Nerf avoidance to improve tanking and healing

| Thursday, May 28, 2009
I'll also add that high avoidance plays into this problem too. When tanks can dodge or parry 50% or more of attacks (to pick a random number) then bosses have to hit twice as hard when they do connect.

GC also quoted someone, part of what they said was this: "The fights are structured so that wether the tank actually needs it or not, a heal needs to be on the way just in case you get hit."

Avoidance is out of control. Blizzard recognized this with Sunwell, but they either didn't realize the full extent of the problem or they did not take actions to fix it. Avoidance is too high but also not useful enough. As the poster stated, the heal has to be cast anyway. Avoidance serves to only hurt players.


Since the heal has to be cast anyway, avoidance just makes it an overheal.

Avoidance is just another stat. Since it cannot be relied on by the tank or the healer, it is taking away from other stats which would add mitigation or aggro; such as strength or agility. I'll be honest, I feel kinda silly calling agi a tanking stat, but it does add armor and crit, so it fits.

Hitting harder = harder?
Yes. No. Maybe?
Avoiding half the attacks but getting hit twice as hard averages out with no avoidance and regular damage. However avoidance and the boss damage compensation just means increased risk (hitting much harder) without much benefit (since the healers still need to heal, they can't gamble on avoidance).

So what's my brilliant suggestion?
Nerf avoidance heavily and boss damage as well. Cut avoidance from routinely breaking 50% to more like 20%. Shift the stats towards more damage/mitigation such as agility or strength. I don't want to see the avoidance gain from rating reduced, since I want avoidance to be worth the cost, but instead the devs should intentionally add less avoidance to gear.

This will strengthen block tanks significantly. Block will become a stronger source of mitigation. Sure, a 2k block isn't that great when a boss hits for 20k, but what if it hits for 10k? That's not too shabby. It would be even higher if there was more strength/BV and less avoidance.

This would make gear much more interesting. If aggro was nerfed so tanks had to actually fight a bit for aggro, they'd look more towards aggro stats. Heavily nerfed boss damage would also make effective health a far less important concept, meaning that stam stacking would be silly.

Non-block tanks would have around 20-25% avoidance while block tanks would be much lower, 5-10%. The goal is that they'll still avoid more, but no one gets so high that Blizzard has to go back to hugely scaling boss damage to compensate. Overall though, tanks would take more damage than currently.

If there had been no arenas...

| Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I wonder how things would have turned out. I'm going to take them as a total package of ratings, little boxes, powerful PvP gear, and the increased focus on PvP. Maybe that makes the last one the best question, how would things have turned out with less focus on PvP?

With no microscope to PvP balance, we'd have probably seen fewer PvP buffs and nerfs. This would mean weaker balance. As a result of that, BGs would have even worse balance. If you think DKs are bad now, imagine before all the nerfs. Some balancing would have still happened, but I think a lot less and PvE would have been driving more of the balance, at the potential cost of PvE. Strangely, arenas may have saved BGs.

However I cannot say this is absolute. BGs survived for years with terrible balance. They had rewards, but the time cost was high and I'm not even thinking of the rank rewards. TUF was a pretty powerful weapon, comparable to MC weapons and not too much worse than BWL; however it required exalted with AV and that was a long grind. Other BGs offered powerful gear, with WSG having some of the most powerful pants in the game (at least as I remember), but WSG exalted is possibly one of the longest grinds ever. BGs might have persisted with a new level of terrible grinds, though Blizzard would have to figure out a way to not instantly hand out gear because someone hit exalted at 60.

Without the powerful gear given by arenas we'd likely see the continuation of the old PvE to PvP. BGs would be dominated by PvErs, not PvPers. Again, arenas may have saved BGs. Or could updated rep items been strong enough? They likely would not have lasted through the addition of new raid tiers.

But without the surge of PvP gear from arenas and the non-set honor pieces, would we have played differently? Arenas, more than BGs, drive players to improve their gear. Without arenas would people have chased PvP gear as much? Would Blizzard have even added PvP gear? Without the gear motivation, BGs would exist only for PvP, not for gear collection. But we'd also see fewer people, since they tend to follow the gear. Arenas saved and/or killed BGs.

I benefited and/or was indirectly hurt by arena gear. The pieces from it allowed me to get T6 equivalent despite having no chance at all at BT. While some stats were wasted on resilience and excess stam, arenas allowed me to reach a much higher level of gear than I could have otherwise. This saved me from needing to compete for T4 and allowed me much higher damage than I'd have had otherwise. However it also made me care much less about early raids, it removed an incentive to raid.

Could arenas have hurt or helped raiding? They did provide an alternate and often easier source of gear. However that gear might have been beneficial, allowing a player to effectively get the gear from a boss before killing it, allowing for faster and further progression.

What do you think would have happened without arenas?

Ulduar, alts, challenges, and frustration

| Sunday, May 24, 2009
I'd promised to help a friend with Ulduar 10, so last night the raid finally formed and we set out. I originally was going to elaborate more, but I was getting into that thing where I have nothing to say, so I say it a lot. So, summary:
We died a lot. We made progress. It was fun. I was outrolled on a huge upgrade (compared to a much smaller one) to my ret weapon, which would be fine since it's a PUG, except that the higher roll was by a guildy. This did not surprise me much.

