Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dumbing Down the Game

I am putting this under Hunter because I am a Hunter main of course and know that class better then I could even pretend to know the others.  However the concept of the gaming mechanics being dumbed down to the point of stupidity holds true for all classes.

I know Cataclysm is still in the works and there are chances a lot will change from what we presently know but thus far it really seems like the game is being pushed so far to complete simplicity that it is losing one of those things I found that made it interesting, the complexity.

I am not saying that playing a Hunter is extremely hard or that any class is extremely hard but it was not simple.  Not like I hear about the "good old days" when all you needed was your steady shot macroed to every key and you where good to go.  That would have bored the crap out of me.  I doubt I would have fell in love with playing a Hunter if I were around at that time.

While, thanks to the theory crafters out there, we have the ideal spec for Marksman and ideal spec for Marksmen Armor Penetration so we never needed to look to far into it ourselves but there were so many talents to choose from that if you really felt the need to deviate from the formula there was something else to use even if it were not the ideal thing to use.  You had options and you could still be competitive while using those options.  Hell, for some specs of Death Knights having those options made for some completely amazing soloing videos.  Same for extreme soloing from Hunters.  All because the specs had options and lots of them.

Now with the limited spec designs you are left with nearly no options.  If you where to give 100 hunters a chance to design their own marksman spec I would be willing to bet that 95 of that 100 would show the same exact spec in the end (maybe with 1 or 2 point deviation).  The reason being is that there are no options any more.  You do not need to be a theory crafter to understand what is good and what is not because there are not enough good things to choose from to begin with.

The 5 of the 100 that come back with different spec designs will most likely have a reason why theirs is different like "I wanted to go PvP" or "I was thinking of a mixed PvP/PvE type spec".  Which basically means they are saying that they know theirs will not be the ideal spec so they do not count really.

It is not just about specs any more either.  Simple things like the Trap Launcher being added is also dumbing down the game.  No more dropping a trap, sending in the pet, making a nice line between you and the pet and then putting the pet on passive so the mob follows him right through the trap.  Simple as that might sound most Hunters never grasped the simple concepts like that.  Now they just shoot the trap to what they want to trap and go about their merry way.  It was dumbed down for them so they did not actually need to use their brain.  As if that was such a hard concept to begin with?

Removal of Volley is not only a loss for Hunters for many reasons I have griped about before it is also more dumbing down of the game.  I do not know about you but while soloing some of the harder content we can solo knowing how many packs your pet can pick up and hold before you MD and Volley was the difference between a successful solo encounter or a complete and total failure. 

Same for when you are going to be the center of attention and the one grabbing the mobs.  You need to know how many mobs you can take without getting killed before you drop the volley on yourself to take them out.  Now that it has been dumbed down for everyone without having volley any more there is no need to know how much our pet can hold before taking too much damage because we do not have the MD/Volley combo to use any more.  Same goes for ourselves, we can no longer drop an AoE at melee range so we can no longer run around grabbing mobs to do that.  So we no longer need to know about that.  No need for Hunters to know their potential or their pets potential when there is nothing we can use to harness that potential.  More dumbing down for the masses.

Another dumbing down because of the volley removal is the difference between when you use volley and when you use multi.  Sometimes that is the difference between a good Hunter and a bad one.  If there are 3 mobs, or even 2 for that matter, Multi will be a huge DPS increase over volley.  A good hunter knows that and a bad hunter drops a volley.  They dumbed it down now so there is no choice, so even the stupid hunter will do the right thing.

Removing the need for mana management is a huge dumbing down of the game.  I am sure there will be a need for focus management but nothing like mana management was.  At least with focus management you can spam some steadys and you are good to go again.  That is for the mentally inadequate to better manage their resources.  Mana management is basically the reason I've beaten several quality Hunters in DPS.  Ones that where without a doubt more skilled then I am with proc management and rotation timing.  I run out of mana less often and know correct mana management whereas they do not.  I would finish a run 2K over them usually because of that reason only.

I love alchemy for the reusable mana pot.  It might seem like nothing of real important but it sure means a lot on a long raid and even more so when you run with a "pull, pull, pull" tank that never stops as long as healers have mana.  I drink whenever I get the chance even if I am at 95% mana.  If it is off cool down and I am not 100% I use it.  This keeps my mana higher, this gives me the ability to spend less time in viper and this means in the end my DPS is higher. 

Not saying that taking alchemy means I am smarter then someone else for using the reusable pot but I learned something from it that others might not know.  Feign death is your friend for aggro issues, it is also your friend for pot issues.  There are many times you can feign death and get out of battle for a split second which resets your pot timer.  Now that is intelligent play if you ask me.  With focus that is no longer needed.  Just fire an extra steady shot or two.  No need for tricks to separate the good from the bad.

Moving to viper is also something that showed who the good hunters where and who the bad hunters where.  There are many times in a battle that switching has a "best time".  The good hunter knows when that best time is and uses it to their advantage.  A bad hunter doesn't.  Like when Sin goes airborne I go viper.  Not exactly rocket science but I've seen many hunters that don't and end up in viper for a considerable time during the last phase.  I enter the last phase with full mana and never have any issues during the fight.  Another tip on that one.  Let your pet chase Sin.  It will unsommon itself and you can FD and reset your pot if need be, either for mana or for a wild magic or whatever you feel the need to use.  There are many fights that have the perfect time for when to go viper.  Now the skill of knowing when to go viper is gone.  Just steady and you are fine.

The Armor Penetration switch for MM has always been what showed the difference between people who made the effort to know their role and people that just looked at the top hunters in the world and saw they used ArP so they decided to as well.  I've seen hunters that completely gemmed ArP have 600 or maybe 700 after gemming and think they are the bomb.  While things like that require theory crafting there are people that love to do that and there are enough places to read up on it.  I did my reading, why could the other hunters not do it?  Well, requiring someone to know how to read must be to much to ask, so lets dumb it down some for them and remove Armor Penetration.

For me it was the complexity of the game, even if minimal, that got me into it.  Learning when it is best to do this or best to do that.  Knowing what works here but might not there.  Keeping an eye on a dozen different things and deciding on when to do what and even more importantly understanding why you where doing it.  That was exciting. 

Now, it is not like spec matters being there really is only going to be one spec you can have.  Now, mana management will not matter because we have an endless flow of focus that we can still be doing nice damage with steady shot while we rebuilding it. Now, we no longer need to know when to use multi and when to use volley.  Now, we no longer have to plan pulls to traps when we can put the trap anywhere we want.  Now, we just all do the same thing and knowing the person with skill from the person with none becomes harder because it has been dumbed down so much that the things good hunters did are no longer needed.  Good hunters will be a thing of the past because everyone will all look the same because we no longer have options.  Everything is laid out for us.

It has been dumbed down to "this is your spec", "theses are your shots"... um... that's all I got.  That is how simple it is now.

Wow, those old steady shot days from BC are starting to look complex compared to what Cata has coming up for us.  At least back then you still needed to watch your mana.

I Suck as a Healer

Okay, maybe I am being slightly over critical of my own performance as a healer but over all I still need to learn a lot.  I did three randoms yesterday and they where basically a joke.  A shield and a renew here and there and I could basically tab out the rest of the run.  How exactly am I supposed to learn how to heal this way?

I need to do something, be reactive, throw heals more then once every 15 seconds to renew a shield.  I am not uber geared yet, well, maybe for heroics I am, but I am not about to cake walk through the game at all.  I think I am sitting at 4600 gear score which is not a lot and relatively easy to achieve.  I got my first frost piece yesterday and will keep plugging along but by just doing dungeons I think my learning experience is about done there.

The higher my gear score gets the higher the gear score of the people I am placed with will be which means doing heroics, unless I get a clueless tank, is nothing more then to get some frosts.  There is nothing more I can learn there being I am never tested and never pressured to have to decide on who lives and who dies.

I joined in on Dreamwalker in ICC last night because they wanted to try with a third healer to help some and it was nearly the end of the run so there were only a couple of tries left anyway.  I joined in and was put on raid heal assignment by the lead healer.  As raid leader myself I told everyone the deal, do not attack anything until they get to the middle.  In case you did not know, the mobs will not make any offensive moves until someone makes contact with them.  By letting them get to the middle you are keeping the action in one area making it more controllable and allowing the use of AoE.  It started out fine, everyone was keeping healed and when anything was going to do some AoE like lay waste I got everyone with a shield before hand and no one took any damage from it before the skelly died.

As more mobs started to come out faster things got a little more hectic.  I kept up doing my deal.  Shielding everyone and healing anyone that needed it with a few renews flying around.  All fine and dandy so far.  Thing is, as more started coming out people started to move from the pack in the middle meaning I had to start running around more.  This, in turn, meant that people where occasionally out of range.  The Hunter that was doing the kiting died first each of the two times we tried with me raid healing.  Both times he was out of range.  A lesser geared warrior was usually second to die.  After that it was somewhat okay, but without the Hunter to kite that one guy things turned bad really fast and we wiped each time.

I did what I could but I really need more experience on things and heroics are not going to cut it when it comes to learning more.  I need to get better on picking up where people are.  There were people out of range I was trying to heal where I spent way to much time trying to get to them that someone else that needed attention was not getting it.  With more gear it would be easier and I know based on pure numbers that 4600 is considered well below Dreamwalkers requirements but I can do it, I know I can do it.  That is the mark of being a good player.  Anyone should be able to heal it with a 6,000 gear score.  A good healer should be able to heal it with a 4,600 gear score. 

