Which Warlords of Draenor Racial Would You Want Now?

A few days ago, Warcraft Technical Game Designer Celestalon dispensed two hours worth of information on Twitter. One specific topic caught my eye. It’s no secret that racial bonuses in the game are a little skewed and slightly imbalanced. Many of the top tier raiding guilds are Horde and I’m fairly certain much of it is due to the min-maxing bonuses that the racials provide. So come Warlords, they’re mostly getting overhauled. While nothing has been finalized just yet, here’s where the racials stand right now.

WoW Head’s Perculia did a phenomenal job hunting down and assembling the information in an easily digestible package right here. You can check out the official blue post about racials here.

Alliance

  • Draenei Heroic Presence is now +X to your primary stat. Gift of the Naaru heals for the same amount but over 5 sec. 
  • Dwarf: Lost  Crack Shot and  Mace Specialization. Gained Might of the Mountain, a passive which adds 2% Crit Damage. Also… A change to Stoneform: Also removes Magic/Curse. HOWEVER, it still cannot be used while CC’d. (It is still NOT a CC-break) 
  • Gnome Escape Artist dropped to a 1min CD (from 1.5min), and  Shortblade Specialization became Nimble Fingers, 1% Haste. Also- A tweak to  Expansive Mind. Was +5% max Mana. Now +5% Max Mana, Energy, Rage, or Runic Power. 
  • Humans lose the Mace/Sword racials.  The Human Spirit becomes +X to two secondary stats of your choice.  Every Man for Himself, we’re still evaluating. Itemization changes may mean no nerf needed. 
  • Night Elves Quickness also increases movement speed by 2% passively. They also got a new passive which is quite unique… (Remember, no more haste breakpoints!) Touch of Elune, a new passive which grants 1% Haste at night, 1% Crit during the day.Shadowmeld is unchanged. 
  • Worgen: Darkflight is staying unchanged. 

Horde

Pandaren, of course, will most likely not see a change and retain their Epicurean bonus.

The Draenei racial bonus is much more appealing. Too bad we don’t know what the +X value is for the primary stat. It’s going to go right to Intellect for priests of all kinds. Gift of the Naaru will heal 20% of a target’s health over 5 seconds (instead of 15). It’s another healing spell you can add to your bar and you can save it for emergencies (every 3 minutes).

My first Priest was a Dwarf. I miss Stoneform and the ability to shrug off poisons. Now it functions as a secondary self dispel since it can remove magic debuffs and curses. The extra crit damage is handy for the Shadow and the Discipline Smiters though. May not be as helpful for Holy.

What about the Gnomes? There’s still the bonus to mana but it’s been expanded to include the energy of other class types. The natural 1% haste is new and useful for all priest types.

Humans gain a rather unique spin to their buff. They get to select which two secondary stats get a bonus. I imagine one of those will be Spirit and the other will be Haste, Crit, or Mastery — Whatever your priest is short on. An interface is being worked up right now allowing you to pick. The ability to pick and choose offers some neat flexibility.

Night Elves. Sigh. Really? Server time makes a difference now? Blah. I hate randomness. But it looks like there’s not much that can be done about that.

Horde side, Blood Elves continue to be the winner. The crit bonus passive is second only to Arcane Torrent’s innate mana restoring capability.

Goblins? The ability to Rocket Jump is huge in heavy movement fights. Now you get a flat 1% haste instead of a bonus to attack and bast speed.

Orcs can’t play priests so that point is rather moot.

Tauren Priests are already benefitting from a slight stamina boost allowing them to withstand a little more damage than usual. But the new Brawn bonus is a solid boon for priests of all types.

The first iteration of the Troll’s Berserking was pretty overpowered. It was like a mini-Heroism on demand. Now it’s been nerfed to a flat 15% Haste bonus instead of the 20%. Not quite as good but still reliable for burst healing your way through stuff.

Huge nerf to the Undead’s Will of the Forsaken with the cooldown going up. No other changes.

So let’s assume that you’re rolling a new Priest. You have all these excellent racials available to you. No more of the junk bonus to hit or expertise or any of that stuff.

Which one should you go for?

If you plan on playing Alliance, I would favour the Draenei bonuses. Hard to say for sure without knowing what the X value is. If you’re PvPing, Dwarves or Gnomes are a good bet. I like Gnomes though since Escape Artist is handy (and the fast cooldown).

If you plan on playing Horde, I’m leaning towards Blood Elves. That mana restore is so nice to have especially on progression fights when you’re tapped out. Berserking is another trait you’ll find attractive and is great if you’re playing either shadow or healing.

Personally, I’m staying a Pandaren. Can’t get enough of that food buff.

Raid Leader Questions: Reset or Extend?

Raid Leader Questions: Reset or Extend?

Back in Wrath, right around the era of the Trial of the Crusader patch, Blizzard pushed out a new feature. It was a tool designed for raids who didn’t raid as often or who had trouble investing significant and meaningful hours in progression before the week reset and all their progression and work had been lost.

Yes, the lockout extension feature.

