Dragonhawk Down

| Monday, March 31, 2008
It only took way too many tries. I was inventive in finding ways too die.
1) Not knowing what bombs look like
2) Not being able to see bombs due to 10000000000000 dragonhawks filling my screen
3) Tunnel vision
4) So many debuffs that the healers couldn't keep up anymore.
Eventually I learned that the bombs are really easy to avoid and that I can bubble out of the debuff when switching sides.

Unfortunately I accidentally doomed my guild. I passed on the shield to a warrior since it was a much bigger upgrade for him. Every time I do something nice, something bad happens. When I let people roll against me for enchanting formulas I lose the roll and eventually they leave the guild. Engineering schematics are lost to warriors which then go on to ninja everything they can. Passing on the stopwatch made it never drop again and the guild eventually disband. So I know that something bad will happen now.

I apologize to Faith for this cruel destiny that I have created.

Nerfs as Buffs

Earlier I suggested nerfing classes to force them to play better. The recent changes to AV seem to support my idea that nerfs rather than buffs are the solution to perceived weakness.

At least in my battlegroup the Horde is awful at AV. AB and EotS (I refuse to do WSG) are like free honor and tokens for us. But AV was pretty much the opposite unless we somehow end up in a two hour reinforcement battle.

Our cave got moved back. Way back. This should have made us lose more, right? We win more. All the time. Why? Pushing our cave back forced us to see that an offensive zerg rush was not a winning strategy. Now we have defenders at the choke point who can hold the Alliance for most of the game. Eventually the Alliance will zerg their way through, but we can buy more than enough time for the offense.

It Finally Dawned on Me

| Sunday, March 30, 2008
I am just like most other people: I suck at PvP and have a hard time admitting it.

My 3v3 is an arms warrior, resto shaman, and my ret paladin. I'm pretty well geared, the warrior is as well, the shaman is a bit lacking. But I don't think her gear is our problem. I know mine isn't, I'd say I'm in damn good gear. I'd say we are 1800+ potential, higher as our shaman gets more gear. But we're not; we hover around 1500.

I just get overwhelmed by it all. I get tunnel vision, I don't notice target switches, I forget BoF and BoS. I did finally get around to making some macros for them and I have all sorts of spells hotkeyed, but I can't hotkey the macros, I've run out of space. A better bar setup might fix that. But what's the point if I don't notice when to use them anyway?

Maybe that's why I prefer BGs. When I fail it's not the end of the world. I'll be back up soon and it's not as if I lose rating. I can keep trying and figuring out what to do. Having real objectives helps too, straightforward deathmatches aren't my thing, especially outside of shooters.

Next thing you know I'll admit that I suck at PvE and that's why I'm still not out of Gruul's Lair.

Wow, this post is emo.

The Truth about Keyloggers

Selling gold, selling accounts, those are just fronts for something far more sinister. They provide a source of income, letting them focus on the real project.

It is a fact that all this spamming, keylogger, and account-stealing is done with the full support of the Chinese government. Why? Because it annoys the crap out of Americans. That's right, gold spam is one of many Chinese plots to annoy us.

How stupid does someone have to be to expect "sex and beautiful woman" posted for the 50th time to actually have pictures of sex and beautiful woman? That's the whole point. Any chump can reel in a few thousand packets of personal information by hacking a website or sending out scam emails. The real thrill and amusement is in seeing people fall for the really stupid stuff.

Keyloggers are the exiled Nigerian princes of the WoW forums.

But we can fight back. The keylogging and spamming, despite what e might think, is NOT done by bots. It's done by real people. We can use this to our advantage. This is an opportunity to send propaganda directly to individual Chinese citizens. So next time you see a gold spammer, stand right by him and in simple English explain the many problems with China, especially the misdeeds and failings of the government. Before long the agent will be converted and will sabotage the computers used for the plot before fleeing to Taiwan and eventually seeking asylum in America. This is a victory for freedom.

This also has the benefit of bringing those super-efficient farmers to the US where we can recruit them into our guilds and never again have to worry about farming before raids.

New Honor System

| Saturday, March 29, 2008
I like it

The old system was bad for players' health. No, I'm not exaggerating, bear with me on this.

Waiting a day for rewards might be a great way to teach some amount of patience, but it didn't work out that way. Instead it meant that a player that fell short on honor was stuck waiting another day, sometimes for less than 100 honor. No one wants to be in that frustrating situation, so we all grind a little extra honor. A little extra is a modest statement, I know that if I wanted something the next day, I made sure to have a few thousand extra. That could be several extra hours, depending on the server, faction, and BG weekend.

