Adding a Guild PvP Division

I suspect that this is an option that guilds have considered at some point. After all, in Cataclysm, one of the methods guilds can gain reputation and experience is through rated battlegrounds and rated arena. It was something I had considered for a while since a good number of players in the guild do love their PvP. But as it is, I do not have the time to organize players and run the necessary strategies for a successful PvP team. Not only that, I’m the last person in the world who should do any sort of PvP. I only have enough time to invest seriously in raiding or PvPing (and I much prefer raiding). What I do have is the resources and the infrastructure to support a group of dedicated players.

Conquest is now expanding

But I found a solution.

A couple of players in the guild were leaders within the QueueQ cross-realm pre-form group. After a bit of discussion, it was decided we would have both PvE and PvP interests in mind. The commander of the PvP team would have complete control of his group. As long as the recruits he selects adhere to the basic standards and ethics of the guild, they would be welcome. Just because one player is accepted into one part of the guild doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be green lit into the other. A raider shouldn’t expect an immediate invite into a dedicated PvP team and vice versa. Obviously on days where either groups are shorthanded, we’ll consider all of our options. Common sense, right?

Naturally there were a few concerns.

What about players who both raid and want to commit to PvP? Would scheduling affect it? – PvP nights would not coincide during raid nights. They would be held on other days to maximize availability. We also minimize incidents of players having to choose between say arena or raiding to get their points in.
What would the voice infrastructure be like? – I had to rearrange and setup a few extra channels. Now we’ve got two battleground channels and a channel called the waiting room. Any player in the waiting room can be dragged up into the battleground channels when players are needed.
Gear acquisition? – There is a concern that PvP players would want to duck into raids, get PvE weapons, and leave. Loot council helps address that. If we reach a point where our progression oriented players don’t need weapons anymore, then we’d be able to work something out. Otherwise, raiders get priority.

Why PvP?

Why not stick to something simple? Why not just stick to one primary focus of the guild instead of splitting it into two? I guess I wanted to diversify a bit more. It doesn’t hurt to be a little ambitious. Even though they’re not players I have any say in handpicking, I trust the PvP commander has the right people skills and instincts. Not only that, I mentioned earlier about the guild perks. Having multiple methods to gain guild experience will be beneficial in the long run.

Additional exposure

Just like how running an alt raid for a guild can help drive additional exposure, running weekend PvP premades is another way to attract attention. With two capable preform leaders, we could fire off two 15 mans and a 25 man raid at the same time.

Now if players ask whether or not we’re a PvE or PvP guild, I tend to reply with both. I’ll continue to oversee the raiding team along with my officers. Anyone inquiring about PvP gets directed to the PvP leaders. This all looks fine on paper. Now it’s just a matter of determining whether or not it’ll work. I’ll never know unless I try. This is a chance to change up guild beliefs and philosophy for a bit. If PvP battlegrounds is something you’re interested, you might want to check us out.

I do remember reading about one other guild that was going to do the same thing. I can’t remember so I at least know that there’s someone out there who will undergo the same types of problems or issues. Has your guild thought about extending into formal, organized PvP?

Leap into PvP the Correct Way

Leap into PvP the Correct Way

In perusing WoW.com on my normal Monday morning shift, I tend to always follow Spiritual Guidance, usually when it’s headed up by Dawn Moore. Although I tend to go back and forth on my agreement with her, I’ve noticed that she’s taken an approach to encouraging people to participate more in PvP.  YES!  With the thrill of this expansion coming to a close, there are a variety of ways to continue to enjoy this game, one of which is PvP. 

Why am I so excited for this, you ask? Well, I’m an avid PvP’er. One of my favorite things to do is grab some guildies, and utilize the Random Battleground Queue until I’m blue in the face.  I particularly love Warsong Gulch, which makes me pretty excited for the upcoming “Twin Peaks” battleground.  Here’s the poop on what you stand to gain from becoming more active in PvP:

  • Increased Wintergrasp / Vault of Archavon Time: People consistently complain about how Wintergrasp is broken on their server.  Although I agree to a certain extent, a team of skilled, team-oriented PvP’ers has the potential to overcome any short-comings (**COUGH** Scale vehicle damage with Tenacity **COUGH**).
  • Off-set Gear: Although I don’t miss the days of “Welfare Epics” by any means, I am a fan of utilizing some PvP pieces until you get that PvE piece you want.  Sure, resilience does no good in PvE, but you can use that Wrathful Gladiator’s Cloak of Salvation until you get the frosties for your Drape of the Violet Tower or you get that Greatcloak of the Turned Champion to finally drop off of 25-man Saurfang.
  • Deeper Class Knowledge: By starting to play your class in a different environment, you start to learn things you may not have considered before.  The ability to change your focus and style as a player gains a lot of respect from someone like me.

However…

Although Dawn does a great job of laying out the basics, let me make it clear that I think it’s a bad idea to grind out Emblems of Triumph to get your PvP gear.  Sure, if you have them sitting your bag, by all means, spend them.  I know from experience how frustrating it is to go into battlegrounds wearing nothing but your PvE gear.  Let’s take a look at what you stand to gain by going the “Honor” route:

Gear Progression

First and foremost, I really enjoy the feeling of accomplishment of getting to spend my honor points on a new piece of gear.  I’m currently gearing up my Resto PvP set for my Shaman, and although I’ll toss some Triumphs at it, if I have them, most of my gear is coming from Honor.  I liken it to working out hard in a gym and seeing the results build, instead of sitting plugged into one of those ab-shock deals while I watch the Blackhawks annihilate the Flyers in Game 5 (I had to). You feel the hard work, hence the payoff is more rewarding.

