Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The ultimate choice (?)

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Today Love asked me a question, and I found I had a hard time answering it. First he asked me if we should reroll new chars for Cataclysm, to start out fresh. I simply said that I love my priest and I would just reroll another priest if I had to start out new. Then he asked me "really? But if you could only play one class evermore, would it still be a priest?".

I wasn't so sure if that was the case. I really do love priest healing, and have devoted alot of time and effort to learn as much about it as possible to be as good at it as possible. It is without a doubt the class I have raided the most with. But is it the class I have played most or do play most, off-raid? Definitely not. One big problem about healing is that as soon as you get good gear it gets too easy. Healing heroics is probably the least-action filled thing you can do in WoW today.

Some years ago this one-class thing was more the rule than the exception. Blizzard didn't originally intend for people to respec on a regular basis, and they probably never ever dreamed of implementing the dual-spec system. At first the respec costs accumulated indefinitely, making it extremely expensive to respec your character after a while. If you wanted the same class with another spec it was often better to just roll a new character (which I often did, and the habit stuck with me until dual-specing). They quickly noticed however, that being able to respec your character was one of the most loved features of WoW, one that was much in use even though it was so expensive. So they put a roof on the expenses (50g). But you could still only have one spec, and some (like Love, who according to armory has respeced 175 times until now) who played hybrids or just liked respecing, respeced several times a week and still had to put alot of money into it. Others, like me, simply rerolled a new character with the desired spec. That's for example the reason I've played four shamans to 70+ (one resto, two elemental and one enhancement). And then Blizzardfinally caved in and gave us dual-specs. But I would easily pay 20k g for the possibility to have triple-specs.

So back to the question; If I could play only one class evermore, which would it be?

I really love priest, but like I said it quickly gets too easy (this might, hopefully, change with Cataclysm however). And although I have played alot of shamans I wouldn't like being able to play only them. Shamans are simply really fun to level, but not so fun at end game. That is probably because they, just as paladins, work really well for several roles while leveling, but in endgame they're rather boring (at least I think so). One class that never has bored me, not while leveling, not while raiding and not while doing heroics is (you can probably guess it) prot warrior. Like I've mentioned before, tanking well is always an effort since it's really up to you and the rest of the group how difficult it will be. If the group is really well geared, keeping aggro will be a handful. If keeping aggro from the group isn't too hard, you can instead try to make big and cool pulls to keep you occupied. I'd definitely miss priest healing, and I do think healing is way more fun in raids than tanking. Tanking is probably the easiest thing you can do in a raid, mostly (there are always exceptions). Healing might not be the most difficult thing (I think so, but I realize some people think it's sooo hard to keep track of a rotation and the environment at the same time, boohoo), but it's definitely the most changing thing you can do. What a dps/tank has to do when they have to interrupt or cc is what a healer has to do all the time.

But this isn't a debate about which is the more difficult. In the end it's about which is more fun. To me difficult, or rather challenging, equals fun. And I believe, as it is today, I would have more fun with a tank warrior than a healer. So I would either choose a prot warrior to play alot of heroics or choose a priest healer to do a few raids (or perhaps alot).

Which class would you choose if you could only play one? And why?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Confusing tooltips

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Reminiscing about the times when I didn't know so much about the game (that I tell myself that I do now) and most things actually were rather tricky made me think about some rather funny errors I've made when trying to learn different classes and skills. Now we have to jump far back into my wow-gaming history, but this still happens to new players around me.

Before you know how the devs at Blizzard generally think when they design something, trying to understand a skill solely based on its tooltip can lead to funny misunderstandings on how a skill actually works. Anyone who's ever played a TCG, like Magic the Gathering, knows about the quarrels that can ensue due to people understanding tooltips differently. Only in WoW one doesn't have to wait long to find out how Blizzard meant it to work.

I remember really far back, I think this might've even been my first char ever. That too was an undead priest, although not the same as I now play as a main. Back then the tooltip of Fade said something like "Will temporarily make you fade out, making the enemy less likely to attack you". You may call me an imbecile (I dare you), but I interpreted this as working like Mind Soothe does, ergo out of combat if I wanted to. I thought it would work like a semi-stealth, meaning I could get a little closer to mobs than otherwise before they would attack me. I had to find out the hard way that Fade didn't work anything like that, and when I eventually turned level 20 and got Mind Soothe I realized there had to be a difference between the skills. Fade clearly didn't do what Mind Soothe was doing. Apparently I wasn't the only one who had trouble understanding the Fade tooltip since it has been changed and nowadays reads "Fade out, temporarily reducing all your threat for 10 sec". Hopefully newbie priests won't have to be as confused and dead as I turned out to be because of this mistake.

But I am not alone. Love told me he once encountered a rogue who used Feint in solo-pve (and it feels like I've told you about this already) because he "noticed a difference". The tooltip of Feint reads "(...) lowering your threat by a small amount, making the enemy less likely to attack you". Anyone who knows anything about WoW quickly understands what this is all about. But imagine someone completely new to the WoW-terminology? How would they understand it? This rogue had apparently understood it to mean that the enemy would be less likely to get a hit on him. Feint would in WoW-terms lower the mobs hit chance on him. And I understand the confusion. Threat really isn't anything about "likelyhoods" at all, so using this kind of wording could make you think it's about something else, like "likelyhood to attack" = "chance to hit".

When inspecting one of my guilds warrior tanks the other day I noticed that he hadn't specced into Last Stand. If you're only into doing heroics I understand if you don't feel the necessity for that talent, but this guy tanks us all the way to Lich King. I'd say Last Stand is a crucial talent if you're into endgame raid tanking and I told him so. He explained to me he didn't like it because he felt it "hard to use". I didn't understand that argument at all, at first. Just use it when you would otherwise use Shield Wall, I said. Combine it with Enraged Regen for extra awesomeness. He asked me why Last Stand would affect Enraged Regen and I explained that since Last Stand increases max hp, and Enraged is affected by max hp these two synch well together. My guildie was confused. Increases max hp? The tooltip doesn't state that at all. It says "(...) temporarily grants you 30% of your maximum health for 20 seconds, after the effect expires the health is lost". Reading it like that my guildie had understood it to work like a big pot. 15000 hp if you're around 50k, so a damn nice pot of course. But he felt that a temporary pot wouldn't be very usable, the situations in which it could be used safely too extreme, since the hp is lost afterwards. And I understand him, what you're after is really the hp -and- the increased max hp, something the tooltip fails to mention in a clear way.

There are many examples like this. Sometimes people just fail to read the tooltip properly, like all those shadowpriests out there that didn't read that Mind Sear doesn't affect the current target, and the like. But sometimes one has to admit that you really tried to understand a tooltip but it just doesn't really tell you the whole truth.

Can you think of any more examples of misleading tooltips?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Akinator

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Yet another small tip to keep you occupied (I find these all over now that my account is shut down) for a while. A guildie of mine posted about this on our forums and it's hilarious really. I'm talking about Akinator the Genius. He is a web-based "I'm thinking of..."-game where he asks you to correctly answer an amount of yes and no questions so that he can guess what character you are thinking of. Although the principle behind this game is really simple, it's still rather fun to sit and try to come up with character the Akinator won't be able to guess. He is rather good!

This method is the same applied by people who claim to be able to read minds and/or communicate with the dead and the like. It's simply really good guessing, based on facts you probably don't even know you've given them. Or in the Akinators case, good programming. So check it out and kill some time when it rains!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I remember when Loken was difficult

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Finding a moment with nothing to do (and hijacking a computer from a friend) I thought I'd share a small anecdote.

I remember some year ago, when Wotlk had just come out. I think dinged 80 some two months or so after the release. No that sounds like much... I can't check it out at the moment, since my account is still down but it doesn't really matter. The point is that I had just dinged 80 on my priest and epics where still way off and something you could only get in Naxxramas. My gear was pretty good, at least with those standards back then, a nice mix and match of blues from different instances, like most newly dinged 80 still have today (but quickly swap).

Me and some friends, who had been grinding alot of heroics already, were going to do HoL hc. And how I dreaded that instance. Finally getting to the last boss, Loken, we actually had to apply a tactic (!) to make it. Back then I used a mouse that was getting old and it had the bad habit of screwing (literally) around, making the screen spin wildly and completely impossible to click anything, or run anywhere for about a second.

When doing Loken we decided we had to run from his nova, because healing it through would be too difficult. Just healing his continous pulse and tank damage was tricky. Running from his nova was sweaty, since the player damage was so low back then he got to do it several times and running and healing and positioning was close to fighting a raid boss.

We had already wiped a couple of times because people had failed to move from the nova and been one shot, and now he was loading up to do it again. I had a bunch to keep track off, keeping everyone alive and now I had to turn and run in the right direction. So I start running and my mouse starts spinning around like crazy making it impossible to get anywhere. I get nova'd and die instantly. I was so angry at that mouse! fortunately neough Loken was low on hp and with a last effort and some off healing from some dps the rest of the group manages to get him down without me.

