Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's time for some...

...mage QQ! Been a while. So the new pre-Cata patch just hit. For mages, very underwhelming changes.

Frost basically became the #1 raid viable spec now, with an interesting rotation and a pet you don't have to glyph to get permanently and it can still Freeze, which also interacts with your rotation. This is shit they could have solved two years ago but nooooooo.

Fire became the AoE spec that is all about lighting shit on fire. 10% haste when three or more targets have your DoTs on them means they will need to either balance boss fights around it always being up or never being up and it does have some interesting implications for PvP. Nevertheless, looks to have similar gameplay as before. The new HS is weirdly split into two different talents for no apparent reason but the new Combustion, Blast Wave and Flame Strike are all rather interesting, at least at a glance.

Arcane is the big problem here. Arcane was always about burning mana to get extra damage. That still applies, AB only synergizes with itself now and AM is a proc but that is practically how it was before too. But the mastery gives extra damage the more mana is in your pool, which completely counteracts the whole idea of having intense burn phases heavy on going through the mana pool in record time. Instead, the most beneficial way to play should be to use a conservative cycle that will let you mana gem back up to 100% and then start a burn cycle that will last until you evocate back up to 100% again and then start the conservative cycle again. 98% extra damage for 700% extra mana at 4xAB is just by no means fun and the burn cycles are super slow and not that spectacular, which was some of the arcane allure. The absolutely worst bit about the entire thing is that the rotation is going to be pretty much exactly what it always was.

About the new spells, the frost one is underwhelming and heavily situational/PvP oriented, the fire one is just another mindless thing you shoot on cooldown for Fire and Frost but ignore as Arcane, and the arcane one is, hold on to your seats if you managed to miss all pre-Cata spoilers: Mage Bloodlust. Yeah. It's an exact clone of Bloodlust so that your ten man raiding team (which will probably start being a rather big part of raiding with the new changes) can get by without a shammy. It also gives the mage some extra soloing/PvP oomph which is nice I guess, but fact of the matter remains, they copypastad a very uniquely shammylicious spell that has been part of their lore since Warcraft 2 (although the unit casting it then was called Ogre Magi...) onto mages just for the sake of balance - the lore justifications are weak at best.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cataclysm Beta

So yeah. We won ten invites in the screenshot competition.

First impressions: WOW! :D

Second impressions: Meh. :|

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

2010 in foresight

First: Midway through this post is a big-ass red spoiler warning. You have been warned of the warning. Below that, there be dragons. And spoilers.

Next: Having had a look of all the fights in the new Icecrown wings except the end bosses, I can say that Blizzard have once again topped themselves with a great raid instance. The trash is varied, fun and engaging. These are reviews, not guides.

Festergut is Patchwerk 2.0 and quite possibly my favorite fight so far due to it's plannability. Very unengaging to tank, since all you do is taunt off at nine stacks and when the 3rd inhale is up, you pop your pally wall. When it's down, you pop any trinkets and pray. Then you drop Righteous Fury and DPS until nine stacks is back. Very engaging to DPS, you are constantly churning out your max DPS (evocate? ARE YOU CRAZY?) and have to balance CD poppage with survivability (as a mage I could ignore a whole inhale cycle by iceblocking Pungent blight but it's more fun doing it proper and I am afraid I would forget to get Innoculated once or twice if I get too used to it) and running to the right spot, at the right time. Split-second decision making during a high octane fight makes it very rewarding to kill.

Rotface in the same wing is Grobbulus 2.0 and a bit of a pain, but we got him down to 10% our best try (whereas we've been hitting a bit of a brick wall at 30% and dying off at 20% previously) and I am confident that he will bite the grass next week. Dynamic fights are always more fun that static, but it's so much going on and it's so easy to lose a person due to bad luck or a very short moments unattentiveness. With one DPS down you are going to struggle to get the last ounces of health off this boss, so even a single death will probably usually mean a wipe even in the foreseeable future.

