Archive for October 2008

by any other name..

October 29, 2008

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
So Romeo would were he not Romeo call’d
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title”
-Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, 1594

I’ve been thinking about names a lot lately. Guild names. The advertisement that is always on.

With the combined efforts of three people working on the design, we have plenty of opinions and ideas for most every topic. However the simple act of naming the thing is eluding us. It really is quite pathetic.

There are aesthetics that we can boil down simply:

  • Short is generally better
  • Single words are preferable to phrases
  • Anything approaching “Knights of..” or “..of Stormwind” will be summarily rejected
  • Similarity to existing/past guilds on server is a negative
  • The less used, game-wide, the better
  • Serious-style guild, needs a serious name (or at least a non-silly name)

However, of the ideas that we’ve bounced around, the ones we’ve most liked violate a few of guidelines above. We haven’t yet hit on anything that we all ‘love’, so we may end up picking something that we can live with. The problem, I think, is that we are waiting for something to jump out at us, and to instantly work.

Looking at some of the top guilds on my server, most have what I consider to be good names. Intellectually, I’m reflecting my view of the guild back onto their name. The guild’s positive reputation affects my view of the name, and it is very hard to separate them. Would a name that seems quirky for a top guild seem stupid and annoying if other players wore it?

Is the guild ultimately defined by its actions, with it’s name Karmicly taking on whatever aura the guild puts out?

Do this mean that the name really doesn’t matter after all?

I don’t think so. Yes, a great name will not turn a group of lousy players into an team of all-stars, but names do speak to the culture. “Don’t Daze Me Bro” or “Nerfed to the Ground” are cute (once!), but they scream PvP Guild. “Knights of the Gates of the Holy Stormwind Alliance” (cool tabard & bank slots!) just ‘feels’ like a leveling guild full of kids.

Once you have established a reputation, the guild name seems to be little more than a tag above your head. However, while getting started and initially recruiting, I do think it is more than that.

I am curious how other folks go about picking names. When looking at guilds, does the name influence you? Ever joined (or not joined) because of the name?

Tanking Level 70 Heroics post-3.0

October 28, 2008

I’m finding myself playing on the live servers more and more the past week, and the achievement system has me firmly in it’s grasp.  Specifically, the Heroic Dungeon Achievements.  The annoyance here is that I’ve done 80% of them pre-3.0, many as part of the Daily Heroics, but those Daily Quests don’t seem to have transfered to the new system.

So, to fill out that list, we’ve been doing the tour.  We’ve already hit the ones that I’ve seen many times, and more recently started hitting some that I’d missed to this point.  First trips included Blood Furnace and Old Hillsbrad.  My current count is 4 left, and I expect that will be taken care of by the end of the week.

The runs have been easy.  Super easy.  No CC has been needed, and I’ve often intentionally pulled several groups at a time, either to up the challenge, or to simply speed up the runs.  And they have been fast – most in the 25 to 40 minute range.

Being guildless at the moment, I’ve been pugging 1 or 2 spots in each run.  While guilded, I almost never got to use /LFG, since we were always short tanks for 5-mans.  Maybe I’ve been lucky, but I haven’t had the first problem using /LFM.  While the DPS isn’t, generally speaking, amazing – I haven’t had any runs ‘ruined’.  In fact, I’ve added a few names to my Friend List, people that I’ve found to be quite skilled – at times in spite of their current gear level.  These are certainly the type of people I’ll be looking for more of going forward.

As to how the DPS is doing, it is uneven.  The Mage that we usually run with is consistently putting out the most damage (generally as much as the other 2 DPS combined).  On most runs I’m coming in 2nd, or at worst a very close 3rd.  This is a major difference, and to be honest, it feels like we could 3-man most of these runs.

Things don’t feel at all like they did pre-3.0, where I would typically mark mobs for CC, and move a lot more deliberately through instances.  In a lot of ways, I miss that way of doing things – the tactics, and consequences for making a mistake.  However, this really amounts to a farewell tour of these zones, and as such, I am enjoying it.

All the same, I do look forward to a rougher time in the Wrath Heroics.  As much as I am enjoying the cape and tights, it is nice to think there are other places to explore; Places where, just maybe, they have tracked down my Kryptonite.

An offer declined

October 27, 2008

Last week a pair of former guildies, now running their own shop, asked me to come along and OT in ZA.  I consented to go, partly because they were in danger of calling the run and I hated to leave them in a spot.  However, it helps that they have been, since the patch, been doing full clears, and I did want to ‘see’ all of it.

It was quick, though it was obvious that the 3.0.2 boss nerfs, and player buffs played a large role here.  Seeing things in their current state does feel a bit like cheating the content.  This isn’t ZA that I remember, and while I I’m glad to have seen the entire zone, it certainly doesn’t feel the same.

