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Archive for May, 2010

Raiding Defined

WoW.com had a Cynics Guide to World of Warcraft recently, and they defined raiding more or less as such : “An activity in which we spend hours of our time doing something we dislike, with people we hate, for loot that never drops.”

You know, there might be an element of truth in that.

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I’ve tried a lot of different classes, roles, archetypes in WoW. Started out tank, tried dps, back to a tank/dps hybrid, then a healer, again a tank/dps hybrid, a short stint as ranged dps and now primarily back to melee dps/tank hybrid.

After 4, nearly 5 years of doing this I’ve realised I only really excel at dps. Every time I pick up this role, I do well. I do decent numbers, I do what I’m told, I don’t die in fire. Healing never really gelled, and tanking, while fun, has always been more of a side project.

It’s with this final realisation that I decide to choose to walk into Cataclysm as pure DPS. Sure there’s a glut of us, sure the lack of flexibility and options is sometimes paralysing, sure 15 minute queue times is going to be a tough nut to crack. But on the good side it’s only one set of gear to work towards as opposed to two or even three, and it’ll give me a lot more free time to do other things.

I was really, strongly considering picking up the tanking role for Cataclysm. Demand will, as always, be fierce. Or even perhaps giving healing a shot again. But in a small moment of self-realisation the other night, I realised I’m a competitive person. And the only real way to be competitive in PVE, is to be DPS. I like being at the top of the charts, and living with hybrid tax is punishing. I no longer want to be hovering around the number 2 or 3 spot. It was with a bit of chagrin that I realised, had i stuck with my mage rather than picking up my DK again, that #1 spot could very likley have been mine today.

Ah, well. Better to realise your true calling late than never. Now the choice, for Cataclysm, hovers between Rogue? Or Hunter. Hmmm.

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Wow. What a mountain out of a molehill.

Some guy called Wolfshead (who I’d never heard of before) ragequits WoW, blames Blizzard for the so called poor state of the industry, and results in the same old tired debate popping about how WoW/Blizzard is the devil/saviour of us all.

At first, I was a little incensed by his remarks. Then I realised I was in the exact same boat when I ragequit WoW about a year ago. I chose to blame it and it’s developers for all the ills, and chose an inferior game to use as some sort of example of how to do things properly.

Except I was wrong. So very, utterly wrong. It took me a few months to realise this, but at least I did.

See the thing is, MMO’s used to be for the hardcore. But regular Joe Average doesn’t want a sandbox. He wants a playground. He doesn’t want to build his own castles, he wants to play on the swings and the jungle gym. WoW has a lot of different swings, seesaws, roundabouts, you name it. And they’re very pretty and colourful and well made and they work very, very well. It even has a bit of a sandbox stuck away there in the corner if you really want to. It’s not all that big, but it’s there.

But every now and then you get the one kid at the playground, let’s call him Jimmy, who doesn’t want to play on the swings and the seesaw, and wants to make his own sandcastle.

And that’s fine. But it’s frackin retarded for Jimmy to stand in the centre of the playground stamping his petulant little foot down and screaming at the top of his lungs demanding the removal of all those swings and seesaws, to be replaced by one giant sandbox. That’s merely the angry tirade of a child who didn’t get the exact present he wanted for Christmas, and really shouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone.

Jimmy, maybe it’s time to realise the playground just isn’t for you. Might I suggest a trip to the beach?

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I’ve recently begun playing my mage again. Not for raiding, but rather just for some pvp and gearing in heroics when I have nothing better to do.

It certainly took this sabbatical from trying to PVP as a DK to realise just how incredibly huge the rift is between certain classes in general PVP is. My mage in Frost spec is simply leagues ahead. I hadn’t played the class in months, pvp gear all hateful and deadly and I do amazingly well in BG’s, well enough to *gasp* consider arena. Hell, I come back to the class and am greeted with buffs rather than nerfs, like Frostfire Bolt being usable with Brain Freeze. Since when did frost mages need pvp buffs? I wish I’d got that memo months ago!

