Friday, February 5, 2010

Posts already sparse are going to become even more so

So I haven't posted in a while. It's a combination of my work firewall blocking my main Blogspot page (can still get into the dashboard) and moving up in the world. Moving up how? Well, about 3 or 4 months ago I decided that I really wanted to see everything that endgame had to offer me and that I just wasn't getting that in my guild.

I knew my other much more progression driven friend wouuld come with me if I jumped ship (he was already really chafeing at the lack of progress in our guild), but I was concerned if my girlfriend would come with us. This concern was pretty much a non-issue since she was feeling it too and playing like it, logging in just for our raids and not otherwise due to a lack of anything to do.

After talking it over with the guild leader and his wife (an officer) and our good mutual friends, we explained and while he was sad to see us go, he understood our reasoning.

It was a long search to find a guild that matched our requirements. First off, my girlfriend and I live in California and I work, so I needed a guild that started raiding no earlier than 6:30 PST. Next, our friend lives in Texas, so we couldn't end too late at night either. Now, these two things alone wouldn't be enough to make it hard to find a guild, but every Tuesday night my girlfriend and I play D&D, which put one of the most common raiding nights out entirely.

After a long period of searching, we found Recognition of the Suramar server. They have two 25-man raiding groups, one that runs Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays (I think), the other Thursdays and Sundays, starting at 6:30 PST. It was a perfect match and what's more they needed all three of our class/spec combos. We applied and transfered servers when we were given a trial run in ToC the following Thursday. Even the worst of the three of us did well enough to be invited to the following ICC-25.

We were made official members, able to bid on stuff the following Sunday, and have settled in to our roles, quickly gearing up (over the course of the last two nights my girlfriend managed to upgrade both of her weapons, and I recently bought my T10 shoulders, and our friend who's a hunter got his BiS bow short of ICC-25 heroic) and overall enjoying our time there.

Well this Wednesday I got an offer to run with the other team's ICC-10 man group. I was feeling pretty ego-tastic after that because they were originally aiming for Tuesdays (which is, obviously not free) then they were asking me what night I was free. So I was like "Wow, I'm such an awesome tank that the other team wants me to go with them and are willing to see what days I can join them." I declined then because I was already running ICC-10 with other people from my own ICC-25 group. When I was talking to the GM about it, he said something along the lines of "We wanted to get you trained up on the fights in ICC."

Now, what does that have to do with anything? Well the normal raid leader has been absent due to RL stuff for a while, and the back up had RL stuff that night to attend to, so they got a backup RL on an alt and then the train hit me. "And Alixander will also be the Raid Leader and will explain the fights." I nearly got whiplash from snapping my head to look at the monitor. "Wait... WHAT?" I asked outloud, but not into vent. At the time I figured it was just a case of "He's a tank, he's good at raid leading." But then throughout the night the other guy brought in on an alt as the "raid leader" kept trying to help me out towards being more of a leader of our group.

About halfway through the night, when I got a tell from this guy telling me more tips on what to do as the RL, everything fell into place (had I not been tanking, it probably would have hit sooner). The other group, which counts for a lot of officers, wanted me to join them, were willing to change their schedules for me. They wanted to "train me up". All this, combined with being almost pushed towards raid leading it just clicked: The officers were grooming me to lead my 25-man team since the previous leader had been absent for two weeks (not clear on the details, but she had some serious RL stuff going on it seemed) and would be gone for the foreseeable future.

Note: I am probably going to jump over to the other ICC-10 group to get better trained up on the fights and quickly gear up my DK to tank for my current ICC-10 group so they aren't lacking a good tank.

I don't have any problems with being the raid leader, mind you. Someone has to do it, and while it is almost entirely a thankless task I've done it before and (it seems) will do it again. It just blindsided me a good bit since I've been in the guild less than a month. Seriously. As of the writing of my last post on this blog, I was still in my old guild. Anyways, what little time I have, for now, is going to be focused on making sure I'm as prepared to run my group through ICC-25 as humanly possible. I know some folks can balance a blog and raid leading, but I'm not one of them. I'll post occasionally, but not nearly as frequently as I have been. Once we've gotten everything locked down, I'll try to post more. Anyways, happy hunting all!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My thoughts on ICC-10

As I mentioned in my last post, I got into a PUG ICC-10 run which was successful and I managed to down all 4 bosses in one run (but didn't one-shot them).

My opinion on the fights, all from the perspective of a tank:

Lord Marrowgar: The coldfire during the BONESTOOOOOOORM! phase makes it very hectic. I would imagine that it's just as hectic in 10-man as 25-man but for different reasons. In 10-man there are few healers which means you have to be careful of the fire and being too far from a healer, lest you nom on too much of the chilly burns. I would imagine that in 25-man, since (as I understand it) he moves from person to person, if you stack up, you or others will die, while if you spread out you get burnt.

