Valor cap the new softlock? Lodur’s opinion

Yesterday we got news that the valor cap is being lowered from1,250 valor points to 980. This may seem like an insignificant change by itself, but it comes among a series of others as well.

  • The maximum number of Valor Points awarded for completing Rise of the Zandalari dungeons remains at 980.
  • The maximum number of Valor Points awarded for completing Heroic dungeons remains at 490.
  • The number of Valor Points awarded for killing a boss in the Firelands is 70 in 10-player mode, and 90 in 25-player mode.
  • The number of Valor Points awarded for killing Occu’thar in Baradin Hold is 35 in 10-player mode, and 45 in 25-player mode.
  • The number of Valor Points awarded for killing a boss on Heroic difficulty in The Bastion of Twilight, Blackwing Descent, and Throne of the Four winds is 35 in 10-player mode, and 45 in 25-player mode.

Raiders completing a full tier 12 raid clear will obtain 630 valor points from raiding 25’s and 490 points for 10’s. If they go back and raid heroic levels in the previous tier, they can gain another 585 (25’s) or 455 (10’s) points. Players running their heroic ZA/ZG will be able to cap out on valor points without having to set foot in a raid. So this raised a few questions, and quite a few opinions. I know I had a good run at it on my twitter account yesterday. So what can we take away from this?

The change really levels the playing field for obtaining raid quality gear and Tier 12 items. Whether you’re in a raid or just able to run heroics, everyone will be doing so at roughly the same pace. This can be good for those players attempting to play catch-up in terms of gear so that they too can raid. I understand that point, but I see a couple potential problems with this.

By lowering the amount of valor points in the previous tier, they are attempting to stem the flow of free valor points. I get that, but it partially removes the incentive for doing the tier after the new one comes out. Now I’m not saying this because I want to farm valor points, but it presents a problem. The raid lockout was recently changed with Cataclysm so that 10 and 25 man raids share the same lockout. As a result, for raiding guilds looking to trial out members it means they either have to take them on content that isn’t progression. This takes away from progression raiding time and can actually hinder a guild’s progression. Previously you could take the person into a 10 man raid and see how they did without disrupting your larger raid group’s progression. I personally was looking forward to having a testing ground in the previous tier of content to run recruits through and see how they do, but with the reduction in points I think it’s going to be quite hard to entice people to go back to the previous content. Also, I don’t know about you, but my guild doesn’t have many plans on keeping the previous content in the rotation when there’s new content to progress through, unless we’re going back for a Sinestra kill.

The idea of not being able to cap out from the current raiding tier bothers me. It means I’ll be forced to do heroics to reach the cap, or try to do so from some other method. I don’t like the idea of being forced to do something else, especially when I spend so much time a week already raiding. Sure it’s great for the non raiders who only run heroic dungeons, but I can’t help but feel it’s a slap in the face for raiders. essentially it’s forcing us to spend more time in game doing content we’ve been running since shortly after the game was released. With only 7 bosses in this tier (+1 for Baradin Hold) we’re falling short of our valor cap by 350 points if we full clear. We can assume we won’t be killing Ragnaros on day one of Firelands, so ultimately it means we’re going to spend even more time grinding in game on top of raiding.

It just smacks of an attempt to keep us in the game longer for the ever elusive gear chase. Right now, the new cap puts you at roughly about three weeks to obtain a piece of tier / vendor gear. That’s if you hit the cap every week. So if you’re raiding 15 hours a week, and you’re still learning the fights and aren’t clearing the whole new tier, you’re still forced to do several hours of either other tier raiding AND heroics, or just heroics. This is a significant time investment, and considering it’s content that a lot of us have already done to death, it has the potential to significantly increase burnout. I know a lot of people personally that have seen this and have already decided to stop raiding as a result. It also comes at a time where summertime burnout is creeping in, and this change doesn’t help matters any. Part of it is the fault of only having 7 new bosses in the game, part of it is just the gear grind in general.

It also, in part, seems like a soft gate. Keeping players under-geared longer means it will take longer to get through the content. With only 7 bosses in the tier, I can understand that to a point, but then it puts us in a position similar to what we were in when ICC was out, stagnant. It’s going to be doubly annoying if you hit a DPS wall that only new gear can fix, but you’re weeks away from that relief coming. How about a boss that is a hard healing check, that healers just simply are behind stat-wise through no fault of their own, to heal through. It will take longer to gather the gear to push through the bosses to down the content. While that is partially true of every tier, the limited number of bosses in this tier combined with the new cap in points makes this take that much longer.

It will be interesting to see how things pan out as this eventually rolls to live, and how players will react to it. Me personally, it just means I’ll be spending more time grinding points on my shaman so I can keep up with the raiding content, and a whole lot less time enjoying myself on my alts, if only because there are only so many hours in a day and I can only spend so much of them at my computer desk.
What do you think about this change? do you love it or hate it? How will it affect your time in game?


WoW Premium services: Yes/no/murloc?

Over the course of a game’s lifetime, things change. Features are added, pricing models change, content evolves. Blizzard’s fantasy epic World of Warcraft is no different. The game has been around for over six years at this point, and in that time we’ve seen many things change.

Remember when the game was first released? There were PvE server and PvP servers. On PvE servers you could have toons of both factions no problem, but on PvP servers it simply wasn’t allowed. Over time that changed, and Blizzard allowed you to make toons of both factions on a PvP server. There was also a time when Blizzard said you wouldn’t be able to pay to transfer your toon to another server, that it was only for server stability / population control. Not too long after the service became available for a small fee, the birth of the WoW premium service. From there we’ve gotten to recustomize our characters look, the ability to race change or change factions and all for a small one time fee. Every time this has happened, people have drawn a line in the sand. Either they love it, or they love to hate it.