When it's 10:30 and I'm getting a little sleepy and my eyes hurt, I want to wind down, read a book, lay in bed. But I gotta get that extra honor for the buffer! Next thing I know I'm staring with dread at the server clock ticking over and I can tell that I'm going to end up a little short. The honor calculates and I lose.

Now I know exactly how much honor I have and it is available right now. That's nice.

Speaking of honor, I'm running out of things to buy. I have all the honor armor, including two S1 pieces that I haven't replaced yet. I have the trinket, rings, and tonight I got the new neck. I suppose all that's left is to save up honor for when S4 comes out and they update the gear again. I might get a S2 weapon if it looks to be a big enough upgrade.

Fishing is Calming

| Friday, March 28, 2008
Sit there with the zone music looping, chatting in guild, catching some fish. It's so relaxing.

Just don't do it in Stormwind. The guards aren't very nice.

Well that was Underwhelming

| Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I tanked and killed Kael'thas today. Overall Magister's Terrace was rather underwhelming.

The early pulls were just annoying. Lots of casters, and worse, mobs which stun, causing the casters to run all over. With the number of mobs I feel uncomfortable not using CC, which is exactly what I like about my paladin, not needing CC. Forcing CC into groups is a terrible design choice. This isn't my usual complaint about the slowing-down of runs, but that it restricts group possibilities. It hurts shamans, paladins, druids, priests, and warriors. Who wants a class that can't CC in an instance where CC seems almost necessary and you can't even cheat a bit by using a tankadin?

The first boss was easier than the trash. He was a total joke. That was a terrible way to start an instance. Perhaps we were overgeared, but then why was the trash so much more of a challenge? He certainly needs a buff, maybe the trash needs to toning down as well, but the boss is definitely too easy.

The second boss wasn't too tough either. We did manage to get an enhancement shaman killed, but I think that was due to me lagging horribly and Omen being unable to read the new combat logs.

The third was almost interesting, but with so many adds it felt tedious. Making the actual boss so squishy felt silly. We've killed the boss, so why do we have to deal with all this other crap? We actually wiped because our healer was being a moron; he backed up too far and got feared into a group that we'd passed. But the boss encounter was completed, so I used DI to save the repair bill and run back.

Finally we got to Kael'thas. This isn't a good game for fully three-dimensional encounters. It's disorienting and the bubbles were a complete pain in the ass. It felt like Blizzard was trying to design a fun and challenging encounter with an epic feel to it, but instead it felt like we'd just killed an obnoxious boss and gotten decent loot.

The turn-in only increased the feeling that we'd done nothing important. This is Kael'thas we're talking about here. Ruler of the Blood Elves, the man who we wanted to hunt down because he was tearing apart Netherstorm. He was a member of the Legion, high-ranking and powerful. But he dies so pitifully, in the middle of a small room, alone, without even a decent speech. Turning in his head gives a bit of text about our accomplishment, a gem, a heroic key... and a feeling of total unimportance. I wanted to grab the NPC and chake him, scream at him "do you realize what we have done!? This is history, this is the world changing!"

The passages are too narrow. They give an almost claustrophobic feeling like Scholomance, but without the darkness which makes it fit together. Blizzard could make the instance much better just by taking everything and making it 1.5-2x larger and further apart. I felt cramped in there. This was supposed to be a place made by Blood elves, in the same style as Silvermoon City which is a very open and airy place. It makes us feel like we're all crushed into a tiny space, tiny people in a tiny place killing tiny, unimportant enemies. Despite the pattern of linear, narrowly-pathed instances, MT still managed to feel exceptionally small. I don't know who would have thought it was an appropriate size. I could understand this for a house (like Scholomance) or underground area (Stockades), but for an outdoor area it feels strange.

I only hope that the Sunwell is better.


| Monday, March 24, 2008
Just for shits and giggles I respecced my paladin to 31/0/30.

It got me thinking though, could shockadins work for DPS? I'm going to be setting aside aggro problems for now, though I admit that aggro is the true damage cap.

