Aion Beta Review From a WoW Player’s Perspective

Aion Beta Review From a WoW Player’s Perspective

Mage

I feel like I should put a disclaimer on this article for WoW fanboys and fangirls, because I am about to shower some praise (and criticism, of course) on a different MMO. I pre-ordered the regular edition of NCsoft’s Aion a couple of months ago, and I’ve been participating in some of the closed betas. Today I’m going to share with you my impressions of the game and speculate about its future playability. I’ll say upfront that I’m not planning, at least for myself anyway, to replace WoW with Aion. I’ve promised Matticus that I’ll stick around in WoW at least long enough to kill Arthas, and I hold to that. However, if Aion is as good as I think it might be, it might become the focus of some of my “casual time.”

The Art of Aion

The number one draw of most games for me is their art. WoW has largely been an exception to this rule. I would call the WoW graphics pleasant, even charming, and I certainly appreciate the ease of running WoW on my machine, but I’d never say that the WoW visuals are breathtaking. I gravitate toward strange, beautiful, and strangely beautiful images, and I was quite pleased to find that Aion has something of the look of a Miyazaki movie. In particular, the pastel desert style landscapes in early Elyos zones recall the visuals of his film Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind–a longtime favorite of mine. Below, you can see a screenshot of my character hovering over Verteron, which is an early quest hub. I like the mountains and glacial valley in this particular scene, especially as it’s punctuated with prehistoric-looking animals–it gives the world an ancient feel that I appreciate. Some zones are much more pastoral, but in general, the color palette is more muted that WoW’s–it uses more pastels and seems to prefer yellow and brown over blue and red. This look gives an overall impression of age and decadence, which fits the story quite well. After all, according to the game’s lore, we’re supposed to understand that the once-flourishing world was literally split in two by cosmic warfare. The game’s visuals, on the whole, support that claim. I have played mostly Elyos side, but poking around about in the Asmodean starting area I can say that the cooler palette of Asmodae continues the eerie feel of the game as a whole.

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Character Customization

Aion’s spectacularly sensitive character generation tools have probably gotten more press than any other aspect of the game. Unlike WoW, which essentially gives a player a few pre-determined models to choose from, Aion lets the user play with proportions of face and body and minute differences in color to render truly unique player characters. I will say that I still like WoW’s character creator. I’ve logged lots of hours creating my alts and then testing their hairstyles and movements. I also spend much more gold in the barbershops than anyone ought to. However, my need to create compelling characters was not really satisfied until I found Aion. I spent at least 6 hours on character creator, making one unique face at the start of each of my beta gaming sessions. I wish I’d taken screenshots of all the characters I created and destroyed, but I was able to make a mixture of face and body types that referenced different ethnicities. I’ll show you my three favorites: my sorcereress, my cleric, and my ranger.

char creator
This is my sorceress, whose name I won’t reveal because I intend to use it when Aion goes live. I created her to look like the main character of the novel I’ve been working on for longer than I’ll admit. So what I have here is a character who’s supposed to look innocent despite a rather odd appearance–prematurely white hair and goth makeup. I couldn’t resist adding the elf ears as a nod to my favorite characters in WoW. The result is more eerie than a generic Galadriel elf type, and I’m very pleased to run around on this character. The character animations and movements have a sort of dainty quality to them that I’ve enjoyed immensely. The picture below is the resting (restoring mana) animation for my character, and I have to say, she looks a bit like Alice in Wonderland in that pose.
resting

The next character is my cleric, which is the game’s main healing class. I couldn’t resist giving her Syd’s parsley-colored hair. She may be the most beautiful of the three characters I made, but I will have to say, of the three her face is closest to the preset values and thus there are probably many others like her out there.
Cleric

My third character, a ranger, probably took the most time to create, because I used a photograph of a Civil War general to help me approximate the look I wanted. It’s possible to spend hours and hours tweaking an Aion character to look like a photograph. Not all faces can be imitated, and the basic faces do have a certain similarity to each other. I’m not sure how good a job I did with the limited options, but my ranger does have sort of an archaic look that I just love.
Ranger

Basic Gameplay

So far, so good, right? Well, if one never looked beyond the quality of the art and character customization in Aion, it would be easy to say that it’s a great game. However, the finesse of the art is not matched by smooth gameplay. I found the basic controls in Aion to be similar to WoW and pretty workable, but I also made extensive use of macros and remapped most of my basic abilities for easier reach. I’m used to dpsing with a certain set of keys in WoW, and I made similar bindings for my sorcerer. However, Aion is certainly playable out of the box. The only exception to this is that the flight controls are automatically mapped to Page Up and Page Down, which are two keys I simply can’t reach if I’m using my mouse. Other than that, the only thing that’s truly egregious about the controls is that the left mouse button is used for click-to-move. Thank goodness that’s easy to unbind. I miss holding down left click to look around as I do in WoW, but that’s a minor thing. My Razer Death Adder mouse with its two thumb buttons simply doesn’t work with Aion, and that’s a pretty big disappointment. I had planned to put my health and mana recovery functions over there. From what I’ve read on the forums, the Logitech gaming mice do work. Sigh.

