Wednesday, 26 January 2011

20 Days of WoW - Day 17: What do you do when the server’s down?!

Sleep, most likely.

Our server downs are on Wednesdays at 5 in the morning. I don't work the night-shift.

However, if - for some unfathomable reason - the servers were down during my intended playtime, I'd probably do something else. The likelyhood of finding me in a corner, shivering and shaking is slim (although there has been a flu going round lately).

Lord of the Rings, possibly. Or Raving Rabbids. Or even just read a book. I'm old fashioned like that.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Playing a Deadly Damage Dealer in Cataclysm

I'm not sure I am qualified to post about playing a DPS, but then again - that never stopped my opinion before, so why start now. I did notice a few interesting aspects about DPSing ... partly while playing one myself and partly while tanking heroics and raids.

I think Blizzard did a surprisingly good job of making the DPS job more challenging and more important. I'm also surprised at how well very different philosophies predicted this. Examples? Greedy Goblin stated in April 2010 that DPS would be the new critical role, Righteous Orbs (Chastity, in this case) predicted it to be the new "cool" role in July 2010.

And they were all right (especially those I didn't link - and I'm sure there are many more posts like this). Of course they were, because all bloggers are secretly part of an illuminated society and do know about everything in advance.

Back to the topic at hand, though...

There were a few subtle (and not so subtle) hints that DPS nowadays have to take a more active role in their own survival. The odds of getting killed outright have been reduced somewhat (in appropriate content), but at the same time you're not guaranteed healer attention any more. In the words of my wife: "If you draw aggro with your Bladestorm, you're on your own, buddy. I've no mana to waste on sponges like you!"

Do you know where all your heal buttons are? I still forget about them - healthstones, potions, victory rush procs, enraged regeneration, bandages ... are there more for warriors? Probably....

On the other hand are the DPS checks. There are quite a few in raiding content. We have so far run into two - one being Argaloth in Baradin Hold, the other being Maloriak in Blackwing Descent. One of them is a single target DPS check (70k damage required for the whole raid (10) over 5 minutes), the other an AoE damage check (kill 315k health abominations within 15 seconds - damage is doubled, though). And occasionally, my groups fail.

This is something that can partially be improved with gear, of course. More shiny stats will improve general damage output and survivability at the same time. But the general issue remains - DPS have to be good this expansion.

I like it.

This is not enough. The old "DPS really needs to be above tanks" is still true. Possibly even more so now than it was before. In hard content, the speed of the kill matters.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Immersion breaking by name and profession

Just thought about something while popping out of a dwarven hut in the Twilight Hinterlands (or whatever they are called) - there are clearly not enough timed quests in the game any more.

In fact, are there any left?

See the problem was, my poor innocent questgiver said: "My daughter has been kidnapped by ogres - go and rescue her now!" and when I walked out of the hut I saw a flower. And then some ore. And another flower. And one thing lead to another and ... no, not that! I spent a while flying about, picking up whatever was not nailed down.

And then proceeded to rescue the bride to be. Daughter. Whatever.

There is just not enough pressure in game to do things in a timely manner sometimes. In fact.. nothing would have stopped me from wandering off to Uldum for a bit and solving the riddle of a pyramid.

Breaks immersion a bit.

On the other hand... maybe the name of my Deathknight was not ideally chosen either. It does completely ruin most NPC dialogue.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

20 Days of WoW - Day 16: Favourite quest/quest chain?

I was wondering what to put here. I was thinking about a lot of quests I had done, and especially about all the new ones in the 80 to 85 regions.

There were quite a few there that I liked - the wedding preparation and celebration was nice and different, I had to laugh at the Death Star reference in the King of the Mountain questline.

However, for a truly "favourite" quest or questline it would have to be something I'd like to do again. And even hacking the mainframe - and the followup - is not something I'm really looking forward to doing again.

Note: You are given the 'hacking' tool.

No, my favourite is an old world quest - newly designed with the Cataclysmic overhaul of the world. This one is available for Alliance in Northwatch hold (and there is a daily in Tol Barad). Blowing up boats just does not get old. I could do that all day!

Favourite quest: Run out the Guns!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

20 Days of WoW - Day 15: Favourite Battleground and Why?

Interesting question - and not one I can even evaluate properly at the moment, as I have not yet gotten around to doing Twin Peaks and the Battle for Gilneas.

