Thoughts on Raiding and the new Mythic+

It’s been a few days since raiding and the new mythic+ dungeon has opened up. My current guild signed me to play Shadow and I agreed to earnestly give it a shot. It was something new after 10+ years of doing nothing but either healing as Holy or Discipline. Our first raid night together was on Tuesday and this is an organization that had only come together recently in the past two months over the summer. How would the group fare?

Pretty well actually! All things considered, it was a 6/7 normal mode on the first night. The raid group’s a little rough around the edges and there’s some potential here.

Raids

I didn’t remember much about Nythendra. Though there was some general confusion in terms of positioning and where to stand during the opening minutes. Nevertheless, the boss was defeated and we moved on.

Next order of business was Ill’gynoth. This one took two attempts and there was a little sloppiness with the debuff and where pools were dropping. My initial suspicion is that people didn’t realize they had the debuff on them and pools were constantly being dropped near the eye rendering it difficult for both melee players and kiters to get the slimes in range to pop the eye. Heroic mode though is a whole new ballgame. I joined my friend Elaraiyne’s group for some experience just to get a handle on heroic and it’s not as forgiving.

Anyway, after downing Ill’gynoth, we moved to the Emerald Dragons. It was a cycle of 3 dragons and add management. No issues with this one either although it took just one wipe because tank transition was off. The tanks opted to switch at 7 debuff stacks instead of 8 and that did the trick resulting in a takedown.

We moved to Elerethe after and this was not my finest moment as after the first platform, I subsequently plummeted to my doom. The raid leader called for tanks and healers only to start with the feathers. All DPS players were instructed to cross the webbing. I think this can be further optimized to tanks, most healers, and some DPS but for the first attempt, it made sense due to learning pulls. We ended up stealing this kill. Almost a third of the raid was dead at some point during the first transition but Elerethe managed to get taken out. I’m almost expecting the encounter to be buffed.

Big bad Ursoc was next and this took us 3 attempts to kill it. Looking at the mechanics and abilities of the boss, I figured out that the best way to pull off the encounter was to tank the bear to a side, and have one group stand on Ursoc’s butt to soak Momentum, and a second group off to the side. The person who was the charge target would run behind Ursoc’s butt forcing Ursoc to run through. However, as much as I wanted to chime in, I didn’t say anything. I wanted to watch the raid leaders to see if they’d come to similar conclusions — Which they did, although Ursoc was tanked in the middle instead of the side. The repositioning wasn’t the most consistent but it did the job well enough. I imagine the DPS checks for heroic would be much higher and minimizing movement would be much more relevant.

Last boss of the night was Cenarius. This one’s a technical encounter as you get to determine which set and type of mobs to cleanse. You want to capitalize on the strength of your group. We had a few Death Knights which meant Wisps could be pulled in and AoE’d down immediately, for example. It did get a bit dicey at the end with the large patchy Nightmare pools and such.

Anyway, that was our first night of raid. I felt it was more enjoyable than Highmaul when it first came out. Looking forward to advancing into Emerald Nightmare though.

Shadow though, I’m not sure if I’m cut out to be a Shadow Priest. My damage is acceptable. Except, I’m not having fun playing Shadow in a raid environment and I can’t quite put my finger on why. The rotation’s about placing DoTs, using fillers, and using your artifact weapon while weaving in and out of Void Form. After that, it’s a Surrender to Madness in the final moments of the encounter. It’s an interesting style of play and I’m still getting my timing down — I end up dying a few seconds after the boss dies which means I can burn Surrender a little earlier.

Mythics

The flip side to this is that I’m playing Shadow in Mythic+ dungeons and I greatly enjoy that more. Our composition is a Demon Hunter tank, a Resto Shaman, a DPS Warrior, Mage, and myself. Our composition brings three sets of stuns and a heroism. Capacitor Totem, Shockwave, and Mind Bomb constantly rotate through trash pulls and it’s an organized symphony of crowd control. The most I’ve done is Maw of Souls at Mythic 5 with Bolster. The Bolster mechanic is when a non-boss mob dies, a non-boss mob gains 20% health and damage.