I played my druid a bit, got a couple levels. I also played my hunter and also got a couple levels. This morning I joined an Uldaman PUG. The other hunter was stupid and left early on, probably for the best. The shaman left. A priest joined. The ret paladin tank left. We finished the run with a pre-40 shadow priest, my hunter, and a holy priest. It is not practical to tank 8 mob pulls with a ferocity pet. However it was fun and I was really happy when we downed the last boss. It's good to see that some people don't run away from challenge.

In frustration: Ulduar 10 seems much better than 25. I suspect this is because for 10 we picked people rather than struggling to get 25 and ending up going with 23-24, some of whom are terrible. I think I'm done trying to do Ulduar 25 with my guild. I'm giving some consideration to finding a better guild since it seems to be dying.

Further frustration: I don't do well with long family events. Anything past three hours gets annoying. When it gets to be around four and a half and someone says we should get going and then we don't leave for another 45 minutes, that pisses me off. Unfortunately RL does not have the option to pull the network cable and then play an alt.

Tomorrow I'm helping my brother paint his basement. Some people will be going to sales. Aren't we supposed to be spending at least some of the day off remembering people who died for our country?

Have a good Monday.

Today's theme is stamina

| Friday, May 22, 2009
JC gems are getting nerfed. Their BoP gems will no longer be prismatic. This means that JC tanks can no longer stack stam and get free stats in the process from the socket bonuses. I find this to be perfectly reasonable. The bonuses are there to discourage stacking one stat to the complete exclusion of others.

[Oops] I forgot to add: min-maxing with professions is a fool's quest. Everything at the top gets nerfed: professions, specs, classes, arena teams. If you change your profession to try to get the best, you are changing your profession to one which will be nerfed. When it gets nerfed, don't complain, you would have been safe originally. Average is average. It moves slowly. The top moves a lot. If you want a roller-coaster, then go for the min-max professions, class, spec, whatever. I'll stick with whatever is fun for me. It is a game after all.

On the subject of stam stacking: it's a bad idea for 99% of tanks. I'm underestimating. But what about effective health? Psh. It matters for only a very few rare encounters and odds are, you're not doing any of them. In fact, it doesn't matter there either. Let's see why. Effective health is about time to live, about how much damage you can take before you die. What's the difference between 40k EH and 41k EH? Not much at all. Unless you're taking damage in 1k doses, the odds are very low that you're going to die with 40k and wouldn't have with 41k. If you're taking damage in 1k doses, you could get by with far less anyway. Odds... those are the reason avoidance stacking gets bashed. Avoidance is a gamble but health is certain, except health isn't certain to save you anyway. Avoidance at least means that on lower burst fights your healers can relax or maybe switch specs to DPS.

This doesn't mean that stam doesn't matter. If you can't take one hit, you're too low no matter your avoidance (okay fine, 100% avoidance rogue tanks worked on a couple fights in BC). After that, what are you going for? Two hits, three, three with an AoE? There are various stepping stones of useful health. Which one are you aiming for? Maybe you can't add it up, so you just stack stam and hope you're at the next one. Fine. However do not assume that extra stam is helping you or your raid. Consider that the 1/100 time when a little more health would have saved you, a less laggy healer would have done the same, or a little more avoidance.

While we're on the subject of health and enough: 22k is enough for early heroics like Utgarde Keep. I switched from my rogue to my warrior to tank H UK. I get the invite and they ask:
"Are you tank specced?" Yes.
"Are you in tank gear?" Yes.
"Your health is really low." It's enough. I tanked this yesterday.
"Did you finish?" Yes...
This was with the engineering gun, BS helm, and pants from H VH. I was well over the defense cap. Compared to what my paladin started with, I was overgeared.

There are times for certain types or amounts of gear. Early heroics require very little gear. Later ones more. Naxx more, Ulduar even more. Heroics don't require much stam, they tend to favor avoidance because few bosses hit especially hard. Trash favors block, bosses favor avoidance and stamina. This has an important lesson: don't try to imitate the gearing strategies of super-high-end tanks and think that will make you better. It won't. They're not gearing for the same content as you and they don't fight the same way.

Okay, tangent time. During some of my readings I found claims that poverty is caused by culture. Okay, not that bad of an idea, I see some truth to it. But the attempt at practical application tended to be fail: reversals of cause and effect. Poor people act trashy while rich people are classy, clearly poor people are poor because they have no class. All we need to do is introduce some class and they'll be all better. It doesn't work this way. Sure there are practical things like "wear pants and don't swear so much during job interviews" but that's not the aim of so many of these analysis of culture and poverty. When I started this I remembered how it was related to the gearing thing... Oh right. Acting like the elite does not make one elite.

Could virtual worlds inspire learning?

| Thursday, May 21, 2009
I spun this off from my earlier post about crazy Halo 3 kid.

It's disturbing to imagine that video games aren't just worlds to play in, they're worlds to live in. All social ties and entertainment can come from games. When this happens the real world is little more than an inconvenience, a dull place which steals away parts of life.

This doesn't mean I am pessimistic. I find some hope in the alternate realities which we create. Education, for example. Yes I know, video games destroy many students, though I'd argue that they were going to be destroyed by something, and at least games are cheaper than booze. But the great thing about virtual worlds is that they are knowable and people want to know them and encourage others to know them as well. Class mechanics, theorycraft, and rotations are the science and engineering of the virtual world. With luck people will realize that they can understand not only the virtual world, but also the real world. Every theorycrafter is a scientist waiting to realize it. Every person who makes a FAQ about class mechanics is a teacher waiting to realize it. Every person who reads those, especially those who actively seek them out, is a student waiting to realize it.