But it's a fun fight, overall. Some movement, spacial awareness, plus the tanks need to move in tandem which gives an additional challenge.

Lady Deathwhisper: Phase one is a mad house. Both myself and Thornir would be on the same side wiping out the adds, then run over to the other side. We had little time to rest. When we finally got to phase two we made a few mistakes with early threat generation, but we got her down in one try (mostly because we didn't want to do phase one again).

Deathwhisper has an interesting twist on the semi-standard "tank until you get X amount of debuffs, then other tank taunts off you until the debuff wears off, back and forth" during Phase two. Thinking about the fights where this concept shows up, in most cases it takes the form of a DoT, so if the other tank doesn't taunt the target off you, you'll take too much damage and the healers can't keep you alive. Instead, this one either decreases your total threat by a set percent as long as the debuff is on you, or decreases the threat you create by a set percent. Either way, if you let the debuff get too big, the DPS will overtake you in terms of threat generation and they'll start dying. A very innovative way of using this concept, also meaning that this fight will always require a second tank since you can't overgear it and just heal your way through it.

The Gunship fight: Even without being the one that goes over to the other ship, this is a fantastically fun fight. There's a semi-frequent stream of mobs that portal over to your ship and you need to gather them up while tanking them all and avoiding the hail of rockets randomly hitting your ship. And you can't just keep rounding them up and letting them be, or they will become too powerful and squish you flat.

If you are the one who goes over to the other ship it's even better. You learn to be cognizant of the sound of your opponent calling for a mage to freeze the turrets, then you need to quickly hop over to the other side ahead of your DPS (and healers... at the time wasn't aware of the strat of pulling the leader to the edge of the boat so you can be healed from yours), hold threat on a boss that hits harder and harder, then get away before you become dead meat! Then get in a little extra DPS on the adds that the first tank is keeping before jumping back over! Wow! This is a technically challenging fight that I really really want to do again. Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face.

Deathbringer Saurfang: This is a technically challenging fight, but it's very different. It felt, very much, like I was almost completely divorced from most of the fight. I just had to keep Saurfang on myself and my co-tank, swapping back and forth between as one of us got a the debuff. The challenging part was being aware of when the beasts would spawn then making sure not to use any sort of AOEs. This made it hard as I needed to not fall into the pattern of the 969 rotation, and to cut out HotR and Consecration at key times (in fact I found myself rarely using Consecration, just to be safe).

I'm sure a bunch of stuff was happening over to my right, but it was off screen and there was little I could do to impact it beyond maybe cheering people on. I couldn't afford to do anything to the beasts lest I get aggro, so I just focused on the boss. Next time I'll rotate the boss so that my back is to the door he enters so I can see what's going on (plus it will make it so that the Blood Beasts don't run through me, decreasing the chance for an AOE to hit them).


Final assessment: Other than the Gunship fight, the encounters in ICC10 are fairly reactionary. You move out of the cold fire/death and decay, taunt off the other tank when you're supposed to, DPS these adds, don't DPS those adds, etc. OTOH, the Gunship fight is thrilling! High mobility, thinking on your feet, reacting to a situation as needed. Whew! Fantastic! Yet, despite my complaints about the other encounters in ICC, I still find the fights fun... I just think that the Gunship fight stands out in my mind so much that the others seem to pale in comparison.

And now with the next wing open, next time I go back to ICC, I'll go even further!

Monday, December 28, 2009

I was also a jerk pug tank

One of my recent finds on the Blogosphere is Righteous Defense, obviously a tanking blog.

His most recent post was titled "I was a jerk pug tank", which tickled my funny bone as I had done something similar this past weekend.

I think it was Friday and I was doing the random heroic which dropped me into hHoL. Don't remember the party other than there was a rogue in it. I'm known for having a bad memory, so sticking out in my mind is either a tribute to your skill or a tribute to your utter lack thereof. As one might guess from the title of this post, it is the latter...

The rogue managed to pull hate off me on every pull up to the first boss. I'd mark targets, and then I'd lose on of the secondary targets. I dunno, maybe they were going after secondary targets b/c they'd live longer so they'd lose less combo points since of course the tank would taunt it off them. By losing less combo points (possibly also using Rupture), they'd get more DEEPS(!) on the meter, which is (of course) all that really matters.