As Mythic levels go up, everything in the instance has correspondingly more health and deals more damage. As a Shadow Priest, I’m not the greatest in heroics because I don’t have time to build up any DoTs. But now with Mythic+ difficulty, it seems like the harder the instance, the more appealing the Priest. Now I just need to refine the talent selection a little more.

Now the question remains. How can I be delighted with Shadow in a dungeon but resent Shadow in a raid?

First Week of Legion: Progression and Patches

Well, almost. But it might as well be a week. Scouring the internet, I’ve seen mostly universal praise for Legion. From my experiences in the beta, I had a huge suspicion that the expansion would be a massive shot of adrenaline into the game. There’s no numbers in terms of subscriptions (or active accounts), but optimistically, maybe 10 million?

Although, it’s still too early to say. The expansion launch bump always produces a huge number of subscribers and then inevitable drops off overtime before stabilizing. We’re also entering the school year again. Who knows if the numbers and reception will continue to hold for the next half a year?

Progress

In terms of character progress, I rocketed to level 110 with a disappointing time of 12 hours, 40 minutes. I was thwarted in the final hour with some PvP shenanigans. That’s okay though, as I was first in guild by a long run. If you’re trying to make a statement about yourself as a player to a new guild, one way to do that is by being the first to 110, jumping into dungeons, and filling the guild activity with achievements on clearing normals and heroics.

Mythic dungeons are brutal for Holy Priests. At least, that was my impression initially just because on everyone’s lack of gear. I think it’s mathematically possible to walk into a Mythic dungeon just shy of 820 ilevel but you need some consumables to help prop your stats up for a bit.

I did get my first legendary: X’anshi, Shroud of Archbishop Benedictus. It’s not exactly the best cloak for raiders as the effect is counterintuitive to strong play. But in mythic dungeons, it’s saved me a few times and provided the group with a second chance to last just long enough to get the encounter down.

Right now I’m sitting at 841 ilevel since Friday. There’s still some trinkets that I need to pursue, but for the most part, my Priest is now raid ready. Unlike other players, I’ve pursued a path of parallel progression between my Holy and Shadow artifacts to allow for flexibility in my roles.

My guild wants me to play Shadow but acknowledged my flexibility in being Holy and Disc. I’m not 100% confident in my DPS play right now. There’s that looming thought in the back of my mind that I might not make that cut or the benchmark. If that happens, I’ll cut myself from the roster and look for a team that can better utilize my abilities. Still, the raid is a few weeks out so I’ve got some time.

How long did it take for you to be in a guild before you went, “Yup, this is the one.” ?

Patch 7.1

 

At PAX Prime over the weekend, Blizzard developers were on hand to reveal more details on patch 7.1. The big surprise was the new Legion companion app which lets us run missions right out of our phone. Plus it has the side benefit of displaying currently available world quests.

Boy, this app would’ve been handy during Warlords when we had way more missions to do. Right now, we’re capped to 5 followers and most missions take three followers (usually two named followers and one of your recruits).

Regarding the patch, there seems to be a perception that the new Trial of Valor is a new tier of raiding. Actually, it’s not quite the case. The best analogy is that Trial of Valor is similar to the old vanilla raids of Zul’Gurub or Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj. Both were 20 player raids and were meant to complement the major 40 player raids at the time. The last raid that was even close to that was the old Zul’Aman raid back in Burning Crusade (or a case could be made for Halion in Wrath).

Any bets on when 7.1 is expected to drop? My guess would be a little after BlizzCon (or shortly before Christmas).

12 Hours and 20 Minutes from 100 to 110

That’s the time it took for me to level from 100 to 110 on beta. I can do better than that.

Anyway, related to the Legion leveling dilemma of pure quests versus incorporating dungeons, I did a straight run yesterday from 100 to 110 on my Priest. Here’s the times and rough paths:

10:38 AM: Timer starts at Dalaran, selected Stormheim
12:06 PM: 101
13:12: 102, unlocked both artifact weapons for Holy and Disc, moved to Azsuna (which flows nicely with Enchanting and Tailoring profession quests)
14:40: 103
15:58: 104, moved to Val’Sharah, and restock up on Legion level food and water
17:10: 105, back to the Class Hall to start some player XP work orders (2 hours)
18:10: 106, moved to Highmountain
19:13: 107, back to the Class Hall to redeem and start another set of player XP work orders
20:39: 108
21:45: 109, back to Class Hall to advance class mission scenario
23:01: 110

All of that took around 12 hours and 20 minutes. Ended up dying 4 times overall. Embarassingly enough, my first death was during the initial Shadow Artifact weapon quest. Oops.

