Friday, March 28, 2008

News from the WAR front

Oh I'm so clever with my post titles.

Anyway, two big points of information on Warhammer Online, one of them bad and one of them good.

First I'll start with the Bad News: Mark Jacobs announced that WAR has been delayed to a potential release date of Q3 2008. This is disappointing, but altogether not unexpected, news to me. While obviously I was hoping to enjoy WAR sooner rather than later, I really didn't expect it to get released in Q2. As we were coming into the new year, all the information coming out of Beta on WAR's progress made it seem like a Q2 release date was unlikely. Though, with the rate they've been progressing, I believe a Q3 release date is possible, but even if it gets pushed back to Q4, that's fine. I'd rather have a good game later than a bad game now.

Then there's the Good News: Collector's Edition is now available for Preorder! Okay, first off we'll touch on what we get for just getting the Collector's Edition. There's the usual gamut of stuff, like Art books and little pretty things like figurines and whatnot. Then there's the interesting stuff... the in-game stuff:
  • Twelve unique heads available to CE people only. Two for each race... one male and one female except Greenskins who are all male, so it'll probably be a unique Orc head and a unique Goblin head.
  • The Libram of Insight: An item that you can use that has three charges. Each time you use a charge you get a 10% bonus modifier to XP gained, and each charge lasts for an hour.
  • The final bonus is really the icing on the cake that ensured that I would get the CE: Twelve unique quests only available to those who have the Collector's Edition. One PvE and One PvP quest per race (though available to anyone on that faction). I expect these quests to be low level, so the rewards don't have a huge impact on endgame. Either way, each quest comes with a title that will be unique to those who have the CE. Honestly, even if these quests had no rewards or titles, it would still be enough for me to want it just for more quests!
Now, all this would have been more than enough (hell a non-combat pet is enough for me to get the WoW CEs). But that's not enough for EA Mythic. They are also giving you, if you preorder it:
  • Guaranteed access to the Open Beta for WAR.
  • A "Live game head start". They don't really clarify how this will work. Either you will be able to keep your Open Beta Characters or you will be able to start playing WAR on the normal servers a few days early. Either way, it's pretty damn sweet.
Finally two more in-game items:
  • The "Rittenbach's Portable Camp" which allows you to "Rest your weary soul and heal your wounds between battles" whatever the hell that means.
  • One of three "Bands" (rings?) with different names and effects depending on which store you preorder the CE from. They will all "increase your stats" and give you a buff that gives you a chance to do a certain type of damage. The catch is all these bands are only usable in PvE. Sounds fine by me.
Anyway, I'm totally sold on this. Not that I wasn't already, but now I really am! WOOO WAR!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New BoJ bought reward comparisons

As I promised before, with the new patch out, I'm going to detail the new BoJ rewards and compare them to the previous ones of the same slot.

First up is the easiest one, IMO: Feet.

New Badge item:
Blue's Greaves of the Righteous Guardian: Plate Feet, 1212 Armor, 58 STA, 34 Shield Block Rating, 23 Spell Hit Rating, 26 Spell Damage, Red Socket, 3 STA Socket Bonus

This is compared to the previous choice of:
Sabatons of the Righteous Defender: Plate Feet, 1105 Armor, 45 STA, 18 Defense Rating, 18 Spell Hit Rating, 30 Shield Block Value, 23 Spell Damage, Red/Blue Sockets, 4 STA Socket Bonus

Opinion: The new Blue's Greaves are almost a total upgrade compared to the Sabatons. They have more armor, base stamina, a socket that can be socketed either for +9 or +12 STA (assuming you only use blue quality gems), more spell hit rating, and a ton of crush avoidance (though only through Shield Block Rating). One of the reasons I hadn't upgraded from my Boots of Elusion to the Sabatons is due to how much crush avoidance I'd lose. But with how much Shield Block Rating the Greaves have (over 4% at 70) this makes this a non-issue and actually gives me more crush avoidance so I can shed some of my other gear elsewhere. Maybe get some more Expertise Rating. The only situation where the Sabatons are better than the Greaves is when you are treading water on Defense Rating and picking up the Greaves would drop you under 490.

