Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Surprise Priest!

This weekend on a whim I levelled my Gnome Priest from eighty-eight to ninety and have been derping around the Timeless Isle and feeling ridiculously underpowered in any and all group content. It turns out a hundred item levels is a pretty massive power deficit.

I've been pleasantly surprised at how fun Shadow is. It's really not too DoT heavy, and has plenty of instants for movement. I've always complained about multi-dotting, but it's so powerful that I've started liking it. Priests are squishy as hell! I've been making heavy use of speed bubble and renew just to stay alive against larger elites.

Discipline healing has a fantastic niche in Power Word: Shield. I think of it as a universal stop-someone-from-dying button, and Penance backs it up nicely as an instant heal. And... that's about it. Everything else is a two second cast, during which you just sit and wait for your cast bar to move. Coming from a Monk who can start casting an efficient heal and then transform it into a huge heal mid cast, watching my Various Heal casts slowly drip out seems underpowered and really unresponsive. In a truly dangerous healing environment the situation can and will change in the two seconds it takes to cast a spell.

Any raid healer knows the way to make your number bigger is to focus on AoE healing. Unfortunately Discipline's AoE is really terrible.

I've talked about Prayer of Mending before: I called it a "dumb" heal. As opposed to a smart heal which heals the person who needs it most, the dumb heal will choose someone who doesn't need it and do nothing until it expires. But it's still mana-efficient most of the time so I use it on CD.

Prayer of Healing is the "direct" AoE heal. It's quite powerful, but has the utterly bizarre restriction of only hitting people in the same party group as the target. If this spell was designed today there is no question it would use smart healing to choose targets. Instead, I have to rejigger my interface so I can see who is in which party. How has this vanilla WoW bullshit survived so many expansions?

I might try Holy eventually, but I'm enjoying Disc for the moment despite all the whinging. Somewhat ironically (if you know me) I've been mostly ignoring the other of Discipline's strengths, Atonement healing through damage. I think I'll get to it eventually... I'm finding the main healing spells challenging enough to master for the moment. I'll keep working on my gear and hopefully soon do some 25-man Priest healing with my guild's alt raid.

On the Monk front, I'm finally done with the Island, which has left me without much to do. I suppose this explains the Priest.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Theorycrafting

It's come to my attention that at some point every Mistweaver started telling every other Mistweaver to gem for crit. So far not a single one of those people has been able to justify this opinion past "you should be doing this" or "yeah crit is really good". Some people like to have evidence before advocating radical change.

So I've done multiple google searches, I've been to EJ, Icyveins, Noxxic, official forums, multiple healing blogs; most still provide specific advice to gem for intellect, and the ones that do seem to prioritise crit don't explain why.

Is this cutting-edge theorycrafting that the establishment has yet to bring on board? Are people simming to get this conclusion? Is it just a tradeoff for mana regen? Is it that stupid Robot site spitting out poorly calculated stat weights again? Has it come out of poorly worded gemming advice where it's assumed that the reader already understands that Intellect is their best stat. Is it something that some famous raider did and inadvertently popularised?

Using facebook regularly has shown me how easily terrible ideas can gain legitimacy. Perhaps crit gemming like is the anti-vaccine movement of Mistweavers. Hah.

I should clarify that I'm not arguing against crit gemming. It's just that the people who have spouted this point of view at me are obviously not doing their own research, just repeating what they've been told, and I don't trust those people.

Someone show me I'm wrong about all this so I can shut up. That's called science.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

In which Coreus tells Blizzard they are doing it wrong

Several years ago I made the complaint that Blizzard sucks at planning, giving the evidence of a raid release schedule which could have been much better timed to how long players would likely take to get utterly bored with each raid. Basically, they gave us far too little time in Ulduar and far too long in Icecrown Citadel. (There was another raid in there too but I'm pretty sure that was mostly a jousting minigame and some PvP.)

It doesn't seem like they have learned from it because the exact same thing happened last expansion. And again this expansion: A spectacular second raid tier was cut short so a fairly middling final raid tier could sit around for a year gathering flies.

"One expansion every 12-14 months" is the very long-stated intention and... I'm sure they're still working on that one.


I'm not really sure where the imperative has come from, but WoW's dev team is cutting class abilities left and right. Their market research probably indicates that games with fewer buttons sell more mounts or something.

I've always given Blizzard the benefit of the doubt when they improve their game at each expansion. It's mostly all worked out so far. The Warlock thing was probably a bit severe so I'm glad they're backpedaling on that a bit.

I just feel like I'm seeing change for change's sake. Nearly every existing ability has its niche. The ones that didn't find theirs immediately were modified to fit better or removed. "WoW has too many buttons!" is one of those things that sounds obvious in a meeting, but when you get down to it even small changes like removing a passive mean adjusting everything else to compensate. I guess I'm trying to say it would be nice if they could concentrate a bit more on making the expansion exist before they worry about it having too many buttons.

HAY BLIZ HOW ABOUT REMOVING CRANE STANCE OMG SO MUCH BUTTON BLOAT.

I totally understand toning down crowd control abilities, though. Let me tell you a story. Back during the Burning Crusade, tanks were rubbish at holding threat against more than a stiff breeze and AoE was a niche thing that Mages did, so CC was essential for completing high-level dungeons. However, only certain classes had CC, so the classes without any complained on the forums that they were being left out. Meanwhile Paladins had started picking up Warrior gear and groups suddenly realised that AoE tanking was easier and faster and would never ever go back to CC and fuck any non-Paladin tanks.

