Thursday, December 30, 2010

Deficiencies in the New Armory

As I've mentioned before, Blizzard has launched their new Armory pages. Overall, I think they did a great job. But as I'm playing more and more with it, I'm finding there's just certain things that are lacking.

I already spoke of a couple of these. I really think you should be able to schedule events and make announcements from outside of the game. It appears that you can accept scheduled events, but the creator can't change the status of each accepted person out of the game. I guess I'd just really like to be able to do some of these menial, mundane tasks outside of the game... while I'm waiting in line at the supermarket on my smart phone. Never would I do it at work or on company time... no.. never that.

With Cataclysm dropping and 95% of the stuff in our guild vault becoming obsolete, I realized today how nice it was to be able to see all of the stuff we have in our guild vault in armory. What? What was that you said? The non-beta Armory doesn't show the guild vault? Well... that's actually less helpful. Grr.

But luckily there's a great "new" service where you can sell all of your stuff on the AH outside of the game. Thanks to the Remote Auction House, for only $3 per month, I can easily clear out all of the old mats in the vault and replace them with new ones, right? Oh... Remote Auction House is only for players and your own personal banks. I see.

Well... hopefully that's the next evolution, right? Now that guilds have statistics, maybe they can become their own entities. Instead of JoeGuildVault selling all of their enchanting mats, the items can be posted straight from the guild vault with the proceeds going straight into the vault as well. Yes, I realize this would be a lot more programming on Blizzard's behalf, but it logically seems like the next step to me. Even if we can just get one more step of a toon that pays for the Remote Auction House to post things on the AH on behalf of the guild; that shouldn't take too much programming, right?

So, while there's a lot of hopes and dreams in this post, I guess the biggest thing is that you can no longer see the guild vault through armory; and honestly, that makes me sad.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dear Chain Heal

I will admit. I was madly in love with you, Chain Heal. I mean... it was so easy. How can you blame me? All I had to do was use your incredibly smart ability in Wotlk to heal a bunch of people. I would gleefully cast you again and again, and you would heal those in need. "You're injured, I'll heal you, and then bounce to you, skip you because you're at full health, and then heal this person over here," you would say. How could I not love such a wonderful spell? How could I not be sucked in to the comfort of your rejuvenating embrace?

I had such high hopes for our future in Cataclysm. I thought for sure you'd be the only one for me. But alas, I've found my love affair with you, Chain Heal, to be waning. In this Cataclysm time of non-tanks having 100k health, I'm afraid you're just not the go to spell anymore. Either the health pools are too high or your spell coefficient isn't what I thought it would be, but you simply don't heal enough for me to be completely reliant on just you anymore. But I still want to be friends.

I know you could sense it. I know you know that I started seeing other heals. That night you saw me with Healing Rain... well... it's a bit faster than you are. And I need that. I can't spend all my time on one spell anymore; I need variety. I like its ability to be cast, and then allow me to do other things while it's healing people... for me. I know it doesn't proc Tidal Waves like you do, but I still have Riptide for that too. Admittedly, Healing Rain is a bit expensive though. It's more than twice the mana that you cost. So, I can't see us going as steady as I did with you.

I guess I'm just at a stage in my life where I feel like I need more. I need more mana. I need more throughput. And I'm afraid I can't get that from you alone anymore. Now I'm sure I'll still find raid situations where I want to use you a lot. I'll probably even be able to use you and Healing Rain together to really burn through my mana. But I feel like I have so many other friends right now, and I need that. I need old friends like Greater Healing Wave and Healing Wave. I need new friends like Healing Surge. I probably even need to start relying on some of my neglected friends such as Gift of the Naaru. I'm finding that now more than ever I'm relying on my friends with longer cooldowns such as Nature's Swiftness and Mana Tide Totem.

I'm even able to branch out and see friends like Hex and Bind Elemental. I won't even go into the noticeable difference I feel when I use all of my totem friends. And oh, how much fun it is to be with Spiritwalker's Grace; it almost feels like I'm cheating when it's around and I'm flying through the air casting spells.

So, Chain Heal, as close as we once were, I'm afraid we've grown apart. We're still friends; we'll still hang out. I just need a little space so that I can enjoy my other friends as well. Thanks for understanding. I know you'll still be there for me as much as I need you; I just thought it was fair to let you know where we currently stood.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WowArmory No Longer In Beta and More

Possibly one of the greatest assets that Blizzard has is its fan base. They create an astounding array of add-ons, fan pages, blogs, and online tools to support this game that millions of us play. And what does Blizzard get to do with all of these things? Why, they get to plagiarize like there's no tomorrow. :)

For those that haven't had a chance to come out of the game because they've been wrapped up with Cataclysm, Blizzard did launch their new portal to all things World of Warcraft. I believe it was about a month ago. Well... as far as I can tell, yesterday, they also implemented their new and improved WowArmory to go along with that portal. Go take a look for yourself. Go to the main Wow page, which is now In the upper right, you'll see a search box. This is how you access the new armory.

They've obviously added all of the guilds and achievements in there. It's a nice little portal for each guild as well. I still wish that as you log in that you can schedule events and announcements outside of the game, but whatever. Maybe version 2.0. It also has some discrepancies in things like the achievements (and progress) and level of toons (I'm not sure it shows anyone above 80 at the moment), but I'm sure that will be sorted out in some time in the near future.

BUT... and here's where Blizzard liberally used a few ideas of others... if you look at an individual toon, you can see the display as "Simple" (look upper right corner of that frame) or "Advanced". The Advanced view shows all gems, enchants, character audit (which includes glyphs), and general stats. Towards the bottom of either view, there's also a Raid Progression that shows which raids you've completed on normal and heroic, and which raids are trivial, optimal, and challenging to your toon based on gear. Hmm... wow-heroes much?