There are a few other little annoyances related to moving around and doing things in the world. I’m used to WoW, which has cleaned up its interface considerably, so I get frustrated with Aion’s more primitive system. In general, I would say that the controls in Aion are slower. The global cooldown occurs after, not during, a spell’s cast time, so to a WoW player a rotation will feel slow. Gathering also takes a considerable amount of time and uses a clunky animation, as does resting. Picking up quest items can be frustrating because of the game’s phasing system. While questing, you can change channels in order to better share the space with many players. However, I think this causes problems with looting quest items on the ground, as very often your character can’t interact with an object that you can see. In addition, every time you loot a quest item, you have to click a dialog box that says its ok to loot an untradeable item. This gets very annoying while solo questing.

The other thing that bothered me during questing had to do with my character’s voice animations. My sorceress talks too much, and she utters nonsense phrases that unfortunately sound a bit like words in English. I didn’t play the last closed beta, so I have no idea what the North American/European vocals for casting, resting, and hp/mana recovery sound like, but from what I’ve read, they use the same nonsense syllables as in the Korean version, just pronounced in a less “Asian” style. I hate to say it, but I made fun of my character all throughout the betas for her gibberish. For example, when I casted a nuke, my character said something that sounded like “Kick in the PANTS!”, and when I used a bandage, she declared that she was “shittin-n-pissin.” It’s too bad that I need my game sounds to play well. Here’s hoping that the character voices were localized for the NA audience in a thoughtful manner. We’ll see when the final version of the game is released. I don’t think I can play a character that constantly needs to relieve herself (and tell me about it).

I’ll also mention a couple of minor gameplay issues that certainly aren’t game-breaking but might be off-putting to WoW players in particular. When it’s time to learn new skills in Aion, bring a notebook. They are learned on a system similar to Warlock pets’ old grimoires, using spellbooks. It’s easy to miss one or buy the same one twice. I haven’t leveled a character enough to get into the stigma system, which is analogous to specs in WoW. It seems pretty strange and exotic to me.

The other thing that might discomfit WoW healers in particular is a combination of a poor healing interface (think Vanilla WoW) and a lack of support for mods. You simply can’t modify the interface, except with macros. I think mouseover macros would work for healing, but I didn’t try them. The interface made me glad I’d decided to play ranged dps, which even in WoW is not heavily dependent on UI mods.

I’d have to say, though, that the biggest annoyance for any WoW player will probably be the chat commands. They simply aren’t the same / commands that we’re used to, and I end up doing a lot of right clicking and menu searching when I want to say something to a party member. I’m sure I’ll learn the system, but from what I’ve seen talking to others is simply not as easy as it is in WoW.

Flight

Besides the character creation engine, Aion’s biggest selling point is its flight mechanics. At level 10, your character ascends as a Daeva and receives a pair of spirit wings. The drawback is that these wings sometimes work and sometimes don’t–and mostly, they don’t. Many players will use The Lore to explain why flight is sometimes not allowed. There’s some mumbo jumbo about how I have to have pieces of aether nearby to pop my magical wings. I am highly cognizant of the arbitrary nature of The Lore, and I will tell you now that the reason that flight is so severely limited while leveling in Aion is lack of imagination. It’s simply easier to design a ground-based game than one that uses vertical space. I get it, but I end up feeling very ripped off by the limits on flight. First, you can fly for only one minute at a time, and the takeoff animation is going to take up 6-8 seconds of that. Second, gliding, which is basically flying downward with limited use of your controls, only extends this time slightly. Third, once you land, it takes another full minute to restore your flight time. One minute of flight on, one minute off.

I can tell already that flight in Aion is going to be primarily a combat technique. It’s far too limited to be used for travel purposes, even with the flight time extensions that are available in potions and upgraded wings. I wish that the developers had decided to keep combat on the ground (especially PvP combat) and let flight be used as a convenience. As it stands now, flight in Aion doesn’t feel like freedom. It’s actually more efficient to run on the ground if you’re trying to get somewhere. If you want to feel truly free in flight, there’s nothing like the druid flight form, which I’ve been enjoying in WoW for quite some time. I love to shift and reshift, falling in my elf form and catching myself in bird form. That’s just not as easy to do in Aion. I’m hoping for future changes to this aspect of gameplay as it’s one of the most common complaints from North American beta players. However, as the game is already up and running (and wildly successful) in Korea and China, I don’t expect changes before the NA release in September.