For more on how virtual worlds may affect the real one, check out this older post.

Halo violence and anomie

| Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Remember that kid who shot his parents because they took away Halo 3? While bored at work I thought of a new way of explaining why he did what he did. Note that explain and justify are completely different. Just because the wind blows one way doesn't mean you have to go rolling along like tumbleweed.

Let's start off with anomie. This term was created by Émile Durkheim. It is the loss of direction felt by individuals when social controls are waning. They lose direction and purpose. It often arises during social transformation.

So what are the transformations? Well as has been claimed ever since people had a concept of family, families are falling apart. I don't care about this for now, though it should be noted that the structure of families has been changing for a long time and varies significantly across cultures. There isn't a one proper way to have a family, instead there is whatever structure we expect to use to create and socialize the next generation. Moving on.

Depending on how much one plays, video games have the potential to create an alternate reality of equal or greater importance to the individual than the real reality which we all are so prone to believe in. People immerse themselves in realities to varying degrees and so place different importance on each. Refer back to my idea of devs as politicians, and then imagine how they also influence the society. Games create societies in themselves along with their own rules. They are their own reality to which a player must adapt. As a minor connection, failing to adapt leads to virtual suicide: quitting.

Halo 3 has its own rules. When these rules change dramatically, those in the world are disturbed by the shift. Now imagine if the rules went away altogether: the game was taken away. Think about if you ceased to be in the real world, or even WoW. What do you do? None of the expected rules exist. How do you act? How do you even exist? The laws of physics may be different. Anomie might not be the proper situation here because it doesn't even begin to describe the change.

It's disturbing to imagine that video games aren't just worlds to play in, they're worlds to live in. All social ties and entertainment can come from games. When this happens the real world is little more than an inconvenience, a dull place which steals away parts of life.

The solution to the extremely rare problem of violence caused by video games (Or is that even certain? Perhaps they are only the trigger) is not o ban them or for parents to force their kids to go cold turkey. That only activates the disorientation. Instead excessive gamers should be drawn back into the world. How? Well start off by finding other gamers to hang out with. No, it won't make them more attached, well it might, but it will also forge real world connections and allow for a transition into reality. It doesn't have to be a complete transition, but enough that they understand the existence of multiple realities and can exist in any of them, especially the real.

I realize I just spent a lot of typing assuming the existence of a real world which we all share. Please set aside the facts of different perceptions and the ideas of philosophy of whether reality even exists and just go with it.

The faces... stop staring at me! Stop smiling at me!

Damn you, cereal boxes with your pictures smiling happy people eating your contents. They creep me out. The eyes never move, and yet they always follow. They smile endlessly, as if they know something you don't, or don't know anything. Why must they taunt me so?

I can turn the box around, but what about when I have to pour more? Someone opened the bag on the wrong side, so I must turn back to the faces, the horror, if I want more cereal. I can turn the bag, but sometimes it settles and get too wide to fit properly, so then I have to shake the box up and down to get the cereal to spread again. I know they are still there on the other side, smiling at my fingers as I hold the box.

Madness is no way to start the day.

Do I not like raiding?

| Monday, May 18, 2009
Maybe it's my guild.

I feel like it's a lot of wiping. It's a lot of people being stupid. It's a lot of frustration.

I'm just not feeling the incentives anymore. Learning? I don't feel like we're learning. Gear? My ret gear is in most need of improvement, but since it's only my secondary I have barely any chance to get upgrades. They go to the main spec DPS so they can get small upgrades. Am I being a loot whore? Maybe, after all, it's not like I use it on half the fights. Social? Half the people annoy me, the other half are quiet.

Sorry about all the negative posts lately. I am actually feeling pretty good, except for raiding. Maybe I just don't like raiding. Maybe there are lots of people who don't actually like it, but feel like its what they are supposed to do. I think I'll focus on my alts for a bit and give raiding a break.

I've found my warrior's purpose

| Sunday, May 17, 2009
To get rejected for heroics, sometimes. Earlier today I hit 80, and then promptly joined a H VH group. I had trouble with aggro early on, which turned out to be due to a low axe skill (I got a new tanking axe today). That sorted itself out with time. The bird boss decided to get windfury and more windfury, or something, because I lost 20k health in about 2 seconds. I died.

It was a fun run though. I got the tanking pants. I wonder how many tanks just exploded with jealousy.

My paladin got into the tail end of WG and then spent a lot of time trying to find people to fight, only to run into three rogues at a time, while in healing gear (which I didn't realize at the time). Still, I got the fishing daily done, got the victory daily done, and then for no apparent reason tanked H Nexus.

I tried to do the same on my warrior. Someone got mad about my gear and voted me out of the group. I'm pretty sure it was the person being advertised as a pro healer. If he only wants overgeared tanks, why bother advertising that? I've gotten by with terrible healers just through pure overgearing, and of course being awesome. Anyway, I got criticized for being in all blues and told to do regular instances some more. I'm not sure how that would reduce the number of blues considering only blues drop in regulars. No one seemed to care that I am defense capped and my pants aren't blue.

I think the other purpose will be sink for mats that I can't seem to sell. An epic gun from my paladin should do the trick.