So, for those that have to be stuck here at work and not leveling your worgen/goblin or main to 85, go check out some of the new improvements in the Armory.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Operation: Gnomeregan

There's a lot of different aspects of World of Warcraft. If you break it down, it really is made up of a ton of different mini games. There's a mini-game where you go and kill 15 rabbits; another one where you have to collect poop (okay... there seems like there's a few of those); another one where you craft items; and another where you kill bosses, etc. I enjoy a lot of these mini-games, but what really draws me in is a good story.

Yes, I know... since the introduction of QuestHelper and the like, most of us have gotten quite used to ignoring quest text, clicking accept, and simply following the arrow. I'm sure it's something that Blizzard is very well aware of. But Blizzard has been pretty creative about telling a story even if you don't read the text. Take the newer starting areas of either the Death Knight, Dranei, or Blood Elf. Even if you don't read a single word besides "Accept" they still tell the story.

At some points, they even did a good job in the old world.. the job of sucking you in. Back in vanilla, we had a small guild, so we didn't raid much. I think we all had a great investment in the quest chain to upgrade our dungeon armor to the Tier 0.5 armor. It was a huge investment in time, and to get those 45-minute Baron runs down was a Feat of Strength in and of itself... with appropriately geared toons.

Blizzard has even started refocusing on the ambiance, realizing that the whole story is also told while listening to other things. Look at how they did the ambient music in Karazhan? Sure, it's annoying the 1000th time you listen, but there's a certain ambiance that pulls you in to the story of Karazhan as well.

Case and point to all of this is the new quest line that was introduced yesterday. I can't talk to the horde side with the Trolls, but I do know that the Gnome side attempting to regain Gnomeregan is just wonderful. Engaging quests, fun stuff to do... none of them feel like a time sink. A story that pulls you in. And also, some music that simply has an epic feel to it... like you're about to retake a city that has been lost for years.

Bottom line: I'm looking forward to all the changes in Cataclysm. I'm also looking forward to all the new quests... and every other mini game as well. From what I saw in the Operation: Gnomergan questline, and what I've heard from Beta testers... we won't be grinding to 85; we'll be enjoying a wonderful story that will take us to lvl 85.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Difficulty of Gearing a DPS

I have been out of the blogging loop for so long now, I had to practically re-learn most of my blog. I changed my comments right in the middle of my hiatus, so I'm still not sure if they're working correctly. I try to respond to most comments, but since I also haven't been writing much, I can't expect many comments. At any rate, if I don't respond to a question posted, just e-mail me.

Now, on to the current subject.

I've been playing my Resto Shaman for quite some time now. I had pretty much retired Leiandra, my mage, and even dabbled a bit with my druid tank. For a change, (and to be able to attend both GDKP runs we've been holding), I decided to pull the mage out of moth balls, and gear her up for ICC.

And amazingly, it's not as easy as I remembered or thought it would be. For all of you Gear-score people, she's about at a 2500 GS. Not horrible, but certainly has a lot of upgrades to get. Heck, she can even get a ton of upgrades out of the ICC 5-man instances. Heck! There's still about 250 Emblems of Triumph that would finish out her 232-ilvl gear. But it is absolutely insane the amount of time that I have to wait in the dungeon finder in order for me to get in an instance.

With both my healing shaman and tanking druid, I may have to wait up to 1 minute to get in an instance. Now, 1 minute is usually only if I have chosen specific dungeons to run. The random dungeons is pretty much instant group. In fact, they might as well change the button for tanks and healers to be "Join Group Now".

DPS, on the other hand, seems to take a little longer. I've waited around for 15 minutes before finding something else to do, and that's for the random dungeons. I can't even think how long I would have to wait if I chose a dungeon that people don't want to run, like say.. The Nexus. (which I happen to enjoy, but that's a whole different post.)

And I suppose it all makes sense. 60-70% of most raids are DPS. 60% of 5-man instances are DPS. If there were equal distribution of specs for each class, then you'd probably have about 66% of players doing DPS, but... I'm guessing it's a lot higher. Just a guess (with no data to back it up), I'm guessing that it's more like 80-90% of people want to just kill stuff.

In a class like a mage (or warlock, or rogue, or hunter), this is almost the reverse hybrid tax. (If you're not familiar with hybrid tax, see here.) Any of the hybrids out there can simply change spec, run the 5-mans on one of the easier specs to get into 5-mans, and be out of the instance before the pure dps classes can even get in an instance.

So, what's the answer? Well, the fastest thing is to make friends with a non-hybrid. If you're really good, you'll make friends with a tank AND a healer, and have them run heroics with you. At that point though, you'll probably get swamped with whispers if you throw out in trade chat, "LF 2 DPS for...". (In all honesty, there's such an over-abundance of DPS, it doesn't really matter how you finish that sentence.) And this brings me to my final point. As an effective tool, and compared to how well it works for healers and tanks, I'd even go as far as to say that the LFG tool is almost broken for DPS.

Which really brings it back to the root cause of what's fun to most people. The majority of people don't like to tank and heal. So, is there anything that Blizzard can do to make these roles fun? I know they've taken a look at healing in this regard. As far as what I've seen from Cataclysm Beta posts though, it seems they've merely tried to make healers not stare at bars as much. You actually have to look at the environment around you as well. But we shall see...

To sum up: Gearing a DPS? Get a pocket tank and healer to do it quickly and efficiently. :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Breaking 3k GS with 10-man Content - Resto Shaman

I'm sure most of the raiding community that reads this post will roll their eyes; but nonetheless, it's an accomplishment for me. I FINALLY broke 3k gear score on wow-heroes on my resto Shaman.

Now a lot of the delay has been from my laziness to regularly run my daily random dungeon. I've been pretty good about running the weekly raid quest, but haven't always. And then there's the fact that there just aren't a lot of options out there for a Resto Shaman on gear if you're only running 10-man content. Couple that with the fact that I was hesitant to lose my Tier-9 2-piece set bonus until I could buy two Tier-10 items to kind of catapult to that set bonus.