One thing I will say about flight in Aion–it’s pretty stylish. Here’s a screenshot that captures the elegance of it. My character uses her extended legs as a sort of tail when she floats, and it reminds me of Nausicaa on her glider.

nausicaa_imitation

Factions

Aion has two factions, the Elyos and the Asmodeans. Some call them angels and demons, but both groups are perfectly good and perfectly beautiful. I focused on Elyos for my own beta gameplay, but it was a difficult choice and I may revise it later. If I wanted to, say, make a character that looked just like Syd, I’d go Asmo. In the end, the choice will be mostly aesthetic. Do you prefer a white/blue wing palette or a black/purple one? Would you rather look more or less human? Elyos is kind of a vanilla choice, I admit, but I chose them primarily for their resplendent white wings. However, as I’m planning on being a casual player, I’m pretty sure I’ll check out both sides. My guess is that Elyos will be more numerous when the live servers open up, but I could always be wrong.

Classes

There are eight classes in Aion, but there are only 4 starting classes: Warrior, Mage, Priest, and Scout. Each of those classes subdivides into two specific classes at level 10. Essentially, a player’s choice of role is deferred for 10 levels.

In the beta, I’ve played Sorcerer, Cleric, and Ranger. I liked all three, though I’m going with Sorcerer for my main. None of the leveling content is going to present much difficulty for WoW veterans. There are slightly different mechanics. For example, all classes depend on chain attacks for much of their damage. A chain sequences my spells for me. When I hit one of my nukes, I have an option to follow it up with a second special attack. I find the chain attacks really useful. The special abilities are on a cooldown, and what happens over time is that the chains themselves push the player into a rotation that looks something like 1-1-2-2-1-1-1-2-2 without theorycrafting it out. It’s a very tidy way to do things.

As far as class choice goes, I’m going to try to match up Aion classes with their WoW equivalents. Be aware, though, that I’m mostly going by forum posts as I haven’t personally played everything.

Warriors

These guys are your typical buckethead plate wearers (I kid) and the tanks of Aion. The two subtypes are Templar and Gladiator. As far as I can tell, the Templar is the most like a traditional tank, like the warrior of Vanilla WoW. The Gladiator seems to be a bit more like a Fury warrior in tanking gear. However, I haven’t played either of these. The only thing I’ve learned from grouping with them is that the taunt function (called provoke I think) actually raises threat with a mob when it’s either crowd controlled or already focused on the tank. That’s pretty different from WoW.

I have a feeling tank characters will have no trouble getting PvE groups, but I will warn that PvE is not the focus of Aion. Tanks may be fairly strong in PvP, but they’re not widely considered OP in that capacity at the moment.

Mages

The mages divide into Sorcerer and Spiritmaster at lvl 10, which seems to correspond pretty well to WoW’s mage and warlock. I love my sorceress. She is a true glass cannon and comes equipped with multiple means of crowd control and several heavy nukes. I will warn that magical damage can’t crit, so sorcerers should expect to do heavy sustained damage without any spectacular bursts. Sorcerers are strong in all aspects of the game, but they are also delicate. In PvP, they are heavily dependent on getting the jump on opponents, and in PvE groups, they will pull aggro early and often with their CC spells. Only play this class if you’re good at making money and patient when you die.

Spiritmasters are much more durable than Sorcerers and thanks to the cute pets, probably better at soloing. I also hear they’re strong in PvP. I’m not interested in this class myself because I detest controlling my warlock pet in WoW, and from what I read, the Spiritmaster pets take even more micromanagement.

Scouts

Scouts divide into Assassin and Ranger, roughly correspondent to WoW Rogues and Hunters. Assassins (surprise, surprise) are strong in PvE solo content and downright dominant against some classes in PvP. From what I read, good assassins are pretty much a hard counter to the sorcerer. Like any other class, they are dependent on surprise for an easy kill. Rangers are far more delicate than the WoW hunter, but they have the potential to be great in PvP. They are less desired in PvE groups than the Sorcerer, and they also tend to be a bit of a glass cannon in that environment–but this game isn’t really about PvE. The Ranger can stealth, and the ranger can crit–so he or she is a force to be reckoned with in PvP. I’ve played a ranger a bit, and I will say that the one thing that will keep me from making one my main is the movement buffs and debuffs. The ranger doesn’t kite in quite the same way as a WoW hunter. Moving forward will give me a damage bonus, while backing up or strafing will give me a speed/damage debuff. A ranger also can’t really toggle autoattack to weave between shots–I keep having to spam it, resulting in a sore left wrist. I would say that sorcerer and ranger are very similar, but sorcerer is a bit easier (for me anyway) to learn.

Priests

I bet you thought I’d play a priest, didn’t you? So did I. I have to say that I like both the Cleric and the Chanter, the two flavors of priest, pretty well, but I need a change. Cleric reminds me of a holy paladin, which chanter could best be compared to enhancement shaman. The Cleric has a smite spell, which I find pretty funny, and they do low damage while being very survivable. My fiance played a cleric in beta, and paired with a sorcerer, a cleric is definitely a force to be reckoned with. However, he got a little frustrated at the slow pace of soloing. The chanter is quite different from other classes in that it’s primarily styled as a buffer. Now, that’s supposed to make a chanter very desired in groups, but there’s not that many of them around and I’ve never played with one. I’d say the chanter is the closest thing Aion has right now to an underpowered class. If healing floats your boat, go with the cleric. From what I’ve read it seems like playing a chanter would be somewhat like leveling a druid in Vanilla WoW–cast Rejuv, and then melee stuff in cat form. I hope it would be more fun than that, but I’m pretty sure it’s not for me.

