On the ease of Leveling: Worgens, Whining and Warriors

It took a while but I finally found a hook to make me enjoy leveling my little Worgen Druid.

WoWScrnShot_022414_190920

Ever since level 40 ish, we’ve been running every single dungeon  as a two person group and so far, 32 levels later it’s been a blast. Not only has this helped me feel a lot more comfortable playing Balance (a spec I haven’t touched since Wrath) but I think this has helped crystallize my feelings towards the intended Proving Grounds change. Dungeons whilst leveling are too easy by far. We’re running a Prot Warrior and Balance Druid combo and haven’t had any issues even when I’ve accidentally thrown mobs at other packs whilst trying to pour a drink one handed. I know that I’ve played a Druid since vanilla and yes, Mr Harpy has tanked on a Warrior since Molten Core including 25 man heroic progression fights in the past but this isn’t about ability to play, we couldn’t fail if we wanted to. I’m not saying that will continue all the way to level 90 but we know that we can two man the first Pandaria dungeons because we’ve already done it at the right level albeit on different classes.  Yes, it’s leveling but that is meant to be where you learn to play, having to expand your toolbox usage with every new spell you get and personally I don’t think it’s fair to set the bar so low below the level cap and then suddenly force players to jump through hoops in order to essentially run the same 5 man content just tuned harder.

The game should be progressive, every 10 levels or so everything should get harder so you have to think about what you’re doing. However we know that with the ability to buy level 90s,  if anything the lower levels will get easier not harder which is going to contribute to the issues we already face in group content. If you can either faceroll your way to 90 or hand over your credit card then yes that does mean that there will be some people who struggle in 5 mans either as new players or on new classes but them having obtained silver in test which can be learnt by rote without the random input of players is pointless.  Without a challenge, there is no purpose… but that challenge should not be artificially inserted 99 levels too late and worse input in such a way that it doesn’t fully reflect on what you’ll actually be asked to do in a heroic dungeon. Why not just tune the normals correctly so that they require some thought  and quite possibly some crowd control and then limit entry to the heroic versions to people who have completed the majority of the normals*. That way people will be familiar with said dungeons, will have obtained loot which will help them run the heroics and more importantly will have played with real people.

On our road to Northrend, we also took a brief detour to Karazhan to see how that had changed, given that Mr Harpy tanked him way back in the first few weeks of the Burning Crusade on a warrior with similar health to his new alt.

WoWScrnShot_022614_004713

Yep, a picture is worth a thousand words. The only thing which hasn’t changed is the lack of a mount in the loot. In fact I suspect whilst we stopped here and went back to doing 5 man content, the only fight we might found painful would have been Chess but since that is soloable even that would doable.

On a slightly less whiny note, I’d forgotten how beautiful the Old Kingdom dungeons were. Who needs a Garrison, I’m planning on living here.

WoWScrnShot_022614_174450

*I would have said every one but the random dungeon queue adds an annoyance factor to that.

Quick Thoughts on the proposed Gear Changes

My first thoughts on reading Blizzard’s new blog post about itemization changes in the next expansion can best be described as “NO NO NO NO NO” said in a tone similar to that of a certain raid boss. Once I’d stopped throwing my toys out of the pram, I decided to step back and unpick the aspects I find most concerning.

1. Spirit otherwise known as some healers are more equal than others

Secondary stats on armor pieces will also no longer include Spirit, nor will they include Bonus Armor, which are reserved exclusively for non-armor pieces (which are explained below).
Non-Armor Pieces: Weapons, Rings, Cloak, Necklace, and Trinket 

Secondary Stats
The information about secondary stats on armor above also applies here. In addition, Spirit and Bonus Armor can appear on these items. Spirit is only useful for healers. Bonus Armor is generally only useful for tanks. A Spell Power piece without Spirit may be attractive to healers or may be attractive to DPS casters instead.

