior of course (and got it)! Back then he played a warrior too and we had some small fuss as to who really deserved it. Considering he deleted that warrior without it ever turning 60, and my warrior is tanking ICC... I think it's pretty clear Kang made the difference.

Boot of Avoidance
When leveling one of my paladins, the one I play the most, I found these nice tank boots while killing pirates in Tanaris - Boots of Avoidance. I used them of course, they're awesome! I'm not sure if they changed the stats since I used them, but they were good back then too I recall.

Robes of Insight
And today I found Robes of Insight while killing ogres in Tanaris! Funny thing is that just while I was marvelling the fact that I had found another boe epic, I was attacked by a wandering ogre. Who turned out to be a rare spawn. Who turned out to drop a blue item. So those were my lucky 5 minutes of this day!

Can you remember your first boe world epic drop?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How to become the bestest dpser (part 2)

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About a month ago I mentioned some good to think about tips for all those people out there trying to win the dps race. Since then I've thought about a few more, and thought I'd mention them as well. As last time, they might seem obvious to some of you. But you people probably aren't struggling to win the meters ;) These tips are for those who aren't sure if they've covered every avenue yet.

Start Attack
This only applies to melee players. I mentioned last time that you need tempo when dpsing. Any down time is no-dps time (unless you're a bass turd affli lock). I also mentioned "training" or "seaming" your spells together. The equivalent for a melee would be to use a "start attack" macro with your main skill. Or all skills if you're dedicated enough. That means that when using your skill, your char will start attacking the closest target, or the target you're currently targetting, even if you don't have the energy/rage/mana/runes to do the skill. If you don't use a start attack macro, you will have to right-click your target manually to have your char attacking, or wait for enough rage/energy/mana/runes to accumulate for your skill to execute.
Say you want to Sinister Strike a target just after killing another. You'll probably be low on energy, and since SS costs 45 energy (not talented) you'll have to wait for that amount until the char actually does something. OR right click the mob. OR keep start attack as a toggle button on your action bar which = waste of action bar space. OR simply use a start attack macro!
Here is one that works;
#showtooltip [Skill name here]
/startattack
/cast [skill name here]

[skill name here] obviously means you should replace it with your preferred skill. And no brackets needed then. Be sure to spell your skill the exact way it's spelled in the tooltip.

Do it from behind
See what I did there? *chuckle* Ok enough preteen humour... Seriously though, I see alot of melee getting this bit wrong, even at 80. And yes, this only applies to melee as well. When dpsing something, always try to get behind your target. Some rogues and most cats do this anyway since they can't backstab/shred otherwise (although few raiding rogues backstab to my knowledge), but I don't think all of them think about the best reason to stay in the ass of the mob. It's simple. A mob can't parry or block with its rear. And unless you happen to be expertise capped (which is like impossible) getting rid of the mobs parries and blocks will do alot for your overall damage. They can still dodge however so you'll still like some expertise, which importance varies depending on class. A good hint is that hunter/warlock pets always try to stand in the back of the mob. If the pets understand the benefits from this, you should too!
In raids, this often means trying to find that perfect spot were you don't stand in fire/otherevilstuff and still try to be in what counts as behind the mob.

Stack your cd's
As a commenter tipped about in my last post, you should try to fully understand how your skills interact with your cooldowns and with other peoples cooldowns. Most dps classes have some sort of cooldown (and all can use haste/spelldamage pots). In my last post I told you about "Knowing your skills" like the back of your hand. Of course, knowing about -any- skills anyone might cast that increases your dps, like the back of your hand is the next step. And definitely needed for optimal dps. Try to find out what every other class can do to increase your dps, and what you should do if they use that skill. Skills like; Hysteria, Bloodlust, Shattering Throw, Tricks of the Trade to mention some. Items like Potion of Speed and Potion of Wild Magic (although most casters prefer Potion of Speed) are things you can try to time with cooldowns like these.

Double the potions, double the fun
And while I mention potions, it's worth thinking about that you can use one potion just before the fight starts and then one more once that cooldown ends. It's called the "double-potion trick" and used for those fights where every ounce of dps counts for success (like old-school sarth 3d nuke). Or for serious (and rich) dpsers in any fight.

That's all I could think of this time. Give me a comment if you can think of anything else!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What are your prejudices?

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I'm quite the peaceful person. I really don't like pvp for instance, I just don't feel any special entertainment in killing my fellow players, even if they happen to be alliance. That is, unless they play shitty gnomes. I just can't stand gnomes! Killing one feels like making the world (Azeroth) a better place somehow. Odd, isn't it? It's not like gnomes have been especially pesty to me during my playing or that I was bullied by one when I was a child (or was I?). I've even played some gnomes myself (not above level 17 though) and I thought it was ok!

We all have some prejudices in WoW. I'd even say we have plenty. And before I start out I'd like to warn you not to take anything I'm going to write personally, even if I don't know you. These are totally unfounded prejudices and not based on some one person/char. I've got this idea for instance that all girls start out playing either 1. priest (sometimes druid, but then always resto) or 2. hunter. AmIrite or amIrite? I started out as a priest! And I know everyone thinks that rogues are played mainly by 12-year olds. It's probably true too. I've got a notion about every class and every race which might, or might not, affect the way I interact with whoever is playing it. I'm not sure, I haven't given it that much thought "in action". But I'm quite sure I think that blood elves are played by people lower of age than the general tauren, as one example. People who play warlocks and mages are probably of higher age than people who play rogues (as mentioned) or paladins. And I always get the feeling that most people who play hunter mains are daft (and ret paladins too to some extent), because leveling such an easy class kinda spoils the player into thinking everything is easy, and therefore behave unskilled. You know all those "melee-hunters"? Or hunters who don't use pets? Playing a hunter the entirely wrong way still works, because it's such an easy class. Like I've always said, there's a reason gold farmers choose to bot hunters, and no other class.