[edit] I just tanked H VH on my warrior. Some pulls were messy and the first boss killed a mage, but no wipes, nothing all that close. Admittedly my gear is a little bit better, mostly a new gun from the previously mentioned mat sink.

Ding! Damn.

My warrior hit 80 this afternoon during a HoS run. Cool right? Well, now I don't know what to do. I'm bad with max level alts. He has nowhere to go except on the gear path. Yay? It's fun to get upgrades, but what's the point? I don't plan to make him my main. My guild doesn't need my warriors. I don't need another tank/DPS; I have a prot/ret paladin.

I suppose I can still max out his BS.

Maybe he can be my selfish generosity alt. What is selfish generosity? It's doing thing that seem nice, but only because you've figured out how to benefit from it. When people need a tank or DPS and I don't see any benefit to my paladin, I can go on my warrior.

Alts give the same problem as hybrids, but worse. The problem with hybrids is that they have multiple roles, but they need different gear for all of them. Inevitably the main spec is better off than the rest, unless the guild really likes giving you lots of gear. Alts are the same. When they get gear it means your main didn't get the gear. They tend to fall behind unless you're constantly running older content to keep them just barely with the curve. But I don't think I have the energy to keep my paladin doing Naxx 25 PUGs, guild Ulduar 25 runs, plus dailies and all the old world stuff I do, along with taking my warrior to heroics and Naxx 10.

Wouldn't it be cool if all gear was BoA? If I remember (I forgot last time I said this), I'll look at alternative loot systems more in the future.

End of Semster: Moving Out

| Saturday, May 16, 2009
The scene is me wandering to my parent's car which I borrowed, carrying my second to last load of stuff from my room. I hear a girl scream: "Kitten killer!" She has blue hair. She runs up and asks if I want a snowball. I ask why she has it and she responds that she's been saving it in her freezer since the winter. Her friend says it's too cold to make them in the winter. She hands it to me in a Ghirardelli chocolate bag and tells me to throw it at someone. Since my hands were full, she was not a convenient target.

I drop off my stuff in the car and head back towards the dorm. Along the way I see a friend of mine, one who might be understanding of a snowball in spring. I am tempted to throw it at her, but realize that it's about 50% solid ice, so I just toss it at her feet. After questioning its origins, we decide to play catch with it, along with a friend of hers. So there we are, playing catch with a ball of ice while parents and students are stumbling by with giant boxes and push carts.

I got home and my mom told me it was her birthday. This caught me by surprise because I don't remember things such as birthdays, or anything else. I made dinner, she seemed to like it. Apparently I know how to cook fluffy rice.

Why we have poop quests

They are to make something very clear to us: we are not heroes, we are adventurers. Yes we do cool and awesome stuff, but we are not Thrall or Jaina or Grom. We're maybe Garona. Our names aren't really known. Oh sure we get a letter of recommendation here and there, but in general, we're just anonymous people waiting to be hired just for something to do.

The only group that I've seen really notice us was the Scourge.

Proof that WG is a success

| Friday, May 15, 2009
I planned to go to bed about an hour and a half ago. But they were yelling about needing reinforcements. So there I go. Horde were on defense and playing a bit less well than usual, but we managed to win. I got the tower daily done for my first time.

We cleaned up some stragglers afterward. Then I decided to go look for more. I saw a low level draenei paladin. Free honor! Or it was bait for a rogue. But hey, no problem, two melee, I'm prot! Then a DK showed up and it started getting ugly. I ended up burning lay on hands and my bubble but the DK and paladin were dead. I was one hit away from dying to the rogue when suddenly he goes flying away, death gripped by a Horde DK. And then cheapshotted by the DK's rogue friend. I thanked them and went looking for more fun.

Around the fire area I found more fun, including a mage who I of course killed, though not without having to look for him after he popped invis at around 25%. Then I ran into some hunters near the eastern Alliance graveyard. They were some trouble because they kept running back to the guards who would then MS me. A ret paladin showed up and helped, resulting in them dying a lot until the mage turned up again. After these there was a consistent theme: HoJ was always just barely too slow to interrupt polymorph. In other words, almost completely wasted.

Still, we managed to get in some kills before we got sick of them running to the guards. We went back to the fire area for some more killing, found the mage, killed him, killed the hunters, killed some elementals who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then the paladin had to go, so I was alone. At this point my luck went way down as I kept ending up facing the mage and a hunter or two at the same time, and HoJ was still late. After a couple hunter kills and a few deaths which I declared to be BS, I ran around for some ore before hearthing. The hunter liked spamming emotes, but unfortunately my attempt to report it was foiled by the long queue. Oh well. If I'm lucky he's a gold-buyer and he'll be banned for that. In fact, I think I'll just believe that and declare myself the victor on all fronts. Woo hoo!

This is a great thing. The rewards I got from the PvP were minimal for the time invested: a few gold from looting corpses and maybe a few hundred honor. There was little reward, except for the fun of it. I spent at least an hour hunting Alliance and no NPC told me to or offered epics. Admittedly I was in the zone because the battle gives a ton of honor in addition to shards and gold, but why stay? The farming is safer and faster elsewhere. I stayed because it was fun. That is the best measure of success.

Apparently WG is such a huge success that the devs want people to go there less. This almost seems like a pattern for Blizzard. When WoW first launched it ended up being way more popular than anticipated and there weren't enough server resources. World PvP became popular and then the problem became worse, so they put people in BGs. Now WG is too popular, so they want us back in BGs again. I'd not mind if there was a comparable BG, but sadly AV is a shell of its former self and I hate EotS.

