Putting The RP in MMORPG

Putting The RP in MMORPG

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So, recently I’ve been talking more and more about the story and lore of gaming. The games that create a rich background and intricate story for you to be a part of. As such I’ve been talking with a lot of RPers lately. I’ve been reading very interesting RP posts, and fan fiction stories, and have even begun writing my own for Lodur’s background. It can be a lot of fun to think about where your character has been and where they are going and how they might interact with their fellow raiders. This side of the game does appeal to me as I’m an old school D&D Role playing geek. It is however something I haven’t fully explored in game yet.

Blizzard has set aside entire servers for people to Role Play with each other, and no I’m not talking about the seedy dirty stuff, but honest interaction between players acting out their characters. There are a few different types of Role Playing you’ll come across in the game.

Spontaneous RP

This is a spontaneous act between two or more players who play out a short scenario on the spot. These players typically do not have background stories that cross paths and have a low likelihood of interacting again in a role-playing context. This is coming across someone randomly while questing or bump into in one of the major cities. These RP sessions can sometimes lead to further contact later on and might develop into character friendships later one.

Deliberate / Planned RP

Some role players will set aside specific times to be online to interact with others. This can be in a raid, a group that quests together as a party or simply a meeting in the local inn to throw back a pint or twelve. Many interesting interactions happen here. Friendships are made and lost, sometimes characters pair off in the way of couples, and sometimes they break up and throw bottles at each other. I have a group of friends I talk to on a regular basis that do set aside specific time to role play during the week, and I always enjoy hearing about what happened afterward.
Out of Game RP

Probably one of the more important things to mention here. Out of game RP happens in emails, forums and blog posts. This exists between spontaneous and deliberate RP events and honestly has no true end point. These can serve to flesh out backgrounds for your character, can help turn spontaneous RP encounters into full on character relationships and can really give some creative license to tell a very intricate story. I’ve seen posts that filled in the gaps of a raid, and some rather humorous explanations for why the group wiped on a particular boss fight. The forum posts I’ve run across or have been linked to are often the result of people working together in emails to get the story together before it’s posted. People have even created twitter accounts for their toons so they can RP with other characters through that media as well. The results are almost always a very very fun story to read. It’s like being an actor in a movie and really getting into your role, or playing out a scene in your favorite books. You get to be a part of a story of your making.

The community surrounding MMO’s has always interested me, it’s one of the most important reasons I got into MMOs in the first place. We make friends as we play the game (or enemies) and we get to share our triumphs and defeats. There’s something very gratifying about working with 24 friends and downing a big nasty boss. The community that has sprung up from the Role Playing elements of Warcraft is very strong as well. The people that RP have most definitely set up a community for themselves (and their characters) within the game. You can sit on twitter and see just how deep the interactions go. To them there is more to the game then the grinding of levels or the end game content. Now it’s not to say that all they do is interact in character, many times the OOC (Out Of Character) chat channels are hillarious with the Real Life interactions. It’s refreshing sometimes to take a step back and look at the other side of the fence.

Does this mean you’ll see posts here about role playing in game? Possibly, depends on how deep down the rabbit hole I go. (or how far @justanna from toomanyannas.com can drag me =P)

So, what about you? Have you tried RPing? Have you ever written a fan fiction about your character? Have you thought about it? What would your characters background be?

That’s it for now, I’ll have more for you later this week. Until then, Happy healing!

Sig

Image courtesy of madbrewlabs.com

Bubbles and Crits: Paladins from 3.0 to 3.2

This is a guest post by jeffo, a Paladin blogger from Looking For More.

Before there is Cataclysm there was a cataclysm – a massive overhaul to WoW that patch 3.0.2 brought to the game. From this Holy Paladin’s perspective, these changes were more than welcome and, once I got used to 40-yard judgments, a spell that would let me heal two(!) targets at once and a greatly streamlined judgment system, I was in good shape. The road to level 80 also brought us a shield and a new mechanism for regenerating a lot of mana over a short period of time. The revisions to all three Paladin trees made many Holy Paladins rethink where their non-Holy points should be invested.

Prior to 3.0.2 most Holydins would go into Protection tree, primarily with the aim of picking up Blessing of Kings. With Wrath out most Holy Paladins decided to dig instead into the Retribution tree, picking up talents that increased spell crit by 8%. Although Kings remained in the same location in the Protection tree, the shuffling of talents around it made this build pale in comparison to a Holy/Ret spec. The crit talents took advantage of one of our key talents, Illumination, and enabled Holydins to stack Intellect, load up on crit gear, and Holy Light-spam our way through Naxxramas into Ulduar. Even as we watched a shameful moment in paladin history (Arthas disbanding the Silver Hand and sending Uther home in disgrace in Old Stratholme), healing Paladins seemed to be entering into a Golden Age, topping meters and putting out prodigious amounts of healing while our fellow healers were running dry.