But then again, all classes are easy leveled now (except healing classes...).

And although I know there can't be any truth to this, I always get back to thinking that ... isn't there though? I know how it works, you think something is true and then you seek out the information that verifies it, blind to anything else. I do it too. But still, it's really fun to find yet another girl who happens to play a priest main (I know so many girls that started out as priests...)!

I'd really love to be able to make some sort of statistical analysis of what people choose to play what classes. Is there an age/sex difference between what class you choose to start out with? Or is it completely random? Are my prejudices somewhat correct?

Those are of course prejudices about the people who play a certain class. But I started out with the gnomes. Just as I dislike gnomes, there are some races I think higher off and respect more than others. And classes too. I generally think rogues deserve to die, but that must have something to do with their habit of suprise stun locking me to death when I'm questing. On the other hand I've been ganked plenty by all classes. Prot warriors always have my respect, simply because I know the pain of leveling one. Well that doesn't apply anymore, they're imba now. I have a certain hate-love towards dwarves. I like the race, but think that most people who play them tend to be elitistic (generalization ftw!).

Blizzard have succeeded with spreading hate and anger between the factions too I think. I've been properly brainwashed into thinking that all alliance are evil, and stupid. But then I think about most horde players and realize we're not so different after all ;)

Think about it the next time you do a random instance. What is the player behind the char like? Why did you make those conclusions? Just by looking at the races and classes we make some assumptions, which are then changed to new assumptions as soon they "open their mouths" i.e. write something. Which makes me think of another prejudice, if people use bad english (badderer than mine) I generally think they're stupid too. Or if they use "lulz" every other sentence. And it's usually quite easy to tell if someone is below 18 years of age by the way they express themselves. And old people (35+) are usually silent. I could go on all night! And in the end I'm probably just right one out of ten times :P

Well this is mostly a bunch of anecdotes, but my point is that we're affected by our prejudices even in a game like WoW. The interesting thing about this is that in a game like WoW, our prejudices are obviously unfounded. Or at least founded on very weak grounds. And yet it works the very same way as prejudices outside of WoW. But then we think we have reason to believe the things we do about people. I've met some really annoying gnome rogues, and so I think gnome rogues generally are bass turds. "Real life" prejudice works the exact same way. I see some german people on TV who drink beer and I get the general idea that germans all drink beer. We need to work this way to make sense of the world around us in a fast and efficient way, but sometimes it's a little "too efficient", making us blind to the truth. Gnome rogues are bass turds though. For real.

So what are your prejudices?

Friday, May 21, 2010

What happened to all the cc?

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Can you remember the last time you used a cc skill? Outside of pvp of course. I remember back in Magister's Terrace days people were looking for special classes just for their cc skills. They were usually needed to complete that damn instance without any wipes. Heck most BC instances were tricky enough to require at least some cc. And I remember even further back when you wouldn't have anything but a priest healer for Stratholme because they can shackle undeads (and cleanse disease and dispel magics, but anyway). Maybe that was a little too much to ask for. No one wanting to instance with the poor druid because his silly roots were too bad of a cc (in fact they weren't even usable as a cc in instances until wotlk). But fact remains that all pure dpsclasses have some sort of cc nowadays, which are hardly being used. I have the cool turtle polymorph on my mage and I never get to epeen it :( There is no cc in WoW pve anymore, except perhaps in Lady Deathwhisper heroic. And this is both good and bad.

Bad
I like to try to make the most of the classes I play. I try to use skills that don't have anything to do with damage, just because it's fun. In heroics today it is hardly needed, unless the entire group happens to be newly dinged 80's. And interestingly enough I usually get more scorn than praise when I try to cc something. Suppose it's understandable since tanking today is more about collecting as many mobs as possible than trying to make smooth pulls. But isn't it kinda sad in a way? Having all those skills not being used for anything ? And what's even worse, since no one ever uses them (unless they pvp), they forget how to use them or don't think about using them when they're actually needed!

Good
But when I think about instances like Oculus, I remember why we don't want people to have to do anything out of the extreme ordinary for the party to succeed. It generally fails. And since instancing has become something that should take a mere 15 minutes, and not an hour like back in BC and even longer back in Vanilla, we just can't demand people to do anything but the easiest. We don't want to, because we'll be annoyed when they fail, just as in Oculus. It is sad in a way too, but one has to accept reality. I can't say I particularly miss the endless instances of the old times. We've learned to want faster and easier satisfaction now! And I suppose you can't have that and trickier fights too.

I do wish however that there was one or two a little tricker instances, which you could go with a bunch of trusted friends for some better loot. Maybe Blizzard intended the ICC instances to work this way, but unfortunately they didn't make the lesson clear enough and people are trying to brute force those instances too, usually with success. Who can blame them when that is what they've been taught to do throughout Wotlk? Easy street, don't worry, you won't have to move your face from the keyboard to cc something.
Love tells me that they're apparently bringing cc back some with Cataclysm, so we'll see how that turns out!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Putricide HC 10man, down!