Just to point something out here.  No matter how good the healer is, if the people around the healer are not helping the situation, there is nothing that can be done.  Case and point, the hunter.  He was always out of range and I could never find him when he needed a heal.  Part my fault for losing raid awareness in knowing where everyone is, I should have known.  Part his fault for getting that far away.

Over all, I could have done much better then I did.  I need to work on my raid awareness for other things that I am not used to.  As a Hunter I only care about 2 things.  Where the mob I am attacking is and where the healer is.  I try to always attack the mob we are working on and I try to always stay in range of the healer.  Try being the operative word there. ;) 

As a healer I need to keep a track of where everyone is and where every mob is.  Not just the ones that are important to me like when I am on my Hunter (even if when I am on my hunter I still see everything around me.  I just do not need to move as much) because they are all important to me as a healer.  Every time I saw the skelly come out I shielded everyone.  Just in case he got the lay waste off.  If he didn't, no big deal, a shield is a good thing either way.  So noticing what mobs are there even if you are not the one fighting them is important.  The main thing I need to work on is noticing where people are.  I think I did a horrible job at finding people.

It was like a game of where is waldo.  I would see someone taking damage, see them out of range, do a 360 around the room looking for them (so much easier when you use a trackball) and when I did not see them I would start running all over the place to find them.  I looked where they "should" be first.  They, of course, where never there.  I will not blame them.  As a DPS main I know sometimes things will drag you away from your expected course.  I am only blaming myself for not finding them sooner.

For now I think that makes me suck as a healer and with heroics being a joke now there is no place I am really going to get to go to learn how to be better at raid awareness. No one does low level raids any more so there is nothing for me to join to get some experience and they look to blow through it.  If I fail in that surrounding I might as well just give up trying to be a healer.  I will be blacklisted as a bad healer forever more.

So the choice is, heal tons of heroics hoping for a bad group to put me to the test or advertise in trade and find myself a group I know will test me.

/2 Disc Healer looking for fresh 80 tank to chain run heroics.

Now that would either teach me how to get better... or make me bald from pulling out my hair.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Things I Learned From Healing

I've been doing my daily dungeon on my Priest every day.  I know, amazing right, never got into that on my Druid and stopped running on my Hunter ages ago unless I am bored one day.  In that time running my Priest I have made a few observations.  Little things that I never noticed before.

Paladins and Death Knights are aggro whores.  Seriously, do they ever have anything to help with their aggro?  My Pally is only 40 and my DK I soloed to 80 and it has not left a city since then, it is my bank character.  I don't know if they have something to reduce aggro or not but if they do I have rarely ran across a Paladin or Death Knights DPS that didn't end up needing more healing then the tank did.  Also, it seems Paladins are squishy for someone that wears plate, they grab aggro, I shield them, throw a renew and a flash heal if need be and go back to the tank.  By the time I get back to them they are dead.

Hunters, most of them, really do deserve the term Huntards.  I would say a good 80% of the Hunters never use Misdirection.  Trust me, I am a Hunter main, if they where using it I would see it.  They have no clue what they are doing. I had one ask me to revive his pet for him yesterday.  I said, you have a revive pet option.  A few seconds later he was standing next to a pet with low health.  I did not even ask him if he knew what the Mend Pet skill did.  I just healed it.  What the hell did this guy do when his pet died?  Did he always go out and tame a new one each time?

Bear tanks take a while to get good AoE threat.  Seems like I am the only person in WoW that knows this.  Every time I get a bear tank there is at least 1 DPS beating on crap before the bear has one lick of threat on it.  Your job as a DPS is to know your tank.  Do your freaking job.  Know that your tank needs to swipe before you start your AoE. 

Paladin tanks can tend to be an issue to heal when they are over geared.  Over geared means less damage, less damage means less healing, less healing means less mana, oom Paladin Tank means mobs all over the freaking place.  I have changed how I heal them to compensate.  I no longer shield them at all.  I do not even renew them.  If they are over geared I let them go in and get hit and then just spam flash heal whenever they take a hit.  Helps some but sometimes not enough.

Death Knight tanks seem to think it is okay to have their backs to the mobs.  Their reasoning is that they do not use a shield so they do not need to be facing the person to block, so facing them is not as important as long as they can keep aggro on them.  Dude!  First rule of tanking, never show them your back.  What the hell does a shield have to do with anything?

Warrior tanks, at least at 80, are all the same.  They never stop moving, god forbid I need a drink.  While over all they are the easiest to heal when they know what they are doing they are always in a rush.  It is like someone is holding a gun to their head and says, if you go below 50 miles per hour the bus will explode.  Oh wait, that was the movie Speed, but you get the idea.

Mages seem to grab aggro nearly as much as Paladins and Death Knights but at least they all seem quick to ice block.  I've almost gotten to the point that Mages are way low on my heal order list for that reason.  It seems that whenever a Mage takes any damage they ice block.  Is there some sort of addon that I do not know about that automatically ice blocks them if they go below 75% life or are they all just scared shitless because they are always getting themselves killed early on that they jump the gun to quickly.

Shaman and Priest DPS might as well just not exist in instances.  If the Shaman never drops a totem I would not even know they where there.  They seem to fly under the radar most of the time.  Priests are the same way.  On rare occasion do I even notice there is another one in the group.

Rogue?  What are those?  I think in all my runs I have only seen one of them and he died on the first pull and I revived him saying I was sorry, he just went down so quick.  He said, no worries, I will give your revive a work out.  He died 3 times that run.  Every time with 1 shot even though I keep a shield on him the whole instance.  That was the only one I have seen in a run.  I think Rogues are more a myth then anything else.  (for my reasoning why rogues suck and no one uses them check my post earlier today, 2 back)  Seems like I am not the only one that thinks Rogues are beyond useless.

Never run with a Druid Tree of course being I am the healer in the group, same goes for a Holy Paladin and Resto Shaman so I can not say anything about them from a healers perspective.

All the others, kitty and chicken druids, warrior dps, warlocks all seem to be average, no stereotype I can hang on them.  There are good ones and bad ones, none of them stand out more then the others. 

If anything I can note is that there are not a great deal of warlocks that trade health for mana.  Maybe it is an 80 thing with such high regen rates.  At lower levels I see them doing it all the time.  In 80 dungeons I am ready to keep dropping renews on them but never need to.

The Plus Side/Minus of Gear Score

 It is a known fact that I hate Gear Score.  I do not have it downloaded and I do not think I ever will.  It has no place in my gaming life.  If I want to know something about someones gear I will look at it.  A number does not tell me anything. 

There are plus sides and minus sides to Gear Score that I don't think I have ever seen anyone mention on any blogs and I do read a hell of a lot of them.  After a recent run and reading something else completely unrelated about Gear Score on another blog it made me want to mention it.  There are many plus and minus sides but I have two particular ones in mind.

Gear score sometimes hides the bad players.

That is in bold right at the beginning because it is not an opinion, it is a pure fact.  A complete and total misconception of what Gear Score should be is the reason for that.

The Plus Side:
 If you can call it a plus side really, but the plus side is that you get congratulations for doing something that was well beyond your gear score capabilities.  I got into Heroic Halls of Reflection the other day as my random and the first thing I said was a warning to everyone there that I was not sure if I was geared enough for healing this yet.  A cop out on my part really.  First I knew I was geared enough, Second, the system would not have placed me in there if I where not geared enough, and Third, I knew well enough that I meant to say I do not think I am good enough at healing yet but fell back on Gear Score as the excuse for covering up the fact I am just not that good of a healer yet.

We made it through the gauntlet phases without much of an issue.  Everyone stayed healed and the only one time that I got worried was when I got ice blocked when the tank did not have a prayer of mending, shield or even a renew on him.  I was spamming my 5 key waiting to Penance the exact second I got out.  Outside of that it worked out well.  Everything that was supposed to die did and we didn't.

The Plus Side is that if I would have failed, but had kept the effort I had into it, it would have been looked at as a gear issue and not a skill issue when I know for a fact if we failed it would have been a skill issue indeed.  I am not that good yet. 

The other Plus Side is that I got people telling me how fantastic I did, one even told me that they did it with people that had 2K higher gear scores and it did not go as smoothly as it did.  That plus is awesome for me.  It made me feel good about my healing and in a way that will translate into me being less afraid to try things like that.  A compliment is never a bad thing.

The Minus Side:
 I know I've been in a ton of runs like this one I am about the describe.  You have a tank that can't hold aggro for anything?  You have DPS that my pet can out damage, with one paw tied behind his back?  You have a healer that is healing the wrong people all the time?  Yet somehow you finish the run.  Maybe a few people died or came close to it but you made it and that is all that matters.  Usually you will see someone say, "wow, that persons gear score was horrible I am amazed me made it".

The Minus Side is that when you get into a run like that and barely survive the offender (lets use the tank for this example) will think that his tanking was just fine and that he only needs to get some more gear.  Saying that it is amazing we lived because of the tanks gear score makes the tank think that he did a good job and if he keeps doing exactly what he is doing then he will only get better as his gear gets better.  That is a huge minus here.  The reason it is a minus is because it is giving someone a false sense that it is the gear that will make them better when they could have done better with the gear they had if they were better at what they were doing.