Storm clouds appeared on the horizon in May when Ghostcrawler dropped the first hint that Blizzard was looking at nerfing Illumination. This touched off a vigorous debate on Plusheal.com (as opposed to the O-Boards, where it spawned much QQ from Paladins, and much ‘lol, nerf pallies, QQ moar’ from everyone else) about what this would mean if the change went through, though many seemed to believe that it wouldn’t.

It did.

On June 18, the news was announced, and it was even worse than we had imagined: Not only did the mana return from Illumination get cut in half, one of our key talents, Divine Intellect, was also getting cut by 5% at max level. Combined with an across-the-board nerf to Replenishment, it appeared that Holy Paladins were getting nerfed ‘to the ground, baby’ (sorry, can’t resist borrowing that quote from our favorite crab). Anguish and anger ruled the day on the O-Boards. We were going to be crippled, we were going to be benched. Never mind the huge buff to Beacon of Light (and it is huge), never mind the Flash of Light over Time effect on Sacred Shielded targets: Rerolls were incoming, subscriptions were being canceled. The Golden Age of the Paladin was over.

Or was it?

April’s Patch 3.1 introduced some new wrinkles that may well have been designed to lure healers out of the Ret tree: Divinity and Divine Sacrifice. With the nerfs incoming in patch 3.2, a number of Paladins began eyeballing and experimenting with Holy/Protection as an alternative. Siha at Banana Shoulders predicted on July 21st that a Holy/Prot spec would become the favored spec while other Paladin deeper in Ulduar than I were looking at this spec as a way to mitigate some of the high raid-wide damage seen in fights like Mimiron. Sadly, despite the theorycrafting that was going on, few people who were actually IN the PTR were posting their experiences with any real numbers. Instead, we got a mix of ‘it’s not too bad’ and ‘it sucks, I’m re-rolling’, so we were left to wait, wonder and speculate. Much of the speculation focused on whether or not the sky would fall when the patch went live.

Patch Goes Live, Sky Does Not Fall!

Just before the patch hit I dropped my 1000 gold on dual-spec training and created…a second healing spec. I went with a 51/20/0 ‘Bubble spec’, figuring there was no getting around the nerfs and that I was going to have to get used to it. A funny thing happened to me: I’ve been using the bubble spec almost exclusively ever since. A one-minute Sacred Shield is nice, and Divine Sacrifice is a very strong talent (provided I don’t inadvertently kill myself with it). I do miss not seeing quite as many BIG, GREEN NUMBERS as I used to, but with raid buffs I’m still typically critting well over thirty percent of the time, and have hit 40+% on some fights.

But what about the mana? Prior to 3.2 in my Crit spec, I was getting around 40% of my total mana regeneration from Illumination; Replenishment was a distant second at ~30%. Both were getting cut drastically in the patch, and switching to a Bubble spec would make my crit drop by another 8% or so – would I be able to heal, or would I find myself starved for mana?

In short, my mana is fine! Despite the fact that in bubble spec Illumination now only makes up 15-17% mana return, and Replenishment returns now seem to fall in the 25% range, I have had virtually no issues with mana to date. Even on fights where I find myself having to bomb Holy Lights, I’m not the healer that calls ‘Out of mana’ over vent – that doesn’t happen for me unless something’s gone very, very wrong in our raid. How can this be? I believe it’s due to a combination of the following:

  1. High crit rate: Despite the loss of 8% crit through my respec and the 50% Illumination nerf, I’m still regaining plenty of mana through crits. Unbuffed I stand at 27% Holy crit; with full raid buffs, I’m still typically critting on 40% of my heals.
  2. Guardian, Sacrifice and Shield: With 2 points in Divine Guardian, Sacred Shield lasts one minute (as opposed to 30 seconds untalented), and absorbs 20% more damage per hit. Divine Sacrifice can eat up a pretty high amount of damage every two minutes. Fewer shield refreshes, more damage absorbed = mana savings.
  3. Play Style: Three big things in this category: First, I’ve become better about finding safe spots in fights to use Divine Plea; second, I’m getting back into the habit of using Divine Illumination whenever I can (I used to use it pretty much every cooldown, but got out of the habit since the expansion, simply because I didn’t need it); third, where I’ve traditionally done my healing from 40 yards away, I will now be found a little more often around the bosses’ feet. A single swing with Seal of Wisdom active can get you enough mana for your next Holy Light, depending on the size of your mana pool.

Based on my experience, Bubbledins seem to be faring pretty well so far: we can still put out very large numbers and our mana seems to hold up well over long, healing intensive fights. I think that it actually makes us a more well-rounded healer than we were heading into the patch. But what about the holdouts? The nerfs seemed to be aimed pretty squarely at Int-stacking, Crit-bombing, Holy retadins, and there’s still a lot of them out there. For my next act (Matt willing) I will take a look at some numbers and reports from my critting cousins. A bit more research is in order, and it may mean taking the Crit spec back out of the garage and into Ulduar again – should be fun!

Matt’s Secret Project Needs Help

Can’t disclose anymore at the moment, but I’ve decided to turn to public appeal as a last resort. Here’s the scoop. I’m working on something special but I’m not going to disclose what it is.