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Yes, we finally made it! After 2,5 hours of wiping, we finally got this bastard down in what to turned out to be a fairly smooth kill. We actually had a good start already with our first try and got him to phase three quite easily. But by then we always had someone dead and well, that just didn't work out for very long. As I wrote about last week, the main issue seems to get a hang of that damn disease. This time we really had everyone doing a superb job with it and it really made a difference. Remember the damn disease comes in phase 3 too! That took us off guard once.

We tried using two or three healers but found out we had an easier time with two! That is because the healing isn't really the issue (think I said that last time too ;)), but getting the fight mechanics right is. Handling the disease and the oozes, and of course all the other stuff that happens the correct way will make healing an easy job. It did become a little sweaty toward the end of phase 3 however, and just before he died I thought "ok, I've used all my trump cards and people will start dying just about now". It was really a relief when he died. And all that hard work finally paid off. It always does in the end. Imagine all the people who did this before the 15% buff! *phew*.

As always we forgot to take a kill shot, but the screen up there is from our successful attempt, and a bit into phase three. It was when he was around 10% (as in the picture) that healing started getting really tough. As you can see from the screen people were pretty topped off before that. I see now too that me and the other healer only held an 4k ish hps, which is way less than in our other attempts where we both were around 5k ish. That's what avoiding raid damage does!

It was a really fun fight, but I hope we'll try something else for a while now ;) We've only got Sindragosa and Lich King left on hc now so I suppose that Sindragosa is next. I've heard she should be easier than Putricide, but we'll see about that.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Top 5 Healing Skills

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Hah! Told you I'd write it. I always keep my promises (if I remember them...).

I found the list I had made with my top 5 favorite healing skills (which I had written exactly three months ago today). But I realized that I'd really have to define "best" before I carry on any futher. I don't prefer these heals because they're the best heal in every situation. Most heals out there are good, in their special niche. Some are even the best. But, some niches are less valuable to fill. So this should be seen more as a list of the heals I'd bring to a desert island. If I could create my own hybrid healer, with heals from any other heal class, which 5 would it have? This is my answer;

5. Instant heals with cd such as Nature's Swiftness and Guardian Spirit.
Although their area of use is limited, when you need them you're damn happy you've got them. Interestingly enough I just realized that although NS and GS share the same cooldown (and glyphed and unprocced GS only has 1 min cd) I use NS far more often than GS. I always seem to want to save GS for that very special moment, which is silly of course. Have that "OH SHIT!"-button is crucial and something I'd really miss if I didn't (and the rest of my party too when the shit hits the fan)

4. Prayer of Mending
I love it. Definitely one of my favorite heals over the board. And hey that's one of the reasons it made the list! But it aint all up there because it is slightly unreliable. However, if you always start it out on the tank it will always have made it worth your mana. To me it costs less than a Flash Heal and heals as much as one on one single jump, making it extremely mana efficient. The best thing about it is that it works its magic while you do other things, which also makes it possible for you to get spamprocs of Surge of Light in tough situations (if you're holy) - just when you need em. So it's not better than Chain Heal, Circle of Healing or Wild Growth, the healing spells that are most similar, but differs in this very important aspect. It heals where it is needed (most of the time), and all the while you can heal something else.

3. Earth Shield
Maybe alot of people would put another heal this far up the list, but I just have to put it here because of its comfiness. It's one of the few "set and forget" heals, and makes such things as instance healing ridiculously easy. Place this at the tank at start - take nap - reap the rewards. When raiding it's also nice to know there is something doing the tank healing while you're off healing other people. How good wouldn't it be if you could have this on everyone in the raid? Completely awesome, that's how good.

2. Rejuvenation
Although not so exciting or special, it really is one of the best healing spells in the game. Few spells come close in mana efficiency and hps capabilities than Rejuvenation. Renew is far behind. It's so good it almost makes healing boring ^^ And also one of the prime reasons alot of druids out there boast their abilities to solo heal alot of raid instances. Definitely not impossible when you've got this kind of spell in your pocket.

1. Power Word: Shield
So, there you have it. The heal I like the most, or would prefer over having any other heal, is not really a heal at all. And that is also the reason I like it the most! I think I wrote in some other post a long time ago that damage reduction is really the most efficient way to heal anything. It prevents the damage from actually happening, and thus reducing the amount that needs to be healed, or said in another way, the amount of hp the target has. This is also known as effective health. PWS is unique in its way of healing (Sacred Shield is similar, but not really close). If you use it properly its also the most effective way of healing since it "heals" for the exact amount of damage that you're being struck for = no overheal, and instantly! For being a heal that mimics the concept of damage prevention rather than "fixing once it's broken", I put PWS as my number one heal.

Poor paladins, didn't make the list... Not because they don't have good heals, but because their heals aren't special or interesting. Agree/disagree with me? Let's hear it!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

200 posts!

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Yes! Ding 200 posts! Let's review some of my favorite topics that I've brought up since I dinged 100 posts.

