About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

Win a Beta Key from BlizzPro!

BlizzPro has five beta keys to give away and we want to hand ‘em out to you! I’ll mention how to get them in a moment.

I know I don’t often plug the show here as much (shame on me). I’m going to attempt to make a concerted effort to do so. We’re steadily aiming to ramp up our content. More co-hosts have been added for a more panel discussion type of production. On the beta, I did get a chance to test most of the bosses that were up. There’s more happening later on today and I’ll try to get in on those as well. If you watch this week’s episode, you can see my efforts as a Holy Priest against Oregorger.

Quiet Matt! How can I get a key?

Easy! I’ll quote it from the post: The Edge: Win a Warlords of Draenor Beta Key!

On August 3rd, we will send a tweet out from The Edge account with #BlizzPro and all you need to do is simply retweet that message and follow @edge_blizzprotv, @Veliice, @ktjnwow, @GitErRaid and @matticus for your chance to win! We plan to announce the winners on Thursday, August 14 and Friday, August 15.

Good luck!

Hearthstone: Post Naxx Warlock Zoo Deck

Hearthstone: Post Naxx Warlock Zoo Deck

Everyone enjoying the new Naxxramas adventure mode? Managed to breeze through the normal and class challenges fairly quickly. I’ll admit I was fairly stumped by the heroic bosses for a bit until I reconstructed my ranked decks from the ground up and made the connection that I wasn’t playing against live players.

To out gimmick a deck, you must create gimmicks of your own. I’ll provide a list later of decks I used against the heroic bosses later.

For now, I wanted to illustrate an evolution of the popular Warlock zoo deck with new Naxxramas cards. Lists similar to this have started cropping up throughout ranked play.

Post-Naxx Zoo by matticus
Class: Warlock

Warlock (8)

Neutral (22)

The main changes from the traditional Warlock zoo deck is the removal of Scarlet Defenders and Shieldbearers along with the addition of Nerubian Egg and Haunted Creeper. There isn’t as much of a worry about overextending because if the Eggs or Creeper go down, they’ll turn into additional minions on the board.

The overall strategy here is to make smart trades and establish board supremacy.

Your Nerubian Egg can be activated over a number of different ways. Abusive Sergeant, Dire Wolf Alpha, Shattered Sun Cleric, Dark Iron Dwarf, and Defender of Argus can allow you to trade your egg into an opponent’s early minion to get an early 4/4.

Should be fairly self-explanatory what to do with aforementioned 4/4.

Mulligan any expensive cards like Doomguards, Dark Iron Dwarf, and Defender of Argus out of your hand. You want cheap minions as quick as possible. Always keep your opponent’s health total in the back of your mind and weigh it against trading against their board.

So far so good! Managed to shoot myself up from rank 7 up to rank 5.

Good luck!

Is It Time to Level Up the Guild?

Serious time.

I should mention that everything you’re about to read is something I’ve been thinking about. I haven’t committed to any course of action yet. But it’s all been weighing deeply on my mind.

There’s a couple of things I’m mulling over right now with regards to the direction that my guild should be going come Warlords. I’ve been wrestling with the guild’s identity for weeks now going back and forth over what I want. By many standards, the guild could be considered solid, stable, and successful. Other than that short hiccup during Throne of Thunder and the past few months with regards to attendance, I’d consider it a job well done.

But I’m at the stage now where my ambition is slowly starting to take over. I had a conversation with my raid leader about our expectations. He believes we can clear out first tier Heroic level content within the first few weeks and challenge for Mythic within the same month. I had to admit, I’m a little more reserved in that judgment. I’m not sure if the current culture or schedule would allow that. Some of our players actually want to make a run at server first. A quick glance at our realm progress shows that we have a guild that’s at least US top 70 or something.

I could be content with where we’re at. We’ve floated around Top 500-600 for the past two expansions. During Wrath when 25 man guilds reigned supreme, we were hanging out at the Top 1000 mark. I earnestly think that with some of the players here, if sufficiently pushed and “encouraged”, we could maybe move up to the top 200 or 300 mark. Top 100’s a little out of our reach. Another goal would be to at least to contest faction firsts.

So I asked myself the following question:

“In order to challenge for faction first or Top 200 US rankings, what must be true?”

Simple answer:

  • More hours spent
  • More efficient use of time
  • Stronger caliber players
  • Raid composition flexibility

Rearranging the Schedule

What was it Allen Iverson once said? Something about practice? I’d love to be able to get to the point where we completely clear out content within a day or two. It’s odd that in order to spend less time raiding later, it’s common to invest more hours raiding and frontload the learning near the start of a tier. The fact is, we need to spend more time practicing pulls and trying new strategies. Granted, we could be more efficient in how we spend our time to begin with. I’m always looking for ways to cut corners. I’m looking to add anywhere from 1.5 hours to an additional 3 hours a week. That would mean an extra 30 minutes per day to an hour per day.