Thinking back I remember that fight to be really tough and like mentioned nearly as difficult as some easier raid bosses. Comparing that with today, when no one would ever think of moving from the nova (no one would be one shot anymore) and killing Loken just after he gets his firts nova done (instead of three or something), makes you think about how much better our characters have become without the rest of the game keeping up. I have mentioned this before, and the debate about the inflation-problem that all the epics we have in the game today bring is going hot on the forums as you read this. Apparently there are now more Epics than Rare items in the game...

I'm not saying this has to be a bad thing, looking at how tricky some instances were back in BC even with really good gear (like MGT) and even worse back in Vanilla (like Strat) tells me that there has to be a good inbetween where everyone has to put in an effort but not so much so that every instance becomes like a small raid. The difficulties I had healing some of the heroics at the beginning of wotlk still felt well balanced. You needed to know what you were doing, you couldn't go afk and every person in the party made a difference.

What could be done to get around this "inflation" problem? New, more difficult instances? Perhaps, the ICC instances are slightly more difficult than the older wotlk instances. This is also something they tried in BC. Another solution could be to increase the difficulty of the instances based on the average ilvl of the gear that characters in the group are wearing. It could turn out to be an interesting solution, but I can see problems with it too. Maybe people have really nice gear but suck at playing, they would have really difficult instances which they couldn't handle. Or maybe people would keep a special "low-ilvl" instance gear just to get an easy instance when they enter and then switch to better gear once they're inside. People are lazy. I often think people generally prefer really easy and effortless epics over having to bust their asses for them every day. And I definitely understand that.

It's just interesting to think about the huge difference between now and back then. I'd really say even more about this, but can't sit here for too long ^^ I might continue in some other post later on, if I remember to.

Do you remember any particular wotlk-encounter that you had troubles with, before all the epics came and stole the show?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The small details...

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There are many components that weigh in to make a character feel just right. In WoW, just as in many rpgs nowadays, there are plenty of possibilities to customize your char, and those choices make a difference of course. The name and visuals of your character will determine the way you feel about it. But visuals also mean the characters animations and the animations of how it performs different skills. I have noticed that these factors also play a huge role for how, I at least, will feel about my character.

Take skills for example. Some skills are fun to execute simply because they have the right "oomph" about them. I like the splatty sound of a Deep Wounds proc for instance (does that make me weird?). I like the way Frostbolts feel, you really get the feeling of impact when those hit. I like the sound Mangle makes, it feels really mangly (no that's not a word). Like it hurts.

And some races definitely execute skills cooler than others do. Have you ever played a troll female warrior? I have never seen anything lamer. A close second would be a tauren female melee class. They feel... stumped. Retarded. Boring. There isn't any action on the screen when you execute a skill as a female tauren (both melee and casting) or female troll melee (I do like female troll casters though). Female taurens wave their hands some, that isn't cool. I want some commitment to whats happening! Tauren males for instance, they have really good cast emotes. You can see how their entire bodies are involved in the cast. Meleeing with a tauren male however feels like steering a fridge. Some like that, I am not so sure about how I feel about it.

I really like the way female night elfs fight. Not casting so much, but meleeing they do really well. Undeads have great emotes both for females and males, casting and melee.

I could go on like this all evening, but the point is even these seemingly small things really make a huge difference. At least to me they do. For example, I had rolled a female tauren shaman for some reason. At level 80, doing raids and instances more and more, I realized I really disliked the way she felt to play. I have a policy never to pay for anything in WoW with real money, except the monthly fee. I usually think that is enough and anything else is just extra that I don't really need. But I actually paid to change that shaman from female tauren to male tauren, and I don't regret that one second. The char immediately went from a char I didn't enjoy to play to one of my favorite characters. Just by switching model on it. When doing Ulduar the other day with my shaman someone asked me why I had chosen a male model, and not a female, since I am female myself. And I simply said "I paid to get rid of the female model, because it really annoyed me".

I know Love isn't too fond of playing a male tauren. Honestly I don't know why because he's mostly shapeshifted anyway. My druid is female tauren too but I don't mind because I don't have to look at her slightly stupid expression if I don't want to. He told me that the feeling of playing the "bulky" character doesn't fit him and he'll probably switch it to some other race as soon as he can (without having to switch faction). The druid of his mind doesn't suit what he sees on the screen.

One problem might be that the game doesn't differ in game mechanics between genders or races, although we feel or want them to. We get the feeling that gnomes are obstinate, dwarves are calm, taurens are bulky, night elves are sneaky and so on. And "bulky" generally means big and slow but therefore also extra strong. But without a difference in game mechanics playing a tauren just feels big and slow, and no extra strong. We might feel like it ought to be there, but it aint. And all this varies from person to person of course. What one person dislikes another person loves about a race or gender.

I wonder if these factors also play in to the fact that some race/sex combinations are greatly overrepresented. There are way more female night elfs than female dwarves. And way more female belfs than female trolls. I suppose the available classes to each race play a part too (people choose tauren/night elf because they're the only ones who can be druids as of yet, for example), but I don't think that's the whole picture. Guys who prefer female chars over male often say they prefer to look at a female ass all day than a male ass, and there is a point to it.

We are supposed to sympathize with that bunch of pixels on the screen. We're going to spend a whole lot of time with them (probably), so how they do what they do will matter alot in the end. We want it to feel in a way that suits us, so that we can identify ourselves with our character. That is sort of what rpging is really all about, even if you never touch roleplaying otherwise.

This doesn't just apply to a game like WoW, but any game that acquires us to accept a persona. I don't know anyone who liked Tidus in ffX for example because no one could identify with his extremely annoying personality (not to mention english voice actor). And I never liked the Naruto series because I felt that the main character, Naruto, was mostly a whiny wimp (and I'm totally not a whiny wimp). And I always hated Tifa in FFVII, not only because she looks like a freak, but because I thought she fought in a boring way. I absolutely adore Vincent Valentine however because he has without a doubt the coolest fight style (and he is totally cool in any other way too).

I think we have to be able to accept that the character could be us, in some remote way, for us to be able to enjoy to play it. That means we not only want them to look a special way and maybe have a certain name, but also do things in the right way. A way that suits us.

Are there any skills or races in WoW you like more than others? Or certain people in other games, for these kind of reasons?

Now I'm off again so my posting will continue to be rather sporadic for a couple of weeks. Have a nice midsummers festival!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Good WoW-netiquette

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I'm back at home after a quick visit at my grandpas, but will be off again in a day or so. Visiting my grandpa made me think about something that might or might not be an important part of WoW. My grandpa belongs to one of those people who doesn't know how to start a computer, and says that any efforts to try to teach him is "time wasted". So I didn't exactly discuss the complicated aspects of WoW with him. I did however discuss the importance (or un-importance) of having a good etiquette when interacting with people, both those you know and those you don't know.

We had a big argument about the necessity of etiquette. Whereas he believes you should always have good etiquette no matter what, I believe it is only necessary for two reasons - practical and respectful ones (also known as restecpa). I believe that if a form of etiquette disappears from general knowledge, it is because no one thought it was needed to know anymore. A sort of "survival of the fittest" that also applies to forms of behavior. Maybe pulling the chair out for a lady has been practical, because her oversized dress was in the way for her to do it herself. Since most women don't run around in oversized dresses anymore (and some guys might) the need for this sort of etiquette to be questioned and changed has risen. Lighting a womans cigarette might've been useful when she wasn't allowed (?) to carry her own lighter. Nowadays women often carry more stuff around than many men do, so maybe it is time for women to light mens cigarettes (or rather not smoke at all ;)).

The issue with internet etiquette, or netiquette as it is sometimes called, has been discussed many times in various forms. And it made me wonder, do we have a certain form of netiquette in WoW? And is it necessary? Note that there is a difference between etiquette and moral/ethical behavior. I have already discussed some about immoral behavior in WoW, but etiquette is really more about what could count as "unecessary behavior", but that might still add something to the whole because it is respectful and/or practical.

With the implementation of the lfg-tool it seems that if it was ever needed with good netiquette, it might be now that we are thrown together with a bunch of strangers with whom we hope to work well together and maybe even have a good time. Personally I always start out saying "hi" and I have macro'd a "thanks for the group, bye bye :)" to use before I leave the group. I do think it makes a difference. I'm even naïve enough to think that being nice will make me seem like a real person to whoever else is in the group, and that might avoid some douchebagness from their side. If we have a good time together, maybe they won't ninja-need on some item in the end or engage in other annoying behavior.

But maybe it depends on the person really. I know alot of really nice people who just aren't especially talkative, but quite professional nonetheless. They might not be very personal or polite, but they'll get the job done. They just don't belong to the "smiley-squad". So does greeting, thanking and gratsing really matter in the end? Like I said, I like it. It makes me happy when I've got some happy, talkative chap in the group who rather makes something turn into fun than bashing. Making mistakes doesn't seem like such a problem if people go "ow well, shit happens sometimes!" rather than "wtf are u doing noob?". I've talked about it before, but it feels like keeping a good mood makes people want to do their best. And this varies from situation to situation of course. Sometimes you need people to be serious and to not just make fun of a wipe. But maybe there is a nice inbetween. There is no need to be rude in any situation. This doesn't differ from real life at all, although I know some people don't agree with me on this.