To my knowledge, it was one of those things that not many players really raved about but no one slammed it down either. It was completely optional and not many had the desire to extend it. Two expansions later, raids are getting larger, there’s more trash in the way, and time just seems to be a factor. This isn’t 5 years ago where I was in a raid that insisted on everyone going way past their bed time to get that much needed kill in. I was in guilds that asked much of their players to sacrifice sleep and hours for the sake of progression.

When Conquest was first formed, one of the key decisions was laying down our hours. In order to maximize the potential pool of players, I ensured that our times were west and east coast friendly. But this had the cost where we would not be able to go past our end times even if we had gotten a boss down to 1%. With Siege of Orgrimmar being the deep instance that it is, many of the players lobbied for more time on end bosses and extensions on the week to put in more work. It’s paid off because we secured kills on Nazgrim and Malkorok on the days where we normally would’ve reset.

At the same time, like other raiding guilds, we’ve seen our share of players come and go. This is the part of the expansion where many players are slowly returning back to the game. They’re smart and skilled players, but sometimes there’s nothing they can do to survive through a large explosion even with all their defensive cooldowns used simply because their health is too low. Or we’re not able to meet a DPS check on an earlier boss like Norushen and Sha of Pride.

It’s a tough balancing act between providing our newer players with the gear and experience they need now so they can be in a position to help us later versus ensuring that the raid has adequate time to work on progression bosses in the second half of Siege. Blizzard has announced the end of the Challenge Mode season coming soon to coincide with a new patch deployment. While there’s been no mention of a friends and family alpha, the patch signals that we’re one milestone closer to the next expansion and our time in Siege is growing shorter.

How long does it take to gear a freshly geared 90 and put them in a position where they are no longer a detriment to a heroic raid boss?

My estimate is 3-4 weeks. This includes running the raid finder, flex raids, using crafted pieces, and completely carrying them through any available farm content. On 25 man, that time could be cut to 2-3 weeks largely due to the larger pool of gear that drops from killing bosses (6 items on 25 vs 2 items on 10) and this assumes they’re diligent in farming their Lesser Charms on the island or via pet battles.

Reset please!

My original stance was to continue weekly raid resets. Until we’ve got a core group of 25-30 players who’ve been around long enough where they don’t need gear anymore, we’re going to need to keep that farming going. Every once in a while, we can pull in a player who is already at our level and ready to go to the point where we don’t need to gear them out. If we don’t funnel gear, eventually we’ll reach a point where we run out of players to bring in (because turnover, people leaving/quitting/new jobs/no time, etc). Our depth is amazing. It’s how we can even field raids sometimes. There’s always going to be a bottom end and we have to narrow that gap between top and bottom to help make it easier for us when we reach the harder progression bosses. It makes sense to do this at the beginning of the tier as well to really maximize all that gear coming in.

Now here’s the flip side of the equation.

Extend please!

When we get to a new boss, we need time to learn the nuances. We have to learn the new phases and mechanics that come with it. We have to wipe to it. We have to see it so that we can understand and then execute. This usually happens towards the end of the week because the first part of the week is spent clearing UP to that boss. Our ultimate end objective is to KILL everything in this instance. The fact that it’s the final tier in the expansion means that we have a silent countdown clock hanging except we don’t know what the end time is going to be. I’d rather err on the side of clearing everything early then clearing everything too late. I want to get these guys a heroic Garrosh kill. That’s what we’re all here to do. Just when it seems like we’re all prepared and ready to take down a new boss, we run out of time, and it’s Tuesday. We have to kill all that stuff again. And guess what? There’s days where our consistency and our mindset isn’t there and we don’t even GET to the new boss that we want which cuts in to our progression time, and then boom, reset again.

This is where we are at today. This is why I proposed the compromise of 3 pulls to get it done on farm or else we move on. It helps ensure chances on getting the players that need gear their gear while simultaneously ensuring that we have enough allocated time to work on a new progression boss. Problem is, that isn’t good enough anymore.

We’re still lacking on time. In the end, we’ve opted to switch to an extended week schedule. Week 1 is spent getting as far as we can, week 2 is spent extending to work on whichever boss we just cleared to. Any new recruits are typically brought in during week 1 to learn and get suitably equipped.  Our veterans and heavy hitters are brought in for the progression stuff.

I really miss winged instances.

Giving You Crit for Dying: When is a Good Time?

Giving You Crit for Dying: When is a Good Time?

Like any guild leader would, I posted Hamlet’s latest post on Raid Awareness on my guild forums. They’re all good lessons and solid pointers. It’s all anyone can really ask for from their guild. Most of the team already knows it but it doesn’t hurt to have a little reminder from time to time. Many things shouldn’t be said but we’re nearing the end of the expansion where newer players are returning who haven’t quite raided at a heroic level before and could benefit from the points that were listed.

One of our newer players brought up a solid point about failure and dying.

I’ve discussed it a little with people but it definitely feels as a newer raider that there’s a much greater emphasis on failure as an “app” or “new” person than some of the older ones.

And this is absolutely true. Leaders tend to put recruits under the microscope much more.

