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:

Mattycus.140603.111234

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

Mattycus.140603.111237

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.

Mattycus.140603.160557

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.

Mattycus.140603.155731

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.
Eventbrite? Or Eventbust? Thoughts on BlizzCon 2014 Tickets

Eventbrite? Or Eventbust? Thoughts on BlizzCon 2014 Tickets

Bullsh*t.

Horrible.

Complete clusterf*ck.

Those are some of the words on Twitter used to describe the ticket purchasing process this year for BlizzCon 2014.

First of all, congratulations to everyone that managed to secure and score tickets for this year’s BlizzCon! I managed to get some for myself and Conquest will be returning in full force again with some new faces (and old).

What exactly was different about this year versus previous years?

The Old System

Historically, Blizzard has done a fairly good job managing ticket purchases. You had to keep refreshing the page, select your order, and you’d get thrown into a queue. There would be an indicator that showed you what place in line you were. If you were 1356th in line and there were 10000 tickets available, you knew you were locked in for a ticket. Once the indicator reached zero, that meant all the tickets were spoken for and had been sold. There were no more left in the system.

The New System

This year, Blizzard opted for something different. They decided to use Eventbrite instead. A few of my guildies had used Eventbrite before and mentioned that the system itself had crashed during smaller events and concerts (with a capacity of 2000 seats). BlizzCon hitting the 20000 ticket mark made me wonder if Eventbrite could even handle the expected load.

My guild has done this annually now. We had a thread set up to coordinate who was able to buy tickets, what their maximum purchasing capability was, and who needed tickets. We were all on Mumble when the tickets went live and I hit refresh, selected four, and was thrown into their waiting room. Some of my guildies were faster on the draw than I was and managed to proceed right to the checkout page. I had given up hope. I figured if I was in the waiting room, there was no way I’d be able to get tickets. But I had no visual indicator as to how many tickets were remaining so I stayed on there.

Minutes later, I was thrown out of the queue and informed that the event had sold out and that there were no more tickets available.

Ugh.

My first year of not getting my own BlizzCon ticket. There goes my streak.

Or so I thought.

Resigned and frustrated, I kept slamming my F5 key just because. Then I noticed my page had changed. The sold out notice was gone. Tickets were available again. Perplexed, I decided to go for it. Changed my ticket quantity to 3. Was told that it wasn’t available, but I could buy them in singles. Said screw it, selected 1 ticket and was thrown into the checkout page again. By this point, all but 4 people in guild had tickets that were spoken for. 3 of us managed to check out in time and get order confirmations on our tickets.

The last guy was still stuck and wasn’t able to get his either as it had thrown him another sold out error.

On a hunch, he was smart enough and decided to wait a few more minutes before trying again. Sure enough, 24 minutes after the first wave of tickets had been released, he managed to purchase a single ticket for himself. Everyone who had signed on and committed to a ticket managed to get one.

Weird right? What the heck happened?

Based on what I saw and my conversations with others, tickets were held on the checkout page by people purchasing them. If people did not finalize their purchase or if their check out process timed out after 8 minutes, those tickets would then be released back available for purchase.

However, the rest of us in line had been thrown out and we would not have known about it. Why would it tell us that tickets are sold out if they weren’t actually sold out?

I felt that was absolute ludicrosity. Way preferred the old system. At least I knew for sure that I had a chance. And at least I knew that once the supply bar was empty, it was literally empty. I understand that the system this year had the unintentional side effect where people could show up late and purchase a ticket 20 minutes later. Neat in a way, but not exactly fair for the people who started the F5 refresh spam on the dot.

How can this be solved?

Easy. Put in something that the previous BlizzCon pages had: A bar that shows how many tickets are remaining. Calculate it based on actual tickets confirmed and sold. I think that’d go a long way towards placating many interested players.

Oh and don’t actually throw people out of the queue.

Why They Switched

Good question. Why did Blizzard switch?

One reason why we’re using Eventbrite is because there is a quick and easy system to help us monitor purchases and be able to take tickets back from scalpers/bots.

Source

BlizzCon is notorious for having a huge number of people trying to sell and scalp tickets. Listings appeared on Ebay weeks before the actual BlizzCon ticket sale. I’m not sure about the countermeasures or the success rate of trying to stop and minimize the effect of scalpers, but I loaded up Ebay and decided to search it up:

blizzcon-ebay-2014

Maybe it’ll get shut down? Who knows?