But we also have the netiquette that's really mostly based on practical reasons. For example don't pull unless you're the tank, or unless you happen to have gear enough to count as a tank. It will just make things so much more annoying for everyone involved, except you perhaps. Don't spam in trade, because that will make it harder for anyone else to get their message across, and ultimately people will just ignore you anyway. So it's really just a lose-lose situation (and yet so many people do it, it makes you wonder...).

Being nice is about practical reasons too actually. If you keep everyone happy, even when things don't work so well, it will probably make things run smoother in the end. This is especially true in raids. Or when trying to keep the tank from leaving by smoothing out some dilemma. Keeping people happy will get you what you want, so keeping good netiquette is ultimately mutually beneficial (and therefore egotistical as everything else, right?).

And we all know that a rightly (or wrongly) placed smiley makes all the difference in how a sentence might be interpreted by its receiver. Saying something with or without a smiley might make the difference between a fight and a laugh. So perhaps the use of smileys is part of good netiquette as well? If we don't use them in a proper way (not too much either of course), how can we expect our fellow WoW'ers to get our point in the way we like? Using too many means they'll lose their effect and no one will take them serious, using too few, or the wrong ones might people think you mean something completely else. Is it our business to use our smileys the proper way, or is it up to everyone else to understand how you use them?

It is also considered polite to: Help people who are dying while questing, not steal what someone has fought for (veins, chests) and to share quests mobs/items. Why? Because you hope they'll do it for if it was reversed. If you don't follow this kind of etiquette, you can't expect anyone to care when someone does the same to you.

Like I tried to point out at the start, the whole point of netiquette, and etiquette overall, isn't that they're needed per se, like skills or gear, we simply use it because we want to show respect for whoever is on the other side of the screen and by doing that gain something for ourselves. And in my opinion it does make a difference.

What do you think is good WoW-netiquette? And is it necessary?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summer Holidays

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I'm off on some holiday trips (I'll be scurrying between places) for the next few weeks and won't have much access to computers or internet during that time, unfortunately. I'll try to find internet somewhere and write something interesting when I can think of it, but I don't even have my WoW account active now until I come home again. I was going to write a post about the effectiviness on Demo Shout, but it has been proven tricky to put into test and so I have put it on hold until I can give it some real testing and show some interesting data.

So I'll just leave you with a tip for the summer, to keep you occupied until I come back again.
I suppose many of you that stumble onto this page, or visit it regularly, also read other blogs. Maybe other blogs about WoW. If so you'll probably have heard about this already, but I have to promote this just in case someone has missed this! Love told me about it after having read about it on some druid blog.

I am talking about elementsthegame.com. A free magicthegathering-clone on the internet. It's not as good as magic, but considering it's completely free and so extremely easy to access, it is completely awesome for killing time. Like when being on a flightpath, waiting around in a raid, waiting for a group, fishing... nearly anytime you're not actively pressing skills in WoW. There are alot of time sinks in WoW where you don't actually do much good, or fun. Games like Bejeweled have been good to fill these holes, and this game is another (but even better) way to do it. Or any other time of course (in case you're one of those rare people who don't play WoW). It is good and solid enough to give you a good amount of fun, so check it out. I love it so much I've already donated some money (which will award you a special card, other than that no cards are puchaseable for real money).

So have a really nice summer everyone! I'll try to get back here as often as possible, but I won't be home again until mid-july (where tons of work is waiting for me).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Traveller's Guide to Exotic Islands

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Azeroth offers a fine variety of really interesting islands, that are rarely visited. It is time to take a look at some of these, more and less interesting, islands!

Ranazjar Isle

A really small island off the coast of Desolace, it doesn't look like much. And it really isn't. You could throw a stone across it so it doesn't offer much exploring or adventure. It does hold a mysterious statue however, part of some quest no doubt, that I guess very few people do today.

The lack of interesting nature and wildlife, and unwelcoming native nagas doesn't make Ranazjar Isle the best vacation island around.

But what is this? Some sort of statue on the other side of the island hints of a mystery.

Fray Isle
A little more interesting than Ranazjar Isle is without a doubt Fray Isle. If you've never played a warrior, or played a warrior and never done the berserker stance quest (it happens!), you wouldn't have much reason to go to this place. Located just outside of Ratchet, Fray Isle will soon turn into one of the most life bustling places in Azeroth. With the coming of Cataclysm Fray Island will play a central role to the new playabe race the Goblins. So if you want to catch a moment in peace on Fray Isle without one hundred newly created, crazy goblins running around your feet you should hurry over there and take a look.

Fray Isle from a distance.

An underwater tunnel with angry fishies. Wonder where it leads? For me to know, for you to find out! (hint: It doesn't really lead anywhere)

Wonder where this happy bunch of fighters will go when the Goblins infest the area? This is where warriors earn their Berserker Stance.

Alcaz Island
Nothing is as mysterious as Alcaz Island however. It is full of elite mobs and even an elite boss (?) in the shape of a Gnome (and gnome shaped things must die, right?)! His name is Dr Weavil (the reference is quite obvious) and the island is located just outside of Dustwallow Marsh. He is part of an AQ quest chain that is never done anymore, so he rarely gets a visit any longer. You get a quest to go there as lowbie alliance, but then you have to make sure not too wander too far into the island as you'll surely be quickly killed by the various elite Nagas, Dragons and Hydras that also inhabit the island.

Alcaz Island from a distance. Doesn't that look ominous? (Or maybe it's just bad graphic settings).

Level 60+ elite Hydras and Nagas inhabit the island. Not for the faint hearted!

Hmm, a big base camp hidden in the middle of the island?

Aha! Dr Weavil and Minion has been spotted. I didn't dare to attack them though...

A summoning circle with evil naga henchmen by a destroyed tower is a sure sign of... eh something evil.

So if you're ever having one of those nights where you just don't know what to do, I suggest you run over to Fray Isle and take a look or Alcaz Island and give Dr Weavil a spankin (from me).

Monday, June 14, 2010

Escort Quests and You

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I thought I'd mention something about some of the most dreaded quests in the game - the escort quests. Most escort quests are, or at least used to be, horrible manifestations of tedious, slow walks and nearly impossible to manage suprise attacks. Fortunately Blizzard have fixed alot of escorts since the dawn of WoW, and now we even find some that are rather fun! Didn't expect that did ya? I'll list some good escort quests, some ok escort quests and an escort quests that for a long time was crowned the most horrible of all.

The Good Ones
On Bloodmyst Isle you get an escort quest to help demolitionist Legoso in his attempt to destroy the Vector Coil of the Blood Elves in the area, called Ending Their World. The Blood Elves that you encounter are elite, so it is no easy task. Fortunately, Legoso is a shaman. As you go low on hp he will actually heal you! I love that guy, we were some team running in there and bombing those silly Blood Elves. He had a really nice AI, healing me just when I needed it making the whole thing "soloable" (I had him after all), as a paladin anyway.

In Redridge Mountains you get a quest to kill Blackrock Champion, and when you venture into their area you will find Corporal Keeshan who needs your help to escape. The Champions (and other mobs in the area) might not be elite, but they're rather tough if you're about their level. Fortunately, Keeshan is one hell of a tank. Not only is he elite, he has Mocking Blow (taunt attack) as his standard attack, making it really hard to pull aggro from him. The only drawback is that he'll only tank one mob at a time, but considering he's a wounded captive trying to escape I'm quite glad he does even that.

The Ok Ones
A quest most people hate, but that I can't help but liking is the one were you escort the lost turtle Tooga through the Tanaris desert to his wife Torta. The bad things about it is that Tooga is extremely slow and you have to run a loooong way with him. The good things about the quest is that Tooga will follow you, not the other way around as is the usual business about escort quests. Tooga also has some rather funny things to say on your treck towards Torta, which definitely makes this quest worth doing at least once. They've even gotten one item each as an hommage to their awesomeness; Tooga's Lost Toenail and Torta's Oversized Choker.

I also enjoy the robot-chicken escorts that you can find in Hinterlands, Tanaris and Feralas. Although those quests (most notably the one in Hinterlands) were really, really long, some of them have been improved lately. Less mob encounters and less running. And best of all, if you do them all you get a robot chicken pet (which is sellable for nice money!). And honestly, who doesn't love that robot chicken?

