Thursday, April 21, 2011

A realisation

Playing a Hunter makes me hate Blizzard for making every other class less fun than playing a Hunter.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"x is dying"

Can't something just be "less popular than it was." Why does everyone seem to think in terms of life and death?

Just a quick thought.

The leader shortage in WoW

I don't believe tanking is significantly harder than other roles in WoW for a halfway-competent player. In Cataclysm content all players are generally required to deal with fight mechanics, the tank is just the guy getting hit in the face while it happens. The major difference in my view is the expectation of a large proportion of the playerbase that the tank also needs to lead the group.

There's a reason for this. Tanks are natural group leaders, leading the group literally in terms of the gameplay itself. A well-geared tank who knows what she's doing can lead a group without saying a word, brute-forcing everything with the DPS following her lead. The problem only exists when the tank is not able to lead the group, and for some reason nobody else will.

This is the attitude which is discouraging people from tanking. I've been in plenty of PuGs that did splendidly with an undergeared and inexperienced tank because just one of the five players took responsibility to co-ordinate the group.

This is something that Blizzard has attempted to build into the LFD system. You know that little "Leader" crown icon you tick without thinking when you queue for LFD? That's you volunteering to lead the group. In practise, though, all it really does is give one group member different coloured chat text. And while many people don't have a problem with barking orders at other people-- suggesting that they at least think they know better than the rest of the group, only a small proportion of people seem willing to take on the responsibility of actually leading that group.

You can see this lack of responsibility in the public chat channels, with people posting every five to ten seconds along the lines of "Hunter LF raid". To me, those three little words paint a broad picture: "Although I'm too lazy to try to put together a raid myself or even seek out an existing group past posting three words in a chat channel, if someone else would like to put the effort in to recruit me, summon me there and lead the group I'll gladly press my buttons to receive loot."

The sad thing about the state of WoW at the moment is that a lot of the recent evolution of the game has been to cater to this type of player; to put them as much as possible on the same level as the people who can and do put effort in. In creating the LFD system, they gave players otherwise too lazy to seek a group on their own push-button entry into dungeon groups.

I don't blame Blizzard for this-- they're a business and those people pay the same $15 per month that I do, and so it's in Blizzard's best interests to keep lazy players happy customers. But this is negatively affecting the gameplay of those who are and have always been willing to put effort into the their group play.

Someone look at me straight faced and tell me it wasn't faster for a DPS class to assemble a Heroic group before the Dungeon Finder made it "instant". You asked in trade, you did a filtered /who, you whispered people and you started your own group. It required more effort, but even as DPS if you were willing to lead in that way, you got a group in 5-10 minutes, depending on the time of day. And since it was your group, you didn't even need to pass a vote to remove any fuckwads you might have accidentally picked up.

So how did we all get roped into this LFD system when doing it manually is so clearly superior?

I blame tanks.

I'm laughing now because those are three words I never though I'd ever use in that order. But bear with me:

As a tank, you are the bottleneck in the system, so you have the power. You push a button, you get a group. If the group was crap, you could probably still carry them... but if you found you couldn't, all you have to do is refuse to pull until they boot you and you can get another group with another button push. Nothing speaks for the broken-ness of the LFD system quite as strongly as there being a purpose and a benefit under the current system for acting like an ass.

But really I can't blame tanks for long before I have to trace that blame back to this LFD system that supports them universally no matter what they do, a system soon to provide even more support via additional rewards, so there's not only little reason for tanks to look outside the LFD for pick-up groups, they are being actively encouraged not to. And with zero tanks outside the system, anyone who is still willing to create and lead their own PuG can't find one, and their only remaining choice is the LFD system...

The disturbing thing in my opinion about this new system, and something I don't think many bloggers I read have realised [because they would be whinging about it if they had] is that Call to Arms may cause a tank to refuse to run randoms with their own guild-mates, because queueing as a group would mean he didn't get the extra reward.

Attaching rewards to an antisocial system results in people being rewarded for being antisocial in WoW.

This is seriously blowing my mind right here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Syrannia's raid isn't going well. Hitting a progression wall [Nefarian, in case you're curious] has been fairly demoralising for the group as a whole, and this in turn has caused a few of our more casual players [the ones that returned for Cataclysm] to lose interest in raiding again, which is practically a step backwards.

I should say that I'm glad, though, that these people are not allowing themselves to feel obligated to "play" a game that they're no longer enjoying, and though it is to the detriment of the group, I would never want or expect a raid member to show up solely for the benefit of the other raiders. It's only a game, after all.

I don't have an issue with progressing slowly on a single boss, as long as we are learning and progressing in our own understanding and competence, but at this point I'm starting to doubt we even will down Nefarian before the lack of interest has claimed too much of our group to really hope to continue.

The major thing I find demoralising is my own mistakes. As I've said in previous posts, I'm not what I would consider a really good player. My reaction time is fairly slow and I have trouble making decisions on the fly, not to mention a lack of concentration causing me to space out occasionally and miss important fight mechanics.

I feel as though I'm kind of done for the tier. I've replaced my last couple of blue slots and now have a complete matching set of gear which feels like a natural completion point for me-- the same way my Shaman feels "complete" in his T10 Frost Witch gear. I like my WoW characters to be neat.