Blood Princes is a very chaotic fight as well, but we didn't get too many tries before we had to call it. I hope we go back there next week and that I can be on my main for once - I think it will be right up my valley with the target switches and empowered mechanics.

Valithria Dreamwalker has been pushed as the innovative, rules reversed type of fight but I wasn't that impressed after cooling down. Frankly, I am a bit surprised nobody over at Blizzard cracked the idea earlier while they were brainstorming new fight mechanics. We have DPS races, why not a TPS race (Hodir is as close as it gets if you have the likes of me in your party) or, like now, a HPS race... The add waves are good at least, there's a priority list and some potentially heavy raid damage to keep the healers busy and lose focus of healing the boss, equivalent of forcing DPS to move out of the fire to lessen their DPS time on the boss in a tank and spank.

I haven't more than vaguely researched the rest of the fights (I did watch the video of the world first Arthas-10 kill) so I won't comment on them further.


It starts now. Don't keep reading. Honestly.

Blizzard, wtf? is what I like to say the most. This isn't fucking Star Wars. There doesn't always have to be a Lich King. I appreciate that there is a difference between in-game concepts and their abstractions, and that armies didn't wade through swaths of Scourge soldiers to reach the Lich King but rather snuck in, sorry, KNOCKED HIS FRONT DOOR DOWN, and that the Scourge supposedly is a force of so large numbers that it will still pose a problem to conventional warfare, but if a set of heroes can kill the biggest baddie of them all with the help of Fordring, they should be able to take on at least some of the lesser drone-like Scourge soldiers. Because, if the Scourge is so dangerous if they go on the attack (assuming this is what they will do when the become disorganized and not under control), why didn't Arthas release them on the world earlier? People speculate that this is becuase he wanted to be killed and released, but that is also a kind of lame justification. But seriously, we are in Northrend, a place where most presence is military. Sure, it would kind of suck for the Taunka and Kaluak, but without a Lich King, the Scourge would slowly die out.

Kill the queen and the ant hill will eventually crumble and die. Arthas death would mark the beginning of a period of hard work and strife for Azeroth, which would fit well in with the pre-cataclysmic changes. With the main work done, the cleanup is sure to make brittle alliances shatter and force desperate measures.

This is just the first bit of how bad the writing behind this scenario is. Won't people expect the Scourge to go bananas when the Lich King is dead? How was Fordring going to explain all the troops still kept in check? Aside from Chas who very accurately pointed out that the only info we have on this "always be a Lich King" thing comes from souls that have been trapped in Frostmourne and could say anything, let's assume that Terenas, Uther and Bolvar are legit. We still have ZERO anchoring of this in pre 3.3 lore which makes it a lame dick move. The first time I ran Halls of Reflection I instantly knew how WotLK would end, and I hated it even though I didn't have Bolvar in mind.

Even though there were some options still (redemption of Arthas by love, exorcism, purification, shattering of Frostmourne or something) rather than the outright killing of Arthas and then being done with it, this is by far the most cheesed out variant of it. I honestly would rather have an atoned Arthas appear, as much as I think that he had to die for the crimes he commited (although it would have been awesome if Azeroth could forget and forgive making Arthas a key character in the future lore - at least it would add some complexity to the damn thing and show that Blizzard can still mix things up), if that would have made the Bolvar bullshit disappear. Seriously, the Lich King is a created entity, it, or he, just is. There doesn't have to be a cool Sith-like mythos behind, and it irks me to hell that Blizzard would again copy their previous works - Sylvanas is a Kerrigan carbon copy (although getting her own faction and seeking revenge rather than world domination) Arthas is a (rather more willing) Kerrigan carbon copy, "the Scourge" even sound a bit like "the Zerg", must we have the Lich King transferring to the force that defeated him (broad strikes, people) just like the end boss of Diablo 1? Couldn't he and the Scourge just get defeated? What's with all the humans anyway, what of the Night elf hot shots? Are they content now that the world was saved at Mt. Hyjal? Bloody Malfurion already fucked up the destruction of the Frozen throne, where's his participation?