Second, as you add pieces over time, you realize which stats you need and which ones you don’t need.  When I was building my Discipline PvP set, I initially went for mostly +Crit pieces so I could proc Inspiration and Divine Aegis.  I realized halfway through that I was burning mana like an oil spill from an irresponsible foreign oil company. I switched it up and started getting more MP5 and Spirit on my gear.  Especially if you’re a healer, you have the choice of some caster DPS gear (except for the Paladin), which will be laden with more haste and crit.  Once you discover your play style, you’ll figure how to tweak your gear.  If you grind dungeons for all the badges for the Furious set, you may find that you’re too heavy on a stat that doesn’t do you much good, or that you’re lacking in one that you really need.

An option to consider while getting battle-ready is checking out the crafted pieces that are available.  They’re relatively cheap to make, and you’ll probably be helping out someone’s profession in the meantime.  They all involve more than just the standard Head/Chest/Legs/Gloves/Shoulders combination.  You can use these to get your boots, bracers or waist piece squared away. Here’s a couple examples:

Frostsavage Battlegear – Although it lacks any kind of mana regen, it still is better than nothing.

Eviscerator’s Battlegear – Obviously for melee classes like the Druid and Rogue.

Ornate Saronite Battlegear – The Healadin equivalent.

These give you good starting points to bounce off from.  Remember, you’re generally focusing on different stats than a normal PvE set.

A Different Style

Have you ever played one spec for SO long, and then decided to switch it up and play a completely different spec?  Say you went from Resto to Balance, or from Holy to Shadow, or Resto to Elemental. Is it the same playstyle?  Obviously not.  Sure, it may not be much of an adjustment, but think of PvP in the same manner. 

On my Shaman, I know very well that I’ll be dropping different totems depending upon who I’m facing.  I switch up my weapon imbues as Enhancement, and I pay much closer attention to my Earthbind Totem, Grounding Totem, and Stoneclaw Totem.  Those get little to no attention in raids.

On my Discipline Priest, I learned the ability to turn and burst an opponent, when I’m used to healing.  I started to utilize different heals like Binding Heal in order to keep myself and a teammate alive. 

If you’re stuck in randoms just doing what you normally do (I call the “Mental AFK”), then you’re not learning the intracacies of your class and spec, especially with how easy it is to outgear heroics now.  Go through your spec talent by talent and see what will help you and what won’t.  A talent you worship in PvE may not be worth it in PvP.  It’s okay to toss it to the side to get a little more utility.

Become Team-Oriented

Contrary to popular belief, not all PvP is based on killing the other player.  You may be able to put out some good DPS, but do you know how to peel a melee off of a healer?  Do you know how to pinpoint the enemy healer and not just kill him but lock him down so he’s useless?  Do you know what strengths your class has against certain other classes?  Do you have the ability to support the rest of the team, instead of trying to be highest DPS or get the most Killing Blows?

That’s what the benefit of actually being in the battleground gives you.  You end up learning that in order to hold bases in Arathi Basin or Eye of the Storm, you have to stand on or near the flag/node.  Fighting in the roads generally does nothing.  You also learn the value of defending those nodes, instead of just being part of the roaming Zerg group. 

These lessons all come with time, but I think it’s imperative that you learn them while you’re in the thick of it.  Once you learn how much easier it is to take out a group once the healer is down, you’ll encourage others to do the same.  You’ll figure out that there will be players that try to peel you off the flag in Arathi Basin so a Rogue or Druid can ninja the node.

You’ll simply become a stronger player, not only in PvP but in PvE as well.  PvP can help you avoid tunnel vision and enable you to help out other parts of the raid when you feel you can.  There’s only so much you can learn from doing heroics and raids over and over.  Spend the time in some battlegrounds, and I think you’ll be amazed what you can learn.

**Disclaimers: No, I’m not a 2400 Arena player. Yes, I’ve been PvPing since Burning Crusade. Yes, I understand there are exceptions to everything. Yes, I’m a Blackhawks fan of the fair-weather nature. No, I don’t think it’s too soon to insult BP for their pollution of our waters.**

 

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

 

 

 

Hope for the PvP Healer

Hope for the PvP Healer

If you’re like me (and frankly, you might not be, but I hope you’ll keep reading), you enjoy a good amount of some world PvP.  Beyond Wintergrasp and the Storm Peaks dailies phase, I’m talking about moments like these:

“Oh sh**! STUPID [insert class]“

“What happened? You get ganked?”

“Yeah, I’m just farmin’ [insert mat]…”

“Where are you?”

“I’m out in Sholazar Basin.”

“On the way.”

…and after 20 minutes, you’re in a real world 5v5, 7v9, 20v17, whatever! You can Rebirth, you can Lay on Hands, you can rez at your corpse.  It’s a “No Holds Barred” cage match.  At least, I think that’s the reference.  Wrestling, right?  Kidding.  Anyway, my point is that I’m an avid fan of PvP.  It’s not my main focus, but I certainly spend a decent amount of time in it.

I love PvP, and I hate a skilled rogue.

