Archive for September 2008

Wrath Beta: Upcoming Prot Warrior Changes

September 26, 2008

In the beta forums, Ghostwolf has posted another string of answer to warrior concerns. (link)

Several of these show where warriors will, or are likely to, be going in the next few patches.  She addresses pretty much every outstanding concern that I’ve been holding on to, so things are looking very good.

At the moment Revenge doesn’t seem strong enough to make it into the standard rotation, especially since Devastate can proc free Shield Slams though Sword and Board.  Ghostwolf says:

Putting it into Sword and Board is something we are discussing.

-and-

We will probably add Revenge to S+B to make sure it gets used more (and might buff it’s AP coefficient a tad).

So, Revenge is getting buffed..  what about Shield Slam?

We nerfed Devastate (for good reason) and haven’t given warriors anything back yet. We don’t want to just buff Revenge, because that doesn’t help dps when you aren’t the tank. Shield Slam is a good candidate.

We are going to buff Shield Slam’s damage (but probably it’s flat damage because it scales very well already) to make sure it remains the go-to ability for Prot, even when not tanking.

Great! While tanking, I’ve started to notice the 4-target cap on Thunderclap – especially since I haven’t been able to pick up the Glyph that (previously) increased T-Clap to 8 targets.  That glyph is starting to feel like it is going to be required..

It’s not mandatory, and actually it only increases your radius. Thunder Clap will do what you want it to do, but that’s another topic. 🙂

So, Thunderclap is going to scale to more targets?  Possibly simply have the target cap removed?  More on *that* topic please! /happydance

On top of all this great warrior news, she makes an attempt to try and compete with Tigole’s quote from earlier this week:

Here is similar case. Go look at the other forums. The list of threads I’ve seen lately of classes who say they are not doing enough damage: hunters, shamans, paladins, rogues, priests, death knights, druids, warlocks. I am not exaggerating. Maybe the druids have quieted down with the recent Balance changes. I haven’t heard much out of the mages lately. Sometimes you’ll see maybe a Retadin saying “Okay, we might be doing a tiny bit too much damage, but we still shouldn’t be nerfed.”

Also just keep in mind that most people posting about how their classes need to better do have a teeny bit of conflict of interest. I’m not saying most of the community is trying to badger us into making them OP. But it’s something you do have to be cognizant of.

Nice.

The next couple of beta patches are looking very good for Protection Warriors, once these changes hit we are starting to feel “done”.  I can’t wait!

Beta Build Incoming

September 24, 2008

–Many class changes. You won’t like the ones made to your own class but you’ll think the changes made to the 9 other classes are all overpowered.

Quote from: Tigole (link)

More proof that any post by Jeff “Tigole” Kaplan promises to be full of win.

Here are the rest of the his “patch notes”.

I don’t have patch notes. Off the top of my head:

–Heroics have all been re-tuned. We’d really like feedback on the Heroics this push.
–25 person raids have been re-tuned
–Some tuning changes to 10 person raids
–Many class changes. You won’t like the ones made to your own class but you’ll think the changes made to the 9 other classes are all overpowered.
–More Icecrown quests and polish. We’d LOVE more Icecrown quest feedback. Please use the in-game feedback UI or post in the quest forums.
–More Dalaran polish
–Performance updates and new performance logging to help get the servers in good condition.
–We’re working on getting a beta Glyph vendor in the build so you guys will have quick and easy access to all of the glyphs for feedback. That system *might* make this push.
I’m not the patch note guy but that’s my version of the patch notes.

Quote from: Tigole (link)

Coming soon: My QQ post about the prot-warrior nerfs.

Quick Links

September 23, 2008
  • Finally, Dinaer posted a Class Homoginization followupAs I posted last week, we don’t quite agree about whether this is a net-positive change.  However, I do agree with his main point: that it would be nice if each class “felt” more unique.  I just happen to place more importance on every class being replaceable, specifically related to content design and raid setup.  A very hard balance to strike, and I’m not sure how both sides could be completely satisfied.   A good read though, and the old-school PnP shout out does pull me back “a bit” closer to his way of seeing the change

Why I love class balance and homogenization; A response

September 18, 2008

This started off as a reply on Dinaer’s blog, but ended up going way too long.  So, we’ll see if I can figure out a trackback.

To start, go read Dinaer’s post on his excellent blog

I’m very much on the other side of this one.

Playing the beta, I’m not seeing homogenization as a problem at all.
First, a history lesson:

  • In my TBC raiding, every hunter in my guild felt pressure to go BM.  The spec simply did the most damage.  SV Hunters in raids?  Hah.  Not fun.
  • Shadow Priests made such a difference in caster DPS in long fights, that casters complained if I didn’t bring a SPriest, or give them one in their group.  Not fun.
  • For Gruul, it was by far easier to go with a Warrior main tank, and a Druid off-tank.  No Feral today?  Sure you can do it, but it is noticeably more difficult.  This lead to bringing people solely because of their spec, not their skill – or worse, asking people to respec.
  • For Karazhan, how much harder is the Opera event without a fear or a fire-spamming caster?  Illhoof without a ‘lock?
  • ZA is built around Druid offtanks, and having a Pally to AOE tank.