Next up is Waist:

New Badge item:
Girdle of the Fearless: Plate Waist, 904 Armor, 58 STA, 34 Defense Rating, 23 Hit Rating, 22 Expertise Rating, Red Socket, 3 STA Socket Bonus

This is compared to the two previous options of:

Girdle of the Protector:
Plate Waist, 904 Armor, 40 STA, 11 Defense Rating, 27 Dodge Rating, 18 Spell Hit Rating, 23 Spell Damage Yellow/Blue Sockets, 4 STA Socket Bonus


Iron-Tusk Girdle: Plate Waist, 904 Armor, 45 STA, 21 Defense Rating, 33 Dodge Rating, Yellow/Blue Sockets, 3 Dodge Rating Socket Bonus

Opinion: This one is a no-brainer. While overall you lose out on avoidance, the Girdle of the Fearless has Expertise. Expertise is (IMO) the best of the non-necessary stats. Even with how much I rant and rave about Spell Hit, I would drop every point of Spell Hit I have for more Expertise. Plus the Girdle of the Fearless has some benefits beyond just Expertise. It has more Stamina, even after gemming up, and the regular Hit Rating will allow for less Avenger's Shield and Righteous Defense misses.

As for the Leg slot, we have two options at our disposal:
Inscribed Legplates of the Aldor: Plate Legs, 1406 Armor, 78 STA, 25 Defense Rating, 43 Dodge Rating, 37 Spell Damage, Red/Yellow Sockets, 4 STA Socket Bonus

Sunguard Legplates:
Plate Legs, 1406 Armor, 78 STA, 43 Defense Rating, 35 Dodge Rating, 23 Expertise Rating, Red/Blue Sockets, 3 Dodge Rating Socket Bonus

Compared to the old:
Unwavering Legguards: Plate Legs, 1406 Armor, 73 STA, 22 Defense Rating, 30 Shield Block Rating, 59 Shield Block Value, Red/Yellow/Blue Socket, 6 STA Socket Bonus

Opinion: While the Unwavering Leggauards have more crush avoidance than any other single piece of armor, if you've already reached crush avoidance they lose some of their luster (but still have value since you can use their high crush avoidance to replace other slots). But when compared to the Sunguard Legplates, they just pale in comparison, due to the high STA, good avoidance and of course Expertise. In fact, I would say that the Sunguard Legplates are currently the second best tanking legs in the game (including compared to T6). The only ones that top them are the ridiculous awesomeness that are the Felstrength Legplates (drop from Brutalis in Sunwell Plateau).

Finally is the hardest part to decide on... the Chest slot:

Shattrath Protectorate Breastplate: Plate Chest, 1765 Armor, 78 STA, 26 Defense Rating, 34 Spell Hit Rating, 60 Spell Damage, Blue Socket, 2 Dodge Rating Socket Bonus

Chestplate of Stoicism:
Plate Chest, 1765 Armor, 78 STA, 51 Defense Rating, 34 Dodge Rating, 39 Shield Block Value, Red Socket, 3 STA Socket Bonus

These are compared to the:

Chestguard of the Stoic Guardian: Plate Chest, 1607 Armor, 60 STA, 22 Defense Rating, 38 Dodge Rating, 35 Spell Damage, Red/Yellow/Blue Sockets, 6 STA Socket bonus

Opinion: This one is a lot more complex than it looks. With only a quick glance it looks like the Shattrath Protectorate Breastplate is much better (it does have a very nice amount of Spell Damage and Spell Hit Rating). It's quite easy to overlook the benefits of the Chestplate of Stoicism. Look at the numbers on the Chestplate: 51 Defense Rating and 34 Dodge Rating. Combined that's over 4.3% straight avoidance. There are few pieces that beat that much avoidance.

So which is better? Honestly, I'd say the Chestplate is since that much avoidance will allow us to aim for other gear more easily. But that doesn't mean that the Shattrath Protectorate Breastplate is worthless. It's tied with the Heroic Judicator's Chestguard (a drop from Sunwell Plateau) for the most spell damage on a single piece of Plate armor. After you pick up all the other pieces, getting the Shattrath Protectorate Breastplate would be a good move for a 5-man/heroic or threat building set.

Though on one final note for the chest pieces, the Chestguard of the Stoic Guardian is a happy balance between the two. If you find yourself needing more spell damage, but don't want to give up a lot of avoidance to get it (like you would with the Shattrath Protectorate Breastplate), the Chestguard is a viable option.

Also all the additional avoidance and Defense Rating that these pieces will give will allow easier access to other slots, such as the Broach of Deftness, and the Shapeshifter's Signet, both of which are nice and tasty sources of Expertise but are sorely lacking in the "normal" tanking stats.

Anyway, enjoy the list.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Inside World of Warcraft - Episode 1

Generally I'm not much of one for machinima, outside of RvB, but I saw this linked somewhere and I was just dying laughing. Seriously... laughing so hard I cried and my jaw started to hurt.