We went right at the first intersection and cleared to the far right corner. General Bjarngrim was coming down the ramp, the lightning debuff gone. By this point, I had already noticed that the Rogue was being stupid, so I resolved not to taunt targets off them anymore unless it was the main target in the first few seconds (I put out enough TPS to hold threat off of anything but decently geared Hunters and Warlocks, both of whom have an aggro dump anyway...). I mark the two adds as the priority targets, then pull.

So we start killing, nothing special, and the first add goes down. Then by halfway through the second add, I see that Bjarngrim is at half health. Hmmm... Well, not hard to see what happened. After the first add went down, the Rogue decided to prioritize his position on the damage meter over doing the instance as a team. So about the same time as i notice this, I notice that the color around the Rogue's life bar has turned yellow, indicating they are getting close to pulling aggro.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't crack a small smile as I knew what was coming and decided to stick to my guns in letting him die.

So the yellow glow turned to red, and Bjarngrim turned on his new friend. There was a good two or three seconds which was more than enough for me to react (as I had shown earlier in the instance) as Bjarngrim tore the Rogue to little pieces. Meanwhile, the rest of the party finished off the second add and then moved on to the boss, easily defeating him.

Afterwards, nothing was said, I quickly rezzed the Rogue and we went on our way. Not surprisingly, the rest of the run was smooth, and the Rogue either spammed FoK or stuck to my target like glue.

Maybe I could have dealt with the situation in a more diplomatic manner, but I like to imagine that this really hit home the point that each person is responsible for their own survival on some level and it's not the tank's job to make up for their lack of control or desire to max out their DPS over being a part of the team.

3.3 Update

So been too busy running around like a chicken with my head cut off to do much in the way of posting. Time for a bit of a stream of consciousness.

My guess about how long it would take me to get my shield that I posted about in my previous post turned out to be sadly too accurate. Running regular HoR at least once a day (often more than that) every day since 3.3 went live and I only just got the Splintered Door of the Citadel. I went from just barely having gotten the gloves and shoulders of T9 to 5/5 T9, the iLVL 245 shoulders, having both 245 librams, and being only about 20 emblems short of having the iLVL 245 helm before I finally saw the shield drop. Prior to getting it, it was one of my three remaining iLVL 200 pieces I still had. Despite the dour mood running HoR constantly left me in, at least it gave Emblems of Triumph, which allowed me get something from all those "wasted" runs.

After getting my shield, I was too pumped to sleep (despite the late hour) so I ran a number of random heroics to get the last badges I needed to replace my helm. This had a number of benefits including getting me back over the Expertise soft-cap.

Additionally I scraped and saved my Emblems of Frost enough to get the Corroded Skeleton Key yesterday afternoon. Between doing two of the weekly random raids and a PUG ICC-10 (with a good amount of help from fellow Maintankadin poster Thornir and my lovely girlfriend), we cleared the entire instance and managed to get the achievement "I've gone and made a mess.", I got all the emblems I needed a good week or so earlier than I might have otherwise.

In other news, my DK has been brought out of retirement. Not to make him my main again by any means, but mixing gearing him up with making money. "Making money?" you might ask. Well, as everyone who's paying attention to the various game news reporting sites knows the new Legendary, Shadowmourne, will require twenty-five Primordial Saronite, plus the new crafting recipes for ICC also cost one (or more?) of the same. Primordial Saronite is the new "orb" for this patch, and costs 23 Emblems of Frost along with having a chance to drop inside ICC (I believe...). On top of that, Primordial Saronite is not BoP and is able to be put up on the AH. So after realizing this (I knew it, but kinda had a brain fart about it), I started running my DK through one random heroic a night along with trying for the weekly random raid. And last night I got the emblems I needed for my first Primordial Saronite. Sold it for 2.4k, which is probably cheaper than some servers, but whatever. I'm gearing up my alt, and getting paid (albeit in an indirect manner) a lot of money to do so. I approve of this.

I realize in retrospect that my assessment that queue times for random heroics is not quite as fast as I guessed. For we tanks it's blindingly fast even at off-times. Queue times of over a minute are rare and I've only been waiting for two minutes once. For healers it is close to this, from what I understand, with the average being a minute. Meanwhile, the glut of DPS leaves them with a long queue time, the shortest listed average I've seen while playing on my DK, who I've changed as a primary role to being a DW Frost DPS, is 8 minutes and some as high as 15 to 20 minutes. Sheesh!