I’m looking for two players to talk to. They have to be willing to discuss their UIs. But there’s a few things that you should know.

a) I’m not looking for a Grid/mouseover healer. Yes it’s popular. Yes it’s effective. I already have someone who has discussed their UI with me that involves Grid and macros.

b) If you’re a raid healer who does not use the above combination to heal, look me up anyway. Your interface might be sufficiently different enough.

c) Do you heal in PvP? Either arena or battlegrounds will work. I’d like to have a chat.

d) 5 mans and heroics. If you heal 5 mans extensively, I’m also looking for you.

Use comments below to illustrate interest. Make sure you leave your E-Mail. Alternatively, you can email me directly (matttz@gmail.com and yes, that’s 3 Ts. I do have GChat and I’m on practically all the time).

Those of you that do know what I’m secretly up to, don’t publicize it any further.

Submissions closed! Thanks for your help everyone!

Discover How Priests Gain 7000 Mana in 1 Shot

Psssst! Want to hear a secret?

Did you know Priests can maintain a near limitless amount of mana?

It’s very possible. But it does abuse a certain in game mechanic. This post is just for educational purposes only. I’m not here to encourage you to knowingly abuse game mechanics. Wynthea has this deluded idea that Blizzard reads my blog. Personally, I’m a skeptic. If I see a hotfix or a patch update within the next several weeks that address this, I’ll believe it. But until then, I’m going to assume I fly well under their radar.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while. It wasn’t until I read this post on Plus Heal that the urge to get it out there resurfaced.

Anyway, this idea revolves around Rapture.

When your Power Word: Shield is completely absorbed or dispelled you are instantly energized with 2.5% of your total mana, and you have a 100% chance to energize your shielded target with 2% total mana, 8 rage, 16 energy or 32 runic power. This effect can only occur once every 12 sec.

After you shield someone and their shield wears off because it absorbs the damage or get dispelled, you gain back 2.5% of your total mana. Your target gains some form of energy back as well. But we’re not concerned with that aspect of Rapture.

Normally, for the tank healing Discipline Priest, it’ll only work once every 12 seconds just like the tool tip says.

However, for the raid healing Discipline Priest, something else occurs.

Let’s take a fight like Kologarn. Kologarn has the Shockwave ability where his arm completely manhandles the raid and does a fair amount of damage. A shield cast on a player will be fully exhausted after one sweep.

So what happens if you shield 10 players before Shockwave connects?

My Priest has around 33000 mana fully raid buffed (Note: Newer Priests, do not do what I do and stack copious amounts of Intellect. I do it to have a bit of fun with my Priest). Rapture will give me back 837.5 mana if one shield gets absorbed or dispelled. Seeing as the Rapture debuff is not in effect because the shields have not been consumed, it’s easy to conclude that you would gain a ton of mana back if your shields were simultaneously absorbed at the same time.

In other words, I would get 837.5 x 5 = 4200 mana back. Give or take. Shield 10 players, and I would get upwards of 8000 mana as the Rapture internal cooldown kicks in.

Anyways, that’s today’s public service announcement. Don’t go around spreading this secret now. We might get nerfed again after all!

Faction and Race Changing, Lodur’s Thoughts

Faction and Race Changing, Lodur’s Thoughts

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As I’m sure you know by now, one of the long awaited features has been implemented. Faction Change is here! I know a lot of people who were waiting for this for a long time. A few of my guildies had high level horde toons that they are swapping over to alliance and bringing into the guild. I also know a lot of people that I follow on Twitter have gone through the switch or are considering it as we speak. I also know a lot of people who have been dreading it, afraid that faction balances would be blown away or that guild ninja looting will skyrocket. Others are using it a point of recruitment. Trying to get their real life friends to swap factions and join their raid groups.

So I’m here to offer my opinion on this one, first though lets take a look at the facts.

Faction change is a one way change to the opposite faction

You can only choose a race that your current class is available to (example Horde Shaman hopping over to alliance will have to be a Draenei)

  1. Can only faction change one toon at a time
  2. Character has to be minimum level of 10
  3. PVP real restrictions do not apply
  4. Can faction change once every 60 days.
  5. Every time you want to faction change, you have to pony up the $30 bucks.

There’s several more, hit the FAQ page for all the details, these are just the “highlights” if you will.

Personally I like the idea of faction changing, I mean with the technology they are implementing it makes perfect sense. If I can change my gender why not my faction? It’s all just shifting pixels and databases around. I think people who fear it are unfounded. Honestly the argument of “what is going to prevent them from joining my guild, looting the bank and then faction changing?” is kinda moot. People have been doing that for a long time before faction changing, you can always hot foot it over to wow.com and their guild watch articles to see that for certain. If people are going to do it, they are going to do it, regardless of faction change. I look at the faction change as a chance for people to start fresh, but also as a chance for people to bring favored toons with them to play with their friends. I have a good friend who plays horde side, we’ve been talking about the faction change for a while and I would love to have him come over to alliance on my server so we can both enjoy the game.