One of the issues is with the shield. See, we haven't quite gotten to Sindragosa, yet so haven't been able to have the shield drop there. And I've only killed Lord Marrowgar on 25-man a couple of times (I just don't enjoy the waiting around for 25-man raids anymore), so haven't seen that shield drop either.

But two nights ago, I finally bought my last 2 pieces of Tier-10 to drop my Tier-9 set bonus and now have the 4-piece bonus from Tier 10. None of my friends that are enchanters were on when I bought it, so I didn't enchant anything. I cut the gems I knew and fitted those. I still had one empty gem slot. When I logged out and checked, I was at 2999 Gear Score! No joke. I should have taken a screen shot. lol. So, last night when I got the 2 enchants, gem, and even slightly upgraded a ring, I finally broke 3k. I'm now at 3046.

Does it make my healing that much more stellar? No. Do I really feel more powerful? Nope. It's just an arbitrary number that somehow made me feel good.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dual-Gathering Specs

Yes, yes... I know I totally dropped off the edge of the blogging earth without even a real hint that I was going to leave. Obviously nobody missed me too much since I didn't get even a single e-mail about my absence. But that's okay. I've never really blogged for others. I've more done it for my own benefit, and maybe some of my close friends that I talk to outside of this.

But I had a small epiphany as I was looking at MMO-Champion and some of the beta changes that have been made for Cataclysm. (Yes... you could consider this a spoiler if you'd like.) And I came across the Multi-Tracking picture that they have. (Picture shamelessly stolen from MMO-Champion.) So, now that you can track multiple things at once you can gather even more as well.

Most of the toons that I've leveled as straight gatherers for profit have learned skinning and mining. Leather from skinning is used by leatherworkers, and ore/gems from mining is used by jewelcrafters and blacksmiths. Your other option (which can also be quite lucrative) is herbalism, which the herbs can be used by alchemy and inscription.

Ideally, however, you would want to maximize your money by choosing both mining and herbalism. Well, unless you're okay with switching tracking constantly or using some mod like maybe Spotter (I have no clue if it still works or ever did, so I'm not linking it), you'll probably miss some flowers or mining nodes. So, with this new multi-tracking, you should be able to easily track both which means maximizing profit from gathering professions.

Just something to look forward to in Cataclysm if it makes it to live.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Beta Invite. Woot!!!

So, I totally got a Beta Invite. But I'm not showing any of you 'cause then you'll know that it's actually for LOTRO and not Cataclysm. So, yeah... I may go check that out again since it's free and all. :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bring the Class Not the Player

So, a lot of what we've heard about raiding since before Wrath came out was this concept of "Bring the Player Not the Class." Basically meaning that Blizzard doesn't feel it should be required to bring certain classes to each raid. For example, many of the Burning Crusade raids required certain classes (mage for sheep / steal magic, warlocks to tank, hunters to tranq shot, etc.) With almost everything in Wrath, they've pretty much eliminated that need. Only thing left I can think of off the top of my head is the MC'ing in Naxx for Instructor Razuvious on the 25-man version.

It's still held on a bit though, in a way. Ideally, the best way to go into VoA is to bring one of each class so that you're sure somebody can use a drop. Now, if they have it or not is another story, but still... it's not an instant-shard.

But I had this random idea for a raid. What if it took the complete opposite of Blizzard's statement. But not in a bad way. See.. what if there were certain mechanics that only a specific class could get the loot. Here's the catch though: the class-specific item is obtained by conquering that mechanic. An easy example would be that there's a lockbox (or maybe even a series of lockboxes) that contains either gold or a rogue item. Maybe there's a guy you have to MC in order to open something and then either gold or a priest item drops. (I mention gold so that you can still have Blizzard's precious "random drop" mechanic in play.) A mage can spell steal an NPC shield to bypass some lazer door. etc. You get the idea.

Ideally, it may even open some small wing or something so that you can only see that part of the dungeon/raid when you have that class. As a dungeon, it would almost make the run different every time based on what you brought to the instance.

Anyway, just a random idea disguised as a post on my blog. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

School of Worst Achievement Ever

Subtitle: Why Horde and Alliance have to Work Together.

I vaguely remember the last couple of years that people complained about a certain achievement during Children's Week. There's probably a few reasons why this achievement is so horrible.

First, the achievement itself. I'm, of course, talking about the achievement School of Hard Knocks. This is one of those holiday achievements, so you have only one week to complete it. It's a requirement to prove that you've done the achievements for Children's week, and of course that's a requirement to get one of the really fast mounts in the game. And that's the main reason I'm doing it.

I'm sure all the PVP'ers have gone on vacation this week. Or they've made sure that they only queue while in full group, and it's probably the easiest BGs in the world if they do it that way. Because you have a bunch of noobs in PVE or crap gear trying to get this achievement. (Yes, I'd probably consider myself one of those noobs.) Furthermore, you force everyone to do something that they probably wouldn't do normally such as (1) Capture the Flag in Eye of the Storm. Umm.. okay. I play a healer. And as well as I can generally keep myself alive, it's usually easier to keep somebody else alive since they generally blast the flag carrier and not the healer. So, now I'm forced to camp by the flag with my orphan out (any orphan will do, just make sure that it's out, and you have to bring him back each time you die) in hopes that I can be the first one to click the flag once it respawns. Not to mention that most of the people are grouped up on the flag, so having a controlled tower to return the flag makes it even more challenging.

(2) Assault a flag in Arathi Basin. Okay... this one is still pretty normal. I had to actually fight for this one. Flags tend to trade control a number of times in a game, and you generally have to clear out all the enemy before you can cap the flag. So, probably a normal BG, but with a ton of noobs in it.