Oddly enough, the longest part should have ended up being the 100 to 101 area between unlocking class artifact weapons and moving Dalaran over. I suspect this might even take longer on live.

Speaking of artifact weapons, I lost some major time on the Discipline one because I screwed up the encounter with the Fire boss. Didn’t make the connection that Mind Control was supposed to be used (and I’m surprised that spell didn’t get pruned). That’s why ultimately level 102 took way longer than needed.

High Mountain is actually a tricky zone. It can be optimized more and there were a few Hearthstone tricks I didn’t properly do. Not to mention, the main quest area is on top of a freakin’ mountain with lifts. What is it with Tauren and living on top of giant mountains and using elevators anyway?

I literally completed all of the zone storylines in all of the major areas. I think there was one (or maybe two) of those free form quest areas that I missed out on in Azsuna that I’m going to have to incorporate in my live run. But at 49% into 109, I ran out of zone quests. Thankfully, I still had class quests I could accomplish and a few profession ones remaining.

I did end up having Auto Turn In installed but forgot to install an autovendor addon for trash drops. Ended up having to manually sell items on my mammoth during the dialog based cut scenes (which can’t be skipped). Incidentally enough, those are great times to re-buff yourself with food buffs.

Zoopercat has a post on Ask Mr Robot with some additional detail on Artifact Power and the quests. Since I’m raiding as Holy and levelling as Shadow, my run did not incorporate the use of activating Artifact Power or buffing weapons. I went straight to 110 with a naked Artifact weapon. Between Zooper’s post and my experience, you’re better off investing the AP right away even if you plan to raid as a different spec. You don’t lose that much time or progression and between some of the dailies and other wards, you will catch up quickly on the 2nd weapon anyway.

Last piece of advice, fruit platters are awesome for maintaining energy and alertness. I hate blueberries though.

The Legion Leveling Dilemma

There’s going to be some general spoilers about Legion below with zone names. No lore or story spoilers though. So be warned.

I managed to get to level 110 on the beta. Elapsed time was 11.5 hours, but that involved actually reading quest text. There are no cinematics implemented in the game yet. In addition, I didn’t burn as many consumables as I could have. I did keep up my old Draenor Intellect flasks and the Empowered Augment Rune. No sprint potions, no Intellect potions, or anything of that sort. I went through Azsuna first, then Stormheim, Val’Sharah, and then Highmountain.

Each zone has a major storyline quest. All of those quests eventually lead to a dungeon quest which awards massive XP upon completion (like 100k+). As I doubt I’ll have a consistent group to do these dungeons with, queueing into them means I’ll be placing myself at the mercy of the other players in that group.

Do I risk the dungeon queue as I level up or do I scout out and knock out the extra side quests in each zone while forgoing dungeons completely?

I’m going to do a dry run Sunday and see what kind of time I can shave off at full speed.

Incentivizing Player Behaviour?

Thanks to everyone over Twitter and Facebook who were generous enough to provide me with leads. I’ve found a guild to stash myself in. Alas, it’s a guild I found in trade chat (I know, right?), so their requirements on joining weren’t too stringent or anything. As it’s still the offseason, I can see how application processes are relaxed. We’ll see how it works out though. Raid roster is contingent on how quickly players reach max level and are raid ready. Sounds about right.

Anyway, I received an email updated yesterday from Wargaming (the company behind World of Tanks and World of Warships). I played World of Warships for a little while because I’ve always had a fondness for ship-to-ship combat.

Check out their updated player policy:

Effective August 8, 2016, we have an updated Rules and Violations Policy. This policy aims to both reward positive behavior in the community, and deliver meaningful consequences for repeated misconduct.

Players who display consistently good behavior over a three-month period receive a small reward, on top of a chance to win 90 days of Premium account time.

We’ll look at player behavior in three primary areas: chat, forums, and gameplay. Five violations (or “strikes”) in one of these areas will result in permanent restrictions like being banned from the associated chat or forum.

