Archive for April, 2010

Insert Title Here

Posted: 29 April, 2010 in misc, Paladin

“What a holy paladin thinks while raiding”
“Paladin”
“Holy paladin”
“Holy paladin suck”
“Prettiest paladin”
“Black paladin”
“Southern paladin”
“Female paladin”
“Fallen paladin”
“Paladin lvl 80″

Not a random stream of consciousness, but in fact a selection from the top twenty search terms people have used to find this blog via their favourite feedreader or search engine over the last two days.  Fifty percent of the people coming to this blog are looking for pretty black female lvl 80 holy paladins who suck and want to know what they think while they’re raiding.  Presumably it’s “I wish I didn’t suck.”

Can’t help but get the feeling they’re all going away disappointed.  Or perhaps I should pimp the blog out as a dating service for Tinuviel.  Oh wait, she doesn’t suck.

Stop sniggering at the back!  This is a family blog!

The Light and How To Swing It is also easily the single most popular post on the blog, which is a bit wierd since it was written in January 2009 and wasn’t even cutting edge blogging content when I wrote it, let alone now.  I guess I can infer from this that people who want to read about paladins are a) very easy to impress, b) Paladins are very, very popular and c) and I should probably write about Galadan more.  What I can tell you is that in September 2009, eight months after that post was first written, it generated 721 page counts all on its lonesome.  It’s doing 450 hits per month even today.  What’s up with you people?  Shoo!  Go read Paladin, Schmaladin or Forbearance or something instead!

Easily the most bizarre search term anyone ever used to find their way here was “black sheep wall for outland”.  Do not adjust your screen, you did in fact read that right.  Seriously.  No, I had no idea either.  A swift visit to Google and an entry from Urban Dictionary on the first page of results tells us that “Black Sheep Wall” was a cheat code for Starcraft which allowed the player to see the entire map.   Every other Google result was a link to WoW gold-buying and powerlevelling services.  So…  if you’re the guy who came to my blog looking for a powerlevelling service, just leave your account and password details in the comments and send me £50 via Paypal.  Confidentiality guaranteed*

Random question of the week: Why does the guy who’s always shouting “GOGOGOGO!” in your PuG always have the title “The Patient”?

*terms and condtions apply.

It seems to me that amidst all the various Cataclysm announcements, folks are getting stuff awfully out of context with the upcoming changes to classes and raids.  It’s probably worth bearing in mind a few things before we run screaming to the forums to proclaim the end of the world.

1.  Very little in the way of actual fact has yet been announced.  At best all we can determine from the scraps we’ve thus far been fed, is a broad idea of the general direction in which Blizzard intend the game to go.

2.  We can surmise that healing’s going to be less stressful and more fun.  We aren’t going to have to spam our biggest heals on the tanks just to stop them from dying, as they’re almost never going to be in a situation where not getting healed for three seconds means tank death.  Similarly, a dps class isn’t going to get one-shotted if they take too long getting out of The Fire.  I forget who the quote came from, but it went something like this: “I couldn’t keep everyone on full health at the same time, but once I realised that I didn’t need to and no-one was in danger of dying because they weren’t on 100% all the time, I started to relax and have fun.”

3.  Tanking’s going to be more…  well… let’s use the word “interesting” for now until we see where we end up.  The days of running into a pack of mobs and just rounding them all up and AoEing them all down are very likely to be over.  Possibly because tanks won’t have the tools to maintain AoE aggro so easily, possibly because a healer isn’t going to be able to keep a tank up under that kind of onslaught without cooldowns being used, more likely due to a combination of both.   My only concern is that we’ll end up going back to the bad old days where tanks developed carpal tunnel syndrome from the stress of having to swap targets and sunder so often on every single pull because that was the only way to generate enough threat on everything.  But Blizzard are good at this and they’ve been there before.  I remain cautiously optimistic.

4.  As a result of 2 and 3 above, Crowd Control will be making a comeback, and this scares people because facerolling is a lot easier and faster.  Unlucky, bub.  Time to dust off those crowd control buttons and learn how to play your class.  This is going to be a dealbreaker for a lot of people because for a long time there hasn’t been any reason to need to learn how to crowd control.   Not our fault, if it’s easier and faster to zerg, we’re going to zerg.  Simple as that.  Therefore Blizzard are going to make sure the zerging will be fatal, so it’ll be easier and faster to use crowd control and focus fire.  We’ll still end up doing whatever’s easier and faster because that’s how people roll.  All that’s going to change is what is easier and faster.  Zerging and corpse running, or doing it properly the first time?