In unrelated news, I joined a very good Naxx 25 PUG earlier in the day. We did a full clear, I won a piece of gear for each spec: holy chest, prot wrists, ret ring. Sadly I was outrolled on both weapons that dropped, including Betrayer of Humanity. I guess I'll be using my heroic axe for a while longer. And I tanked H UK just for the hell of it. It was the daily and after spending the day seeing trade and lfg filled with desperate calls for tanks, I figured I'd help out. The healer was new and the rogues liked to hug bombs, but we did alright.

In related news, I think Stabs was right. Playing less has caused me to have a lot more fun. Granted I pretty much played all day today, but in the week before I was playing a lot less than usual. I'll talk more about this later, I think it could be interesting.

I find useful information useless

| Thursday, May 14, 2009
And the reverse. My favorite blogs are the useless ones. I can't stand the ones filled with useful information.

Having recently completed a bit of a lit review about the limits of text, I suppose it would make sense to apply it. *Ahem* Sorry to ruin the usual flow of flowing, but I must inform the reader that the following is meant to be interpreted as an attempt at humor. You are free to decide that it is not funny, but acknowledge the attempt. This is not intended to be an attack on any bloggers or any content. Furthermore, why is this disclaimer/clarification the second longest paragraph?

Useful: Ferarro. She knows her stuff and explains things pretty well. I find it useless. What do I care which weapon is slightly better than the other? I'm not in a position to choose, instead I say "this is an upgrade" or "this is not an upgrade" or "this is an upgrade, but I just got a new weapon and look at what he's using over there."

Useless: Larisa. I can recall no time at which I gained any information from Larisa which would in any way improve my abilities in WoW. Utterly useless. It's great!

Mixed: Rohan. Sometimes a post has theorycraft and I say "oh that's nice." Sometimes a post is useless, discussions about guilds or tanking. Those are fun.

I imagine this is due to two things.
1) I am a noob.
2) Useful blogs are redundant. I can find useful information many other places. There are few places to find useless information.

For further, better reading, check out the comments here.

If arenas gave no gear, would people do them?

Yes and no, somewhere in between known as "a lot less."

In a way arenas did stop giving gear. More ratings meant that people couldn't lose their way to epics and as a result arena play went way down. Naxx gives better gear, faster.

People aren't doing arenas as much now that they don't give gear. This isn't really the fault of arenas.

I started a team today. We're not in much PvP gear, we've not done much PvP in a long time, neither of us have proper PvP specs. We got our asses handed to us a few times before the system realized we should be down in the noob section. We're at some sad low rating. But, weird thing is, it was fun. I'm actually looking forward to playing more games. We've only done 10, or maybe 11 so far, and then we did WG and BGs for some honor. I want to play more though.

Arenas might be horribly unbalanced. They might be gimmicky. They might be artificially restricted PvP in a small box. But they can be fun. The problem is that we've all learned to chase gear. What gives us the best gear in the least time? Go there! That's the thought process.

I think I figured out why I'm enjoying arenas again. They're offering something that I'm not getting from raiding: learning and advancement. As I get better, I actually see progress, I get somewhere. In raids, my individual ability is diluted by 25 people. If I screw up, so what? Odds are someone else would have as well. If I do great, someone else screwing up still ruins it.

Arenas are more conducive to learning. Early on when you're terrible, you lose a lot, but what do you actually lose? Rating? You can't go below zero and until you've won a bit, you don't seem to lose rating anyway. Repairs? Nope. Time? Instantly requeue and you're back in much faster than a corpse run. Arenas encourage learning with almost non-existent penalties in the learning stage. In contrast raids do all their punishing while you learn, then once you get it: easy street.

I've learned some useful bits. While it is tempting to stay close to my warrior partner while healing, don't do it with DKs around or it's just asking for pestilence. I've learned to love 20 second HoJ.

One of our wins was against a druid-DK team (that's where I learned to spread out) and I saw the druid wasn't topped off. He wanted some range to get MS off and heal up, so he started casting roots on my partner. HoJ locked out his nature tree, my partner charged in and started doing painful things. Just to be sure I threw up an arcane torrent when I thought the interrupt string was wearing off.

Another win was against a holy paladin-DK team. We were slowly losing, with me losing mana much faster. But then the DK dropped a bit more than he should have been allowed to. The paladin saw the problem and started up a holy light. Interrupt, DK died, paladin bubbled, noticed what happened, and left the match.

There aren't really moments like that in raids. Arenas are still stupid and terrible, but I think I might enjoy their stupid terribleness. :P

[edit] I forgot to add, read this post by Tobold.

The Politics of WoW

| Wednesday, May 13, 2009
To set the stage, let's start with this: it's not just a game. It's entertainment for millions, for some a hobby, even a culture. To call it just a game is a terrible understatement.

There are somewhere around 11 million accounts or subscribers or something of that sort. An unfortunate effect of different billing methods and multi-boxing is that true population measures are impossible. Let's just go with 9 million, it's probably low, but close enough. Greece has around 11 million people. Consider that for a moment. WoW is country-sized. It is a convenient coincidence that the country I picked for population size also happens to have possibly the most important cultural and scientific history in the world. Greece changed the world. It gave us many scientific advances, logic and reason, and even an absolutely horrible form of democracy which inspired the systems we have today.