Now for the real meat of this article, race change. People have been asking for this since Burning Crusade. The ability to change your race, but keep your class and faction. With the announcement of the new class race combination, there was renewed interest (there was a pretty big roar when Gnome Priest was confirmed). Me personally, I want to make my blueberry a Dwarf Shaman when Cataclysm comes out (or 4.0 if they do it then). I made my toon a female back when it was first offered because I kept getting stuck under the platform for The Lurker Below, and well… I got tired of it. Enter sex change and no more getting stuck on terrain. Being a Dwarf though would fit me more, and would fit my naming scheme better. Basically I’d be a happier Shaman. My interest in this sparked a conversation with the officers of my guild. Swapping your character race could have an impact on your raid. I’ll use myself as an example here.

Draenei currently have a few racials that are beneficial to a raid. First on the list is Heroic Presence. This racial grants all players in the group with the Draenei a 1% hit bonus. This might not seem like a lot but when you are hovering around the hit cap, that 1% can make all the difference in the world. Second on the list is Gift of the Naaru. This is a free Heal over Time that all Draenei get. The amount healed increased with attack power or spell power values. On fights like Vezaxx where watching your mana consumption is critical, this spell can help save the day. It costs no mana, has a 3 minute cooldown. So, if I race change to a Dwarf, my raid loses 1% hit for one group and a free heal. That 1% hit can be a bit of a bitch to lose, but in my opinion a raid shouldn’t be dependant on it. If I’m not on for a raid the raid doesn’t have that 1% hit anyways. So why gear expecting it? Yes it makes things easier on that one group, but still. I think this holds true for all the races. I don’t feel the vast majority of the racials are make or break for a raid, and with the potential revamp of racials coming (confirmed by the devs at blizzcon) there may be other more beneficial racials available soon.

In the end I don’t think either will have such a large impact on the game as a whole, I do however think that it will have a huge impact on individual player experience. It’s kind of like work, a happy employee is a productive employee. I don’t really think it should matter if a player wants to play a different race or swap factions as long as they are happy.

What do you think? Are you pro or con faction change? Pro or con race change? Do you think it will be largely game impacting? What are your concerns or the something you look forward too the most? Any racials you think a raid relies on?

That’s all I have for today. Until next time, Happy healing

Sig

Image courtesy of Marvel.com

Your Opinion: Is Raiding Too Easy? Or Just Accessible?

Here’s a post that an officer of mine wrote on my guild forums. I wanted to share it with the rest of you to generate some discussion as we head into the long weekend. Check it out! Do you agree? Why or why not?

If you partake of the wow forums you will notice a large number of QQ threads lately that divulged from the nerf wars that usually take place.

ToC is too easy!

That is a huge complaint from a very small minority!

Now its not that I disagree with the statement but I disagree with the reasoning. It is my belief, and I think it is very very true, that the main reasoning people complain about the level of difficulty of ToC stems from the following basis.

People love to lord over other people.

It is that above statement which drives a majority of people that do raid. That statement is slowly being crushed by Blizzard’s belief that all of its subscribers should have the opportunity to do content.

Now if you do not quite understand what I mean by that I will explain it out fully. In Vanilla WoW on my old server, my guild was the only guild to be able to fully clear BWL, AQ40 and most of Naxx. We had roughly 40 or so people in the best gear. Every other guild that raided struggled with Molten Core and could barely kill a few bosses in BWL.

The ego that goes along with that level of success was amplified greatly. Believe me I had every hunter on the server drooling over my gear and asking me all sorts of questions. In BGs, it was common for me to rack up 120 killing blows and 0 deaths. I could one shot people and to be perfectly honest, it felt very good.

Blizzard realized soon after the release off Naxx 40 that they had indeed made a mistake. They released the best raid they ever built and no one saw it. Only a handful of the total population ever stepped foot into Naxx. They then decided they needed to change the game and they did just that.

We are now in the world of easy epics and 10 mans. It is relatively easy to see most of the bosses in game and actually kill them. Epic gear is widely available and if you only play a few hours a week you can conceivable have a raid ready character in a month. The casual players rejoiced.

But those few hardcore people did not.

They were no longer lords and masters of there respective servers. Thus their ego shattered and the crying began in full force.

I don’t know what kind of person can define themselves by this game. I define my hobbies as something I enjoy doing. I enjoy the game and I enjoy the camaraderie of the people I play with. It’s much the same with any of my hobbies be that golf or hockey. I don’t define my existence around it though. I don’t sit around work and brag about killing C’thun in Vanilla wow or being 6 of 6 Sunwell pre nerf. But I think many of these people who do have this perception about themselves where this game defines the type of person they are.

I find that very odd and disturbing but it in it self is nothing more that human nature.

The guy who buys a Corvette because his neighbor bought a Mustang would be that person. He defines himself on what he has as compared to others around him and that very concept drives many WoW players.

It’s a strange world we live in.