There are so many things that I dislike about the whole deal, but now I at least have touched upon a few of them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2009 in hindsight

Yeah, I know, I was given a Christmas present by Tam and should perhaps work on that subject since she was so nice and all, but the servers just went down as I was levelling my priest and I don't have any good angles of attack yet. Without further ado, here's a meme I stole:

What did you do in the World of Warcraft in 2009 that you’d never done before?

I pugged raids, tons of them. This brough upon me some severe sanity loss and I don't think I've recovered yet. I realized that the task of leading PuG's is a very thankless one. I tried going the hard line, cause we all know that dictatorships and slavery gets shit done, and I'd seen too many wishy-washy PuG's with no proper leadershi(t)p to want to be like it. We all also know that dictators may make a few people happy, and pull the effort in the right direction, but they are still despotic bastards that do what they like, and generally end up dead. So yeah I've fallen out with a lot of people and I'm beginning to suspect it will always be like this. Much as I like there are fundamentals to my personality that I can't change and the friends that see through it are very good friends, and the people who can't stand it (they shouldn't have to stand stuff in the first place) distance themselves with good reason. I'm a very honest, outspoken and superlative person (stuff doesn't plain suck, they suck with the power of the biggest black hole in the universe with me) and sometimes that leads to me being an ass.

Oh and I also tanked, and did elemental DPS on my shammie. Both were fun. I think 2009 can be seen as the year when I started healing on him seriously as well, and that was also very fun.

What was your favorite new place that you visited?

This has to be Ulduar. The boss fights are very fresh and unique, the instance itself is enigmatic, beautiful and hard enough for the level of me and my guild. Karazhan, Ulduar and Icecrown citadel shows that Blizzard have some really good game designers. Trial of the Crusader was a bit of a letdown, although the mechanics are sort of interesting still. Granted, we haven't tried many hardmodes and they change things for the better, so I guess the interesting stuff is there, but well hidden (hardmodes are HARD).

What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

Proper raiding progress - Trial was, as I said, very uninteresting and we killed all the bosses the weeks they came out except for Champions (took us a while to figure out the style of the encounter) who took us a week extra. Ulduar was halted by the summer - our guild went from 25 mans to 10 mans and we've kind of stuck to it lately. We lost a lot of raiders and recruited mostly people with gearing needs and the summer was spent farming Ulduar and making progress there - I famously posted our first Mimiron kill here, and we did some tries at Vezax and ultimately Yogg before getting sick of it. With the advent of raid lockout extensions, we have new hopes of killing Yogg. Of course, it won't be the same since we will be in at least partial ICC gear when we do it, but the damn thing has to die. It's a matter of skill, not gear (some nutcases killed him wearing only blues) so I still think it's something we need to do.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Killing General Vezax pre-nerf, probably. I mean sure, we were a lot later than most guilds, but we did it on our own terms and proved that we are a force to be reckoned with. I can't take credit for it, but I was the raid leader both for the first Mimiron and the first Vezax kills and that felt very good as well. After this, we haven't really had any bosses that have offered us any problems (except, again, Yogg, who we have a total of not more than ten proper tries at, and by proper I mean with people who's seen the fight before and made it into phase 2 a couple of times - the other nights have just been accustoming new people to the fight) but I look forward to the new wings of ICC when they are released, because the first one was pretty damn awesome and I hope it will still feel challenging cause the fights are pretty dynamic.

What was your biggest failure?

Well, I'd like to say failing to kill Yogg, but I think my failure lies at a more personal level. I've gone from bad to worse when it comes to handling social interactions and it's probably going to take me a while to be the person I want to be, especially with the arrival of the new PuG system that you are forced to use every day on all characters (yeah I know, nobody's holding a knife to my throat but still). Jerks, chiefly from other servers, really bring out the bad in me. No good reason to brood on this though, I'm gonna level alts through Outland and hopefully that will bring back some of the fun this game lost recently.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I can't really remember anything in particular except our first wipenights in Ulduar-25. Progress raiding is what makes this game great, and wiping and practising and wiping and then finally getting that kill is hard to beat. The downside of this of course is that we went from steady 25 mans to farming Ulduar-10 over the summer, which seriously burnt me out on the game and made me a bit of a jerk towards people I like.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

I think that's pretty established by now...