Strikes won’t go away — we will expect players to learn from past mistakes and adjust their behavior accordingly. That’s why we’re encouraging all players to step up, be positive, and don’t strike out.

Now, let’s be real. We know Blizzard’s had issues with player toxicity for a while now especially in both WoW, Heroes of the Storm, and now Overwatch (like that banwave which resulted in errant denial of service attacks on servers recently). But notice how Wargaming’s taking a two-pronged approach here — You’ve got the standard policy of placing restrictions on players with bans on forums or chats, but now you have an incentive focused one where if you’re a productive and positive member, you get a small bonus and a chance at 90 days of premium.

It’s a neat idea though I’m not sure if it would have an effect in any of Blizzard’s games. Though a chance for WoW gametime would be a sweet incentive and bonus. I do think a small amount of currency (like credits in Overwatch or gold in Heroes of the Storm) might be a way to help promote good behaviour though. However, if I feel if someone was going to be a dick, no amount of gold or currency would really stop them. For the rest of us who just stay silent and focus on our own game play, it would be an automatic reward at the end of the season no matter what. I mean really, is 2000 gold enough to stop someone trashtalking mid-game in Heroes of the Storm for playing bad?

Speaking of cheaters, in Counterstrike there are two kinds of servers: VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat) enabled servers and non-VAC enabled servers. If you’re caught cheating, you cannot compete on VAC enabled servers. This would result in cheaters all playing together and against each other on non-VAC enabled servers. I had the humorous thought of Overwatch cheaters being sequestered and isolated into their own queue where they would play against other cheaters. This would keep them away from the rest of the legitimate Overwatch population but at least they would be able to play with their own kind.

Think Wargaming is onto something?

Time to Get Back on the Saddle

That was a nice long break from the world of World of Warcraft. After hanging up the staff and robes in January, I feel much more refreshed and invigorated.

The problem?

Looking for a guild. The last time I really applied for a guild was in Burning Crusade and even then, that was more of a short interview. After Burning Crusade, I left and formed Conquest which I held and ran until the start of this year. My era of being GM is over. Several former players have asked if I was going to get the band back together again and I declined. I don’t have it in me to handle all of the responsibility anymore. It’ll be a nice change of pace to just go back and be a normal player again where I can stick to just keeping the raid alive instead of added responsibilities.

Speaking of changes, the new Discipline Priest is neat! It definitely takes some getting used to though. I’m not sure if they’re going to be a staple of healing teams for Legion or not, but maybe they’ll have a place on guilds looking to brute force their way to victory with tons of damage. I tried it out the other week in a raid and I don’t know if Hellfire was just oddly tuned or if was just that unfamiliar with the new Discipline. To be fair, they did nerf and make further adjustments the following day to Hellfire Citadel.

Holy continues to remain a solid fallback option for classic healing Priests. Not having to mess around with Chakra stances is a huge sigh of relief. I liked the mechanic originally when it came out, but now I’m no longer a fan of needless complexity. Let the encounter be the challenge.

There is one other problem. I can’t seem to find a guild that’s looking for a Priest :(.

How has Your Overwatch Experience Been?

How has Your Overwatch Experience Been?

It’s been a few weeks since Overwatch came out. I’ve logged something like 50 hours total since release and it’s been a blast. I didn’t go too crazy on it during the beta because I didn’t want to burn myself out. Have to say though, the game is infinitely more fun when playing with friends as opposed to hitting the solo queue on your own. This is especially true if you happen to be playing alongside players willing to switch to heroes that work well in given situations.

Currently, my hero pool is bolstered by Zarya, Pharah, 76, and Symmetra. You might remember that Lucio was my bread and butter during the beta streams on Blizzard Watch, but I’ve switched over to a more offensive, DPS role.

Why Zarya?

zarya

Those are my stats on my Master Overwatch profile (which should absolutely be taken with a grain of salt). That being said, I’m sure there’s some similarity between that and my official stats on Overwatch. After almost 200 games, it looks like my matches on Zarya have stabilized to an approximately 55% win rate which is what the devs are aiming for (something between 45 to 55%).

Speaking of winrates, Symmetra’s just a beast on defense with a seemingly unsustainable 78% (27 games total) and Soldier 76 right behind at almost 70% (35 games total).