What Cataclysm is Doing Right

What Cataclysm is Doing Right

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There is much to do about this upcoming expansion pack, more so then Burning Crusade and I dare say more then Wrath of The Lich King. I say this because of the buzz around the net as well as just what I hear walking around my home town. People are excited, hell I know I am. But I think people are more excited about this expansion then the other two. I’d like to talk about why we might feel this way about Cataclysm.

In Burning Crusade we were excited, don’t get me wrong. We had just bested the Black Dragonflight, saved the world of Azeroth from the terrors of an awakening Old God and his minions and layed the Smack down on a mighty Lich and his floating fortress of evil. We were eager to go and take on the the next threat to our home and take the fight right to it’s doorstep! We dove into Karazhan and drove out the taint infesting it, we took on Magtheridon and cut the head from between his shoulders. We beat the naga champion into pulp and took the fight to Kael’thas and his generals, all leading up to taking down the of the betrayer and then saving the all Azeroth yet again, this time from the evils of a freshly summoned Kil’jaden.

Then Wrath of The Lich King was announced. We would be returning to Azeroth full time, albeit the frozen northlands. We stepped foot into Borean Tundra or the Howling Fjord and were treated with lush, full environments to play with. From the very beginning we were taunted by the Lich King. Every step of the way he was there, messing with us, trying to break our minds and bring us into his influence. When he failed to do so he sent his agents to kill us. We cleared the Grizzly Hills and Fought back the corruption in Dragon Blight, we stomped on the trolls pledged to the lich king in Zul’drak and freed the animal spirits from their chains, We took on the Vyrkul in their homes among the storm peaks while making friends with the Sons of Hodir. We broke into the home of the titans and cleansed the corruption from it’s halls and saved the world yet again from an awakening god. We proved our worth at the foot of the Lich Kings citadel and now await the doors to be breached so we can take on the blight of our lands head first.

Burning Crusade:

Burning Crusade did a couple things right, and a couple things very wrong. It was a good time because it was new content. We got to go play in Karazhan which thrilled most people because it had been sitting there for so long. We got our first glimpse and some interaction with major lore characters. Shamans and paladins got to swap sides and new races were introduced (although I still think blood elves won out compared to us blueberries), and we got one hell of a troll instance (I loved Zul’aman). They also introduced arena style pvp with various formatting for smaller more intimate pvp battles. It even allowed you to battle against your own faction! The visuals of the landscape were wild and colorful and they let us fly around on the backs of our own personal griffins. We even got to go back in time and participate in some amazing key events in Azeroth history ( I still hate you so so much Archimonde!)

But for what they did right there were a few things they did wrong. The terrain didn’t blend very well between zones. Good example would be going from Zangarmarsh to Nagrand, the contrast was incredibly violent. This theme persisted through most of the between zone areas, with the exception truly being between Netherstorm and Blades Edge Mountains. Our major antagonist was Illidan Stormrage. He was supposed to be the architect of all the going ons in outland, and yet we saw or heard very very little from the emo elf. When we finally killed him atop Black Temple, I couldn’t help but feel it was a bit hollow. Also at some point focus seemed to shift from Illidan to Kael’thas a little bit. He was arguably the harder fight of the two, he taunted us more then Illidan did, and then tried to summon a being capable of culling all of Azeroth. Blood Elves flowed pretty well into the horde lineup, but Draenei seemed out of place even with the alliance. I asked around for some thoughts on favorite and least favorite things from burning crusade and here’s what I got in reply:

Favs:

Shattered Halls

Heroic Magisters Terrace

Lore and Burning Legion theme

Flying!

Space Goats!

Caverns of time!

Least Fav:

Heroic Rep Grind

The SSC lift (I hated that damn thing too, might be worse then door boss)

Arena

All of Hellfire Peninsula

Auchenai Crypts (hated that damn bridge)

Wrath of The Lich King:

Wrath has done a lot of things right. First thing off the bat is the interaction between Arthas and the PC’s. From our first steps onto the shores of northrend the Lich King has been there to taunt us. So much so that when I finally drive a mace through his face atop Icecrown I know I’ll dance a jig, and I think many of you will too. We are driven to want to kill him. In this they learned from their mistakes in BC and did great. The zones looked amazing and the flow between them was incredibly well done. It was very natural flow from say Borean Tundra to Dragon Blight. The quests are immersive and the entire expansion is dripping with lore tidbits, questing gives you story and feels much less of a hodge podge grind. Wrath gate event in the game is amazing, even on the 6th time seeing it.  The instances are incredibly well designed and they brought back one of the most awesome but least experienced instance of vanilla WoW back for everyone to enjoy (Looking at you here Naxxramas!) The daily quests seem less of a grind, and they got rid of attunements for raids and heroics which allows players to experience the content without the soul sucking rep grind. A hero class was introduced for the first time! New Technology was introduced in they way of phasing which was showcased in the Death Knight starting zone but is present throughout the world. It also introduced 10 man raids. Which again allowed further access to content among smaller guilds. Along with these came hard mode encounters and refined vehicle combat. To me this found it’s ultimate purchase in Ulduar, which is a beautiful and wonderfully designed raid zone, and almost ties for first place with me for favorite raid zone (BWL still number 1 in my book) Wrath has done so many things very very right, and very few things wrong. I got some replies to my question earlier to wrath too. here they are.