The Horrible One
I can think of one really horrible escort quest, although there are many of course. There is a quest in Ashenvale to escort the druid Kerlonian Evershade to Maestra's Post. Kerlonian will follow you around, just like Tooga and this is lucky because there are two reasons this quest is so horrible. First of all, Kerlonian will fall asleep now and then, which means you have to wake him with a horn. But even worse, if you follow the road you'll be attacked by two packs of three mobs (not both packs at once though). Worst of all, Kerlonian dies -extremely- easily. He can take two, three blows and then he goes down. I doubt if there is any weaker escortee out there. It is nearly impossible to have him survive the attack because even if you greatly outlevel the quest, Kerlonian gets aggro first and is usually killed faster than you've got time to snatch aggro back. Only a really well timed aoe could save his ass... Or a pw: shield now that they've changed it to be castable on npc's. And when he dies, well you have to start all over again. A tip is to simply avoid the road all together and run through the woods instead, where the mobs are much more manageable. Or just leave his sorry ass behind and go do a fun quest instead.

Can you think of any escort quests you really like/dislike?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cataclysm Druid Changes - Feral Talents

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I thought since I've got one of the most dedicated druids close at hand, I'll ask him about his thoughts on the Cataclysm feral changes. Love has played various druid forms (see what I did there) ever since the game first was released, so few people could claim to have more practical experience than he! All the changes as they look today can be seen here.

The Changed Talents

Sharpened Claws: Increases the damage caused by your Claw, Rake, Mangle (Cat), Mangle (Bear), and Maul abilities by 10/20%.
The crit has been changed into pure damage, which is in line with Blizzard trying to make it harder for feral druids to reach different caps, in this case the crit cap. This change in itself is probably a nerf to the feral damage since Shred and Rip are two major non-white damage sources, that will no longer be buffed by this talent. The big upsides of this is easier itemization because we don't have to watch yet another cap and that Mangle (Cat) will now probably be more in line with the DPE (Damage Per Energy) of Shred, so Feral druids wont be as vulnerable to bad positioning (E.g. Koralon) as they are now.

Shredding Attacks: Reduces the energy cost of your Shred ability by 5/10 and the rage cost of your Lacerate ability by 1/2.
This could be interpreted as a straight nerf, since the talent currently reduces the energy cost by 9/18, but I heard that there might be a change in the base cost of Shred, so speculating now on what might happen would only serve to confuse. It's a change that I believe will only serve to even out the cost of Shred instead of, as it is now, give it an odd, but lower, energycost.

Predatory Instincts: Increases the damage done by your melee critical strikes by 3/7/10%
The only change in this talent is that it on live servers also reduces aoe-damage taken by 30%, and I have to go with the above hedging on this one as well. We know that health pools will be bigger, and that actually moving out of the goddamn fire will count for more in the upcoming expansion due to the lowered regen capabilities for healers, so they might not want us to suffer less than other classes. Might have some PvP implications as well, but meh. /care.

Brutal Impact: Increases the stun duration of your Bash and Pounce abilities by 0.5/1 seconds, and decreases the cooldown of Bash by 5/10 seconds.
This change is due to the fact that druids will get an actual, real kick mechanic. To make sure that Bear Form doesn't turn into pvp-gods with one trillion stuns up their sleeves, they're simply giving bash a longer cooldown. This used to be Bears only non-charge interrupt, and since this won't be the case any longer they have to make sure bears can't interrupt too often. This price is well worth it however, since you don't need to stun that often anyway, but being able to choose between an interrupt and a stun will make alot of things easier.

Predatory Strikes: Increases the critical strike chance of your Ravage by 25/50% at or above 90% health, and your finishing moves have a 10/20% chance per combo point to make your next Nature spell with a base casting time less than 10 seconds become an instant cast spell.
The attack power part that used to be on this talent will probably no longer be needed in any form because of the redesign of the class mechanics they're going to do in Cataclysm. This talent used to be a semi-bandaid talent to cover up for the failed and patched class mechanics that is feral druid today. This coupled with Improved Feral Charge (commented on further down) might make some crazy pvp-bursts, but this will probably not be too useful in pve since we have to worry about threat at the beginning of the fight. It might be useful in bossfights where you run away and then charge back, although it doesn't actually say for sure if it is your hp or your targets hp that has to be above 90%. It'll make all the difference.

Survival of the Fittest: Reduces the chance you'll be critically hit by melee attacks by 2/4/6%, and increases the contribution from cloth and leather items in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form by 11/22/33%.
If this came mid-expansion I'd call the removal of 6% stats a straight down nerf. I assume this in itself won't be a nerf though because druids will get a more normalized stat values in Cataclysm than they have today (like four times the normal amount of AP to make the same damage as rogues and warriors) and we won't need talents like these to make us on-par with other classes.

King if the Jungle: While using your Enrage ability in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form, your damage is increased by 5/10/15%, and your Tiger's Fury ability also instantly restores 20/40/60 energy.
Here they have simply removed the part which reduces mana costs on shapeshifting to cat or bear forms. They have in expansion after expansion and patch after patch made it easier and cheaper for us to shapeshift freely. I don't think they'll simply revert after all this time, but probably take the final step and just make the shapeshifting easy and cheap even without talents.

Primal Tenacity: Reduces the duration of fear effects by 10/20/30% and reduces all damage taken while stunned by 5/10/15% while in Cat Form.
The damage reduction while stunned is halved, and I think this is simply due to the changes made to players health pools. Blizzard don't want people to be able to be one-shot any longer, so they will probably remove or nerf many of the damage reduction talents and skills so that players won't turn into semi-raid bosses.

Infected Wounds: Your Shred, Maul, Ravage and Mangle attacks cause an Infected Wound in the target. The Infected Wound reduces the movement speed of the target by 25/50% and the attack speed by 10/20%. Lasts 12 seconds.
Not much to say here, it is now two talent points instead of three. This might be due to Blizzard wanting more druids to afford this talent. This kind of talent (e.g Vindication, Thunder Clap) also only costs 2 tp for other classes.

The New Talents

Improved Feral Charge: Increases your melee haste by 15/30% after you use Feral Charge (Bear) for 8 seconds, and Ravage will temporarily not require stealth for 3/6 seconds after you use Feral Charge (Cat).
The bear portion of this talent seems to be aimed mainly at giving bears a burstier threatgeneration compared to what we have now and -maybe- also give Cats (probably not, but the wording allows it) the option of using bear charge, switching to cat and enjoying a few seconds of machine-gun-clawing! Like I said, probably not, but one can hope ^^
Feral Charge (Cat) does not seem too useful for PvE purposes, but the synergy with Predatory Strikes in PvP might really make us dangerous.

Fury Swipes: When you auto-attack while in Cat Form or Bear Form, you have a 4/8/12% chance to gain an extra auto-attack on the same target. This effect cannot occur more than once every 6 seconds.
White attacks have been a rough 30% of our total damage for a good while, and increasing that passively is always nice! The actual damage increase from this talent in itself is actually fairly small, only a few auto-attacks per minute (if they decide to keep the 6 sec inner cd, which also ruins any synergy effects with for example BL). But a few extra white attacks goes a long way if they give us OOC clearcasts. It's a good talent, but at the moment it might be considered to be a bit on the weak side.

Endless Carnage: Increases the duration of your Rake by 3/6 seconds and your Savage Roar and Pulverize by 3/6 seconds.
This is massive. Rake is a very important damage skill for feral druids at the moment (due to them being able to crit and giving us Idol procs), and if they want Rake to play such an important role in the endgame, they will probably let it stay in the spotlight. The current Rake has a 9 second uptime, adding 6 seconds greatly lowers the energycost (albeit it being minimal to start with) and gives it a phenomenal DPE. Savage Roar is a very boring but also insanely (too) powerful skill, yet another bandaid for the feral mechanics, and giving it a solid 3/6 second buff regardless of the amount of talentpoints spent will make it a lot easier to keep it at 100% uptime. The buff to Pulverize is also by a significant amount, from 10 to 16 seconds. I'm not sure how that skill will play out, but a buff that big might make it mandatory even for dedicated bears.

Primal Madness: Tiger's Fury and Berserk also increases your maximum energy by 6/12 during its duration, and your Enrage and Berserk abilities instantly generates 0/12 Rage.
I can't say I'm all for this talent, since it actually encourages bad habits and poor planning. Make room for your energy, THEN pop TF. It might be useful for the situations where you pop Zerk only to be forced to move away from the boss. Very "if if if", but it might, maybe, perhaps, situationally be useful. Otherwise my feeling is that this is a /meh talent. The Bear part is solid, but weak, and might even be reduntant if rage generation is anything like the last two expansions. (Yes, rage normalization inc, but I can't comment on that before I know the details.)

Nom Nom Nom (Name not final): When you Ferocious Bite a target at or below 25% health, you have a 50/100% chance to instantly refresh the duration of your Rip on the target.
I gotta jump on the bandwagon with this one: Nom Nom Nom has to be the final name. Has To Be. I would play my druid for this reason alone! Anyway, 25% feels sort of weak, but they have stated that fights will be longer, and removing Rip out of the CP equation makes room for a whole lot of Bites, so this will be our Execute-like ability for that last push.