Seeing as we raid from 6-9 Pacific, I can add an hour in front or add an hour later. If I add the extra hour in front, it means many of our west coast players won’t be able to make it due to the time. An extra hour later would wreck the schedules of our east coast players because they’d be settling down and attempting to sleep at 1 AM Eastern. No matter which direction I go, I’m going to lose a segment of our players either due to scheduling or a difference in focus and personal objectives.

But if parting ways needs to happen to further guild goals, I’m prepared to do it.

Secondly, I’d want to go hard during the start of the week. Instead of raiding Tuesday, Thursday, and Monday, I’d drop the Monday and move it to Wednesday. That gives 3 consecutive days of raiding allowing raid strategies and repetition sink in. Practice makes perfect, after all!

Revisiting the Alt Policy

During certain progression nights, we were hampered because we were missing certain class compositions. As a result, we ended up shifting back to normal mode and clearing out the rest of the night. I don’t for a second believe that having 3 extra Paladins during Thok all those months ago would have resulted in us killing him then. But I do think it would have allowed us to get more practice and grow comfortable quicker.

For the longest time, we’ve had a strict no-alt policy unless it was under exceptional circumstances. I’ve started reconsidering this. A good player is a good player no matter what class they’re on as long as they put in the effort to learn it and gear it. Many players spend their off times pugging raids on their alts.

It would be too much to ask to make having raid worthy alts a requirement. But I’d definitely encourage those interested to do it.

There would be strict conditions to this, however.

  • Profiency: The alt must be able to perform at a level that’s satisfactory performance to other raiders who main the class.
  • Gear: No blues or greens. They need to be raid geared and ready to go. It’s up to the player to find ways to do it. Between crafted gear, raid finder, and other drops, it should be easy to pull it off.

One player brought up a good question.

“Would I be punished for not having an alt? What’s in it for me?”

I had to think about that one for a second. I suppose the gain would be a more flexible raid allowing the group to work it’s way around various obstacles. There’s always some flavor of the month or certain classes that are better than others before nerfs or new content drops. Another tangential benefit? I have a suspicion players wouldn’t be bored as much raiding on the same character doing the same content. I believe raid content becomes a lot more interesting on a variety of characters just due to being in a different role or perspective. Raid burnout often kicks in if players have been working on the same thing for months on end with seemingly zero to little signs of progress. Do it fast enough, and it won’t be a problem.

Warlords has given us an excellent opportunity to manage all of this. Mythic and heroic will no longer share lockouts. Early tier will be spent working hard through heroic content. An optional raid night on the weekend focused on normal (or flex) can provide a boost to the players who want to do it. The fact that it’ll be cross-realmable means I can pickup other players on other servers to help serve the needs of the group composition for that night. It won’t be a requirement, but there’s players like myself who actually want to raid more. When it gets to the point that normal raids no longer serve our purpose, we can shift normal clears to that night instead. Hopefully, by that time, we’ll be well into the mythic rotation.

This is all new to me. I’ve stayed the same course during my tenure as GM. Never really changed my values or my goals. I’ve never made a venture down a road like this before. Definite about-face for sure.

Remember that scene from the original Matrix?

The one where Neo’s in the car and Trinity and Morpheus are with him and speeding down the road? Morpheus offers Neo the red pill or the blue pill. He can get out and Trinity reminds him that it’s the same street with the same buildings and the same people. He’s been down that path before. He knows what’s waiting at the end. That’s kind of what going through my mind at the moment. Either this works and I manage to find that fulfillment I’m looking for, or it’ll ruin me. It’ll be a gamble.

Let’s ante up!

I haven’t written to “you” readers in a long time. Not really sure what I’m looking for.

Warnings?

Affirmation?

Disagreements?

Validation?

I just had to get my thoughts out somewhere on print so I can review it. If things get written down, it becomes a little more real. Everything in my head tends to just stay that way – An idea. My raid leader’s going to be in for a surprise when he’s back.

3 Annoying Problems with Discipline Healing

3 Annoying Problems with Discipline Healing

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. Time to take this beta Disc Priest out for a spin and see what he can do in a dungeon environment. I needed a tank, but where could I find one? I happened to be idling in Shrine keeping an eye on trade chat and noticed one of my bear tanks was online!

Time to con her into being my pocket tank.

She agreed and we appeared on the beta servers ready to queue up. I should’ve done a quick pass over my binds and abilities to ensure everything was in place. It took until the end of Bloodmaul Slag Mines before I finally configured everything to my specifications. There were periods where I had to open my spellbook and manually click on select abilities.