Recently we’ve seen more in the way of Micro-transactions and premium services being added into the game. In game mounts like the Sparkle-Pony or the Winged Lion coupled with numerous in-game mini pets are available for purchase with real money. Pets will run you $10, mounts will run you $25. When they are purchased they are made available for all of your characters that currently exist, and any that you will create from this point on. Permanently attaching the items to your Battle.net account. There are also other premium features, such as the remote auction house. For an additional $3 a month, you can set up and purchase auctions from your enabled mobile device, and as an added bonus you can talk to your guild mates using the application as well.

The most recent announcement was that the developers at Blizzard are working on a Cross-Realm Dungeon Feature. In case you missed it, or are reading this post from somewhere not Blizzard-site friendly here’s the blue post

With the continued popularity of the Dungeon Finder, many players have been asking for a way to group up with real-life friends who play on other realms to take on instances together. Today, we wanted to give you a heads up about a new feature currently in development that will allow players to invite Real ID friends ( http://us.battle.net/en/realid/ ) of the same faction to a party regardless of the realm they play on, and then queue up for a 5-player regular or Heroic dungeon.

As this is a fairly complex service to develop, we don’t have a release date to share quite yet. It’s important to note that as with some of the other convenience- and connectivity-oriented features we offer, certain elements of the cross-realm Real ID party system will be premium-based, though only the player sending the invitations will need to have access to the premium service. We’ll have more details to share with you as development progresses — in the meantime, you may begin to see elements of the feature appear on the World of Warcraft PTR.

So there it is, for a small fee, you will be able to invite your friends across servers into a group for 5-man dungeon running. This actually caused almost as much a stir as Real ID did when it was first announced. People either love, or hate the idea of having to pay to play with friends across different servers. Ignoring everything else, premium services or these additional cookies are luxuries. They don’t break the game, or give someone an unfair advantage. They are options, and love them or hate them they are very much real.

My personal opinion on this particular premium service is that I like it. I like the idea of being able to play my alts with friends from other servers for dungeon running. I recently moved servers and left a lot of my friends behind. I’m exactly the demographic that this premium service is aimed at. Is it for everyone? No, not even close. For some people though, they’ll gladly pay the extra cash for it.

Do premium services ruin the game? Are they a betrayal of the customer / supplier relationship we have with Blizzard Entertainment? I don’t think it does. These are all optional and don’t really have an impact on the overall game-play, they are just nice cookies for us to enjoy if we feel the price is right. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to pay for it. If it suits your needs, you can indulge in it. Our $15 a month has brought us many improvements over the years. New servers, higher population caps, improved development in characters, raids and the UI. The ability to talk with friends across servers anytime I want. I don’t think our free upgrades are done by a long shot, and if Blizzard wants to charge for additional services, that is their choice. While I can understand both sides of the coin, at the end of the day I see it as you’re paying your monthly fee to play the game, all the other stuff are just extra. The things they develop as premium services aren’t for every audience, so developing them for smaller groups, sure there may be a cost attached. I mean hey, just because you aren’t paying for mobile armory every month doesn’t mean you’re going to miss the chance to punch Deathwing in the face.

What do you think?

The Druid

This is a guest post from WoW Comedian Wistoovern, the same mind that brought us the Automated Healing Line and WoW, What If…! So you’ve bested the agents of Deathwing, and you eagerly await your turn to destroy the citadel of fire, but what do you do in the meantime? Well, you write poetry about WoW of course! This piece came across my desk and I couldn’t help but share it with you. It reminds me of my own WoW inspired poetry for Sentry Totem, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Once upon a server, seething while I wandered, PvPing
Searching for the Horde that ganked me the hour before
While I searched for rogues attacking, soon enough I heard a sapping
Sapping of a fellow Alliance, a night elf herbivore.
“Surely this is the sign of the scoundel that killed me before.
Time to pwn him to the floor.”

Yes, assuredly I could tell that this occurred during Winter Veil
and near the Darkmoon Faire as well not far from Stormwind (Coords 30,84)
The rascal was a doomed Undead, with eyes that summoned utter dread
But had no jaw within his head, this beast I do deplore.
His hair was stiff and bones did show down to their core
Through the leather armor that he wore.

Slowly I crept up behind with only one thing on my mind
Psychic Scream ’til he was blind and couldn’t take it anymore.
Then purple druid would morph to bear, with dead blood flying everywhere!
That this fool would think to dare the bravery of the Alliance, the boor!
I tiptoed close, his doom approaching like a pit demon of yore.
And soon enough, he’d be no more.

But for all my careful silence, stealthiness is a careful science
Requiring the strictest compliance of form – need I say more?
A twig snapped loud, my place revealing!  The forsaken spun, his quarry reeling,
Those undead eyes devoid of feeling!  He jumped back just before
I cast my Fear.  Too late; he knew what was next in store.
He Vanished and left us by the shore.

I swore and cursed, the night unheeding, then healed the Night Elf of his bleeding
And waited for the slow receding of the debuffs that he bore.
Soon enough, the saps had faded; his eyes grew firm, like the jaded
Windows of a soul berated, but his nod said little more.
I thought perhaps to introduce myself and find his name before
I took my thanks and trekked to Mulgore.

“You’re lucky I was nearby, friend; that rogue did very nearly send
Your spirit  to Elune and end your life forevermore!”
I spoke as thus, not sure if saying words in or out of good roleplaying
Could possibly somehow be betraying his gameplay wishes dujour.
“Perhaps it would be best if we did travel from this shore
And send you back to Kalimdor.”

And yet my friend made no reply, the green light shining in his eye
And dour angry face decried that I should say no more.
But mana full and armor repaired, I stood my ground ‘gainst him and stared
My own exasperation bared at his quiet anger moored
He said no word, and sought to offer no accord
And thus I spoke, in quiet roar.