Other than points 1 to 4 above, we know exactly zip about the details of what’s coming in Cataclysm other than some ideas and hints about how we’re going to get there.  Anything else in the various class previews is subject to change, and the only thing you can lay money on is that anything idly mentioned by a blue that contradicts the four bullet points mentioned above is something that’s probably not going to happen, or at the very least, not survive in its current form.

Having said that, the recent announcement about 10 and 25 man raiding does have me wondering.  Short version for those living under a rock for the last 24 hours is this: Killing a boss in a 10 man raid locks you out of doing that boss again in 25 man.  10 and 25 raid loot will be exactly the same but more will drop in 25s.

Take a second to let that sink in.  Ready?  Okay, first of all, this fixes a genuine problem that Blizzard found themselves in as Icecrown was getting close.  Incremental gear upgrades from all the tiers and half tiers of content preceding Icecrown left them with tanks who had so much health and avoidance that the only way they could balance encounters to be actually challenging was to either have bosses hitting so hard that tanks could be two-shotted if they went three seconds without a heal, or to implement an avoidance debuff like Chill of the Throne to get things back on an even keel.  Obviously option 1 was ludicrous, so they went with option 2, but it was a band aid, pure and simple.  Since Wrath hit the shelves there has effectively been well over a dozen tiers of gear taking into account 10 man versions, hard mode loot and 25 man normal and heroic versions of raids.  Much more than the simple Tier 7, 8, 9 and 10 labels would have you think.  With this change, they can throttle that back to one effective tier of gear for every patch, instead of two or three.  This is a good thing because it means they can plan future patches and raids much more effectively.

However, it raises several questions, first and foremost being, who the hell would want to put themselves through the 25 man grinder when they can raid 10 man instead and get exactly the same loot out of it?  I’ll put my had up right now and admit I don’t actually like raiding 25 mans all that much.  There’s a lot of pressure to perform, it’s easier to screw up and a lot more stressful.  I raid 25 mans because there’s better loot, simple as that.  Take away the better loot and you take away my incentive.  Of course, part of this is because raiding 10 mans is easier.  No, don’t argue, you’re wrong.  It is easier.  Does Lady Deathwhisper do Mind Control in 10 man normal mode?  No she doesn’t.  Is there more space to spread 8 healers and dps around on Blood Queen or 23 healers and dps in the same space?  It’s easier.  Fact.  It doesn’t make you a second class citizen because you’re only doing 10 man raids, but we need to agree that you’re doing easier raiding.  Not easy.  Easier.

Is it going to be easier in Cataclysm?  Blizzard are aiming for it not to be, and that’s going to take some careful balancing but I’m pretty confident that they can do it.  This is part of what’s driving their spreading around of the dispel mechanics and things like giving paladins an aoe heal at last – bring the player, not the class, again.  By the way, I love what they’re doing with paladins and the aoe heal “aura” for want of a better word.  Holy Paladins wear more armour than the USS Missouri, get them into melee where they belong and let them heal from there! Stop standing at the back with the sissy robe wearers!  Get stuck in, you’re paladins!

So in a nutshell, we really need to stop looking at everything that’s on the drawing board from our current perspective and complaining about it for two very good reasons.  What’s being proposed might suck if it was imposed on your class today, but in the context of a Cataclysm raid it may make perfect sense.  And since none of us are playing Cataclysm yet we’ve got no context to claim we understand how the proposed changes are going to actually affect us.  So until we do get a bit of context (and that ain’t going to happen until right before Cataclysm ships and we get the patch with the new talent trees anyway) we might all do well to chug on a nice hot cup of shut the fuck up until we actually know what we’re talking about.

So it is the end of the world as we know it, but I feel fine.

But you’ll take my Tree form off me over my cold dead body!

I came to World of Warcraft from Star Wars Galaxies, as a result of which I think that Blizzard are the most honest and open game developers in the history of everything.  Ever.  Okay, that probably requires some explanation.