Anyway, I’m here to gripe about Disc Priest healing. Here it is:

Lack of Healing mobility: Prayer of Mending has a cast time. We’ve lost access to Renew. Divine Star has a cast time. Penance can be glyphed to allow casting while moving. Holy Nova has a really short radius (and we’ll touch on this in a second).

As a healer, I move around a ton. I don’t mean just simply dodging projectiles or dangerous boss abilities. Sometimes I have to kite or run away from any mobs or ads that are activated. Other times, my tank has screamed ahead and I’m trying to play catchup while stabilizing the rest of the group. The Hunters, Mages, and Rogues are busy trucking on trying to help the tank. Meanwhile, there I am huffing and puffing attempting to keep everyones health up while being unable to move. In Mists, we have all these tools that allowed us to help players recover some health as we were moving from point A to point B. It wasn’t that strong or efficient, but it was something. And yes, shields are great at absorbing inbound damage but they’re not the greatest at restoring health. An absorb simply buys you a little more time to dump heals on your target whereas actually healing your target has the effect of both negating the damage they’re about to take and healing them back.

This must be what a Resto Shaman or Holy Paladin feels like sometimes.

Proposal: Glyph of Mobile Mending – Allow Prayer of Mending to be cast while moving. Exclusive glyph.

Weak Multi-target Healing: Holy Nova is the new efficient Discipline AoE heal. Prayer of Healing has a 30 yard radius. Holy Nova has a 12 yard radius. It’s hard to insist that every player remain stacked. There’s attacks that will prevent the party from doing just that. Holy Nova appears to be enough to keep a players health bar from trending down long enough but it won’t be enough to shoot them back to full right away. That’s a tradeoff at this stage of the game since we’re testing dungeon content at reduced item levels. At the same time, functionally speaking, Holy Nova might not be able to reach the rest of the party if everyone has to split up. You’re reduced to a slightly weaker Prayer of Healing option. Alternatively, you can play the executioner and focus on healing yourself, the tank, and 1 or 2 other players while opting to sacrifice the fifth for the good of the party.

Proposal: De-couple Holy Nova from the Priest. Make it targetable like Prayer of Healing. Allow Holy Nova to heal any player in range of the target up to a maximum of 5 of the weakest players. If you’re still spread out, at least Holy Nova might be able to catch 2-3 other players in your party at a time.

Lack of time: As healers, we have to think of time as a resource. Is there enough time to bring the tank out of range of lethal if I use this spell? How many seconds can I buy my group if I spam this AoE spell until the deadly AoE ability stops being used? Is that player a lost cause or should I try saving them? As mentioned before with the cast time spells, choice becomes important. For example, you and your tank are within lethal range after suffering an unavoidable hit. You have about 2 seconds before the next blow comes and you’re looking at a wipe. A 2.5 second Heal might hit slightly harder and save you more mana. But a 1.5 second Flash Heal would’ve allowed the tank to survive the hit. A Binding Heal would’ve saved both you and the tank*. Most of our direct healing spells are a cast time now. A Holy priest can Renew blanket but a Disc Priest is playing catch up one target at a time.

*The correct play is to either shield one, and Penance/Prayer of Mending/Flash Heal/Desperate Prayer the other and pray the shield holds. The god play is to have never arrived in this situation in the first place.

Regardless, Binding Heal is one of those spells that allowed you to inefficiently heal yourself and your target really fast to get out of lethal range. This is a tool removed from the Priest toolbox. If Flash Heal is the wrench, then Binding Heal is the duct tape because it’s a quick fix and not necessarily the permanent solution. Sometimes you just have to be inefficient or else players die.

Proposal: Bring back Binding Heal. It’s already tough as is for AoE healing as a Disc Priest in a party.

The next step is to give Holy a shot and see how well that performs in dungeon environments. Bloodmaul Slag Mines was a piece of cake but I certainly struggled a fair bit in Upper Blackrock Spire and the Shadowmoon Burial Ground instances.

Thok: Turning Panic into Reflex

Thok: Turning Panic into Reflex

We killed Thok.

Damn, that was a rough encounter. I had a feeling this week was going to be a good week. We set a guild record for day 1 kills by clearing from Immerseus to (and including) Malkorok on day 1. Fast forward to day 2, and Spoils ended up being Spoils that took a little longer than I expected due to some confusion on cooldown usage. In the end, we managed to get it down just after the first hour of the night.

And now, the Thok Block.