A note on stats

I love tracking my records as much as the next guy because they can paint a picture about your strengths and weaknesses. Without numbers, you can’t measure yourself improving. While many out there will say your personal stats don’t matter, and it happens to be true to an extent, you can’t win a game without eliminating the opposition. In general, the team that can eliminate the other team more often than not will win the match.

(Take that, Sun Tzu).

But what you have to keep in mind is what the stats don’t say. Much of the information is contextless.

As you win games quickly and early, your damage (on average) per game will go down. The hero win rate is based on the one you played the most games with and it does not reflect any hero changes you’ve made that might have had an impact. Maybe you were rocking it as Widowmaker until the other team adjusted to you and then you switched to Reaper to regain momentum.

Let’s talk about the actual damage. Was it meaningful and effective? Did the damage go straight to removing Mercy from play or was it spent mostly on Roadhog who kept hogging medpacks and chugging his gatorade? What damage is relevant and what’s irrelevant? How much of it was absorbed by a shield?

Accuracy is another thing. People who play Junkrat or Pharah understand the concept of “zoning” where you just fire projectiles in a certain area to deny the opposing team from entering it unless they take damage. Common areas include chokepoints or areas near medpacks. You don’t need to score a direct hit if the splash damage is enough to affect them. My Pharah accuracy is 41% largely because much of it is spent prefiring in areas where I think a player is about to run to.

There is definitely more development and work needed to be done in this area, but the existing information is a start. I’d like to see more individual map stats. Do I play better on King’s Row or Hollywood? Does my character matter at certain phases of the match?

Think about DPS meters and logs in WoW and you’ll get my drift.

Back to the original question of why Zarya? I figure she’s one of the more well rounded heroes in the game and can easily slip into any pub game.

Terminology

Pub: A public game that any can queue into. Best known as Quick Match.

Not to be confused with …

Pug: Short for pickup game which is a loosely organized match between a pre-determined roster of players who may or may not know each other well at all.

She can sort of tank in a pinch although she’s not the greatest pusher. Her shielding abilities have the ability to save teammates and yourself during key engagements. Her ultimate is a great trigger mechanism and works alongside other heroes who can follow up on it (because by itself it doesn’t do much damage). Think of Zarya as more of a secondary tank. When she gets charged and goes off, she’ll turn into a wrecking ball with both resilience and staying power.

The problem is that you can get really greedy. Once the shield wears off, if you get focused, you’ll be taken out immediately. You have to recognize when to jump in with a full charge and when to back out back to the safety of your team even if you still have like a 60 charge left.

I’ll write up more Zarya tips later, but if you’re interested in more Overwatch pieces, you can check out my columns here:

Hearthstone Woes and Nostalgic Thoughts on Classic

Hearthstone Woes and Nostalgic Thoughts on Classic

Time to come out of retirement. Now that Legion’s hit beta, I’ll have to start gearing up and looking for a new organization to join.

I’ve been busy and restless though the past few months. Without WoW to keep me occupied, I resorted to Hearthstone. Most retirees do things like fish or play Go. Me? Nah, I run Hearthstone LAN tournaments. The Tavern Hero in the middle of April pulled in 22 players. The one after that at the end of April yielded 39 players. I was definitely not expecting that jump and it was a long day (but most Swiss run tournaments are).

Speaking of which, Blizzard’s Fireside teams seem like they need some more resources. Two Tavern Heroes and they were both mis-reported (where the winner of the first was listed as the winner of the second tournament, and the first tournament didn’t have a winner). I frantically tried to reach out and get a hold of the eSports teams to get that corrected and no communication until late last week. The thing is, since the winners are from Vancouver, our next closest Tavern Hero qualifier LAN event where the Spring Preliminaries are being held is in Seattle. Thankfully, a few of the players already qualified for preliminaries without having to go through Tavern Hero and were able to secure accommodations in time. What I’d really like to know is what it takes to be able to run one of those events here. Anyone know?

I’m a little frustrated because I was concerned the results wouldn’t go through and the players results wouldn’t be recognized. But yeah, I’m thinking they could use some more assistance in the eSports department. Even now though, to my knowledge, the Tavern Hero winners still haven’t been contacted and it’s less than a week to go before prelims.