What was your favorite WoW blog or podcast?

Tam and Chas over at Righteous orbs always write interesting and witty things. It, together with my friends' WoW blogs, are the only ones I really read except news from like and the likes.

Tell us a valuable WoW lesson you learned in 2009.

Paladin tanking is fucking boring.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why Vorla doesn't blog more

I don't want to write inane incorehent boring stuff about how I just got my new epic whatever.

I want to write about serious stuff and important thoughts and shit.

And I simply have not had time, nor arsedness, lately to do so.

However, I got caught up in some shit over at Righteous Orbs again, so there'll be post(s) incoming, be sure of it!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tanking meme thing

So yeah, some dude at that other blog did a tanking meme, so I decided to be no worse. Only problem is I have no friends to tag or anything, so I'm a dead end when it comes to memes. Without further ado:

What is your primary tanking environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)

As with my healing, I tend to jump in to fill spots in raid 10 mans or play the lead part in PuG's led by me.

What is your favorite tanking spell for your class and why?

Avenger's shield. Ranged, tons of damage, slows, silences, AND bounces to two targets after the first one? Sign. Me. THE. FUCK. UP!

What tanking spell do you use least for your class and why?

I'm tempted to say taunts, since people rarely rip aggro off me, but that's true for most tanks (I hope) so I'd have to say... Hands. They are so situational and there's usually an easier solution than retargeting to cast (I don't think I've ever saved a raid by using a hand, to be honest, so that includes simply ignoring the situation).

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your tanking class and why?

Right now, we have extremely good survivability and Effective Health coupled with good DPS (and threat, as paladin threat largely is our DPS * Righteous Fury modifier), all in one easily played package.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your tanking class and why?

We are not as flexible as a warrior tank or druid but this is largely a quality of life issue. We rely on mana which sometimes is scarce (fight transitions will make Divine Plea wear off coupled with no healing to take advantage of Spiritual Attunement) and we can get silenced, but as long as we have mana for one ability (even our lowest threat moves) our snap threat is good enough that it won't be a problem.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best tanking assignment for you?

Tanking a big-ass sucker of a boss that hits hard.

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with most and why?

I'm well complimented by a druid or warrior that can fill the gaps in my toolbox. For the other meaning of this question, I enjoy tanking on my warrior a lot more than I enjoy it on my paladin, because of the aformentioned flexibility.

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with least and why?

My paladin, easily. Stuck in a rotation, just one stun with a long CD, pretty lame debuffs and the fact that it's flavour of the month.

What is your worst habit as a tank?

Letting people die. Sure, they may deserve it, but there's nothing stopping me from being nice. I also tend to be pretty reckless, but I prefer wiping every now and then to meticolously planning each pull before going ahead and pressing that Hand of Reckoning + Avenger's shield macro. Also, surviving a big oshit pull after using a few tricks is a pretty neat feeling.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while tanking?

Slow people. I prefer things quick, and as we say in Swedish, "snappy". People at 60% who demand a mana break in a heroic will tick me the fuck off big time. If the healer is good to go, so is the rest of the group.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other tanks?

Nope. We are actually way too good. Simplicity of play and huge EH are too big advantages, and I hope Blizzard fixes these in Icecrown without either making all tanks bland copies of each other or simply nerfing us.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a tank?

I mostly just use Recount to watch my DPS contribution. I've never been in a situation where survivability analysis has been important.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your class?

Paladins are not off tanks! We may AoE tank pretty well and easily (our normal rotation contains two abilities that affect 3/all targets around us, and one that affects all targets that are hitting at us) but our largest advantage is our silly threat and survivability against the ilks of hard hitting bosses like Steelbreaker.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new tanks of your class to learn?