1. How to! Warrior Tank.
I've really enjoyed writing about my little warrior tank and my thoughts on warrior tanking overall. She's really close to 80, and I hope to get her there soon. The only reason it takes so long is because I only level her by doing one random instance per day. That way I can maximize the amount of emblems I get before I ding 80, and thus her gear when she gets there. Sorry it takes so long!
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/02/how-to-warrior-tank-level-50-59.html
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-to-warrior-tank-level-60-69.html
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/04/how-to-warrior-tank-level-70-72.html
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/04/how-to-warrior-tank-level-73-74.html

2. Top 5
I love to make lists. I can't believe I've only done two! I have plans for so many more, but apparently I come to think of other stuff and they've just... disappeared to the back of my mind. I was completely sure I had done a "Top 5 Healing Skills" but I can't find it anywhere. So apparently I didn't make a post about it ^^ That'll come though, trust me. And if you know I have written it already and just suck at finding it, tell me.
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/02/top-5-tanking-skills.html
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/03/top-5-most-annoying-mob-skills.html

3. My first video game
I really liked writing this post. It was a little more personal than what I generally write, and it made me think about all the fun times I've had with video games...
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-first-video-game.html

4. How do you play?
I really enjoy every post I write about peoples game styles. It's a theme that really interests me, and I think I can rant on forever about it. What makes people do the stuff they do? What makes WoW so special? Why do we enjoy it so much? How come people play that way and others another way and so on.
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/02/are-new-players-too-impatient.html
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/03/everyone-is-equal-but-some-are-more.html
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/03/switching-of-characters-when-is-it-ok.html
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/05/why-are-you-playing.html
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/05/is-wow-hardcore-or-nothing.html

5. Everything
Ok, that's not fair. But I do enjoy everything I write of course, or I wouldn't write it! Choosing one thing for the last place was quite hard though. I'll just sample some I liked a little extra... maybe.
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/05/number-crunching-mongoose.html
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/04/travellers-guide-to-molten-core.html
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/04/what-makes-culture-so-important.html
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/02/quantum-computers.html
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/02/brain-is-machine-assembled-not-to.html
- http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/02/holyness-addons-to-streamline-your_19.html

Wow, that turned out to be a lot of links <.<

Hope my next 100 posts will be as fun to write, and that you'll enjoy them too. If you have any special wishes about topics, tell me and I'll see if it's something I can produce a thought or two about. Any special topic you liked so far?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Is WoW hardcore or nothing?

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I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, who doesn't play WoW but alot of other games, and he told me something very interesting. He had tried WoW and given up (or maybe given up before trying, don't remember exactly. Have to ask him!) because he got the feeling that there wasn't room to be anything but optimized in it. It was hardcore or nothing. It made me think. In games such as Diablo II and other older mmorpgs, you could often fool around with gear and specs in a whole nother way, than you "can" in WoW. A guildie of mine had tried a dual-wield arms spec just for fun and we told him it was a bad idea, and why this was so. But the thing is, he dared try, and he dared stick by his unusual, sub-optimal spec, just for the heck of it. And if you're not raiding (because unfortunately Blizzard have put certain demands in this area, if you wish to ever complete them), then why shouldn't you be able to fool around with gear and specs?

I remember some years ago when I leveled one of my warriors (the one I play the most nowadays and also raid with). At level 13ish I got the quest reward from a WC quest, the Crescent Staff. I think it had different stats back then, but it doesn't really matter. It was itemized to be for a caster, but has awesome dps. At least at that level. So I played with it. And boy did I get comments about it. "HAHA! You're using a staff!". I simply said "well show me any other weapon in my level that comes even close in dps and that doesn't take ages to get or shitloads of money to buy". There aren't many, if any weapons that fill those criteria. But that didn't matter. The point was that I was a warrior using a staff. A big nono, no matter what. I wasn't conforming.

Sure, in games like these there will always be best options, but I think nowhere else than in WoW will you find so many people forcing you to cling to those options, by bashing any other choice. Me and my friends are still making fun of that enhancement shaman we found who had gemmed spirit. Or the DK with spellpower gear. Haha, he's stupid. Haha, he's not using the best gems/gear he could. Ok, there are extremes. Some things are really just stupid to do. But you know, maybe they just didn't care. And if the playing worked well for them, who am I to complain? Does the mere presence of his lack of knowledge bother me, even when I'm not really affected?

So aren't we a little too rigid? Why is it so important to us that everyone steps in line? Sure, when doing a dungeon you'd like everything to run as smoothly as possible. Wiping because someone wanted to try out some "crazy ass spec" isn't as fun as it sounds. But haven't we taken it a little too far? Now it feels like any step outside the neat red line we've marked up (over at EJ probably) is a major character flaw who needs to be kicked and laughed at.

I'd like to tell my friend that he's wrong. That he can be less than optimal, that he doesn't have to be hardcore, that he doesn't have to spend alot of time finding out what the best spec/gear is but just play for fun. But could I really do that? As soon as I think of doing it I get an image in my mind of all the bashing he'd probably get in any random dungeon he enters. Heck even I, who really try my best to be awesome get bashed sometimes, for really minimal mistakes.

Step in line or get lost. It's what WoW has become. And I don't like it to be honest. I will step up to the corner of shame and admit that I'm one of those who try to optimize people. But I also like to think that I am rather forgiving. I myself try some crazy things sometimes, although my general goal is to have things to run as smoothly as possible for myself. Like I told my dual wielding arms warrior friend "the most important thing is after all that you're having fun". Without ruining anyone elses fun. And I think we can loosen our tight grip on "optimal" some before that happens.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Why are you playing?