The other night, we were working on Heroic Sha of Pride. One of my veteran players was standing on their projection which is the correct play. However, they spotted a rift on the ground nearby and immediately went over to that before the projection detonated. Even though she didn’t cause a wipe, the raid healers immediately crapped their pants (or in this case, blew all the survival cooldowns at the same time to stabilize).

Here we have a player who has done the encounter many times and wiped with us when we were learning it on both normal and heroic. What happened was a simple brain fart.

I could have reprimanded that player easily. But what effect would it have had? They already knew the mistake and owned up to it right away after the encounter. It was a simple mechanics error that anyone could’ve made (y’know, except me). Would me berating them incessantly and in public absolutely prevent that from happening again from anyone? Probably not. I might mention it as a PSA reminder to everyone (“PROJECTIONS FIRST, EVERYTHING ELSE LATER”), but that’s all.

Now what happens when a new recruit screws up?

Here they are trying to make a good first impression. That they know their mechanics. They want to show that they belong and that they can roll with the team. Before we engage the boss, I say one thing to every new recruit.

I don’t give two crits about your DPS or your healing right now. For one, most of you don’t have your cloak or your meta. Or alternatively, you’re not as heroic geared as the rest of the team I have. Don’t even try to match them pound for pound. You really want to impress me? Don’t die. The single most important thing you can do on this fight is to survive. Do that job well and everything else will follow.

The players that we’re pulling in? Their experience usually ends up being exposed to flex raiding or some normal fights. Often times these are players who’ve wanted to make the jump to heroic raiding but were never in an organization that was capable or they’re returning players who’ve demonstrated what they could do in older expansions with those heroic encounters. Even Flex and Raid Finder mechanics are easily shruggable. What’s the point of dodging the crap that gets thrown your way or the fire on the ground if it just tickles?

That veteran player up there who made a mistake? She knows what she did wrong. The new recruit who came in who has never learned the normal mode or heroic mode mechanics with us? He may not know what he did. Maybe he’s never stacked enough pride to even reach the projections portion of the fight. That’s when I’ll step in and tell them what happened, what he did wrong, and how he can prevent that from happening again in the future. Players like to associate educating a player with giving player crap for screwing up. Eh, it’s more like attempting to correct their errors.

Why the public mumble reprimand in front of the 30 players listening and raiding versus the private tell?

  1. It’s a reminder: Maybe some other new recruit hadn’t seen it before and hadn’t died to it yet. With luck, I’ll have prevented another future wipe when the second recruit is aware of why and how the first recruit died.
  2. People can stop sending me tells: Seriously team, I don’t need ten whispers telling me that the recruit died because they goofed on something. By gently informing the player publically, it’s an indirect and subtle message to the rest of the raid that a) Yes, I know they screwed up and b) You can all stop messaging me now.

It loses effectiveness. I rarely lose my temper. Alumni and current raiders know this. I’ve been told that I should lose my cool a little more often. At the same time, I know that if I do that, it’ll lose the message I’m trying to convey and not be as effective. So I’ll try to save it for those times when I know it’ll be most beneficial to jump start the raid a little.

The same thing goes with player reprimands. Imagine if I gave crit to a player for every minor mistake they made. I don’t know about you, but I figure they’d get tired and exasperated pretty quickly and start tuning me out (Note that they already do because I’m blasting variations of Katy Perry or Beyonce when I’m talking). It would be the equivalent of the hockey coach losing the locker room. I think it’d also accelerate my own burnout with the game and raiding in general. But I also understand it when it seems like if nothing is said about a player error that it’s overlooked and swept under the rug. It does look like leniency.

This is where the old Ensidia Fails addon comes into play (and for some reason has stopped working from me). It spits out who stood in what or who screwed up for that attempt right after a wipe. Name on that list? You know what you did wrong. Name on that list because you stood in it to intentionally wipe faster? You know that too.

Let me ask you this. Do you play better when your raid leader gives you crap on a farm fight that you should already know? How about a progression fight? Under what circumstances would you prefer your raid leader directly hold you accountable? All the time? Some of the time? Never?

We’re Connected!

Another set of realm connections went out this week and Ner’zhul was attached to two other servers! Are they higher pop? Would they bring in more activity? Ner’zhul is one of the oldest WoW servers out there. At our peak, we used to be 3rd (or 4th) in terms of server progression back at the end of Sunwell and early Wrath. We’ve slowly been slipping away and are just shy of the top 15.

So who did we end up getting matched with?

Some server called Frostmourne apparently. A quick look up shows them being 6th with over 9000 progressed Alliance players compared to Ner’zhuls 1000+. That’s awesome! Our auction house is going to start kicking again! Alliance players won’t get rolled as much on Timeless Isle! There’s going to be PEOPLE aga-!

No Matt, it’s actually FrostMANE, not Frostmourne.

What? Oh.

It’s got 700 Alliance players and one decent 25 man progression guild Alliance side. I mean, it’s no Frostmourne but at least there’s another server that comes with it. Not one but two server merges!

Tortheldrin! It has an Alliance progression population of… 6! Zero 25 man raiding guilds!