We haven’t squared off against an actual progression encounter with an appropriate group composition in months. In fact, our last progression kill on Spoils was mid-February! The past three months was spent recruiting, re-gearing, and re-training players. Even then, we had a few players from Open Raid in the group who had came in for us on Tuesday to help us out last night. This was arguably one of the strongest rosters we fielded in a long time. I’ll admit, it did pain me that I was unable to get everyone from the guild to participate on the attempts and the kill. It sucks when you have to rely on people outside in order to get the job done but for composition reasons, it had to happen. We ended up having to field 7 healers on this one (4 Priests, 1 Resto Druid, 2 Resto Shaman).

Something my raid likes to do when it gets to a completely new boss is panic. This is doubly true when you’re staring down a really large dinosaur. As the leader, my job is to try to settle them down and remind them to get back to their routes. Stop overthinking things. Simply react. In this case, I recognized that the troublesome part was the kite path. We’ve reviewed it several times during learning attempts. Despite that, my players were still losing their cool. Sometimes the dinosaur went the wrong way. Sometimes they’d panic and run one direction before doing a 180 and dashing down in the other. Deep down inside, I was freaking out too.

The best way to battle nervousness is simply more training and discipline.

We kept telling our players two things:

  1. Visualize your route.
  2. Think of your escape plan in case a rabid dinosaur or yeti comes charging down the middle.

No one wants to be the guy that completely derails a solid attempt. I wanted to turn kiting into a reflex. I wanted to “program” their reactions. For example, if Thok targets me second, I would run to the rear corner where the fire guy is. If Thok targets me fourth, I take the portal all the way down the hallway. I had to keep drilling it in attempt after attempt until it was firmly locked in their minds.

The actual cooldown planning stages took much longer. But we were spoiled due to the number of Priests and other available cooldowns. We were able to stretch the stacks to 24 before transitioning out to the kite phases. Our raid leader called the individual stack numbers, the rest of the team hit their cooldowns which corresponded to their assigned stack number. I need to look into an addon for this instead of a spreadsheet.

Our first attempt we took him above 50%. Second, below 50%. Third, below 20%. Fourth was at 4%. Last one resulted in the kill.

Siegecrafter Blackfuse is next. Anyone have any pointers? The hunters appear to be reluctant to do the whole disengage on to platforms thing.

We’re looking for healers to help us finish out Siege and going into Warlords of Draenor. Check us out!

BlizzCon: Networking 101

BlizzCon: Networking 101

When the first set of alpha invites came out for Warlords of Draenor, I couldn’t help but notice that there were plenty of disappointed people. Hey, completely understandable. Everyone wants to get in and take a sneak peek at the upcoming expansion even though it’s all partially developed and incomplete.

Here’s what bothers me though.

I observed on my Twitter stream (among others) that many people felt that they deserved to get a shot at it. They blog about the game. They create videos for it. They’re an influencer or someone who is up and coming in the community.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking to myself “Who are these people?”. Yes, it’s one thing to produce quality work. Yes, your work should speak for itself. But no one’s going to know how awesome you are unless you network and promote yourself. I get that as gamers, many of us tend to be introverts. We shy away from large crowds. We don’t like doing the hand shaking or the high-fiving.

Actually, even if you’re not some content producer and you want to meet some terrific individuals, then this is a post for you.

If you really don’t give a fajita about meeting other people at all, then skip the post.

If you want to maximize your BlizzCon experience and build some terrific memories and relationships, for cryin’ out loud keep reading.

Really though, you can take these guidelines and apply it to meeting just about anyone. It could be a Blizzard employee, a cosplayer, shoutcaster, a blogger, YouTube personality, or what have you.

The preparation

Shower. It’s a wonder I even have to mention this. But please shower and apply some deodorant. For the men, I recommend Old Spice (but not Fiji because that one’s mine). Go easy on the deoderant spray. Holy hell, let’s not turn BlizzCon into the boys locker room where people were spraying Axe willy nilly. It should go without saying but, brush your teeth too. Actually, just practice good hygiene in general.

Know who to engage. This is a bit of a no-brainer. I’m assuming you have an idea of who you want to go up to and say hi.

Dress to impress. Don’t dress up like a slob. Luckily, you’re at BlizzCon so the dress code isn’t too formal or strict. Literally anything that’s a t-shirt or better will do. For the men, if you want to go one-up, shoot for polos or a dress shirt. Shorts, jeans, or slacks will suffice for the bottom. If you’re Canadian like me, then you’re limited to shorts because damn it’s hot. You’ll be doing a ton of walking and standing around, so pick shoes that will help you feel at ease.