Then here's where you pretty much have to start a giant love fest with the opposite faction. (3) Return a Fallen Flag in Warsong Gulch. Now maybe it's just me and the server I play on. But I zoned in to an already in progress WSG to find EVERYONE on my team sitting in the flag room. Eventually a smart hordie came over to our room, picked up the flag, and then immediately dropped it. Somebody returned it; achievement complete. He picked it up and dropped it again... you get the idea. After I got my achievement, I walked on over to the horde flag room and did the same thing. With both sides trying for the achievement, it's basically a standoff unless somebody decides to work together.

Then in AV, it gets even worse. You have to (4) Assault a tower in Alterec Valley. Let's just look at the numbers here. 40 people. 4 towers. Most of the AV games I've been in, it's pretty much a mad rush to cap the towers and then kill Drek/Van. Sometimes there's a force that helps in defense, but nobody wants a long, drawn out turtle game. So, you have a 1 in 10 chance to actually assault a tower. So, I had a few games, where again, the enemy would help out. But the problem is that you'll have a few enemies helping, and then you'll have a few idiots that start to kill said enemy. So, enemy gives up and goes to try to actually win AV. It's just... well... it's just horrible.

In a way, it's kind of a cool idea that it makes people do things in BGs that they might not normally do, but it also turns the BG into a selfish fight. The teamwork has been reduced even further. It's just plain ugly. Want to increase the popularity of BGs, Blizzard? I have hopes for Cataclysm and rated BGs, but forcing noobs to go into BGs to selfishly complete an achievement is the wrong way to go about it. How about something like Help Assault a Tower (that you have to be in the general vicinity), or Help Capture a Flag (in WSG).

*sigh* I have 3 of the 4 done. If I can just assault a tower in AV tonight, then I never have to go in a BG during Children's Week ever again.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gimpy Tank

The other night, I finally got a tank to level 80. That makes 3 80's for me: a mage (mostly hangs out with the other mages in Dalaran now), a shaman, and a feral druid. Class-wise, I can now cover every role needed. Gear-wise... well... now that's a different story. It's probably 2 of 3 roles (both on my Shaman) that I can cover in any instance right now.

Since I leveled a lot from 70 to 80 via the dungeon finder, I had some pretty decent gear. I was sporting all blues (which is probably better than any of my other fresh 80's). So, I'm for sure in the right gear area to start on heroics. But I also recognize that my gear sucks in comparison to the people I get randomly grouped with.

You see, the dungeon finder must compensate for a really badly geared person (probably especially a tank), by putting them with over-geared people. I swear the dps and healers I'm put with are all wearing Tier-12 gear. I let everyone know that I've only run a few heroics so they don't completely bad-mouth me. They're generally pretty nice. They keep me alive. The hunter constantly misdirects, and they even let me tank a mob or two. But the rest of them have about 30k health in their PVE gear, so they tank just as well as I do. So, in a way, I really feel like the tank in the picture. Only that I can move.

After 2 heroics (and the badges I'd saved up), I was able to buy my first T-9 piece of armor (my first epic). It's just such a paradigm shift from the types of tanks that I'm used to running with. Even healing on heroics I generally seemed to get decently geared tanks... usually. I just hope that I'm competent enough to make sure the encounters are successful to the best of my ability. So far, no deaths, but I've also only tanked 2 heroics. (Probably more of an achievement for the healers in my groups since so many other people are taking damage because they pulled aggro off me.)

But it is kind of fun to know that I can run into an instance and get multiple upgrades. It's different than my geared shaman where I'll be lucky if I get an item... I'm usually just counting on the badges to eventually get another piece of T-10. lol.

It's also a lot of fun to see these instances from a different perspective. It really is a different game when you're healing, tanking, and dps'ing. So, it's a lot of fun to change things up a bit. Then again, it also takes me a few heartbeats to heal an instance right after I've just tanked one on the other toon.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

10-Man Raiding in Catacylsm

Or another title might be, "____! It's about time!"

In case you haven't heard, there's some really good news for 10-man raiding in Cataclysm. Maybe not so good for 25, but we'll see. The source is from the European forums found here. And to sum it all up, 10-man and 25-man raids will have the same loot drops in Cataclysm. There will also be only one raid lock-out for each. So, you don't have 25-man guilds also farming 10-man content and gearing up much faster than people that only run 10-man content.

To offset it, the 25-man content will drop more loot, and more gold as well. They still want 25-man content to be a more efficient way of gearing up. (Writer Warning: lots of math-type stuff ahead.)

So, let's play with this a bit. Let's say that trends continue, and each boss on 10-man raids drops 2 items (or 1 for every 5 players). An even way would be for 25-man bosses to drop 5 items (same 1:5 ratio). Making it slightly more profitable would mean 25-man would drop say 6 items. If loot tables are something like the first 3 bosses in ICC, there's 12 different items that will drop on 10-man. That means you have a 1 in 6 chance for your loot to drop in 10-man, but 1 in 2 chance for your loot to drop in 25-man.

But will you win it? I'll have to make some assumptions here. Let's assume gear is very homogenized. There will still be some differences though. For example, some hybrid classes will still have 2 sets of gear, especially those that require completely different stats (like a healing druid vs. a tanking druid). But for the sake of this conversation, let's say that we have a 10-man raid with one of each class. As a Shaman healer (best case), I get every single drop that's casting mail. (Only shaman in raid, and hunters don't want it.) As a cloth mage (worst case), I have to fight 2 other classes making my initial drop rate of 1 in 6 change to a loot rate chance to 1 in 18.