I like the concept of Flagrunning more than Node Capture and Hold, so Warsong Gulch should be pretty high on the list. It is, however, a Battleground plagued by stupidity on my realms so far. I find it thoroughly enjoyable in the lower level brackets, and it declines steeply at maximum level.

I thought I'd like Arathi Basin and Eye of the Storm - they looked like mostly symmetrical maps, they appeared to be sensibly complex, so you couldn't just be overrun by overwhelming force (I have bad flashbacks to Warsong Gulch in the Burning Crusade. Seeing a tauren warrior with the door riding up to the entrance, followed by a rogue with the twin blades of trade-chat-linkage, followed by 8 of their guildmates does not inspire confidence. However, I rarely have seen a victory in those games. I'm sure it's not the layout, I'm reasonably sure it's not me - but we loose an excessive amount of games there.

I don't like battlegrounds with vehicles. Fullstop. They are fiddly, stupid, encourage stupid behaviour and make it even less obvious what a good course of action is. They also occasionally make me sea-sick. So Wintergrasp, SotA and Isle of Conquest are right out.

I want some semblance of success in a battleground occasionally. After too many losses I just get frustrated and can't even treat it like a learning experience any more. Shouts like "let's loose fast" etc. don't help with the mood.

Possibly, just possibly, playing a protection warrior has something to do with the enjoyment, too. I have much more fun on my rogue or warlocks. But that is not part of this post, really.

So ... possibly unsurprisingly, my favourite battleground:

Alterac Valley.

There is a large PvE element in here, a tank is actually useful, the tactics need adjusting, but the area is large enough that adjusting mid-fight is not entirely futile. There are caves to explore, quests to complete and rams to tame.

They also have a trinket ... and back in the day, the battles in here used to take hours - possibly days. A strong defence on the bridge could lead to thousands of honourable kills. Good times.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

20 Days of WoW - Day 14: Healer, tank or dps?

Hmm. This used to be easy, but it actually depends on the situation (and on the game). The quick and easy (and in most cases right) answer is "Tank".

However, there are a few conditions.

One: This only applies to World of Warcraft (and to a lesser extend Star Wars Galaxies). I tried tanking in Everquest 2, Asherons Call, Asherons Call 2, Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragon Online. The only game I really "got" it was in WoW. Star Wars Galaxies is different, because Jedi was the only tank class and melee DPS class at the same time - and it was brought on late and rubbish as well.

Two: There are days when I enjoy something mindless. Now I do not want to look down on DPS, because performing at the top of the game is obviously easily as challenging as tanking. However, if you want to do okay, you can just play around with DPS and blow some crap up. It's fun, it's quick and for me it's a lot like a one-night stand. Nothing serious, but good fun now and then.

That said... I think I enjoy melee classes vastly over ranged. I appreciate the better view from the back, but I cannot really enjoy myself there.

Oh and healing? It terrifies me. I can't do it. I mean.. that's not entirely true. I can heal, as long as nothing goes wrong (or could in Nexus at level 72 - the last time I tried). As soon as the shitteth hath hitteth the fanneth, I flounder and fail. Not going to do that again.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Why Archaeology ROCKS!

That is all. Nothing more to say. And I need to get back to "surveying" anyway.

20 Days of WoW - Day 13: Which faction are you “for”?

Hmm. The obvious question here seems to be "Alliance" or "Horde", and I don't think I can answer that. Sure ... I play Alliance now. The whole war seems to be forced and unnatural, though, and I just don't get the justification of it all. Especially with larger threats looming everywhere.

The progressions changes from expansion to expansion as well - while Burning Crusade seemed to focus a bit on making Horde and Alliance cooperate, Wrath of the Lich King downplayed the whole thing a little - only dragging it out kicking and screaming when it was needed for the story. Now, with all the good deeds of Icecrown forgotten again by a dragon sitting on the clocktower, we have a hearty rivalry between Horde and Alliance again. Oh yes.

So yes, I can't decide. In fact, I don't want to decide. I think someone should brutally murder the leaders of the Alliance and Horde in their sleep and force the rest to work together in a malevolent benevolent dictatorship.

Someone who has a sense of priorities. Dragon first, then Barrens/Stranglethorn trade routes.

"That's the only way that we'll be able to beat the Lich King. Tirion has limits, the Horde and Alliance bicker amongst one another. The Ebon Blade has no such restraints."

I'll go with Darion - The Ebon Watcher and the Knights of the Ebon Blade.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Pet Tree Bug

A-ha! I bet that title caught you by surprise! It'll be content - and it will be about hunters and their beloved animal companions tonight. I shall rival Pike and Big Red Kitty themselves!