The Minus Side is that people are inflating what is needed to do raid and even dungeons.  The other day in a random someone said, the tank only had a 3500 gear score, this is going to be hard.  Does anyone realize that if you are all in heroic blues your gear score would only be around 3300?  So you are saying that you need gear better then heroics to do heroics?  That is a huge minus side.

Gear score sometimes hides the bad players.

Now you can see where I am getting at with that statement of fact.  Again, not an opinion.  If I had failed at healing that phase of Halls of Reflection it would have been because I was not good enough at healing yet.  Not because I was not geared enough yet.  The tank that "survived" that run is now given the impression that he is good being he "survived" and he just needs better gear.  Both cases, plus and minus, would be hiding bad players because of their gear.

Lets not even get into the dozens, nay, hundreds of 6500+ Gear Score players that suck.  Just as low gear has those unspoken plus and minus sides the high gear does as well.  Are you aware the number of people that have high gear score that get into raids so they can get even more gear just because they had a high gear score to begin with?  Don't even start me on that one.

The Leveling Project

I am starting to think having one of each class at 80 on one server before Cataclysm is not something that is going to happen for a few reasons.  One, I do not really have enough time to do all that leveling and two, I am really starting to get burnt out on leveling.  I like to do it sometimes and in some areas but certain spots of leveling are pure hell to put it nicely. 

I think I have become a master at picking and choosing quests.  Things with bad drop rates do not get done, things that require a lot of running around do not get done, etc.  I streamline what I do to make for more effective leveling.  With that said, here is my updated list of characters and levels.

Hunter - Night Elf - Male - Level 80 - Herbalism & Alchemy
Druid - Night Elf - Female - Level 80 - Mining & Jewelcrafting
Priest - Human - Female - Level 80 - Tailoring & Enchanting
Death Knight - Human - Female - Level 80 - Enchanting & Inscription
Shaman - Draenei - Female - Level 76 - Mining & Blacksmith
Rogue - Night Elf - Male - Level 63 - Skinning & Leatherworking
Mage - Gnome - Male - Level 59 - Herbalism & Alchemy
Warrior - Dwarf - Male - Level 52 - Engineering & Undecided
Paladin - Draenei - Female - Level 40 - Skinning & Mining
Warlock - Human - Male - Level 22 - Tailoring & Herbalism (while leveling, will switch to Alchemy at 80)

A few notes now based on where I stand.

My Shaman is one good day questing away from 80.  Yes I know it is 76 but anyone that can not get from 76-80 in 6 hours or less is doing it wrong.  76 to 80 is my favorite leveling time because it really does not feel like leveling.  You do the Nessingwary quests and then do all the quests to open all the phased areas and by the time you are done you opened up everything you needed to and you are 80.  So it feels like you are accomplishing something other then just questing.  That is why I think 76-80 is the easiest questing in all the game outside of 1-5 in the starting area.  Not to mention all those quests are nicely packed together making for economic questing.

The next on my level list is my Rogue, basically half way into BC content at the moment and it will not really take that long to blow through that but I must say I hate, hate is even too nice of a word, leveling a Rogue.  My god whoever got a rogue to 80 without heirloom gear and before the random dungeon finder should get a freaking medal. 

It is like this, attack, attack, attack, wait, wait, attack, wait, wait, attack, wait wait, attack.  Now sit and eat, use a bandage or a potion and do it all over again.  They get beat on the whole time they are waiting on energy to actually do something.  Whoever designed these things really did not want anyone that is not into self abuse to play one.  I guess people who play Rogues are a bit Emo, they like to inflict pain on themselves.  How the hell I made it this far is beyond me. 

I'll finish it however, thank god for the random dungeon finder.  As much as I hate it I will have make liberal use of if while doing the easiest quests otherwise.  I'll let other people carry me to 80 basically.  I do hope it gets better at 80.  Heck, maybe if I read up more on it then it would not be so hard but I really do not find the class interesting either.

Mages are easy enough to level and I can do the dungeon finder with them as well to break the monotony of questing if need be but I will only really do that for gear once in a while.  It is just a matter of when I decide to work on it more for when I will actually start making some progress on it.

My Warrior will be 60 after next weekend, that is my goal.  Not much to it really being I am questing with my refer a friend and even without any bonuses like heirlooms or refer a friend, leveling a tank with an AoE god like a Mage is only a matter of grabbing tons of packs and grinding them down.  Leveling would be stupid easy either way.

Oh my dearest Paladin, one of my oldest characters that was created one night when I could not sleep.  It has went through so many changes at such a young age.  Respecs, talents dropped, picked up and dropped again only to be picked up once more.  I never knew what to make of my Paladin until I decided that it would be the perfect gatherer (next to a druid) so it finally ended up with skinning and mining.  Those where thought out too.  Grab tons of animals, grind them down, skin them.  Land on ore, stun whatever attacks me, mine, then kill.  That will keep those annoying people from stealing my titanium nodes all the time.  I hate when I land, something attacks me and they land behind me and take the node I am fighting for.  The Paladin would effectively stop that from happening.  That is why it is set to gather for those two things.  For herbs, Druids would be best.  No need to drop bird form to pick them.  Wow, that is gatherer over powered to the maximum extent.

Last but not least my baby Warlock.  My pet toting brother in arms. I find leveling a Lock to be quite interesting and I know that for a bit it will also be limited.  Once I hit 30 I am going to have my refer a friend grant him the 30 levels he will have to give to my Lock and make it to 60.  So that will help my quest to having all 80 by saving me 30 levels worth of time and even more so the time consuming 50s that always seem to take forever.

I am leveling my Warlock with Herbalism for the heal over time and to gather some herbs.  My intention is to make it an Alchemist and Tailor however leveling an Alchemist without Herbalism can turn out to be costly and I do not like to waste money.  Not to mention, at least until I get to Northrend so I can make never ending flasks the Herbalism actually helps me more.  I use the heal over time it offers for its huge benefit.  When I need mana, I trade life for mana, pop my heal over time and just keep plugging along.  That is one of the reasons I chose to get herbalism and to gather and collect all the herbs so I could easily level Alchemy later with the heal over time that will really help with leveling until Alchemy gets me the never ending flask.

So will I make it before Cataclysm comes out?  Highly unlikely.  Might have six 80s by then but not 10.

So what will I do once that is all said and done?  Well, I will need another account on that same server if I want to continue.  If anything I want to make another gathering character and a Worgen is perfect for it.  Gives me a chance to make the one race on alliance side I do not have already and being they can be Druids it makes for a perfect Herbalist and Enchanter as a gatherer and grinder. 

The enchanting part is for when I solo dungeons so I can disenchant everything for myself.  So with my Paladin gatherer the Druid would complete the professions I need to gather.  BTW, my other herbalists will be losing herbalism soon anyway so I need the Druid to replace them.  My Hunter will be dropping herbalism for Engineering and my Warlock will be dropping it for Alchemy.  That will leave my Mage as my only Herbalist until I can make the Worgen Druid.  I do hope the rumors are true that Blizzard is going to allow us to "buy" another spot on our servers should we be maxed out to allow us to add the new races.  That would be awesome.

When all is said and done I will have 2 Engineers, one for goblin and one for gnomish, 3 alchemists, a flask, a potion and a transmute master, 2 tailors, one is spellfire now and the other is too young to have decided.  My mage might become my third so I have all three there as well if I do get to add an 11th character to the server and make it an herbalist.  Leatherworking professions do not seem worth it to get all variations and neither do blacksmith so all I will need is one of each.  I planned this out long term a long time ago.  Glad to see it is finally coming closer to being a reality.

Who would have thought that when I started playing I wondered how the hell people had more then one 80 and now I am working on 10, even if only for the professions.  The times have changed for sure.  I am such a profession whore.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Working Without Tools.

This could easily be about the recent removal of Volley and Blizzards attempt to stick the shaft up the heresy highway of Hunters everywhere without even greasing them up first but it is not going to be about that.  What it is going to be about is the fundamental tools that are outside of the game and not the ones that are in it.

There are standard tools that everyone needs to work at their peak performance in the game and none of them are actually tools they give us in the game.  I'm going to go over a list of things I most often hear people talk about, myself included.

Chair: Believe it or not being comfortable makes a huge difference.  I've heard players bitch about their chairs and then hours later when we raid something just seems to be off with them.  You need to find something that is comfortable for you to sit in.  It might be a 1 hour raid like ToC or a near all night raid where you are spending upwards of 4+ hours sitting in one place.  If you are not comfortable you will not be at your peak performance.

Keyboard: Many people use a standard keyboard and they do just fine.  Others go out and get keyboards with more keys for macros and others even go out and get ones that are made specifically for game play.  The ones with more buttons seem to play better because they have more bindings they can do.  I have seen a marked improvement in my game play as soon as I got myself a new keyboard with 12 extra keys that have 3 setting giving me a total of 36 new possible macro placements.  Being they are all on the left they are all easy access for me and I use them often.  No, I do not have all 36 bound but having that option is nice.  Another thing to think about is comfort just like your chair.  If you are not used to typing on that "style" of keyboard you will not live up to your peak performance.