With my DK, every BG feels hollow, frustrating and unfulfilling. Every encounter seemingly regardless of class is the same. Run after guy spamming chains hoping to catch him, and if I do, hit him with Scourge Strike that hits for a whopping 1K. Absolute, total fail. It doesn’t get much better in Arena’s, where DK’s are pretty much bottom of the overall presentation. This has been the case for such a long time now that we aren’t even upset about it. That’s just how it is. Ho hum, DK’s suck at pvp, oh well. What a crock. Obviously Blizzard couldn’t be arsed about fixing DK’s for PVP before Cataclysm, so it’s probably time to realise that it’s an uphill battle and move on.

I still think it’s a great PVE class, both DPS wise and for tanking, but Blizzard needs to really do something about it’s PVP potential if they care at all about it’s viability in PVP. I’ve long believed that a class’s ability to PVP effectively would influence it’s PVE popularity, and with DK numbers appearing to drop daily, it looks more and more like by the time Cataclysm rolls around, this class will be nigh extinct.

Maybe that’s a good thing. Often in WoW’s history, a class needs to nearly die off before Blizzard admit’s they screwed the pooch. And boy did they do that with this class.

My DK will be sidelined, to be used exclusively for raiding for the time being. I love him to pieces and have so many hopes for buffs in future patches and, certainly, looking forward to what Cataclysm heralds for us. But right here, right now? Time to realise, we are Blizzard’s least favourite child. If those buffs don’t materialise in the near future or for Cataclysm, we’re gonna need an insurance policy.

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Recently I’ve begun to wonder whether getting the 2 piece Tier10 for more AoE threat is worthwhile. Thing is, which actual bosses in ICC require strong AoE tanking? Let’s see…

Marrowgar? Nope

Deathwhisper. Kinda, but I’ve had zero problems so far

Gunship. Nope. If you’re going over, you’re on Brann. If you’re staying, you only really need to tank the Sergeant.

Saurfang. Nope.

Festergut. Nope.

Rotface. Nope.

Putricide. Nope.

Blood Princes. Nope.

Blood Queen. Nope.

Valithria. Not really. Just as long as you DnD the worms after the abom goes down. The frost mage simply needs to be mindfreezed, and the blazing skeleton’s Blast Wave can’t be tanked, neither can the suppressors or that other thing that needs to be kited by ranged. So even though there are a lot of adds running around sometimes, you don’t really need to be AoE tanking them.

Sindragosa. Nope.

Lich King. I dunno, haven’t tanked this. I suspect for the offtank, tanking those ghouls in Phase 1, but if DPS is doing it right they won’t even need much aggro since offloading that disease onto them is the proper way to do it. Dunno bout the rest of the fight.

In a nutshell, ICC requires no real AoE tanking whatsoever. It’s pretty safe to say you don’t need 2XT10 and/or the DnD Glyph as a raiding tank, then. So why do so many people out there say that these two elements are vital? For trash? Just let the pally or warrior do it. Is trash really serious business? Are people really so worried about raid trash and running heroics that they’ll blow precious Frost Emblems on 2xT10? Naw, man. Naw. Buy the nonset plate instead. Get that trinket, it’s godly. Buy the cloak, the 264 chest/belt/etc and patch it up with some 245 gear. As a tank, focus on single target threat and survivability. A few dead dps who can’t control their aggro isn’t a train smash. A dead tank on the other hand, is a wipe.

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The Doldrums

I can tell I’m reaching the doldrums when I start playing more Xbox than WoW.

It’s a tough time to be playing WoW now. After the slew of alpha leaks I feel like the last thing I want to do is grind away at Wrath of the Lich King. So much colour has mysteriously drained out of the game lately in the wake of Cataclysm foreboding. The new expansion looks so pretty and colourful in comparison. So much change, so much new stuff to look forward to. But right here, right now, it’s just more ICC. Ho hum.