Not that I’m complaining. Surely we can help these servers out a bit right? Have to admit, when I logged in, trade chat was more hilarious than usual. There’s Ner’zhulians and Frostmanes trying to welcome each other to their server.

Oh you Frostmane people are so cute. Welcome to the Ner’zhul show.

A side effect of the server merge seems to be that our time zone has changed. We’re no longer a pacific time zone server as we’ve shifted two hours in the future. We’re now a central time zone server. In addition, the server raid lockout reset! Another day of more bosses and loot from Immerseus to Shamans. There was a heroic Warforged healing trinket from Sha of Pride but I didn’t get it.

High command called a meeting after Tuesday night. We were going over the latest personnel reports. They called me in. My time as a mediocre shadow DPS player was done. The healing contingent needed reinforcing and it was getting harder to ask our dual specced DPS players to constantly switch to their healing spec when they were much more effective slinging Stormstrikes and Starfires. The reason I had gone Shadow in the first place was because I couldn’t run the raid and heal at the same time. Months ago, we elevated a new supreme commander to spearhead our raid so that’s no longer a problem. It’s time to shelve the Shadow gear and instill a sense of… Discipline back into the raid.

No drop of mana will be spared.

Cooldowns will be used.

Raiders will live but 15 seconds longer than they would otherwise.

Just long enough for us to kill the boss at least.

Happy Belated New Year!

Happy Belated New Year!

I remember 2013 like it was just a few weeks ago. I trust the holidays and the subsequent post holidays have been kind to everyone? My apologies for being radio silent. It’s been quite the busy few weeks for the guild and I. Prior to the holidays, we had only mustered 3 heroic kills in Siege. Entering next week, we’ll be at 7/14 heroic (while expecting an 8th on Monday). The holiday season is the second biggest offender when it comes to roster turnover (with school and early Fall being my first pick as the top time for players leaving).

Every so often, I still get emails and messages from people asking about the Matticast and what’s going on with it. Every time, I have to respond saying that there’s no chance it’s coming back. We had a good run but everyone involved has moved on. I myself miss the podcasting circuit but to be frank, I lack the technical skillsets to really pull it off. That doesn’t mean I’m not willing to participate though (but more on this later).

This last week I made an appearance on the Starting Zone in their Hearthstone episode.

On a personal front, I’ve just recently made the move out on my own! Scored a condo within the same city. I call it… the Matt-chelor pad (or the Mattcave for short).

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The view from my balcony. Vancouver’s being slowly enveloped in fog. Kinda Sleepy Hollow-esque (and I stopped watching that show after the 2nd episode because I was too scared).

photo 1

One of the first meals I made was a pizza in the oven. I uh, didn’t realize I could rearrange the toppings when they were still frozen. Ah well, I consider it a half pepperoni, half cheese pizza!

photo 2 photo 3

My battlestation above.

I’m learning a ton of things now that I’m on my own. My own guild’s facepalmed at some of the questions they’ve heard from me so no way am I going to share that here!

Hearthstone

The first test season ended not too long ago. I managed to hit the fifth rank (no, not legendary). On top of that, they changed and nerfed several cards. That more or less neutered my mage and warlock decks. Right now I’m sitting at a paltry rank 15 and slowly working my way back up. There’s way more people playing now especially since Blizzard has opened the floodgates for everyone that has opted in.

World of Warcraft

Conquest has eliminated every boss in order from Immerseus to Dark Shamans on heroic mode. Looks like the holiday break didn’t take too much wind out of our sails. We lost a number of players but also gained a few. Oddly enough, my old raid leader back from Burning Crusade had returned to the game and wanted to raid again (several expansions later). Another friend from an old guild (which used to be the top guild on the server) also came back.

With those pickups and others, we’ve had to revise our recruiting standards a bit. Now we’re looking for players who have at least acquired their meta and soon we’ll be changing that to having legendary cloaks. We’re pushing into the second half of Siege which means less time farming and backtracking for all that stuff. If a recruit isn’t able to contribute right now, then they’re not going to see much action in raids since we need those cloak effects in there.

We’ll be working on General Nazgrim come Monday. Hoping to add another notch on the Conquest belt. Speaking of recruiting, we’re looking for DPS players for now and for Warlords (especially Warlocks, ret Paladins, and Death Knights).

The Raid Mechanics

Okay, let’s circle back to the podcasting bit for a moment. I mentioned that I wasn’t interested in the technical production side of things but I still love talking about the game. A while ago, I applied as a co-host for the Twizzcast.

Alas, I didn’t make the cut. He mentioned something about being overqualified, but I bet it’s most likely because I was Canadian (or Alliance). That’s okay though because it turns out he was working on a side project and felt that I was best suited for that.

It’s called the Raid Mechanics (on Twitch). You’ll find it soon on BlizzPro.TV.

In a nutshell, it’s a show devoted primarily for raiders who are just starting or who are already experienced. We’re not even going to try to target anyone at the server first level or higher because those guilds don’t need us. What we want to do here is provide a resource for players who tank, heal, or DPS and offer our insight along with tips to help them get through encounters easier. We do plan to touch upon the overarching strategy of each boss on both normal and heroic for 10s and 25s players.