Mouse: There are a million and one types of mice out there.  One is perfect for you and it is just a matter of finding it.  I still have not found mine even if I tried.  There are gaming mice with extra buttons for macros and I bought one because I thought it would be awesome for PvP and healing but I just could not get comfortable with it thus making my performance worse and not better.  I might have gotten better with it if I gave it time but I did not want to try.  It felt clunky and spastic, at least in my clunky and spastic hands.  I use a trackball and would love a mouse that used trackballs and had extra buttons but I have yet to find one.  So I can really say that your mouse makes you perform better if you are comfortable with it.

Connection: This one you have less control over because you can only work with what you can afford or what is supplied in your area but the speed and dependably of your connection will make a difference in your game play.  If you can do something to tweak your latency such as turning off other programs or disabling some of that useless crap that is always running in the background on your computer you will see the difference.  For the sake of all that is good, please do not have facebook games open while playing wow or any other game, they drain your computer resources faster then the birthday cake disappears at a fat kids birthday party. A solid and fast connection is required for peak performance.

Knowledge: This is something you have complete and total control over.  It means time spent learning about the content you are about to do.  While it is true that you can waltz through a raid never knowing the fights and just being quick at picking up on what is going on or having a great raid leader that described things so well that they made it seem easy so it was easy (was like that my first time ever in ToC, full clear on 25 in less then an hour and I had never done it before). Most of the time however you will need to put the effort into looking up the videos and reading the strategy for the fights.  If you really want to do good then go check out if there are any helpful tools for your own class for that fight.  I always make sure you have my hunter macros set for a fight before I need them.  I do not go back later and say "let me find an macro that will help me".  Knowledge and the more you know will help you reach your peak performance.

Intelligence: This is how well you can adapt.  Even if a raid has been perfectly laid out for you and you understood it 100%.  Even if you watched every video in the world and read every forum in the world.  Even if you have done that same fight one million times without dying.  You will need some intelligence to adapt if something strange happens.  Some people are quicker then others at adapting to a change in the playing field and others are not.  You can train this skill by practice and paying attention.  Paying attention is a sign of intelligence.  Have you ever wondered how raids that have done Naxx a thousand times and are geared in ICC 25 man HM gear can wipe on a Naxx weekly?  They are normally intelligent people that are not paying attention.  Paying attention is part of being an intelligent player.  They go hand in hand.  You can be the most intelligent player in the world but if you do not pay attention you will fail.  You can also always pay attention but if you are not an intelligent person you will be destined for failure.  Put the two together and you will learn and continue to learn and never make stupid mistakes.  You will always need to approach things intelligently and pay attention to everything around you should you wish to work at peak performance.

Common Sense: OMG!  I can write an entire grumpy rant just on this one.  It can often be confused with intelligence.  Like something making a mistake over and over, you might say they are an idiot but that is not always true.  Might be sometimes but not always.  They might be the most intelligent player in the game but they simply enough do not have the common sense that god granted even bugs on this earth.  They would walk into glass doors and not open them if people did not tell them that you could not walk through glass.  They are not stupid they just do not realize what they are doing it wrong.  Some people can be taught.  If they are taught that means they just did not know.  If they can not be taught that means they lack common sense.  People who lack common sense should never be allowed to raid with you.  You should try and distance yourself from them.  You can be their friend if you want to, you can do dungeons with them if you want to but do not take them on a raid.  You will never be able to explain certain things to them because they lack simple common sense and common sense, like a connection sometimes, you have absolutely no control over.  If you are one of those people you can work extra at the Knowledge and intelligence to try and compensate for your lack of common sense but you will never be working a peak performance without it and sadly there is no way to get common sense if you do not have it already to start off.

So there you have it, the list of tools needed for success in anything in WoW or any other game for that matter.  When you show up for your raid make sure to bring all your tools with you.

Chair, Keyboard, Mouse, Connection, Knowledge, Intelligence and Common Sense.

Without them you are never going to reach your peak performance.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A World of Mains?

My Hunter is my first character and my main character.  I am not sure if part of the reason I love being a Hunter so much is because it is the character I first experienced nearly everything in the game on.  It was the character I was on when I first found new areas, did new quest and went through dungeons and raids with.  It was the first I did everything with basically.  Everything except heal or tank that is. 

My Priest was my first healer and my Druid was my first tank, even if I did have a DK and a Paladin made before I made the druid.  If I were to choose now to have three mains, a main tank, a main healer and a main DPS I would choose my Hunter, Druid and Priest for those three roles.

There is only one problem with that.  Outside of my Hunter, Druid and Priest I only have one other 80 currently and that is a DK that I use as my bank character.  I got the DK to 80 only so I can train up the new professions once Cataclysm comes out.  I did not want to have to go back to level it later.  I do not use the DK at all really.  It is still in quest greens and has not been outside of a major city in months.  Not even just to get a breath of fresh air.

I wonder if my opinions will change once I get the other characters to end game.  I know from the few I have experience with that I have made decisions based on role already. Each class has inherent things they need to deal with and when in a group setting how they deal with them is different. 

DPS - I have no problem with running dungeons with a DPS character.  It takes longer to get into one and there is a lot of pressure to do huge numbers even more so in heroics then ICC it seems as funny as that sounds but over all most people do not give a crap as long as things are dying fast and you are not screwing things up to make it harder for everyone else.  Gearing up a DPS player through dungeons might take time but it is actually pretty easy.  I wold go with people I do not know because no one gives a crap if someone did only 1.5K DPS if the dungeon is done in 15 minutes and goes off without a hitch.

Healer - Every time someone dies it will be your fault.  If the tank runs ahead and pulls a whole room while you and everyone else are still in the previous room, it is your fault.  If a DPS dies because they can't control their aggro and they get eaten alive faster then your fastest heal can fly, it is your fault.  No matter what, whomever dies, it is your fault.  As long as you have a little thick skin it really is not that much of a problem again.  Just say, sorry you died, was out of range or I really tied to save you but you are squishy.  95% of the time, unless it really was your fault, like not trowing any heals what so ever, no one minds a death here and there.  Nice query time and not a ton of stress as long as you have competent people around you makes gearing up a healer somewhat easy.  But at starting stages I would still only go with people I know as I am getting into the grove of group healing.

Tank - DPS is not high enough, its the tanks fault, healer is letting people die, its the tanks fault, adds come out of nowhere, its the tanks fault, all the DPS being aggro monkeys, its the tanks fault.  No matter what happens its the tanks fault.  The weather sucks today and it is raining, must be the tanks fault.  If  DPS has low DPS but is trying, its okay they are trying their best.  If a healer is having trouble keeping people alive, its okay they are trying really hard and just need some better gear.  If the tank has any issues, the tank sucks.  At least in my limited experience tanking at 80 with my Druid I can tell you I will only tank for people I know.  I will never tank for PuGs, ever.  No random heroics for me unless I can get guild group up that includes at least a pocket healer and 1 DPS.  The theory there is that I will tell the healer if the other DPS are jerks let them die and me, you and the guild DPS can do the whole dungeon alone.  (I think I am going to make a grumpy tanking post to get more into this one)

So when the time comes, as it will soon for a few of my characters, I will get some gear for my Shaman, my mage and my rogue (oh god how I hate being a rogue) but I am not sure if I will work on my warrior at all when it comes to gearing up.  My Pally is still up in the air as I do not know what the second spec will be yet.  I am leveling Retribution.

In the end, I doubt that I will ever have a great deal to compare my Druid's tanking with and my Priest's healing with.  So just like my Hunter is my favorite and my main because it was my first I think the Druid will be my main tank and the Priest my main healer because they where my first.

One thing about firsts however, once you have that first one done, the rest are a cake walk really.  After leveling my hunter all the way, taking a full month of time played I now level characters in no time at all really.  I now have no issues going into dungeons that originally I stayed away from on my Hunter.  I have experience with one character which makes doing it on others 100 times easier.  So perhaps if I ever do try another tank or another healer I might be better with them because things are always easier the second time around.

I wonder if I am the only one that ever considered having 3 mains.  One for each role.  The way I look at it, they do not really interfere with each other as I would never mix and match them.  Well... maybe I can, my druid is a bear and a tree.  Oh well.  There goes that idea.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Useable Skills. (While leveling)

I've noticed something leveling all my other characters that actually took me by surprise a bit and that is the amount of skills I need to keep track of.  When I started to read the forums I read all about Hunters being easy and how anyone can play one.  In a way I was glad that I choose to play an easier character for my first ever character.  In another way I felt like I was going to be the classic huntard no matter how hard I tried because even if I did the slightest thing wrong I would be ridiculed for messing up on something that is so easy.

As time went on with me leveling my hunter I noticed it was indeed easy to level my hunter.  The skills I needed to use on a normal basis were few and simple choices.  Sting, steady and that was about it, just pound away until I could kill shot and throw in an arcane if need be.  So yes, it was kind of stupid easy.  The thing is, I was doing it wrong.  While no one will actually tell you that because what I mentioned is what makes leveling a hunter so easy.  It is just that is it not really effective that way.