Star Wars Galaxies used to be a fantastic game.  The only problem was that the developers are Sony Online Entertainment, and SOE are the nastiest gang of double-crossing, lying sons of bitches ever to be handed a development deal.  They would routinely sneak massive, game-changing nerfs into the game and then basically lie about them, and keep repeating the lies until the player base either quit or got tired of protesting.  As a result, the player base of SWG right now consists of three students from Hammersmith who are so stoned they think they’re actually playing Runequest.

The problem was, SWG was a pretty fundamentally broken game.  Once you’d reached your profession masteries (like hitting the level cap), received a standard buff package from any player Master Doctor and kitted yourself out in a standard set of high level armour (easily available from any number of player Master Armourcrafters) you were pretty much unkillable in just about any PvE content.  I would routinely go hunting nests of Rancor and spend an hour or so carving a bloody swathe of destruction across the surface of Dathomir to earn cash.  To put this into some kind of perspective, it’s the equivalent of a fresh level 80 soloing heroic dungeons one after the other.  Obviously, something was wrong, and a substantial portion of the playerbase insisted that stuff needed to change.

Here’s the thing, however.  SWG was not and never will be a PvE game.  There was no PvE content, there were no real “dungeons” to speak of.  SOE pretty much just designed a few iconic Star Wars worlds and left everything in the hands of the players.  Everything, and I really do mean everything, was made by the players.  Your armour, your vehicles, your weapons, your clothes, your furniture, your food, your home…  everything was player-created.  The only “dungeon loot” were components used by player crafters to make higher quality versions of the items that players used.  The only real “game” in SWG was either crafting or PvP.  That didn’t stop people from trying to play it like a PvE game, and it was these “PvE players” who were the ones complaining that it shouldn’t be so easy for people to solo PvE content, completely missing the point that there was almost no PvE content of any note in the game anyway.

SOE had been planning to rewrite the way combat worked from the ground up, and they siezed upon this as the excuse they needed to batter opposition to their planned “Combat Upgrade” into the ground.  The Combat Upgrade was released and suddenly people who’d been slaughtering nests of Rancor the day before found themselves fleeing in terror from irate Jawa.  Predictably, there was a shitstorm of biblical proportions, and SOE’s response was of course: “Players asked us to do this, we’re only giving you what you wanted.”  It wasn’t the fact that they’d changed the way the game worked at a fundamental level, it was that they simply didn’t have the balls to stand up and say why they were doing it, and instead hid behind a tissue of lies and half-truths.  I mean, just look at the title of the nerf: The Combat Upgrade?  Please!

What the CU did was to force people to group up in order to go out carving up nests of Rancor, and this of course ended up being even more profitable in terms of cash and xp than doing it solo.  Then one day on the Public Test Realm, players noticed that they were suddenly gaining xp at a much slower rate than before.  Comments went out on the forums asking for others to test to see if they were experiencing the same thing, and within two hours of the first forum post, a patch went live.  Suddenly, group xp gains on the live servers were half what they’d been the day before and SOE refused to comment.  For two days the forums were in an uproar without a single official response.  The community managers were at their wits end, they didn’t know what was going on, the devs weren’t telling them anything, and so they had nothing to relate to the furious players.  This went on for two days, before another patch went live reverting xp gains to previous levels.  SOE then finally made an announcement, claiming that a patch had gone out “by mistake” with a “bugged xp gain”.  In some weird alternate reality, perhaps there was someone who even believed this massive, contemptious lie.

The level of contempt in which SOE held their player base was simply mind-boggling.  This is why I laugh my ass right off whenever I see a “Waaaaah, Ghostcrawler promised me a pony!” comment on the forums or MMO Champion.  You guys really have no clue how good Blizzard actually are.

However, stuff like this makes me wonder.

Raising the cooldown on spells like Wild Growth and Circle of Healing are good things for healers. It’s one of the few* things that will buy you GCDs to actually cast other spells. With a 6 sec cooldown, you really only get to cast maybe 3-5 other spells before you need to hit that magic button again.