  • The intent of including Spirit and Bonus Armor on these pieces is to make sure some items are still valuable only to healer and tank specs, helping to make sure they don’t have too much competition for gear against the more numerous DPS players in a given group. These are also stats we consider interesting, because how much of each of these stats a tank or healer might want is more subjective. For example, one tank in a group might prefer more Bonus Armor while another might prefer more Haste.
  • In the case of Spirit, imagine that stacking Spirit on every non-armor slot will give you more mana regeneration than you would reasonably need. That is to say, you likely won’t need Spirit on every single spot in order to function as a healer.

So in a nutshell, the only items with spirit on them will be the incidentals. The only way in which this will work is if all healers require virtually the same amount of spirit to function properly in a raid environment. In the last nine years of WoW this has not been the case (ignoring those healers who didn’t need spirit to start with) so that doesn’t inspire confidence now. Their use of “likely won’t” is even more concerning. I suppose I want the ability to stack spirit if I choose rather than having to accept that someone else thinks that X is a suitable maximum for any given level of content. What I want is likely to vary from content to content and fight to fight and yes I know I’m picky.

2. Secondary stats set in stone

  • Secondary stats don’t change based on spec on armor pieces (or any piece).

What I want on my dps spec is unlikely to be optimum for my healing spec therefore I will still require the bag space to carry around two lots of gear.

3. RNG is not exciting. It’s frustrating, annoying, petty and generally irritating (see Timeless Isle) but not exciting.

  • The design intent of these additional qualities on items is to make itemization more exciting and to give it more longevity. Rather than waiting weeks to get a breastplate, you might get one pretty quickly—but to get a true “best-in-slot” item will take much more effort and a bit of luck. Here are a few more points to consider for these properties:

I’d rather wait 15 weeks for the item I want to drop rather than get 14 second rate versions. Assuming (which I know is dangerous) that there are still haste caps, then the ebb and flow as you attempt to get lucky with the pieces you really want will get old fast. I’m also curious about how the tertiary stats will work as for example as a Healer I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want life stealing on anything and the same could potentially be said for cleave.

4. PvP gear

Although there was no mention of PvP gear in the post, I find myself wondering if the intent is to make that a lucky dip too in that you buy a token with your currency and then with fingers crossed hope it turns into something useful. If not then more people might be drawn towards PvP gear simply because you can see what you’re getting before hand. Although if PvP gear continues to be of a lower itemization than PvE this might allay that.

That said, we aren’t even in beta yet. The next few months most definitely will be interesting and in the words of rather annoying robot from Ulduar..

I’m ready to play!

Fear of Flying (and being 90)

My Monk is just on the cusp of 89 and endgame is so close I can almost taste it. My honor point stash is close to maxed and I’ve got plenty of justice points to play with too. Yet I almost don’t want to hit 90. I love the class, pvp is so much fun and suddenly battlegrounds that I hated on Sprout, I now adore. Strand of the Ancients being one because if no one else is slowing vehicles well I can bring them to halt plus healing whilst nuking annoying people in the face… always awesome.

So therefore my rough plan is to force myself over the finishing line and then start both pvping with the big boys and at least hanging out in the Isle of Thunder and running scenarios with the intention of getting a look at the Battlefield Barrens carry on before it’s removed. Here’s hoping I still have enough time to get the Hordebreaker title, after all, it’s some what appropriate in oh so many ways.

I also need a proper transmogrification outfit because I can’t always hide like this:

WoWScrnShot_071213_211448

Baby panda + zen mediation = Cuteness

I’m also planning on tackling my left over achievements in a reasonably sensible fashion. Got far too many left to tick off to suit my list focused brain. Besides this might slow down the march to 90.

A Crisis of Confidence

My love affair with Priests has hit a stumbling block. I’ve never liked Disc as a spec and always resented being pushed into it throughout Wrath and Cataclysm for both PvE and PvP. With Mists I vowed I’d never play a spec I didn’t like again and I’ve tried to persevere with Holy, I really have but in PvP in particular I have terrible mobility and when shut down I’m rather squishy to say the least. Sure, gear is part of it, but when you’ve already got over 55 percent resilience (or whatever it’s called these days) but people still regularly crit you for 200k, getting a few percent more isn’t going to make a huge difference.