For the women, I asked BlizzCon veteran Elke (@plumwd) for her thoughts. First thing she said to me was to think comfort during the day! Wear comfortable shoes, because walking on the concrete inside the convention center will quickly kill your feet after a few short hours. Save the heels for hanging out afterwards.  If you’re frequently cold, be sure to bring a light jacket or sweater to wear inside the con. Despite the masses it can get chilly (at least, for her it does). Ultimately, you’re going to want to be comfortable because you’re going to be standing in many lines or sitting for a long time waiting for your favorite panel. If you wear makeup, be sure to bring what you need for touch ups with you such as oil blotting tissue, lipstick, powder, etc. You’ll be happy to have it handy.  Plan outfits for both day and night. Think more causal and comfort for while you’re inside the con, and then maybe something dressier for the evening. You never know who you’re going to meet or the opportunities that may present themselves for adventures in the evening. I always bring at least one business casual outfit just in case.

Best practices

Approach from the front, not the sides or rear. Chances are, the person you want to speak with is already in a conversation. Wait for a gap in the conversation. Make eye contact or even do a little wave. It usually catches their attention.

Have a conversation starter in mind. It’d be a little embarrassing to go up to someone, introduce yourself, and then have nothing to say. Have a conversation topic or two in mind. Remember, that you’re at BlizzCon and you’re there largely because you’re passionate about Blizzard’s universes.

For example, if I were to meet my buddy @Elvinelol for the first time I’d say something like “Hi Elvine! I’m Matt! I wanted to thank you for establishing the LF BlizzCon site. It really bailed out some of my guildmates who almost couldn’t make it”. If you’re really not sure what to talk about, just remember you’re both at the same convention.

Potential icebreakers include:

  • What did you think of that panel on [game/feature]…?
  • What are your thoughts on [feature/hero/gameplay aspect/character]…?
  • What inspired you to start getting involved with [project/video/blog/game]…?

A firm hand shake. Don’t be limp. Don’t lock them into a vice grip either. Since you may be drinking, ensure your beverage is in your left hand. You don’t want your first handshake to be super cold to the other person. If your hands are clammy or super sweaty, wipe them on your pants first.

Know when to disengage. Have you ever had a friend overstay their welcome when you invited them over? You’re all relaxing and having a good time watching Game of Thrones and sharing stories about your recent escapades. The next thing you know, it’s 2:30 AM and they’re on your couch completely oblivious to the time still expecting you to entertain them. Look, you’re not going to be the only one going up to and saying hi to your favourite personalities. Give them a bit of space. Keep the time of day in mind. It’s one thing to approach a person you admire during the day. It’s another when it’s late in the evening. Ask them for a card or their email if you wish to continue to stay in touch. If not, close off with a "It’s great to meet you!" and meander away. 

I would not end a conversation with a hug unless the other person initiates and if you’re comfortable with it. I’ve witnessed many “oh god, oh god, oh god, why am I being hugged” faces and it did not look fun. Hand shakes, fist bumps, or waves are acceptable.

(Seriously, personal space).

Body language matters. Chest out. Shoulders wide. Smile. Doesn’t have to be a cheesy or fake grin. But a half smile or a slight smirk will make you look more approachable. No one’s going to want to talk to someone who has their arms crossed and shoulders hunched over with a frown on their face. You’re oozing signs of “I don’t want to talk to anyone, leave me alone”. Look approachable! Your mental state has a subconscious effect on your body. When you’re down, you tend to look a little more dejected. You might have a slight frown. But little known tip, it works both ways. Faking it till you make it can trick your mind. Adopting a more confident and cheerful stance seems to have an impact on mood. Works for me, it might for you! If you’re apprehensive out there, stand up straight, force a smile, and throw out your chest. You might feel like an idiot but it’s a good thing people won’t be able to tell what you feel by looking at you. They’ll see a confident and inviting person who just might be cool to get to know.

george-clooney Seth Rogen michael-cera

mila-kunis zoe-saldana

There’s a slight progression from George to Michael. But it’s all natural. No grins or anything but a slight smile is all that’s really needed to feel at ease. No one’s really showing any teeth here, except for Mila. Even then, it’s just barely noticeable. God, I love her.

Stupid Ashton.

Have a business card. If you think people are going to be able to recall your email or Twitter handle after a few days of partying and drinking, you’re sadly mistaken. Get a few business cards printed out. I suggest Moo Cards. Have your name, your website, and email or Twitter handle. I try to make an effort to email and message the individuals I’ve met up with as a follow up and to acknowledge their contributions to the WoW community.

How to make an introduction. I actually did a whole lot of this in previous years (@Itsxia and @Kristin can attest to this). I had friends and guildies who wanted to meet certain Blizzard staff or podcasters who I already had met before. Not only do you look like a hero, but you’ll help break the ice. “Hi AWESOME PERSON, I’d like to introduce you to my friend. She’s a big fan of your YouTube channel and plays a Priest. If you have a moment, she has a quick question about being a PvP player.” Then politely and quietly disengage out (and hit the bar).

