Friday, October 28, 2011


I have to admit I'm more than a little intimidated at the prospect of churning out 50,000 words in a month.  I suppose if I could just talk instead of write I'd do it easily, but coming up with a coherent story is going to be a challenge.  Part of the challenge is that my wife has her Masters in some kind of literature, and is a professional writer/editor.  Since the story isn't supposed to be polished I'll probably be ok, but she may start redlining everything.

I'm also taking a little vacation (just a week) in November, hopefully 4.3 will drop "soon". 

All in all I've been really satisfied with the Firelands, and I even got to hop in and heal H-Bael (which was nice).  I was a little undergeared, but hey, that's what makes it exciting.  I'm rapidly approaching the magical mitigation/avoidance cap in my prot set, though my ret gear is in a poor state.  It doesn't help when we have 2 plate main spec DPSers in the raid.  With the changes to the LFR loot system (which I approve of), I may have to do some runs in my off-specs just to help bump up the old iLvl. 

So here's my support for everyone who's participating in NaNoWriMo, my prayers for an early 4.3 launch, and my double prayers for an early Diablo 3 launch. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A second look at MoP

After taking a few days to really chew over the announced changes to World of Warcraft, and to really think about the annual subscription package, I realized that I'm not quite as upset as I was on Friday.  While I'm still a little miffed about some things, and I'm not going to be holding out any hope that we'll even see a Beta for MoP in the near future, I think that there are definately some good possibilities on the horizon.

Games evolve - it's part of the process

I think the first thing I had to get through my head was that despite the fact that MoP, BC, Wrath, and Cata are all "World of Warcraft" expansions, they are really their own game when you stop and look at them.  While they offer the definite plus of being able to carry your account/characters forward to each expansion, each expansion has offered us something different.  We fall into the trap though of looking back at the original release, and holding each expansion up in comparison.  We get used to a certain style of play, and then every other year or so things get shaken up - and we're back to learning our class again - at least for a couple of hours. 

Of course class changes aren't the only thing that takes place, the game changes in so many other ways - many of which we don't see or even care about.  For example if you don't PvP, you couldn't care less about Arenas - and the same goes for PvPers that don't raid.  We get so wrapped up in these changes though, that we lose sight of the fact that WoW is a game - and a pretty damn big one at that.

Do you really miss Vanilla?

I know I personally make a lot of comments about "back in the day", but I wouldn't trade what we have now for a Vanilla server.  I honestly don't think that raiding was more challenging, just a bigger pain in the ass.  You can argue all you want about the "skill" you needed to be a great healer, knowing when to downrank, when to cycle out for mana, etc. - but I don't think that really added anything beneficial to the game.  Same goes with needing a complex spreadsheet just to figure out if 5 spellpower was better than 2 intellect and 3 spirit. 

Remember Rum Tum Tuber surprise and Whipperoot tubers?  Farming out Goretusk livers just so you could get a pair of stamina buffs for the night?  Resist sets?  How much time did we spend running a level 45 dungeon farming nature resist gear so we could fight HuHu?  And the elixirs/potions required!  I'm going off memory here, but I'm fairly certain any given fight would see me taking no less than 5 elixirs as a tank - same for BC when it first launched.  Elixirs for all your primary stats, plus any that might give you an edge.  You'd take STR for the Block Value and Parry, AGI for the dodge, a flask, Attack Power for threat, STAM because you could stack flasks and elixirs, a food buff, plus anything else you could find that would give you just a fraction of a point somewhere.  I gaurantee I spent more time farming mats and grinding out raiding materials than I spend doing dailies.

None of those things make for 'better' raiders, they just make for raiders with more time.  If you really think the content is dumber now than it was then, I feel you're really mistaken.  For example let's look at Lucifron (first real radi boss in MC) compared to say, Halfus (first boss in Cata).  Lucifron saw you doing some tank swapping, cleansing curses and mind controls, and healing.  Halfus has you dealing with variable abilities based on which adds are available, and oh by the way you aren't afforded the luxury of simply assigning all your mages to be on decurse duty becuase you have 35 other riaders to deal with the different mechanics. 

When you take all the raid changes, added changes to the UI, and then toss on "Old World" flying - you can take your dreams for going back to Vanilla and toss them out the window.  Of course there are those illegal private servers kicking around out there.  You're willing to take your chances with those, after all, you're the one that has to look yourself in the mirror every day.  And hey, there's loads of entertainment to be found in pirated/illegal games - even if they are just a few years old.  Hit me up later and we'll play some M.U.L.E.