Professions and Gear Augmentation

Unlike WoW, Aion lets players level up all the crafting professions, which run the usual gamut of armor and consumable making, almost to full. You can only Master (i.e. max out) one profession. Leveling a crafting profession is quite costly, and the economy is harder to “read” than WoW’s because the currency, Kinah, is exchanged in such high numbers. A calculator is necessary for would-be crafters and Auction House speculators. I think the AH is called the Broker in Aion, but I have trouble remembering. In any case, Aion crafting will be slow to level, because all crafts have chance to fail–and if they do, you lose your materials. I’m a very patient person when it comes to grinds, so I’m looking forward to tougher profession leveling–but I am going to bar my hot-tempered fiance from going near the crafting district. Oh, and you can fail at socketing gems as well, destroying millions of Kinah-worth of mana stones. . . and from all reports, chances of failure actually increase with higher-level items. This is a very hardcore crafting and item enhancement system, folks, so be patient with it.

PvPvE

As I’ve said at least twice, this is not a PvE game. The whole purpose of leveling is to get to the Abyss, where you can earn Abyss Points for participating in kills on enemy players. The best armor in the game is earned exclusively through Abyss points–so you tell me where the focus is. From what I’ve read, the Abyss is less like a formal battleground and more like the old epic battles at Southshore. Opposing armies zerg each other, and strength in numbers is the way to win. Aion’s neutral faction, the NPC demon Balaur, always come to the assistance of the outnumbered side. I’m reserving judgment on this one until I see how it works. It could either be great fun, or it could be buggy and easy to exploit. In any case, if I play Aion for any length of time, even I will have to PvP.

Game Economy

It seems to me that most things in game–from great craftable gear to mana potions–can be bought pretty easily either from the Broker or from player stores (the equivalent of trade chat). The values for Kinah seem really inflated to someone used to either United States currency or WoW currency. It wouldn’t be strange to see an item sell for, say, 10 million Kinah. I think the choice of “Kinah” is unfortunate because of the ambiguity with the abbreviation K for thousand. We’ll see how the game and game terminology shakes out. Players may end up abbreviating Kinah KI or KN to disambiguate.

There are certainly gold sinks in the current game. Crafting is probably #1. I am planning on mastering alchemy, as sorcerers are really dependent on mana potions, and I’m usually good at selling things. However, it’s unclear whether selling will ever be profitable in Aion as, over time, players can become self-sufficient by leveling all the consumable professions almost to the max. We’ll see. My darker prediction is that with high prices and few ways to earn, gold buying will become really common.

The other gold sink is death–analogous to repairs in WoW. Each time a player dies in PvE, experience is lost unless you’re willing to pay…and I always am. As a sorcereress, I die a lot. I’m just going to have to find a way to make the Broker system work for me because I’m simply not going to either buy gold or stop dying so much.

Conclusions

Aion is not a perfect game. Neither is WoW. I’d say on the whole that WoW suits me more as a player–large scale PvE raiding is just something that Aion doesn’t offer. I’d also say that I vastly prefer WoW’s interface and mod-using capability. But for PvP or leveling content I might go with Aion. It feels like time for a change, at least for a couple hours a week.

Priests: Matt Needs Your Help!

My bosses at WoW Insider have commissioned me to write a piece on how Priests will change in Wrath. Specifically, how we can adapt to all the changes that are going on. But, I need your help. I’ve played Naxx and Obsidian Sanctum extensively. I’ve done a few 5 mans. Things have become second nature to me now.

Ask me questions. I’m giving myself 72 hours so I can have this piece for your Sunday morning consumption. 24 hours right now to gather as many questions as possible, another 24 to pick out the ones that I think are the most important, and another 24 to go in game, get the shots, get the techniques, and get the evidence I need to share with you what I’m doing and why.

Paladins, Druids, Shammies sorry, I can’t help you here. But feel free to ask anyway! Maybe you have some questions about synergy between other healing classes. It doesn’t have to be just Priests.

I’ve dedicated myself to helping this community. But I can’t do it alone. There’s no such thing as a stupid question.

I’ll be pulling questions from this Plusheal thread that Doug started and from any comments that I garner from here as well.

A Realistic Look at Level 80 Raid Healing

A Realistic Look at Level 80 Raid Healing

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I’ve kept myself mum on this topic for quite a while. You’re aware of Wyn’s thoughts and no doubt others have expressed their opinion around the community. It’s my turn to tell you what how I feel about being a Holy Priest and healing.