As for why I changed Kazalix to primarily being a DPS, while I love tanking, as I've mentioned elsewhere, tanking on a DK is a bit more than I can do effectively, so instead I hit things and have fun doing so. Though I am kinda considering going back to using a 2H. As a DPS, using fast weapons is less of a big deal to me, plus I'm now a Draenei and the male Draenei 2H animation is less ridiculous than the male Human 2H animation (as shallow as that is, it was a deciding factor for me...). Maybe when I get my second Battered Hilt (first one will go to my girlfriend for her Enhancement Shaman), I'll see about either a Blood or Unholy DPS spec with the STR 2H Quel'Delar.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

3.3 WOOOOO!!!

As anyone who logs in regularly (that is, those who aren't stuck in College-finals-hell) would know 3.3 went live yesterday. Beyond the standard "Servers are a bit unstable" for the first few hours, things went okay.

I got to try the new random dungeon thing for the new LFG tool. First off, not surprisingly, the LFG tool is BLINDINGLY fast. I got into a Heroic Gundrak run which went smoothly other than me getting knocked into the pool between the 2nd and 3rd boss (turned the targets around then got hit by a knockback off the ledge. Go me).

Next I queued up for the new 5-mans on normal mode. I had done ZERO research into the instance (mostly to avoid lore spoilers) so I figured doing it on normal mode would be a good learning experience. It definitely was, plus this time I got to see the Disenchant option in action (though I understood it's mechanics before). Managed to take down the first two instances before I had to go off to my weekly nerdfest (D&D!).

Afterwards before bed, I queued up for the final five-man (Halls of Reflection), got into one that had cleared the first two bosses and all that remained was the final gauntlet run. Did that really fast and completed it and then at the end of the instance you can get onto your airship (The Skybreaker for the Alliance and Orgrim's Hammer for the Horde). Not sure about the Horde, but it seems that a number of those who do it on the Alliance side get logged out when they try to get onto the Skybreaker.

Then I queued up again to do the instance, this time getting into one that hadn't been done before. Sadly I had a fail Elemental Shaman who insisted on running up and using Thunder (the knockback), sending all of my targets flying. RAGE!RAGE!RAGE! This was even worse as the first 10 pulls are a mix of casters and DPS. This morning I found out abou the LoS trick, which will be immensely helpful as the mobs are annoying if you're trying to pull them all together. After that went up to the gauntlet again (this time noticed the room beyond is made to look like the Throneroom of Lordaeron... NICE!) and completed it again, and as before got disconnected when I tried to get onto the Skybreaker.

I have two gripes about the new instance and the LFG tool, one minor and one major. The minor gripe was that I couldn't get onto the Skybreaker in either of my attempts. I figure this is due to the lag on the system as God and everybody does the three new instances. And I've heard rumors that it was a problem specific to cross server groups made by the LFG tool. Hopefully they will get this ironed out tonight so I can do it when I get home.

The Major gripe I have is that the first HoR pickup I joined was it was mostly completed (I really wanted the 2nd boss for his shield). It's not that I missed out on the shield that bothers me, but the LFG tool will replace someone who goes away. Not a real problem for a regular 5-man, but what about a heroic? If someone is lost, those players are locked into that heroic partially completed. The person brought in has no warning that he's being brought into a partially completed instance so he may be stuck in a bad situation, or the rest of the party is. Just have to pray for not being in a group with a failure.

Despite those gripes, I really love the new LFG system. It's much faster and easier than before. No putting up a list of heroics I want to do, then going off and questing for a while, maybe getting interrupted half way there or while I'm in the middle of a quest. My plan for now is to do one random heroic daily for the day to get my 2 Emblems of Frost (saving up for my super STA trinket! I should get it in a month or so...) then doing each of the ICC heroics for the day (I liek purplez), then doing HoR over and over and over and over until I get the shield and replace my stupid iLVL 200 sheild. -_- It's one of 3 iLVL 200 items I still have, and outside of a raid, this is the only upgrade available to me. There isn't even a heroic option other than the one I'm using now.

Finally, one personal bit of bitching... I was one quest away from getting the achievement Proof of Demise (which is now a Feat of Strength which I have on my DK). RAGE! Though at least I'm not Njall. The last quest he needed appeared Tuesday morning and he did the run and was moving like a bat out of hell to get the credit only for WoW to crash on him (as the servers probably went down) and he couldn't get back in. Now the quest is gone from his log but he still has the quest item. Ouch! I'm sorry Njall.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Alix is ready for Ulduar!

First off, this weekend was a light one for raiding. On Friday I got in a ToC25 alt run with one of the better raiding guild as Kazalix (along with a number of other guildies). Was there as a DPS and Kazalix's DPS isn't too terrible, though he could definitely do better. Saturday was a non-raiding day for me (Halloween!).