Some good, some bad

Like everything that changes, there's always going to be something that you think has changed for the worse.  I'm sure that somewhere there's a whole passel of folks complaining that the assault class in Battlefield 3 is now the class that carries medkits - but damn if the graphics don't just blow BF2 right out of the water.  I get that some cows are considered sacred, and that we should protect them at all costs - but really they're just another source of BBQ (hey Cloudpoofer, let's talk a trade - BBQ for Apple Spice).  Even a mouse will eventually find the cheese you moved, or he'll just eat your shoes.

I'm also aware that not everything that gets announced at Blizzcon makes it to the live servers.  From Dance Dance Revolution to Archeology - the changes might look one way, but be something considerably different by the time the final product comes around.  Anyone remember the original LFG from BC, or the proposed guild paths from Blizzcon 2 years ago? 

I don't know if Pokemon battles will actually go live, or how I'll actually feel about them till I see it in action (makes me REALLY wish I had the original collectors edition for that mini-Diablo) - but just like Arenas, I can choose to not participate in this activity.  Hell, unless they add in gear or something like that, Arena's still at least provide me with something I can use.  So why should I really get overly upset about someone's collectable game?

Panadas are right up there with the Karluk or whatever the walrus people are called.  I thought those guys were really dumb looking, but I'd probably still take one of them over a gnome.  I'm not concerned about them being cross factional, red is still dead - I don't need a shilouette to tell me what I'm going after.  Besides there are so many avatar changing abilities out there now that it's tough to be 100% sure what you're looking at anyway "Is that a cow or a skeleton coming after me?".  I'm sure I'll roll a Panda, and I'm sure I'll roll a monk - just as I'm sure I'll buy the game.  I can't imagine the Pandas being any more silly than gnomes or goblins.  Of course the goblin starting area WAS pretty bad IMO.

A lightbulb just went off

I just realized that my last sentence cemented in that I will definately pick up MoP, and I'm sure I'll enjoy it as a game.  I rolled a Goblin (after letting a few months go by), and I even tried a few Worgen (still never finished the whole starting 20 levels or whatever), and while I hated those experiences, I still like Cata as a whole product.  The Goblin starting zone was an abomination, and I'm actually not a fan of Goblins in general (they are better than Gnomes though), but their existance didn't ruin the game for me.  I think the Worgen "Running Wild" animation is terrible, but that also doesn't end the game for me. 

The things that WoW does right, at least for me, far outweigh the things that are done wrong.  I still find the raids challenging, and apparantly I'm not in the minority here since only a handful of guilds have killed H-Ragnaros compared to normal Ragnaros (especially pre-nerfs to the rest of the heroics). 

A final thought on the Annual pass with free D3

After my initial fears about this possibly resulting in the launch of MoP landing somewhere after next year's Blizzcon (I'm still not convinced that won't happen), I sat down with a calculator and did some quick math.  Based off the 6 month billing cycle, which comes to $12.99/mo - a year of WoW runs me $155.  I'm pretty sure D3 will run me $60, so that cuts my annual WoW bill down to $95.  So even if I want to "quit" WoW, as long as I get 7 months of enjoyable playtime out of it, the whole deal is a wash.  Even with ToR, D3, and SC2:HoTS coming out, I'm pretty sure I'll still get 7 months of enjoyment out of WoW. 


After all is said and done, I'm still enjoying WoW, I'll certainly at least try MoP, and I'm still not convinced that ToR will take me away.  Pandas won't ruin the game, and yes - I'm a fanboi.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Scariest news of the day

So today I wanted to write about how I'm making the move back to Adgamorix - my original angry bald Paladin.  I've been tanking in Firelands, healed it some more, and even have a viable ret build.  Slipping back into the Paladin role has been like putting on an old pair of shoes, fits perfect every time. 

Blizzcon goers taken hostage

Unfortunately, I can't really talk about that today.  As I'm sure you're well aware, Blizzcon started today, and there has been an overwhelming ammount of WoW info coming forth.  As I expected, the next expansion has been announced, and I'm sorry to say that I am underwhelmed to say the least.  If anything, I'm terrified. 

The only thing I can really hope is that everyone at Blizzcon, and watching the stream, is currently sitting there with a gun to their head preventing them from admitting that the news we're getting is really just the world's best April Fools joke.  Please let this be true, otherwise I'll probably be found setting fire to my authenticator if all the announced items actually go live.

Issue number one - it actually is Jack Black

Kung Fu Panda here we come.  Not only are we getting Panderans, but the new class is a freaking Monk.  Panda racial is "Bouncy - take 1/2 damage from falling", and other such nonsense.  The trailer video looked like "Kung Fu Panda" gone crazy. 

Not.  A.  Fan.

Issue number two - talents revamped again!

This one isn't really so much of an issue, as it is something that makes me laugh.  Every expansion, hell every Blizzcon, they talk about wanting to make talents count, and your decisions matter.  They wanted to move away from cookie cutter builds, and focus you more into your particular spec. 