Favs:

No more attunements or rep for heroics!

Ulduar Hard Modes

Ulduar!

New Pets!

Storyline and Quest integration

Phasing

Least fav:

Sons of Hodir rep grind (pre relic turn in)

Arena

Door boss! (he hates me too =/ )

Quite a difference in lists. Note how short the list of dislikes is. If I missed anything above forgive me, it wasn’t intended to be all inclusive, just sort of a highlight reel.

Lets move on to the upcoming expansion,

Cataclysm

In almost every fantasy novel I’ve ever read, there is a love for home, or a quest to protect home or even the dream of returning home after the adventure is completed. You can see this trend in the Lord of The Rings trilogy, Count of Monte Cristo and various other stories. I point this out because it’s a common theme. This is one of the things Cataclysm is doing right and doing it up front before the game is even released. We are returning home after fighting a grueling war that has taken it’s toll many times over only to find our home ransacked, disheveled and forever changed. Places so familiar to us are being left scarred and broken and lets be honest it gets us riled up. Blizzard is doing something most people never thought they would, in essence they are destroying azeroth, and reshaping it. It is definitely having the desired effect, I could hear it when the game was officially announced at Blizzconm I could hear the whispers around the room and look at all the smiling faces and heads nodding.

We have major lore figures being thrown at us right away, Deathwing not even close to least among them. We see the return of those we thought we had defeated such as Ragnaros coming to burn the world tree in Hyjal and Nefarian back to help his father’s plans along. I also suspect we’ll see Lady Aszhara before too long.

We get to explore areas that have always been enigmas to us such as Uldum (pronounced “Ul-doom” in case  you missed the panel and matt’s report on it) and what lay behind those doors where all those dragonkin came to murder us in Nefarian’s throne room back in the day. We get to travel beneath the Maelstrom and we are promised we’ll be able to fly in the old world now (we get to visit Iron Forges airstrip and the dancing troll village if they are still there!). The gates of the Greymane wall come open and we get to see Gilneas for the first time! I remember sitting in front of the door on my Night Elf hunter when it had the elite furbolg in front of it wondering when I’d get to go play in Gilneas. At this point the tidbits they are releasing feel even more epic then Wrath did. We are fighting to defend our world against a force that was entrusted with it’s safe keeping by the titans themselves. A being so powerful that the earth trembles and ripples with his very power. We are waiting on the edge of our seat to see who lives and who dies in the coming events. As old enemies resurface, alliances are made and the very ground we walk upon is shattered.

In short this expansion is doing what a good novel would do, bringing you back home. In this case though it’s bringing you back home to a place that isn’t the place you remember. By tossing us into this world wide upheaval they are pushing us further into the story. Everyone from RPers to Raiders should be happy with the content that is going to be provided to us. Lore junkies will be turned on their ear and will be foaming at the mouth for more ( I know I already am!). This expansion is setting up with an epic feel to it. Even look at lowering the leveling from another 10 levels to only 5, the emphasis shifts more on content then just leveling. In my opinion that is what they are doing right. They are giving it a feeling of epic grandeur that started with Wrath and seems to have only gotten better over time. I may sound like a fan boy, but as a person who has been reading and writing fantasy stories for a very long time, I’m starting to feel like I’m playing through the events of a book rather than just a game, and that makes me happy and excited to see what’s in store.

So what do you think? What was the best and worst of Burning Crusade? What was the best and worst of Wrath? How do you feel about cataclysm so far? Excited, sad, angry? What are you looking forward to the most?

Until next time,

Sig

Image courtesy of memory-alpha.org

What Aldo Raine Can Teach You About Raid Leading

aldo-raine

What on earth could you learn about killer raiding and leadership from a ridiculously accented, revenge-based officer coming out of Maynardville, Tennessee? Answer: Quite a bit! If you haven’t watched Inglourious Basterds yet, I’d strongly recommend watching the movie.

The Lieutenant puts together a team of eight soldiers to go behind enemy lines and do nothing but kill German Nazis. Aspiring raid leaders would do well to pay keen attention to Aldo the Apache’s style.

What exactly does he do?

Ability to identify talent

Aldo has a keen eye when it comes to evaluating people with certain skills. When he hears of someone who’s in a tough jam that helps fulfill a need, Aldo will go out of his way to extend an invitation.

As leaders, always keep your eyes and ears open for players out there who may augment your guild in some fashion. If your guild is raiding, never turn down talent right away. Take a look at them and see if that player provides something that your guild could use.