In all these fights – and many more (Heroic Shattered Halls, I’m looking at you) you didn’t just need a dps/tank/healer, how successful you were depended on having a specific class and spec.  Sure, you can almost always do the fight other ways, but have you ever not done content because you were missing one specific piece?  Ever left Illhoof hiding back behind his bookshelf?  I know I have.

Have you ever taken a player who is less skilled, or recruited someone who was otherwise borderline, because they fill one of these holes?  I felt a lot of pressure to look the other way on things, simply because “we really need a <fill in the blank>.”

Most of this “homogenization” isn’t taking things away from classes, so much as spreading the awesome buffs around more.  Sure, hunters aren’t unique in the “misdirect” role, warriors don’t stand alone with “last stand”, and shadow priests aren’t the only mana-battery, but this also means that more classes have these cool abilities.

Hunters can now spec SV if they want.  Prot Warriors are actually capable DPS and AOE tanka.  Shadow Priests finally bring something to the many fights that require AOE.  Trying to DPS on a prot warrior in TBC felt lame.  Now, in beta, it is a blast.  Where my SPriest was only a mana battery on packs of trash, my SPriest can rain down the pain.  Far far more fun now.

The Alternative

If you don’t spread abilities around, do you keep designing fights in ways that pressure you to use a certain tank?  Do we get the Deathknight caster-tanking fight, and resign the Pally tank to DPS (or the bench) for that fight?  This simply isn’t fun, and is a major source of stress in setting up 10 and 25 man raids.  Why do anything to make raids harder, before you even get started?

This new method means that bosses can have unique abilites, something more than tank and spank, with the presumption that someone in the raid has an answering abilitity.  Every tanking class can do AOE tanking, and there are far more ’emergency buttons’ than before.  Misdirect has been passed around to rogues.  Mana-batteries galore.  All this means that you can actually build in a need for these abilities – a chance for more people to shine – while not requiring one specific spec/class/race..

Yes, my Priest is loosing Star Shards.  I love Star Shards, so it hurts a bit, *but* look at the new options as a Priest.  I can AOE.  I can tank heal.  I can group heal.  I can do great reactive heals.  I can rock preventive heals.   I choose the role I want, and there is a spec for it.  The variety is amazing.

For my warrior, this ‘class balance’ means that I can DPS as Prot spec.  I can go enjoy PVP as Prot, a laughable idea now.  The spec that I need for filling ‘my raid nitch’ is no longer is a chain around my neck the rest of the week.

This ‘class balance and homogenization’ vastly improves my play experience, and is one of the main things I’m looking forward to in WotLK.

The Talk

September 17, 2008

Even though I’ve known it was coming, breaking up is hard to do..

While I’ve not been an active guild member for weeks, and certainly have long given up role as Raid Leader, I’ve put off making final my decision to move on.  I’ve not wanted to leave the guild without having a talk with the new (well, 2 months or so now, but still new to me) Guild Master.  My wife and I both consider him a friend, and we wanted to chat with him a bit to let him know ahead of time that we were leaving.  The problem has been catching him online, as his work schedule and my limited playtime (on live servers) haven’t been matching up well.

.. and since this type of this always sucks, I’ve spent the last week logging on, and being slightly grateful to not see him online.

Last night I was on my main – prospecting ore, cutting gems to ship back to the auction house, catching up with a few friends, and explaining why I didn’t want to fill in a Karazhan run, when he finally popped online.

We chatted a bit, and then I explained our plans to leave the guild.  He was sad, but not shocked.  Said that we’d always have a home there, which I appreciate, and that we were welcome back anytime.  The guild has changed a lot in the last few months, so much so that I don’t see myself going back, but I would like to keep close ties to a few of the members.  Hopefully leaving in as peaceful a way as possible may make that easier.

I know they are still rebounding from loosing the former guild leader, and then having another group split off on their own.  The last few months have mostly been damage control for the new leadership, which is a sucky way to spend your first weeks in control.

I did suggest that we would actually /gquit at a quiet time.  There will be some questions, I’m certain, for both us and the GM, but letting people slowly find out that we’ve left seems to be the lower drama option.  Having been on the other side of the ‘drama llama’ my share of times, I’m trying to limit the amount of grief I cause on the way out.

I’m also somewhat curious how my soon-to-be-former guildmates will react to me afterwards.  I know that some of them have reacted angrily to others leaving, and have at best stopped talking to them entirely.  I’d like to hope that won’t be the case here, but I’m certain that it will be, at least for some people.