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I've been talking around this theme before, that different players have different goals with their playing. I usually state that any goal is good, as long as it works with your game style. If you want to raid, you have to have a certain game style, and if you want to rp you have to have another game style and so on. But... that was until I came across a really interesting incident when doing PoS the other day. Me and a friend got in it through random pugging and everything was working ok. The druid healer was a tad bit undergeared, but I really didn't think of it much. Bad gear definitely doesn't mean bad skills. I was however a little more worried when I after the dragon riders, just before Garfrost had the dot on me that won't go away until you're healed to max. It's horrible, because some healers don't have that "oh, someone isn't maxed out on hp, I have to heal him" reflex, and just wait till you're below 50% before they take action. The dot was ticking and ticking, I was closing on death and told him kindly to heal me to max or I would just keep on taking damage. It took a while before the coin fell, so to speak. But anyway. Maybe he hadn't ran across that mechanic before, it happens. Maybe he was preoccupied. Not good, but it happens too.

So we did Garfrost, no one dies but after the boss is dead the shaman in the group capses "HEALER YOU SUCK!". The healer wasn't great, but if no one is dead then he doesn't really suck. The paladin quickly defended the healer and said "how can you say that when you're doing less damage than the tank?". I quickly checked and it was true. Although the shaman outgeared me, he actually did less damage than me, the tank. And you know, some people are just bad players. It happens too. But his answer really shocked me. He said;
"Well I'm not playing serious, but the healer has to".

Not playing serious? I told him that unless everyone was at least doing their best, everything would be slowed down. He asked me why. Why?! Well if you're doing less damage than you can, the mobs will die slower and there will be more healing needed and mana wasted. That's why!

Did he really not grasp this? Well, that is hard to know. The real question is, why did he think it was ok to not do his best? So ok in fact that he stated it like it was nothing, standard behavior. He could slack, but the healer had to perform at his best.

It made me wonder. What is the point of playing a game, unless you want to do your best? When you play anything, be it Tetris, Monopoly or WoW, the general goal is to be good at it. To win. Isn't winning what makes it fun? Isn't at least trying to win what makes it fun? And in a game like WoW, where you can't really win the game per se, you have to win the second best thing - the fight. Everytime I do an instance, I do it because of the fun of outperforming myself (and preferrably everyone else in the group too). I want to win dps or heal/tank perfectly. Doing something a little better than I did before, or just boast my awesome skills, it doesn't matter. I want to win.

And then we have this kind of player. I don't know if he was some sort of freak exception, but I think I often see people who simply seem to slack. Their gear say one thing, their actions something else. What is the fun in simply entering an instance and not try to win? To just kinda... run along with everyone else. Throw a punch here and there but not much more. Is doing the instance so boring that you don't even want to try? Then why are you playing? For the few emblems you get? Is it really worth it then?

One could argue that maybe the slackers are doing something else meanwhile, like chatting or watching some series. If you're a healer I accept that, because instance healing could really become boring and there isn't really much to do whether you want to or not. But this guy said it like it was ok for him to slack, but everyone else had to do their job properly so that we could get forward. Did he really not understand that he was making things go slower? Well now I'm back to that unanswerable question again.

In my post about players who "want" and those who "don't want" I discussed the players who didn't seem to want to become better at the game. Who were satisfied with anything that works. Who keep on using the less good options with the excuse "well I'm no good at this anyway". This is quite similar, but the quote from the guy in my pug group just forced me to bring it up again. This is more about players who are good sometimes (or so I assume), but slack at other times, and find it quite ok. Is it perhaps that being the best in an instance isn't "worth" anything anyway, so why go through the effort. Why would you think that? If the instancing really is that boring, one would think you'd want it over with as soon as possible. And why would you expect, even demand, someone else to do their best for you? Do dpsers really think they have the right to take the easy ride?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Isn't it time for another world event?

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Something very special about WoW has been its few, but game community engaging world events. As described by Wowwiki, these world events have invited every player to take part in something that eventually changed the game world. Most of us old veteran players have very fond memories of these events, and I myself have participated in them all, five to date, albeit in quite varying degrees.

The biggest world event was probably also the first one - the Ahn'Qiraj War Effort. At the time (around the end of 2005), I had just become my first own account and wasn't really paying attention to any of the big stuff going on. I did understand something was going on, it was hard to miss, but I hardly took any part in the epic quest chains. I don't even think I turned any cloth and such in, shame on me. I don't think I grasped the magnitude of this, or the time spent by some, until later. At the time I didn't even have a max leveled char however, so maybe I am somewhat excused. I did kill elite bugs in Barrens though, come to think of it. Wow, that feels like yesterday.

The war effort was really a huge effort. Enormous amounts of items had to be gathered, which no one person could do of course. Tens of thousands of bars, cloth and alot of other stuff had to be turned in to a special NPC. The point was that each faction, and the whole server, had to unite in the effort to make it all the way. I know hard core guilds even agreed on who would get the honor of completing the quest (only one person on each server could!), and combine the forces, just to get the thing done and the new übercool raid instance opened. My brother was part of a raid guild at the time, but not the biggest one on the server (if I recall correctly). He was there for the opening of the gates, and so were thousands of other people (but not me, since we only had one computer and well, it was used by my brother :P). The servers could hardly handle it, and our poor old computer showed seconds per frame rather than frames per second. It was extremely cool. The whole event was the very idea of epic. I am sure that anyone who was there will remember it for the rest of their lives.

The second world event was with the Scourge Invasion, and was a prelude to the opening of yet another raid instance - Naxxramas. I remember it quite well. In fact I remember it so well I thought it had been the prelude to Wotlk, until I read about it on wowwiki. "It was for Naxxramas? But it feels like last week?". Yes time flies by and all that. Me and Love went to Winterspring (and some other places) I recall and killed bunches of undeads. If you killed many enough you could get special elites to spawn, which dropped epic items! From this event you also got a special item, Haunted Memento, which gives you a ghost that follows you around if you keep it in your bags. Sort of like a pet, but always around a bit behind you. This item isn't attainable any longer and therefore quite valuable. I've got one on my protadin.