This was a HUGE fail for Cataclysm, since the revamp to 41 points, with 31 minimum in your selected tree made for the greatest cookie cutter builds of all time.  There is little to no variation in your builds, even going from PvE Holy to PvP Holy involves shifting two or three points.  Glyphs are the same thing, there's no variation - your choices are pretty cut and dried for most classes. 

So I'm happy to see the talents changing, but I don't seen them really making any significant impact on the whole system.  I could be wrong of course.  It has happened before.

Issue number three - Pokemon gone wild

I honestly was speechless when I saw this news.  Your pets, our little non-combat pets, will now have stats and be able to battle?  And you can battle "Masters" to get more powerful abilities?  I really have no response for this.  This is so far away from what we have now, much less what Vanilla was, that it's actually difficult for me to comprehend it on any rational level. 

My only hope

Much like the announced changes to guilds, the Archeology system, and many other sweeping changes announced at Blizzcons of yesteryear, I can only hope that many of these changes go the way of the Dance Studio and dissapear into the Twisting Nether.  Maybe I'm totally wrong and they will be the greatest changes ever, but I kind of doubt it.  To be perfectly honest, if I hadn't seen the new Heart of the Swarm trailer, I probably would have already written the whole convention off.

The other truly scary thing I see (for WoW) is that if you commit to a one year subscription, you will automatically get a Beta invite to MoP (right now I need a mop for my vomit), a mount that looks like the Sparkle Pony and the Winged Gaurdian had a baby, and....Diablo III for free.

That's right.  Spend up to $180 (it's less if you pay for it all up front obviously) and get a copy of D3 (which will be what, $60?), a BoA mount (typically $25) and a full year of WoW.  Plus the Beta invite, if that's worth anything.  This to me says volumes about the state of the game.  HoTS and D3 will do well, no matter what WoW does, so you know that 2012 is going to be a banner year for Activision/Blizzard earnings.  Maybe they need the extra cash infusion at the end of 2011 to push over some bonus numbers - who the hell knows.

What I do know is that if I had to commit right this minute to playing MoP, I'd probably pass.  While I haven't actually seen the footage from Blizzcon, I'm just feeling pretty sour about the whole mess.

My biggest fear of all

Right now I'm truly afraid that we are looking at another year of Cataclysm.  While I can't put my finger on exactly when ICC launched vs Cataclysm, I know it was a long damn time.  Twice now they've hit us with "shit, we need more content" patches, and both the Sunwell and Ruby Sanctum felt like failures (though for different reasons).  I'm afraid 4.3 won't launch until Thanksgiving, and I truly hope and pray they aren't waiting for Christmas to directly compete with TOR.  I don't think I can handle eight more weeks of Firelands.  I am not a groundhog you know.

My parting gift

I won't show the MoP trailer here, but I will at least show the truly awesome trailer for HoTS.  I cannot wait for this to launch.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

This just in - a new rant about Void Storage pricing

AMFG are you kidding me?  100g to unlock, 25g to deposit, and withdraws are FREE?!?!  Now every nub on the server who can't farm up a few thousand gold will have the same void storage privileges I do. This is an insult, and a slap in the face to every Gbolinesque person out there - or hell, anyone who can run a few quests/dailys and get some gold.  I swear, if they don't up the price back up to somewhere in the 10k range PER DEPOSIT, you might as well call it Hello Warcraft Kitty Rift Island TOR Adventure.

What a load of shit.

/end sarcasm
/end rant

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Things to do before 4.3

With 4.3 on the horizon, it's now time to take stock of what I need to do before it hits.  This is something I do before every patch, though it's something I'm generally bad at sticking to.  After all, what's the point of making a list if I can't deviate from it later?

Step One

Do nothing.  I'm serious here.  I've taken this stance since TOC was released, and it hasn't failed me yet.  As much as I read up on class notes and such, I'm the last guy who knows where anything is come patch day.  It's my 5 minutes of finding something new - back up off me.  I still look back with fondness at the utter chaos at trying to find our way back to the ICC 5 mans when they first came out.  Wait, you fly up where?

Step Two

I'll probably spend some time thinking about PvP, and if I'm really on the ball I'll stock up on 4k/4k Honor and JP so I can buy the previous season's PvP gear.  I know I won't PvP that much, but it'll save me some hassle for those few weeks when I think it's something I want to do.  Every season I think about doing 2v2 and 3v3, and then I remember the day I left my shadow in Nagrand after getting hit by a pair of trinket-POM-Pyro mages in Season 2 (or was it 3?).

This really is a good step to take though, since I'll be able to kit out quickly.  Alternatively I'll be trying to decide which alt I think I want to PvP with (right now it's a hunter or a Disc Priest) and I'll try to power-level them up and max out their honor/JP.