One aspect of the Matticast I really missed was when all the hosts were just sitting around and talking about general guild and raid problems. I’m not referring to problems with the strategy, but more around philosophy and personnel management. This is something I’m hoping to get back into again on the Raid Mechanics show. For example, issues that come up related to recruiting, systems, or day-to-day guild stuff. I couldn’t get enough of it so expect to see some of that.

The New Hearthstone Patch!

With the release of the new Hearthstone patch, the entire ranking system has been revamped. No more of this Masters 3 star business. No more seeing “I got to Masters 3 with an 85% win rate using [your class type here]”. With the previous system, it was entirely possible to grind to the very top by virtue of dogged resilience. You never lost rating even if you did lose matches! I just hit ranked 14 and it is a dog fight to climb to the top. Mages seem to be the hew flavour of the month. For every 5 mage decks, I play some other random class. It’s getting to the point where I need to put together an anti-mage deck.

In the business of Warcraft, Conquest continues to steadily progress. Heroic Sha of Pride fell to our arms. I was drafted to heal tonight since a few of our regular and backup healers weren’t around. I made the switch back to discipline from holy. It isn’t as much fun for me to play but I can’t deny the results either. We’ve started making pulls on heroic Galakras but if the first few pulls are any indication, it’s going to be an endurance race. We went up to 10 minutes before we were eventually overwhelmed.

Any heroic level healers looking for a raiding guild? I’m looking to pick up some non-priests since that would free me up and allow me to play shadow again. We’re about to enter the holiday stretch anyway.

Happy holidays, everyone!

How does a 25 player guild handle Mythic raiding?

How does a 25 player guild handle Mythic raiding?

Ever since the announcement of BlizzCon with the revisions to raid, I’ve been asked countless times (both in guild and from players out of guild) what I was going to do.

Are we going to just stick to heroic raiding?

Are we going to have to make cuts for mythic?

What will our raid plans be since they’re all on separate lockouts now?

Before we get into that, I wanted to offer my thoughts on Mythic raiding in general. Suffice it to say, it was a long time coming. Back when SWTOR came out and there were players raiding, I felt that 16 players was a solid raid size. There weren’t that many people involved and it still captured the feelings of “epicness” when it comes to taking down monsters. Discussing it with my friends, I hoped that Blizzard would eventually make that jump down to 20 or 15. Little did I know, they did allow for that.

new-raid

The new Flex raid system that came out with patch 5.4 was simply the first step. You could have a 12 man raiding guild or a 17 player or whatever you wanted and the encounter would dynamically scale. 10 player guilds didn’t have to feel bad about benching their friends. 25 player guilds didn’t have to struggle when a player or two needed to take a night off. As far as I can tell, the reaction to Flex raiding was overwhelmingly positive.

This leads us to Warlords of Draenor and the new Mythic raiding difficulty level. Why did they decide on 20?

We chose to put Mythic at 20 largely for the function of raid design. One of the biggest issues we’re currently facing with 10-player Heroic raiding is that of raid composition. It’s impossible for every group to have every class, and often that means they’re lacking in certain tools, which in turn means that we can’t design encounters around those tools (or if we do, it becomes extremely frustrating for the 10-player Heroic guild that suddenly needs a Paladin for Hand of Protection).

We want to be able to use those sorts of mechanics again. Those of you who have been with us for a while might remember things like Mage tanks on High King Maulgar, or Priests using Mind Control on Instructor Razuvious. We want it to be okay when, say, the Paladin can use Hand of Protection to clear a dangerous debuff, because we can reasonably assume that most guilds will have at least one Paladin in their raid. We like it when someone gets to feel awesome and have a special task on a fight because of class abilities that otherwise wouldn’t get much use.

We can’t do that when we’re designing with a 10-player raid size in mind. We don’t think we’d be able to get away with it at 15 either. At 20, it becomes a lot more acceptable for us to say “you should probably bring a Mage to Spellsteal this.” And honestly, that’s just one example of the sort of encounter mechanics we can start to utilize in a larger group size.

I’d also call into question the statement of “It’s easier to drop people than it is to recruit them.” It’s technically true, yes — finding new raiders is harder than just not inviting the ones you have — but totally ignores the fact that cutting people from your roster often means losing people you like. Which feels better: making new friends, or telling your current ones that they don’t get to play with you any more? We’re already asking a lot of many 25-player Heroic groups to cut 5 people.

As I mentioned before, this was not a decision we came to lightly. It’s definitely going to be a very scary transition for a lot of people. We knew that when we made the decision. We just also feel quite strongly that, when the dust settles, we’ll be able to provide a better raiding experience for everyone.

Source

That highlighted selection is the problem I have on my hands. Granted, the expansion is still an extremely long time away. I understand that there’s a few 10 man guilds that are upset by this change going up. Maybe it’s server population reasons or that they just don’t like the idea of doubling their roster for mythic. For most normal mode raiding guilds, that’s not going to be a problem here since the heroic mode of Warlords still allows for that.  If Conquest was primarily a 10 man organization, I’d have no problems upscaling it. The problem is that we’re a 25 and I have to tell ~20% of my team that I have to rebalance the raid group and they’re not going to be on the starting lineup.