Then on Sunday the guild put together an Ulduar run that turned into FL + Naxx. It originally had ten people, but after two no-shows (again), and one saved to Naxx and not wanting to get saved to Ulduar for one fight (on Sunday night? What?), which left us with seven folks (and a horribly undergeared and badly played eighth). Anyway, we chose to do Naxx to assist Alix in gearing up more quickly and it was definitely a score. Only did two wings (Spider and Plague), but netted me upgrades for my bracers and gloves and a good sidegrade of a ring.

All-in-all, I feel that Alixander is finally ready to join my guild in Ulduar10. He's sporting 28k Health unbuffed which puts him only 2k short of Kazalix unbuffed. While he still sporting a few iLVL 200 blues (cape chest and boots), he also has a number of iLVL 219 or higher items gotten from various sources. He's definitely not main-tank material yet, but he's definitely on his way.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dual Wield Tanking in 3.3! And...

So in the patch notes for 3.3 PTR were just put out on World of Raids (no link since I only saw the post on RSS feeder as I'm at work), but one of the changes was:

Death Knights:
Rune of the Stoneskin Gargoyle: There is now a 1-handed version of this rune in addition to the current 2-handed rune.
I was like "WHA?" but then I thought about it for a second and it makes sense. I posted about it in my post "Back from Limbo" but even with the 3.2.2 addition of Rune Strike to ToT, the current implementation of DW Tanking is pretty much non existent. The crux of the problem is that DWing DKs (whether tanking, DPSing or PvPing) need a Slow/Slow setup and almost all the tanking weapons (which is the only effective way to reach the Defense Cap when not using a 2H and RotSG) are 1.7 speed weapons or faster. Completely ineffective as DK tanking weapons.

So Blizzard realized this and is having DW DK tanks take the same approach as 2H DK tanks: Use DPS weapons and have them give a Defense boost through the enchant instead the weapon. The 1H version to give 13 defense points per hand (IIRC) and a passive 1% health bonus.

Now, I should be thrilled for this. Honestly I am a bit. But not ecstatic. Why? Well, I've been feeling this way more and more lately: I (personally as in me, not everyone) am not as effective a tank as a DK as I was as a Paladin. It's a number of things that have contributed to this feeling:

  1. I have grown less pleased the rune system for tanking as time has passed. Sure, it has endless power and you need never fear running out of rage/mana, but at the same time it creates the problem that if you need a specific rune for something and you just accidentally used it, you're now up the creek no paddle. This is primarily an issue for talented tanking powers (Unbreakable Armor, Bone Armor and Vampiric Blood), which call for a rune of the type matching it's talent tree... This isn't much of a problem for Blood DKs, but Unholy and Frost are regularly using their Frost or Unholy runes on IT, PS and Oblit/SS and Blood Tap does not play well with Unbreakable Armor (I can't speak for BA, but I would imagine it's the same) so you can't one-button macro it if the matching natural rune is on cooldown. As a result of this Unbreakable Armor, despite being one of the best cooldowns I have, I almost never use unless I'm on a cooldown specific fight.

  2. The introduction of the Dual Spec. One of my major gripes in tBC was that my healing wasn't needed and my DPS blew (as it would with a Prot Spec and my only DD attack being Judgement). Even without dual specs, Prot Paladins now have 3 DD abilities at their beck and call, boosting their non-reactionary damage a lot. But now that I can spec to Ret if we only need a single tank, I feel I'll be able to contribute a lot if we only need a single tank.

  3. Less complexity. This one is really the biggest of the "personal" reasons, as in it only applies to me. As a Paladin in tBC I needed to keep track of a number of things, such as my active ability cooldowns (Holy Shield, Judgement, etc.), long cooldowns (which were primarily trinkets then) the placement of my enemies (and if they are running away from me) and the status of my allies. As a DK I need to keep track of all of those things in addition to tracking each type of rune (need to track them separately since there no overlap on them) and also my Runic Power. While I realize that Paladins have also increased in complexity with the 96969 rotation (assuming you don't use a macro) and the introduction of altered cooldowns like LoHs becoming a 20 or 15 minute cooldown and Divine Protection becoming a Shield Wall like ability, but even then they have about as much to track as DKs not counting runes and RP.
So in response to this, I finished getting the champion's tokens I needed to get the last of the BoA plate pieces, picked up the 2H Axe and tossed them over to Alix along with 1k and change for a dual spec (Ret!) and a copy of the Tome of Cold Weather Flight. Basically I was tooling him up for the 71-80 rush.

I hit 80 about two weeks ago and have been running a lot of instances both PUGged and guild runs and this past weekend I broke past the 540 defense barrier. While I know I was fine past 535 for non-raids, and I'm definitely not geared well enough for raids, it's still a major point to get past.