On Overwatch

Overwatch will be out in a little over a week. Everyone’s complaining about Bastion, but I expect that will level out and subside overtime as players (eventually) learn how to deal with him.

On Nostalrius

Personally, not a fan of it. I believe the resources required to pull of legacy servers will outweigh the potential revenue gained. My thought process is similar to that found over on Talarian’s blog here. Then again, I was never into pet battles so my opinion is moot. That Pristine server idea might have some merit though if it can be pulled off. At least it’ll placate a number of people (at least, paying ones).

Best case scenario

The Nostalrius team is expected to meet with Blizzard sometime soon. Not sure what the outcome that will be and I’m not even going to try to hazard a guess. I do suspect they’ll have a discussion on vanilla as a whole and talk about business cases. The best case scenario is that members of the Nostalrius team get picked up for development work on the Pristine team. With Legion debuting at the end of August, BlizzCon’s going to be light on Warcraft news. Maybe they’ll discuss the Warcraft movie and what the next step is based on the release numbers. They’ll probably talk about the first Legion patch (if it isn’t already out by then). Then wham, Pristine server news.

No heirlooms, no levelling acceleration, multiple servers launched with one dedicated to Classic only, one for Burning Crusade only, and one for Wrath only. You can’t cross realm and ask for help. No group queues so you’ll have to spam in trade chat for a few hours looking for a tank and/or a healer. Oh right, and keep this saved on your computer somehow so you can refer to it when you’re not sure where to go next.

WoWRaidsBonus: Hardcore mode. 

… Okay, probably not. 

At the end of the day, if the business intelligence unit can find a way to offset expenses from the development of classic WoW, then maybe one day it might happen. Faction transfers and server transfers didn’t used to be a thing but are now common. You never know. 

My Hearthstone Tournament Mode Feature Wishlist

My Hearthstone Tournament Mode Feature Wishlist

Last year, there was some discussion about new features being added to Hearthstone. Eventually, we discovered that the new game mode was none other than Tavern Brawl but we know that the developers are watching and considering idea for a tournament option. We didn’t get anything during the Grand Tournament expansion either. At the moment, tournaments are more community run than anything else. Players can look up events on Battlefy, Strivewire, and on other sites. Blizzard seems to be reluctant to take full control of running competitive tournaments at the moment (but that could be changing in the future after their purchase of MLG).

With Standard mode being implemented, the Hearthstone team has addressed the issue of stale meta games and evolving playstyles. The next step forward should be to look at the quality of life aspect for competitive players and tournament organizers.

Match history

No need to delve into this one too much. Wrote about it not too long ago. I’m sure they could put in the level of detail consistent with Heroes of the Storm and Starcraft 2 match histories. It solves the issue of having to screenshot the results right after a match in case someone forgets to take a screenshot.

Turbo mode

One of the problems with Conquest mode is the amount of time it takes to get through a best of 5 match. Control matchups often take up a whole hour and in Swiss tournaments, every match needs to finish before the next round can begin. My Fireside’s often last over 8 hours and it’s more an exercise in attrition than anything else.

Those of you familiar with online poker might be aware of some tournaments that are under turbo mode. Think of it as express games. Blinds and ante’s go up twice as fast. You have less time to make adjustments, to wait for premium hands, and to recover from any errors.

I’m not advocating for faster turn limits. Those can be kept the same.

What I would like to see is a checkbox or an option to speed up animations. If it could be sped up even 25%, it would help accelerate matches. Both players would have to enable it.

Do we really need to see Ragnaros rise up from the board again?

Or for every minion to enter a melee after a Brawl gets played?

Or Unleash the Hounds into a Knife Juggler which happens to hit an Acolyte of Pain or Armorsmith?

I get that much of the appeal in Hearthstone is in the visual effects. It’s just fun to watch our cards interact with other elements on the board. It separates Hearthstone from other digital card games (or card games, period). However, in tournaments, we have to do everything we can to keep games going at a reasonable level. There’s certainly things I can do on my end as a TO to help speed things along and get everyone going more efficiently when an event is under way.

Besides, once a tournament enters a playoff stage, the turbo mode option can be unchecked and animations returned to their original speeds for spectator appeal.