Be direct

Don’t beat around the bush. It’s okay to pick words wisely. There’s better ways to tell someone that they need to improve other than they suck. But you have to be prepared to get straight to the point and not play passive-aggressive. Tell your players exactly what went wrong or where they messed up. After every wipe, I look through Recount and Obituary to find out the events that lead to our wipe and I’ll explain to everyone what happened. This way, we’re all on the same page for the next attempt and we can minimize the chance of that happening again.

Common sense

Sometimes it’s common for leaders to overthink the scenario. All you really need is some basic common sense. As Aldo says, “You don’t got to be Stonewall Jackson to know you don’t want to fight in a basement.” When it comes to strategy and tactics, examine the room you’re in. Take stock of the boss abilities and the players you have.

In the Faction Champions encounter, your raid doesn’t have much room for error. It’s different every time and it’s going to rely a lot on players. Leaders need to make the right call at the right time in terms of what’s the next target and who to lock down.

Push players hard

Either your raiders are going to sink or they will swim. Push and stress them to their limits. Now that summer is just about over, we’ve all but abandoned Ulduar and are setting the guild crosshairs on both Trial of the Grand Crusader hard modes for 10 and 25 man. We’re taking a “Survival of the Fittest” mentality when it comes to selecting personnel. Syd and the rest of the officer corps did an excellent job while I was away to recruit some extra players and now it’s their chance to show why they should remain. This means continuing the grind of raiding.

As Aldo says, “You know how to get to Carnegie Hall, don’tcha? Practice.”

Set expectations

On the first day Aldo meets his recruits, he makes his expectations and intentions absolutely clear. Leaders set the bar that everyone needs to reach. For raiders, lay down a rough DPS benchmark that they should be able to hit on test dummies or on certain bosses (Patchwerk or Ignis). It’s difficult to set benchmark for healers but I try to look at their potential healing throughput (like 2000+ healing per second on some fights, or their assignments get rotated to see if they can cope).

Right from the get go, every man under Aldo’s command owes him one hundred Nazi scalps.

… And he wants his scalps.

Crusader’s Coliseum: Heroic Hard Mode Details (Updated 10:30 AM)

Updated with more details, 10:30 AM.

These details come as a courtesy of my officer, KimboSlice and is obtained from the TankSpot forums (which is reposted on MMO Champion). Figured I’d share it (summarized) with everyone who is waiting for maintenance to expire (and who don’t actively check MMO Champion or Tankspot).

Northrend Beasts Encounter

Gormok the Impaler

  • Impale does 150% weapon damage instead of 100%.
  • DoT ticks for 80% more damage and lasts 5 seconds longer. Tanks must switch at 2 stacks.
  • Yes, you will need 3 tanks to handle the DoT rotation. All 3 will need heals.
  • Each Snobold that is out there increases his damage by 15%.
  • The direct damage from Impale will hit for ~35000.
  • Stomp on melee from 9k to 12k

Acidmaw and Dreadscale

  • Imperative for players to spread out.
  • Acid hits for 5000 every 2 seconds.
  • Burning bile is 9000 damage every 2 seconds to players within 10 yards.
  • It is expected that if one enrages, it will be a wipe. Therefore, both snakes may have to be taken down together. Not sure of this, but keep it in mind.
  • Whatever happened to that third snake?

Icehowl

  • Arctic breath does 30000 damage over 5 seconds. I suggest assigning healers to the left or right of Icehowl to help reduce increase survivability.
  • Random whirlwind on melee from 10k to 14k

Lord Jaraxxus

  • Touch of Jaraxxus inflicts ~4000 damage over 12 seconds which causes players to be affected by Curse of the Nether (AoE dot). Possible decurse?
  • Mistress’ Kiss: Next spell with a cast time gets that school interrupted for 8 seconds and causes 8000+ damage.
  • Incinerate Flesh needs 85000 healing instead of 60000 to remove it.
  • Burning Inferno (Incinerate Flesh after it’s not removed) ticks for 8000 damage a second for 5 seconds (Yeah, that’s a wipe)
  • Pain Spike from the Mistress does 100% of a target’s health over time
  • Legion Flame now ticks for 12000
  • Fel Lightning from 10k to 12k

Faction Champions

  • Spells and abilities are more potent.
  • Shaman LHW from 20k to 60k
  • Paladin Holy Light from 50k to 80k
  • Warlock Corruptionf rom 18k to 24k
  • Expect the trend to continue with the other class abilities.

Val’kyr Twins

  • Touch of Light (or Dark): Inflicts 4000 damage to players of the opposite essence every second. For example, Touch of Light will do ~4000+ damage to players under the effect of dark Essence every second. Light touched players will not take any damage.
  • Surge of Light (or Dark): Inflicts 1500 damage every 2 seconds to enemies of the opposite essence. For example, Surge of Light deals 1500 damage every 2 seconds to Dark essence
  • Shield health increased from 700k to 1.2 million (Ouch)
  • Power of the Twins: +20% damage and hit, 10% attack speed if Twins are too close.
  • Unleashed Light/Dark orb hits increased from 9000 to 15000.