If there’s one thing I know about guild leaders though, is that they’re usually resilient. If they want something badly enough, they’ll find a way to make it happen.

Will Conquest just stick to heroic raiding?

No. During the opening week of the expansion, Mythic will not be available until the second week. We’ll start with heroic raiding first to get everyone acclimated. The first chance we get to duck into Mythic, we will. Our current plans are to fall back to Heroic raiding in the event of holiday weeks or extremely low attendance. The second option is to have a rotating bi-weekly schedule where we work on Heroic raids on week one, Mythic raids on week two (or get as far as we can). Gear is still important and we need to make sure every player has the tools that they need. The last option is we utilize Heroic raiding on the first two days of our schedule before switching to Mythic on the last day (or vice versa depending on our progression). It really is too soon to say because any number of things could change between now and the release of Warlords.

Bottom line? Both Heroic and Mythic will be on the table.

Are we going to have to make cuts for Mythic?

Yes. It’s math, right? We’re raiding 25s right now but we’ll have to eventually rebalance and downsize. I told everyone in guild to not worry about as much that we had months to go before the expansion.

The truth is that I’m already evaluating players between now and then. Based on what? Oh you know, the usual fare like DPS or other performance metrics. There’s also a secret Matt tolerance factor. Is that person fun to raid with or are they just downright annoying? Do they increase my rage meter? We’ll see what happens! There’s still a long way to go! Maybe I’ll do a secret Hunger games style thing.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on Mythic raiding. I’ve handled the transition from 40 to 25 before. I’m no stranger to making the jump in raid sizes if I have to. The players who don’t end up being on my protected list won’t be ejected out or anything. There’s still Heroic mode raiding to do plus there’s all sorts of other activities to participate in-game with. I have no plans to outright punt anyone outside of the guild. Some of our longer term players were surprised to find that their characters were still sporting our guild tag. I guess they expected me to have kicked them out at some point due to inactivity. Of course, I told them that I would never do that because I knew that one day they’d return.

In reality, I’m actually that lazy.

Back from BlizzCon 2013

Back from BlizzCon 2013

I’m exchanging the 20° of Anaheim for the much more comfortable 10° of Canada. Not sure how those people do it with those temperatures! I need my climate control.

In any case, I had a fantastic time at BlizzCon and it was great to meet up with the Conquest crew (past and present). I think we had around 30 members representing this year who’ve been with us at some point or other. Since it was around two years the last time I saw them, it was refreshing to see everyone again.

Here’s a quick recap of the whole week:

Day 1 (Wednesday)

The first day is practically a necessity for me now. I have to get acclimated to the surroundings. It’s also a great time to take care of administrative stuff like getting a US SIM card and stocking up on alcohol! Never ceases to amaze me how much more affordable this stuff is compared to us back home. The Jamaican Appleton I picked up didn’t last the rest of the week. It’s virtually a quieter day where I link up with the guildies who are here and we just catchup and chat about stuff.

I also pre-pre-gamed. Never drinking any fireballs again. Learned my lesson. Threw up twice but at least I knew what my limits were and I managed to get that out of the way.

Day 2 (Thursday)

This is when everything starts to pick up. With the WoW Insider party in the evening, I met up with the rest of the team to sketch out battle plans and strats for the next two days. It’s important to help minimize overlap and ensure that we’re as efficient as possible with coverage. The remote teams were the heroes here as they helped make any edits and corrections. After that, it’s partying the rest of the night! Ran into several blues and other prominent figures in the Warcraft community. The drink lines were long but the secret to that is tipping really well the first time, waving cash, and knowing exactly what you want.

Day 3 (Friday)

BlizzCon opening! I volunteered to be one of the demo testers in obtaining a first impression of Warlords of Draenor. Skipped out on the opening ceremony and lined up right by the bank of machines that were all deceptively idle. The desktop icon showed WoW PTR 6.0. Caught the cinematics to Heroes of the Storm and the Warlords presentation. There were three selections for the demo: Alliance questing, Horde questing, or putting together a 5 man and running the dungeon. Thankfully, I’m familiar with healing and reconfiguring the UI on the go. Our party consisted of me, Sarah Pine, and three other attendees as we all opted to put together a team for the dungeon. It was a bit of a tough start because I kept missing certain keys and had to rebind on the fly, but we did decently toward the end. The rest of that day was spent attending various panels and special meetings with developers (Press only). Wanted to play  Heroes of the Storm but I couldn’t get away early enough. So much to do so I opted to go next day. In the evening, our guild dinner was at a local restaurant with taxi distance. From previous years, I knew that getting a booking for a large group of people in nearby convention restaurants was going to be almost impossible.

Other than my slightly extra nuked steak, it was a great moment to just unwind and unburden myself of being a GM or being Matticus. I could just be Matt.