Before I do that, I want to make one thing clear:

I AM NOT A THEORYCRAFTER

Got that? Good. The opinions and thoughts I’m about to tell you are my honest, unbiased feelings about the subject. I’m not going to hide behind math or spellpower theory because I don’t know much about it all. If I were to list my one weakness, it’s the lack of mathematical Matticus power. I can’t begin to tell you the coefficients relative to the modifiers based on the exponential percentage of the sum off of this spell which is affected by the Earth’s tangent to the Sun (I don’t think that last sentence made any kind of sense).

I can’t theorycraft to save my life, but I just creamed a bunch of bosses in Naxx with 2 other healers and a group that’s sporting the same level of gear as I am. No ounce of theorying would’ve helped.

But in this case, it’s a good thing.matt-priest-com-1

Because I just knocked out 7 bosses in Naxxramus in one night on my Holy Priest in PvP gear without knowing anything about what I was getting in to.

There’s a point I’m trying to make here. I participated in a successful raid with less than optimal gear in a class that’s supposed to be rendered extinct due to poor design choices by the class designers.

My fellow clerics, let me reassure you that not all is lost. We lose our unique racials, yes. We lose the ability to downrank, yes. We get slapped left and right, back and forth with the giant nerf bat with no end in sight, yes.

Yet we still heal. It’s our duty. Don’t lose sight of that. They remove our powers and abilities and empower us with new ones. Raiding mechanics have changed. The entire gamescape has changed. This isn’t World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade. This is Wrath. The encounters are being tuned to suit what we can do and open up the number of options we have in terms of classes.

What changes?

What has changed exactly? I said it before, and I’m going to say it again. And this time I really mean it. Whatever you learned before Wrath, throw it out of the window. It’s no longer relevant or important.

Biggest change thus far?

I’ve cast Flash Heal more times than Greater Heal which goes against every Priest handbook in the game. Let me paint you the circumstances. My Flash Heal lands for 4500. The typical tank will have approximately 28000 health or higher. Greater Heal will do over well 9000 (and this isn’t just a cheesy Dragon Ball Z reference). Tanks are taking damage between 2000 – 5000. Instead of simply spamming downranked Greater Heals, I have to actually pay attention and Flash or Greater accordingly.

I guess this is going to cut into my hockey time.

Let me bust your objections so I can save you some time from voicing them.

It’s not the gear guys

Everyone’s on equal footing because I’m doing this on the Murmur Beta server (say hi to Miyone!). The vast majority of players are playing on premade characters relying on PvP blues and a few PvP epics. I have more mana regen right now on my level 70 T6 Priest then I do on my level 80 PvP T0.5 set sporting Priest.

Can’t be the group either

I worked alongside a Resto Shaman and a Holy Paladin. Weren’t people complaining that all the healing classes were getting nerfed? So by that logic, if all the healer classes get nerfed, then aren’t we all then at the same level? Are they going to bring in Rogues and Hunters to heal for us now? Healers will always be in high demand. It’s not like our raid size got nuked from 40 to 25 again.

I’m not as skilled!

Let’s not go there. I am not the best Priest in this game. There are other way better Priests than I and one of them happens to also contribute to this blog (and this is the ONLY time I’ll ever admit that ;)). So what makes me so special? I’m always present at raid times. I read up on strategy ahead of time. I do whatever I can to make my character the best it can possibly be in terms of augments (enchants, gems, and now glyphs) and consumables. I’m ruthlessly efficient and don’t like to waste time. I understand and follow directions like a 6 year old dying to go to a bathroom. That’s what makes me so special.

Would I consider my class expendable? You could make that argument. I wouldn’t know how to argue against it anyway because I’m not a theorycrafter. I’m a valuable asset not because of my class. I’m a valuable asset because of who I am as a player not because of what my class can do. If you’re working hard right now in BC raiding, there is no reason for you to feel threatened in Wrath.

matt-priest-com-3

Everyone is going to have to relearn how to play their class. Your skill is going to be affected by how openly you embrace and learn what needs to be learned in the expansion.

Naxx is EZMODE

I’m using a flawed instance as an example because it’s way too entry level. You’re right, I am because it’s all I’ve done so far. Right now, we stack Shamans and CoH Priests for Sunwell because it helps ease the burden we have doing it. There’s no sense in thinking too far ahead in Wrath and being worried about actual end end game healing. Go with what we have now and have faith that we can do what we need to do as we progress up the ladder.

I’m thankful I don’t have to learn about how to use HoTs, AoE Heal, or other forms of specialized target healing. I didn’t get a lot of new toys to play with this year from Santa? Good. Less of a learning curve for me and I can spend more time on important things such as learning how to heal raids in post Wrath.

Still don’t buy it?

If you think I’m full of crap, by all means I understand. Either a) You know a lot more than I do in theory or b) You’re a really pessimistic player whose looking for an excuse to quit the game. But before you start ripping into me about theory, proofs, and other technical stuff, all I ask is that you run a level 80 raid first. Because that’s what I’m basing my experience, my opinions, and my thoughts on Priest healing from.