Active Mana Regeneration: Not a Fan

Active Mana Regeneration: Not a Fan

Have you seen the latest news for healers? They took away our Hymn of Hopes, our Innervates, and stuff.

Actually, they gave Innervate back. Have a gander at the latest section from the patch notes:

Active Mana Regeneration (New)

Another part of the changes to healing is providing a way for them to better manage their mana. There are ways to spend more mana for more healing but, we’re also adding methods for healers to trade extra time or healing or more mana to use later in a fight when they really need it.

Druid

  • Innervate has been redesigned to now have a 2-second cast time with no cooldown, and causes the Druid to gain 2.5% of maximum mana every 4 seconds for 8 seconds.  Spending any mana on a healing spell will cancel this effect.

Monk

  • Crackling Jade Lightning‘s channel duration has been reduced to 4 seconds.
  • Stance of the Wise Serpent now also causes Crackling Jade Lightning to cost no mana, and restore 2% of the Monk’s maximum mana if the ability is channeled for its full duration.

Paladin

  • Divine Plea has been redesigned to be instant cast with no cooldown, and consume 3 Holy Power to immediately regain 7% of maximum mana.

Priest

  • Atonement is no longer triggered by Penance.
  • Penance now also refunds 1.1% of the Priest’s maximum mana each time it deals damage.
  • Chakra: Chastise in addition to existing effects, now also causes Smite and Holy Fire to restore 0.75% of maximum mana each time they are cast instead of costing mana.

Shaman

  • Telluric Currents is now a passive ability for Restoration Shaman and causes Lightning Bolt to restore 1.25% of maximum mana each time it is cast instead of costing mana.
  • Glyph of Telluric Currents: This glyph has been removed.

Huge, yes? Our combat regeneration has evolved quite a long way. During vanilla, we had to work with the 5 second rule: Stop doing anything for 5 seconds to unleash the full power of our mana regen. Then we went to a model where classes had different abilities to use on cooldown (while other classes just didn’t have to worry about mana at all). More changes are being worked with now to shake things up.

What happened to Druids?

I can see Druids are understandably upset with how Innervate’s going to work now. It was originally supposed to be removed but now it’s back. Are Druids really supposed to just sit there for 8 seconds and not do anything while Innervate does what it does? Any healing spells automatically interrupt it. But if you cast your damage spells, you’re negating the damage you’re regenerating.

Doesn’t make sense.

Unless you consider that Wrath isn’t going to cost you any mana.

Now you’ve got something to do while you wait for Innervate to gas you up. Spam that Wrath! But know that you can always cut Innervate off at anytime with a healing spell. Useful for those unexpected emergencies that tend to flare up during raid combat.

What happened to Priests?

Out of all them, the Priest mana abilities are the most interesting. And I say that not because I’m a Priest. I’m just that biased. Because Priests are the master class.

I’m a little concerned about the Penance one. It’s normally used on cooldown for me. There’s almost always someone that can benefit from a fast burst heal. So to use that on a hostile target instead of a friendly is concerning. Can’t quite place my finger on the why.

The Holy Priest side of things is going to be even more engaging. Now I have to actually bind a key to the Chakra: Chastise stance specifically. Priests will need to really get used to Chakra dancing. There were times through this expansion you can get away with being a little lazy and be in the non-optimal Chakra. But with the removal of Hymn of Hope, you have to pay attention and ensure you’re in the right stance or else you’re not going to have any mana left to do anything.

What’s this mean for healers overall?

Much of the regen mechanics are designed to give healers key decisions to make. Do I continue to burn through my mana reserves? Or should I take a moment now and risk raid integrity and regenerate mana? If you’re not already communicating with your other healers now, you need to start. Practice with mana potions or something. Raids in Warlords will typically be rocking 4 to 5 healers at most. If a Resto Druid needs to stop healing for a bit, the rest of the healers need to know. That’s 20% to 25% less healing power during those brief seconds. It helps to know the encounters inside and out. When are the less stressful parts of the encounter? When is the most stressful part? At what stage should I ensure I have a sufficient amount of mana reserves remaining? Not sure how tightly tuned the next raid instances will be, but you’re going to have to practice doing some DPS.