Now, not because I think they’re OP, but because when a rogue is good, it’s near impossible to survive.  Again, let me say that I’m meaning this more as a compliment and not a QQ thread.  With that “rogue ego stroke”, I’m grateful that an announcement was made (I know, it was back in March) with regard to what we’ve come to call the “stunlock”:

Rogue burst is also scary today because they can deliver it while a target is chain stunned. We’ve also said that’s not a particularly fun place to be (for attacker or defender) and we need to shift rogue defenses away from short-duration immunities (which includes the stuns) and more towards being able to stand toe to toe with other classes a little better.

In a one-on-one standpoint, this was nigh-impossible to survive.  With a Cheap Shot, Kidney Shot, Blind chain, I’ve been forced to just sit and watch my health go from 100% to 0% in a matter of seconds.  Before you all “LoL L2Trinket” me, trust me, I’ve done it.  Like I said, a skilled rogue is a nightmare.

So, in the Rogue Preview put out, this lovely morsel is given:

In PvP, we want to reduce the rogue’s dependency on binary cooldowns and “stun-locks,” and give them more passive survivability in return. One major change is that we’ll put Cheap Shot on the same diminishing return as other stuns. The increase to Armor and Stamina on cloth, leather, and mail gear will help with this goal as well.

Obviously, the intent is to make a rogue tougher to kill, but I look at this from a healer’s standpoint: fewer stuns means more chances for us to survive.

Cataclysm is going to bring about a lot of changes, and we all know the constant struggle to balance PvP and PvE.  Since I’m a fan of both, I’m excited and scared of what the future will bring to the table.

How do you feel about the upcoming changes and how they’ll affect you in the arena/battleground?  Rogue feedback is welcome as well!

 

Email: elder.thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

How to Earn Those Seemingly Impossible Alterac Valley Achievements

av-achievements

Before attempting to shoot for several of these achievements, it is strongly advised that you have the following:

  • AV Preform Enabler installed and ready to go
  • A group of 10-15 friends
  • Several hours to kill

I won’t go into much detail about the AV Enabler. Veteran BG players understand why it’s useful and nearly a requirement in most preforms. There is no exception especially when it comes to AV.

Loyal Defender

This Achievement involves you killing 50 players while defending your general. It’s either going to be Drek or Vann depending on your faction. If you happen to join an AV in progress where you are losing, then it’s the perfect time for you and your crew to make their stand. Ideally, your defense will involve a couple of Death Knights. Have them Scorpion any unsuspecting Horde (or Alliance) players in.

As DPS, strafe in and out of sight as much as possible. Sneak out and try to bait players in, but take care not to get yourself caught outside. Death Grip from Death Knights work both ways.

Line of sight everything as much as possible. There are two columns in the back of Vann’s room which I’ve found perfect for the job. I’d be able to partially conceal myself behind it and still heal players around me. There’s probably something similar in Drek’s room as well.

The most important thing here is to don’t ever release. If you’re lucky, opposing faction members won’t loot your corpse allowing the healers behind you to pick you up manually.

I was able to get this achievement in about 3 minutes after dying and doing the run of shame back into Vann’s room.

Now make like Braveheart and hold!

The Alterac Blitz

Ready for the fastest AV ever? Here’s the roles you’ll need:

  • 2 tanks
  • ~4 healers
  • Miscellaneous DPS

You’ve got six minutes to win Alterac Valley. Once those gates open, your team is on the clock.

This is straight forward, PvP brute force tactics at its finest. With your team assembled and buffed at the gate, mount up and make straight for Drek’s room. Evade, sidestep, and ignore as many Horde as possible. Alliance players will be riding through the Fields of Strife along the west side while the Horde are going the opposite direction along the east.

If you’re lucky, you won’t get stalled heading down. Most of the time you won’t. If you do get held up, there’s nothing more you can do.

Assuming everything goes well, you’ll be staring down Drek and his four tower cronies. When Conquest got this achievement, we did it with 2 Paladin tanks. One of them picked up Drek and dragged him to the back of the room while the other picked up the other 4 tower marshals and peeled them away from Drek’s tank. The goal here is to minimize whirlwind damage as much as possible. Pop a Heroism and pray that your DPS is sufficient to take him down with the allotted time. You might have a few stragglers coming in from behind trying to put a dent in your plans. Dropping fear bombs and other forms of CC should delay them long enough for your strike force to take out Drek.

The other faction won’t even realize what happened. I’ll never forget the disbelief in Battleground chat when Drek died. It felt like Conquest went to Drek while the rest of the other players were working on Galv. Lot’s of “WTFs” and “Whoas” ensued.

Stormpike Perfection

Win Alterac Valley without losing a tower or a Captain. You must also control all of the Horde’s towers.

It is imperative that you do not attack Galv at all. I’ll explain why later.

You’ll be playing a tight checking defense at first. When your team comes screaming out of the gate, set up shop inside Belinda’s room and stave off the initial rush. Stonehearth is going to be assaulted at this point. Once Belinda is clear, head straight to Stonehearth and take it back. Use overwhelming force.

At this point, your team will need to split. The bulk of the forces will be advancing south and slowly capping towers.

Strong communication here is key. Definitely keep a player back on Belinda duty. You can watch from far away and see how many Horde players are going in. If it’s a substantial amount, alert the defense. The defense will be alternating between securing Stonehearth and Belinda. If Horde players manage to reach back, send 2 or 3 players to recap. It’s important to maintain possession of bunkers. If one is in the process of being turned by the Horde, and you manage to reduce their tickets to 0, you won’t get this achievement because you lost control of a tower. Even though they haven’t capture it yet, it won’t matter.