Our 25-man raid has to be guessed at. Let's assume 1 of each class/role. Where only 1 role for the class is available, we'll assume they bring two of those class (hunter, mage, rogue, warlock). We may have too many tanks (4), and probably not enough healers (4), but it's simply for illustration purposes. I also threw in another paladin healer (5 healers now) since they were in a armor group all by themselves. Here's what I came up with for this fictional raid:

death knight dps
death knight tank
druid healer
druid melee
druid ranged
druid tank
paladin healer
paladin healer
paladin melee
paladin tank
priest healer
priest ranged
shaman healer
shaman melee
shaman ranged
warrior melee
warrior tank

So, your odds vary quite a bit here as well. You have anywhere from a 1 in 2 chance to get your item (paladin healer vs. paladin healer, or, shaman healer vs. shaman ranged, or, druid healer vs. druid ranged) all the way to a 1 in 6 chance (all clothies, or, all melee/tank plate wearers). So, the 1 in 2 chance that your item will drop becomes a 1 in 4 loot rate (best case scenario) or a 1 in 12 loot rate (worst case scenario), with a couple other odds in between.

Anyway... point being... I think this will be a great change. I'm still not sure it's completely on track. Like I've mentioned and has been said many times before, 10-man raiding can be more difficult than 25-man. If one person dies on 10-man, that's 10% of your raid. A 25-man death is only 4%. But if they made it completely equal, it would be the death to the 25-man raiding for sure. And while I have found that 10-man raiding is by far what I enjoy, there's still a special place in my heart for the 25-man stuff that I did all through TBC.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cataclysm Changes to Resto Shaman - First Thoughts

I don't know where the last month went as far as blogging goes. I had a few posts flying around in my head, and they never seemed to get off the ground. So let me take this moment to stretch, so I don't hurt my typing fingers.
Alright... that felt good.

In case you haven't heard, Blizzard has been releasing come class previews for Cataclysm. As of this writing (and without me constantly checking on MMO-Champion), they have released Shaman, Warlocks, and Priests. I actually like some of the more creative things they're doing with Priests. I'm kind of neutral to the Warlock changes (mainly since my only lock is like lvl 23). And honestly, I'm unsure about the Shaman changes.

See, here's the thing... I actually like the simple healing of the Shaman. Unless I'm doing it wrong, there's essentially about 7 healing spells for a Shaman. And a few of those are pretty much fire-and-forget spells. First off, there's Earthliving Weapon. Every 30 minutes, I have to put it on my weapon. That's almost a true fire-and-forget heal. (I even have a mod that puts this on for me.) Next is Healing Stream Totem. It isn't a strong heal, but gradually ticks and will slowly heal all group members for 5 minutes. Then there's Earth Shield that lasts 10 minutes, but has charges, so usually less than that. A spell that's used a lot, but not cast a lot. Then you get into our active spells. Chain Heal is for group heals. Riptide is nice, insta-cast heal with a HoT, but has a cooldown. And finally you have Lesser Healing Wave (fast) and Healing Wave.

That's it. Simple. Straight forward. Spells that take care of the job.

Now, never having played the other classes as healers at lvl 80, here's what I came up with for them. (So, feel free to correct me if I missed a spell.) Paladins are also pretty straight-forward with 6 healing spells: Sacred Shield, Holy Shock, Holy Light, Flash of Light, Lay on Hands, and Beacon of Light. Druids get a tad more complex with 8 spells: Wild Growth, Tranquility, Rejuvenation, Nourish, Lifebloom, Healing Touch, Regrowth, and Rebirth. (Yep, I'm including their Battle Rez.) And then you have Priests that have all sorts of crazy heal spells for every situation imaginable. There's 13 spells. I'm not listing them out.

So, now with the changes to Cataclysm, they want to add 3 spells to our arsenal. And I'm just not sure they're needed. Here's my thoughts why.

Healing Wave
This is the new Healing Wave. Don't confuse it with the old Healing Wave. The old one will be called Greater Healing Wave while the new one will be just Healing Wave. This will be the Shaman's "go-to heal". Maybe I'm too casual of a player now, but really, Tidal Waves seems to fill in the gap quite nicely for me. Riptide, two quick (Greater) Healing Waves, and then maybe a Lesser Healing Wave before Riptide is off cool down, then start it all over again. With my haste, I think I'm about 1.8 seconds for a (Greater) Healing Wave that's been buffed with Tidal Wave. Seems like a pretty quick nuke-heal. I can certainly see the need if you want to spam one spell, but it doesn't seem like that's Blizzard's approach. At any rate... not sure this was necessary, but we're getting it anyway.

Unleash Weapon
Let me quote what this does for the Earthliving Weapon enchant "Heals the target slightly and buffs the shaman's next healing spell by 20%." Holy crap! How original! Wait... isn't that pretty much the exact same thing that Riptide does with Tidal Waves? Only, Riptide has a HoT on it as well... and does 2 spells not 1... and has a 6-second cooldown instead of a 15. Yeah.. umm.. not sure I'm interested in this one just to have a new spell.

Healing Rain
Okay, now maybe we're getting somewhere. 2-second targetable cast with a 10-second HoT AoE. I can certainly see the limitation on Chain Heal, especially for 25-man raiding. But... I don't know... Can't we have an AoE spell that doesn't have such a limiting range or area? Or maybe just improve Chain Heal so that it jumps a lot further. (Raid Leader says, "Spread out so you don't get hurt as much by the AoE." Shamans cry.) So, maybe it just depends on the size of the area healed. But Circle of Healing is 15 yards. And Prayer of Healing is 30. I suppose it really depends on the encounters. And maybe I'm not as disappointed with this spell as the others, but still see a niche where our healing spells kind of fall short. In all honesty, this is probably the spell I see the most potential for. But I reserve the right to be excited until I actually see it in action. But being that you get it at lvl 83... and how long they say it will take to lvl in Cataclysm... I'm thinking I'll probably see it in action by Christmas... of next year.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Redesigning Professions

Last night, we were having a discussion in guild chat about some gems. Mainly it was a discussion about mage gems, but this topic certainly applies to all classes. Basically, it comes down to the whole discussion of what is a better stat to use. If, for example, you're a mage, everyone can agree that you need stats in +hit until capped, and then either haste or spell power (I think this changes with every patch). But as far as gear goes, Crit can be important... and I don't think Intellect has really been important since Arcane Mages in BC... your gear just generally has enough Intellect to cover stuff.