Now I'll just keep pushing on the non-raids, specifically ToC to soak up the purples I don't have yet from it, maybe even getting my guild to do a Naxx run (both for achievement's sake and for possibly more loot). So I'm back on the light side of things and pretty pleased as such.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Races and their Racials

Worgen: So we finally get more info on this interesting race. Maybe possibly having them tied into the future or past of Azeroth is an interesting thing (was implied that the Worgen aren't from a "Where" but a "When").

I'm interested in seeing how they introduce Druidism to the Worgen. It doesn't look like they are taking the "Worgen can change shape, so of course they are Druids" approach... They showed the Night Elves so maybe they will learn Druidism from them. Though I seem to recall mention about "old allies" or something? Maybe they plan on trying to connect the Worgen in Ashenvale to the ones in Gilneas (wait... what?).

Interesting side note: Go take a look at the Cataclysm teaser video again. Go ahead, I'll be here when you get back. ... Back? Okay, you saw that cool scene where the human starts turning into a Worgen? First one arm becomes wolf-ish, then the other and he stares at it, then he fully Wolfs out!

Looks kinda cool, right? Some of you probably think that it's just there for the teaser, but you'd be wrong. In the demo I got to play at BlizzCon, if you went through an out-of-combat transformation, then you'd got through that exact animation. Sweet, eh?

Anyway, for those who don't know, when you aren't fighting you can choose between staying in your normal human form or staying in your full Worgen form, or swap back and forth as you see fit (maybe you think you look awesome with a certain helm looking a certain way depending on form). Though no matter what, when you engage an enemy, you'll change into your Worgen form, though the transformation is instantaneous instead of a couple second animation (thank god on that regard...)

Goblins: While I'm still a bit bothered by this, Blizzard is good at crafting a solid story, so I wouldn't be surprised if they gave a decent reason (though I question if it will stand up to the test of time being that Goblins are quite mercenary and very rarely tugged by their heartstrings...) for them joining the Horde.

As far as the range of classes go, I'm pretty happy with them. The closest thing that comes to something that I'd have issue with is the Goblin Shaman, but at the same time I could totally see them making deals with the Elementals, thus binding them to their will. There's no give and take here in Goblin Land.

Racials: First I'll list the new racials available to the Goblins and Worgen:

  • Rocket Jump: This sorta works like a reverse Disengage, jumping you forward. Could be handy in PvP for quickly closing the distance to a target or running the hell away, or for charging into melee if you're not a Warrior (could definitely see the value for Goblin DK tanks). Shares a two minute cool down with Rocket Barrage (see below).
  • Rocket Barrage: Launches a volley of rockets at your current target, dealing fire damage that should scale (with level? AP or SP? Not really sure). Shares a two minute cool down with Rocket Jump
  • Time is Money: Goblins are always on the go. Time wasted is money not gotten, so of course goblins would always want to go a little faster than everyone else. This manifests itself in a passive 1% haste boost to their attack speed and cast times.
  • Better living through chemistry: Goblins are the iconic alchemists and this takes the form of a 15 skill bonus if the Goblin is trained in Alchemy. Additionally they will also gain a bonus (unknown amount) to any healing and mana potions they use.
  • Pack Hobgoblin: Introducing a new "race" in Cataclysm, your goblin will be able to summon, every 30 minutes, a "Pack Hobgoblin" which will give you access to your bank. While the time limitation are strong, you're essentially doubling or tripling your inventory space. This is going to be great for going out and farming for extended periods of time. No more need to throw away all those grays and whites to make room for the stuff you'll make a profit with. Now you can stuff them in your bank and sell them later. Forget to grab a quest item or piece of resist gear out of the bank for that boss fight? No problem! Definitely an awesome racial.
  • Best Deals Anywhere - Best possible gold discount, regardless of reputation. This one is just HOT! Still want to do some of the rep grinds for the rewards, but imagine how much money you'll save!

  • Shapeshift: Doesn't give any racial bonuses or anything. Purely cosmetic, changes you from a Human into a Worgen and back again.
  • Aberration: Reduce duration of Curses and Diseases by 15%. Certainly handy, especially in PvP against Warlocks and Death Knights.
  • Flayer: Skinning skill +15, skin targets faster and you use your claws (don't need a knife). Much like the Goblin alchemy bonus, this takes the normal skill bonus and adds a little extra to make it worthwhile.
  • Viciousness - Increase damage by 1%. Kinda like a counterpart to the 1% haste bonus the Goblins have, the Worgen get a straight up 1% damage bonus. In high endgame, this will be quite powerful (as of right now, it'd be worth 30-50 DPS in most cases, which is awesome).
  • Darkflight - Activate your true form, increasing movement speed by 70% for 6 sec, 3 minute cooldown. Sorta like a shortened, more powerful dash or sprint. Will be handy for getting around in the 1-19 range, plus fantastic for BGs like EotS and WSG.
So there they are. The first thing that stands out to me is how ridiculously overpowered they are compared to the racials of the currently available races. So they'll be brought in line, right? Well, kinda... as long as you define the "they" in this case as "all the other races". Yes, Blizzard has stated that they intend on boosting all existing racials up to similar levels as exhibited by the two new races.