However, It was nice to run with some old guildies – folks that I haven’t run with in months.  Many of the guild’s members are friends, and they are looking at growing for Wrath.  Their goal is to start with two 10-man groups, and then quickly move into 25-mans as the expansion gets going.  For that, they need another Main Tank, and a second Raid Leader.  This is where I come in.  Basically, I would have my own raid team for the 10-man runs, and would play support in the 25-mans.  I do think that having two raid leaders in 25-mans is key (having basically done it solo in TBC), so this sounds like a good plan.

This position is also being promised as low maintenance, at least outside of raids.  Basically, they have an established core, and just need someone suited to the Raid Lead job – so, outside of that, no other responsibilities or duties.  Which, based on my burnout this past summer, probably looks like a good selling point.  This is a misread of my state of mind, but an understandable one.

A related issue is our former guild leader.  The wife and I have spent a lot of time with him testing in Beta, and more recently doing our final tour of the Outland Heroics.  Late summer saw him involved in a rather messy situation with a couple of former guildies – the very couple currently recruiting me for their guild.  I won’t go into the details, as this is the type of thing that the llama lives for, except to say that I believe he was the ‘more innocent’ party, and that the result was that he cut off contact entirely.  Given the mess that the situation was, this was the only rational way to go – a position that I counseled at the time.

That said, his coming along and joining my new ‘raid team’ would not be a sane option.

My choice here, seems obvious.  The many friends in the prospective guild, versus the one outside.  Even if I hadn’t other misgivings about the guild – and it’s leaders specifically – I’m certain that this would have been enough to make up my mind.

I could probably try to find a compromise.  Convince all sides to ‘get along’, ‘play nice’, and communicate through me.  It wouldn’t be pretty, but if I bullied everyone involved into it, I may even be able to make things work.  Were it not such a horrible, selfish idea.

Having gone through all of this, I officially ‘passed’ on the offer the weekend.  I was friendly, and polite, choosing an ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ tact in an attempt to keep a bridge fully un-burned.  Too tactful, perhaps, as they still seem to be harboring hope that I’ll join eventually.  While waiting till I’m wearing another guild tag will certainly get the point across, I think I’d be better served by finding a nice way to say “no means no”.

WotLK: 540 Defense at Level 80, redux

October 24, 2008

Settled back in from my recent traveling, I spent a few hours on Beta working on getting Crit Immune. This means 5.6% Crit Reduction. At level 80, sans PvP gear, this means 540 defense.

My first plan was to get hope to get close, and then to use a Minor Flask to cover the gap. This would mean giving up an useful flask or elixirs, but taking Crits is not fun, so I’d made my piece with it. Turn out, that while I’m keeping this in my back pocket as an option, it shouldn’t be required.

Still wearing 3 epics from level 70, gemming and enchanting for defense, picking up several BOE Blacksmithing Blues, and a few lucky instance drops, I’ve been able to hit the soft-cap of 540. It ends up not being as hard as I’d expected, but you do pay a price. The Blacksmithing Blues are a straight cash outlay, but they have so much defense that almost everyone will need them early on. Having everything so focused on defense means that you are neglecting Stamina, DPS, Hit, Expertise, and (to a lesser extent) Avoidance.

[Armor Mitigation actually comes out ok, through a wierd itemization quirk. Most of the +def rings and trinkets are also +armor items. I presume this is to balance out their desirability between Druids and the Plate Tanks. Plate tanks like +def a lot, and +armor is nice too. +Def is far less useful for Druids, but they get *so* much use out of the Armor, that will still look at these pieces. Pairing these two stats means that you can have +armor on items without them being overpowered for Druids, a kind of intentional mis-itemization that I think should work very well.]

In my current un-crittable gear, my health is lower than it was previously, and my avoidance numbers are miserable. However, every +def upgrade from here on out lets me change out an enchant or a gem, so I expect things to improve rapidly.

A few notes:

  • Getting Un-crittable does not require all level 78+ blues, though several will help
  • The lesser Sons of Hodir shoulder enchant (Honored Reputation level) are about equal to the Exalted Aldor/Scryer Shoulder Enchants. Once you get the rep, the Sons of Hodir option is cheaper, but early on, just head back to Shatt. Getting exalted with the Sons of Hodir requires a lot of daily quest grinding, so don’t plan on having the Greater option from them at the start.
  • The PVP focused turn in from Stone Keeper’s Shards (new Spirit Shards) are loaded with Resiliance, and may be a good option to help cover a +def gap.

Still here

October 23, 2008

Between Blizzcon, a post-con vacation, and a trip back ‘home’ for a funeral, I’ve been a bit busy. Too many hours on too many airplanes seems to have caught up with me as well, as I’m suffering through some sort of bug.