But with Cataclysm, Blizzard has already announced that they are working towards getting rid of a few stats. To be specific, they're looking to get rid of 5 stats. Attack Power, Spell Power, Armor Penetration, Defense Rating, and Mp5 are all going away (or at least, that's what they've planned). So, healers will have to get Spirit for mana regen and Intellect for Spell Power, which probably means that you can look at just how much mana a healer has to figure out their potential HPS. lol. Spell dps will need Intellect (again, looking at that mana pool), and then I guess hit and haste. All of this in an attempt to simplify gear, so people can actually tell what's an upgrade.

Now let me go on the record and say this is great. I think it's an awesome step for the game. I feel that I'm constantly consulting outside resources like Rawr to figure out if this higher ilvl item is actually an upgrade... even if they're both obviously shaman healing pieces... sometimes the lower ilvl item is better. It's all about stat allocation.

But... (and here's to the title of this post) this is really changing a lot of stuff to the game. Not only does Blizzard have to completely redo stats for all gear (which touches the professions of Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, and Tailor), but they'll also have to convert certain potions and flasks, and they'll be obliterating 5 core color gems. And with rough calculations, and not actually looking to see if all combination exist, that's something like 42 gem cuts, not including the original 5!

And now where dps Spell damage would have previously wanted red gems for spell power, they'll now want yellow for Intellect (which is also the same color for haste). Where melee dps wanted red for Attack Power, they'll still want red for Strength or Agility (depending on the class). And where healers previously wanted purple for mp5 or Spirit and Spell Power, they'll now want... green for Spirit and Intellect. Tanks will probably stay in the purple category to get Stamina and Strength/Agility for threat generation.

So... the only major change is really for spell dps. Let's look at this from another perspective. In a "standard" 10-man raid, you'll have 2-3 healers (green), 2 tanks (purple), 2-3 melee dps, including hunters (red), and 2-3 ranged dps (yellow). Maybe I'm wrong, but it really seems that they're trying to redistribute how gems are used.

And then I realized... they track this kind of stuff. Somebody pulls up a query and finds out that there's 5 million red gems compared to only 100,000 yellow gems, or whatever. And until this last patch, yellow wasn't really needed at all, but now haste is the latest thing, so yellow is useful again. They are in constant efforts to balance the economy... and gear... and different classes... And I imagine some planning meetings at Blizzard where they have the itemization guys vying for one thing, and the AH guys asking for something else, and the Profession guys wanting to make sure their babies aren't touched... Wow! There's simply a lot that goes into this game and the thinking... and we get to simply sit back and criticize enjoy the game that we play. I don't know... there's just something really cool about that.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Links Now in Custom Channels

This might be pretty minor news for the most of you. Heck, this may not even be newsworthy to some of you at all. Everyone is aware that they can create custom channels, right? You simply type /join CustomChannelName (CustomChannelName being pretty much anything you want) and voila! You're now in that channel. If somebody else already has that created, then you've now joined their channel. (As long as there isn't a password.) There's actually a ton of things you can do in these custom channels. Like a password, you can also ban players or kick players.

But that's not really the point here. If you want to know about any of those things, you can see all the commands on Wowwiki.

The point of this is that there are certain channels where things cannot be linked. General used to be one of them (I'm not sure if this is still true) and custom channels was another. So, in the custom channel I have with my closest friends, for example, I'd have to whisper-link any item to all of them; I couldn't just put it in the custom channel. But now, linking is available in these custom channels as well. Yeah!

That is all.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Old Habits Die Hard - The Cooldown Edition

I've found that I have a number of habits that have carried over from old skool Wow. Most of these have changed as the game has evolved (such as using my own epic flyer to fly some place instead of wasting the gold to use the taxi service), but some of them have carried over (such as continuing to use IF for the AH and visiting the same auctioneer every time).

But I found that one of my habits has to do with how I perform in the game. And this one is a bad thing. You see, I still remember the days when there were super powerful spells... spells that were so strong that they were almost like instant "I Win" buttons. These spells were so powerful that they got put on these ridiculously long cooldowns. Spells for example, that would blast a target with a pyro so large... that it would continue to burn long after impact, or a spell that would put up a shield that was as big as a wall, or a spell that would allow your to spiritually lay your hands on yourself or another player to instantly heal them for an insane amount of health. These spells would have cooldowns of days... or at least what seemed like days sometimes. But as we've progressed through the various versions of Wow, they've slowly lessened or removed cooldowns for these special spells.

But I still treat them as special. I still have something in the back of my mind that tells me that I should save them for special occasions. Certainly I'd use them for a boss fight, but trash? Unheard of!

And this habit carries over to new spells as well. Take Mirror Image for example. It's only a 3-minute cooldown, so I should probably use it pretty much every chance I get. Heck, if we're doing new bosses it guaranteed that the explanation alone will take more than 3 minutes. Furthermore, even on the boss fight, I'm afraid to use it until the right time. I want to wait for heroism.. I want it to be at the best time... Heck! If we're using heroism at the end of the fight, I probably can pop my clones towards the beginning of the fight and be able to cast them again once heroism starts.

Granted, I haven't been playing my mage much, so it's not like I recognized it from my lack of not playing my mage. No, this time I was looking at spell rotations for my wife's shadow priest. And for all things shadow, where do you turn? That's right, So, in the standard rotation, they start off with spells to start buffs and debuffs, get a little damage in, and then BAM! Shadowfiend. But... but... you're supposed to use that only when you're almost out of mana, right? Granted with a normal Shadow Priest, it's on a 3-minute cooldown, not 5. But it's not just about mana, it's also about increased damage. And it's not like it's a 30-minute cooldown, it's only 3.