Is this the destiny of WoW? Eh. I have no doubt that WoW will be important culturally, but it's hardly going to be the next Greece. My initial thought was to call America the next Greece, but I suppose we're more the Rome to England being Greece. Who stole my point?

I propose that the developers are the politicians of WoW. Or an oligarchy, an unelected oligarchy, though not entirely immune to the influence of virtual pitchforks and rioting. They control how the world works. Their actions change the economy and how we play, virtually live (yes that was left ambiguous on purpose).

Apathy confuses me. Why would anyone ignore the political process? It shapes our nations and worlds, influences our lives in ways that we cannot always imagine. Should WoW be any different? To refuse to read patch notes is as terrible as ignoring the latest law to be passed. It's your world, know what's going on!

I am struck by a disturbing thought though: it is very likely that a higher percentage of players read patch notes than read the laws which are passed. Why? Obviously time is a factor: patch notes, even for a huge patch, are hardly comparable to the hundreds of pages in some packages of laws. Convenience as well: what else are you going to do while the patch is downloading? You can only pass so much time poking around your security settings trying to figure out if turning off your firewall actually removes the error message about being behind a firewall. Btw, I found no speed increase by turning it off, though I did get incredibly paranoid. The string of triggers on my anti-virus a few days later did not help.

Where was I? Oh yes, so politics and our worlds. How does real life compare to WoW in terms of the process to design it? Call me crazy, but I feel as if I may have some tiny little influence on the game design. In contrast, I don't feel the same influence in real life. This leads me to two questions.

First is the question: Why not? I think it's about communication and dilution. For WoW there are pretty obvious channels for yelling about stuff we don't like: official forums, official email, and of course moronic youtube comments on PvP videos. And these blag things. we even know that the devs sometimes read the forums and respond. Well, more than they used to. There's been some change and it makes me hopeful. Does that make Ghostcrwaler Obama?

Second: Are we going to change this? I believe that games can shape our perceptions. When you play and see the devs working on balance and aggressively improving the game, regardless of whatever terrible vision they had four years ago, that might have an influence on your expectations. Hey, if the leaders of a population the size of Greece can change their minds to improve the 'world', why can't leaders of real nations do the same?

I see so many ways this could turn out. An individualistic drive could be created, a self-motivated population which has not batted an eye at the prospect of wiping for months (hello, Razorgore, would you like to devour my guild this month?), might they say "Screw you economic downturn, I'm going to go get stuff done?" I don't know quite how this would work out, since real life doesn't exactly support farming by flying in circles or mass murder. Another possibility is players going "hey, my character has never starved to death, in fact he's never really had to worry about the basic necessities of life being missing."

I've recently been doing some research on Fox News for a class and noticed three things: they aren't good with games, they don't like socialism, and they love being able to create the impression of disaster on the horizon. I can see it now...

"This video game has been spreading a socialist message to millions, influencing adults and kids alike. It has global reach and the company producing it has revenues in the billions. These players are together living in this collective fantasy land in which they are taught that socialism works, that individuals don't need to work, they just survive no matter what they do. Here's the really chilling part: there is a war going on for the very survival of humanity and it is portrayed as completely optional."

[edit] I'm afraid when I wrote this originally I was far too tired to get my point across. The core ideas were that devs are like politicians, relating not reading patch notes or forums with political apathy, and how WoW might influence perceptions of real life. That last one is probably the weakest since it's really just the positive side of "VIDEO GAMES MAKE CHILDREN MURDER PUPPPIES! More at 10."

Towel Service

| Saturday, May 9, 2009
This afternoon while eating lunch I had a realization: there is an unfilled demand in the world. It came up in conversation that I did not know the exact location of my towel. As we all know, it is important to know where your towel is.

Technology would dictate an expensive and impractical solution, such as a GPS device embedded in the towel.

Behavior-oriented people would say to always leave your towel in the same place, such as a drying rack.

Ideally though, you wouldn't just think you know where it is, you would know where it is. How? You'd carry it with you! But how is that practical? Towels are bulky. That's when it struck me: make a towel into a bag.

Here's the service idea:
Mail in a towel and money. Or mail the towel and send money electronically. Maybe I could make a store in a major city as a centralized service location to save the mailing.
Also pick the style of bag. The cheapest is a simple fold over, stitch the sides, and cut out handles. Other styles would be significantly more expensive.

There you go, instant customer satisfaction and a major boost to their confidence. Who would dare mess with someone who is not only stylish, but also has their towel with them?

Let's play Flip Things on Their Heads

| Friday, May 8, 2009
You may or may not know, but if you want to piss off Iapetes, argue with him about how arenas are killing WoW. It's great fun. I suggest avoiding my mistakes and think of some irrational arguments beforehand so you don't have to make them up on the run. And now for something completely different:

PvP is not responsible for PvE nerfs. But maybe we can blame PvP for PvE buffs! Aha, you didn't think of that one, did you?

As we all know, and by we I mean people other than me until I read this post by Rohan: Regen is out of control. This is clearly the fault of PvP, specifically arenas.

Here's the situation: In a BG combat favors those who operate well on a 1-2 minute cycle. These are called death knights. However arenas, well I have no clue, I'm a noob. Let's move on to the shoddy circumstantial evidence.