Exactly how everything fits together. Divine Plea, the 9696 rotation and in what order to use abilities when grabbing multiple mobs just to name a few. Paladin tanking is easy though, almost way too easy.

Effective Health or Avoidance and why?

EH if I had to choose. The stuff that will kill you at current gear and content levels is big, unavoidable hits (either through stuns or magic damage) and there is only one solution to handling those situations better: More stamina.

What tanking class do you feel you understand least?

Death Knights. I have a general antipathy against the class so I haven't rolled one, even though I said I might one day if only for the lore things in the starting area. Their resource managment and different strikes are alien to me, but I know they can move stuff with Death Grip and that's what's important.

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in tanking?

Aloft and Tidy Plates for keeping track of mobs and who they are targeting. Omen obviously, and Satrina's buff frames to help me track when Divine Plea has run out and similar things. Grid setup mostly to display who has aggro so that I can use my Righteous defence macro.

I have a Righteous defence mouseover macro, and a pulling macro (Hand of Reckoning + Avenger's shield) but that's pretty much it.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your tanking stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?

A healthy mix currently. I'm not tanking any bleeding edge content so I'm entertaining myself juggling dodge and parry and activating socket bonuses (almost regardless) rather than straight HP stacking, mostly because simply going for Stam feels boring. I don't practise what I preach in this regard, but I can tank anything my guild currently can see without any trouble what so ever, so I don't see a reason to go even further up Health Pool Lane.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The art of Shaman healing

No, not really. This is some kind of non-meme (OR IS IT DUNDUN) I'm doing so I don't have to type a proper post.

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?
Togtok, restoration shaman.

What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
I tend to jump in the occasional guild ten man raid every now and then. I also run VoA from time to time.

What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?
Riptide - it's instant, it's a HoT, and it triggers Tidal waves which is something I simply want to have up at all times. If I'm not rolling on the tank, I'm using it to snipe heal the raid. Yes, when I see incoming Prayers of Healing too. Just to smack some overhealing on that pesky Holy priest who thinks he's all that.

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?
Used to be Healing wave tied with Chain heal but has probably been turned into Chain heal. I KNOW, it's the signature spell and everything, but I only ever use it on the likes of fights like Kologarn and Loatheb, cause people will be sufficiently grouped up for it to be really awesome. Raid healing is better done with Lesser Healing wave (boosted by Tidal waves of course) cause you have a chance to reevaluate the raid after each cast to see if something else has happened. 2.5 seconds minus haste is a long time to wait for a heal that may or may not be completely wasted or bounce the wrong way or be overwritten by those pesky Holy priests and their Prayers of Healing. Coupled with Nature's swiftness on fights with heavy, randomly incoming damage it makes for a good emergency heal for people in the danger zone.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?
Totems, Tidal waves and Bloodlust. We have similar throughput and longetivity compared to other classes, and we are versatile enough to work raid or tank healing as well as a druid or priest - we all need to spec differently to fully fill the two roles, but we can if we want to and have tools to do it with. What sets us apart is the totems that can be used to boost whatever setup, changed on the fly combined with the flexibility of Tidal Wave charges, and the overall ├╝berness of being able to give everyone a shitload of haste for 40 seconds.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?
I'd say more healing tools, but the only one I can think of that I miss is a healing version of the mana tide totem. The normal one, even glyphed, is a bit weak to really make a difference, but a big AoE pulsing heal every two minutes or something would be awesome for XT style fights or to get the raid up to full while letting the rest of the healers relax.