Stats would mainly be spell damage, mana/5, and a combination of melee and spell crit to keep up vengeance. Melee crit might actually be the better source of vengeance since I'm probably going to swing my weapon more than I cast.
My libram would be from heroic Blood Furnace: http://www.wowhead.com/?item=27484
2-2.5% crit on both spell and melee; right now it is triggered by judgement refreshes. Since I'll have JotC up that means it's pretty much permanent.
The first trinket would be Darkmoon Card: Wrath. This would help make up for my low crit, keeping up vengeance better. http://www.wowhead.com/?item=31857
2 pieces of T4 prot would give a tiny bit of spell damage, but more importantly, 10% more damage on SoR.

All in all there will be a lot of multipliers on my damage. 10% to all holy from sanctity aura, 15% to SoR in holy, 10% to SoR from the prot T4, 15% to all from vengeance.
I remember that the old 1h spec, despite only saying weapon damage, applied to SoR too. I wonder if 2h spec does the same. Combined with the higher +damage bonus with 2h SoR, it might be worth using a 2h with lower +damage vs. 1h + shield. I'm of course thinking of the Hammer of Righteous Might.

Even though I'm sure their damage will end up lower than ret, shockadins still have a certain appeal to me. For one they could be more practical in raids. Put a shockadin with a tankadin for sanctity and he'll probably get wrath of air for a nice damage boost. Trying to put a ret paladin in the same position means he's going to end up with a sub-par supporting group, especially no windfury.

But they are also all that seems to be left of hybrids. I know there's so much talk of how needing so many stats held back ret, so they throw away their spell damage and any hope of effective backup heals. Shockadins don't, they keep it, they gather it up. It reminds me of the old paladin PvP videos with people in Judgement kicking ass and throwing heals in between. I suppose that is a dead era. Even though I tended to end up on the wrong end of it, I didn't mind so much that PvE gear wasn't crap in PvP, that raiding had a purpose besides just more raiding. It made the game fit together better. Now we PvE to PvE and PvP to PvP and never shall the two cross. Or when they do (Dory's Embrace), people will whine constantly. Wasn't BC supposed to be all about alternative routes of progression, and then people complain about alternative ways to get PvP gear.

Ah well, life goes on. Soon enough WotLK will be here and everything will get turned around again. I look forward to the brief moment when warriors aren't in insane gear and are actually balanced. The first couple months of BC were great.

Easy Leveling is like Easy Credit

| Sunday, March 23, 2008
WoW isn't all that different from recent boom-bust cycles that we've seen in the economy, especially all the recent stuff with housing and risky mortgages.

Making something easy draws people in. It's an almost universal tactic to get people hooked. Banks give out loans like crazy with low interest rates. Credit card companies hand out credit cards like business cards at a trade convention. Leveling is no different.

Leveling is easy. Too easy. It can be done entirely alone with no knowledge of how to effectively play a class. Teamwork is not taught. I've heard of rogues that never learned that they could use two weapons and warriors that never learned defensive stance. The basic mechanics like aggro are completely misunderstood, and no, this isn't just because there is no built-in aggro meter; solo play just doesn't teach how to work in a group.

The result is a lot of people that do not know how to play effectively. But they had no serious problems while leveling, so from their perspective they are doing just fine. Is it any surprise that so many respond to advice with "don't tell me how to play!" even when offered in a helpful manner? Should we be surprised that raid content is left almost untouched by the vast majority of players? It's not that it's too hard or that getting 25 people is hard; it's that until they hit 70 players will never have any real barrier to advancement.

The easier it is to level a class, the worse they will end up. Take hunters for example. Ignore all the crap about noobs being attracted to the cute pets or pretending to be Legolas. Overall I doubt the average hunter is significantly stupider than the other classes, or at least not enough to account for impressions of them. The problem is that hunters are absurdly easy to level and offer little challenge to the player, so they never learn. It isn't that the player is stupid, it's that he's uneducated. Is it any wonder that hunters do poorly in high-end PvP when they never need to learn anything beyond auto-shot and mend pet? Buffing them won't fix anything.

Instead Blizzard should turn things around. Don't buff classes, nerf them. Weaken pet aggro early on so that hunters have to learn how to kite. Make proper use of traps needed to be able to complete the early pet taming quests.

Less specific to hunters, add challenges to be able to level. These should not be extremely difficult, or even really much of a challenge. That risks the loss of subscribers due to frustration with roadblocks. But make them test basic skills like knowing to save shocks for spell interrupts rather than just mindlessly spamming them, using stuns as interrupts rather than just more buttons to press, using fear in close areas, requiring the use of curse of recklessness to toggle it on and off.