“Perhaps in thanks, you could at least address the man that stopped that beast.
Through my acts alone, his attack had ceased, otherwise you’d be done for.
A blessing that I did intrude, but surely you would see it rude
To show no sign of gratitude; be calm, I do implore!
I ask for naught but thanks, but perhaps you would not abhor
To share your name as good rapport.”

Still the druid stared unceasing, the leather of his tunic creasing
As if the silence somehow pleasing my freed prisoner of war.
Soon it was his hands were glowing; his ears did shrink and skin stopped showing;
In moments there were feathers growing, a night elf moments before
Now an owl, which to branches in a nearby tree did soar.
He turned to face me and said, “Read your lore.”

I stopped and stared, but soon was grinning; the foolish night elf was beginning
To show the depths of prideful sinning.  “Think you this is a chore?
For I have listed among my goals to read the documents and scrolls
And tomes that ancient knowledge polls in libraries of ancient score!”
But the druid seemed to yawn as if he was suddenly bored.
Quoth the druid, “Read your lore.”

At that, I felt a bolt of danger from this rude and sullen stranger.
“Perhaps a friend of noble Ranger, come to Eastern Kingdoms from distant days of yore?
Maybe, then, you spent your summers training with the bold Windrunners?
Noble Vereesa (quite a stunner) that found her husband amongst the Kirin Tor?”
Could you be friend of hers, you man of war?”
Quoth the druid, “Read your lore.”

“Perhaps true fighter you could be, though it surely seemed to me
You needed help assuredly ‘gainst that recent undead sore.
Though I saved your from disaster; it could be you’re a battlemaster
Traveling these lands much faster than with the dangers from broken Draenor.
Could you be the Warsong Gulch general Lylandor?”
Quoth the druid, “Read your lore.”

“You came to herb among the trees before you came upon that sleaze
It still could be that from far overseas you tread upon this distant alien shore.
By skills assumed and then displayed, I think my patience is repaid!
From peaceful dell of quiet Moonglade you journey onward evermore.
Could be you the wise artisan herbalism trainer Malvor?”
Quoth the druid, “Read your lore.”

Sweat was beading upon my brow as I addressed the bird on bough
And sought to find the answer.  How could my honor be restored?
In silence my mighty mind did race through every tale that I could place
I knew that only by the grace of the Light could I even the score.
“Could it be that you are one of the mighty Defenders of Malorne?”
Quoth the druid, “Read your lore.”

From that point on, I filled the hours praying up to all the powers
To find the name that scours the darkness clean from darkened door.
I pressed him there with names unending, each defeating denial sending
My hopes to shatter and my spirit rending its pride upon the floor.
“Be you that slow Darnassian wanderer, quiet and fierce Crildor?”
Quoth the druid, “Read your lore.”

And thus the druid still is perched, while in Stormwind Library I have researched
And since that day tirelessly searched for the name that I would adore.
Donyal Tovald helps me in my quest, and as Harrison Jones himself attests,
I labor long against protests, seeking the name unknown heretofore.
Who knows what ancient mysteries I shall find as I explore?
Perhaps I shall leave here…nevermore!

Topping Meters vs Assigned Role

Ask the healing community what they think about healing meters and you’ll get a varied response. Some people swear by them and attempt to dominate the healing charts or rank on fights through World of Logs (usually recent converts from DPS roles to healing). Other folks see them as a tool to measure spell usage and the overall feel of healing for a fight, not really caring what the overall numbers say.

Recently there has been a resurgence in the camp of people that evaluate healing based on nothing more than the number on meters and logs. While normally this is relegated to what I like to call “outsiders looking in”, or rather non-healers attempting to evaluate healing, it has become an increasing point of measurement amongst healers in Cataclysm. It is with that in mind that I bring up the age old question once again; what is more important,  topping meters or performing well in your assigned task?

Top O’the charts to ye

There are a group of players that care only about the numbers, and only care about how they rank in relation to one another. They have an inherit need to be the top dog, the big boss, the head honcho of the meters. This is because they equate larger numbers with success. For DPS there is some merit there, and having that competition between DPSers can help push your raid’s DPS to rather insane numbers. Sadly though, this doesn’t work for healers or tanks quite as well. Being concerned with topping the charts can lead to some unfortunate happenings.

The most notable effect is that people who tend to heal with the sole intent of hitting the top of the charts tend to run on E longer than other healers, and sooner. They waste more consumables and waste more raid resources like Innervates, or force earlier Mana Tides just to keep going. The wasting of resources can lead to trouble for other healers down the line, and can jeopardize the raid as a whole. A second effect is that you tend to snipe heals from other healers. This means an increase in over-healing and a waste of mana. Every time a healer snipes a heal from another healer, you’re basically denying them the effective healing for mana spent on whatever spell was about to land. Lastly, you have the potential to spread yourself too thin, which can result in a dead raid. Topping the meters on a wipe, well it’s still a wipe.

…narrow of purpose and wide of vision

Another group of players follows their assignments with slavish devotion. They latch on to their healing assignment, and even when they can see other people in need of help do not deviate. They put on healing blinders as it were. This can cause just as many problems as people who try to hog the healing glory. A tank healer may keep the tank alive, but may end the fight with a full mana bar, where other healers may have struggled and ended the fight with no mana and a list of dead that shouldn’t have been dead. The raid healer who focuses on nothing but the raid, but ignores the tanks could see a dead tank.

Locking yourself into one tiny aspect can turn you into a dead weight that brings the raid down with you. If you and your assignment are the last ones standing, and everyone else in the group is dead because you couldn’t deviate from the plan slightly or adjust, well you just doomed them all.

The Question, the answer, and the in-between

Would you rather 1. Follow your healing assignment or 2.  Show up at the top of the healing meters ?

I posed this very question on twitter to see what type of response I would get from the healing community. Seems like both sides of the coin are tainted so to speak doesn’t it? The question is in and of itself a trick. Both answers are wrong. Adhering to a narrow view of the raid can be as bad as trying to garner meter glory. I was pleased that almost everyone responded with the correct answer, adapt.