I miss the days when I could as a healer take on a dpser and stand a chance of winning (i.e. every expansion bar this one). That coupled with a few stupid mistakes in roughly pve related things, brought on in the main part by my shyness when having to play with strangers have left me wondering what good is Sprout. She struggles to do her dailies alone, random battlegrounds are hugely painful because as soon as one or two competent dpsers glare at her she tends to go splat and I’m too short of time and too insecure to raid anymore.

And yes, emo post is emo.

Daily Delights

My feelings towards Dailies are well documented. I hated them from the minute they were introduced in the Burning Crusade, seeing it as nothing more than a cynical attempt from Blizzard to force the player base to log in each and every day. Nothing in the subsequent five years has done anything to alter that view point, in fact I’d argue the opposite. Which brings us to MoP, the expansion of the Daily. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand Blizzard’s desire to gate reputation. They don’t want a repeat of previous expansions where a good chunk of people did nothing but run dungeons over and over til their eyes bleed, reached exalted with everything and then preceded to whine about having nothing to do. However I don’t believe the current system was the way to handle it.

What would have been wrong with having a reputation cap per faction per week just like the conquest, valor, justice and honour points. It could easily have been the total amount of rep per day times seven, perhaps increasing as you climbed the reputation levels. That would remove the frustration felt when for whatever reason you can’t log in on a specific day and yet you need that rep like yesterday. A further simple twist would have been to make it just like conquest in that you can earn X amount from one area (arenas), Y amount from another (battlegrounds) and Z from a third (rated battlegrounds). That way people could do a heroic wearing a tabard for a bit, do a few dailies and perhaps use their professions for a bit more. Variety is the way to stop people getting bored, not shoehorning them into doing a set number of quests every day.

So now we’ve established beyond all reasonable doubt that I loathe dailies, despise them and would quite happily leap up and down on top of them yelling unpolite comments about their nearest and dearest, I want to talk about the dailies I find bearable. Perhaps my all together favourite is this beauty. I love speeding down the wall, eyes half shut as the landscape goes flying past, frantically trying to steer past spilled oil and barricades. In fact whenever I’m passing by, I pop up there and repeat the course and to me, that’s what dailies should be, quests you actually go out of your way to do because they’re frantic and fun.

Another favourite which also favours speed is this one from the Temple of the White Tiger. Now the first time I did this, I hesitated and failed time after time, getting more and more frustrated. Then driven on by Mr Harpy’s offer to do it for me (naturally he being a rogue did it perfectly the first time), I took a deep breath and ran for my little life. Indeed when it comes to this quest, the phrase “he [or she] who hesitates is lost” couldn’t be more accurate.

There are few others I enjoy, wrestling a shark with my bare hands springs to mind as does battling with my “nemesis” at the Temple of the Red Crane but the vast majority are just a mindless time sink in which I grab as many mobs as possible before aoeing them down and profiting. It’s just like having to do the dishes over and over again intermingled with throwing out the rubbish and picking up the leaves from the garden. I log intending to do all sorts of things, pvp, chat with people in my friends list, tame pets but by the time I’ve tackled my dailies, I’m so sick of the game I tend to log off, looking for other things to do.

The issue is exacerbated by the really random nature of the dailies, getting the same set three days in a row is just painful, especially when you happen to hate those particular quests. If dailies are going to be Blizzard’s answer to providing new content then those dailies have to be fun, they have to be varied (and that includes using the model used to great effect in Money Matters) and above all, they should be just one other aspect of the game. Something that people can choose to do, not a path we’re forced down regardless of how much playtime we have.

As a side note, returning to Money Matters, wouldn’t it be awesome if there were multiple different ways to approach the bulk of the dailies. You could take an intellectual route, perhaps tricking your way to your objective or maybe by simply being nice. The next time around you could take a more agility driven path, focusing on speed or sneakiness. Another day, if time was an issue you could steamroll your way through using brute force and strength. The final path would of course involve stamina and being in it for the long haul.

My guilty secret: Pet Battles and Me.

I have a confession to make.

I hate pet battles.