Anub’arak

  • Leeching swarm ticks for 20% health instead of 10%
  • Extra add: Nerubian Ice Darter (No other details)

There might be some more surprises tonight as we head into the Coliseum. If there’s anything else you or your raid group notices, I encourage you to post comments to reflect that. As I experience the encounters myself, I’ll do a follow up post later on with more healing specific tips on getting through them.

Good luck and good hunting!

Cataclysm Gear Economy

Cataclysm Gear Economy

Well, I’m confident all of you have heard by now how stats are being changed around come cataclysm but in case you missed it

Itemization
In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, there are plans to streamline the statistics found on items. We want to remove all unnecessary stats, make all existing stats understandable, and make all “core” stats more appealing. Here are some examples of such plans.

•MP5: This will be removed from items and replaced with Spirit. All healers will be given a meditation-like ability.
•Spell Power: Spell Power is being removed from items as well. Don’t panic, we’ll be improving Intellect so that it provides mana and Spell Power.
•Attack Power: We’re removing Attack Power from items as well. Instead, we’re allowing Agility to provide the necessary Attack Power for leather and mail wearers. Strength will provide the appropriate amount of Attack Power for plate wearers. This means leather and mail items will no longer be desirable for plate wearers.
•Defense: The Defense statistic is also being removed from items so that players no longer have to worry about juggling around “the cap.” Tanks will receive the necessary anti-crit from talents, like Survival of the Fittest.
•Armor Penetration: This ability is too confusing and “mathy.” It is being replaced with Mastery, a stat that makes you better at what you do. More on that later!
•Haste: Will also increase the rate at which you gain energy, runes, and focus. Retribution paladins and Enhancement shaman will have a talent that allows them to take advantage of this benefit.
•Block: Block Value is being removed. Blocking will now always mitigate a percentage of damage.
•Stamina: Players will notice more Stamina on gear as Defense, Spell Power, Attack Power and Armor Penetration are removed.

Lots of changes here, but let us focus on the ones that affect us the most. First on the docket is MP5.

MP5 Is currently one of the prime stats for Restoration Shamans, so this change frightens me a bit I’ll be honest. There is just something dirty about the possibility of Mail caster gear having spirit *shudder*. That’s neither here nor there however. This will be the first time that Restoration Shamans will be stacking something for mana regen OTHER then pure mp5. We’ll be getting something like Mediation for all classes. it’s uncertain at this time whether this will show up as a new talent , or if it might show up in the new mastery system that has been talked about (more on that later). The stat will still be present on the character sheet, but will no longer be seen on gear.

Spell Power is also one of those prime stats for us. Expanding INT to be the root of spell power is interesting, but it does make a certain amount of sense. It does offer a boost in spell power right now as well as in crit and it does affect your mana pool size.  Right now we stack it to take full advantage of Replenishment effects. Seeing spell power removed from gear though is going to be interesting in and of itself. A lot of on the fly gear choices can be boiled down to how much more SP it gives you over your current piece (assuming similar stats in other regards). I’m certain that they will add an item to the tooltip noting how much SP an item is worth similar to how Druids see Feral Attack Power listed on items when everyone else doesn’t.

Haste will continue to affect us casters as it does now. Blizzard is happy with how haste worked out for us so you wont see much if any changes there.

Defense and Block, now I’m sure you’re asking yourself “how does this affect us, we are healers?” well I can assure you it does. Changing Defense to no longer be a geared stat is huge, and in my opinion a very welcomed change. I can tell you that there have been several times I’ve pugged a group and found the tank not defense capped, or defense capped but having rather dismal health pool. This change will help alleviate that. By letting tanks get their crit immunity through talents, it leaves them free to gear up stamina. This will also give some added mitigation from block which as it stands is convoluted and a stat that, to my understanding, is largely ignored by tanks.  After talking with my guilds main tank and guild leader, most tanks gear for effective health. As a healer I appreciate this, letting more tanks do this without worrying about losing a few points in defense is a HUGE boon to not just raids, but pugs and heroics as well.

Stamina for everyone! This is good for us as healers, I remember having to have stamina sets for certain fights just to be able to live through certain effects. Those days should be long gone. Effective raid health should go up and through the roof and our jobs as healers should get just a little bit easier. I look forward to not seeing mages and other clothies getting one shotted by some trash mobs *cough* The Descent into Madness *cough*

My concerns though, are for how gear will be distributed. Currently if a piece of Leather Spellpower gear drops, there is not really any question who it goes to. But if we are gearing up for all the same stats, how much blurring of lines will there be? I remember a time when I saw Paladins running around in cloth because it had better stats for healing. I don’t know if we can rely on things like haste and crit to separate that either, as now most of the healing classes tend to stack both (yes some more then others). I’ll be interested to see how this plays out. I eagerly await the changes if nothing else just to see how my gear is going to look before I put it on and look at my stat sheet.
So, what do you think? Excited about the changes? Hate them? Concerns or ideas?

That’s it for today. Until next time, Happy Healing!

Sig