EDIT: "It's like an orgasm on the surface of the Sun!" is my new statement for something that is amazing. I love that quote so very much. It's just so utterly ridiculous.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Re-do of my Pre-Karazhan gear list

Since it seems a fair amount of folks are still looking at it and using it as a guideline, I redid my Pre-Karazhan list. Even if you're an old hat at Paladin tanking, give it a gander. Link is over on the side bar.

Friday, March 7, 2008

WSG: Blizzard's failure of a BG

Obvious preface: WSG being a failure of a BG is my opinion, not a fact. Anything said here that you think might be an opinion and is stated like a fact is an opinion.

This weekend I took a little time and played my Druid. He's at 49 and I was taking some time to do PvP to get gear to help me out from fifty to fifty-eight. Not like I needed it, but PvP can be fun, so why not do something fun and get some rewards from it, right?

So I respecced to a resto build (was feral) did some AB and got the Highlander's Lizardhide Boots (for faster running in WSG). After this I started doing WSG for some of the rewards there... Over a few days the week before I had gotten the badges I needed for the healer cape, and did three more games. Those last three games lasted about forty-five minutes to an hour each.

This showed me the major flaw for WSG: Stalemates. This isn't really a huge revelation, but this is the first time I've really been effected by it. All three of the games I mentioned above were long games that happened not because both sides were effective in defending our flag from being taken, but because both sides would get the flag and then be able to effectively defend it. This problem stems from, I believe, a lack of foresight on Blizzard's part concerning the differences between FPSs and WoW. For most examples I will compare WSG with TF2, since I have played a fair amount of TF2 (compared to other multi-player FPSs with a CTF style stage).

First, the most obvious difference is player-controlled health and how healing works. In WSG, an intelligent healer (or two, if the flag carrier [FC] is really lucky) can keep the FC alive through pretty much anything. I've seen cases where two healers were able to keep the FC alive through an onslaught of the entire other team, while two or three of the DPS FC-defenders crushed the attackers under their heel. In addition, the ability to control and increase your health to levels making you close to, if not unkillable (with healing and, in limited cases, without), independent of your class (high DPS clothies with over 10,000 health?).

TF2 is an entirely different situation. With preset healing and health it means that you know what you're facing when going up against someone. If you see a Demoman and a Heavy coming at you, you know to shoot the Demoman first since they will die more quickly. and Also, in TF2, you can't heal yourself. Take the Medic in TF2, who can quickly heal others, and has a slow regeneration effect, but has no self heals. So focused fire on the healers can actually do something, unlike WoW where focused fire might kill them... if they aren't a Paladin or a Druid, or don't have any backup, or... well you get what I'm getting at. There's a way to equalize the advantage good healing gives in TF2, but it's not guaranteed in WSG.

These are just some examples of the problem, which is Blizzard didn't have foresight when it came to making a BG. It seems very much to me that when it came time to design the BGs, they put a lot of thought into making AV, and then realized maybe they should make another, a smaller one. So they started to brain storm that. Someone then thought... "Hey... people like playing 'Capture the Flag', right? Why not make a BG for that?" And it was generally agreed that it was a good idea. But without the limitations that most FPS designers place on the players, it's far less controlled, and leads to situations like I listed above, with players being able to stalemate the game for hours.

Does this mean that WSG is unfixable? Of course not. Nothing is beyond fixing, but it requires an ample change on the basic design to make it so that things like stalemates are not possible. Blizzard could take the simple way out and just make it so that you don't need to have your own flag to turn in your opponents, but this would make WSG very much like old AV, where it was a race to see who finishes first. You would have one person (most likely a Feral Druid) who's the FC, and everyone else guards them, as both sides run around and around on the opposite sides, making sure to not be slowed down by getting too close to the other side.

As for how to fix it? I'm not really sure, but the key is making it points based, much like AB and EotS are. Let's say both sides start at zero. Every 3 seconds 5 points are added to both sides, independent of the flag. For each kill that's done, that side gets 5 points (this is done to ensure that both sides won't turtle with their flag and cause a tie). For making a flag turn-in you get 500 points, and the goal is to reach 4,000 points. This would not change the mechanics of WSG too much (in fact it might encourage players to fight each other more), while allowing it so that if both sides are turtling, one will emerge the winner after a preset amount of time (discounting the points from killing and flag turn-ins, a game would end after 40 minutes (which would be guaranteed to be made shorter if by nothing else than points from killing).

And I'm sure that's not the only option. Does anyone else have ideas on how they could "fix" WSG or any other complaints about it? Or am I misguided in my opinions? Is WSG right the way it is, and if so why?