Unique Deck IDs

This would solve deck submission list problems. I was talking to a friend the other day who participates frequently in online tournaments. Now, when you connect to a player and are in the deck selection screen, you cannot back out. If you do and and enter your collection, you’re liable for a forfeit loss. One of his opponent’s did that and he had to report him after they connected and he dropped out to his collection then reconnected again.

mws

Thankfully, this is a problem that was solved in other card clients like Apprentice and Magic Workstation. What they did was automatically generate a unique deck ID (or security code as illustrated). Maybe even mention that the deck type is standard or wild. There’s no way to re-engineer a deck list from the deck ID string. The deck ID would be visible to both opponents. It would be submitted ahead of time to tournament organizers for players to lock in their decks. If a player had a different ID than the one submitted, then it could be grounds for further investigation. But this way, it would help address the issues of players mistakenly dropping out of the connection screen.

Overtime

This one is a trickier thing to address. Should there be an overtime option added to the game? Or should every match be played out to it’s conclusion? I hate Control Warrior vs Reno Lock matchups or other similar type games because I know how long those games can stretch. I’d like to see 50 minute match times for best of 5s, but that wouldn’t really be fair. People could whip out Control Warrior or Control Priest as their third deck and play for a draw instead of for a win. In Magic, once time is called, there are five total turns left and if you can’t win before the final turn is up, the game is considered a draw. In a Swiss tournament, that’s okay because you can award the draw to both players but in an elimination round, that isn’t possible. I’d love to see time limits in place during a group stage and then lift them during playoffs.

Thankfully, the existing turn timers are in place to help mitigate and reduce slow playing. There are times where I don’t believe it’s enough.

Fireside Incentives

This is a tough issue to address. The biggest question that’s asked of me when I’m hosting events is always, “Why should I come out to a Fireside tournament if I know I’m going to get slaughtered by pros? I’d rather just stay home and play in my PJs.”

And that’s a fair criticism. There’s more that can be done on the event organizers and maybe even Blizzard. I know I’ve held my own share of Fireside events and had conversations with players about the very topic. Last year, when Firesides had just launched, Blizzard gave organizers redeemable codes that they could give to players for a free Hearthstone classic pack (with a limit up to 10 redeemed). Or if they hadn’t yet, players could come out and grab their Fireside card back just for participating in a couple of games with other players on a local network.

Ever since then, there’s been nothing. Their Fireside program’s been restructured and no codes have been given out in a while. The Fireside cardback’s been exhausted and most players probably have one by now (or at least, it’s still easy enough for them to obtain it).

In my case, I’ve held a few giveaways with some prizes from the Blizzard store like posters or plushies or other smaller stuff to random attendees that show up.

Aside from that, the biggest draws have been cash prizes from entry fees or potential HCT points (although that can’t be considered anymore because it seems HCT events need to be free for everyone to join which hurts the organizers because they can’t afford to cover venue fees — It’s not like I have my own game store I can host Firesides at, I have to work with venues and there’s a business aspect that needs to be covered, but that’s a rant all on it’s own).

So back to my original point. How can Blizzard increase Fireside participation?

When I used to play Magic at FNM’s, pre-releases, and other tournaments, you could always count on receiving some boosters or promo cards. With Hearthstone, it’s a little different. Since accounts are capped at 10 redeemable packs, there’s only a limited number of those that can be awarded.

What about rotating Fireside card backs? I’d be game for that. Have a new Fireside cardback that’s obtainable during certain Tavern Hero seasons. That gives collectors something they’d be interested in coming out to events for.

Ranked play offers gold cards depending on what rank you reach at the end of the month. I would’ve suggested that, but it might be too much of the same thing. Alternate art cards maybe? Or maybe a code for 1000 dust? Heroes of the Storm gives out skin codes and hero codes during tournaments. For Hearthstone, I don’t know, but it seems to be getting increasingly more difficult to encourage players to come out to Firesides these days.

I wish there was more I could do but there are only so many resources I have at my disposal here and want to keep promoting the game while hosting events. It’s tough.

The Post Warcraft Life

Have you seen this poll from my editor, Adam “His Holiness” Holisky? He was taking a quick pulse on some of the readers and followers of Blizzard Watch and wanted to know how many of them are still playing World of Warcraft. At the end of his study, he came to the conclusion that around 60% of those players have stopped playing.