And honestly? It’s not that bad.

Image credits: just4you

PS, expect to see some Naxx healer guides really shortly.

Priests, WotLK, and Wyn’s Thoughts

Priests, WotLK, and Wyn’s Thoughts

crying-woman 

My first reaction to the news was utter, stunned silence. Anyone who’s ever been on vent with me (or listened to a certain blogcast) knows how rare that is. There were no words to encompass my shock and depression.

“Why?” I will be asked. “Racials were so stupid. We were the only class that had to worry about what race to roll to THAT extent. This will make things much easier.” Perhaps. But I am a Priest-class enthusiast. I have two level 70 Priests. One Human, one Troll. I have a handful of Priest alts just to experience the flavor that their new spells give. (Starshards is so Pretty!!) I am not a role-player, but I would find it impossible to not spend so much time with someone without learning a little about their personality, and I somehow don’t think any of my Priests will be the same without abilities shaped so directly by the life-experiences they had before I met them. How can you be a faith-leader for your faction, a student of the Light and Shadow, without developing a few personal opinions?

And so it is with a desperately heavy heart, a crinkle in my nose, and tears in my eyes that I say farewell to Hex of Weakness and Shadowguard. Admittedly, Renwein will not miss Feedback – we didn’t use it much – but Wynthea will no longer mock Paladins and less-gifted Priests as they attempt to dispel the curse preventing their heals’ full value. No more will I have a funny little purple satellite for company, which had a clever habit of proc’ing Shadow Weaving and Blackout when I was Shadow-spec’d. Maybe I’m taking it too hard. I probably am. I just looked forward to levels 10 and 20 so much with each new race…. and now it won’t matter. My lowbie Priests will be deleted, since they serve no purpose.

Frankly, this latest blow to my class-pride hits a little harder because of how I feel about Priests’ role in general. Go dig up your classic-wow handbook. The one that hasn’t been updated, that still comes with the game. See where it describes the classes? It talks about Priests being the premiere healers in WoW. That’s why I rolled my first one 3 years ago. It’s why I’ve stayed with the class for so long. Other classes can do other things – Paladins and Druids can also tank, all the other healing classes can Melee DPS, and Shammies and Druids both can caster-DPS as well. Sure you can go Shadow – but Blizz has pigeonholed Shadow Priests into raid utility and mana-return. (In my opinion, if Shadow Priests were supposed to be competitive on DPS, Mind Flay would have a 40 yd. range like everyone else’s bread-and-butter spells. Among other things.) Shadow Priests have to fight tooth-and-nail for every scrap of damage and respect they get. Holy Priests…. well, we were what the class was originally designed to be. That’s why classic Tier sets were all Holy-based. Priest was synonymous with healer.

But now, Druids are gaining a circle-of-renew. Paladins if glyphed properly will be able to AoE heal. Shamans have raid-wide utility, in addition to the original work-horse AoE heal. And Priests? The spell we and our raids have come to depend on is being given a 6-second cooldown. (That’s right, all the new patch notes show that that abominable nerf that went away on the Beta realms is BACK and going LIVE.) Take a look at the new Priest Healing spells: we get TWO.

Divine Hymn – You recite a Holy hymn, causing the closest 10 enemies within 0 yards to become incapacitated for 20 sec., and heals the closest friendly targets within 0 yards for 4506 over 6 sec. 20% of base mana, 1.5 sec cast, 3 min cooldown.

and our 80-point talent: Guardian Spirit – Calls upon a guardian spirit to watch over the friendly target. The spirit increases the healing received by the target by 40%, and also prevents the target from dying by sacrificing itself. This sacrifice terminates the effect but heals the target of 10% of their maximum health. Lasts 10 sec.

All our other talents are focused on increasing the amount healed by spells we already have, or the speed with which they are delivered. (oh, wait, that got nerfed a bit, too.)

In the rush to make every spec viable, and to homogenize the capabilities of the classes to avoid any specific requirements for any given raid…. Blizzard hadn’t stripped Priests of what made us special – our flexibility as healers – but added those utility spells to the other healers. This latest news goes further – rather than leaving us with our level 70 spells in a level 80 world, it actively takes away MORE of what makes us unique.

I will continue on. I am still very excited about a lot of things coming up in Wrath. The scenery continues to be beautiful, and Dalaran is the best-developed capital city ever. But now, my unbridled enthusiasm for the xpac is tempered by a sense of loss. I reveled in being the strongest, most adaptable healing class, and the class which, in my opinion, required the most fore-thought, planning, and knowledge of game-mechanics of all. I’m sad that both of the sources of my loyalty to the class are eroding. Perhaps it’s a good thing I’ve familiarized myself with Death Knight mechanics.

Luv,
A very depressed Wyn

What’s up with the Euro Beta?

A quick glance at the Beta EU English forums shows a lot of pissed off players (to mildly put it). Statements ranging from discrimination to broken servers to unplayability. Our EU friends have one server while NA enjoys 3 beta servers. They’re virtually pleading for either queues or a second server since performance no longer seems playable.