Going into Wrath, there are at least a few still guilded players that I’d very much like to group with in Northrend, so I’m hoping that I can, at a minimum, salvage a few of those relationships in the next few weeks.

Warhammer Online Open Beta

September 11, 2008

Along side my time in the Wrath Beta, I’ve been playing around with Warhammer Online too.

Overall, I’m enjoying Warhammer. I’ll certainly keep an active account, at least for a while, and would recommend it to anyone looking for an MMO with lite PVP elements.

Is it better than WoW? No.

Using almost any measure WoW in it’s current state (even more so when WotLK launches) is the superior game, except for the important ‘Game that isn’t Warcraft’ Category.  When I’m looking for a break from Azeroth, Warhammer is where I plan to go.

I’ve played a few characters, with the highest being a Warrior Priest at level 13. The playstyle for this toon is very interesting; a healer that needs to be in melee range. Able to absorb, deal and heal a fair amount of damage, this is a very versatile class. I’ve enjoyed charging into the thick of combat, dropping back and healing up my team, and even acting as a tank in a few public quests. The Warrior Priest does suffer from the normal hybrid complex  – It is nice to be able to pitch in and fill several roles, but there comes a time where you need a “real tank”, a healer than doesn’t have to spend time in melee, or serious DPS. Still, the WP is a fun class to play, and will probably be my “solo-time” class of choice.

I’ll also roll a tank, which I’ll play with my wife’s planned Rune Priest, although I don’t expect us to have much joint playtime till we “finish” with the Wrath Beta.

As far as the gameplay goes, the PVE questing is acceptable, if lacking spirit. The Public Quests are quite nice, so long as you play at times when the server is busy – otherwise you face repeating the opening stages over and over, unable to make a dent in the later steps. For a PvP focused game, a pure PvE player will find things to like; not enough to make the game great, but good enough to deserve some serious playtime.

The RvR is certainly fun, something I enjoy in short bursts. I’m sure that many players will love this as the endgame, but I’m not quite sure for myself. It reminds me a lot of the PvM play in LotRO, much more so than anything in WoW. It is certainly well done for what it is, but it is a no/low impact form of PvP. There is no permanence. If you get caught outside of your zerg, then you die and can run back in within a few seconds.

Loosing an arena match in WoW actually has far more lasting impact than anything I’ve seen in WAR. That isn’t meant as a slam; the RvR play is lots of fun, but if you are looking for a hardcore “Loot your enemies” or “real consequences” style gameplay, than this isn’t it.

On the tech side, things look good.  The style fits the game quite well, it doesn’t seem to stress my machine too much, and it is reasonably stable.  I had a pair of “Crash to Desktop” incidents last night, but those were the only two I’ve seen this beta.

The Open Beta has a few more days to go, and I’ll probably play a bit more, but at this point I’ve answered my main questions about the game and am content to see the rest of it once things go live.

WotLK Beta: Tanking Azjol Nerub

September 10, 2008

This past weekend we saw the 8095 Patch which buffed warriors and crushed the World Server. The open world was pretty much unplayable, but instance servers were fine. Presuming the server stayed up long to get a group together, 5-mans were by far the best option.

We started with Azjol-Nerub, and we spent more time getting the group invited and summoned than we spent running the instance. Really.

We went in with myself tanking, and my wife healing, both at 74. We picked up a 70 rogue, a 70 boomkin, and a 75 Hunter to fill out the group. This zone is intended for 73 to 75, so we were maybe a bit on the low side, but well geared.

The zone is amazing. Stunningly designed, it has by far the most fun layout of any zone I’ve yet seen. The zone has very little trash. Just a few pulls between bosses, usually with the next boss in site. Going in blind, the fights were interesting enough to force us to adapt to their abilities, diverse enough that I can’t imagine getting bored, but not so hard that you should expect a wipe-fest for most groups.

The pulls are generally on the smaller side, though some do hit reasonably hard. Running without CC wasn’t a problem here, and there are just a few places where AOE would be missed. As a Protection Warrior, I never felt like there was anything “I couldn’t do well” – perhaps we are simply OP at the moment, but the fights felt challenging enough for me to feel good about my tanking, but not so hard that I was stressed that I might wipe us. A very good balance, if not an hard one to hit.

We did get lost one time going through the instance, and I took my time pulling (just to make sure I didn’t get extras) but, even so, we finished with 37 minutes left on Fort.

23 minutes for the whole instance.

Getting this run down to 15 minutes shouldn’t be a problem once you know your way around. I can easily imagine getting a group together than running this several times straight, just to make sure you get all the drops.

This zone is right next to Ahn’Kahet, which is a longer instance. The two contrast each other very well, and would make for a nice double-header run back-to-back.