The strategy for the offense is to slowly and systematically capture towers. Note that the Horde have to have enough tickets left for this to happen. For example, if they have 40 tickets left and you still have two towers to cap, you won’t get the achievement. One tower will reduce the tickets to 0 while the other is still in progress. This is why you can’t kill Galv as it would drop their ticket count by 100 and reduce the time you have to capture towers.

We came close once to gaining this achievement but we lost a bunker at the last possible minute. This weekend. That’s my goal for this weekend.

Sympathy for a Griefer?

Sympathy for a Griefer?

gawain

If you’ve ever wondered what happens when PhD meets MMO, here’s an interesting read for you. It’s a far cry from carebear Professor Syd, but I find this bit of research interesting just because it differs so much from my own outlook on the game world. A couple weeks ago, nola.com ran an article on Loyola professor David Myers detailing his experience in the MMO City of Heroes / City of Villains. This article links to a draft of Meyers’ own academic paper on the subject, “Play and Punishment: The Sad and Curious Case of Twixt,” which is the most thorough treatment of the matter. Normally, I support any and all research about online games, but for some reason, this one pushes my buttons. I’m not the first blogger to comment on the matter. In fact, I think that many of my thoughts are in agreement with Spinks’ excellent article.

The “Experiment”

Myers, who has since left CoH/V, had been an ordinary player of the MMO for some time when NCsoft, the developer, introduced PvP to the game. I’ve never played CoH/V myself, but from Myers’ description, gameplay seems to be almost exclusively PvE. A new world PvP zone, Recluse’s Victory, changed the game for Myers’ character Twixt. He decided to PvP in the most aggressive manner available, and in the process of winning at all costs, well, he attracted a bit of criticism. As I’ve never played CoH/V myself, I have to abstract from a description, but it seems that Recluse’s Victory had several captureable nodes for each side, similar perhaps to the Alterac Valley towers. There are also a mix of NPCs in the zone, including some unbeatable guard-like creatures called drones meant to protect the two “safe zones” where players spawn. To a WoW player, this probably sounds like good fun, right? The Heroes beat the crap out of the Villains, and vice versa, and everyone has a grand old time. However, according to Myers’ claims, all he (and his avatar Twixt) wanted to do was force people to PvP in the PvP zone. That sounds perfectly rational, as far as it goes.

However, Twixt did not routinely engage others in “true” PvP. His preferred technique was to enlist NPCs in his cause, and as such, win battles without struggle. Twixt chose to learn an ability called teleporting, which I see as analogous to the Death Knight’s Death Grip. He used this skill to move enemies a short distance–right into the drones, which would instantly kill the opposing player. Because a death to a drone counted as a PvE death, players would incur what is called XP “debt.” Now, I am not quite sure what this is, but it seems to cost people a good bit of time (like re-leveling) before they can advance. Indeed, Twixt PvP’d in a PvP zone. However, the manner in which he did so would certainly be termed, in WoW anyway, an exploit. As a result, many players grew angry at Twixt and vented their frustrations in chat and on the CoH/V forums.

What is Real PvP Anyway?

As generations of games and their players have defined it, PvP is, at its core, a one on one engagement between two players of equal potential though perhaps not equal mastery of the game mechanics. At its purest, PvP is a duel of honor, evoking very consciously, and with a great deal of nostalgia, the chivalric tourney or ritual hand-to-hand combat. I will say that PvP combat, while it may be supposed to resemble, say, the showdown between Hector and Achilles, reminds me much more often of Peter Jackson’s chaotic Battle of Pelennor Fields (except that usually I’m one of the pitiful orcs on the losing side). In any case, PvP often does not seem very honorable to me. It reminds me, rather, of the very real butchery that occurred on the battlefield and off in the historical Middle Ages. Our nostalgia for chivalry is based mostly on idealized forms of art rather than actual history–and so one might say that “chivalry” achieves one of its fullest expressions in video games.

As for me personally, I’d rather not be involved in PvP, honorable or no. I play on a PvP server, but I don’t actually PvP anymore. I used to like Alterac Valley back in Classic, but I didn’t raid then, and it was the most exciting endgame option I had. I don’t love it when I get ganked while doing my daily quests. However, I shrug it off, knowing that the technique is perfectly fair in WoW. At the current time, I play Syd as a pacifist. I find it better for my blood pressure not to retaliate against gankers. I’m a healer–of course they can kill me if they like. I usually take the opportunity to get away from the keyboard for a while. When I come back, the ganker has always been gone.

The Developers’ Responsibility

I don’t think I could work up any particular hatred for the numerous horde players who have killed me as I’ve gone about my PvE business. Some of them have even used techniques similar to Twixt’s by waiting until I engage an enemy mob to start their attack, thus enlisting the game environment against me. I think that the reason I can’t muster any fire over this has to do with WoW itself and Blizzard as a company. We play an actively maintained game with integrated PvP. When there are PvP balance issues, Blizzard addresses them. Some of us may consider their response too slow, but the fact remains that the “gods” of WoW listen to the pleas of their suppliants. For an example that offers an instructive parallel to Twixt’s story, think back to the Zombie Invasion event that preceded the release of Wrath of the Lich King. For that time period, we were supposed to turn people into zombies, kill NPCs, and interrupt the ordinary business of buying, selling, and leveling with our zombie disease. Many players got a hateful response like Twixt did when they attempted to participate in the event as intended, taking over cities and killing with abandon. What did Blizzard do? They recognized that the community, as a whole, disliked the event and ended it after three days. Some complained, but I see it as a wise move, even though I, in very atypical fashion, had a bit of fun being a zombie. The point is that Blizzard recognizes the importance of players’ customs–and also players’ safety–and adapts their game. I have heard scattered stories of people being g-kicked for overzealousness with the zombie event, but by ending the event when they did, Blizzard protected both the pro-zombie and anti-zombie factions.