Since arenas came out, with the exception of a big Illumination nerf, casters have steadily gained regen. Spirit scaling with intellect, intellect giving some classes mana/5, enhancement getting activated regen, eventually glyphs came out to boost mage regen, ret and prot gained regen, holy even got divine plea, you get the picture. People have loads of regen these days. Why?

It's not for PvE. No? No. PvE doesn't actually need regen. Fights could instead have been tuned for lower burst and output, putting more emphasis on efficiency over time. This hasn't happened, instead damage outputs are insane, matched out by the regen of healers. Why make this mess? Arenas.

Arenas are different because they have a few classes who don't need regen gear. They just get it by their normal play: warriors and rogues using energy and rage. Take a caster-healer and a rogue-healer team and start shooting it out. The rogue has natural regen while the mage does not. Without regen on gear and talents, the rogue could outlast the mage. The mage is forced to burn the rogue soon or risk losing through attrition, except burst was mitigated by resilience. The only solution is to remove energy regen and force rogues to stop attacking to regain energy. Sorry, I mean give the mage a lot of regen. Replace mage with anyone who uses mana and don't forget that healers get swept up in this.

Here we are now: caster must by necessity regen as if they had energy or rage in order to balance arenas and healers ended up in this too. To balance it in PvE, Blizzard had to do something with that all that mana: spend it on spamming of max rank spells (remember when people downranked for efficiency?).

Now that that is finished, let's move on to the flaws:

I mostly ignored it, but holy paladin regen was nerfed during arenas, not buffed. Furthermore, the great regen gain for ret is most useful in PvE, in PvP judgements are more likely to be absorbed, stopping the mana gain. In addition the replenishment buff works best in high-intellect situations, such as fully buffed raids where there are no shamans running around purging everyone.

PvE burst damage was going up throughout the time of WoW, not in reaction to recent regen buffs (I have a weird sense of recent, to me 2.0 is recent).

Much of the regen is necessary for PvE as fights got longer and was being added long before arenas. Long fights favor regen.

What have we learned?
I don't like arenas, but unfortunately, they can't be accurately blamed for ruining WoW. Sadly, facts do not always support opinions or theories.

Does anyone else do this, make up arguments and then try to prove them wrong? It's very disheartening when the one you prove wrong is one you like.

How to misuse good advice

| Thursday, May 7, 2009
The other day I expressed some frustration with my recent time in WoW. It was suggested by Larisa that I try something different than normal.

Roleplay: As I write this I am thinking "I don't know who I would roleplay with... oh wait, I have some RL friends on a RP server!"

Change faction: I suppose I could jump over to my warlock again, but I'm very bad at different servers. It's the mailboxes: they're my banks and I have to constantly manage them or risk losing hundreds of gold worth of items.

PvP: Hmm... we shall leave this for later, oooh, ominous forebodingness!

Silly achievements: Good idea, but followed by "something you don't normally do", so that's out the window, since silly achievements are my standard way of playing. On a related note: I spent a few thousand gold on more elementium ore, the end result is a useless scepter and a ring to breath underwater. Woo, AQ!

So PvP...

Events seem to have worked out well for this. My warrior friend has been pondering his gear and weapons recently, specifically his inability to upgrade anything without a total set conversion due to stat juggling. The arena weapon would apparently get around this. So, that means arenas! I yelled at him for being realistic and pointing out that we're unlikely to get the needed rating. Me, considering arenas? See what a cruel idea she placed in my mind?

The next event led to a much less terrible thing: ganking. There I was on my hunter in STV when a dwarf zooms past and start shooting everything in sight. He stole my kill! Hm. Well then. My paladin ran over from Dalaran and did mean things to him and his flagged friend. Should I feel bad? I think not! The friend was not flagged by the time I got there, instead he attacked me. I eventually let him go, I suspect the hunter logged. Woo, empty hunting area!

It was a fun day. My priest killed Vrykul. My warrior hit 69 and is fully rested the rest of the way. He leveled a little bit more by exploring all of Northrend. Two of my friends had never seen the Frost Shock video (it's very old) so I had them watch it. I believe it is required watching for all shamans and paladins.

Chaotic Moods

| Tuesday, May 5, 2009
There are good days and bad days. There are the off days and then almost-soloing-the-world days. And then there are the chaotic days. Somehow order and direction are annoying. Any attachments feel restrictive. There's the urge to gquit, not out of rage or any personal resentment but more like "I don't want to do this anymore, I want to just be free."

I feel like that now. I know it's stupid. I wouldn't get anywhere. I can't PUG everything and as sad as it sounds, I get lonely. Sure I get annoyed by idiots in gchat saying dumb stuff about who knows what, but, something about the lack of green scrolling by just makes me feel isolated.

Perhaps it's bad timing. The end of semester is coming and it's crunching my time a lot. Or at least it's crunching my perspective of time. I've not been raiding as much recently. I was on last night for Ulduar and we downed a few bosses. It wasn't much fun. It felt like either waltzing in and chopping down an easy boss or like dying over and over for no progress at all. To be fair, Razorscale is on farm, the council was done the easy way, and my guild had been doing the hands guy for a few days. Still, from my perspective it was a totally unbalanced run, either trivial or impossible.