Make NPCs give advice. This is something that is strangely absent in WoW: the NPC that tells you how to do the basic stuff. All the FPS I've played had some form of brief tutorial, a few minutes to get the player figuring out WTF he is doing. Next time my shaman talks to a troll I want to hear: "Ey, mon, did ya know dat if you drop earthbind totem and searin, you can run an enemy in circles and burn dem dead?"

Choose Your Guilds Wisely

| Saturday, March 22, 2008
No really.  I've recently switched both my paladin and warlock to new guilds, both of which I am very happy with.  So what went wrong with the previous ones?

I left my warlock's guild because I thought they typed like morons (ur 2 dum 4 us!1!!).  Really petty, right?  Excessively lazy typing drives me nuts, so why would I put up with it in the box of green text constantly going by my lower left screen?  Leaving only made me more sure; an officer immediately attacked me, throwing out all sorts of baseless generic insults (you're bad, you're stupid, you suck...).  I suppose it's a little understandable when I give a semi-BS explanation like "it wasn't a good fit" as opposed to a more honest one like "guild chat causes scar tissue to form in both my visual and language brain regions."

My paladin left for two reasons; push and pull.

The push was that we weren't really getting anywhere.  No one wanted to spend the time dying for progression content, so we were never going to get past Gruul unless 2.4 nerfed Mag to somewhere easier than trivial (don't misread this as me saying Mag is trivial).  I didn't like the loot system (a few straws on a camel's back, not a whole pitchfork) and the leadership seemed a bit weak.  They didn't seem to take anything as seriously as I'd have liked.  I'm not saying I wanted everyone to be hardcore and playing all the time, but when you do play, play well and don't leave a raid after two wipes.

The pull was a few friends leaving for other guilds (we had some similar reasons among us all) and I wanted to follow them.  That didn't happen because it turns out their new guild didn't need me, but they might not be needed either, so perhaps I can drag them with me.

Now I'm in Faith.  In some ways it reminds me of Word of Redemption.  They have a core of 5-10 people who seem close and play together a lot, including a few officers.  They know their classes.  They have a ret paladin that is more than happy to feed me sanctity aura. :P

My warlock is in a more casual guild.  We're working through Karazhan (I was there for their first Curator kill) and gearing up in 5-mans.  They seem pretty laid-back, but not stupid, which is pretty much what I want.  I wouldn't have time for two super-serious guilds at once, but I do want my warlock to be able to do some raiding.  Besides, I get sad when there's no green text in my chat window. :(

Come back next time for class-GM stereotyping, hunter-bashing, and maybe something worth reading.  When is next time?  Soon™.

The Badges are a Distraction

| Monday, March 10, 2008
Running Karazhan in T6 (equivalent) isn't any more fun than running it in instance blues. It is still the same raid we've done for the past year.

But we have ZA! Yes, we do, and casuals don't seem to want to do it. Why would they? They can get better gear from farming Kara for badges and with few to no wipes. I want to do ZA, but there aren't many people to do it with. Somehow I doubt Sunwell will be any different. Why do challenging content when easier stuff gives the same or better rewards? This isn't an attack on casuals, they're doing what they've been taught to do: follow the gear along the easiest path. ZA could have been this path if not for badges.

What are we going to do with the badge gear anyway? It's not going to suddenly make ZA easy enough to be farmed constantly.

Blizzard, give us new content, not distracting gear that is nothing but bigger numbers in the same old instance. Give raiders more content too. It doesn't need to be the next tier of gear, frankly the tiers have come out way too quickly, we should not be at T6 so soon. Add more raids. Maybe they'll only drop sidegrades, so what? Make them fun and people will go.

I wonder what would happen if we said nothing

| Wednesday, March 5, 2008
It's pretty obvious that Blizzard has someone like me: he has a lot of great ideas, but also a whole lot of really, really awful ideas and isn't very good at filtering them. Apparently those around him aren't either.

I can't see how the lifetap change ever got to the PTR. I'm not going to argue about whether or not warlocks needed a nerf. I care more about the method of nerfing. Adding stats should never decrease efficiency. Ever. But that's exactly what the change did. It made stamina essentially act as a -healing stat, requiring greater mana from healers for the same mana regen for the warlock. But what is even more strange is the brief change they attempted, changing it to 5% health for 15% mana. That's a gigantic buff. Who thought up that change?