I have no sense that NCsoft maintains CoH/V in such an active way. Thus, the community of CoH/V is left to fend for itself and make its own rules. Even CoH/V’s forums are maintained by players and not NCSoft employees! What a difference from the WoW forums. In the world of CoH/V, the gods are absent or hostile, Hector and Achilles are six feet under, and players are left to deal with the “deviant” Twixt on their own. At least from the players’ perspective, Twixt is a griefer. In their opinion, he kills people using unfair tactics, in a manner that leaves them handicapped and with no opportunity to fight back or take revenge. In short, Twixt is cruel. It doesn’t surprise me that many responded with vitriol. Most of these comments were your typical “f-you” sort of things, but Meyers received at least one death threat.

What are the Rules?

Myers insists that he “played by the rules” when others refused to. He cites examples of duels of honor within RV, collaboration between Heroes and Villians (who, incredibly, could talk to each other while inside the PvP zone), and farming within the PvP zone as instances of players violating the rules. Now, I am an avid gatherer of herbs in Wintergrasp, and I don’t think I’m violating anything–after all, why would there be Lichbloom if I’m not supposed to pick it? It seems to me that, at once, Myers has both a broad and a narrow definition of game rules. It’s certainly idiosyncratic. As I see it, Twixt abides by two principles:

1. Anything that is possible to do within the game mechanics is fair game.
2. Any custom that the players establish is not a rule.

To address the first, I’ll return to an old topic of mine, that of exploits. It’s always hard to tell what the developers intend or do not intend. In my previous article, I reflected on several cases in WoW in which players were banned for “exploits” that were possible within game mechanics and not covered by the EULA. If Twixt were a WoW player, he would risk a permanent ban. The Blizzard developers actively track and eliminate exploits. Twixt’s drone technique would certainly be deemed an exploit if it existed in WoW, for the simple reason that it gives the victim no chance to react before he is annihilated. In WoW, small changes are made all the time to the battleground and arena environments in order to make for “fairer” play. Moreover, Blizzard has made it abundantly clear through their banning practices that players are meant to keep to the spirit, not just the letter, of game mechanics. Pushing the boundaries often results in a ban. I am usually sympathetic to players who receive bans for deviant behavior. Why can I not muster the same level of compassion for Meyers?

On Empathy

There are very complicated forces at work here. On the one hand, we have Twixt, a self-styled video game rebel. I usually celebrate rebels. For a contemporary example, I really loved the movie Bruno. I’m still not sure whether certain parts reinforce homophobia, but I will say that I laughed and clapped through the whole thing. I like Sacha Baron Cohen’s ideological project, though I will be the first to admit that his personae of Bruno and Borat can be downright predatory. Do I laugh because I agree with Cohen’s politics? Does a part of me think that Cohen’s targets are fair game? I have to say, though, that at times I sympathize more with Cohen’s victims. Many of the people depicted in Bruno–Ron Paul comes to mind–conduct themselves with relative dignity. Sometimes the joke returns on Bruno to the detriment of Cohen’s political message. Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you. I think that it is the sense of give-and-take in the Sacha Baron Cohen films, along with their not-so-hidden agenda of advocating for social change, that makes me like them. It’s easy to like an utter fool like Bruno, even though I would call many of his stunts cruel. It’s very hard to like Twixt.

What Twixt Doesn’t Understand

I was so interested by Myers’ research that I corresponded with him in his blog comments. Sadly, he’s now closed them down. It always seems that intellectual conversations have to end once I’m finally learning something from them! In our give-and-take, what impressed me the most was Myers’ inability to understand what happened to him. There’s a sort of forced naiveté to his tone that surprises me. In the blog comments, I expressed my sympathy for the death threats Myers received, but I also tried to explain to him why players were so angry. To most people who play MMOs, the rules of custom and social interaction matter. They are not there to “experiment” with the virtual world. They are there to live in it. To them, their community is very real. I understand this, because I do not play for research–I play for fun. There is some doubt in my mind as to what kind of gamer Myers was. In his paper, he represents his time in CoH/V as an experiment in deviant behavior. Oddly, in his comments to me on the blog, he says that it wasn’t an experiment at all–just the way he played. I’m puzzled by that, though I realize that for a professional publication, it might be advantageous to represent one’s actions purely as research. In his paper, Myers says that he tried to breach known social customs while working within the rules of the game–all to prove a point. It seems though, that he greatly regrets the hostile response he received. It seems that he neither wanted nor expected the unfriendly response of other players. On this point, at least, I feel sorry for him. He seems–to me anyway–like the little boy who kicks down another child’s sandcastle and then is very surprised when the second boy (or girl) punches him in the nose. Of course, the punch is the greater offense, but it does not mean that the first child did not also feel genuine hurt. At the core of it, Twixt is a bully. Now, he’s not a very harmful one in the grand scheme of things, but he is a bully nonetheless. I guess he expected his opponents to run away crying instead of socking him in the nose.