Right. To business.

I do play not one, but two hunters. Leveling slowly. Sometimes. Some of them. Okay, I'll admit it, it was just an experiment. But I enjoy it muchly. Especially now that there are Worgen and I can have one and I could tame a fox and name it Samantha (and the pictures are pathetic. Here, have a better one (NSFW)).


So I trundled about, with my fox and my pig, using one in instances (with cower turned on) and the other outside (with growl turned on) unless I forgot.

And then I got to level 42 and got the third call pet. So it was finally time to grab a Monkey! Because monkeys clearly rock. And apparently fling poo - but wether that is a bonus or a problem will be decided later.

And because I am a good hunter, I actually fed my pet and named it (*) and decided to spend its talent points.

And then I found this:

Yes, Monkey obviously rocks. Monkey can also Dash! A monkey on speed - oh yeah!

However, Monkey can not learn the subsequent ability of Mobility, because that apparently requires one point spent in Dive. Which is a bit of a problem, because my Monkey does not have bloody wings!

So obviously I did a GM ticket and got the interesting reply: "This is not a known problem. Don't worry about it. Do you want to bother us further or just delete this ticket? Hmm? HMM?" (Not a literal copy of the actual ticket text, but surprisingly close).

Which puzzled me a little bit, so I actually went on and pestered them further and got a much nicer reply.

So, err, this is in fact an issue. And several players reported it already (I don't feel quite so amazing at bug-spotting any more) - but he's passed it on to the people who fix bugs. Yay.

Just in case you are still wondering: Bat, Bird of Prey, Chimera, Dragonhawk, Nether Ray, Sporebat, and Windserpent are fine. It's only Monkey, Ravager, Serpent, Silithid, and Spider that are bugged. If you've got one of those, you'll either have to invest into stick on wings (NentirelySFW), or wait for a bugfix.

(*) which is a lie - I'll do this later, when I can think of a name. The fox (Samantha) and pig (Excaliboar) were easy. The monkey is hard (and I wonder how many google hits I'll get from that comment).

Update to 20 Days of WoW - Day 12

Ha! So I did have an idea that Blizzard needs to implement. Or some addon author. Or something.

Have you ever been in this lovely position, per chance?

When you need roughly 140 volatile water to craft something and there are - yes - 140 of them on the auction house. In singles.

What I want is the ability to mark multiple purchase items in the auction house. Much the same as I would in my operating system. You know... Shift+Click or drag a box around them.



P.S. And yes, I know I can buy one, set the price in Snatch to the same price I got the first one from, run a search and then click through them reasonably rapidly. It's still clumsy and horrible! I want a dragbox.

Warrior past 4.0.3a: Cataclysmic DPS - Fury or Arms?

I tend to assume many warriors were wondering about which spec would be "better" for their style of play in Cataclysm. Fury or Arms is the first (major) question - the spec and specific glyphs then are the second.

For the history: I leveled using a dual spec of Protection and Fury. Well... just Fury, really, because Protection is nice, but during leveling I want to kill things fast. I started leveling on the 8th of December 2010 and there was not very much information available yet. While leveling I heard time and time again that the new Arms tree was fun and competitive DPS.

I did play my first few instances at maximum level as Fury - with a spec pretty much identical to this (First post, headed - surprisingly - Fury). And I have to say I was happy with my DPS. It was certainly comparable to what other specs put out, sometimes even slightly ahead. Fury also has the enormous advantage of having a rotation built around Bloodthirst - and thus a self-heal. This means as long as you only rarely take damage, you'll eventually be topped up again. Even if the healers have to conserve their mana and ignore DPS in no imminent danger of death.

Luckily, I began reading the arms dps thread on Elitist Jerks. Somewhere (post 99, basically) is a compilation of damage results for arms - with a link to a simulator.

Now, if you can get the simulator to import your profile from the armoury (and by default it's set to the US version - some fiddling required) will provide damage results for an imaginary boss fight of 5 minutes length. And more importantly - it works for a large variety of specs (and classes).

My first results (and that is not in the gear I wear now - at the time of "decision making") were quite surprising. Apparently Arms seriously outperformed Fury with my gear. The theoretical DPS jumped from approximately 8500dps to 10300dps (let's not discuss how theoretical dps coincides with my results).

And much like the Battlemaiden of this questline, arms has the advantage of bringing Charge, Rend, Sweeping Strikes and Whirly Twirly Bladestorm with the spec.