Day 4 (Saturday)

With the first day of BlizzCon in the books, the second day is a little more relaxed. I can hit the floor and check out some of the other demos or pick up other gear. The Heroes of the Storm line was easily two hours long. Wish they had a fast pass system like Disney but I wandered around instead before waltzing into the BlizzPro/TwizzCast meetup at 2 PM then returned later at 4 PM for the WoW Insider meet and greet for the fans that missed out on Thursday. After that, it was dinner again! I love ribeye. It was a smaller and more intimate group of friends and then we bounced back to the Hilton where the real festivities began. The Hilton after party is always a must. It can be suffocating and it’s definitely not for everyone. But I relish in the atmosphere and chatted with my guild along with other friends (old and new) who were around and about. Excellent time to catch up and collect everyone’s thoughts for the upcoming expansion. I also met Watcher for the first time!

Day 5 (Sunday)

Disneyland was the final destination. The last time I was here was when I was 2 years old so I wasn’t able to really appreciate the parks. I just did the Disney side mostly. Only had time for three attractions: Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Teacup ride. Really wanted to do Indiana Jones but that was closed (only to be reopened not long after I left).

Can’t wait for next year!

I’ll go over my thoughts in more detail in the upcoming days. But for now, here’s what I liked and what I didn’t.

Yay’s

  • Garrisons
  • Reviving the in-game raid browser
  • Racial re-balance
  • One instant level 90
  • Removal of hit, expertise, dodge, and parry
  • Heroes of the Storm

Nay’s

  • Mythic raiding’s reduced roster size
  • Removal of reforging (Although I suspect I’ll change my mind fast)
  • Garrosh again
  • Nerfs to Hearthstone’s hunter cards

How Many Hearthstone Wins Does it Take to get to Masters?

Curious as to the amount of wins it takes to reach Masters? After the first beta wipe, I kept a running tally of the approximate wins it took to advance up the tiers. If you hit the quest log, it keeps a total of the amount of wins you have in constructed play and in the arena. It does not keep a record of your losses.

Let’s keep a few things in mind here first. I had around 300+ packs to open up due to the amount I invested into the game. This gave me a much larger card pool to work with than most players. Anything I didn’t have, I purchased with dust that I blew up my duplicates with which gave me three competitive decks out of the gate: Shaman control, Hunter aggro, and Murlock aggro. Most of the time, I mained my but would switch it up in case I ran into a string of losses.

I know, I’m superstitious.

Here’s the amount of total wins per tier it took me to advance.

Bronze 1: 1 win
Bronze 2: 2 wins
Bronze 3: 3 wins
Silver 1: 5 wins
Silver 2: 6 wins
Silver 3: 8 wins
Gold 1: 12 wins
Gold 2: 16 wins
Gold 3: 19 wins
Platinum 1: 23 wins
Platinum 2: 29 wins
Platinum 3: 34 wins
Diamond: 39 wins
Diamond 2: 52 wins
Diamond 3: 58 wins
Masters 1: 115 wins
Masters 2: (After reset) 143 wins
Masters 3: (After reset) 161 wins

I’m not sure what other factors are incorporated into the ranking system. If it’s straight wins, then it means everyone eventually can get into masters. After the reset last week, I resumed ranking again and it seemed that every win advanced my rank up. There’s a huge gap between Diamond and Masters. It took almost twice as long to get from Diamond 3 to Masters 1 as it does to get from Bronze 1 to Diamond 3. If you knock off the 15 wins it took after the second reset, then it’ll have taken around 128 wins to go from Journeyman to Masters 2 and 143 wins to go from Journeyman to Masters 3.

My suspicion is that I have a hidden matchmaking rating (MMR) somewhere which remained the same after the reset last week which explains why I was able to climb the ladder that much quicker compared to the first time. I’m really curious as to what other factors come into play with regards to ranks. Does it take into the account the strength or power of your deck? How fast you win? Activities in a match?

I have no idea if Grandmaster rankings have been implemented yet. Have you been keeping track of your wins?

Quest log wishlist

Track wins: How many wins have I had against other players in ranked vs unranked?
Track losses: I’d like to know what my win/loss ratio is.
Deck statistics: How many wins do I have for a specific class? How many losses? What’s my record against other select deck classes? What’s my win percentage as a Hunter deck vs Warlocks or Priests?
Other cool statistics: How many minions have I killed over time? How many minions have I put on the board? How much total damage have I inflicted? How much damage have I taken?
Hearthstone: Hunter Beast Mastery

Hearthstone: Hunter Beast Mastery

Looking for a decent yet affordable deck to start with? I’ve been piloting the Hunter deck mostly to start with as I start climbing my way back up to Masters and on. It’s a straightforward deck and easy to play. It relies heavily on minions to deliver the finishing blow and you have to be able to time your attacks as well as your targets or else it will cost you. Of course, a little luck never hurts either. The great thing about this though is that you’re either going to win fast or lose fast. The only majorly expensive thing is King Krush, but he’s more of a luxury. Scroll down to the bottom to see a narrated video of this in action!