A few quiet days at work, and then a restful weekend seems to be in order.

In game, I’ve played around with 3.0 on live, and spent a bit more time in beta. Worked on hitting 490 defense. Worked on hitting 540 defense. Got a guild-job offer. Am working on my own set of guild documents. Am still so far behind on the RSS feeds that the Google Reader will only tell me I have more than 1000 left.

More on all (well, most) of that to come.

Rest first.

WotLK: 540 Defense at Level 80

October 7, 2008

edit:My list of early level 80 gear to get crit immune can be found here.
An update to this post (with what it took to hit 540 in Beta) can be found
in this new post

Over the weekend my Prot Warrior hit level 80 in the Wrath of the Lich King Beta. I actually managed to ‘ding’ on a kill of the final boss in Gun’Drak, which was fun.

On my way to 80 I’ve replaced a lot of my level 70 epics – though not all. The rings, weapons, shield, and trinkets were all replaced by the mid-70’s. The Patch 2.4 badge gear was all gone by 78. A pair of the earlier badge pieces, my ZA boots, and (gasp) my helm from Prince are still around though.

Even with the upgrades, all my defensive abilities are much lower. Much, much lower. The change in ‘ratings’ (parry/dodge/block/defense) is very noticeable as you level. Even with the gear upgrades I’ve gotten, I cringe every time I look at my character panel.

The stat that is going to cause the most pain for tanking Warriors, Death Knights and Paladins, is defense. By the time I hit level 80 my defense has dropped all the way to 486. Ouch. That is 15 or 20 less than I ran with at level 70, and I’ve gotten several high defense upgrades. Most of the pain comes from the fact that a point of “defense rating” only gives half as much “defense skill” as i did at level 70.

To get the required 5.6% of crit reduction at level 70 and level 80 requires 140 defense over the base (350 at 70, 400 at 80). However at level 70, 2.37 ‘defense rating’ gives 1 point of ‘defense skill’. At level 80 it takes 4.92 ‘defense rating’ to get the same effect. Add to that the talent changes that have taken away 20 ‘free’ defense skill, and you now need to add more than 400 ‘defense rating’ on the trip to 80.

As such, I find myself needing roughly 50 more defense skill. This is a far bigger hole than I faced at level 70, and I’m starting with far better gear than I did then.

The good news is that the lack of defense isn’t causing serious problems yet. I’ve run every pre-80 instance (several times), and one level 80 instance (Halls of Lightening), and not had and problems. In fact, I don’t think we’ve experience even a single case of STD (Sudden Tank Death) across all the runs.. we’ve ever only wiped on horribly mismanaged pulls, or (more frequently) on severely bugged content.

For now, the occasional incoming Critical isn’t causing too much healer pain, but I presume that walking into a Heroic (or Naxx) would be a different story. I will explore my gearing options over the next few days, and try to get an idea if I should prioritize one particular faction grind once WotLK goes live.

edit:My list of early level 80 gear to get crit immune can be found here.
An update to this post (with what it took to hit 540 in Beta) can be found
in this new post

WotLK: Protection Warrior Changes in 9014

October 1, 2008

The new patch (9014) has hit, and all of the Prot Warrior changes talked about for the last week are in:

Revenge damage has been increased, and can proc Sword and Board.
Shield Slam damage has been slightly increased.

  • These two changes were totally expected. Basically making up for the dps nerfs in the last few patches, and putting Revenge firmly back into the rotation.

Armored to the Teeth now increases attack power by 3 for every 180 armor (rather than being a strength buff).

  • AttT is back to being a straight DPS/Threat increase, not a “Gotta have it” Block buff. Certainly not bad place to put points, just not totally overpowered anymore.

Thunderclap target cap removed

  • Now the painful difference between a 4-pull and 5-pull is drastically reduced (or 8/9 with the Glyph). This is the single biggest change we’ve seen, and totally removes a whole class of encounters that “warriors can’t tank.” Give me a good healer, and let the AoE fly.

Vigilance is now a threat transfer, rather than a straight 10% threat reduction for the target.

  • For anyone on the fence about Vigilance, I think this should make it an easy call. This talent will certainly be in my builds.

Berserker Rage will be usable in all stances.

  • Wow.. this one surprises me. Between Warbringer and Berserker Rage, I can’t see why tanks would ever leave Defensive Stance. I’m not quite complaining.. but this totally removes the need to stance dance, and trivializes Nightbane-type encounters.

With these changes, Protection Warriors feel just about much done.  Talent/skill-wise, at least.

I expect that there will be tweaks as the avoidance/mitigation/threat stats for all the tank classes are balanced, but those will likely be slight changes to the numbers.

Any more major changes before WotLK goes live would be a surprise – but I didn’t anticipate the Berserker Rage change, so…