Gear is another problem. I feel like I've fallen behind on tanking gear, though not too badly. My ret gear though, it's clearly not up to par. This has its roots in Naxx. Since ret was my offspec, I had a hard time getting anything more than completely unwanted scraps. In retrospect we should have started using the dual-spec loot system before they came out rather than afterward. We spent a long time giving marginal upgrades to main specs while future secondary specs were treated the same as offspecs and got screwed. The result is my current ret set which I feel bad using because I feel as if I'm hurting the raid using it.

This is fixable of course. I can do naxx 25 to get pieces I'm missing, but that's going to be a pain. I don't like PUGs much for raids. It's likely that I'd be there tanking, but then what raid is going to give DPS gear to a tank before the DPS? I could demand it as a condition, but I doubt tanks are in such short supply that it would work. Besides, we all know how much demand there is for plate and two-handed DPS loot.

So frustrating.

I feel rhymy again

| Monday, May 4, 2009
Raiding trade chat I saw someone ask
He wanted to know about hunter changes
And use of his limited bag spaces
What we did establish
Is that quivers are not useless
But instead they have lots of space
Despite no longer giving haste
But it does not seem worth the trade
When a normal bag could hold more grenades

School of Hard Knocks

| Saturday, May 2, 2009
If you're anything like me, you cringed when you saw this was part of the Children's Week meta. Take heart! It's not all that bad. I have a few tips to make it easier.

1) Remember to have your orphan out.
2) The orphan is critical to success, remember to have it out.
3) Put the orphan whistle on your bars in order to facilitate remembering to have your orphan out.

Follow these tips and I'm sure you can avoid the mistakes I made.

The achievement took around three hours, including some interruptions. If not for my forgetfulness and distraction, I think I could have gotten it done in two or less.

By increasing difficulty, I'd rank them as EotS-AB-WSG-AV. None of these are truly hard, but are instead various mixes of opportunity and competition. AV has few chances per BG, a lot of competition, and BGs take a while. In contrast EotS is faster, had many chances to carry and capture the flag, and has fewer people.

If you're willing to play 'wrong' in order to increase your chances at the achievement parts, consider these tactics:
AV: Don't defend your attacks, but instead allow recaps for more chances to attack.
AB: The second person to a defended node has the advantage. Ninjaing a poorly defended node is more rewarding than ever. I learned this after I parachuted into the mine to find nothing but a squishy hunter.
EotS: Defend the center to allow everyone a chance at the flag.
WSG: Let the other team get to your flag, and then do horrible things to them.

Good luck!

P.S. Don't forget your orphan.

Dual specs and loot: after the storm

In an earlier post I contemplated the effects of dual specs on loot distribution and also proposed the system of main, secondary, off for loot priority. Since then I attempted to do a followup based on some conversations with one of my guild's officers. Unfortunately that post never got finished.

My conversations with the officer seemed to have had some effect though. There was some sort of debate among the leadership about what to do about loot. I don't know the exact end result. However, my last time in Ulduar on Tuesday, during the Razorclaw loot, dual specs came up. A few people sent in offspec needs, but then after some questioning changed them to dualspec needs. Apparently the priority system has developed in some form.

Still, it's not a simple issue. One person's dual spec may be of greater use than another person's main spec, depending on attendance, size of upgrade, relative frequency of needing one spec or another, etc. Nevertheless, we're clearly making progress with loot distribution.

So now I wonder, how has your guild handled dual specs?

Sorry this is coming out so late. I don't like throwing out a bunch of posts all at once, so I'd delayed this one for other posts. Then it got buried under drafts and I only refound it now.

Results: Is the Squire pet Creepy?

| Friday, May 1, 2009
Yes 9 (24%)

No 6 (16%)

Only if the player is a priest 22 (59%)

Comparing only yes and no there's a clear lead for yes. However the conditional answer won overall. I declare this a victory for me and let it be marked in the public record that Iapetes was wrong. Of course I am not misrepresenting our positions and the results of the poll to support my own views. Who do you think I am, a cable news pundit?

Why are the CMs so feel goody?

Over the last couple weeks I've noticed a lot of threads by CMs on the general forum which I can describe only as feel-good. They're kinda fluff things: guild traditions, favorite ruined city, having fun wiping, etc. I don't mind them, but they seem to have suddenly arrived in a high concentration and it's weirding me out a little.

Crygil: Which ruined city is your favorite? Granted the polls over time have mostly been little opinion "what's your favorite?" questions.
Zarhym: When a wipe feels so right...
Nethaera: Deserted Island: What do you take?
Crygil: How do you feel about Gnomes?
Nethaera: Travel Azeroth: What are your places to go?
Nethaera: Guild Traditions: What are yours?
Nethaera: New Player Advice: What's yours? This one is a little different than the rest, but still, this isn't exactly serious business stuff.

What's going on here? Maybe the CMs suddenly became very cheerful and outgoing and really love to talk with us. But that doesn't really seem new. I think this is a new tactic for information gathering. Ruined city? That's another way of seeing which content and lore people like the most. The wipe one is testing reactions to new content (a million flames would mean people aren't liking wiping much). Travel Azeroth? Clearly asking favorite zone and why. Guild traditions don't have immediate development value, but they help, along with the wipe thread, to figure out social patterns and how to work them in Blizzard's favor. Advice for a new players is a way to see what we hate or what doesn't work. If someone says "don't bother to train X spell" that suggests that X spell needs some work. If people keep saying "don't bother with X quest" well then X quest needs some fixing up.

Community building and customer research at the same time, those sneaky devils... I mean developers, not that I'm not calling the CMs devs.
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