Overview

You’ve got a hunter deck that’s full of mostly beasts. They’re all midrange costing beasts and they all have some utility. Your Ironbeak Owls can help control and ability threats. Your Buzzards help you draw cards. Animal Companions and Ironfur Grizzlies have their own thing going. Your spells consist of ways to either control the board or accelerate into draws you need.

Deck list

The Cards

Flare and Tracking: Tracking is pretty straight forward. Cast it and you can use it to help cycle and fish for options. There a taunt minion in the way? Hope you draw into a Hunter’s Mark or a Kill Command. Low on minions yourself? Fish the next three possible cards for some beasts to help power your offense.

Hunter’s Mark: Such a good card. For one, it’s free. Second, it allows any of your minions to trade with any of your opponent’s creatures. How pissed off are they going to be when their 4/7 Twilight Drake just got brought down to size and taken down with your 1/1 Snake?

Timber Wolf and Unleash the Hounds: Ideally, you don’t want to see Unleash the Hounds in your opening hand. Timber Wolf is a toss up. You can drop it turn 1, but I find it usually gets blown up early game. The +1 buff does come in handy mid to late game as it strengthens the rest of your minions. However, if you have a Buzzard in your hand, you can use it as a way to feed your hand size.

Snake Trap: I’ll almost always play this turn 2. If I can pair it with a Buzzard in play, even better. This deck needs cards to really keep going.

Ironbeak Owl: Do not play these willy nilly. Sit on these until there’s an actual threat on the board or if it can secure you a win. If your opponent’s big tree druid thing is in the way, silence it and let your army through.

Scavenging Hyena: This is insurance. If your opponents take out other minions, your Hyena gets larger. It’ll definitely attract removal because your opponent won’t want this to get large. What do they do if there’s a Buzzard and a Hyena and play with enough mana for only kill?

Starving Buzzard: I’ll almost always play these around turns 4 – 6. I make sure I have at least 1 beast to follow up with it (ideally 2). If possible, you want to try to protect it or make it really hard for your opponent to kill it (like forcing them to decide between that or a Timber Wolf or a Hyena).

Animal Companion: AC is a random card which can give you either Misha, Leokk, or Huffer. They’re all beneficial in their own ways and you’ll find your plays will

Kill Command and Multi-Shot: These are your direct removal spells. Kill Command has the benefit of being used directly against the player. So when calculating the amount of damage output your beasts have, keep this in mind.

Ironfur Grizzly: The Grizzly is like your best friend. Dependable and will usually take a shot for you (or two if you’re lucky). Don’t expect much more out of it then that since it’s mainly supposed to be a meat shield.

Houndmaster: Turns any of your beasts into meat shields. Great well to help defend your Buzzards.

Savannah Highmane: Throw these away from your opening hand if you see them. It’s a dead card until mid to late game anyway. But it plays right into the theme of your deck and provides durability against any board clears.

King Krush: Your finishing blow. Your upper cut. Your People’s Elbow. Your coup de grace. Need I say more?

Playing the deck

Opening draws: Throw away Unleash the Hounds, King Krush, Savannah Highmanes. You should definitely keep Tracking, Buzzards, Snake Traps, and almost every other minion. Keep Flare against mages, paladins, and other hunters. Keep Kill Command and Multi-Shot against hunters, warriors, and priests.

Everything you do should be used to either go straight to the opponent’s face, clear a path to your opponent’s face, or eliminate any threats that are bigger then you. Certain classes will give you a harder time than others. Know what other class capabilities are and identify what spells they have which can be used against you and play accordingly. Priests have Mind Control. Bait out your 4/3 Starving Hyena so they won’t steal your Highmane when you drop it next turn.

Know when to hold your beasts. If you already have board supremacy (like 3+ creatures) and are in good position, don’t overplay your hand! Your opponent might have a mass removal spell. Suddenly, those extra hyenas and owls you played are dead for no reason because you didn’t have to play them. If all your minions are dead, you have no other offense and you’re in top deck mode. Playing against a mage? Watch out for Blizzard. Against Warlocks? Hold them against Hellfire.

Your hero power is straight forward. 2 mana, 2 damage to the other player. Use it if you have nothing else to do. You should be able to get a few early ones in during the early and late game stage.

Learn how to maximize your minions abilities. For example, the Grizzly’s taunt is great at attracting attention. Your opponent must go through it. So if your opponent has a 4/3 on board without a taunt staring down your Grizzly, and it’s your turn, what should you do? You can attack into the 4/3 and suicide it. Or you can attack your opponent directly and let them attack into your Grizzly. In both scenarios, the opponent’s minion and your Grizzly are both dead. But in the second case, both are dead and you dealt 3 damage to your opponent resulting in steps closer to a win.

If you’re playing from behind, there is some hope but it depends on what your disadvantage is. If you’re behind on cards (as in your opponent has more cards in your hand then you) and a neutral board, it’s not going to look good. Don’t worry about your life total as much so long as it’s above zero, you’re okay. The strength of Hunter decks is based on their ability to burst opponents down in a turn or two. Well timed minion drops with an Unleash the Hounds can help tremendously even the score and even bring it back in your favor. Buzzards are the key to digging yourself out of a hole.

Good luck and good hunting!