Assume good intentions. This is a big one. Most of your interactions tend to be in the evening. Some people will be tired after walking around all day at the convention and might not be in the mood to talk right now. Maybe they’re giving you the cold shoulder. Try not to take it personally. Try to catch them later.

Accept defeat. Sometimes, you’ll run into someone who just isn’t interested in getting to know you. No matter how hard you try, they’re sending out all the wrong signals and just want nothing to do with you. It’s not your fault. It takes two to tango, remember? If you can’t dance with this partner, go find another one. Again, it isn’t your fault. This isn’t a game. You can’t simply just level up your social skills by annoying people. Going up to someone repeatedly when they turn you down isn’t going to make them want to open up to you after try number 30. These kinds of individuals are rare. For the most part, everyone I’ve spoken to has been polite and cordial at minimum.

Follow up. This is a big one. Once you’ve arrived at home, follow up with the people you met! Follow them on Twitter if you haven’t. Drop them an email. Send a message saying that you were delighted to meet them in person and mention your own blog or project for them to check out.

Nerves getting to you? Take a drink. Loosen up a bit. Remember that everyone is there to have a good time. The ones that don’t want to meet people usually bolt to their rooms or are off to the side somewhere within their own fortress of friends. No big deal.

At the end of the day, the BlizzCon experience is entirely what you make of it. No matter what happens, have some fun! Don’t be discouraged.

Of course, you’re free to say hi to me at any time. I promise, I won’t bite.

To the veteran con go-ers, what other pointers would you offer to the wid-eyed, bushy-tailed first time BlizzCon attendees when it comes to meeting new people?

Shadow Priest Warlords Leveling not as Easy

Shadow Priest Warlords Leveling not as Easy

As you might have guessed, I was one of the privileged few to have been offered a slot in the Warlords of Draenor friends and family alpha that went live a few days ago. I was quite intent on making my mark in Wildstar’s Nexus but I’ll have to put that on hold.

Unfortunately, only the Horde side is available for play meaning I had to create a Blood Elf priest.

I’ll need to take a long cold shower after this play session.

I feel so filthy.

Anyway, I’m not going to delve too much into garrisons too much. The only base building I can do effectively is in Starcraft 2. But, head over to BlizzPro for their hands-on with garrisons.

Just as I’ve done in previous expansions, I plan to blitz my way to the max level as quickly as I can. Each expansion brings with it new tools, new systems, and new spells to help that process.

spriest-leveling

For Shadow Priests, Warlords made it a little tougher. The changes to Shadow and the loss of certain healing spells slowed down leveling. No Renew means I can’t simply keep refreshing Renew whenever it wears off. It means I have to stop and eat more to replenish my health. Flash Heal is obviously no help since it wasn’t designed to top a player off quick in Shadow. Prayer of Mending’s cast time means it can’t just be applied on the run either. Divine Star also lost the healing component.

Thankfully, I can still rely on Power Word: Shield to soak at least some of the damage. Vampiric Embrace, glyphed Psychic Scream, and Dispersion are going to be workhorse cooldowns during the grind.

At the moment, I’m capped at level 92 but level 100 talents are unlocked and can be selected. Auspicious Spirits is a neat talent but Clarity of Power seems to be useful when grinding or farming mobs since you can just go straight to Mind Flay instead of applying a DoT that isn’t going to last the full duration anyway.

draenor-perk-unlocked These Draenor perks are actually quite nice. They offer bits of quality of life improvements. I managed to obtain the Enhanced Shadow Orbs perk quickly after hitting 91 and Enhanced Mind Flay at 92.

More to come later! I’ve got a Shaman I want to try out.

I have never seen healing or DPS numbers this low in a long time.

Wildstar is no Threat to World of Warcraft

Wildstar is no Threat to World of Warcraft

I’m about five days into Wildstar now. I’ve advanced my Esper to level 24. Managed to complete an adventure and a dungeon. Most importantly, I participated in two world boss raid events to get a glimmer of what actual raiding will be like at max level. Wildstar does bill itself as Hardcore and there may come a day where it could even challenge WoW for the lion’s share of subscribers.

But not any time soon.

Simply put, this game is just not ideal for the casual player. Doesn’t matter if you want to attach the term casual to a player who doesn’t have the requisite skill or interest or time.

If you suck at moving from plainly obvious telegraphed markings on the ground, you will die.

If you suck at timing your key presses, you will not be able to take advantage of certain bonuses.

If you can’t invest the necessary time to grind out the cash or develop your character, you won’t be very effective.