A couple things that are likely to be added, using these two races as templates:
  1. 1% passive combat bonuses. These won't all be simple stuff like "1% bonus to damage". I'm sure Blizzard will figure out clever ways to alter this, but still have it be a 1% bonus that makes the race fun and unique. Additionally, don't expect all of them to actually be damage bonuses. Consider the Goblin bonus is 1% bonus to haste, which includes spell haste. This makes Goblins better healers than Worgen since the Worgen bonus is only to damage. Additionally, there's nothing saying that it has to be a damage bonus... I could totally see them giving peace-loving, tree-hugging hippy races like the Draenei, Tauren or Night Elves a 1% passive bonus to all heals cast (this would definitely work well for the Tauren as after Cataclysm goes live they will be the only race in the game that has access to all four healing classes).
  2. Crafting skill bonuses will be given a passive minor bonus. Keeping in line with the bonus given to Worgen on skinning, I could see Tauren being able to pick flowers faster or maybe an increased chance to get an additional herb (like the Lotuses or Swiftthistle). Other race's bonuses will be minor as well, but still helpful. I could imagine a Gnome being given a passive bonus that lowers the chance of a critical failure when using their engineering devices. Draenei maybe are given a 1% bonus if they make their socket bonus or something. Blood Elves could be given a chance to get an additional enchanting material when they disenchant items or maybe they can just disenchant more quickly. Nothing too powerful, but a nice bonus if you are playing that race.
  3. I'd also expect an overhaul of other outdated racials. Endless Breath? It's nice and all, but now that you can hold your breath for 3 minutes, it's value is much diminished (but still handy, just not as handy...). Things like that I expect will be given the once or twice over to see if they can't be improved or replaced (Wisp Form and Cannibalism also spring to mind...). Heck, maybe they'll even replace the racials based on specific weapons (i.e. the ones for Humans, Dwarves, Orcs and Trolls) and give them ones which are always active!

And for those wondering about it, I'll give my thoughts on the new race/class combos in a different post.

BlizzCon Post becomes BlizzCon Posts

As usual I was biting off more than I could chew when I began this post. So instead I'm going to post each portion I've made so far in a mass posting spree (sorry if anyone's tracking my blog with an RSS feed), and continue posting my thoughts in individual bits.

Anyway, I'll start this off with the quotation of my introduction:

Much belated (which I blame on a combination of work, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Final Fantasy Dissidia, and another thing I'll post about later), here's my post on BlizzCon, or at least the bits which really stand out in my head:

Opening Ceremonies was dominated, for me at least, by the announcement of Cataclysm. I'll openly admit that I was almost completely wrong on my predictions about the expansion. I knew it would be called Cataclysm (the name was trademarked here in the States months ago), and I was kinda right about the revamp of the Old World (since I figured with the potential addition of new races and new race/class combos they would want genuinely new content for old players who are leveling anew). I was kinda right about the new race/class combos following a logical path I got from Arioch.

Though at the end of the day, my core thoughts were all that it was a sham and I was wrong. I'll now give Boubouille's leaks more credibility.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Before I jump into my posts concerning BlizzCon...

There's something I want to talk about that wasn't really mentioned at BlizzCon: The unnamed MMO.

While there are probably people who are interested in hearing my thoughts on said event, I wanted to get this post out there before I forgot my thoughts about it.

First off, let's go over the very little we do know:

  • Blizzard is releasing another MMO.
  • It's a new Intellectual Property (IP).
That's it! That's all we really know.

So with so little to know, what is there that I could speak about? Is it that it's a new MMO? No. There are a ton of new MMOs, and really with the announcement of Cataclysm, Blizzard has shown that it has no intent of dropping its flagship moneymaker (WoW) the moment this MMO goes live.

But the development of new IP is big news. Not just because it's Blizzard, though that would be enough for me. I'm a huge fan of Blizzard's previous games, having beaten almost every one multiple times. Warcraft. Diablo. Starcraft. All amazing games and/or series.