It’s all the Developers’ Fault, Redux

I’m pretty well-known for criticizing game developers. In fact, it seems like all I do is protest against Blizzard’s policies. In this case, I’m about to lionize Blizzard (I know, check to see if hell has frozen over) and lambaste NCsoft. I may hate the tone that Blizzard developers take when they address their community, but I have to give them credit for actively maintaining their game. The way I see it, it is the developers’ responsibility to provide a safe gaming environment for all. The developers ought to have both protected Myers and undermined Twixt’s influence on the game world. If I were the developers, I would have taken the following steps to solve the Twixt dilemma.
1. Shut down the ability to chat across factions. It seems incredible to me that a game would allow for such venting of rage. There is a good reason that no one has invented a loudspeaker that could project road-rage inspired comments into the next car.
2. Permanently ban the players that threatened Twixt or started malicious rumors about his real-life pursuits.
3. Get rid of the drones. Twixt’s technique strikes me as an unintended use of game mechanics. Meyers calls it “exploring system potentials,” and I call it exploit. Only NCsoft knows for sure, but what is certain is that the developers could have created peace in their game world by getting rid of these things or making them weak enough to allow a player to escape.

Does Twixt have a Place in the Virtual World?

Meyers eventually quit CoH/V, worn down by what he saw as harassment. It didn’t occur to him to change his behavior, and I still don’t think he understands the response he got. Case in point: Meyers was surprised when his Heroes guild kicked him. This “sudden and unexpected expulsion” came about when Myers, logged onto a Villain alt known to his Heroes guild members, turned his droning technique against a member of his own guild. Who would do this and not expect someone to be upset? Now, Myers might say that guilds are “against the rules” as they are not officially talked about in the EULA. What guilds usually do is make the world nicer. They give a person friends and allies. They try to inspire loyalty. The code may be unwritten, but it is nonetheless a code. I will also note that, as a former GM, a g-kick does not qualify as harassment–it’s not harassment to disapprove of someone’s behavior or to dissociate oneself or one’s organization from them. Once again, Myers comes off as incredibly naive. If he wanted to gank members of his own guild, why not do so on an anonymous alt? He just can’t understand why others are angry at him. So, not only will the bully kick down an unknown kid’s sandcastle, but he will do the same to his brother’s. I have a younger sibling myself who was a holy terror as a child. As an adult, at least he understands why it was not cool to play “shark” and bite me in the swimming pool. As adults, we’re great friends and can laugh about such things, though I have to say, if he walks near the edge of a pool I’m definitely pushing him in. Myers can’t understand why the game of “shark” is only fun for the shark. Twixt plays to win, and he plays for science, but he doesn’t play to understand human beings. As such, his place in the virtual world grew smaller. He laments in his paper that he was the victim of “ridicule and the threat (or actuality) of social ostracism.” Eventually, he was forced into being a lone wolf–the only shark in an empty swimming pool. While I might feel a bit sorry for him, I will assert that he should have expected this consequence from the outset of the “experiment.” I do think he had a right to play as he did, at least until such time as NCsoft decided to curb that playstyle, but at the same time, he should have recognized the simple principle that actions have consequences. Very few people have the determination to continue ganking, or biting others, or kicking down sandcastles so far past the point when others disapprove the behavior. It must have taken a good bit of single-mindedness to accomplish it. One of Myers’ detractors, cited in Myers’ paper, says quite eloquently: “It’s almost like he’s an NPC, and if you consider him in that light everything makes a lot more sense.” Maybe so.

Is Meyers’ Research Dangerous?

I am always sensitive to the representation of MMO gaming in the press. My worst fear is that some popular news outlet could get wind of this story, and without understanding a thing about MMOs or their communities, conclude that gamers are vicious, deviant, and homicidal. I would counter that humanity itself is rather vicious. From my knowledge of history, I conclude that we, as a species, work much more often toward the greater evil than the greater good. I see human history, fundamentally, as a tragedy. Despite attempts at peace, empathy, and progress, we so easily devolve into violence. Perhaps Myers experienced some of that violence, about which I am regretful. I would say, though, that in my experience MMOs are no more violent–and sometimes less so–than real life. Maybe I am colored by my own experience, but for every hostile idiot, there are about a hundred carebears in the game world. I don’t know which category to place Myers in. He’s certainly not an idiot, but he is a bit hostile–even to me in the blog comments, though of course, I could have simply misunderstood the tone. What bothers me about Myers is that he is fundamentally unable to appreciate that other players might define the purpose of the game differently from him, just as they are unable to understand his play style. Myers has a very sophisticated set of academic rhetorical strategies to justify his view. The other players involved only have the textual violence of “f-you” tells and posts. However, the failure of understanding is on both sides.

Official 3.2 Patchnotes for Shamans

Official 3.2 Patchnotes for Shamans

Ok so yesterday I posted what the Devs were saying, but now they are officially up on the forums. Lets see what shamans have cooking for the patch and PTR