While healers shouldn’t be concerned with their placement on the meters so much as making sure they are putting out the healing relevant to their current raid content, they shouldn’t abandon their assignments and just do whatever they want. Raid leaders and healing leads assign people to certain tasks for reasons. Whether it is to coordinate defensive cooldowns on a fight or to make sure the healing load is even, they (hopefully) have the best intent for the group and know what they are talking about. That said,they expect you to adapt to the situation around you and help out as you can. Don’t try to be the hero, trust your teammates, but keep an eye out on what’s going on.

If your healing assignment is stable and you see a problem area that needs a little TLC, help. If you are in need of a little help in your task, ask for it. If you don’t agree with your assignment don’t ignore it outright, talk with the heal / raid lead about it and see if you can make a better plan. Our job as healers is to deal with some of the most difficult things the game has to offer. We have to adjust to fluctuating damage, mix ups, mistakes all while dodging fires, void zones, raid bosses, and rabid hockey fans. You have to stay on your toes and be aware, and be prepared to adapt.

Screw the meters, our job is to make sure that we worked as a team to keep the raid alive through the encounter as best we can. You do the task assigned to you, and once your stable and comfortable you branch out if you can and help sure up the sides. To give you a perfect example, we had an encounter where a raid cooldown went off early due to a miss-click. One of the other healers immediately stepped in and filled in out of his normal sequence for cooldowns to cover the miss-click, without being asked to. The healing team was able to adjust and it literally saved the encounter. It’s all about balance in the end. You do what you can to help out the raid without trying to be a hero. I encourage you to throw meters out the window and focus on survival, survival of the raid, of your assignment and of yourself. THAT is what you should be worried about. You show me a parse where you pulled 32k HPS on a H- Chimaeron wipe, and I’ll still show you a wipe. If people try to evaluate you purely on your meter rankings rather than looking at everything you do, ignore them.

WoW, What If…

This is a guest post from Wistoovern, the voice behind the Automated Healing Line. Have you ever wondered what the World of Warcraft would look like if things had gone a bit… differently? What if Sargeras was never defeated, or Archimonde was just looking for gardening tips from the Night elves? Well today we bring you a set of patch notes from the future of an else-worlds of WoW. Suspend your reality and enjoy some comedic entertainment!

We have it here folks, the latest notes gripped data-mined from the latest PTR!

- The Orc and Troll races have put aside their differences and are recovering from what was known as “The Tusk Wars”.  The cursed, seeping hole in Garrosh Hellscream’s chest is being tended to by the troll’s best healers as way of apology, but Warchief Vol’jin is still chuckling about it.

– Groundwork for the next full expansion is under weigh.  The land of Azeroth has been under monstrous forces in the last handful of years; the destruction and recrowning of the Lich King, the sapping of arcane energies by the Blue Dragonflight, the aftermath of the Cataclysm, the spread of poisonous gasses from the charred wreck of the Exodar, the extensive damage to the Stonecore and World Pillar, the warped fel forces behind the Dark Portal, the faded potency of the elemental plane with the death of Ragnaros.  Looking back on the success of redesigned instances like Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep, the next expansion will be redesigns of several previous expansions and patches: Rise of the Burning Call of the Secret Cataclysm of the Crusading Lich King (or, which our developers are jovially calling, “Just Take The Old Crap And Repackage It; Those Idiots Will Never Know“).  Get ready to see some old favorites making their way to the surface again!

GENERAL:

– Using /flirt on Jaina Proudmoore no longer Sheeps your character and Teleports you to Ironforge.

– Using /flirt on High Tinker Mekkatorque no longer causes him to hump your character’s leg.

– Using /flirt on Alexstraza no longer causes Krasus to shapeshift and aggro.

– Using /flirt on Chromie now contacts your local police department.  Pervert.

– Due to the popularity of Barber shops, the next patch will also release Tattoo Parlors, allowing any character to get a tattoo.  Simple designs start at 75g, but more complicated patterns and styles can raise the price dramatically.  Some tattoos will increase reputation gains with certain factions, but may lower gains with other factions.  Choose wisely!

– Sorry, no dance studio.  Please try again later.

INSTANCE:

– A new 5-man party instance is being implemented with the next patch.  The newly-crowned Lich King, overwhelmed by the necrotic forces battling in his mind, has sent a new floating citadel into Azeroth.  Combining the forces of the Seven Deadly Sins, these seven new bosses have become a force to contend with.

* Pride – Blood Elf warlock casting deadly mirrors that transfix party members…before a laser impales them!

* Sloth – Orc death knight, still suffering from the effects of the Malaise, finds it a valuable tool to cast on your party; slowing you and sapping your will to live!

* Envy – Undead Alchemist resents you for your life – and resolves to steal it away!

* Lust – Night Elf priest using Mind Control enchants your friends to fight for her!

* Anger – Worgen feral druid with nearly endless rage and speed buffs.  Rawr!

* Gluttony – Dwarf shaman with a Beerkeg Totem inebriates his enemies…and sends them falling off the edge of the citadel!

* Greed – Goblin rogue slowly strips you of your weapons, your armor, and your life!

QUESTS:

– Due to overwhelming demand, the Gnome-slaying quest in Uldum is now a daily.

– The quest “Locate The Leprechaun’s Lucky Charms” can no longer be completed with raid markers.

RACES:

– Worgen Rogues have learned Ventriloquism.  This allows them to throw their sniffling thirty yards to confuse and distract nearby NPC targets.

– Inspired by the “Fastball Special” from Marvel Comics, in light of the outcome of The Tusk Wars, Trolls can now be hurled like spears.

– Undead characters that die and are resurrected by Spirit Healers will be able to go back to where they died, find their old corpse, take limbs off, and graft them onto their new bodies.  Doing so will raise their attack or movement speeds and lower casting times, but the grafted sections can wear no armor, and will increase damage taken in combat.