A nerf is a nerf, alright?  Grow some balls and call it what it is, we’d respect you more if you’d just man up and say what you mean instead of trying to dress it up as a buff.  Yes we know you want healing to be more than just spamming the AoE heal button (something which it hasn’t actually been since Black Temple by the way, do try to keep up Blizzard) we get it, alright?  No need to lie about it, we’re not idiots.  And while we’re on the subject, you can stop shit like this, right now:

Our feeling is that druids rarely actually get to show off their armor, so it would be nice to have at least one spec that looked like a night elf or tauren (and soon troll or worgen) for most of the time.

There druids, you see?  Blizzard are taking away our Tree form because that’s what we all asked for when we said we wanted our gear to make a difference to the way we look.  It was what we wanted all along!  Bless you, Blizzard.

Hey, can anyone hear a slapping noise?  I can hear a slapping noise.  Hey Ghostcrawler, what are you doing behind us with your pants around your ankles?

Different Strokes

Posted: 22 April, 2010 in Horde, Single Abstract Noun

It should be pretty obvious by now that I’m a confirmed Alliance care bear.  It’s not that I have anything against the Horde per se, I just never had any reason to persevere with a Horde character.  Everyone I know plays Alliance on Hellscream EU because I play Alliance on Hellscream-EU.  I never managed to level a Horde toon past level 14 because I got bored not talking to anyone, that’s just the way I roll.  I happen to love Tauren with their goofy, amiable plodding and big feet, and Trolls are beyond cool, I just never had the incentive to play any of them longer than a day or two.

So luckily for me, the Single Abstract Noun bloggers’ guild on Argent Dawn EU gave me just the excuse I was looking for.  I now have three Horde toons, Jessicani a fruit elf Retribution Paladin, Shasti, a fruit elf Holy Priest and Threeleaf, a cow Druid, all plodding around in their mid 20s.  So here, in no particular order, is stuff I’ve noticed.

1. Tauren on My Little Ponies Celestial Steeds just look wrong.  Yes, Ghostcrawler sold me a pony.  No, Threeleaf doesn’t use it, he rides his Kodo like any self-respecting (and very handsome!) young cow should.

2.  There are fewer douchebags.  I accept that that may have nothing to do with the Horde/Alliance difference and everything to do with the PVE/RP server difference, but all the same, it’s nice to have a relatively civilised trade and general chat channel.  Don’t misunderstand me, there are douchebags, but it’s more a case of one guy being a douche, rather that what I’m used to on Hellscream where trade chat resembles the finals of the Who’s The Biggest Douchebag in the World contest.  There’s also a higher class of douchebag.  The douche on Argent Dawn can usually spell correctly and employs urbanity and wit to mock all and sundry.  On Hellscream he uses Dirge, Anal, Chuck Norris jokes and “your mom”.

3.  Because of point 2 above, however, I feel I’m missing out on an important part of the whole horde culture.  There is no Barrens Chat here.  No-one wants to know where Mankrik’s wife is.  It’s puzzling, because the morons are definitely here.  I was present at Crossroads the other day while a level 80 alliance mage in the shoddiest “hey I just hit level 80!” gear you ever saw was showing everyone how awesome he was by manfully slaughtering all of the quest npcs, flightmasters and vendors, you know, because he was awesome.  He wasn’t the moron, however.  Oh no, he was just a guy whose parents didn’t show him enough attention when he was a child.  No, the morons were the level 20 horde who thought they were going to kill him.   Because he’s level 80, and the four of you all have 80 levels between you so that makes it an even fight, right guys?  Guys?  Oh, dead again.

By the way, it’s exactly the same at Sentinel Hill in Westfall, in case any long-term Hordies wondered.  You are not special snowflakes where low-level idiocy is concerned.

4.  Thunder Bluff.  Best capital city.  Ever.

5.  Varian Wrynn may be damaged goods, but he can overcome his prejudices and be honourable, as he showed at Icecrown Citadel.  Garrosh Hellscream on the other hand, is always going to be a cockmonger.

6.  That massive split dividing the Barrens in two you saw in all those Cataclysm spoilers?  Yeah that was caused by High Overlord Saurfangs’ third most powerful cleave.