Shaman

  • A customizable totem bar will now be available for shaman allowing the storing of 4 different totems. These totems can be placed on the ground at once in one global cooldown for the combined mana cost of all 4 totems.
  • All Shocks now have a default range of 25 yards, up from 20 yards.
  • Base health increased by approximately 7% to correct for shamans having lower health than other classes.
  • Chain Heal: Jump distance increased to 10 yards. In addition, the amount of healing now decreases by 40% as it jumps to each new target, instead of 50%.
  • Ghost Wolf: Can now be learned at level 16. While in this form, snaring effects may not bring the shaman below base normal run speed.
  • Talents
    • Enhancement
      • Shamanistic Rage: Cooldown is now 1 minute, down from 2 minutes. Successful melee attacks now have a chance to generate mana equal to 15% of the shaman’s attack power, down from 30%.
    • Restoration
      • Ancestral Healing: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 3/7/10% instead of increasing the target’s armor.
      • Cure Poison and Cure Disease: Combined into a single spell, Cure Toxins.
      • Earth Shield: Dispel effects will now remove charges of Earth Shield rather than the entire aura.
      • Healing Way: Redesigned. Rather than providing a chance of increasing Healing Wave spells on a friendly target, this talent now innately increases the effectiveness of the shaman’s Healing Wave by 8/16/25%.
      • Mana Tide Totem: Totem health now equal to 10% of the shaman’s health.
      • Nature’s Guardian: Redesigned. Now has a fixed 100% proc rate, has a 30-second internal cooldown and increases the shaman’s maximum health by 3/6/9/12/15% for 10 seconds.
      • Nature’s Swiftness: Cooldown is now 2 minutes, down from 3 minutes.
      • Tidal Waves: No longer reduces the cast time of Lesser Healing Wave by 30%. It instead now provides +25% critical strike chance to Lesser Healing Wave, along with the previous 30% cast time benefit to Healing Wave.

Lodur’s thoughts:

Oh my! We knew about the totem bars, and we knew an increase in health was comming. 7% increase will be very nice for our survivability in PvE as well as PvP

Nature’s swiftness – We already knew about but it’s nice to see it in print

Ancestral Healing – Great googly moogly thats awesome. I have to say reducing incomming damage by 10% that’s just amazing! And it scales ridiculously well with content. I mean Disc priests used to only get 3% from grace.  This change has made me excited (I hope this one stays! think of this with chain heal!)

Cure Toxins: With us having Cleanse spirit this change is kindda meh for restoration Shamans, but really awesome for odd PvP specs.

Earth Shield: More of a PvP buff but still pretty slick.

Healing Way: This is very handy. The change to this talent will let you roll your Healing Wave around a bit and I’m certain more people will use it now as a result. Maybe not much more, but a bit.

Nature’s Guardian: Also more of a PvP fix, but I’ve seen some Shaman pick it up for progression fights, which isn’t a half bad idea. The change to it could see more use esepecially in hard mode fights with lots of raid wide damage.

Tidal Waves: A lot of Shaman I’ve been talking to haven’t taken a shinning to this one yet. Personally I think it’s a great thing. The extra crit will let you get Ancestral Healing out there and its a fast heal to begin with. I like this change.

Improved Water Shield: 30% change to be triggered by Chain Heal is nice. Not losing an orb is even better. There have been too many hectic fights where you forget or just can’t spare the GCD to toss Water Shield back up. This takes care of that and lets you keep it up a bit longer, which will help your overall mana regen.

Chain Heal: We new the increase in range as well as the lower number on the healing reduction, but seeing it there is a comfort for sure

I can’t wait to test these out!

*edit*

I forgot to mention the replenishment nerf.

Replenishment: This buff now grants 1% of the target’s maximum mana over 5 seconds instead of 0.25% per second. This applies to all 5 sources of Replenishment (Vampiric Touch, Judgements of the Wise, Hunting Party, Enduring Winter Frostbolts and Soul Leech).

Also at the same time MP5 gear will be getting… more MP5

I do <3 me some MP5

Who wants to do some hard modes? What do you guys think so far?

I’ll update this post as needed, but until then, Happy Healing,

Sig

  • Improved Water Shield: This talent now has a 10/20/30% chance to be triggered by Chain Heal, and the charges of Water Shield are no longer consumed by this talent.
  • 10 Tips for the New Discipline Priest

    Last week, I surveyed the Plus Heal forums (Priest regiment) for any quick advice they’d like to offer for any Priests that had just turned Discipline (like me). This is what they came up with:

    The Tips

    Remember the four Ps, and use them! Penance, Power Word: Shield, Pain Suppression, and Power Infusion.

    - Joveta

    It’s not your job to top the healing charts; you’re there to prevent crisis moments.

    - Wistoovern

    Play to your strengths; don’t be afraid to chain cast. If it’s truly warranted, you are at your strongest. Penance does not consume Borrowed Time yet still benefits from it

    - Arcady

    Your job is about damage mitigation, and speed healing.

    - Melchizedeck

    Power Word: Shield does so many things for you. If you’re not keeping that up consistently on your tank, you might be missing out on some emergency opportunities!

    - Kitts

    During fights that you know involve AoE damage, I’ve found it very helpful to use my spare time to toss PW:S on the DPS. They end up being protected if they get hit by something, and you really get to abuse Borrowed Time.

    - Juzaba

    As far as the AoE damage is concerned, I’ve found that PW:S on myself plus a Holy Nova followed immediately by a nice Prayer of Healing really did wonders for everyone’s health box.

    - Seriah

    You benefit more from MP5 than spirit. It goes against everything you have learned as a holy priest, but because you chain cast there is no chance to cheat the five second rule with Clearcasting (you don’t even get this) and Inner Focus.

    - Takka

    With the threat generation being made easier for tanks, any tank crying about the bubble should scare you and make you think twice about healing them in a group or raid.

    - Beanne

    You can also use Renew & PoM without consuming Borrowed Time, if you still want to save it for a Flash or Greater Heal.

    - dunia

    I turned Discipline for the weekend and had a lot of fun with it PvPing. It took me a while to get used to it at first, but I really freakin’ enjoyed it! I hope these tips from the more experienced Discipline Priests will benefit you as it did for me. I’ll definitely be tapping their minds in the future for more advice.