The third world event was the opening of the Dark Portal, with the coming of the Burning Crusade expansion. It was quite similar to the Scourge Invasion with packs of mobs (demons and the like) popping up at different areas of Azeroth. I remember standing in front of the Dark Portal with hundreds of other players, trying to get kills for a special quest. You had to kill Invading Felguards that spawned by the gates, and it was extremely hard for me to tag a kill as a priest. At the time we didn't have skills like Shadow Word: Death, and you didn't tag a mob before you did damage to it (unlike now where any action against it will tag it). Love had no problems with getting kills of course, being able to moonfire anything he saw. I eventually managed to get my kills however and was rewarded the Tabard of the Protector. Yet another item which is no longer attainable.

The fourth world event was for the Sunwell Plateau raid. A whole new island was introduced and you had to do continuous questing in the area to help the elves take it back from Kil'Jaedens minions. By questing a new area of the island was claimed by the horde/alliance, and new quests where made available. Since I hate daily quests, I rarely did any on Sun Reach (the island). But I know plenty of people who went there everyday, doing those quests. You got a satchel with rewards from some quests if I recall correctly, which could contain emblems. And emblems were already then quite sought after. One thing that was really annoying about this event was that one of the questing areas was just around Lord Kazzak (if you were unlucky you accidentally pulled him and died quite fast). He was residing (and still is afaik) in the northern parts of Hellfire Peninsula. He is an outdoor raid boss (they had them back in the days, but removed them for wotlk for some reason), so you're not suppoesd to engage him. Everytime you do he starts yelling alot of stuff, like most raid bosses do, all the time (thinking of Putricide). But since so many people were questing around him, people aggroed him constantly and he was yelling 24/7.
I've got "ALL MORTALS WILL PERISH!" and "THE LEGION WILL CONQUER ALL!" and then when he had killed the poor sucker two seconds later "CONTEMPTIBLE WRETCH!" burned into my memory from hearing his spam yelling for too long while questing in Hellfire...

The most recent world event was as long ago as October 2008. What also happened around there? You guessed it (maybe), the release of wotlk. The world event was the Zombie Infestation, a funny thing where people were infested with the zombie plague and turned into zombies (with special skills!). It had varying phases. At first you could see strange looking crates standing around in Booty Bay, if you touched them you got infected. Argent Healers started turning up in every capital city. Eventually the crates found their way to the capital cities, and so did infected roaches. When killed they infected you. At first the disease can be cured by spells like "Cure Disease" and the like, but over time it becomes more and more resistant to these type of spells. People turn into zombies faster and faster after being infected. Infected rats turn up as well, which eventually even attack people, consequently infecting them. The zombies also become more and more powerful. Something close to chaos ensues as everyone is turned into Zombies all the time. It was quite entertaining.
Finally, a cure for the plague is found and the plague slowly disappears.

Well, there we have the five world events that have been (there also was the unplanned one). Now 2,5 years have gone by without any world events. Some could of course count the Argent Tournament Grounds as a world event, sure. It is somewhat similiar to that of Sun Reach, but not really of the same magnitude. Blizzard must be loading it for the big bomba. Literally. The biggest change ever is going to take place in their game, that of the Cataclysm. I strongly doubt they'd simply have the entire world change completely over night. There just has to be some sort of enormous world event preceding it. Smaller happenings have gained this honor. Some say that the new raid instance Ruby Sanctum is part of this. We will get to learn more about Deathwing and why (and perhaps how) he'll turn the entire world upside down. But I am really hoping for something huge. Something enticing. Something that would be like all the other world events combined. Or at least close to. I could go without all the collecting of items you had to do for the AQ event ;) It has to come soon, if Cataclysm is released within this year. And I can't really imagine what it could be. Can you?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Putricide HC 10man

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Since I just spent 3 hours wiping on Putricide 10 man heroic mode, I thought I could give some insight as to why this fight is so damn hard. Any tactic will tell you about what skills to look out for, but perhaps I can give a new take on it. Did we make it? No. Were we even close? Hah, not really. Did I get a good idea of what the frickin problem was? Yeah, definitely.

Putricide is one of those fights where you have to keep track of alot of things at once, and perform them close to perfect, or there -will- be a wipe. On fights like Lady Deathwhisper, it is ok if you forget to dps a target for a while, or if you forget to move from a ghost (even in heroic) or stand a little too long in the green stuff. That is definitely not the case at Putricide heroic, where every little mistake quickly accumulates to a situation which is no longer manageable. Quite like on Lich King actually.

We have gotten close to phase 3, and we have tried a number of different tactics. I've only healed this fight so far, so this'll be from a healers perspective (if any). I'm glad to say our problem doesn't seem to be lack of healing, since people mostly die from mishandling different mechanics (of course with unlimited healing there wouldn't be any problem ;)). The big difference to normal is that you'll have a disease jumping from person to person (Unbound Plague, which my DBM has misspelled Unbound Plage annoyingly enough. I will call this disease and plague alternatingly for no reason :P), that does more and more damage the longer it stays on the target (it's sort of like the disease on LK phase 1, but different). There will also be two oozes at each phase transition.