But this brings up a question... Blizzard has both the Diablo settings and the Starcraft settings that they could expand into for the MMO market. Who here can honestly say they wouldn't sign up immediately for Worlds of Starcraft? So why make an entirely new IP?

Now, time out for a sec. I don't remember where, a while back I saw a blog post about the perceived "death" of new IPs for MMOs (if anyone recognizes the blog post I'm referring to, could you direct me to it?). The basic assertion of the post was that why should a company spend time and money developing a brand new IP for an MMO when there are, literally, hundreds of different settings which could all easily be used for MMOs?

Now back to the new MMO. If the above blog post is true, why is Blizzard... the leader of the MMO genre and one of the biggest names in the gaming field, doing something that makes so little sense? Or... does it make a lot of sense?

Blizzard has, since the release of tBC, increasingly prioritized Game Balance over The Lore. And while I'm a little sad, it's overall made my gaming experience that much more fun, which more than makes up for it. Prior to tBC, vanilla WoW was, almost blow for blow, a match to the lore of WC3 and the novels along with previous sources. If anything, it just expanded on what we already knew, fleshing everything out.

But they found that being too adamant about sticking to The Lore would cause serious, serious issues. The imbalance between one side having Paladins and the other side having Shaman is a stellar example of this. I'm sure there are other changes I could think of, but none spring to mind... but you get the idea.

So they chose flexibility over rigidity for the pre-existing storyline to make the game play experience that much better. While a part of me despairs of the changes to the story and moving away from what it was between the end of WC3 and the start of tBC, I realize that Blizzard is a business and will do what's best for the company. And honestly, as a game (but not a consistent storytelling device), WoW is a stellar success.

Now, let's take a step back from WoW and look over other MMOs based on existing IPs. I'm going to discount FFXI since each one is based on it's own world (even though I feel that it was a financial success, but that's separate).

I would say that the only other MMO based on an major existing non-MMO IP that has succeeded was UO, but that game was released back when there weren't many other real MMO options. UO, EQ, Meridian 59, The Realm Online and Asheron's Call were really it in those days.

Games like SWG, DDO, WAR, AoC, MxO, The Sims Online, and LotRO are all generally considered pretty spectacular failures.

I feel that part of the problem (though not the entire problem) is either you go into the game wanting it to match the source it came from and it does not, or it does match said source, but does so closely that it's no fun.

Early versions of SWG illustrated sticking to the source too well, making the game quite un-fun to play. SOE made SWG take place during the Galactic Civil War. As most already know, by then almost all the Jedi were wiped out. So as a result, when SOE was designing Galaxies, they made the Jedi class so hard to unlock that initially no one could figure out how to do it. Four months after the game's release no one had figured it out, and in retrospect it's pretty obvious why. I mean, in a Star Wars game there are those who will inevitably want to play Jedi. In fact a lot will. Sticking to the lore and being like "only a few and they have these limitations" pretty much hurt SWG from the get go...

Then later on SOE changed SWG to a system less skill tree based and more classical (ha ha, see what I did there?). In this case, when you started you picked your class of which one was Jedi. This created the other side of the problem. Sure, anyone could be a Jedi but it had to be balanced compared to the other classes. Unfortunately, they didn't rebalance other classes to bring them up to Jedi's power levels, they beat Jedi with the nerf stick until they were a shadow of their former selves. Thus while the game was balanced, it bore so little resemblance Jedi presented in the movies that it was an insult. With the game originally balanced around "normal" people, with the force sensitives being hard to unlock and having limited lives (no joke on that on...), it was okay. But bring the Jedi down to an equal level with everyone else just made them underwhelming.

In a very round about way, I'm saying that having an existing IP is actually showing itself to be a liability and not a strength. Sure... you don't have to spend as much money developing it, but balancing between being true to the lore and not alienating the fan and making a fun game is tricky at best and impossible at worst.

Even WoW suffers from this. As I mentioned, I quit the game entirely for a number of months because of the changes they made to the back story when tBC was introduced. I'm sure I'm not the only one (at that point Blizzard had around 5-6 million subscribers... no way I was the only one). And I came back, but who knows how many didn't? And as things went on, the lore was again and again changed for the benefit of the game which probably had a similar effect.

By making an entirely new setting, Blizzard is freeing themselves from any existing lore limitations! They can build the entire setting with how to make the best MMO they can think of in mind. Honestly, I'm even more excited about the prospects of this new MMO now than I was before (and honestly I was pretty excited...). If Blizzard can reproduce their success in the MMO department that they had with WoW in this new MMO with a lore that is completely without need for a retcon, I will love it SO MUCH!

P.S. Sorry for taking so long with this post. It ended up going through four iterations of this post before I felt it was a smooth read.