– Dwarves are always drunk.  Always.

CLASSES:

Death Knights:

– Death becomes these undead masters of the blade – but death has its down sides.  When in the lower levels (100 and lower), these fearsome fighters were unparalleled in their skills.  However, as they are corpses and have been around QUITE a long time, high-level Death Knights will no longer be able to go AFK without a new debuff called “Rigor Mortis”.  A fellow party or raid member applying Fish Oil will lubricate them enough to get them going again.  Undead characters  will not have this limitation, as Sylvannas keeps her subjects well-lubed for various reasons.

Druids:

– The Druid transformative abilities are undergoing a radical reevaluation.  The current forms to shapeshift into (Bear, Cat, Moonkin, Tree, Aquatic, Flight, Stag, Snake, Marmot, Jackalope, Monkey, and Weasel) will all have Dire equivalents.  Light help us all.

– Druids in a party with other druids will be able to focus their powers into more powerful forms.  A two-druid party will be able to shapeshift into a two-headed ogre (moonkin-like abilities), a chimaera (cat form-like abilities), or a corehound (bear form-like abilities).  A three-druid party will be able to shapeshift into a Cerebus (bear form-like abilities), a Hydra (cat form-like abilities), or Chimaeron himself (each head a spellcaster, moonkin-like abilities).  A five-druid party – should such a thing come to pass – will all be shifted into cat form and be teleported instantly to the newly created zone, Arus.   There, they will battle King Zarcon, Lotor, and the Robeasts that they generate between them.  Blazing Swords will be provided.

Hunters:

– Deathwing from the old Cataclysm days is no longer tamable as an Exotic Pet.  Those who have him tamed need to release him before the patch or he will raze the city that they currently inhabit upon patching.  Let’s not have that happen again.

– Ranged attack power is being increased by 50%…and then decreased by 50%…and then increased by 50% again…and then decreased by 50% again…and finally increased by 50% again.  Yes, we could have said that ranged attack power would be 93.375% of what it currently is, but you people seem to prefer doing the math.

Mages:

– In honor of the upcoming release of Portal 7, “GLaDOS & GLaDYS Explore Black Mesa”, Mages are undergoing a radical redesign.  While they will still be player-controlled, they will no longer be individual characters anymore.  All mages are being ‘transformed” into Portal guns that will appear in the inventory of party and raid leaders.  The portals that they generate are the end portals of other, pre-set locations.  They will have a specific portal that food and drink will fall out of, along with portals to expose enemies to the open portals in the Elemental planes of Fire, Ice, and Magic (thus representing the mage’s three trees).  As this will lower the worldswide population of Gnomes by 25%, the change is being embraced by all admins, beta testers, and cinematic directors.

Paladins:

– The 41-point Paladin Holy talent, “Holier Than Thou” is being scaled down.  Instead of the Smug buff for 45 seconds, increasing attack speed and power by 50%, the paladin’s single target receives a Shame debuff, which applies attack speed and power penalties of 25% for one minute.

Priests:

– Priest no longer regenerate mana through Spirit.  In order to use any spells that day, all priests must complete at least fifteen daily quests at the chapels in Stormwind or the Undercity.  Daily quests there will charge their mana pool.  In order to regain mana, they will need to complete more quests.  120 quests have been added to the chapels in each area, and they include quests to sit in place and pray for half an hour, change out candles, listen to confessions, and polish pews.

– Discipline Priests, your concerns have been heard.  The days of nerfing your shields are over.  Weakened Soul has been removed from the game and the shield is now an instant cast.  Also, the shields stack to 3.  As of the next release, your shields’ strengths will be doubled to a massive total of 2 damage blocked per shield.  However, in light of the powerful change, the cost of the spell is being increased by 20% to a base cost of roughly 15,000 mana each.

– The shadow priest ability which augmented Shadowform to allow the priest to walk through walls has been removed from the game. This is due to the increasing complaints from Tyrande Whisperwind regarding her private quarters.

Rogues:

– Rogues are now no longer able to bribe nearby guards into overlooking their covert actions – except in Goblin Zones (including those of the Steamwheedle Cartel).  In those areas, the bribe price has doubled.

Shamans:

– Electric Fence, a new Elemental Totem augmentation, sets a Lightning Charge between a shaman’s totems.  Enemies crossing this barrier endure 12,000 Nature Damage each tick.  Destroying any of the totems causes an instant feedback of 50,000 Nature Damage, but the totems are all destroyed and cannot be recalled for 30 seconds.  A glyph involving the electric fence is in development.

Warlocks:

– Demon Multiplication is being removed from the game, as too many players are removing unused demons, replacing them with additional succubi, and equipping the “Pimp” title from the last expansion.

– Draenei are now able to roll Warlocks.  Doing so warps their forms into quasi-Eredar, allowing a stronger Demonic Link to their familiars.

Warriors:

– Who?

ITEMS:

– The various Focusing Lenses available through Jewelcrafting are now effective in PvP.  When used, all cat-form druids will be Mind Controlled into running to the target of the Focusing Lens.

– Glyph of “I’m Taking You With Me” allows falling priests to cast Leap of Faith on nearby non-falling targets.

– Glyph of “Better You Than Me” allows falling priests to use Leap of Faith to exchange their position with a nearby non-falling target.

– Glyph of “Death Blossom” has a chance to lock a rogue into Fan of Knives for 5-10 seconds, allowing AoE damage in addition to their normal attacks.

– The soul of an ancient enemy has been reclaimed and forced into fel servitude.  Glyph of “Summon Hogger” will replace a warlock’s felguard with a familiar fighting face.