So .. to finish with the prattling .. according to my theorycrafting (well, someone elses - my use of the simulator) Arms currently outperforms Fury for DPS. This will likely change over time and with better gear, unless the specs are better balanced than they were in the past.

What spec to use, then?

My suggestion deviates slightly from Our Girl Friday and the Elitist Jerks suggestions. I'd go for something like this for instances and heroic instances. There are several options really. The improved damage for Slam (Improved Slam, Arms tier 4) is a bit pointless and you can relocate those to Second Wind, Blitz or even Improved Hamstring. The points in Rude Interruption (Fury, tier 2) could go into Executioner instead - but I found most bosses in heroics do not live long enough to get the speed bonus more than twice. Incite (Protection, tier 1) is also negotiable and could easily turn into Blood and Thunder if you wanted more AoE damage.

And the rotation?

Well, get as much rage as you can before the pull (Battleshout, Glyphed Bloodrage, beating up a lurking tempest) and wait for your tank to position the enemy where he wants to fight them. Charge and apply rend to your primary target. After that, hit your abilities in the priority order of:

Colossus Smash, Mortal Strike, Overpower.

Make sure Rend gets reapplied as soon as it drops off (try not to clip at - I still fail at this) and use any excess rage for Heroic Strikes or Cleaves.

The amount of damage (and threat) is quite impressive.

One additional note: Heroic Leap (while good fun) is not a good ability to initiate combat with. It generates no rage and will leave your dps falling behind at the beginning - which is not made up for by the paltry damage the landing does. It is, however, an amazing ability to get away from bad stuff. Especially as it's targetted (and allows you to get away from Asaads Supremacy of the Storm at the last second for instance). Just keep in mind it requires a global cooldown.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

No more escort quests, says Spinks!

A while ago Spinks posted that the questing certainly had changed in Cataclysm. Now I agree with most of that post, but the first point "No more annoying escort quests" is something I heartily disagree with.

Let's just say there are still a few escort quests in the game. Let me focus my ire on two examples:

Exhibit A: Beer Run!

The Alliance in Twilight Highlands will be doing this. A lot. It starts innocently enough, with making sure the beer for a wedding ceremony arrives safely at the festivities. I was a little surprised when I first got there to see so many people on the same quest, but stupidly thought nothing of it. As long as you got the two beer-keg buffs, you're fine. Just take them through a canyon.

The second image shows why this can turn into a major annoyance. Part 1: You're not able to do the quest as a group. Everyone has to escort their own beer. Part 2: The escort help you get (in the form of a Wildhammer lookout) has selective targetting. He'll fight most of the Dragonmaw he sees. Except sometimes that means the ones of the person in front of you - and sometimes he just completely ignores threats and trundles on. So do your beer carriers, by the way. And not neccesarily both of them. I had days when one barrel of beer with an escort dwarf reached the finish line, while the second barrel of beer with my lowly self was still held up in the middle of the canyon.

Annoyance factor? Quite high - but mostly due to the bugs in the quest design. And the fact that I need at least another 10 days of it before I'm exalted with the Griffon Riders.

Exhibit the B: Walk a Mile in their Shoes!

Another daily. Accessible from Tol Barad Peninsula (the harmless part - the one where the portal leads). You can get up to 6 daily quests there, randomly chosen from a relatively large selection. So far, I was lucky - and only got this one twice.

What to do? Glad you asked. See.. there is a gnome. He's imprisoned in a keep. A standard alliance keep - layout wise. So you ride up the entrance, kill the guards, walk down into the cellar from the courtyard and find the (open - but let's not go there) cell.

You talk to your gnome (and again - ever member of the party has to do this separately) and he's up for a quick prison break.

And then you walk up the stairs and end up in the courtyard. Did I mention that you just came through here, killing the guards? Yep? Okay. He then wonders which way to go... and instead of asking the one who came in (that would be me) or refering to the standard bloody layout of bloody alliance bloody keeps (which is the same since Borean Tundra. You know.. where you got your second Northrend quest!) he decides that he must lead the way - and that he knows best.

So you are forced to escort him into the left side wing (the one labeled "NOT HERE!"), then into the library, then halfway up the tower on the opposite side before he comes back to the EXACT SAME SPOT and tells you that NOW this looks familiar.

You then take him to a horse and he rides off into the sunset.

Annoyance factor? In-bloody-credibly high. I am tempted to skip this one in the future.

No more annoying escort quests? HA!