That being said, having an array of a few more abilities that are marginally or situationally useful would be more fun, but we have all the tools we need to do the job well.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?
Out of pure habit I will answer main tank healing. I know, take me out behind the chemical sheds and shoot me. It's dead boring, but man, do we do an awesome job of it. Our on-crit effect, Earth shield (which adds oomph to glyphed LHW's), critting Lessers and hasted Healings waves respectively from Tidal waves which is triggered by Riptide all make us really good tank healers - damage reduction, a HoT that heals when it's needed, a HoT that smooths damage, good mana preservation by using the different heals depending on what happens - normal damage, use Tidal waves charges for critting LHW's, spikey damage, use the charges for hasted, big healing bombs. The Riptide consumption aspect of Chain heal serves well in some fights as well, with the raid close to the tank. You basically refresh it on the tank most cooldowns anyway so it will always be there for you, replacing a normal tank heal with a critting CH with the benefit of added raid healing. Shammies have been pigeon holed into raid healing for too long. Half our arsenal isn't used while raid healing damnit!

What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?
A healing druid really shines with a shaman. I don't have to waste a Lesser wave on people who are only marginally hurt, and I can bring low raid members up with hasted Healing waves while a druid is off HoT:ing everyone up.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?
I reckon Holy priests, because they are so like us, with big vs small heals, a damage-smoothing HoT and damage reduction. We simply don't complete each other in the same way, but rather fill a lot of the same utility and versatility.

What is your worst habit as a healer?
I snipe heals. I'm horrible, I know, but I tend to be one of those healers that is the third or sixth healer (not necessarily in order) and watching five people doing the job you're supposed to help with just as well without you just isn't fun (not cause I'm not needed, but becuase I don't like standing around), so I snipe heals to keep myself interested.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?
People who snipe heals, I mean seriously.

No, okay, I really don't know. People who stand in the fire piss me off regardless, but that's the closest I get as far as healing habits go.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?
Yeah. We may lack a huge toolbox, bubble damage mitigation, everlasting mana or massive throughput, but we can do any healing job without trouble. If someone dies, in our most die-hard raid healing spec we still have powerful abilities to keep the tank up.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?
I flip Skada over to healing done (to roughly monitor the other healer's performance) and when the fight is over, I check overhealing, compare my ratio to the others (I usually rank high, very rarely highest, on healing done and very low, often lowest, on overhealing done) and feel smugly superior.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?
That we are to be pigeonholed into healing the raid. Knee jerk reaction pigeonholing is disc priests and holydins for tank healing, holy priests, druids and shamans for raid healing, but I do not hesitate to stick a shaman on tank healing.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?
Shamans are not only about Chain Heal. This in itself has a few implications, such as using Tidal Wave charges, when and where to use Riptide and the everlasting dilemma of using big or small heals. Keeping track of Tidal wave charges, Riptide tick time, Water and Earth shield charges and totem timers can be daunting but they're all alleviated through use of properly configured addons.

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?
I sort of answered this already. I generally have a good throughput in healing done (I'm an old DPS:er, if I finish a fight with more than 0 mana I have not used all my resources - I've had raid leaders ask if I'm DPS or healer after fights cause I'll be cruising at some 1.2-1.5k DPS from shooting lightning while bored) coupled with low overhealing.

Haste or Crit and why?
I prefer haste while raid healing and crit for tank healing, but I maintain a healthy mix in my "standard" gearset.

What healing class do you feel you understand least?
I think I have a fairly good grasp of all the healers, and if someone would lend me a healer of any class and point to all the important buttons I'd probably do a pretty good job with either of them, but I tend to raid lead and that takes understanding of all aspects of the game and good knowledge of what abilities each class has.

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?
I have Healing wave and Chain heal macroed with Nature's swiftness for oshit-style healing moments, and I have a Earth shield refresh macro, but some patch broke one of my addons and I haven't been arsed to fix it yet so for now, I'm refreshing manually. Pretty easy still seeing as I keep Riptides on the tank even while raid healing.

I use Grid for raid frames, and mainly look there while raid healing. While tank healing I use my large target frames but keep an eye on the raid every now and then (when I'm bored) and snipe heals. I use Satrina's buff frames to keep track of my Water shield and use my unit frame addon for tracking Earth shield on my focus target.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
I'm not spoilt with many gear choices but I do have a few replacements pieces I can switch in if I want extra MP5, crit or haste depending on the fight or healing assignment. My overall set is pretty well balanced as regards to throughput and longetivity, however.