So, while I'm sure that I'm the only that still has this "issue" remember to use your cooldowns on a consistent basis, not just when the raid leader yells, "pop all cooldowns!"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lovely Charms Fixed

Well, it looks like I've come out of my shell, started blogging again because of some silly holiday achievement, and then what did Blizzard do? They went and made it so that the party with the kill gets the Lovely Charm. GG Blizzard. lol.

Yes, so I was in a heroic last night, not even trying to kill anything, just keep everyone alive, and sure enough... I got a Lovely Charm. It happened a number of times during the night, so I knew it wasn't some fluke. Honestly though... I'm surprised they didn't think of that when they first implemented these charms. I mean... come on. 1 in 5 people in every instance party is generally a healer, so you'd think that would have crossed their mind. It's not like there's anything else in the game that operates off of killing blows. So, they would have had to program them in like that. Kind of strange, if you ask me.

This may sound silly, and I know it's pretty low priority, but I'm surprised I didn't see anyone else blog about this. Maybe I just missed it or I don't follow the blogs that mentioned it. Oh well... either way... glad it's over. :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lovely Charms for Healers

I was again lamenting last night at the fact that while I was keeping everyone alive in a random heroic, I wasn't getting any Lovely Charms as everyone else was. I even tried to get in the killing blows with a last-second shock spell to increase my chances, but it had very little effect. But then one of my guildies told me that we could collect them in Ulduar. So, 4 of us traipsed off to Ulduar to jump in some vehicles, kill a bunch of trash mobs and collect Lovely Charms.

If you don't kill the towers, the guys keep pouring out and you can kill until your bags are full. It's incredibly easy. I got the 120 that I needed for for Charming. And technically speaking, that should be all the Lovely Charms / Love Tokens that you need. You'll need 4 of those Lovely Charm Braclets to turn in to the 4 different faction leaders for Nation of Adoration. That will net you 20 Love Tokens. With those, you can buy a Lovely Dress Box for Lovely Luck Is On Your Side.

And technically speaking, that's all the Love Tokens you need. All of the other items can be bought off the AH, or borrowed from a friend. So all my complaining about missing my Aoe spells really wasn't necessary.

On a side note: we 4-manned Flame Leviathon. Shouldn't that be an achievement or something?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mages are for Boom

Recently, I've almost 100% given myself over to the resto Shaman in Zanderfin. I have a decent Enhancement set that I've been building as nobody else wanted the item. But then arena season 8 hit, and one of my guildies had the idea to start doing arenas. I put my Enhancement gear in the bank, respec'ed my other spec to pvp resto, and started running WG and Battlegrounds like crazy. Knowing we had no gear for it, we weren't surprised when we lost our first 10 games last week. We'll get better as (A) we get better gear, and (B) we play against horribly ranked players like us.

But then Love is in the Air hit on Sunday. And I kind of committed myself to doing the holiday events now that I have the time. And for the first time in months, I actually miss playing my mage.

I really noticed this when doing the Crushing the Crown quest. The quest itself isn't bad... just kill 5 people. Sure it's a little slow, but it's doable. But since the respawn rate is pretty much insane with so many people also killing these guys, it's a great place to gather Lovely Charms for the daily quest to give a Bracelet to your local Faction Leader. And since you can also turn the Bracelets in for Love Tokens, you could conceivably finish this entire event in a short time... and one day... if you could only kill fast enough.

Well part of killing fast enough is tagging fast enough. I mean... you want to get credit for the kill, right? If only mages had a spell to be able to cast Aoe instantly, and maybe some good Aoe from a distance, and even a targeted spell with some instant delivery or one for quick tags. Maybe I don't know how to play my Shaman as a damage dealer, but I don't see a lot of the same options here. I see they have a shock spells with a 6 second cooldown. They have Fire Nova with a 10-second cooldown that will instantly agro a bunch of mobs to the totem, quickly killing it unless Stoneclaw Totem is up, and that's on a 30-second cooldown. Sure, I have white damage, and Stormstrike and Lava Lash, all being single-target and requiring close range... not to mention all being enhancement. While I'm on that, there's my dogs that I'll still need to hit the target it in order to get credit. There's also Thunderstorm for the Elemental side of the house... 45-second cooldown.

So, while I could easily take on elites in the outdoor world with the Enhancement shaman, I keep fixating on the fact that Love is in the Air would probably be a heck of a lot easier if I was trying to do it with my Glass Cannon.

On an unrelated point... maybe quest items should be BoA. lol.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Examples of When to Kick

I'm generally a patient guy when it comes to people. I understand that not everyone has the best computer, best Internet connection, or the best gear. I understand that people generally don't want to wipe time and time again, especially on a boss that should be considered "easy". I also understand that there's a pretty big difference in purples these days. Consider that there are items that are purple that are ilvl 200, and some that are 277. Simply put... there are a lot of variables in Wow.

Couple that with the fact that sometimes I'm a really lazy raid leader. I know that if there's a new encounter in VoA that I really should do some type of gear check. Ony 25, for example, can be a huge pain in the butt if you have a bunch of people that are still in quest greens. So, sometimes these "interesting" parts of Wow and my personality make for some "interesting" fights. (See "the best gear" link above for one of such examples.)

But sometimes these things are completely out of my control. Take, for example, the lfg tool. If I sign up for an instance with nobody else in my group, it's really just a roll of the dice if I'll get a good group or not. I know, at least, that I'll have a decent healer, but that's about it. (For those that haven't kept track, my mage is mostly retired, living with the other mages in Dalaran.) But other than that, I really don't know.

Like the other night that I got in a random instance of Heroic Old Kingdom. The entire group was obviously 80's. We certainly didn't have any problems downing any of the bosses. Heck, we could have 4-manned the entire instance. Come to think of it, we were. The hunter that was with us was so bad. His dps was in the range of about 200. Yes, I wrote that right: Two-Hundred. For a lvl 80. Heck, auto shot should do more than that. The guy was running in place a lot, and he'd blink from here to there every once and awhile, so I knew he was having problems. I'm not even sure what his gear looked like. I let it slide for a bit, but after no improvements, even after we downed the first boss, and he couldn't even walk with the rest of the group, I initiated a kick vote. It must have been unanimous, because he was almost instantly removed.