The best way to deal with the doldrums is to roll an alt, and I see a lot of folks in my guild doing that lately, moreso than usual. I can’t bring myself to do it, though, since I actually like my main. The alternatives are to try out new things. Have done a lot of BG’s and bought some decent pvp gear. Have put together a decent tank set and tanked stuff. Have changed specs around over and over. Still I find myself getting bored at the game and logging out earlier, merely doing my daily dungeon run and jewelcrafting quest, maybe the daily BG. The only nights I spend more than an hour online now are raid nights.

Whichever way you look at it, progression content is drying up rapidly. Ruby Sanctum might tide us over for a bit I suppose, but I’m not terribly excited about it.

I think it’s safe to say, Wrath of the Lich King has reached it’s sell by date. Arthas has been soundly defeated by a good number of guilds (not my guild yet, sadly), people everywhere are running around in full Tier 10, and all in all Blizzard have certainly succeeded in making an endgame more or less accessible to almost everyone.

Which has wrought something of a shorter shelflife.  Compared to BC’s Black Temple, Hyjal and Sunwell, ICC’s 4 month run so far feels as though it’s been decidedly short. Looking back at Burning Crusade, in fact, I feel somewhat shortchanged. I miss all those huge, challenging raids, raids that lasted and were relevant right to the very end of it’s days. Today, nobody goes back to Naxx or Ulduar to gear up.

And that’s sad. Wrath would easily have had another year of life in it’s already tired old bones if Naxxramas and Ulduar remained relevant.

I hope Blizzard learns something of a lesson in this. Content shouldn’t be so quickly discarded, and I hope that in Cataclysm, they give us good reason to go back to the ‘starter’ raids more often much like how we keep doing heroics every day today. The weekly raid system of today has been, I feel, something of a failure because there’s no push to actually clear them, just to get to the first or second boss. Vault of Archavon on the other hand has been a success, and it’s mostly a simple case of adding new content to that raid in the form of a new boss with each new major content patch. Why not do the same with the regular raids?

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This topic spawned by some discussion raging on over at Tobold’s blog.

My trial through WAR resulted in my belief that sandbox PVP is a miniscule niche, and won’t ever really realistically be able to evolve beyond that, probably due to human nature.

Oh, we like the idea of war, of noble battle and glorious victory. But in reality, once embroiled in it ourselves, it’s not so great actually. Especially when we’re on the losing team.

Basically it boils down to the difference between war and sport. Sport has rules in place. Time limits, set objectives, limited team sizes, etc.  And loss in sport isn’t quite so final. There’s always the next game to redeem yourself. Always hope.

War doesn’t work that way, though. You do whatever you can to win. Nothing is sacred. There is no honour in it. You crush the other mercilessly, or are crushed, period. And if you’re the one whose lost, that’s pretty much it. Game Over. Forever.

In short, sport is fun.

War isn’t.

Half the reason WAR died wasn’t even so much the crappy engine or graphics or boring design, it was simply a case of, Order gets completely dominated, lose all hope, and they stop playing, and when they stop playing Destruction gets bored waiting around doing nothing and stops playing, and suddenly nobody’s playing. That’s a recipe for fail right there, ladies. How the hell you didn’t anticipate this evades me, Mythic.

EVE is something of an anomoly, but even so I suspect it’s because even it isn’t truly sandbox, not with high/lowsec space and Concorde and whatnot. Remove those elements, turn the game into one big nullsec sandbox and it would probably implode in a month.

Either that or, perhaps, given enough time we are able to collectively create order out of chaos. Most MMO’s, though, won’t last the six years -give or take a year- it may take for that to happen.

And that’s why, for all the complaining that exists around it, arena and bg’s in WoW are a billion times more fun, more fair and more populous than any PVP MMO game out there. There are more people playing the random BG of the day or in arena’s right now than the entire population of Darkfall.

I don’t think unstructured, free for all sandbox pvp will ever make it into the mainstream. We as a species just aren’t wired that way.

War is hell.

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