After leveling another hunter on another server I noticed that there were skills I got early that I had never used that I was using this time around.  It never occurred to me the first time around that concussive shot was such a huge shot that you got early in the game.  I looked at it as something that does not do damage, so it is slowing me down by not helping to kill the target faster.  In the end, I was dead wrong.  Doing it the second time around I open with that shot and my hunter nearly never takes any damage at all, ever.  Less healing means less down time and even more so when you are a hunter and can not heal.  Eating every battle or two gets annoying after a while.

So I looked back at all my skills and when I got them and how much easier my life would have been if I had used them as intended.  The same goes for all the other characters I level now.  As I get skills I am not as quick to dismiss something that seems useless just like the concussive shot seemed useless when I first got it.

The conclusion that I came to was that being a hunter is not easy mode.  All classes are easy to level.  Stupid easy even if you do not try to over do what you are capable of doing.  Each class is capable of leveling with limited down time.  The difference I noticed is that for some classes it is a breeze and others it requires actual skill if you want to level with limited down time.

A hunter is the one character that while leveling you will need to use a lot of skill to assure limited downtime.  Based on that I would have to say that hunters are the hardest class to level if you do it correctly.  While doing what I mentioned before you can level easy enough it is not really optimal, not even close.

When it comes to easy for a beginner there are 3 options I would have to say are easy mode when it comes to leveling.  A Feral Druid, A Retribution Paladin or a Discipline Priest are the three easiest classes to level with optimum effectiveness that even a complete and total noob would get it right.  The reason for that is for each of them to level with optimum effectiveness there are only a few skills you will ever need all the way from 1 to 80. 

While there will be other skills that have uses they are not really needed.  Like the hunter, me at least, will get concussive shot and possibly overlook its usefulness as a noob, these other classes will never have that problem.  Looking at concussive shot it seems useless if you do not know the mechanics of the game and while it will really help a hunter and reduce downtime greatly, it will usually not be used until you learn more about the game.

A Feral Druid can be cat or bear depending on the battle and their skills are fairly straight forward.  Not a lot going on there in either cat or bear.  Not saying that at end game it is not completely different and more involved but for a leveling purpose a monkey can make it from 1 to 80 without much of an issue.  They also have the added benefit of being able to throw a heal on themselves between battle if they need to which greatly reduces down time.  When it comes to effective leveling they get an A+ for sure.  Downtime should be near 0 if they never over pull.

A Retribution Paladin really has nothing to do outside of auto attacking and judging once in a while.  The judge will get you mana if you need it, health if you need that.  Unless you are pulling packs and using a lot of spells you will never be below 95% mana and that means you will always be using the judgment to get health which means you will never be below 95% health either.  So no down time at all and all those skills are things that would never be missed, like concussive shot was, by a total noob.  Another A+, same as before, no over pulls should mean no downtime.

A Discipline Priest kind of surprised me even after knowing a bit about the game.  I never thought it would have the type of damage output that it does while being a healer basically.  Even a total noob will figure out to drop DoTs on a target from range, to smite or holy fire them and to shield themselves if the mob gets too close.  Really, that is all there is to playing a Discipline Priest.  My whole leveling process was a joke when it comes to taking damage.  You would guess that a clothie would take more damage then others but that shield is over powered and my Priest rarely if ever got hit at all.  So having all that healing ability was useless as I never needed to heal myself anyway.  Another A+ here but just a note that killing things can be slow but at least you never worry about downtime.

As you see, those three classes in those three specs are easy as sin to level with being they have so few skills that you need to use for optimal performance while leveling and those skills will not be overlooked even by a total and complete noob.

The complete and total use of skills is not needed for any character to level effectively but for some classes, like a hunter, using skills you never really considered using is very important to leveling with as little down time as possible.  Don't let anyone ever get away with saying that hutners are easy mode to level until they have leveled the other three I mentioned and then compare them.  They might all be easy to an extent but at least those other three will not take nearly 1/3 of their game time eating and drinking like a hunter will. 

I understand that longer does not mean harder but longer because you have to eat might mean respawns, might mean adds joining in before you are ready, might mean you end up dying from other things because you needed to stop to eat and drink, something the other classes will rarely ever have to do.  So in the case of leveling, longer in this case does equal harder.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

List of things Volley was once good for.

Here is a list of things that a hunter loses with the loss of Volley.

  1. Helping a tank get aggro on more then 3 packs. - Misdirect + Volley.  I've used to to help dozens and maybe even 100s of new tanks I've run into with the LRD system.
  2. Redirecting pats that are about to have a healer for lunch. - Be it taking the aggro myself as I am not as squishy and can give the tank more time to come and get them or misdirecting them to the tank.
  3. Helping out lowbies in low level dungeons. - Lowbies have an aggro range of Texas and sometimes as you merrily go on your way killing they grab the attention of 6 or 7 packs.  One volley and the mobs where dead, not the lowbie will be the dead one as we have no way to kill that many mobs that quick even if they are all only 2K hit points.
  4. Annoying people in PvP that are trying to grab the flag in EotS. - A Volley will keep resetting them trying to grab the flag.  It helps in all situations like that where there might be a few people trying to grab something and this stops them all.
  5. Getting to people/mobs under you. - In wintergrasp you can stand on turret and someone is hiding under you so you can not shoot them.  Get as close as you can with a volley and it gets them too.  Works in PvP and against mobs just the same.
  6. AoE at Melee range. - Even if they make multi shot better it is still ranged.  Volley can Volley right on top of yourself to get mobs.  Without it we have no Melee AoE whereas every other class does.
  7. Playing stupid in PvP. - Someone sneaking up behind you in PvP and you do not want them to know you see them?  Volley them, being you never turned they will never see it coming.
  8. Grinding low level mobs for drops or rep. - Run around and grab up 20-25 mobs, volley, profit.  Now we have to kill them one at a time?
  9. Soloing instances. - The misdirect volley trick is something every hunter has used when soloing instances where you have a hard pull.
  10. Distractions. - Never found a use for this in PvE but in PvP I have often seen a healer go to heal a mythical target while we killed the one target we were focusing on.  Some people are so easily distracted by things.
  11. Preemptive attacking. - Mobs coming your way.  Start the volley before they get there.  Either get more damage in before they see you or misdirects them to whomever you wish to.
  12. Duck and run. - A soloing tactic for dealing with lots of mobs that would be hard, or take forever to down.  Put your pet somewhere on passive.  Gather up some mobs then MD + Volley them to the other side where your pet is waiting to basically die.  Run all the way up the hall, find a safe place to hang out, deterrence if you need a few extra seconds, FD, after the pet dies, stand up and revive him.  Just passed 20+ mobs you now do not have to bother with at all.
There are many more uses, if I think of any I will update this list of all lost abilities I will miss from having volley.  Those were just a few off the top of my head.

I'll miss volley, hope they replace it with something that is as useful and not some stupid buffed up multi shot that can't do even half of the things I mentioned there.

No More Volley

Volley, the only AoE ability that a hunter has is going to be gone from Cataclysm.  This is disappointing on so many levels.  First off, AoE grinding with volley rocked and doing low level dungeons for mats or to run friends lived off of volley.  Grab a ton of packs, volley, everything is dead.  Now a hunter needs to single target them all?

I do not like this.  I do not like a lot of what I am seeing from Cataclysm lately.  I was not all that upset with Focus even if I had huge fears of being focus starved but the early returns seem like it will be manageable.  That is all I ask.  Something that I can work with.  I hate playing my rogue because 70% of the time I am auto attacking because I never have energy.  I did not want that to happen to my hunter.

The change to Misdirect seems like it will really put pressure on a tank big time.  Being the threat generated passes back to the hunter after 30 seconds now it gives the tank 30 seconds to build a nice threat lead before the threat done is passed back.  It will take some getting use to and I do really hate it but I can live with that.

No volley?  No AoE what so ever?  No way to do packs and grinds?  What the fuck?

I hope they reconsider removing volley or at least offer us something else in return for the loss of our only AoE spell.  And if they are removing our only AoE spell they better really hike up our single target DPS to be completely off the charts compared to every other class in the game.

If every class is topping off around 10K DPS (for example) and they all also have AoE who would you take with you?  Someone that can do 10K DPS on single target and 25K DPS on packs or someone with 10K DPS single target and 10K DPS on packs?  I do not know about you but to me the choice is obvious.   If you are both doing the same single target I will take the one that also has something to offer for multi target as well.  It is not like they will need us for misdirect any more being it is no longer as useful as it was. Over all the hunters usefulness has been completely depleted to the point where there is no need to bring one along any more.

So to make this fair, on a terms of DPS at least, using the above example, if everyone is doing 10K single target and 25K with large packs and hunters are doing the same on both you need to adjust the hunter single target to be 50% higher.  So a Hunter would be doing 15K all the time, single and multi whereas the others are doing 10K single and 25K multi.  That would be fair and might make bringing a hunter a little more useful.  No AoE means no groups.  I have a hard enough time getting into groups now as is because there are so many DPS players out there.  Gimp my ability so that I am no longer capable of competing in over all DPS with everyone else in the game and now I am not only just another DPS, I am not just another fail DPS with low DPS.

I do not like this at all.  If they do not give a hunter something to offset their loss of usefulness in a raid I am seriously going to have to consider making something else my main.  I mean who the hell would want to bring me along if my MD is useless, my AoE is non existent and everyone else in the game does the same DPS as well on single target.

I am one very grumpy elf right now for sure.