7.  FOR THE HORDE!  LOK’TAR OGAR!

*ahem*

On another note, I’m finding the random dungeon tool to be incredibly useful at lower levels.  It’s entirely possible for me to level Shasti from 1-80 completely as a Holy priest just by doing instances.  The xp is good, she’s getting a level and a bit per instance at the moment, and the gear rewards are way better than quest rewards.  You do of course run into the occasional cretin, like the Warlock who zoned into Shadowfang Keep and then went afk because he was “watching a movie” or the cream of the current crop, the Tauren Cat Druid I did a Stockades with the other day.  This one was pretty special.  The tank goes one way along with everyone else, he runs into a completely different room and starts trying to take down a room full of elites by himself.  I am now faced with a choice, abandon the tank and the rest of the group to fend for themselves or follow the druid wherever he went and attempt to heal him through Stupid.  Easy choice.  After he died, the conversation went a little like this:

Moron: “FFS HEALER!”
Me: “Yeah, totally my fault, I can of course cast heals through solid walls, I just chose not to.”
Moron: “WELL WHY DIDN’T YOU FOLLOW?”
Me: “If you choose to run off without the tank and healer and take on a room by yourself who am I to stop you?”
Moron: “DO YOU WANT TO GET KICKED?”
Me: “Yes, please.”
Moron: “wut?”
Me: “Yes please.  I’d love to see a dps successfully votekick a healer, never seen it happen before.”
Moron: …
Me: “I’m waiting”
Moron: …
Me: “Votekick failed, huh?”
Moron: “PEDO!”

But on the whole, the LFD experience at low levels has been pretty good.  There are impatient tanks who think they’re invincible and dps whose command of the English language is restricted to their “gogogogogo” macro, sure, but by and large it’s been a pretty pleasant experience.  Threeleaf is rapidly becoming my favourite character.  I mean, for starters he’s a Druid and they’re just awesome anyway.  Secondly he’s a big amiable cow with massive plodding hooves who just sort of bimbles around accidentally running into adventures and he scratches his arse a lot.  What’s not to love?

All the same, I think I’m going to have to start an Orc and a troll too, just not sure what.  Orc Hunters will never be the same for me after Flintlocke vs The Horde, Troll Shamans either for that matter.

While we’re on the subject, if you’ve not read Flintlocke I highly recommend you do, especially if you play Horde on a Roleplaying server.  The Horde comic can be found here, and the earlier Alliance version (which started as a weekly column by Dave “Fargo” Kosak on Gamespy) can be found here.  Mad as a box of frogs, both of them.

After the glorious success that was the Campaign for Equal Heights by the Gnomes of Argent Dawn EU, this weekend a second Gnome Rally was organised by the Gnomes of the Single Abstract Noun bloggers’ guild.  Argent Dawn is one of the oldest Rolepaying Servers around, so the usual rules were in force – stay in character, don’t mess with other folks’ RP.  Other than that, the Gnomes were free to do as they pleased to rally support for Operation: Gnomeregan – Retake the City!

The valiant gnome mage Gnigel and his trusty companion brave the frosty depths of Dun Morogh, destination: Ironforge!

Gnomes Unite! You have nothing to fear but big steps. And high shelves. And bad tempered cats.

Ok, horses too. We finished now? Can we please move on?

Our mission today, to muster troops for the battle of Gnomeregan! And Death to all warlocks!

Rallied by our fearless leader, Maximillian, the gnomes prepare to march!

Onward, brave sons and daughters of Gnomeregan!

Gnomes are infamous for being easily distracted

After a swift journey on that marvel of Gnomish engineering, the Deeprun Tram, the brave gnomes arrive in Stormwind, ready to continue the campaign.

Tired after their journey, the gnomes seek refreshment, but news of the Campaign for Equal Heights hasn't reached Stormwind, apparently...

Then Gnigel makes a startling discovery in the pub cellar!

Plans are discussed on how to open the massive keg...

Suitably refreshed, our heroes continue to Darnassus via Stormwind Harbour...

By the sacred spanner of High Tinker Mekkatorque! Look at the size of that Tree!!!

The gnomes are amazed to discover that High Priestess Whisperwind has the worlds' biggest jacuzzi, completely open to the public!

The priestesses seemed horrified about something, perhaps we should have taken off our shoes?

That’s all folks!