– Got old Dalaran Cooking Rewards laying around doing nothing?  A new Cooking Mount is being introduced: an “Ice Cream Truck” for 400 DCRs.  The mount will contain an NPC that sells frozen confections, but the truck will also play music incessantly  – and un-mutable – while summoned.  This mount is in addition to the 200 DCR “Hot Dog Cart” that was announced last patch.  Wearing the Chef’s Hat while using either mount will increase travel speed by 50%.

TRADESKILLS

– Gnomes and Goblins will be allowed to use their fishing skills with seaforium.

– Dwarves and Trolls will be allowed to use their fishing skills with ranged weapons.

– Druids will be allowed to use their fishing skills in aquatic form, by catching fish in their mouths.

– Mining has a rare chance to proc a disease called “Black Lung”.

– To expand on the use of Decahedral Dwarven Dice and Worn Troll Dice, Inscribers can now create “Character Sheets” and “GM Screens”.  Yo Dawg, we heard you like to role play.  So we put some role play in your role play so you can role play while you role play.

Oh the excitement is palpable! FOR THE WARCHIEF, ‘MON!

I, Shaman: Speculation of the future of resto

I, Shaman: Speculation of the future of resto

With all the changes to healing between the expansion’s release and subsequent patches, restoration shaman have kind of gone in a bit of a circle almost. We started out the expansion with the inclusion of a few new spells that really set the tone. Healing Rain was an absolute power-house addition to our healing, and Spiritwalker’s Grace along with Unleash Elements gave us some additional healing versatility.

Not too long after Cataclysm’s release, shaman healing started falling behind some of the other healers not from lack of trying but for lack of throughput and cooldowns. We have a diverse toolkit to use, but there just wasn’t enough juice in the batteries. The developers at Blizzard ramped up our healing in an attempt to bring us up to par with other healers, and gave us a brand new cooldown to use. It just so happened to be a spell that we’ve been pining over for almost three years. As of patch 4.1 our healing has gone up exponentially and we can keep pace with the other healers pretty well, and we have enough tools an abilities to cover the main healing roles.

But now it’s time to look to the future. One of the big things about Cataclysm was that there would be a great homogenization where all healers could cover all of the roles in a raid or group. This is mostly true at this point. I can tank heal pretty damn well now, and have been for the last several weeks, and can switch between that and raid healing at the drop of a hat without losing pace. Paladins can pile on some massive raid healing and still nuke heal a single target. I think, though, that we’ve reached almost full circle and while we can cover all the roles necessary I think we all still have a specialty. Lets look at shaman and the toolkit we have.

Healing Rain is a massive AoE healing spell with an area of effect large enough to encompass two priest or druid healing circles. It is affected by mastery at each tick, so it can be used for lower health targets to great effect, and each healing tick has a chance to proc Earthliving. Chain Heal has had its coefficient buffed, and overall throughput increased. It was changed to include the additional target from the glyph as a base part of the spell, bringing our total targets up to 4. Riptide, with glyph, can be rolled across multiple targets when applied every cooldown, and Healing Stream Totem also got a bit of a boost and Spirit Link Totem is a clutch cooldown that can bring a raid from the brink of death to flat-out victory.  Shaman still thrive pretty hardily in the barren lands of AoE healing, it’s the point I think we excel the most at overall. This isn’t bad, it’s good to have a specialty, but we’ve done maybe a 310 turn. I won’t say 360 because we aren’t in that awful spot we were before, but we’re close enough to our old niche that we can still claim it, and we get the tools to be able to hang with the single target healers as well. I think though, that it was an intentional move to put us in the niche to give us that specialty and I think that it will become important in the next tier of raiding.

Tier 12 promises to ramp up the AoE damage. This is based purely on speculation of the content as well as some of the items that have been data-mined for set bonuses. As Vixsin pointed out in comments to my last post, is that every 4pc focuses on providing additional splash healing. This is a pretty good indicator as to what we’ll be dealing with, considering the set bonuses are usually tooled towards boosting your healing for the current content. So from set bonuses, and from the general fact we’ll be in the elmental plane of fire, we can expect a lot of raid wide damage and healing. This is something shaman normally can capitalize on by using all our tools. I think that T12 raiding content could be a shaman break out tier, where due to just the nature of our healing, you will see some ridiculous healing done. Basically I think we’ll make a strong showing in the next tier of content based on our cooldown, our healing spells and our ability to just be general healing bad-asses. After that, on the road to Deathwing, who knows what we’ll look like. But for right now I think we’re poised for greatness in the next tier.

Restoration Shaman T12 set bonuses

On the off-chance that you missed it, the tier 12 set bonuses for patch 4.2 have been data-mined. Or rather it is what we think they are currently. Everyone has begun speculating about whether they are real, finished or just place holders as well as the impact they’ll have on the gameplay. Well, I figured I’d chime in on what the uncovered shaman tier 12 set bonus is supposed to be for restoration.

  • Restoration 2 Pieces – Your periodic healing from Riptide has a 40% chance to restore 1% of your base mana each time it heals a target.
  • Restoration 4 Pieces – Your Chain Heal spell will jump to one additional target.

Well, that’s what we know so far. I really like the idea of the 2 piece bonus for a few reasons. First of all, every tick of your Riptide will have a 40% chance to restore 1% of your base mana when it heals. Considering you’re likely to be rolling at least 3 of them at a time due to the nature of the spell and the glyph, the potential return on investment is pretty high here. The other thing to consider is that at our first haste plateau of 916, all of our HoTs get an extra tick. With Tier 12 gear it looks like we’ll likely be able to hit the second haste plateau with buffs, which is around 3.4k haste. At 1,573 haste (if you glyphed Riptide and have the warlock buff) Riptide will gain yet another additional tick. It will still occupy the same time on the target, and heal for the same amount, it will just tick more frequently. The point is, 1,573 is an easy number to hit, and even if you don’t have a warlock to buff you the total of 2005 (1857 if you’re a goblin) won’t be that hard to hit come patch 4.2. This increases your chances of getting some mana back with that wonderful 2 piece and honestly makes it very attractive.