One More Level.

I am sitting at level 49 now on my Warrior waiting for level 50 so I can get the ability to use Charge in Defensive Stance.  I can't rightfully say as I do not know about others and it is not end game yet at only level 49 but that is the make or break of Warrior tanking in my opinion.  I've been waiting for the time where I no longer need to stance dance my life away. 

I've got an end game Druid and DK both with tank specs.  I have not used my DK much at all being it is my bank character really but I have used my Druid more then enough to know the ins and outs of it more then in just a passing.  With that in mind it makes me think about all the tanks out there and what I think of them.

I have a level 40 Paladin (yes, knocked out up to 40 this weekend) that I plan to duel spec once I hit 80 into either Protection or Holy.  That still remains to be seen.  I want to keep it's Retribution spec because that character is going to be a pure gatherer for me, mining and skinning but I can see how Paladin tanking can be fun.

Paladins have it easy with only needing to do what they need to do with mana and that can reasonably be nearly unlimited.  When specced correctly with a knowledgeable healer you will be regaining mana.  You have your judgment as well as so many other mana regeneration abilities of other classes, you can pot, you can drink between fights, so basically you have a nearly endless supply of mana and only have to worry about your global cool down holding you back.  Or really bad DPS which could turn a 2 minute fight into a 20 minute one that will surely drain you of your mana.  With a choice of resources, this is the one I would want to tank with.  More control for me and when it comes to being a tank it is all about control.

Death Knight tanking is nearly as good with the rune system.  The runes seem to recharge very fast but the cool down on some of the skills you need seem a bit long for tanking needs and developing high threat on many target, while extremely easy, takes a small bit of time to develop.  With death and decay needing one of each rune and its long cool down you really need to plan two moves in advance to be effective, which with practice should not be much of a problem.  I have not really done it enough to be good to that extent but on paper it looks really nice when it works.

Druids are my favorite because of something that has nothing to do with tanking what so ever.  I love the bear dance and there is nothing I love more then dancing on the dead bodies of the bosses as I beat them.  Is that really wrong to love bear tanking because I like the dance?  My biggest gripe about bear tanking has been the same since I started.  The DPS that is behind me.  I need to do something to get some aggro.  I can't do anything until I get hit a few times and get some rage built up.  DPS does not like the wait that long and go after the mobs the moment I make contact with them.  Unlike my bear's tanking counterparts that can D&D, Consecration, or Tunder Clap to get some instant aggro to start working with the bear can do nothing but look at the mobs going all over the place.  Smart DPS makes the job a ton easier. 

To bad that there are so many stupid players and being there are more DPS then there are tanks and healers you see more stupid DPS around.  It is a numbers issue, DPS are not worse then tanks or healers, it is just you notice them more.  In a 5 man there will be one tank, one healer and three DPS.  So if I am the tank I never see stupid tanks, only my own stupidity.  With only one healer there is only one chance to grab an idiot out of the masses but there are three DPS in a group which means three chances to grab a total moron and being more then 50% of the people that play the game can not even walk and chew gum at the same time the odds are against you.  You will, without doubt, always have at least one retarded DPS in every 5 man you enter.  Which is why I no longer run 5 mans on my druid and it is stuck in ToC level gear for eternity.

Now Warriors, and my soon to be 50 Warrior, they are something like bears, in human form at least.  They both have a charge, they both have a 360 degree AoE threat grab that costs rage.  The difference is that with the Warrior their charge generates rage and the bears charge costs rage to use.  That makes the Warriors charge 100 times better.  Both the bear and the warrior have a way to generate quick rage.  The bears makes their armor go down some and the warriors sacrifices some health.  Again, warriors get the better here, the warrior has a glyph that keeps them from losing the life.  The bears are still stuck losing the armor.

While the Warrior has charge for a while you can not use it in defensive stance until you put 40 skill points into the protection spec and then get the Warbringer skill.  Once you get that you can use charge in defensive and you no longer need to stance dance and you no longer have to worry about taking a shot before you switch or the idea of losing some of the rage that the charge generated. To me, that is what completes the warrior.

My take on tanking is most likely not right at all.  I have not tanked much and I only know from the world of LK where everything is an AoE fest and DPS go out balls to the wall the second a battle begins so I am in no way an expert of any sorts.  I am only learning from what I see around me and, based on that, being able to grab AoE threat is the most important part of tanking.  On the grand scale of things charge makes a big difference for a warrior for that very reason.  Also being able to use charge in combat will help a ton too.  Have a runner, charge him.  Will stun him long enough to kill him most likely and will at least stop him from running.  Need some range.  Side step and charge, got some rage now.  There are so many uses for charge that I have noticed being I've been playing the stance dance game for a while now.  I think when it comes to it I will really enjoy tanking as a warrior because of that ability only.  For many classes there are signature moves or what people will call a make or break moves.  For me it seems like charge is the make or break for warrior tanking.  At least for now.  I have a long way to go before I get any of the other skills.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Whole Bunch of Nothing.

A friend of mine, the tank I first ran with on a regular basis, is letting his subscription expire next month.  He is not really quitting the game but he is just sick of playing the same things over and over again.  He seems to have lost interest.  He most likely will come back when Cataclysm comes out he said, but you never know. 

My question is this, why let an account expire when it is so cheap to keep it?  His expires toward the end of September and Cataclysm is believed (as it seems at the moment) that it will be out near the end of November.  Personally I think it will be out near the end of October, have thought that for a long time now.  November is only 60 days from September, that is one game card, that is 30 bucks.  Just 30 bucks.

I can see how you can take some time off from playing.  I basically did that this weekend.  I didn't accomplish anything at all.  I also spend less time on this weekend when I had the free time.  I usually spent most of the free time playing, that is what free time is for.  Instead I watched some TV to pass the time.  Admittedly both are complete and total wastes of time but it is about what you enjoy doing.  I just was not in a mood for WoW and it seems my friend is not as well and that is why he is letting his account expire.

I can't see doing that unless I had the intention to quit completely and not come back.  Otherwise I would pay the 30 bucks to keep it running for those 60 days.  Just in case I decide to come back and play.  I really don't have anything else to do with my free time anyway.  So it helps me pass the time.

What exactly would you do if you got bored with a game and you knew a new expansion was coming out?  The old timers know because they have done it before but I am new.  Never been around at this point where an expansion is so close.  I keep trying to find things to keep me busy but it seems like there are less and less people doing anything so I can do things with them.  Most of the things I need would require more then just me.  I'm not exactly prepared to solo The Black Temple nor would I even try.

Everyone and their mother is running around with Kingslayer titles and I still do not have one.  If anything, that would be my reason for taking some time off.  My server is bad, very bad, and yet it still seems that I see Kingslayer around more then I do Jenkins.  I think that is the reason my friend is planning on taking time off.  The constant failure over and over can drain a person.  It has completely and totally killed me and my desire to play most of the time.  I stick with it because someone has to lead the raids and I feel it is my responsibility to do so. 

The problem is we are always helping people gear up just so they can go some place else.  It has happened over and over so often and now that it is the end of the expansion the only people left are people that either need gear or are so horrible that they could not get it even if they were carried.  So what does that say about me? That most likely explains why he is leaving. 

It sure explains why I am considering working so hard on my Priest (which did the first 3 bosses of ICC this weekend with only a 3600 gear score) and not really caring about my hunter any more.  Not saying my Hunter is not my main, it still is and will remain my main but the problem is I am not getting anywhere with it.  Range DPS is a dime a dozen and even if most people that know me consider me one of the top 5 Hunters on my server and I've been offered to run with some teams that do Kingslayer runs every week in only 1 night my Hunter is tied to my guild.  It is about honor and that is where he belongs so that is where he stays. 

So I am Working on my Priest as healers always seem to be in great need for raids.  Also my Priest is Disc and a Disc Priest is almost required for 25 man and even more so in hard modes for 25 man.  So if I put as much effort into my Priest as I did into my Hunter I will get Kingslayer with my Priest.  Not exactly what I wanted and mildly disheartening but at this late stage in the game before the coming expansion that seems to be the only option I have.

I have not been working on it as much as I should.  I have still not even fixed up my tool bar to be a completely healing set up yet being I am still questing and doing dailies whenever I do play it and I need the offensive spells available.  I think I might work on that today some.  It just bugs me a little that I needed to go out of my way to make another character that I should have been able to get on my main with no problem.

Maybe I can see why he is quitting for a while.  I just do not understand why you let your account lapse for only 60 days in the process.  I guess for as much as I do understand in the game there is a lot I don't when it comes to people in the game.

Being gear score is all these people care about I am keeping track of my Priest's gear score so I can know when it is good enough to start pugging myself into 25s.  I am still a long way away being I have not been doing my dungeons like I should have but I am up to 4200 gear score now.  If I at least did the daily dungeon I could get that up to 4800 in a week and get into some 25 PuGs because as I said, healers are always in need and a Disc Priest is almost a requirement.  Maybe I will have better roles with my Priest then I do with my Hunter and then I can get a sweet gear score in no time.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Reputations and Mounts

I finally got Honor Hold to exalted last night which gave me 30 Exalted Reputations and it kicked off my achievement ambitions again making me want to get back to doing a few.  Maybe I can take some time on my main again instead of spending all my non raiding time on alts for a bit.