I’m going to miss just relying on Hymn of Hope and Shadowfiend. As if we didn’t have enough to do already. Didn’t exactly sign up to DPS. I just want to stare at health bars and do what I do best: Heal players, not spend part of my time DPSing because I have to.

Eh, I have no doubt I’ll probably change my mind later when I can give the game a spin. Until then, I’ll just keep on griping.

5 Killer Priest Changes Coming in Warlords

5 Killer Priest Changes Coming in Warlords

Good gravy, so many new changes coming with the alpha notes! Instead of going through all of them, I’m just going to summarize my favourites. You can turn to BlizzPro later in the week for a more in-depth analysis.

Atonement nerfs

Don’t tell me you didn’t see this coming. For almost the entire expansion, Discipline Priests were considered top tier and a virtual must have in progression focused guilds. It wasn’t so much the temporarily healing buff from Evangelism, but the Archangel ratios which made us a force to be reckoned.

Let’s deal damage with any of our main DPS nukes. On top of that, a portion of the damage done is going to also heal. Oh and it’s a smart heal!

In a way, I’m disappointed that it’s lowered but I can’t help but think it’ll help equalize the state of healing classes a little more. At the very least, maybe it’ll lower Discipline representation some and allow us Holy Priest guys back into the fray as a better alternative. There was nothing really wrong with Holy (well, there was but we’ll cover that in a moment), but Holy just wasn’t quite as well sought after.

That’ll be different in the future largely because of…

Chakra changes

Remember when Chakra came into play? It was almost two expansions ago during the start of Cataclysm. It essentially functioned as a stance for Holy Priests. Certain spells would become stronger depending on which Chakra you had active and you’d gain access to a Holy Word spell that corresponded with that stance. It was intended to provide flexibility and allow Priests to select the role they were going to perform in a raid: Single target healing or multi-target healing.

If you were in a Chakra stance and wanted to do something outside of the benefit, your spells wouldn’t make quite as an impact. The alpha notes said it quite clearly: The buff from being in a certain Chakra “felt like a penalty for being in the wrong Chakra, rather than a bonus for being in the right Chakra”.

Chakra: Sanctuary provided a strong buff to Prayer of Healing which was great when I was covering groups but it was lousy if I needed to spot heal the tank for a few moments. Lowering the bonuses attained in Serenity and Sanctuary are a start. Saying “I’m only losing 10% of a healing boost instead of a 25% bonus” is much more reassuring. Instead, Holy Word: Serenity and Sanctuary are receiving more of a healing bonus. I suspect our normal baseline spells will be adjusted and balanced accordingly.

Removal of Mana Hymn

Gone.

Just like that.

How else am I supposed to get my mana back? One of our healing utilities is out the window as a victim of Blizzard’s crackdown on ability bloat. Now they’ve promised that mana regeneration rates and spirit will be monitored to offset the loss of Hymn of Hope. Now I’m really at the mercy of my own healing spells. I can’t heal full throttle and rely on Mana Hymn to provide me with a cushion anymore. I’m going to miss it.

New glyphs

To be more specific, I’m giddy with Glyph of Restored Faith. It can be used as an escape or a closer or if I just want to get next to someone. Maybe it isn’t that killer, but I really do like the fun I can get with this. I can pull myself out of harms way if I’m caught standing in a fire! It’s like a pseudo defensive cooldown!

Level 100 talents

You can find the new talents at the recently updated WoW Head calculator. I liked that old talent with Void Shift where you could use it as many times as you wanted but I guess that one was tossed.

Now there’s healing talents when you reach level 100 like Words of Mending. Every healing or absorb spell generates a stack of Word of Mending. Hit 5 stacks, cast a free Prayer of Mending! Worried about Prayer of Mending overriding itself? A minor change was introduced where Prayer of Mending from multiple Priests are able to be applied on the same target. Not only that, one Priest can have multiple applications of Prayer of Mending on more than one target!

I mean, yo dawg! I heard you like Prayer of Mending! So I put a Words of Mending on your Prayer of Mending so you can Prayer of Mending while you Prayer of Mending!

Holy Priests gain access to another talent called Clarity of Purpose. It replaces Prayer of Healing with a new spell called Clarity of Purpose. We know that smart healing spells are getting dumber. But if healing spells were given an IQ, I’m certain Clarity of Purpose would take home the smartest heal ever award. It’ll heal players within 10 yards of your target. Not only that, it splits the heal so that weaker players receive more of the healing pie.