Now, don't think me heartless. We talked with the guy, or tried to at least. We waited and waited for him to get to the second boss. We addressed him multiple times in party chat. And then finally, it just wasn't worth it. Honestly, he really should have removed himself from the raid when he recognized his connection was that bad. What if Prince Taldaram did his vanish and accompanying Embrace of the Vampyr on him? And we'd have to run all the way over there... just didn't seem worth it to wait. We made the next hunter that came in through the random generator promise that he could do more that 200 dps before we attacked the boss, and we laughed about it the rest of the instance as it was easily cleared. (The new hunter was top dps IIRC.)

To expatiate further, last night, however, was mostly my fault. We've been trying to gear up for arenas, and so did WG last night. Thought we'd try our hand in Voa 25 for the better gear as well. The new boss is out, so why not go over there? After waiting for somebody else to start a group to no avail, the 4 or so guildies started our own group. And calls to "LFM 25-man Voa" were almost instantly answered with tells of "I'll go". The prudent raid leader would look at each of their gear scores on external web sites to verify that they're up to snuff. The lazy raid leader that I was last night, I invited anyone that whispered me. And after finally getting another 2 tanks and a few healers, we started the 25-man raid.

Don't get me wrong. This raid was probably destined to fail from the beginning. It's especially challenging when you have people standing in the sparks, or when ranged dps aren't killing said sparks. It's not a challenging fight as far as what needs to be done, but you still have to know the fight. It was typed out. We opened our Vent server. It was said on Vent. But still we failed the first time.

Now people start looking around at everyone's gear and damage meters and whatnot. One Paladin had a mix of spell power, attack power, and healing gear. I mean... he had a real mix. He had literally taken the meaning of hybrid and used it to a T. If I were a betting man, I'd say that his spec probably reflected the same, but I honestly didn't look. He had two green trinkets as well. I forget which, but again, one was spell power and one was attack power. And his numbers? 1200 dps and about 400 hps. Yep.. a hybrid.

So, after multiple requests for people to get on Vent, which he was not on, he was removed. When he asked me why he had been removed, I didn't want to take the time to explain gear to him, so I told him he wasn't on Vent. The sad part was, he asked me what Vent was. I told him to google it, and that it was a VoIP program so that we could talk to each other. *sigh*. I feel sorry for the guy, but really glad he didn't make a big deal about it. And yes, we were all noobs once... but he should have asked what Vent was way before the first boss fight.

To wrap up the story... we still had other fail dps (melee mostly), and we didn't get the boss down. Maybe I should really stop being the one to lazily invite people to raids. lol.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Web Stalking - a Whole New Level

If you haven't visited the Wow Armory recently, you should probably go check it out. There's a number of things that they've changed. First off, there's a pretty slick model viewer. You can even embed it into your own site (which I may do... eventually). For those of us that have authenticators, you no longer need to have the authenticator to log in to the armory (which you used to have to do).

And then they also added a Character Activity section. It's just... well... a bit too much information. It provides way too much information to easily stalk somebody. It tells you if they completed achievements or even part of achievements. If they looted a blue or purple item, it's on that list. If said item is currently equipped (that appears to be how it works), it will tell you that as well. It also tells when you killed a boss, and how many times that boss has been killed.

Now the boss kills is certainly information that has been on armory in the statistics for quite some time now. But it just seems to highlight even more that... I dunno.. for example, that I've only killed Loken in Heroic Halls of Lightning 4 times. Or that I've killed King Ymiron 9 times. I don't know... it just seems... too much.

It's not like a Big Brother thing. Maybe it's like an addiction thing. Like how I hate telling people my /played time. I don't even look at it myself. At one point, I had a mod that, among other things, would display my /played time when I logged in (or off, I forget which), and I'd close my eyes every time so I wouldn't see it.

And yes, I can choose not to look at it. But I don't really want people to be able to have verifiable information that I log on every day. lol. Maybe that's what it comes down to. Maybe I want my addiction to be a little more private. On the other hand, when my kids start playing, I'm sure I'll be checking this out every day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More Speculation for Blizzcon 2010

You know... it's really quite amazing at how much information isn't researched on the Internet. A couple of friends and I were talking about Blizzcon 2010 and trying to figure out who may or may not be going again this year. Keep in mind, there's no official date as of yet, but apparently BlizzPlanet did their research last week on the schedule of events at the Anaheim Convention Center. picked up the story and ran with it, again using the same dates that BlizzPlanet did. And I'm sure there's at least a dozen other sites that have ran with this same information. (I'm a wee bit behind in my feed reader.)

So, per BlizzPlanet, the date will be August 20th and 21st, 2010. Okay... makes sense. The last scheduled date at the convention center is 8/13 and the next event is 8/26. Furthermore, Blizzcon was August 21st and 22nd in 2009. But what's wrong with October 22nd and 23rd? The last scheduled date there is 10/16 and the next one is 10/30. And Blizzcon 2008 was in October.

Now I'll give BlizzPlanet a break that maybe the Anaheim Convention Center changed their schedule from last week to this week. Web pages can change, so unless somebody got a screen shot, we'll never know what it was last week. And maybe even did their on analysis on the Events Page as well... who knows.

But really, it's more fun to speculate, right? So, other possible dates: 11/12-11/13. (Which I think is probably too late in the year, but maybe I'm wrong.) Further trends: Each time they've done Blizzcon it's flipped between October and August. From Wikipedia: Blizzcon 2005: October. Blizzcon 2007: August. Blizzcon 2008: October. Blizzcon 2009: August. Blizzcon 2010: October? I'm not placing any bets, and I've got plenty of time to arrange my airline tickets. ;)