Even on the NA servers, I’ve started to feel the crunch. There didn’t used to be a whole lot of players before hand. I suppose they’re trying to stress test the hardware.

My guess is that older beta players have done what they could or feel like they no longer wish to spend time on the beta knowing their efforts will be undone. In fact, I feel the same way. My Priest is only 73. Between raiding on live, blogging, and school it’s nearly impossible for me to level up. As a result, I’ve made a few premades to try out the various level 80 instances like Naxx which I liveblogged earlier.

I know that some of the worlds best Guilds reside over in Europe. It would make major sense for them to be given access to the beta and get a chance on a stable server to raid on. Like it or not, they’ll be the first ones in there before the average raider like myself. Feedback can’t be given on an unstable server.

So to any Euro beta players:

  • Are the conditions as bad as it’s being made out to be?
  • How is Blizzard’s response thus far?
  • What can be done to help alleviate the problems?
Liveblogging Naxxramus

Liveblogging Naxxramus

naxx

Twisted Nether: Wynnicus Podcast Now Available

Twisted Nether: Wynnicus Podcast Now Available

wynnicus-podcast

Clocking in at under 90 minutes, the Bre, Fim, Wyn, and Matt show is now available for download from the TNB website. If you were unable to catch the whole show (consider yourself lucky ^^), you can grab the edited and pared down version.

Highlights

  • Beta talk (lots of it)
  • Blogosphere highlights
  • Wyn
  • An saga tale

Don’t miss the epic saga

A tale of two Priests. . .

A broken promise. . .

A friendship tested. . .

More drama than the loss of a Hunter bow to a Rogue. . .

A betrayal that no one would have believed possible. . .

This is the must listen Podcast of the year. If you download only one podcast this season, make it The Twisted Nether Blogcast: Episode 16.

Note: I ran out of movie cliches. Anyone got any?

A Note about Doomsday Raiding and Multiple Authors

A Note about Doomsday Raiding and Multiple Authors

It just occurred to me that a lot of readers tend to skip over anything that’s italicized. As a result, if you read the Doomsday Raiding column this morning that was written by my Guildmate Aylii you might’ve missed that subtle fact. Although there were some particularly stinging comments directed towards me, I definitely will not shy away from them.

Aylii came to me late last night and raised some points about it. I encouraged her to run with the idea and I’d help her make any technical edits and formatting along the way. I couldn’t pen the post myself as I was already committed to a last minute Karazhan and Arena point earning (which by the way culminated in Brutal Gladiator’s Mail Leggings for my Elemental Shaman and Brutal Gladiator’s Mooncloth Gloves for my Priest).

I’m delighted at the discussion that’s happening. One camp’s just shrugging it off and believe it isn’t going to be a big deal. The other thinks that it’s something worth stopping and pausing over.

My personal belief? Whether or not there are sweeping changes, I will welcome them with open arms and adjust to them as necessary. I’ve never really been one to complain about changes to classes or gear or what not. I’d discuss it, analyze it and try to give a thoughtful opinion about it. But I’ve always been one to accept changes to the game without fuss. Because I know that despite how much I may hate changes, I will always be a fan of this game and I know I will play this game for a long time. Even Starcraft 2 will only hold my interest for so long before I come back to WoW because so far no other game has offered the type of experience that WoW offers.

So I can either spend my time depressed about the patch or I can spend it constructively and devise new tricks to take advantage of it. And that is the way of Matticus.

Back to the post, I probably should have spent more time editing it and back checking it myself. My fault entirely and I certainly deserve all the criticism mentioned in the post. Everyone makes mistakes except when I make mistakes, it’s viewed by over 1500 people =D.

Identity Crisis

I’ve had difficulties in the past trying to ensure that guest bloggers and writers would get the proper credit they deserve. A post by Wyn announcing open season recruiting by her guild had readers think that it was Carnage which was recruiting (Matt’s guild).

Currently, I’m experimenting with a WordPress plugin called Post Avatar which would give authors the ability to embed a picture or a graphic to their post to help visually differentiate it even further. Italicizing and other text effects have failed me. I want to make sure that anyone who writes and anyone’s work who I showcase gets the proper credit that they deserve. I toyed with the idea of setting up individual accounts for people, but for security and practical reasons I shot that down. I may yet revisit that idea later on.

guest-post Ergo, I’ve decided to (at least as a temporary measure) append a little graphic in the corner of guest posts to serve as a gentle reminder that although it’s a damn thumpin’ good post, it’s not written by me.

(Mental reminder to crop out the whitespace on the left and top part of the image)

Guest posts right now usually have a little emphasized blurb at the top along with a link back to the original author’s blog, if applicable. Right now, if I were to publish a guest post, it would say that I have written it. Again, for practical purposes, it’s being served under my administrative account even though I was not the original author.

Now let’s hope it works!