    Don’t forget to read more about Discipline healing from guest writer Seriah that went up earlier!

    Defending Your Faction Leaders with Guardian Spirit

    Aylii pointed this out to me the other day. I thought it was hilarious. It was located in the Bug Report forum.

    We were trying to kill the faction leaders tonight, even though they are level 83 and we are 70 we managed to fight are way threw it.

    Anyway we were on the bloodelf faction leader and many horde priest were in the room non-flagged.
    When we got the boss low they would cast Guardian Spirit on the boss and pretty much he would get healed to full or half health. We brought his health down to 1% at least 4 times only having him be healed to full. It only takes 1 hit and trying to get 40 people to stop damage that quickly is tough. So after about 1hr 30min doing that we wiped out all the rest of the flagged horde left in the room and left.

    This should not be allowed to work on faction leaders. It is way overpowered and it’s impossible to kill them if the other faction’s priest cast this spell on the boss.

    I’m looking for a nurf to this spell on faction leaders only. Any blue want to comment?

    Source: Bug Report Forum (World of Warcraft)

    Price of Level 80 PvP Gear and Priestly PvP Goodness [Screenshots!]

    Price of Level 80 PvP Gear and Priestly PvP Goodness [Screenshots!]

    Relatively slow day today. I’m busy hard at working trying to answer all of the wonderful questions I’ve received in regards to Priests, healing, roles, raiding, gear, mana regen and so forth. I will pack all of this information in an easy to consume format and also produce a TLDR version of it as well. The most anticipated blog post by Matt will arrive on Sunday. :D

    For the mean time, I decided to take a break inside Strand of the Ancients (the new BG). Hopefully I can answer a few pre-emptive questions with some screenshots below.

    honor-80 bonus-honor

    The (tentative) price of Honor gear at level 80. Also displays my raid pimping goodness. As you can see, I’ve ran the 25 mans more than the 10s (Valor is the 25 badge vs the Heroism which is the 10s). Note the amount of honor on the second shot. I believe that takes into account bonus honor from BGs and me killing other players and healing and all that stuff. Also note my pro Killing Blowness. Megan ain’t got nothing on me!

     

    honor-door WoWScrnShot_100308_114719

    Top: Honor vendors are no longer instanced.

    Bottom: shows Horde armada offloading troops. Also shows a valiant Matticus attempting to hold off said invaders. With a Holy Fire.

    WoWScrnShot_100308_113635the-line-1 

    Top: Me sitting in a passenger seat attempting to overheal a mage because I’m a moron for not de-selecting and activating the auto-self cast. Bottom left health bar shows the health of the vehicle. Contains 3 seats (shown on the far right of the shot). Has 6 speaker setup, all terrain capabilities, GPS tracking, and sports 30 miles to the gallon. ABS needs some work. No iPod support.

    Bottom: Screenshot shows the gates being breached. We’re trying to stop the Horde offense from breaking in. We have to hold out for a minute.

    the-line-2 the-line-3

    My ancestor, King Matticidus once said the following:

    “Give them nothing! But take from them… everything!”

    And take from them we did. We held them to a draw. I suspect more honor would be gained if one side won both Offense and Defensive roles.

    Be a World of Warcraft God in 5 Steps

    Be a World of Warcraft God in 5 Steps

    wow-god

    You’ve got the game. You’ve done the raids. You’ve finished the PVPing. For some reason, and you can’t quite place it, there’s still a hole within you. It feels as if though there is something missing. You were a hardcore gamer before. In Counter-Strike you’d consistently dominate with the AWP in your hand. In Warcraft 3, dominating the opposition was nearly effortless especially with multiple tournament wins and top place finishes.

    Not only that, you actually beat Tetris.

    You’ve mastered shooters. You’re renowned in RTS games. Now you’ve set your eye on the MMO world. How does one “conquer” World of Warcraft?

    Raid. Raid a lot.

    The best gear in the game can only be acquired by tackling the hardest bosses in raiding instances. Until you’ve taken down Illidan and Archie (and now Kil’Jaden), you’re just a small pup. Get the best gear you can possibly get!

    PvP Endlessly

    What good are all those shiny weapons going to do if you can’t actually use them? It’s one thing for your opponents to make a note of the firepower you’re packing. It’s something else entirely when you go up to them and cleave them in half. Furthermore, a strong push to the 2000+ rating is almost a must. Non-stop BGs and Arenas are your ticket to be the Unstoppable Force.

    Post often to forums

    Forum trolling is an acquired skill. Some people just grow up having the innate ability to cause an uproar. The point here is to make your presence known and felt. A real gaming God is not content with just be a one man wrecking crew. Their name has to be known in households worldwide. The only way to do that is with constant posting. Reply to other threads, answer other questions, or start some discussion of your own.

    Have insane amounts of gold

    Like it or not, the WoW economy is one of the central pillars that drive this game. Gold makes the world go round. Without money, you can’t buy the supplies you need. Yes, although WoW Gods don’t need trivial things, armor and weapons could use some buffing and shining every so often. Although some players would be willing to do it for free, the merchants in the cities need to make a living somehow.

    “Contribute” to Trade chat

    It’s not enough to own the forums. You have to own trade chat! Start making references to bad movies! Make fun of Canada! Go ahead and randomly insert support for some political candidate! Get people to react to you! I saw this one guy in trade chat who said that “heals can’t crit” and I observed in amused amazement as the entire channel went off in an uproar for a good 45 minutes citing every resource base in the game that “yes, heals can in fact crit”.