Blizzard gave everybody what they wanted: Wrath loaded nearly every class with effective CCs, and it also gave every tank spammable AoE, making all CC redundant. And nobody used CC ever again. The End.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Levers and rewards

I got my two hundred and thirty-seventh mount this morning: a Swift Zulian Panther. One more boss crossed off the list, though the Raptor will keep me coming back to ZG for most likely a while yet.

Getting a new mount has a noticeable effect on me; a greater feeling of attachment to the game, and a compulsion towards immersing myself in WoW. The reward system in action.

I really need to go check a few mount bosses for soloability. The problem is they're mostly the final bosses of raids; Al'akir, Lich King, Yogg-Saron, and Deathwing each require me to clear an entire raid just to attempt. Alysrazor sounds doable, though, and I'm pretty sure only needs one trash pack cleared. Perhaps I'll try her tonight.

I noticed today that I've ended up with all four Legendary cloaks on my Monk. As well as separate helms for each of the meta-gems. Maximum Legendary. You might ask what use a class without a caster spec has for caster procs... The answer is Jade Crackling Lightning. Using this spell alone does almost as much damage as a full melee rotation, and benefits spectacularly from the 30% spell haste proc on the meta-gem. Along with a caster multistrike trinket I picked up on an offset roll, this gear set has been a huge asset for all the ganking-- I mean, world PvP I've been doing to grind Bloody Coins.

So Alysrazor should be a piece of cake, right?

Friday, July 4, 2014

What I've been doing in WoW

I rolled a Blood Elf Monk a few days ago, and levelled him to 45 so far. I think I'm thoroughly in love with this class. I feel powerful, and the attacks all feel good to pull off. Windwalker has a great rhythm to it: Jab is your downbeat and Combo Breaker procs determine your time signature; Jab, Palm, Jab, Kick, Kick, Jab, Kick, Jab, mega aoe stun bullshittttt....

I'm running a damage and a healing spec, doing a bit of questing and a bit of dungeoning. I healed a Dire Maul run while topping the damage meters, which I think offended the DPS of the group-- they instantly accused me of poor healing after the squishiest tank ever died from one of his constant damage spikes. So much rage. But apart from that I've been enjoying the fuck out of the class. I don't have any particular plan for this toon, I've just been enjoying playing it.

In conclusion, Monk is the best class.

The level 90 boost icon sits on my character screen taunting me. But I'm just tired enough of the current tier of raiding that I don't see any point in doing it over again. It makes sense to save it for whatever class/faction I end up wanting to play through Draenor with but don't already have at 90.

I don't have any Horde toons at endgame, but I've been playing around with a few fresh-rolled class/race combinations on Moon Guard (great friendly place to level) to see what's resonant; a male Goblin Warrior, female Undead Death Knight, and the male Blood Elf Monk have kept my attention for several hours of playtime each so far. The male Blood Elf works really well for a Monk I think, though I can't say I've mastered Arcane Torrent yet.

It's interesting to note that all three are melee classes. It's not that I haven't rolled any ranged classes-- I recently tried a Mage and a Hunter, but neither stuck. They just seem to get boring faster I guess. It's weird that I always disliked raiding or PvPing as melee, but melee classes somehow tend to be more fun to solo than ranged.

I wonder why that is...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

High-res nipples

Bashiok has explained that the first wave of Beta invites is being targeted to "WoW veterans". I wonder what their definition is; and whether we might extrapolate any interesting pattern by looking at the data of which players got an invitation. For the record, I've been playing since 2006 and I got an invitation.

Or, perhaps the aim of this targeting is to give long-time players something to do. Or it could be any of the twelve other reasons why choosing experienced players is useful for a beta test. Speculation is fun!

We've been seeing some very active chatter on the subject of new character models. The way they're talking about it gives me a strong impression the expansion has entered crunch. They need to get as much as possible done before the end of the year when they promised to deliver the product they have already sold people-- the dialogue has shifted to become mainly about managing expectations and prioritising the most important things.

It's really interesting to watch the character model situation evolve, and to gain an appreciation for how tricky a challenge it really is. It reminds me of the way game sequels always tend to update the player character models-- they never look quite right next to the old ones. I always assumed it was because they were deliberately updating the style with each iteration, but now I understand it's simply hard to maintain a sense of common style between two different levels of detail.

But the most important update is complete: male human high res nipples/chest hair.

It's also interesting to note the emphasis on PvP testing this time, which has always struck me as an important thing to test because it's the area where class balance issues reveal themselves most prominently. One of the PvP beta realms has been set up for this specific purpose, with players who roll on this realm given an instant boost to level one hundred, but with all of Draenor's PvE zones disabled. Previous WoW betas I've been in always struck me as poor tests for PvP because without meaning to they were giving players the choice between brand-new pre-release PvE content or the same BGs they can play on live and receive real rewards for.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Is Wildstar going free to play?

I understand that if you make your headline into a question you don't have to actually say anything to back it up.

I keep hearing about this new MMO (WoW-clone) called Wildstar. Apparently it's pretty good. I would have been happy to give it a try, but the publisher is asking sixty fucking dollars just for the privilege of becoming a paying subscriber, and I'm unwilling to pay that much money into a long-form video game I don't even know if I'll play for very long.

Someone needs to tell this publisher what year it is, and point out that everyone knows that the box price (so appropriate a term) attached to an MMO released today is just an early adopter fee. They wont stop charging for it until enough people demonstrate that they wont pay for it.

Weird that buying full-price game software has become almost like some meta-MMO. Players keep paying for boxes with the hope that there's something wonderful inside, even when most of the time there isn't. Skinner would be proud.