I want to like them, I really do. I’ve been a pet collector in-game right from the very start. I sold the clothes off my Night elf’s back to buy my first pet, a bombay cat and ever since then I’ve run dungeons, quested and grinded my way to various pets. I’ve bought them from the pet store and the auction house. I’ve even jousted just for pets but the truth is, pet battles leave me cold.

I love the detail which has gone into the flavour text for each pet.

I’m in awe of the huge scope of both pet families and models which will become available to us and I already have a sort of wish-list in my head. I wanted quite a few of the new pets for years and now we’re finally going to be able to get them. In fact the only way they could improve in that regard is if they made a mini harpy (which is clearly a huge oversight on Blizzard’s part). In fact I look at the different spells available to the pets, to the love and attention shown to them and then I look at my own class. At the clunkiness of Chakras, Power word: Solace and Holy Nova requiring a glyph slot and I feel slightly annoyed.

Then there is the actual battling itself. In the average battleground, Sprout uses over forty five different buttons/binds on vud’ho. Now that includes both defensive and offensive spells, drinks, racials, trinkets, nets, pots and cooldowns and would be much higher if I included her party favours for graveyard camping. In the pet battles, each pet has three abilities and as you level, each of those three slots ends up with a choice of two abilities to fill it. So you have a stunning choice of 6 abilities per pet but you can only use three at once. To make matters worse, at least from my perspective, the only interaction I have is choosing which pets and which of the few abilities to use. There is no equivalent of the hit cap, instead I’m a 100 percent at the mercy of RNG which can be frustrating to say the least. I suppose I’m so used to being able to improve my performance through the use of addons, keybinds, talents, enchants, gear and consumables that paring everything down seems unchallenging and almost boring. Sure you can cherry pick your team but to me at least that’s another issue. I have certain favourite pets, these aren’t particularly special creatures but they have meaning to me. They are the ones that ideally I would want to use in the pet battles but it’s hard to ignore the fact that other pets would have a higher success rate, perhaps due to the whole rock, paper, scissors effect or simply because they have better stats. So far I’ve just been steam rolling my way to victory with a suboptimal team but I’m not sure I can do that all the way.

Once you’ve captured the pets, the frustration doesn’t end. All critters aren’t created equal which means that quite often you find yourself having to let go of little Flopsy the cottontailed bunny because he’s a common bunny and you’re after his rare big brother. I’d much prefer it if there wasn’t a cap on the number of pets we are allowed. 500 seems like a decent number until you start doing the maths.

Now of course there are some plus points, seeing a horde of rats run at an unsuspecting critter is always good for a smile plus it reminds me of the many day trips to Hamelin I had to go on as a child. I’m hugely in favour of anything which gets people out of cities and into the world (unless of course they’re the jerks who like to follow people around trying to kill the critters people are trying to battle). I imagine that just like with Archaeology the gankers will be out in force for the first few months of the expansion.

Will I partake, yes. I at least want to collect my very own baby Vermling but I don’t see myself going beyond that point. I’ll pick up the various pet models that I like along the way, oddly enough, most of these despite being labelled “tiny” are bigger than my Gnome but I miss the complexity of playing my actual characters. I also don’t like the anonymity of the whole system. What’s the point of keeping score without recording losses? In a way I find it a bit insulting that Blizzard are basically implying that the whole pet collecting community can’t take competitive combat. In my experience at least, knowing who just flattened you can go a long way into pushing you to improve, something we should all be striving for. WoW is a multi-player game in which we compete on so many levels, why should this be exempt?


In short, pet battling feels a bit like a single player Strand of the Ancient, only the demolishers have cute little faces.

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to

I know you should be grateful to receive any gift but I have misgivings about the 7th anniversary present.

First up, it takes a bag space. Always a contentious issue for me and my alts. Secondly, it only lasts an hour at a time. Thirdly, it only lasts an hour if you stay alive for said hour.

I have to echo the conversation in trade chat I came out of AV to, I’d rather have had a mini-pet.

Out of the Mist: First thoughts on the proposed new talent system, Pandas and the lack of Alliance love

Partly to see whether by the time the expansion goes live, my feelings have changed in any way and partly because speculation is always fun.