On another side note, I hoped you’ve enjoyed today’s SYTYCB posts! You’ll be getting 3 more tomorrow with the remaining 2 on Thursday!

My raid’s been cancelled tonight which is a mixed blessing for me. That does give me ample time to work on the 3.0 version of Matticus, however.

Cheers and have a good evening!

BETA: Well, hello, there!

BETA: Well, hello, there!

So, I went to Undercity to see the new skin for Lady Sylvannas:

WoWScrnShot_082308_121838

While boarding the Zepplin to head back to Northrend, this little convo took place:

Name Removed Convo

I blurred the name, because I didn’t think to ask them if I could use this….. I’ll put it up, edited back in if you let me know that it’s okay.

Totally made my day.

If you’re in beta, feel free to say hello! It’s always nice to meet someone that finds value in what we write here.

Luv,

Wyn

BETA: 10 Achievements that Will Make You Go WTF?

BETA: 10 Achievements that Will Make You Go WTF?

So you’ve heard about the new Achievements in Wrath. They’re designed to help other players recognize you and your accomplishments. Many Achievements are easy to achieve such as winning a PvP match or doing 1000 quests in your time.

But a closer look at some of the other Achievements offered just make me cringe in what’s necessary to be able to accomplish them.

a-origHere is what my Achievements look like so far. I didn’t actually level to 80, but I did max out all of my non-crafting and gathering professions. I didn’t actually do 2000 quests either if you look at the updated statistics below.

The bar at the top shows how many Achievements you have. When you start playing Wrath from your 70 toon, expect to have around 20% of them complete. Actually, I might be wrong in this regard. Anyway, we’ll see when it goes live. I’m not sure how many Achievements most players will have.

I believe the number to the side of the Achievement name is the amount of points it’s worth. I’m not suite sure what those points will be used for.

Now, let’s find out more about our ridiculous and non-essential goals that we will do anyway for the sake of completion!

a5

City Defender

Ah the City Defender. You’re out late at night patrolling the streets of whatever Capital City you call your home. Usually, there aren’t that many assaults or sieges on capital cities unless you’re on a major PvP server. Not only that, but you have to physically land the killing blow? Or does it refer to just honorable kills? I have no idea. Any Horde want to ride into Stormwind on beta so I can take you out?

It’s re-DONK-ulous I tell you.

a6

To All the Squirrels I’ve Loved Before

I shoot them on sight. You know of my reaction to Murlocs. Critters are no less the same way. D.H.E.T.A. will hate me for it. But it’s the only way I can increase my place on the damage meters!

a8

My Sack is Gigantique

If the Achievement title doesn’t make you cringe slightly, then the cost to pick up one of these bad boys will. All you have to do is drop 1200G and you’ll get yourself 10 Achievement points. If you didn’t need bag space before, you won’t need it now.

a7

Well Read

Wow. Just wow. This is the scavenger hunt to end all scavenger hunts. The only book I really ever read was out in Scarlet Monastary about the crusades and all that against the Undead Scourge. 

Seriously, just look at all the reading you have to do. If you do plan on going for this, I salute you.

 

 

 

 

 a9

Master of Arms

I’m Holy. The only weapon skills I can max out are Staves, Maces, Wands, and Knives. I guess Unarmed can be thrown in there, too. Now if I can just find me a mob that won’t die  yet won’t hit hard enough to kill me.

a10 

That’s Gotta Hurt

Actually, this one isn’t so bad. You just need to make sure you’re standing in the right spot so you can sort of clip through the platform. The trick is to break the other team’s will so that they do spawn on the platform and stop trying to fight back so they can get out of there.

a1

We Had It All Along *cough*

Yes, we’ve all pull this off once. Some of the luckier ones managed to do it twice. But now that it’s in the game and winning by a margin of 10 actually matters, I bet it’s going to be one that not many players will be able to pull off easily.

a2 

Resilient Victory

Again, the problem is going to depend on the rest of your team. 500 resources is one hell of a handicap.This means pre made groups will have to sort of “throw the game” at the start before going full tilt later on.

a3 

The Alterac Blitz

No way. It takes 5 minutes to full capture a tower. By going straight down to Drek or Van and the time it takes to navigate the path and dodge Horde or Alliance forces, the timer will almost be over. If anyone has a serious thought or plan to do this, let’s hear it. The only way I can think of is to go straight to the General with both Warmasters up unless you can capture towers within 60 seconds. But even, that’s still a lot of time.

a4 

Damage Control

I’ve been able to accomplish this one myself with no problem. If you’re a Shaman, Chain Lightning as often as you can. If you’re a Priest, stay Holy and spam the heck out of everyone around you. Just make sure you hide and park yourself in a not-so-obvious spot.

Now that we’ve gone through some of the teeth grinding Achievements that can be done, I turn the hat over to you. What other nigh-impossible Achievements can you come up with? You’re free to use any aspect of Classic, TBC, or Wrath. What about Class specific Achievements? Is there any challenges that Priests or other individual healers can engage in?