I've been looking into some other reputations that I can get easily to try and work my way to 40.  I need a ton of the BC ones still, that will get me to 35 easily when I finish them.  I have the 4 goblin ones to do still and they are just grinding kills so that is more of a time effort then anything else. 

I also want to go for the 2 switch factions.  The Aldor/Scryer and the Oracle/Frenzyheart ones.  I have Oracles already so getting Frenzyheart will not be much of an issue.  Just did to do that one kill again and choose the other one and just do the dailies.  Time is all it will take, it will not be much trouble.

I am working on Aldor now and only need about 6K more.  I should get they just from drops while doing the other BC ones.  In that same time I am saving up Scryer ones which will make getting the Scryers up once I go for the switch no problem at all.  Not to mention all the ones I already saved up leveling 3 other characters through BC and 2 more characters that are presently there leveling.  All the others have never chosen a side so all their goods can go to my main.  The one thing I will have to make note of are the Dampscale Basilisk Eyes that I am going to need to switch from Aldor to Scryer.  I am going to need 200 of them and only have about 12 so far.  So I will need to grind them or keep an eye on the auction house for them.

Speaking of the auction house I will have to keep an eye out for things like Dark Iron Ore, Core Leather, Fiery Core, Lave Core, and Blood of the Mountain for Thorium Brotherhood reputation.  With all the ones I just mentioned it should take me to 40 no problem.  At 30 now, the goblin towns will make it 34, the two BCs will make it 36, the one LK will make it 37, the Thorium Brotherhood will make it 38 and then any of the other BC ones I need, Lower City, Keepers of Time, Scale of the Sands, Ashtongue Deathsworn or The Violet Eye will finish it off.  That makes 40 without doing any of the major grind ones.  Lower City and Keepers of time seem to be the easiest ones of those and will most likely be the ones I go for first.

Another one of the achievements I am getting close on that is a bit of work like the reputation one is the mount one.   I got myself up to 93 mounts last night on my way to trying to get to Mountain O' Mounts.  I still need 2 of the PvP ones which will be easy enough to get.  A days worth of grinding if I really wanted to and I can get 100K honor needed to buy the last 2.  There are also 6 more I still need from the Argent Tournament which cost 100 seals each.  I am sitting at only 41 seals.  Those are one of those ones that I will need to do the dailies every day to get to it and I have not done them in 3 months.  It only takes 15 minutes. I guess I can force myself to do it if I really want the achievement. 

I also want to get the Baron one but that is really about luck.  There is the Ashes one and the MT one as well, but they are luck too and I can not solo either of them.  At least I do not think I can, never tried to be honest but it does not seem like I could.  There is the one in Kara and two in ZG as well I can go for but again they are luck.  Both of those I can solo and know I can being I have done it before.

So with effort or luck or some of both getting the 100 mount one will not be an issue either.  Not to mention there are still a few expensive ones I could bring myself to buy that I have not bought yet.  That is always an option.

Then there is one thing that would help in both the Reputation and Mount department that I have always kept away from because of not only time involvement but a horrible drop rate.  The Wintersaber Trainers would not only get me an exalted reputation but it would get me a wicked cool mount.  +1 for each at the same time.  I always love doing things that have multi purposes.  However, looking back at it, I can get both achievements without ever touching them.  That won't stop me in the end.  I think I really want that mount so I will have to go for it either way.

In retrospect I can probably get both of those achievements finished this weekend if I put a ton of effort into it (and gold to get the expensive mounts).  Will I however?  Lately I have been liking leveling my alts on weekends.  I will have to consider it however now that I see how easy this can be having written it out.  It always seemed like both where so far away for me but once you see it written down it seems so much easier.  I might start on it this weekend and try to put a dent into it.

BTW:  Just to mention.  With Blizzard having problems last night and no one being able to log in we had to cancel last nights raid.  Talk about backfiring.  We are not raiding on Tuesday now to avoid this crap so Blizzard decided to ruin out Thursday raid instead.  Sometimes I think someone has it out for me.  You know what they say about the best made plans right?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I hate being a Frog

Had some fun learning how to tank with my new warrior.  A few people from my guild all had characters in their 40s so we decided to do some dungeon leveling with a group of all of us, me on my Prot Warrior.  So far, from the little bit I've experienced I enjoy tanking on my Warrior more then I do my bear for one reason.  It costs rage to charge as a bear, it generates rage when you charge as a warrior.  To anyone that might have never tanked that is a huge difference and totally changes how things are handled.

Sure, at level 44 I still have to stance dance as my warrior because I can not use charge in defensive stance yet but that is not much of an issue.  I made a macro for it to make my life easier.  The charge really helps in many ways.  First and foremost it gets me to the packs before the DPS can start going medieval on their asses. 

As my bear I would have to enrage to charge in and then wait to get hit.  This brings two problems.  One, I used my rage to get into there so now I have to wait before I can drop a swipe to get some aggro going as I now have no rage.  The other is that the enrage is now on cooldown so if I need rage in a rush I do not have my quick access to rage button to use.  So often I would run in and use the enrage as an oh shit button should one of the DPS open up AoE before I get there.  That happens all the time.  Not once in a while but all the time, nearly every pull DPS will be pew pewing away before I even made contact with the mobs.  It is beyond annoying.  The Warrior does not have this issue.  I charge, it generates rage so I can thunder clap and then I move about my way of tagging them all with a rend or sunder or whatever when I get some more rage.  If only a bear had the same option I would love it.

Doing ZF was fun.  Not only was it exciting to tank the stairs at level for the first time ever but the fact no one died on it was even more exciting.  I was so afraid of that really.  We did well over all but there were many scary moments.  A few times a wayward DPS would step to far back and bring some added attention, but I picked it up.  Heck, I think I actually started to get a little good at noticing when someone was going to bring adds.  I was expecting it which made it easier to pick up.  If I had a good aggro lead on the packs we were working on I would just go auto attack and let my rage build so I had it ready to pick them up if need be.  Not sure if that is how I am supposed to do it, but it worked for me. 

I even got into looking at all angles more often so I can see where pats are coming from.  I would even preemptively pick them up before they decided to take notice to what was going on and maybe go for someone else besides me.  We only wiped once when we ended up with like 12 or so mobs on us and I kept getting turned into a frog.

I hate being a frog.  I picked up the target I was going for and 5 visitors came instantly so I grabbed them as well and thunder clapped to get their attention.  Then, bam, I'm a frog and the mobs are going all over the place again.  As soon as I get out of my frog form I go around and collect them all up with all the new friends they brought to the battle from running all over the place.  I would thunder clap, tab sunder as many as I could, and then bam, I am a frog.  They all go haywire and everyone is scrambling all over the place again.  Once I get out again I continue the process, gather them all back up, get aggro on all of them again and it starts to look like a nice clean AoE burn when I become a frog again.

The entire battle was like that.  Grab aggro, become a frog, grab aggro again, become a frog.  Over and over until we all died.  I spent most of that battle as a frog.  I really hate being a frog.  You know as a DPS, which is what I really am at heart, if I get turned into a frog I just sit back and light a smoke and wait for it to wear off.  No big deal.  As a tank, getting turned into a frog gets everyone killed sometimes and even when I am in frog form I am spamming my thunderclap button so the second I come out and I try and grab some attention.  I am in panic mode.  Everyone is dying and it is all my fault.  Okay, I know it is not my fault, but that is sure as hell what it feels like.  Even with all those mobs we would have survived I am sure, if only I were not a frog.  Heck, if I were not a frog for even 15 seconds we could have handled it.  I was never out of frog form for more then 2 global cooldowns.  Which means I never had long to get stuff done.  While it was not my fault it sure feels like it.  Sometimes tanking is just not fun, like when you are a frog.  Frog tanking sucks.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Raiding Schedule

Making a raiding schedule is like making food.  If you put too much of one in or not enough of the other it will not come out right.  The recipe needs to be followed exactly, or damn close, or else it will not taste like it was expected to.  Raids are somewhat the same in a sense.

So often I see problems in guilds when a raid gets canceled and things blow up and people get upset or when you run without people that are normally some of the best people that make sure they are always there when it is time to run.  Usually you can handle the situation yourself or pass it on to someone else if you are the raid leader.  If you can't make it you tell someone to cover for you but what happens when the server can't make it?

That is what I am getting at.  Tuesday maintenance tends to bring about problems that are not normal, problems that can not be easily handled.  If maintenance gets extended sometimes you do not run at all and that upsets people.  Not like there is much you can do about that as a raid leader.  If you raid is set to start at 7 and the server is not up until 8 then you cancel the raid.  It is rather simple.  Sad part is that seems to upset a lot of people.  I've seen people leave guilds because a run was canceled do to extended maintenance.

Then you have the perennial perfect player.  Good attitude, good attendance, always prepared, knows the fights before you get to them, you know who I am talking about.  The perfect raider, the one where if you had a whole crew of them then you could clear anything the day it comes out.  You also know those people are few and far between.  Sometimes even those people get frustrated when the server is down.  They do not sit there trying to log in every five minutes.  They do something else. Go to the bar, watch TV or even god forbid spend some time with the family.   If the server comes up and you decide to run anyway even if it was late and that person shows up after you filled all the spots you have a very angry person on your hands.