Now that’s legit!

This is going to be a fun beta testing period. Warlords needs to come soon! I’ll do my best to keep track of any pertinent Priest changes and updates as we progress through the development stages of the expansion.

The Edge: April Fool’s, Mythic Rosters, and Shaking up Dungeons

Several weeks ago, I joined BlizzPro’s The Edge videocast team as a third co-host on their show. I still receive questions from readers asking about the Matticast. This was one way for me to return to the casting circuit. We’ll be talking about news (at least, only the pertinent ones). Along the way, we’ll offer what we can about classes, skills, and raids.

In the last episode, we discussed cross-realm raiding and preparing your guild for Warlords. This week’s episode 14, the crew takes a closer look at the different factors that go into planning your roster for Mythic. Meanwhile, faux patch notes kept us entertained for the day with nods and inside jokes along with pop culture references. Sadly, I think I only got half the references.

  • 3:35: April Fool’s recap
  • 10:42: Mythic roster considerations
  • 21:00: Heroic dungeons

I’ll add some additional thoughts about building a Mythic roster in a future post. This is the first expansion where I’ve had to really whip out my whiteboard and really think ahead about the roles each player will have going into an expansion. I wasn’t in such a position when we transitioned from Vanilla Warcraft to Burning Crusade (and going from the 40 man to the 25 man). I can only imagine what it was like for GMs in those positions who had to make the tough call of picking 15 out of 40 players to release.

Sean wanted to take a page inspired from Diablo. Why not have loot drops completely randomized in a limited pool? But I don’t think anything can be done that can really entice me to jump back into heroic dungeons when I’m well already into raiding. Let’s face it, the first week or two of a new expansion, I’ll be dungeon diving repeatedly to get my priest at a level where he can adequately compete for raiding and then never going back again.

If there’s a system mechanic that increases character progression in addition to raiding, I’m going to be annoyed. Raids should be the ultimate way to progress a character’s power (excluding PvP). Dungeons just aren’t my thing and I hope we don’t have to run them to get some kind of currency or items that augment our gear. Just isn’t necessary. In my mind, you should be running heroic dungeons because:

  1. You want to get started for entry level raiding.
  2. Certain vanity rewards like pets or mounts (or challenge mode gear).
  3. An activity you enjoy with a smaller group of people.
  4. You need the 3000 valor points for the legendary cloak on your 4th alt.

Look, if you like dungeons and stuff, power to you. I’m just not a fan. I can’t think of anything they can do to really encourage me to go back in after I’ve had a taste of raids. There’s a finite amount of time I spend playing WoW per week and I don’t want to split up my time being forced to do something I don’t want to do for the sake of maximizing my character’s power.

They can’t exactly utilize the mechanics from Diablo’s adventure and bounty modes. You’re controlling a character with 6 abilities in that game. All areas of a map are randomly generated. All the loot stats and features are also randomly generated. In Warcraft, you’re playing your toon which has all these attacks and cooldowns. All the heroics are on a set layout. Lastly, each dungeon has it’s own set of loot rewards from each boss. Does WoW need anymore RNG? Right now, I know that if I wanted a weapon, I could run a certain boss in a specific heroic over and over again until I attained it. Chance says that if I do it enough times, eventually the dice roll will go in my favor*. At least I’d know what I can do increase the odds. With completely random loot tables, it wouldn’t matter what I did. I’d have a roughly equal chance no matter which boss I came to.

*In practice, I have the worst luck.

What about you? Are you a dungeon runner? What drives you to propel your characters through 5 mans? What would you like to see to improve your experience within them?

How Guilds Make 800k Gold Selling Boss Kills

How Guilds Make 800k Gold Selling Boss Kills

The news that cross-realms are allowing players to raid on other servers on both normal and heroic mode is a god-send! Players are no longer restricted to paying server transfer fees in order to raid. Cross-faction raiding isn’t going to be a thing anytime soon (and I doubt it ever will), but at least players can now raid across servers. This is a great way for a prospective player to “try” a new raiding guild before they commit to transferring. It’s great for guilds like mine to help fill out a raid in case we’re short players by using a service like Open Raid.

Another benefit? You can start selling guild runs and kills. It’s also known as “guild boosting”.