I did have a few questions about this study.

How many hours constitutes “Barely playing” or “Somewhat”?

A sample size of 1300 isn’t anything to sneeze at but with a subscriber base of millions, is it truly representative? If this poll was held on MMO Champion or WoWHead, would the same approximate percentages hold up?

Anyway, I’m just giving him a hard time. I’m sure his scientific methods are sound and precise. If it weren’t for him, sunshines and rainbows would cease to exist.

Has he stopped reading yet? Okay, good. 

Reading the poll made me reflect on some of my motivations for leaving. I played the game straight on from Classic to Warlords with no significant break in between (and I classify significant as taking two or more weeks off from the game). In my case, there was always something to do. I threw my time and effort into the guilds I was a part of — Positions like healing officer, to recruiting, to GM, and I frequently filled in other roles until we found people to help out. 

There were moments where I truly enjoyed the game. Getting takedowns on Kil’Jaeden, the Lich King, and Yogg-Saron were some of my more memorable highlights. Helping my guild engineer Val’anyr, Shadowmourne, and Dragonwrath also helped feel like I was a part of something instead of this whole “Legendaries for everyone” philosophy that’s going on now. I ultimately agree with the change, but it’s lost that team work lustre now. 

Ultimately, I ran out of energy. In theory, I should have run out of energy years ago, but I was largely driven to not let my team down — This unit of goofballs made my life a pain in the ass sometimes, but they were still my goofballs even after I met them at BlizzCon. You take the player out of Conquest, but you can’t take the Conquest out of them. At the very least, I can say I helped facilitate introductions and friendships for people who otherwise never would have crossed paths to begin with. I hope they’re all doing fine now wherever they are. 

It’s not just Warcraft though, I’ve also taken a step back from playing Hearthstone. The upcoming format changes are much needed but I can’t be bothered to compete or even play for fun right now. It’s like I’ve lost the desire to engage in anything. The last Fireside Gathering I ran was a couple of weeks ago at one of the Universities. Something was different about it though. I wasn’t as excited or as invested in this one compared to previous ones. I’m not sure if it’s because of disappointment that I was unable to secure HCT points for the event or if I’m starting to not have fun anymore. I’m just biding my time until the Wild and Standard formats kick in before I start playing again. Wild or Standard? Not sure yet, but I’m leaning towards Standard.

Overwatch? Yeah, that was fun for a while but there’s only so much solo queue I can take. I imagine I’d play more once ranked matches enter the system. With a beta wipe somewhere on the horizon, I’m hesitant to play often because I’m worried I’ll unlock a cool skin that I really like only to lose it later. Happened to me in Hearthstone when I opened a gold card and it had to get wiped.

As for Legion, I don’t know. It is up in the air. If the game was close to releasing, my answer would’ve been a yes. But I’ve grown accustomed to this routine of not playing that I’m not sure if I want to get back into the universe again. I want to know more about the Val’kyr, the Legion, and the other storylines that are going on but what I don’t know is if I’m invested enough to get back into playing to find all that out. One things for certain, if I do make the call to go back, it won’t be in a leadership position. I’ll play the grizzled and grumpy veteran, but it’s time to call it a career on shot calling or anything management related. I’ve played some of the artifact quests though. I figured I should at least help test for usability. My litmus is that as someone who has never played a certain class or spec before, I should be able to unlock the the artifact with a reasonable degree of difficulty. In other words, I should be able to ace a Priest or Paladin quest, but I expect a wipe or two if I was playing a Warlock.

You know what it is? Maybe I just can’t seem to have fun playing anything alone anymore. I’ve been so used to having someone around to blast other players, take down dragons, and explore dungeons that I’ve completely forgotten how to solo anything. As a guy who players healers, can you blame me for that? Yeah, maybe a little. I should be more selfish and pick the dude with the badass guns instead of being a team player.

I’ve been engrossed playing Final Fantasy Record Keeper and recently picked up Pokemon Alpha Sapphire. I have like 8 years worth of Pokemon to catch up on it seems.

Also, for us fellow hockey fans, happy trade deadline day! I hope your team’s made moves to improve!

*glances sadly at the Canucks*