The four piece does not thrill me for a few reasons. First of all, adding an additional target to Chain Heal is something our old Glyph of Chain Heal used to do. I’m not really excited by the idea that our set bonus was something that was previously a glyph, and then was just added to the spell anyways as a base component. Secondly, every jump reduces the mount of healing done by chain heal exponentially. As it stands, that last jump would be a piddly amount of healing, and that is assuming a 5th target is in range, and even needs the heal. Thirdly, it is not raid team neutral. What I mean by this is 10 vs 25 man raiding. It’s often times hard enough to get CH to hit all 4 targets in a 25 man raid, it can be downright impossible in a 10 man. That means that the set bonus could go wasted. Lastly, it hardly compares with some of the other 4-piece set bonuses that have been data-mined. Compare one additional bounce of chain heal to the other set that give free healing to nearby targets, or place a free flame-like Lightwell. It just doesn’t have the same punch, and I don’t see it really contributing to our overall healing.

That said, I’m holding out hope that this is incomplete data, that maybe the set bonus will change. Maybe if it healed two targets at the maximum value of chain heal before starting it’s declining healing value, or gave it another augment. Maybe give a bonus to another spell like Healing Rain. Something that feels a little more in line with the other healing 4-piece bonuses would be nice. Since this isn’t even available on the Patch 4.2 PTR yet, I’m hoping it will evolve into something more robust, but only time will tell.

What about you? What do you think about the data mined set bonus? Love it, hate it? What would you like to see for a restoration 4-piece set bonus for T12?

The Automated Healing Line

Ever wonder what would happen if you’re in the middle of the instance and your healing spells just aren’t working? What if you had to phone in for divine tech-support to get those heals flowing? How about placing an order for a buff or a healing spell? Well, reader Wistoovern mused this very topic and this is the end result. I present you with the Automated Healing Line. I couldn’t help but laugh pretty hard at this one, I mean could you imagine having to do this every time you healed someone?

I don’t know about you, but working in tech support for a number of years and being a dedicated healer I just find this incredibly amusing. It’s especially funny for me because having worked in a call center with many WoW gamers as co-workers this just makes perfect sense to me. It combines call center humor with priest healing and gives a possible explanation as to that occasional healing latency.

Wist did a great job splicing everything together and getting the monotone computer voice just right, next time maybe we’ll hear the screams of the dying in the background as that raid boss comes bearing down on the group while the healer is on hold.

So, what did you think?

Patch 4.1 Dungeon Finder Call to Arms, Lodur’s thoughts

Patch 4.1 Dungeon Finder Call to Arms, Lodur’s thoughts

Unless you missed it, Blizzard has announced an idea that they wish to implement in an attempt to shorten queue times and address the tank and healer shortage that has been plaguing the LFD for a while now. Here’s the actual blue post for you,

Source

In patch 4.1 we’ll be introducing Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms, a new system intended to lower queue times. Call to Arms will automatically detect which class role is currently the least represented in the queue, and offer them additional rewards for entering the Dungeon Finder queue and completing a random level-85 Heroic dungeon.

Any time the Dungeon Finder queue is longer than a few minutes for level-85 Heroics, the Call to Arms system kicks in and determines which role is the least represented. In the case of tanking being the least represented role, the “Call to Arms: Tanks” icon will display in the Dungeon Finder UI menu where class roles are selected, and will also display on the UI when the queue pops and you are selected to enter a dungeon. Regardless of your role, you’ll always be able to see which role currently has been Called to Arms, if any.

Call to Arms is meant to lower wait times by offering additional rewards for queuing as the currently least represented role. To be eligible for the additional rewards you must solo queue for a random level-85 Heroic in the role that is currently being Called to Arms, and complete the dungeon by killing the final boss. Every time you hit these requirements (there is no daily limit) you’ll receive a goodie bag that will contain some gold, a chance at a rare gem, a chance at a flask/elixir (determined by spec), a good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets), and a very rare chance at receiving a mount. The pets offered come from a wide variety of sources, and include companions like the Razzashi Hatchling, Cockatiel, and Tiny Sporebat, but the mounts are those specifically only available through dungeons (not raids), like the Reins of the Raven Lord from Sethekk Halls, Swift White Hawkstrider from Magister’s Terrace, and Deathcharger’s Reins from Stratholme.

This system is meant to address the unacceptable queue times currently being experienced by those that queue for the DPS role at max level. The long queue times are, of course, caused by a very simple lack of representation in the Dungeon Finder by tanks, and to some extent healers. We don’t feel the tanking and healing roles have any inherent issues that are causing the representation disparity, except that fulfilling them carries more responsibility. Understandably, players prefer to take on that responsibility in more organized situations than what the Dungeon Finder offers, but perhaps we can bribe them a little. While this system gives tanks and healers something extra, the incentive is being provided so that we can help players in the DPS role get into more dungeons, get better gear, and continue progressing.

While the gold, gems, flasks, and elixirs are OK incentives, we knew we needed something more substantial. We had briefly considered Valor Points and epics, but decided that wouldn’t be working toward the goal of helping DPS players progress, and ultimately wouldn’t keep tanks and healers in the Dungeon Finder system for very long. We settled on pets and dungeon-found mounts as they’re cosmetic/achievement items that players tend to try to get on their own, so why not change that up and offer them a chance to get some of those elusive pets and mounts in a way that also helps other players? Even if they don’t get a pet or mount, or get one they already have, the gold and other goodies still feel rewarding enough that it won’t feel like a waste of effort.

We think it’s a pretty solid incentive to get tanks and healers queuing, give max-level players another way to collect the pets and mounts they so desire, and above all, to improve wait times for DPS players sitting in queues. In the case of lower level dungeons, it’s actually not uncommon for DPS to be the least represented role, and so if this new system works out and we’re pleased with the results, we may consider applying this same mechanic to lower level dungeons as well.