Ideas like this, really awful ideas, are not new. We've seen them before. Unfortunately I don't remember exactly what the change was, but for a short time there was going to be a damage reduction on forbearance. This got shouted down. Everyone from paladins to the mages that they BoP was mad about it.

What if we had said nothing? If really bad ideas can get onto the PTRs in the first place, how do they come down? It's not as if these are changes that look good on paper but get screwed up in game. They are pretty obviously screwed up on paper. If we had said nothing would Blizzard have pulled the changes?

It's not as if this is limited to nerfs even. Just look at the MS flametounge change. It does not address any shaman issues at all. We're not gimped vs. healers. DW is really nice for pushback, purge is amazing against priests and druids, and an interrupt on a 5-6 second cooldown is something other classes drool over. The totem isn't needed either. We already have an incredible melee totem; it's called windfury. But this buff, despite being really huge, doesn't help with our weaknesses like being the only class with absolutely no form of CC.

But maybe we're misreading the buff. Perhaps it wasn't a badly thought out fix for shamans overall. Maybe Blizzard just wanted to make fire totems not the bastard children. It wasn't a retarded PvP fix-all. Notice how I've turned back on myself? I do that a lot. I leave in all my self-contradicting because I think it's important to see the process, not just the end result. Maybe I've taken too many math classes and lost too many points for not showing my work.

I am sincerely afraid that change requires people to be loud and immature. It requires mass warlock cancellations and shamans spamming their own forum. It requires dozens of threads about 40% of 0 = 0 and "omg bliz r u retard!?" Oh sure, maybe Blizzard isn't responding to them. But they sure act as if they do, with changes coming soon after that shit and Blues coming by for damage control. I want them to bring Tseric back and the next time a class spams, just start throwing around bans and add a simple sticky: "STFU." And then do nothing. Of course they wouldn't need to do that if they simply showed us their internal processes a bit more so we could see changes were coming before the spam. I wish Blizzard had a blog where they posted whatever they were thinking about that day.

Invisibility vs. Stealth

| Monday, March 3, 2008
These are a classic example of people not understanding game mechanics. They are totally different from each other. They are also not at all the point of this post.

I've run into an invisible cap on my progression. I suspect this is a problem for many people.
I'm in a guild that farms Karazhan and Gruul's Lair. We are trying to learn Magtheridon, but we are having attendance problems. The leadership is, to put it bluntly, very weak and not very knowledgeable about game mechanics, nor do they show much desire to learn more. Since I don't imagine we're going to get anywhere soon, I've become part of the problem, not playing my paladin much anymore.

This is the invisible cap. From what I can see, a guild can either get past Gruul or they can't and time will not fix that. They either have the leadership and people to wipe for a few hours a night, a few times a week, and figure it out; or they don't. Nerfing it might fix this, but I'm not sure it's really a solution. It seems a little odd to tune content beyond the majority and then gradually nerf it down for them. Why not just tune it for them in the first place and save a lot of development time? Arguably it's to slow down the top guilds so they don't leave too soon. But they finish anything ahead of them in days or weeks. Besides, are their few percent of subscriptions worth the time and money required for the constant retuning of encounters?

But to get back to the cap, it's not just a limit caused by individuals. I believe that I have the skill and patience to go beyond Gruul. But it's hard to get the chance. As I said before, a guild either can or cannot get past Gruul. If they can, they've been past for months. They are now beyond in in not only content, but also gear. Why would they want to recruit someone who is undergeared compared to the rest of them? This is not to say my gear is bad. I'm overgeared for Kara and Gruul is little challenge anymore. But I'm not in a position to leapfrog.

So here I sit, stuck in a guild that can't get past Gruul. It makes me wish that months ago I'd been more aggressive in finding a guild and run with better players; maybe now I'd been in SSC, TK, or even BT. Or I'd end up in the exact same place because the reality is that I'm actually just mediocre and I only think I'm good. I wish there was a noob-o-meter that I could try, see where I am.

The Rule Book

| Saturday, March 1, 2008
Pass if you don't need. Need if you need, but say something first. Greed if you're a disenchanter. If everyone passes, stand around asking if anyone is an enchanter. Once you're sure no one is, do greed/need for the rest of the run. Enchanters, please speak the fuck up.

Greed mostly. Need if you need and then you'd better equip it right there or you will be declared a ninja.

My rule book also says to not listen to hunters. I am considering adding mages to it as well.
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