The stark comparison between Wildstar and vanilla WoW is uncanny. I remember farming for Tubers. I remember farming for Dark Runes. I remember making the choice between spending my gold on new abilities or a mount so I can move around faster (Mount wins). This game just isn’t going to be as accessible to a more casual oriented audience. Not unless significant changes come later on in the game’s life. WoW has multiple modes of raiding and dungeon difficulty that allows players to pick and choose their poison. With Wildstar, you only get one and if you’re group isn’t good enough, tough. You’ll have to come back when you get better.

Almost all aspects of the game are gated against the casual player. If you fail at timing your key presses or hitting them at the right time, you can still perform the quest. It’ll just take ten seconds later. Combat itself can be unforgiving. If you die, you can find yourself resurrected at the opposite end of a zone (unless you shelled out some cash).

Let’s talk about raiding

I love it. I was a proponent of AVR back in the days of Icecrown Citadel. I assume Wildstar devs were too. Now this game has AVR mechanics (called telegraphs) all over the place. I was conversing with one of my raiders who hated Blade Lord Ta’yak (Heart of Fear, 2nd boss). They completely despised the tornado running mechanic. The raid bosses have different abilities like that which will make the game un-fun for people who aren’t able to handle it.

Here’s a quick image set to showcase how telegraphing works:

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See the red lines that are expanding from the middle? If you stand in it, you’ll get struck down by something like this:

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At the end of the fight, there’s an encounter breakdown which ranks you by your contribution. How much healing did you do? How much damage did you deal? How much damage did you take?

I would like to just say that I took zero damage in that attempt. But I didn’t screenshot it. Therefore, according to the rules of the internet, it did not happen.

Interrupt mechanics aren’t as simple as hitting a key to actually interrupt. No, sometimes you need more than one and they have to be synchronized. In the below image on the bottom right, you can see Metalmaw’s target frame. Just left of it, you’ll see the number 9 over a shield. Metalmaw is casting a large firebreath type ability. It takes 9 different interrupts to actually interrupt the breath. Everyone has to coordinate and hit their button at the same time. Otherwise the interrupt shield will re-activate after a few seconds. Some bosses have more.

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With respect to healing, it is a different game. There’s no raid frames to click on or players to mouse over. Most of your spells have to be aimed or placed. Find the biggest clump of players and unload your healing spells. If there’s a player at low health, you better hope they’re near you or else they won’t get healed up. In fact, I think the only way to heal is to activate friendly name plates which is going to be overwhelming at the 40 man level. If you had a hard time standing in Efflorescence, then you’re not going to have fun either. In WoW, I usually stand at max range to minimize prospects of getting hit by stuff. But healers could simply target my bars and keep me healed that way. Here as a DPS player, I’ve had to pay attention to the ground circles and arcs and actually stand in them to ensure I get topped up when I needed.

It’s not just the healer’s responsibility to dish out heals. It’s your responsibility to stand in them.

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I know Tobold doesn’t think the game can be healthy long term if the state of the game is like this. I don’t agree. You can appeal to a certain subset of a population. I don’t see Wildstar hitting 8 million subscribers anytime soon. But it doesn’t need that many to stay financially healthy. All it needs is to hit that X number of subscribers which can power the infrastructure and provide resources for the devs to continue delivering on content. If it can hit that number, it’ll be fine. I haven’t seen any microtransaction models yet but there is that ability where players can swap in game credit and purchase game time (and vice versa from other players). I see many guilds in Wildstar advertising themselves as casual raiders. I give them 3 months tops (and that’s an optimistic number). But Warcraft has a diverse number of activities that will appeal to players of different varieties.

I am fully expecting Mythic raiding to offer the same challenge as what I’ve seen so far in Wildstar. I hope not to be let down.

If this the world bosses above are any indication, then raiding in this game is going to be challenging and fun. I would have loved to start a Wildstar chapter for Conquest but I can’t stretch myself out in that sense. No one wants to be an officer much less a guild leader. Can’t wait to reach end game though!

For those interested, I’m Mattycus on Stormtalon (Exile side).

Wildstar Opening Weekend!

Wildstar Opening Weekend!

I played Wildstar once during PAX several years ago. Boy has this game changed significantly since then. I had been meaning to give the beta weekends a shot, but was only able to play sporadically. I’ve created an Aurin Esper (Exile side, on the Stormtalon server) since I’d be paranoid without being able to heal. I’m sold on the leveling aspects of the game. I wish WoW had the quick dodge key tapping that other action games have. Wildstar implemented it and it’s great to rely on quick movement to get out of trouble.

The telegraphing components of the game make it a little predictable but it does add it’s own set of challenges. Reminds me very much of the old AVR addon that was shortly introduced during Wrath. It trivialized raiding then since the encounters weren’t designed to factor them in. But a game like this which includes that can set the difficulty appropriately to help adjust for it.