Pulverize: Requires Dire Bear Form. Deals 100% weapon damage plus additional 786 damage for each of your Lacerate applications on the target, and increases your melee critical strike chance by 2% for each Lacerate application consumed for 10 seconds.
It says "consumed", so my interpretation is that it will remove the stack of Lacerates and deal a good chunk of damage, and also increasing the critical strike chance of the bear for a good 16 (talented) seconds. If the single Pulverize manages to make up for the lost Lacerate ticks it will really make bear tanking a lot more interesting compared to what it is now (2 macro mashing), and also give bears a greater chance at single target Savage Defense procs. If this skill is properly balanced it can give bear tanking a whole new dimension of when to Pulverize and when to let the stacks be.

Summary
There are many "if's" at the moment, considering feral druid has been alot about making it work as the other classes -as good as possible- while at the same time make it work between specs -as good as possible-. This has lead to alot of compromizes and what feels like half-improvized fixes and talents. Blizzard say they intend to normalize stats, not only for druids, but for all classes. But this will probably have bigger implications for feral druids than any other class. Maybe now feral druids will be a class of its own, without having to rely on poor copies of other classes skills and stat mechanics and instead based on itself. This means, like I have written, that alot of talents that might look like nerfs today will work perfect for whatever the feral druid is going to become in Cataclysm. One has to remember that alot of the talents today are mere "fixes" to make us work properly, like some sort of abomination, and the "nerfs" are actually just a removal of something that we won't need any longer. At least that is what I hope. Overall the talents seem to be make the feral dpsing more forgiving and easier to sustain compared to how it is today, and that without haphazard bandaid-talents. But it will in the end most likely be very much like today, the changes will be made in the background, in the programming rather in the things that are affected by player skills. There won't be any technique altering skills for us to adapt to, and this is ok, because we really don't need more skills to keep track of.
Bear druids will get a much needed improvement in tank style, with some new skills to use for optimal tanking. Since bear tanking isn't especially exciting as it is today, this is very welcome.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cataclysm Priest Changes - Holy Talents

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Continuing from yesterday, let's look at the holy talents changes and maybe also draw some conclusions about the general direction that priest healing seems to be taking. Oh and I took this info from wowhead.com.

The Changed Talents

Searing Light: Increases the damage of your Smite, Holy Fire, Holy Nova and Penance spells by 4/8/12%.
(Very) Slight buff that increases damage by 2% overall, but over three talent points instead of two. But that is so boring a change that we move right on to the next one.

Empowered Healing: Your Greater Heal spell gains an additional 6/12/18/24/30% and your Flash Heal, Heal, and Binding Heal gain an additional 3/6/9/12/15% of your bonus healing effects.
Overall quite the nerf, as it lowers the percentual gain by 10% and 5% respectively. This is in line with the other "spell power gain"-talent changes we have seen though, and as I said yesterday this probably simply has to do with balancing stats.

Blessed Resilience: Critical hits made against you have a 20/40/60% chance to prevent you from being critically hit again for 6 seconds
A simple removal of the 3% extra healing. I must say I actually like that they're streamlining the talents again instead of these mini-extras they throw in to talents sometimes. Like "oh this talent isn't as good as it should be, oh well we'll just throw in a 3% extra healing there and it'll be just fine". Kinda random when you think about it.

Body and Soul: When you cast Power Word: Shield or Leap of Faith, you increase the targets's movement speed by 30/60% for 4 seconds, and you have a 50/100% chance when you cast Cure Disease on yourself to also cleanse 1 poison effect in addition to diseases.
I love this talent, although I haven't actually specced it myself. Let's say I respect the pve-priests who dare spec this talent, because with it comes the micro managing of knowing the exact time to use a shield properly. Giving someone 60% extra run speed without them being ready for it in a pve-setting can be disastrous (I imagine people running off the ledge on LK for instance). If we look closely we see one important change here. Instead of Abolish Disease, you now have to cast Cure Disease. This feels like a lame excuse to force every priest that talents this to place Cure Disease somewhere on the action bar. Ok, there are some other reasons to have Cure Disease ready, but honestly you -rarely- use that skill. The only occasion would be when you don't want abolish laying around on people so that you have more control over disease handling, like on LK phase 1. Oh and yeah, they added the new skill Leap of Faith to count for this as well.

Circle of Healing: Cooldown increased to 10 seconds.
Noes! A huge increase on the Circle of Healing cooldown. Was it really that good? Really? Yes it was good, but I mean I often feel that PoM is way better. Oh, maybe I shouldn't say that or they will nerf that too. I rarely spam CoH as it is, and maybe that is my bad. I usually feel that people are too spread out to benefit properly from it but ok... I admit it has its brilliant moments. I'll say now that I don't think the extra cooldown will make much difference in my healing, but I am quite sure I'll regret those words later on.

The New Talents

Holy Focus: Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting any Holy spell by 35/70%.
Although treated as a new talent, it's really a remake of Healing Focus. They've simply made it count for damaging holy spells as well, which is totally in line with healing priests becoming pewpewsmite-priests.

Divine Accuracy: Increases the chance to hit with your Smite, Holy Fire, Holy Nova and Penance spells by 10/20%.
To assure we poor priests don't have to worry about hit now that we're supposed to pewpew, we get 20% hit (!!) in two talents. That does sound kind of absurd but also shows how serious Blizzard are about this pewpew-business. And of course, this is totally awesome for any leveling priest, as the whole pewpew-thing will be. Smite-dps won't be a choice for the freaks anylonger!

Deliverance: When you heal with Binding Heal or Flash Heal, the cast time of your next Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing spell is reduced by 3/6/9%. Stacks up to 3 times. Lasts 20 seconds.
This does sound alot like Serendipity, doesn't it? It doesn't say what has happened to Serendipity, but by the looks of it it has been removed. Or rather, replaced by this copycat. There are some minor differences, but overall they do the same thing. Use your fast spells to lower the cast time of your slow spells.

Choir Leader: Your Divine Hymn also heals you for 10/20% of your total health during its duration, and the channel time of your Hymn of Hope is reduced by 10/20%.
Although extra healing to Divine Hymn is nice, reducing the channel time of it doesn't have to be. Blizzard doesn't seem to understand that healing stuff too fast can sometimes be a bad thing, because it will only lead to wasted overheals. Especially with a spell like Divine Hymn which has a rather massive healing output. I know alot of druids who complain about them having "too much" haste so that their Tranquillity is over too fast. I don't want to see this happen to Divine Hymn. Apparently they're changing the way haste works which means it won't actually lower the spell channeling but increase the amounts of ticks instead. This means haste can really be seen as a straight of increase of a spells damage/healing (instead of a hastened cast), and that's good of course.

Improved Holy Nova: Reduces the global cooldown of your Holy Nova spell by 0.25/0.5 sec., and increases its critical effect chance by 25/50%.
I realize this will probably be way too expensive to spam, but at least we'll be able to jump in on the "aoe-the-trash-to-bits"-fun! How I have longed. No but seriously, I am glad they're trying to make something decent out of this talent. How many priests out there uses Holy Nova seriously? Well I did Uldaman today and had a priest in the group who did rather good damage by just spamming Holy Nova. But that's about as useful as it is right now.

Chakra: When you use Prayer of Healing, Renew or Heal 3 times in a row you will enter a Chakra state empowering you for 20 seconds. You can only be in one Chakra state at a time.
  • Prayer of Healing - Increases your area-of-effect healing by 2/4/6/8/10%, and reduces the cooldown of your Circle of Healing by .5/1/1.5/2/2.5 seconds.
  • Renew - Increases the periodic haste effect of your Renew spell by 3/6/9/12/15% and reduces the global cooldown of your Renew spell by .1/.2/.3/.4/.5 seconds.
  • Heal - Increases the critical effect chance of your Heal spell by 1/2/3/4/5%, and your Heal has a 20/40/60/80/100% chance to refresh the duration of your Renew on the target.
  • Smite - Increase your total damage done by Shadow and Holy spells by 4/8/12%.
Starting at Rank 2 - Increases spell power by 10% of your total spirit. Rank 3 changes the talent to Spiritual Guidance - Increases spell power by 15/20/25% of your total spirit.
Here we have it, the huge change to holy healing. The TLDR version of this is that whatever you do will buff whatever you're doing. So if you're spamming hots your hots will become better, if you're spamming smites your dps will be increased and so on. I think Blizzard wants us to become more aware of what we're doing and do less of the mindless spamming. I encourage that, although I am not completely sure this will make us more mindful about our healing in the end. It still feels like we'll spam and chakra will be a bonus to our spamming. Making us more mindful about our casts would be synergies between spells, like using spell A buffs spell B instead of using spell A will buff spell A. But oh well, I won't be too pessimistic here, it'll probably be awesome. And also I see they're trying to get "Heal" back into the game. Boy I haven't used Heal since level... 20? This doesn't mean I don't like the idea of bringing it back. I like priest healing because of all the different heals, and I think I've complained about Heal and Lesser Heals uselessness before (I say so much I hardly remember what I've said and what I've only thought about). So bring it back, make it useful, I'll love it!