So many problems come from Blizzard being extremely undependable when it comes to getting their servers back up in a timely manner.  That is why this time around my guild is no longer even attempting Tuesday runs.  Nope, none at all are put on the schedule.  I might add something for "if you want to" type of thing but not the end game raids.  Not the progression raids.  Not anything of importance.  To many bad things can happen that breed bad blood to make running on a Tuesday even an option.

I wonder if other guilds have come to this conclusion as well? While I like to run on Tuesday I hate to see it canceled or delayed.  Not to mention all those follow up runs that got canceled because we did not run the Tuesday one.  This way we will totally avoid all those problems.  I hope.

Monday, August 16, 2010

It Is Not The Gear

Last night we played a wipe fest on the Professor and of course people where getting frustrated.  One person started to say "We need better gear for this" and was even whispering me over and over about doing runs to get more gear for people and about choosing a group just to get things done so we do not have to wipe over and over again.

He is someone I know well and is a very good player but I must disagree with him and I let him now that much.  He was saying that a gear score of at least 5800 was needed for the Professor.  I do not know what universe he came from but that is outright crazy.  This is not 25 man, this is not the heroic version.  You do not need gear that is HIGHER then the content you are doing to do it.  He said that the gear would help the fight be more forgiving of mistakes.  I do agree with that, to an extent.

First let me address the gear issue from my point of view.

People where doing ICC and clearing him before they had a gear score of 5800, heck, back then no one had over 5500 being it was brand new content.
People where doing ICC and clearing him before they had the 30% buff, some did it when it was 5%, some 10%, some 15, 20, 25 and now 30%... at all levels of gear.
People are doing him with a group of people in all 3300 or less gear score.  Check out the under geared project from the Greedy Goblin.

With all that said... I do not give a flying fuck what you say.  Gear is not going to help.  It is not needed, there is your proof.

So he went to the skill aspect and said that the people that where there were not as skilled as others so they needed the gear to help them through their mistakes.  Okay, I will give him that.  Gear does help people in some cases.  A healer with slow reaction time benefits from someone being able to take more damage and them in turn throwing larger heals.  That someone is helped too being he knows he can take more damage.  Gear helps DPS as well.  Stupid DPS that can not figure out how to strafe out of the fire can take more damage and be healed through it.  It also helps with them in the DPS department.  They can do 5K now when they really should be doing 9K.  However being 5K is all that is needed to down said boss they are all happy they can do enough whereas someone with some skill would be doing 5K with their eyes closed and using only 1/2 their abilities.

Gear does help forgive some mistakes.  With gear you do not have to run out of the slime piles as quickly.  With gear you can do more damage making the fight quicker so there are less chances for error.  However no amount of gear is going to cover for the fact that people are not switching targets when they are supposed to.  They are not collapsing when they are supposed to.  They are not doing the little things that we like to call mechanics that they are supposed to.  Gear can help in some cases but when your problem is with execution of mechanics there is no amount of gear that can help you.

I will say what I heard so many times and it is so true.

Gear is an excuse that bad players use for not being able to do simple mechanics.

I would love to see what they would say if you asked them directly why they did or did not do some things during the battle and see if they can figure out how to get the word gear into their defense.

Being I am the good old Grumpy one lets see if I can try and answer some of the questions I might ask and make the excuse be about gear some way.

1) Why are you not having your pet attack the slime/ooze?
- Because it is not worth it, if I had better gear it would be worth having it switch targets however.

2) Why are you (melee) attacking the slime/ooze before it chooses it's target?
- Because my gear sucks and I need to get as much time attacking in as possible.

3) Why are you not collapsing on the skull to split the damage?
- Because my gear sucks and I can not take the extra damage.

Shall I continue?  No need to really.  I think my point is obvious. People using gear as an excuse is the reason we are failing on it.  I bet you anything you want, I am 100% sure that the groups that down it with no wipes do not make those mistakes I needed to ask.  I bet they have pets attack adds.  I bet they wait to target the adds.  I bet they split the damage.  They are doing it because they are doing what they are supposed to be doing.  Gear would have not helped anyway if people are not doing what they are supposed to be doing.  Would gear make someone have their pet target the add?  Would gear make someone wait to attack the adds?  Would gear make people collapse when they should?  No, no and no.

Gear is nice and all but gear does not make decisions.  The player makes the decisions and as long as the player makes the wrong decisions there is nothing gear can do to help you.

Gear shows the potential you have.  Nothing more.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Not a Bad Start

The first run back at the old guild as a guild only run did not go bad at all.  We only did the first 6 but we did them fast and there were really no issues.  We went for the professor after rot and fester and wiped of course.  We had a whole slew of people that had never seen the fight before so it was expected.  First time up we made it to phase two which is an accomplishment in it's own when people had never even watched the video before.  Second attempt we were 300K from phase three.  Now that is absolutely amazing. 

My first time through there with a great crew we wiped at least seven or eight times before getting that close to phase three.  The beauty of that is once you make phase three the fight is basically over.  The end of the fight is basically a tank and spank even back before the buff, with the buff it is no problem at all.  So we were basically a few seconds worth of DPS away from finishing it on the second try with a lot of people having never been there and some having never even watched a video.

I am not sure if that is a testament to my raid leadership or a testament to having good people there at the time.  Maybe it was a little of both.  I did my standard approach to explaining it.  I forgot what everything was called and just gave general descriptions on what to do.  I never bog people down with too much information unless they ask for it.  I think that is the downfall of many raids.

I am looking forward to sunday when we continue.  I think I can lead these people through that, dreamwalker and sin with no problem.  It is nice to be doing something again.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Leveling Naked

Well, not exactly leveling naked and not exactly something I am doing but it sure does seem that way lately.  It can be done and is really not all that hard.  I had a friend who leveled a Priest completely naked with the exception of weapons, rings, trinkets and necks I believe, just no clothing.  I was always amazed by that and in a way I still am but now I understand it better.

After leveling a Disc Priest I learned that a priest doesn't really need to wear anything because they never get hit.  Your stats will be lower which means that you will need to adjust what you are killing but over all it is not hard to do.  I was downing level 80 elites on my Priest when I was level 78 without much issue.  Sure I had gear but it was nothing special.  I can see how a Priest even wearing nothing can level easy enough if they went for mobs an average of 3 levels lower then them.  Doing those quests would make it easier for go without gear.  I was completely amazed at the shields ability and that is what it is all about.

Now with me, I do not have a shield, well I do, but not one like that.  On the Warrior and Paladin I am leveling I am sharing BoA heirloom gear which means mailing them back and forth.  However I seem to keep forgetting to either mail them or get them out of the mail.  So I am going out leveling without any chest and shoulders.  Not exactly naked but also not exactly ideal.  Even more so for a warrior.  Warriors, as I always hear, are amazing gear dependent, more so then any other class.  I am having a hard time believing that.

Just recently I went out with my refer a friend leveling partner with my warrior and his mage.  I had no head (being I had not found a good drop yet), no trinkets, no rings and of course, no chest and no shoulders because I forgot to send them to myself.  We were going merrily along our way and I was grabbing 2 or 3 mobs and he was AoEing them down.  That is the concept for these two leveling.

I was barely ever taking a lick of damage.  I never once needed to bandage or sit to eat, we just kept mowing through things.  I was sitting at level 42 and him 40 at the time I think when I went and grabbed up about 7 level 39 and 40 spiders and he AoEed them down.  I never lost aggro and while doing these huge pulls one after another I only needed to use a bandage after the 4th pull like that.

That begins to make me wonder if any class really needs to worry about armor all that much while leveling.  I was clearly not geared enough to be doing what I was doing, heck I was barely geared at all, yet I had no problems with aggro or taking too much damage.

Same went for my Level 24 Pally when I went out with her and forgot that I did not have my heirloom gear on.  Ran into a pack of angry gnolls, 2 casters and 3 melee.  It took everything I had but I got through them all in time.  They were all level 25s and 26s.  It goes to show you that at low levels gear is not all that important.  Sure, heirlooms make it a bit easier but they are not all the be all and end all if you are under level 40.

Makes me think back to an old article for some tips for leveling a hunter and I notice it really fits all classes.  Maybe I should rewrite it.  You can check it out here.  Tips and Tricks: Gearing a low level Hunter.

One of the reasons I started leveling other characters was to see the game from the other end so to speak.  I am a Hunter and that is where my heart is but to be a better Hunter it helps to know what everyone around me is doing or is capable of doing.  I also think it makes me a better raid leader when I know what everyone can do.  While I started alts for progressions it morphed into that and then what it is now, a complete obsession with getting all classes to 80.  I am always amazed at the ways I keep finding to enjoy characters in a different way.  I wonder what I am going to do when I am all done with all the classes.

Maybe I will actually level one completely naked from 1 to 85 in Cataclysm. The way it looks like gear is going to scale after 80 I think it would be nearly impossible.  So I'll have to do it as a Disc Priest.  One thing for sure that I have learned so far is that a Disc Priest has the best survivability in the game against a single target that can't silence you.  Who would have ever thought that a healer, in a healing spec, would be the best class to take damage.  Heck, I never even need to heal myself when I quest on my healer because it never takes any damage.  Yeap, that is my quest for Cataclysm.  Level my Disc Priest from 80 to 85 naked.

Leveling Naked is Fun.