So I've been giving a lot of thought to a class change for the next tier. I love tanking to death, but I feel like the raid as a whole might be better off with me playing a role which was not quite so pivotal in terms of playing without error.

Obviously I've been recently smitten with the Hunter class, but our raid already has both a Hunter and a Warlock [my second choice for DPS] which are both those respective players' "main" toons, and returning to the neat freak thing, it would kind of irritate me to double up an existing class in the raid-- in terms of class balance my prot Warrior is a really good fit as the raid stands. And no, I have no interest in playing a melee DPS, especially not Warrior.

I suppose I'll just need to wait and see what our raid looks like when 4.2 hits.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Unnecessary buffs

A few bloggers I read have responded predictably to the new LFD queue reward system with their typical fear of change, making their wild claims of what will happen based on totally-not-circumstantial "facts" that of course apply to the entire playerbase.

I've been keeping an eye on the 4.1 patch notes and noticed a few things that I thought were interesting.

Tame Beast now tames pets to match the hunter's level, rather than 3 levels below.

In my opinion this is an iconic example of the way features which add flavour to the game are streamlined out for gameplay reasons. I happen to really like the immersive aspect that my newly-tamed pet wont perform at its peak until I spend three levels training and "bonding" with it. But one person's flavour is another person's annoyance, and so everything must now happen instantly to save players from the "inconvenience" of having to play the game.

[I'm less attached to the also-to-be-removed Happiness mechanic, as the only interaction I typically have with it is to waste the occasional GCD casting Mend Pet if I notice my pet has dropped below "Happy".]

Druid tanking seems to be getting a significant buff. I wasn't aware Druid tanks were doing that badly, and suspect this is just that whole "x class/spec is underrepresented-- buff it until it's FOTM again" reaction Blizzard seems to have.

With interrupts now joining taunts as non-missing abilities, Hit Rating will be even more of a junk stat for tanks. While I'm extremely happy with the change from a gameplay perspective, but it's hard not to be a little bit sad that this stat which is already plastered all over our gear will lose its only unique purpose, and now is just a gimped version of expertise. I'm guessing there's probably some "major technical limitation" that would prevent Blizzard from changing all the hit rating on tank-specific gear into expertise, but it would be nice for them to go all the way with it.

And I'd like to say a few words for another classic piece of flavour which is being patched out in 4.1:

Rest In Peace, Sheild Bash.

You were the original Warrior interrupt. You've been with us since the beginning, and now this young upstart with a shorter CD has come and muscled you out.

Remember when off-global interrupts were still relatively underground? Now everyone's got one. How times have changed. You will be missed.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Called it

Fucking. called. it.

Back in February I said, on the topic of the tank shortage in LFD:

"I for one would love to see a weighted system, where the rewards scale with the demand for that role at that time. I don't care what the incentive is-- gold, points, rep, critter pets [hah, now that's a good idea]-- more is needed to offset the vast imbalance in supply/demand."

Today, on MMO Champion:

"To be eligible for the additional rewards you must solo queue for a random level-85 Heroic in the role that is currently being Called to Arms, ... you'll receive a goodie bag that will contain some gold ... a good chance of receiving a non-combat pet (including cross faction pets), and a very rare chance at receiving a mount."

I love you too, Blizzard.

And y'know what? My old druid tank, who gave up so long ago on farming Anzu, suddenly has an acute sense of unfinished business...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

WoW huntering. Rift nerfs; pets; minmaxing.

Huntering and still enjoying it a lot. My search for Loque and Aotona is ongoing [I have decided the latter is the perfect soloing pet].

I've spoken about this before, but what I often find I enjoy in WoW is getting lost in the immense amount of stuff there is to do and collecting pets is just one more thing to do. And it's a big one too. Seems a bit unfair that we have what amounts to a fair chunk of gameplay only relevant to that one class. None of the other classes get anything like this huge alternative-progression aspect that Hunters do.

I've played a bit more Rift, enjoying my Warrior Riftblade>Reaver>Beastmaster build. Big patch has brought some minor nerfs: Flame Spear is still more powerful than any of your melee abilities but is no longer spammable. Fiery Burst is still off the GCD [effectively 33% haste as it takes your rotation from 4 GCDs to 3] ...and has still yet to be nerfed.

Something that kind of bugs me in Rift is how prevalent pets are. Even when you're not speccing yourself primarily or even secondarily into a pet soul, I don't think I've seen a single case outside of healing/tanking builds where it is not a completely obvious choice to just chuck a pet class into your third soul for free damage without having to spend a single GCD, as well as add-management while soloing. And so every single player in the game has a pet running next to them because there's no benefit in not having one.

Dear Trion, I want a damage meter.


It has nothing to do with epeen, it's part of the way I enjoy the game. I find way too much fun in min-maxing and theorycrafting and not being able to verify my conclusions past "it feels like the mob is dying faster" is a bit frustrating.

I'm right now looking at the Soul tree calculator trying to decide whether I could get more DPS by changing my subspec from Reaver to Champion, but without being able to see how much damage my Reaver DoTs or Fiery Burst abilities are doing individually, I have no data with which to calculate this.