Well there it is. Since it was first announced, people have been going crazy about it and from the general reaction you’d think the sky was falling. Well, it’s not. Lets look at the proposed rewards,

Vanity Pets: These look to be ones that can be obtained easily on your own if you decide to put the time into it. So DPS aren’t really losing anything there, it’s just a simple cookie to offer Tanks and Healers. If you’re really so worried about these pets, go ahead and get them yourself. I did, and I’m a healer.

Mounts: A lot of people are bitching about this, I can understand why, mounts are a pretty big status symbol at times, but you know what? The mounts they’ve discussed aren’t anything you can’t get by yourself, or anything DPS isn’t already soloing. Hell I’m a healer with a DPS offspec and I can solo all of the old heroics and have been in an attempt to get the mounts.

My main issue with the incentive is that it won’t really fix the problem so much as shift the issue in another direction. In the last week, I’ve queued for about 15 heroic dungeons solo. 10 of those times, I got a DPS that strapped on a shield and a sword and decided they were going to tank. Those were fantastic runs let me tell you. What I think will happen is that we’ll see more of that. People that will want the mount or pets and will try to cheat the system. So for a bit queue times may go down, but then there will be sub-par tanks and healers that people will complain about. And even then if there’s nothing you want from the random dungeon bonus, those same folks will stop queuing once they have the items they want, giving the incentive a finite amount of time. While I like the incentive idea and as a healer appreciate the thank you, it’s not a fix, it’s a bandaid. Tanking and Healing are thankless jobs lets face it. Healing and Tanking are pretty hard when you’re first starting out, and people like to criticize you often for any deficiencies you have at the role. Giving us what amounts to a Chotchkie doesn’t really help all that much as a lasting incentive.

The other problem is the additional changes to how the LFD works in terms of Valor Points. The first 7 random dungeons you do will award you the points, meaning that you will no longer need to queue once a day, but can knock them all out at once if you want to. Personally I think that change will encourage more people to get random guild groups together and just knock out the heroics all at once. This then removes a whole set of potential Tanks and Healers from the pool.

Is there a better fix for the queues? I don’t know, I’m not one of the guys in charge of things over at Blizzard and I’m not sure I can really come up with a better option. Do I think it’s worth calling out that the sky is falling over the change? I don’t think so. Personally I’m enjoying the fact that Blizzard recognizes there is a problem and is looking at ways to fix it. I hope they find a happy balance, and I hope that the fix doesn’t produce a series of under-geared Tanks and Healers flooding the queues. It’s a fine line to walk, but I’m confident that Blizzard will find the fix, that they will figure out a good enough cookie to offer under represented roles without completely unbalancing the system. In the meantime though, I do not think that it’s something we should be seeing the amount of QQ we are in the last few hours, lets give them some time to see how it actually works out. Besides, it doesn’t really hurt you, it’s not taking anything away from you, and it is a slight thank you to a set of roles that is normally criticized and never thanked. That’s my opinion on the matter at least.

How about you? What do you think of the idea? Do you think there’s a better way to improve queue times?

Lodur’s Addon Spotlight: GTFO

Lodur’s Addon Spotlight: GTFO

GTFO is the best addon you’re probably not using right now. GTFO stands for exactly what it sounds like, “Get The F$%# Out”. Simply put, the addon gives you an audio alert whenever you are standing in something that is causing you harm. Why is this a good thing? Well, right now there are a lot of area effect boss damage abilities that still can hit you even if you are “in the clear”. Take for example Valiona, both in Grim Batol and Bastion of Twilight. The dragon has a frontal cone breath that causes massive amounts of damage if you sit in the fire. Many times I’ve been outside of the visible effect, yet still took the damage as if standing in it, didn’t notice at first and became so much Dwarven BBQ (I can admit when I fail :]). After installing the addon though, this just isn’t a problem anymore. It plays a subtle, yet noticeable, tone to indicate that I’m standing in bad.

I’ve always been a bit of an audio queue player. Even with my boss mods and power auras I’ve always set sounds to alert me to what’s going on. Personally I find it a lot less intrusive than visual cues, since most of my attention is on the health of those around me, and staying alive through boss mechanics.  The less I have to tear my eyes away from the fight and their health totals, the better off everyone is.

The addon allows you to set thresholds for sound, and adjust the various audio alerts so you can customize the experience. The sounds the addon come supplied with are distinct and different enough from those provided by Big Wigs, Deadly Boss Mods and DXE that it is quite distinct and can be picked out easily among the cacophony of other sounds and it even has the ability to integrate with Power Auras to give a visual notification of when you’re standing in bad.

Setup is pretty easy as it works right out of the box. After installation if left alone it will simply buzz an alarm in your ear whenever you are standing in something that is causing damage. Now, it won’t only buzz once, it will continue to buzz and make noise until you are out of the area taking damage. Honestly that’s better than yelling at any raider to get out, because you don’t have to clutter mumble or vent with your lamentations of raiders standing in fire. The mod itself is pretty lightweight, so it won’t break the memory bank or cause any sort of disruption.

Let’s face it, sometimes we get tunnel vision when raiding or running any form of content. How many times have you be so focused on squeezing out that last heal or that last little bit of DPS and missed the bad headed your way? It’s happened to us all at least once. This addon though, this little sound chiming in my headphones to let me know I’m missing the fact my kilt’s on fire, has helped keep me alive through many, many fights.

I think this addon is well worth the pick up if for no other reason than to test it out. As an added bonus to raid leaders, if your group is running the mod, recount shows the number of audio alerts people receive so you can also double check to make sure that they were responding to the alerts or standing in the good, not the bad. Give it a try, have your raiders give it a try, you may fall in love with it just like I did.

GTFO [Curse] [WoWInterface]

ELIZABETH PENEPENT