Thriving Light: Reduces the duration of Wound effects on you by 15/30%, and reduces the damage taken by bleed effects by 10/20%.
Pvp-talent, and that's all I'll say about that :P

Summary
Like I said yesterday, the changes to disc look more interesting than the changes to holy. Maybe it's a matter of personal taste so let me put it this way - the changes to disc actually look like changes while the changes to holy look like more about the same thing. It seems as if disc will be something rather different than it is today, while holy will continue its business.
I must say one thing though; why the heck haven't they changed Lightwell? I love that spell, but no one else does. I think I read somewhere that Blizzard intend to change healing and design fights in a way that will actually force dpsers to mind their health more than they have to today. Yes! Please please do! I don't want to hear another dpser say "where is my healing?" when a frigging Lightwell is standing right next to them. I realize that people don't like it today, it's not practical, so please change it so that it is extremely, and I mean -extremely-, easy to use. Ok I already nerdraged about this once, so I'll spare you this time.

It does seem like they want us to be more active in our healing. Chakra and throwing in dps skills in our healing rotation to max our healing output seems like they want the passive spamming of the same skills to be gone (I'm not looking in the holydins direction at all). And I welcome it, I really do. This will really separate the wheat from the chaff, as we say in sweden, when the best healing will be done by those that have the best presence of mind and environmental awareness (and maybe less about über gear that lets you spam no matter what). Holy does seem to take the same path however and disc seems alot more interesting as it is now, especially with all the pewpew that seems to become a part of their healing style. Chakra looks good, but not especially exciting. Like I said yesterday though, everything might still change over night for the better or worse. So keep your eyes pealed.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cataclysm Priest Changes - Disc Talents

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Yesterday I thought it would be about time for me to check out the cataclysm priest changes. Unlike some people I don't throw myself on every crumble of a rumour that is given to us by various pages claiming to have the inside information. The reason is simple, I know it will change. And if I see glimpses of a pony and don't get it I'll be sad. Better not to have any hopes. I have been sneak peaking some though, it is hard to miss. And now I thought I'd take another glimpse at what they've said they'll give us, maybe.

Remember that everything can and probably will be changed before we actually get our hands on Cataclysm, but looking at the changes they've got so far will at least give us a general idea of where they want to take us healing priests. And I must say, I am intrigued. I'll look at discipline changes first off. I'll stick to the actual talent changes and leave tier jumps and non-changed talents. If you want a more thorough look at -all- the changes you can see them here.

The Changed Talents

Twin Disciplines: " Increases the damage and healing done by your instant spells and the damage absorbed by your Power Word: Shield by 1/2/3/4/5%
Twin Disciplines has been changed to include shield absorbs as well. Not much to say about that, a straight and slight buff. But as we will see further down it will be welcome.

Improved Inner Fire: Increases the effect of your Inner Fire spell by 15/30/45%.
They've removed the extra stack gains which could be interpreted as it simply won't have stacks anymore in Cataclysm. I really hope so, I didn't really see the point of a buff with stacks like some sort of Water Shield wannabe... In a raid setting it rarely happens that I lose the stack anyway, since it isn't removed by spells. And since it happens so rarely I often don't notice it is gone before some time. Forgetting it isn't the end of the world either, but unnecessary of course.

Focused Power: Reduces the cast time of your Mind Control spell by 0.3/0.5 seconds, and your Mass Dispel cast time is reduced by 0.5/1.0 seconds.
The reduction to Mass Dispel cast time is still there, but the extra damage and healing as been replaced by a reduced cast time to Mind Control. This means this talent has gone even more over to the pvp side, not even sure it'll be worth grabbing for a pve-priest as it looks.

Inner Focus: Cooldown lowered to 1.5 minutes.
Wow, halved the cooldown? About time if you ask me. Inner Focus is far from any overpowered talent and it won't be with the new cooldown either. How often do you need your next cast to be free? You either want all the casts to be cheaper (like clearcasting shamans), don't have control over it (like clearcasting druids) or you'll save it for the big bombas. Usually only if you're about to throw something really expensive (like Divine Hymn) or are really, really oom. These two things don't happen often in a fight, but with the lowered cooldown we might want to use it with the occasional PoH too.

Soul Warding:
Reduces the cooldown of your Power Word: Shield ability by 1/2/3 seconds, and reduces the mana cost or your Power Word: Shield by 5/10/15%.
This talent has gone from a one point talent to a three-point talent. I don't really have a problem with that since Soul Warding was a really powerful talent and the bread and butter of any disc priest talent spec (and still will be). But besides of that change, there is also a small but possibly very significant nerf here. The talent now reduces the cooldown on PWS with 4 seconds. The new talent will only lower it by 3 seconds. That means there will be a 1 second cooldown to take in mind, which might not be noticed at all since it's within the global cooldown anyway. We'll notice.

Focused Will: After taking a critical hit you gain the Focused Will effect, reducing all damage taken by 2/3/4% and increasing healing effects on you by 3/4/5%. Stacks up to 3 times. Lasts 8 seconds.
The extra 3% crit chance to spells has been removed. But they've put it elsewhere (look further down for Penitence) so it's not a big nerf.

Grace: Your Flash Heal, Greater Heal, and Penance spells bless the target with Grace, increasing all healing received from the Priest by 2/4%. This effect will stack up to 3 times. Effect lasts 15 seconds. Grace can only be active on one target at a time.
Yet again a small but significant nerf. Today it gives 3% extra healing received from the priest, and it will be increased to 4%. That's a total of 12% instead of 9%, so that's a nice little buff.

Borrowed Time: Grants 5/10/15/20/25% spell haste for your next spell after casting Power Word: Shield, and increases the amount absorbed by your Power Word: Shield equal to 4/8/12/16/20% of your spell power.
Huge nerf inc. Like I said up there, the little extra absorbtion the shield will get through the Twin Disciplines will be welcome, because over here it is getting a major nerf. Currently Borrowed Time increases absorbtion by 40% total, that will as we can see change to 20%. It is clear where Blizzard is going with this, they don't want disc priests to rely as much on shields as they do today. Also considering the major jump in stats that'll probably come with cataclysm (as with every new expansion), 40% of a Cata-Priest spellpower pool might simply just be too much. I did see some blue post a long time ago where they said they were hoping that disc wouldn't be all about shield spamming. Unfortunately that is basically what it has come to, and these changes are welcome -if- they give us other proper tools to substitute our awesome shields.

The New Talents

Silent Resolve has been replaced by Penitence that: Increases the critical effect chance of your Smite and Penance spells by 5/10/15%.
I for one won't miss Silent Resolve at all. Healing threat really isn't an issue at all, and even if we start dpsing (as we soon will see more about) I strongly doubt threat will ever be a problem. PvP Disc might be grumpy about the removed dispel protection. This talent also shows the first step towards what seems to become a real smite-priest. I usually level as smite-priest but I never thought I'd see them in serious raid contexts. I'll say more about that further down. 15% crit to Penance is awesome anyway and in great synergy with talents such as Divine Aegis. It is interesting since I often see people say that crit is a nearly gemmable stat as disc, it is that good. And then we get a talent that is an answer to our crit prayers.

Meditation has been replaced by Atonement that: When you deal damage with Smite, you instantly heal a nearby low-health friendly target within 40 yards equal to 15/30/45% of the damage dealt.
First I had to rub my eyes and pinch myself. Am I seeing right? A talent that buffs smite? And makes it heal? Freaky. And cool! The removal of Meditation made me sad panda, but since I get the feeling that Blizzard want to do something completely new with the whole mana regen business I suppose this had to go out the window. I'm not sure what they're up to, but I hope it will be good.

Absolution has been replaced by Evangelism that: When you cast Smite you gain Evangelism, increasing the damage done by your Smite, Holy Fire, Holy Nova and Penance spells by 2/4% and reducing the mana cost of those spells by 3/6% for 15 seconds. Stacks up to 5 times.
Yet again with the smite! Now it's starting to become really interesting. Blizzard seriously want us to become pewpew-priests? I like it! Priests aren't the only class to have become these quasi-heal-dps talents that mixes dps skills with healing skills. It seems all healing specs will have this kind of synergy effects going on, and it will be really interesting to see how this works out.

Mental Strength has been replaced by Archangel that: Consumes your Evangelism effects, instantly restoring 3% of your total mana and increasing your healing done by 3% for each stack. Also allows you to channel Penance while moving. Lasts 18 seconds.
Ok, stop the presses. Channel Penance while moving? I can see any PvPer who doesn't play disc priest frown in anger right now. The only drawback of disc priesting was that you had to stand still for less than 1,5 seconds to channel your Penance (and that you automatically turn to face your target when you do so, annoying!). With Archangel this has been removed. This does mean however that you have to smite regularly while healing, or else there won't be any Evangelism stacks to consume. This means, yet again, that Smite won't just be a fun spell to throw now and then but a serious part of a disc priests healing rotation. I have to quote myself here and say "it will be really interesting to see how this works out."