Step Three

At some point when reading the patch notes I'll pick up on things like "Chaos orbs will no longer be soulbound" and other such goodies.  At this point I'll make a plan to /need on as many as I can before 4.3, so I can sell them all off.  At least now you have to have the profession to get them in 5 mans.  It seems like after the patch everyone will be able to roll on them again, and you know everyone will be /needing on them to either sell, or hand off to their one crafting toon.  Whatever, that's what the need button is for, right?  Let's not get into the whole debate that my need for gold is less than your need for anything else.  Or my need to cause misery to others.  After all, I play a Warlock and a Paladin - between sucking souls and being self-righteous, I can make anyone's day worse.

Oh, and I sing to Voss.  He loves it, he just can't admit it in front of the others.

Step Four

Play a few more alts, and enjoy how easy it is to level up now.  I really can't wait for the nerf to the required XP for 71-80 - but it's still stupidly easy to level.  Stuipdly easy I say.  Oh, and hunters are idiotically OP in lower brackets of PvP - you know, just in case you've been avoiding that.  I might also play with twinking out a toon, but that motivation usually lasts about 24 hours of real time.

Step Five

Forget everything above, and do nothing but play Starcraft II (I'm so bad at ladder, I'm in the plastic spoon/rounded scissors league) and Space Marine, while waiting on BC3.

Editor's Note - that's me

Thanks to Sin for pointing out that I've been calling the "Dragon Soul" patch the "Demon Soul" patch.  Whoops.

A second look at the nerfs

So the nerfs have been out for about two weeks now, and BT has rocketed from 2/7H to 6/7H in that time.  Of course, there are still some issues with the fights, most notably Beth.  It's kind of aggravating that one hunter can cover all the little spiderlings, but that it takes all of our other ranged DPS to do the same thing.  That's just a small issue though, and one that we've been able to work through without too much hassle.

Alt time shenanigans

So Sunday night, we rounded up a handful of alts, and rolled into Firelands to see what we could do.  I was personally sure we would go 7/7, but I really should have taken bets.  I know quite a few of the raid team weren't expecting the nerfs to be as big as they were.  I'm sure it helped that our MT was an alt of our regular MT (just a DK instead of a War), our heavy hitting mage was on his PvP mage (so Alysrazor flying was covered), and one of our main healers was on a druid healing alt.  We only had one "new" player to Firelands, but he was a pretty solid raider in T11, so it wasn't a big hump for him to get over.

Our average equipped iLvl was around 358, easily obtainable through Zulroics and capping out your VP.  Toss in a few nerfed T11 raids, and you're right there.  I think out MT was wearing a 319 helm, and Direbrew trinkets - with a smattering of other random drops thrown in.  I'm fairly certain my Paladin was the highest geared, and that's just because I had my heroic T11 gear.

Now while we did 1 shot every boss except Shannox (killed the wrong dog first - oops), I can certainly see where another group would have trouble with the mechanics.  I'm still not sure how healing on Baelroc is supposed to work, I just built up 11tybillion stacks on our Spriest, and then healed the tanks.  Rhy was driven by someone who'd never done it before, but we never were in trouble.  Overall it was easy, but I think a good part of that is due to our experience with the encounters.  I'm pretty sure that a group who was stepping into it for the first time would at least find it challenging.

Added benefit to the nerfs

I'm sticking with my hope that Demon Soul will drop in October after Blizzcon.  Now we haven't seen any bosses show up on the PTR yet (***Edit - looks like the PvP boss is up for testing***), but it's still a possibility.  I really can't see them dragging this out until TOR launches in December.  So what does this mean for us?  If you have an inkling that you're going to be losing members hard and fast on Dec 20th, now is the time to get them into the easier content for gear.  Alts can get geared up very quickly in this environment as well.

The other thing that this nerf buys us is that most valuable commodity - time.  If you're a guild that is wholly uninterested in doing heroic content, you should be able to finish out Firelands without too much difficulty before Demon Soul - and can focus on other aspects of the game.  From taking some time off, to gearing an alt or maxing your honor/JP - you should now have a little more time on your hands.  For us it means two days a week working on H-Rag, for you it might mean something else.

I still support the nerfs

Even with the complete faceroll we performed on Firelands this week, I still support the nerfs to the zone.  I will concede that it would have been nice to include a "no thanks, I want the pain" option for those that didn't want the nerf - but when I'm doing an alt run, the last thing I want is to spend two hours beating on Rhy's legs.  I do alt runs for laughs - and the enjoyment of hanging out with my fellow guildies.  I don't do them because I want the massive challenge.

So however you're handling the nerfs, I think we can rest assured that the Demon Soul is just around the corner, and that means exciting times ahead.