Talent trees:

My instant gut reaction was one of “Nooooooo”, but after some reflection and a good look at the existing trees, I think this has a lot of potential. Right now, we have talents you want to take, talents you have to take and filler bits and pieces you take only to progress down the trees. I much prefer the idea of only having to pick talents that interest me and getting all the current modifiers just baked into either spells themselves or given as bonuses when you pick your specialisations.

Now we know that spells will be acquired in one of three ways.

  • Base-line as part of your class. Probably stuff like Levitate, Prayer of Healing, Mind spike for Priests. Will be interesting to see if all the basic heals (flash, heal, greater) stay baseline. I noticed on the screenshots they provided at Blizzcon, that Holy Paladins got Holy Light as one of their Holy specialisation spells, so from that we can possibly extrapolate that all the efficient heals will only be accessible to healers. If this is true, it will be interesting to see what else is removed from certain specs. For example will healing Priests keep mind blast?
  • As a reward for picking a certain spec. For Holy, I would imagine we’re looking at Circle of Healing, Lightwell (unless they finally decide to give up on it), Spirit of Redemption, Chakras and their associated Holy Words and so on.
  • From your talent choices.
So if we look at the existing Holy Priest tree, we can see that the entire first row are purely modifier talents, providing increases to a variety of heals and decreasing the cast time of some of our slower heals. Nothing exciting, interesting or thought provoking there. So that’s potentially eight talent points that could easily just be baked into our spec choice.
The same principle continues throughout the tree, whether it’s cooldown reductions (see Tome of Light), increased throughput under certain conditions (Test of Faith) or to specific spells (Empowered Healing). In fact out of the 37 points available to spend in Holy, we only get five new abilities, everything else is just a modifier of some sort.
  • Desperate Prayer
  • Lightwell
  • Chakra and it’s associated Holy Words (I’m only counting these as one ability because you can’t have access to both Holy Words at once.
  • Circle of Healing
  • Guardian Spirit
Spirit of Redemption isn’t an ability you can choose to use. There is no “kill me now” button on your interface and thus it’s basically a modified and slightly slower death, not a new ability.

Of these we know that Desperate Prayer looks like it will remain a talent point and Circle of Healing is confirmed (at this point in time) as being an ability Holy Priests get for choosing to be Holy. So we will still have access to two of the five. I actually like Chakra despite it’s clunkiness and thus hope it hangs around. Given that they haven’t quit on the Lightwell yet despite years of complaints, I imagine that it and Chakra will make the expansion in some form or another. Guardian Spirit on the other hand, I’m not so sure about. The proposed Priest talent tree has a couple of potential tank cooldowns on offer and I’m a little concerned that raid balance could be thrown if non-tanks have access to more than one tank saver.

So on paper at least, we should lose very little but at the same time have the chance to gain some new and interesting abilities. I think we also have to factor in glyphs here, to me at least, that’s where the majority of spell modification should take place.

New Race:

Not sold I’m afraid. I own a Pandaren Monk mini-pet and it’s one of the most annoying things in-game, up there with Monkey pets, ice lance, spell steal, inner focus and mind spike. If the Pandarian race or Monks of any race make even half as many annoying noises.. grr. Imagine raiding to the soundtrack of nails down a blackboard.

Theramore:

Just no! I’m rather sick of my favourite zones in-game being destroyed for one reason or another. My Night Elves are traumatised by the loss of Auberdine, My Gnomes are still struggling to overcome the fact that they couldn’t take back Gnomeregan, not to mention Southshore and the Battle of Andorhal and now we’re going to lose Theramore.. Poor Spot :(

Not to mention that from an RP perspective on my server at least, we’re meant to believe that a bunch of people who can’t even win Tol Barad attacks 70 percent of the time are actually going to manage to take a fortified town? I don’t need to lose anything to want to fight, I’ve already lost enough. My hatred burns bright already, for what they did to Southshore (one of my favourite haunts in Vanilla), I’d happily go to war.

The Culture of Losing: Gear, Bots and Strand of the Ancients

This is a rant thinly disguised as a constructive post.