Power Word: Barrier: Summons a holy barrier on the target location that absorbs 293 damage done to party or raid members within it each time they take damage. While within the barrier, spellcasting will not be interrupted by damage. The barrier lasts for 15 seconds or until it absorbs 1955 damage. 13383 Mana 40 yd range 0.5 sec cast 3 min cooldown.
We were promised this in already with Wotlk, but now it seems we might actually get it (that's what we thought last time too though). The numbers are (hopefully) completely off of course. Nearly 14k mana for a barrier that absorbs 2k damage? No I don't think so. That would make it, without a doubt, -the- worst spell in the game. Other than that it'll probably work like and closely resemble the DK Anti-Magic Zone, with the difference that the Barrier absorbs physical damage too.

Summary
So these are the changes to the disc tree so far. Like I have said, it seems like the focus has been put on making dpsing part of our standard healing rotation, on the expense of less shielding. Overall the changes look really interesting and it will probably make disc healing to something completely else than it is today, which is what happened between bc-wotlk too. I thought I'd give a more full conclusion on the way healing seems to be going after tomorrow, when we have looked at the holy changes too. I can give you a heads up however and say that disc looks alot more promising than holy, and if I had to choose one over the other from what I've seen so far I'd definitely go with Disc. But, anything can still happen!

Oh and PS, if you didn't notice I changed the design on the page some :P Hope it's a little easier on the eye when reading!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Stalker: Call of Pripyat

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I'm going to do something a little different here and not talk about WoW! Instead, I thought I'd say some things about the game Stalker: Call of Pripyat which is the third game in the Stalker series. The reason is simple, Love is playing it for the third time and I asked him what he liked so much about it (and if there is something he doesn't like). In case you didn't know, the entire Stalker series is about survivors living in the contaminated area that emerged with the Chernobyl accident. Well calling them survivors isn't really the right word, they're there by their own choice to profit from the fact that this area is completely lawless. Because of the heavy radiation alot of funny stuff is going on with mutations and anomalies, and well some people like that stuff, because anomalies can both spawn evil and good. Call of Pripyat is divided into three zones. When you start out you've only got a shitty gun and a flash light, which definitely isn't going to help you much against the "zombies" (people with fried brains) and mutated animal life.

This is one of CoP really strong sides. When you start out you really get the feeling to be a looser in a really hostile world and you will have to fight to survive. Realism is heavy in CoP, with everything from degrading gear, friendly and hostile npcs interacting to the need for food and it does it very well. Every encounter with a rabid mutadog that doesn't end in death feels like a victory, without the game being too punishing. It's you against the crazy world, and it's only your courage and bravado that stands between you and glory (and shitloads of money). When entering a dark cave you don't know what will be in the other end, and it can seriously be just about anything.

Also, if you've played the first game Shadow of Chernobyl, you'll be happy to know that CoP isn't anywhere close to being as buggy as SoC was. In SoC the bugs where more of a rule than an exception. And no game is completely without bugs of course, but CoP really has only the healthy, normal amount of bugs. None that bother gameplay too much.

You soon encounter other humans (that haven't had their brains fried yet) with whom you can trade and feel some connection to reality. Because although everything in CoP (and the other Stalker games) is so far out, you still feel like it could be real. Out there somewhere people are eating Popcorn while watching Karate Kid, but right here you are fighting an invisible Bloodsucker. In that way it is similar to Fallout.

Unfortunately, the game quickly turns a little too rewarding. And I don't mean "too good" but that it gives you too much of everything. About half way through the second zone you'll have your hands on most of the really heavy artillery (rocket launchers and mecha suits anyone?) and not even the rabid mutadogs or creepy Bloodsuckers pose much of a threat then. The vulnerability and feeling of having to fight for your survival disappears as your inventory is filled with heavy weapons and heavy armors. A characters has to become better and better of course, so that you don't feel stagnation, but in CoP this happens a little too fast. Preferrably one should never feel too good, there should always be a feeling that there are somethings you still dread to take on. But towards the end you don't do your choices based in difficulty anymore, but based on lazyness. You don't choose your fight style because you'll die if you go about another way, but because it's the fastest way to get rid of the pest that just some hours ago made you run away screaming.

Also, unlike the previous games, there are no factions to rep with. That makes you feel cut off from the other humans in the zone and like a one man army. That doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing, but if you don't feel like you need the people around you you're eventually mostly just annoyed by their presence. When you should feel like they're part of a haven in a dangerous world.

The third zone is a model of the real Pripyat itself, the neighboring city of Chernobyl that was quickly evacuated when news of the catastrophe was spread. People probably didn't realize the magnitude of the catastrophe back then because the citizens of Pripyat were told they'd be able to return in a couple of days and therefore left everything laying and standing as it was. This has turned Pripyat into a modern day museum, or ghost town rather. A complete city, totally empty of human life, but as if it was left yesterday (except for the fact that vegetation has crept into the buildings).

SPOILER ALERT!
Unfortunately, the game doesn't offer much to do in this zone. The area is huge and you can wander around and look at stuff, and maybe that is the entire reason for it, but that feels a little too empty. Some emptiness is good for the immersion but here it feels unfinished. There are no side quests and only a few main quests to do. Since the previous zones have thrown anomalies and mutants in your face every now and then you enter Pripyat with the sense that it is a little too quite. Something is about to happen. After about 10 minutes of sneaking around, looking around your shoulder and keeping your senses peaked for anything, anything at all, you realize that no. This place is just damn empty.
END SPOILER ALERT!

CoP offers alot of potential and the inital half of the game is also really well made. It could've stayed that way but the player quickly overpowers the game, without the game throwing in more challenge. Getting hold of enough money to buy everything you'll ever want and need isn't as difficult as it should be and you go from feeling like Sarah Connor hunted by Terminator to quoting "Hasta la vista, baby" to every hostile encounter. The thrill of exploration and victory disappears too fast.

So far one could get the feel that CoP has more bad than good features, but the good things about it are good enough to warrant at least one playthrough (or three). The game doesn't actually ever turn bad, it just turns too easy (just cranking the difficulty setting to max seems like a haphazard solution) and that removes its most important components - immersion and the feeling of success through hard work.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Scary stuff

2 comments:
I'm extremely easy to scare. I jump and scream whenever Love enters the room if I don't expect him to, and he always says something like "am I that ugly?". I think it's my dads fault, he scared the living daylights out of me when I was little and was running to the bathroom in the middle of the night. He had hid behind a bookcase and jumped out on me and I nearly died, or well so it felt anyway. But eventhough I'm so easy to scare, I love scary stuff. I love scary movies and I love scary games. One of my favorite games ever is the first Resident Evil game. I have never played it myself though, I wouldn't dare to! I always forced someone else to play it for me so I could watch from a safe distance. I tried Silent Hill once and only got to the broken stroller in the alley before I had to quit. When looking at scary movies I always hide behind my hands so I don't have to see any of the scary stuff. I probably just see about 30% of scary movies because I mostly keep my eyes closed.
Maybe I told you before but when I started my very first char on WoW I decided it had to be an undead. I thought that if I played a zombie myself, the undead monsters wouldn't seem as creepy! I soon realized though that WoW really isn't a scary game. Or is it?
There has been some times when I jumped when playing WoW, believe it not. And I don't speak of PvP, because that is more about stress than fright really. Sometimes I mistake a stealthed mob for a rogue though, and that can be quite panicky. The zombies didn't scare me when I started playing actually, but some other things have. It definitely doesn't happen often, but in a game like WoW you're all the less prepared for it when it does happen.

I remember the first time we did Ulduar. Our guild usually tries every boss without reading tacs beforehand, and if they turn out to be too difficult we'll read up on it. So we had just killed the Iron Council and were heading towards Kologarn. I had no idea there would be a boss named Kologarn, I had no idea of anything about Ulduar that first time. I was running ahead for some reason and up the stairs and saw the rift and thought I'd go check it out and ran into the room... BAM! A huge scary ass monstergiant comes out of nowhere, covering my entire screen and waving his arms around. I was sure I fainted a little. I kid you not, Kologarn jumping up on me like that made me nearly shit myself.
And the first time I did AQ, I wrote about this too but I don't think I made myself clear enough about my first encounter with Fankriss the humongous earwig. I -hate- earwigs. They crawl into my apartment when I keep the window open late at night (like now come to think of it :/ ), and then I find them tucked up in the most horrible places (not in my bed yet though). And I was happily running along killing stuff in AQ when I run into this HUGE MADDAFAKKA EARWIG staring me right in the eye with his ickiness and like I wrote last time I just wanted to run away screaming like a little girl.

I can imagine the feeling of some people who have spider or snake phobias... Fortunately I have none of those (only the completely sane zombie phobia, I mean who wouldn't be afraid of something that is after your brain?).

Have you ever been scared in WoW?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Are you childish?

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Ok, so that's a rhetorical question, but I'll still say that "Yes, I am". Or maybe rather "yes, it happens". I like to see myself as a mature, logical person (although Love says otherwise), but I do nerdrage from time to time (as you might have noticed) or just plain act childish when someone/thing annoys me.