These two things are what make everything so difficult, I'd say the disease more than the oozes actually. Not that the disease itself is that difficult to handle, really. Just that in combination with everything else that happens, people (in my raid anyway) always seem to either do it wrong, or have bad luck. Bad luck being the only person in the raid who really can't take a disease at the moment is the one that gets it. Or the disease carrier who is about to turn it over to someone is targeted by the green ooze and frozen. All these things can be handled of course. In the end there is no such thing as bad luck, just bad skill ;) But it means the same situation can be easier or tougher depending on luck.

First of all, the plague. It will jump onto someone, anyone, in the raid almost at once. You shouldn't carry the plague more than around 12 seconds, since it does 200 damage each second, accumulating. So 200 damage the first second, 400 the second second and so on (if I understand wowheads data correctly). At 15 seconds or so it will oneshot most people. As it could come onto anyone in the raid, that includes melee. It will instantly jump when you get close to someone, so if it gets on someone in melee it will most likely transfer at least once before melee has dispersed enough for it to stick to one person. A ranged must then pick it up after 10-12 seconds, hold it for 10-12 seconds and have some other ranged pick it up and so on, until it runs out of time (after 60 seconds). There are alot of issues arising with the disease handling. We used different tactics, either have everyone diseased run to a special "roundup" point, so that everyone always knew where to find them or just have them stand where they were so as to avoid confusion. Both tactics worked so so, because the real issue was that after an ooze explosion, no one seemed to know their heads from their backs. A classic problem was also that the diseased person was the one targetted by the ooze, which meant none of us could really huddle with him/her. Or that the one designated to pick the plague up got too far away after an explosion and the plague carrier died.

What you need here is presence of mind (not the skill :P). At all times you need to know where the plague carrier is, and if you can step in to take the plague, should the necessity rise. We used a special order of people to grab the plague, so that we had some sort of control of who'd been infected. But being able to work around and off this order is paramount, you will most likely have to improvise the plague switching, so have everyone up to the task. We wiped too many times because of people not finding eachother, the designated plague switcher being too far away (as mentioned) and no one taking over the job (although we got alot better at it towards the last tries) and problems like it. The only time you can let the plague slip your mind a little is when you've already been affected and have got the debuff. But then too you must make sure to not get too close to someone carrying it!

Secondly, the oozes. Definitely not as much of a problem as the plague. Most of our issues with the oozes arised from us having issues with the plague. One tactic is to have everyone (except hunters of course) huddle under the green spawn point and nuke it when it spawns. If 7-8 targets are being hit by it, it is really no problem to heal through. A tip I got from a guildies brother was that the hunter snake trap snakes apparently share damage too. Have your hunter (if you have one) place a snake trap just before the green ooze spawns and the snakes will take part of the damage (assuming that guy was correct)! One thing to think about is that you don't want an ooze up when the phase transition starts, since two new oozes spawn at that time. Three oozes is definitely too much to handle. Cool down on the dps before each transition, make sure you know where the plague is and handle the ooze (if there is one) before going to phase 2. And during all this there will be plagues to think about too. If you're being blown around by oozes, and you will be, make sure to be blown towards a plague carrier if you're going to pick it up, or away from a plague carrier if you don't want it. But don't get blown away from the healers...

Healing wise this isn't that tough actually. Like I said, we haven't got to phase 3, where the real healing action starts though but until then a fight like Blood Queen heroic has way heavier healing. When people died in phase 1 and 2, it wasn't so much because of lack of healing as being oneshot by an ooze or plague, or quite often both at once. Or so I felt anyway, maybe I'm slightly biased ;) One hint that the healing wasn't the problem was that we died just as easily when being three healers as when being two. I played as holy since I find it more mobile than disc. Being able to run around throwing renews, poms, circle of healing (especially after an ooze explosion) and insta-flash heals (surge of light) is really sweet in this particular fight. For this fight I recommend healing to be around 10k hps, and each dpser should have at least 7k dps (which would be something like 9k-10k dps singletarget nuke).

Now, Putricide is tough. But only because you can't let your mind wander even a second. You can't forget about one thing, or the mistake might be (probably will be) irreparable. Quick reactions and decisionmaking is everything in a fight like this, and you need 10 (or 25) people who have this. People who don't have to think about what to do, but know what to do. And of course, practice practice.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Class Quests - Sunken Temple (part 2)

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Here's the followup from yesterday, with the final five classes that have class quests to Sunken Temple. Let's get right to business!

Paladin
Since there weren't any paladins in the game until Burning Crusade, Blizzard have two different quest givers depending on whether you're a horde or alliance paladin. Alliance get their quest from Commander Ashlam Valorfist in Chillwind Camp (WPL). After some prequests you get the quest "Forging the Mightstone" which requires you to collect six troll feathers from the troll mini bosses of Sunken Temple. This isn't difficult since you need to kill all those bosses to get to some of the bosses of the instance, which most people usually care to do. Horde paladins are worse off. Talk to Sylvanas to get your initial quest. After some prequests you get the quest "Ancient Evil" which requires you to get a special vine from the basement boss Atal'arion. As with druids this is bad, because most people don't want to do the basement section. You might need to ask a friend for help instead.
The rewards differ too, and this time horde are slightly better off than alliance. For some reason it seems like Blizzard haven't updated the paladin loot on the alliance side, and therefore the items are really oddly itemized. The rewards for alliance are "Lightforged Blade" (two-hand sword), "Sanctified Orb" (Trinket) or "Chivalrous Signet" (Ring). All of these items have a strange mix of spellpower and strength, reflecting back to the days when all paladin specs needed spellpower (but boy, that was a long time ago). Sanctified Orb is slightly different, but still not especially good. This too shows signs of old age since it increases "critical strike rating and spell critical strike rating". Back in BC those were different stats, but that changed with wotlk, 1,5 years ago. None of the rewards for alliance paladins are great, because of the odd itemization. Unless what you have is extremely crappy, it's not worth chasing after any of these items.
Horde only have one reward, a trinket called Scourgebane that increases stamina by 15 and increases attackpower by 150 against undeads when used (5 min dur, 30 min cd). Because of the very long cooldown and the undead requirement that use is pretty much worthless. If you're a tank however, this trinket is one of the very few, if not the only stamina trinket at this level. Not much stamina though. Overall not worth chasing after in my opinion.