First up, disclaimers.

I realise that random is entirely that. The players making up your team and the opposing team are picked at random from a large pool of people. The battleground map is picked at random too. There is no malicious consciousness set on deliberately ruining your day behind these random choices. Sometimes it just feels that way.

Gear Discrepancies

I don’t want to be playing with sub 100k health and zero resilience wearing people, especially when the opposing team are fielding a full bunch of ruthless wearing, hard hitting, 140k plus, objective focused gladiator wannabes. Nor do I want to face people with no gear, I don’t play battlegrounds to farm people at the graveyard. What’s the point of keeping score when you know the outcome as soon as you see the enemy riding across the map.

I’m not saying that everyone with sub 100k health isn’t objective focused just that if you can’t kill anyone or outheal anyone’s damage, you are a waste of space (Yes, there are exceptions to this and they are usually Frost Mages however they tend to be few and far between). I’m currently playing a Resto Druid and the difference between geared and non-geared players is immense. I spent a good 10 minutes running around Tol Barad with 5 brand new 85 Horde trying to kill me but barely being irritating. If you are in a 10 man battleground and half your team can’t kill one healer you have a major problem. Suddenly you are outnumbered nine to five. Then there is the fact that if you are particularly squishy, you tend not to be able to reach any objectives in the first place. Spending 90 percent of your time in the graveyard is not helpful.

Then there is the lose fast culture. The two teams clash, one team comes off as the clear and definite winner due in part to gear. From the graveyard comes the “lose fast”, “they out gear us”, “we can’t win”, “you all suck”, the latter usually coming from a Deathknight in greens and epics from a previous expansion. The game is basically over, it doesn’t matter how hard you as an individual try when a good chunk of your team are content with taking their losing honor as fast as possible and trying again.

So on to the constructive bit. You can’t enter Heroics without a certain item level of gear so why not implement something similar but different for Battlegrounds. The 40 mans would be available to anyone regardless of their gear as the sheer numbers tend to balance out across both teams. That way brand new 85s would still be able to play with friends whilst gearing up.

The rest, because each individual contribution is much more important in smaller scale PvP would be divided up into two brackets on plus and minus say 340 item level basis (the number would increase as the expansion progressed).  Everyone in levelling gear would only be fighting people in levelling gear. Yes, it won’t stop people in pure PvE gear getting steam-rolled by those in PvP gear but since it seems rare (in my experience) that anyone bar brand new characters don’t have some sort of PvP gear already, it shouldn’t be too bad. It should make everyone’s experiences a bit better and provide more balanced games, removing the need for threads like this on the forums.

Afkers/Bots

Then we come to the afkers/bots, some of which are doing it because gearing up half way through an expansion/season is horribly painful and some of whom just don’t like PvP in general or hate having to play with the “random” factor.  Having recently took part in an Arathi Basin in which five people, one third of our team never actually moved from the start zone, I’m rather unimpressed with people who join games and don’t play. Again, I feel it comes down to the accepted culture of losing that permeates battlegrounds at the moment. Through the random queue system and the various bits and pieces you get throughout the game (especially during battleground weekends) honor just ticks up too fast from losing. There is no incentive to fight hard to turn around a losing game  and since Blizzard don’t seem to care about people botting in PvP, there is no incentive not to do that either. Yes, I’m sure that people who do afk through games would rather pick up winning honor but it’s still better than nothing. Part of the problem is perhaps that honor can be converted to justice points allowing people who don’t like PvP to gear up for heroics/raids in an afk fashion. Botting 5 mans is a bit more obvious than botting battlegrounds.

What I would like to see is a reduction in the amount of honor you receive for a losing game. The object of PvP is to win, everyone in the team should be focused on that and not the fact that losing fast is better than winning slowly. I accept that sometimes bad luck means you can lose ten plus games in a row, so I feel that there should be some honor for losing but it should be minimal. Hopefully this would also mean that the voices crying to lose fast from the graveyard would finally shut up and start focusing on objectives.