Today for example, I was playing my hundredandfifth paladin and doing a quest in Duskwood for killing Plague Spreaders. You have to kill 20 and there are about 20 around, so if anyone else has the quest you have to compete for the spawns. Or of course cooperate. And I usually try to cooperate. If I'm about to kill some mob for a special quest and see someone come running to do the same thing I invite them so they can get the kill. I expect people to do the same for me, and usually they do actually. But back to the Plague Spreaders. I was happily killing along when a warrior and druid, most likely teamed, come up to me and start saying odd words. Words like "widge" and "wooper". Words that don't mean anything to me, and to no dictionary either, but maybe they're some sort of slang, what do I know. I do know however that they're on the same quest and the fight for spawns begins. Because of the odd words, which I decided to interpret as profanities, I started really busting my ass off to snatch mobs from them. I did so even when I was long finished with my own quest! Snatching a mob from them and receiving another nonsense word as thanks really... made me happy. Yes I admit it, I was really childish stealing their mobs and it was all just to annoy them.

And sometimes (and embarrassingly enough I love to do it) I let people that I don't really like die in instances. I've even done it to Love once, and he hated me for it, with all right! It is an extremely immature thing to do, unless the person has done something like it to you, or some other horrible thing. But I sometimes do it just because the person annoys me, which is just wrong.

And everytime someone I know rolls another alt and then expects to be taken to different raids to get gear for it I think "heck no, I aint gonna boost your alt. Gear it yourself first". And who am I to talk anyway, with a million alts? In my defense I do try to gear them somewhat properly before going to raids, I don't like to not be able to at least pull my own weight. But I know I can have this really illogical, immature attitude to peoples alts sometimes, which is really bad since I'm the one with the most alts...

It has alot to do with what the other person/s does of course. My point is probably that it is extremely easy to go from a mature, nice person to immature douche just because someone else is acting like an immature douche. Trying to keep your cool or just shrug something off when someone is nerdraging around you is damn hard. For instance the other day when Love was doing Naxx for the weekly his reminder addon that tells anyone who's missed a buff, whispered another druid about mark of the wild. Since Love himself plays a druid the other druid was really annoyed and said something like "wtf dude, buff that shit yourself yada yada". But the addon is automated, it whispers anyone who can cast the buff if it is missing. Love tried first to explain this but got another angry reply and then decided to become douche himself and simply said "well cry more".

Another favorite is the raid leader that yells at everyone because one person does a mistake. "Are you all fucking retarded!?" because someone failed at something. Does it really improve peoples playskills? I'm not so sure.

There is rarely a reason to fly off our handles about things in WoW, and yet we do it. But why do we do it? Maybe it makes us feel better, like telling the other guy that "you're not going to be allowed to douche around alone like that. I can be douchy too". Maybe it is about power? By stealing their mobs I had complete power over their playing, and it made me feel good, because I wanted to punish them, or something. By letting people die in instances I tell them that "if you don't behave I will punish you, I have the power to do so". OBEY (the crab)! Maybe even the verbal insults actually are about this power-displaying thingy. "I call you noob and that will make you feel bad, I have the power to make you feel bad".

But does our childish behavior actually make anything better? Do we honestly believe that throwing a tirade of profanities in the face of some guy will make him come around and say "well yeah dude, when you put it that way I realize I was wrong".

Maybe we should be more careful about our aggressivity. I'm not saying we should remove it entirely, I'm still happy I annoyed those silly questers by stealing their mobs ^^. But there are definitely moments when it is better for us to bite our tongues rather than pour our hate onto the keyboard. Not let the douches rub us the wrong way. Count to ten?

Monday, June 7, 2010

How to! Warrior Tank - Level 77-78

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Wohei! We're not far from the big 80 now! I haven't been able to refrain myself from doing the daily fishing, and sometimes even the daily cooking if it didn't suck too much. I've actually never done those dailies before! And although I very rarely do dailies overall (I've done quite some on my jc for tokens and that's about it), I just love to get that goodie bag reward from fishing. It can earn you nice amounts of money, which is quite handy when you're all alone on a server like that. I've never had a proper fisher before, and the reason is simple. It is so god dang boring to skill fishing. But they have made one huge change to fishing that really makes all the difference - you can now fish in any water with any skill. Before you go all crazy about how that makes it sound way too easy, they've made it so that if you're the wrong skill level you'll mostly just fish up gray crap. But it's ok. As long as I don't have to travel to some far away place just to skill my fishing to a proper level before I can even try to fish in my own questing area. Skilling fishing is probably the profession that takes the longest. Mining comes up close second, but that is extra sucky since you have to run around for it. When fishing you can actually do other stuff meanwhile, like playing elements. Or while waiting for a group.

EDIT 9/6: Unless you happen to have a main on the same server as your little tank, level 77 is the level to start thinking about repping with the proper factions. In a tanks case that would be Sons of Hodir (shoulder enchant) and the Argent Crusade (head enchant). Nowadays there are two ways to rep with any Northrend faction that gives head enchants, and that is either the old fashioned way by questing with them to Friendly (you get quests for them at the Argent Vanguard, just north of Dalaran), buy the tabard and gain rep through instancing or buy rep with emblems of triumph. The latter gives rather fast and easy rep, but you need those triumph for other things so only use it if you're really lazy. With Sons of Hodir you have to go about things a little differently. You can either do a really long quest chain to become friendly with them and then do dailies/turn in Relics of Ulduar until you get exalted, or you can buy rep with emblems of triumph (since I hate dailies I'll definitely do the latter once I have all my triumph gear). The quest chain starts in K3 in Stormpeaks, and you need a flying mount to be able to do it.

Talents
I finished up my Armored to the Teeth now, and so could you!
Instances
Woot, you'll never guess it, but we have two new instances to tank in.

Gundrak
First of all, there are at least two nice quests for Gundrak, which can be obtained in a camp in the far north-east corner of Zul'drak. One of those quests give a nice tank ring as reward. It is less good than the tank ring that drops from the last boss Galdarah however, but maybe your other ring isn't as good.

- The first room with all the snakes is probably the worst designed room in the game. Those snakes seriously drop the fps on my game, if I keep V toggled. Drop some thunder claps to kill them off before you toggle V back on.-The first boss does a nasty poison nova, but there isn't much you can do about it. Your healer has to handle that. If you're lucky your healer won't be retarded and run off in a far end corner to heal. The first boss spawns snake-adds that -will- go for the healer. They are really easy to grab off him and have the dps aoe down if the healer is close to you so you can just thunder clap them. They're nearly impossible to get off if he isn't. I suggest you ask the healer to stand next to you when healing. There is no reason he shouldn't since the boss doesn't cleave or anything.
-The second boss switches between two different forms. Actually most bosses in Gundrak do this, but this boss is the only one that aggro resets when doing it. Start of with a taunt at each switch to make sure the boss doesn't run away somewhere else.
-The rhinos just before the last boss will silence you, so do your shouts and claps as fast as possible. And try to make sure the healer isn't dumb enough to stand too close to them. The silence has about a 15 yard range so there is no reason for him to be silenced (I've wiped because a healer did this).
-In heroic mode there is an extra boss just after the third one (Moo'rabi). But not in normal. Alot of people like to skip him anyway, but you need to kill him for the instance achi, and another achi.
Like I mentioned there is a really nice tank ring drop from the last boss - Gal'darah's Signet.
Halls of Stone
Since they made Culling of Stratholme less sucky, this usually is voted "most horrible instance" by players. It's not because it's particularly difficult, but because it wastes time unecessarily (Like CoS did). It's not that shabby at low levels though, I actually think it's rather fun to tank.
-It's easy to overpull in HoS, so be careful about your pullings.
-The Theurgist dwarves are casters, and the Elementalists summon elemental adds (that aren't much to worry about though). This means however that to position a dwarf group you'll probably have to charge and shield bash (silence) the Theurgist.
-The Maiden of Sorrow puts black areas on the floor. Don't stand in them as they do continous damage. When she casts her Shock of Sorrow you might want to step into it just before to make sure you're taken out of the shock at once. Since you're the tank she'll hit you out of the shock at once anyway, so it doesn't matter if you miss this (it's actually more of a point for a healer or dps). (She drops a nice dps back that is way better than the crap ass back I've got now. But I've always had some dps need on it so far. I'm just no lucky with backs. And speaking of backs, Love had a tank in Nexus yesterday who got superior achi from switching his back, all his other gear was ilvl 245+).
-Don't forget to take the quest from Brann, it awards a nice pair of shoulders. Don't worry if you miss it a couple of times, until you engage the last boss you can still take it.
- The last boss, Sjonnir, summons adds that will go for your healer again. Try to pick em up if you can. He will also do an aoe, and especially the last one might be worth popping a cooldown or two for. You can just move away from it too though, he will stand still.

Sjonnir drops a nice tank neck, Amulet of Wills.