It doesn’t have the immersion level and massive dialogues of SWTOR. I was more interested in playing the game and the game never truly started until the end game. I just couldn’t be bothered to click through dialog and speech choices.

Speaking of end game, the raids look fun and challenging. WoW will still be my main game of choice but Wildstar will serve as an excellent distraction on the side. Definitely looks like a hardcore raider’s game since you can sign with a guild that’s 20 or 40 and the actual player skill level needed appears to be much higher. Movement plays a huge part of winning. Players that have lead feet and struggle with standing in fires in WoW won’t last long here.

I’ve lost a few raiders to Wildstar. One of my old players has decided to strike out on his own and sit on the GM’s chair himself. I couldn’t be more proud. I’m sure he’ll take a few pages from the ol’ Matticus Manual of Leadership.

His presence will be sorely missed.

I mean, I know the ladies will at least. I’m fairly sure it was Vin Diesel since he sounds so much like him. I keep trying to nudge him to say phrases like “I live my life a quarter mile at a time. Nothing else matters.”

If you’re interested in Wildstar, you can grab it for 20% off on Green Man Gaming. There’s a voucher on the main site that’s good until June 2nd.

Stop Covering for Other’s Bad Play!

The other day, I wrote a post on BlizzPro outlining the problems I had with people comparing themselves to others and that it compromised their own performance.
Today, I want to write about actually covering for someone else’s mistakes.
In a word, don’t.
Let them fail. It’ll be the only way your guild can grow stronger. If a player in raid consistently fails to execute a given role, one of these outcomes must occur.
  1. The player successfully learns and succeeds at a given task with enough time.
  2. The player fails and is subsequently replaced by someone who can.
Either way, the boss phase or mechanic that was inhibiting the raid from moving forward is no longer a problem. Now the raid can progress and deal with the next obstacle and repeat as needed.
Survival of the fittest, right?
If you find yourself constantly interrupting or CC’ing someone else’s assignment because they missed it, stop.
If you find yourself consistently sprinting to one of Malkorok’s puddles to prevent a raid explosion when it’s not yours, don’t.
Weaknesses in raids have to be exposed and identified in order for the group to grow stronger.
As a healer myself, I am extremely prone to not listening to my own advice. I will shield players who are standing in fire. I will Leap of Faith anyone who’s about to get destroyed by a Malkorok breath.
The thing is that I’ve ingrained myself to bail people out. The hallmark of a good healer is to be there when your team needs you. What I must continue to instill in myself is that it isn’t possible to be there every time. If the same player keeps failing to the same type of mistakes or sloppy play, the best thing I can do for them is to stop covering for them. My problem is that this is a habit I picked up in my younger years as a goalie. It was literally your job to help your team and make up for a defensive lapse.
It’s even worse for a GM or raid leader. You want so desperately for the raid to move on to the next boss and get to the next fight. You don’t want to wipe to the same thing repeatedly because you know if you do, morale is going to sink lower. Wiping to fights that were previously on farm? What a joke. What a waste of everyone’s time. We all want to wipe to the new stuff not the garbage that has been consistently cleared. So the GM puts everything on their shoulders. They find a way to put the raid on the back because it’s success at any cost and that’s the bottom line. Because if there isn’t success, it could eventually lead to a cascade of failures and a chorus of frustrated and annoyed players leaving for greener guilds.
In this day and age when recruiting is akin to fighting for scraps, GMs have to do everything they can to try to keep the veteran players around as much as they can and as long as they can. It often means doing some behind the scenes raid work and hiding the mistakes of other people from time to time. But there’s only so much that can be done.
I have watched guilds ahead of us disintegrate simply because their leaders and veteran players did everything they could to give their underwhelming players a chance to flourish. Whether it was due to a lack of caring or skill, the ones who tried just couldn’t do it. For whatever reason, they could not rise to the challenge. Seven years ago when I started this guild, I would’ve said I didn’t believe it. I would’ve said every player has the chance and the capability to succeed and match what was asked of them. Now, I’m not so sure.
Maybe I’m just getting bitter with every passing day. I was too blind to the reality that maybe, just maybe, some people suck. Call it a crisis of confidence. Not everyone can be a heroic raider. For the first time in my stewardship, I just don’t have a damn clue. Maybe the problems start at the top with me. Maybe a fresh change in vision in leadership is needed. Sports clubs undergo GM and coaching changes. It started off as just a whisper. Something tugging away inside in my head that maybe I am the problem. I just don’t know.
Anyway, back to my original point: Give your players the chances and opportunity to excel. But you can’t always be there to pick them back up.
Patch 6.0 can’t come soon enough.