There’s a market out there for players who want the normal mode achievement. There’s players who want the gear that your guild has been routinely sharding week after week. People might scoff and laugh, but there’s always going to be a buyer. People want the loot, the achievements, and the mounts but aren’t necessarily able to commit the time required to a proper raiding guild. Just keep in mind that gold and loot still can’t be traded on non-connected realms so they’d have to transfer a character with gold plus the items that are the rough equivalent to the price negotiated upon. I’ve seen some players willing to transfer an alt and then boosting their main.

Want to make it even easier? Make sure the alt is the GM of their own guild. Last I checked, guild bank transfer limits were at 1 million gold. The character needs to meet the requirements though.

How does one go about it?

I’d strongly suggest doing this with a 25 man raiding team. I imagine it’s significantly harder to carry a person on 10.

Step 1: Discuss it with your guild

I’m using the word “discuss” in a loose term. It should be pretty easy to sell your guild on the idea. Remind them that that funds coming in are going to guild repairs and to the next expansion (recipes, crafting materials, enchants, etc). Will your participating raid members obtain a small cut? If you’ve already made that decision to sell runs, let the guild know. Any dissenters can be silenced with sound reasoning. If they still disagree, well that’s ultimately up to you to decide. No one has to participate if they don’t want to.

We’ll get to the actual agreements in a moment.

Step 2: Advertise it

You can sell something but if no one knows about it, you’re not going to be able to make any gold. No one’s going to come to a run they don’t know about! Hit up trade chat and see if anyone local is interested in the kills. Failing that, see if anyone on Open Raid is willing to go. Advertise on your server’s forums! They’ll ask you for a price and that’s going to fluctuate greatly based on things like your server progression, what they’re entitled to, what bosses are going down, and so forth.

If you have a guild website, consider creating a page dedicated to this information. Make sure you include the important stuff like the price and what they get. Include who they should message about it. Throw in the dates and times if you know it for a fact. If loot prices are different, specify that too.

In fact, some guilds have websites with full pages dedicated to just selling runs.

That’s where the next step comes into play…

Step 3: Settle on the terms and price

Are clients paying for just a Garrosh kill? Do they want a specific item? Do they want all items? Are they expecting a full clear? Heroic boss kills? All of those factor into. Speak to your client and figure out what they want. It seems the going rate for a straight up Garrosh kill with whatever loot they want is 15k.

A full heroic 14/14 run with loot, achievements, and the mount went for upwards of 800k gold.
A full heroic clear with just the achievements and no loot went for 300k.
Heroic gear: 20k Heroic Warforged: 30k
Heroic weapons: 35k
Heroic Warforged weapons: 80k.

Naturally the going rate of this stuff is going to be influenced by demand and the progression capabilities of your server.

Figure out and set your guild prices for:

  • Loot (Both normal and warforged)
  • Achievements
  • Mounts
  • Titles

Talk to your client and figure out exactly what they want and what they’re paying for. Once you have that step figured out…

Step 4: Arrange payment

Take a deposit.

Some guilds ask for non-refundable 15% up front. Other guilds ask for 50%. Consider cutting a deal on the price if the run is scheduled to occur on the day of. Again, this obviously isn’t going to work if the player is on a cross realm since they can’t trade gold but if they’re willing to transfer servers on an alt, take that into consideration. I find that the more well-known a guild is, the higher the deposit they can command. Reputation seems to play a big part. Guilds that routinely top the kills race ask for a higher deposit because they don’t want to be ripped off. Buyers can rest easily knowing that these are guilds who are also quite serious and skilled at what they do.

Step 5: The logistics

This up to the raid leader to decide. Which player is going to sit? Is the client going to attempt to participate and contribute? It might just be easier for them to die immediately and AFK lest they accidentally mess up the kill. This is where the client can pay up the rest of the fee associated with the run.

Does all this sound ridiculous? Unrealistic? Who’d pay that much gold for this stuff? Y’know, there’s over 7 million subscribers. There’s going to be a select few who are willing to buy their way to the top.

Last minute reminder: There is an absolute ton of risk involved in these kinds of transactions. There’s no guarantee the guild can carry a person from start to finish. There’s no guarantee a person is able and willing to pony up the rest of the mentioned fee. Either party can get ripped off at any time. If something doesn’t sound right, walk away. I doubt Blizzard GMs will be able to assist with this type of stuff if someone gets scammed or ripped off.