Rogue
Rogues go to Archmage Xylem for their quests, just as mages. It starts with "A simple request" and after some prequests you get "The Azure Key" in which you're required to get the Azure Key from the dragon Morphaz. Very simple.
As rewards you'll get to choose between "Ebon Mask" (head), "Whisperwalk Boots" (feet) or "Duskbat Drape" (back).
All of these rewards are good actually, and you could go for any of them that replaces your least good item. Since getting good heads is difficult when lowbie, you'll probably want Ebon Mask (it also looks totally cool). Both the boots and back are great too however, so go with whichever you like!
Fun trivia: The cloak originally reduced fall damage, which most rogues loved. But that was changed with Wotlk to hit rating. More useful, but less fun.

Shaman
You'll get the shaman class quest from a funny hermit troll who lives along the shore of that river that goes by Tarren Mill. His name is Bath'rah the Windwatcher and his first quest is "Elemental Mastery". A rather annoying quest since he wants you to get one of each elemental, fire, earth, water and wind. Just finding these on mobs isn't easy, so you'll probably have to scan the AH where people can ask ridiculous prices if you're unlucky. After this quest and one more you'll get the quest "Da Voodoo", which requires you to collect the feathers of the troll mini bosses (just as alliance paladins). Easy.
As reward you'll get to choose between "Azure Fists" (hands), "Enamored Water Spirit" (trinket) or "Wildstaff" (staff). It is clear, just as with druid, that Blizzard have tried to do one item that will fit each spec, resto, enhancement and elemental.
The gloves are therefore more of enhancement loot and decent, although they suffer from "old" itemizations with intellect and spirit. Intellect is an ok stat for enhancement though, so they aint bad.
The trinket is interesting. It's like an extra Mana Tide totem, since it restores 27 mana every 2 seconds to every group member, for 24 seconds (24 sec dur, 3 min cd). If used at every cooldown this is quite a nice trinket, and usable of course for any spec, not only resto. It gives a total of 324 mana, and unless I've counted like a blind hen, 9mp5 to everyone in the group(if you use it every cooldown). 27/2 = 13,5 mana each second (of its uptime) 24/3 = 8 seconds uptime each minute 13,5*8 = 108 (mana each minute) 108/12 = 9 (mana each 5 seconds, mp5). Not awesome, but since most people don't have two good trinkets already at this level, it's not a bad choice.
The staff, although it has strength (again with the odd itemization) is quite good. If you don't have boa, or some other nice instance staff like Zum'rahs Vexing Cane from Zul'Farrak, this is a nice option.
Overall I'd say to go for the staff if you're questing as ele or resto and don't have a really nice staff already. Like I said I'm a huge fan of hit rating. The trinket is a decent option, but doesn't add that much really.

Warlock
Walrocks get their quest from Impsy the Imp in Felwood. Start out with "An Imp's Request" and after some prequests you'll get "Trolls of a feather" in which you're asked to collect the feathers of the mini troll bosses. Easy!
As reward you'll get to choose between "Soul Harvester" (Staff), "Abyss Shard" (trinket) or "Robes of Servitude".
Without much hassle I'll say that the staff probably is the best option. It has hit (<3) and a good amount of spellpower. The trinket is (and always has been) quite lousy. It gives stamina and a free voidwalker when used. But mana has rarely been the issue when summoning a pet. It used to make voidwalker free of shard cost when used, but actually that would be better than free of mana cost. Even better would be if it made the summon instant! But alas, that isn't so and therefore I think it's rather crappy. The chest is about as good as Robes of the Lich which drops in RFD, so you really should get that one instead. Also, the staff has a really cool scythe look going on. Who doesn't want to run around with a scythe?

Warrior
And finally, my beloved warriors. You'll get your quest from the Fallen Hero of the Horde (yes even if you're alliance apparently), who stands on the border between Swamp of Sorrows and Blasted Lands. It starts with "A troubled spirit" and after some prequests you'll get "Voodoo Feathers" to collect feathers from the troll mini bosses. Yet again, easy!
As reward you'll get to choose between "Fury Visor" (head), "Diamond Flask" (trinket) or "Razorsteel Shoulders" (shoulders).
Both the head and shoulders are quite good, so you can choose whichever you like the best. Icemetal Barbute from the last boss of RFD drops a nice head too, so if you have that one already you might want to grab the shoulders instead.
The trinket has a really interesting use, 9hp5 and 75 strength for one minute (6 minute cd). That's 18hp5 and 12,5 strength overall. Could definitely come in handy. But overall I recommend the trinket from Hinterlands (Rune of the Guard Captain) and the trinket from Outlands (Bladefists Breadth) instead and going with either the head or shoulders.

That's it for this time people! Have fun in Sunken Temple.