I would also like to see the honor all being rewarded at the end of the game, not piecemeal through as it currently is. That way if someone is afk and it takes you half the game to get them kicked out, they get nothing just as they deserve.

I also feel that Blizzard should police their battlegrounds and implement severe punishments on a regular basis for people caught botting/afking. At the very least, all their honor/conquest points for the current season should be wiped along with everything they have bought with said honor up to this point, including any PvE gear/mounts etc. It is after all, a form of griefing. Winning with one hand tied behind your back because you don’t have a full team is tricky and the late night games where you are desperately hoping the opposing team has as many bots as you to give your side a fighting chance are horrendous. I once played an AV in which both teams had 40 players but only six people from eighty were actually fighting. Five on our side, four paladins and my hunter and one on theirs. Needless to say we won, but it took a while. Unfortunately though, whilst threads like this fill the battleground forums, Blizzard keep rather quiet on the subject.

Strand of the Ancients/10 mans

Everyone who likes battlegrounds will have one or two maps they hate. For me, it’s SotA and EotS, according to the forums for other people it’s AV, Isle of Conquest and quite often SotA. I’m also not too partial to the 10 mans because of some of the reasons I’ve outlined above. You can’t afford to have low geared or afk people in a 10 man unless the opposing team has similar and since that’s random, more often than not, they just pull you down.

So I propose that we can set one or two battlegrounds that we just don’t want to ever see. For me, one would definitely be SotA, my heart sinks every time I see that loading screen.  Although popping Treeform and dancing about instant rooting demolishers and players is pretty fun, I could live without the thrill and happily never see the place the again. It’s not helped by the fact that someone always afks straight away before the game even starts. Failing that, I’d like random to be a bit less random. Knowing that if you get SotA, whatever battleground you get next won’t be SotA would go along way to making the place a bit more palatable.

Random questions and stuff

But Teasel, you only hit 85 10 days ago, surely you must have been one of those undergeared people you’re complaining about?

Nope. I timed my arrival at 85 to co-inside with Alterac Valley weekend. When I dinged, I already had 4000 honor points and 4000 justice points so I could already buy a couple of decent 85 items, which I gemmed/enchanted before queuing up for more 40 man goodness. When AV weekend ended, I then queued specifically to the 40 mans for a day or two to make sure I had gear I was happy with before hitting the random queue. I hate the idea of inflicting myself on people if I feel I can’t pull my weight.

Losing fast? Can you lose fast? Oh yes. However, it tends to bring out my bloody mindedness and I’m good at making losses slow and painful. Tagging back bunkers, stealing flags and trying to make sure the lemmings don’t die can be lots of fun especially when they are all calling you names in chat.

Finally, yes I realise that there are rated battlegrounds where you don’t have to carry people with zero resilience (unless you choose to) or put up with afkers/bots. However, I like to battleground throughout the day and finding nine to 14 likeminded people at 6am would be a challenge. Plus fielding a team which works well together takes time and commitment (in my experience getting commitment out of WoW players is a painful process). Besides, people should be able to queue for an aspect of the game which they enjoy without having to put up with bots/afkers and rogues wearing dresses.

All players are created equal…

In between waiting for the cowardly Horde to queue to Alterac Valley, I’ve been thinking about Blizzard’s new Healing Philosophy and why it worries me. To quote Ghostcrawler:

Prior to LK, healers could run out of mana, and for the most part it worked. They didn’t just use their efficient heals, because sometimes their group would die if they did. They didn’t just use their big heals though, because they’d run out of mana (and then the group would die).

I think of healing like a cross-continental road race. If you go too slow, you’ll lose the race, but if you just floor it the whole time, you’ll run out of fuel a lot and waste time stopping to fill it up again. There is a happy medium somewhere in between. However the encounter specifics push you out of that medium, sometimes asking you to choose big numbers over efficiency and sometimes vice-versa.

I know it sounds like we are picking on healers all the time, but once you can run out of mana again, I think everything will just feel better, your choices about what spell to cast next become more compelling, and the healing game overall will be more engaging.

Borrowed from this thread. Now maybe I’m nitpicking but he doesn’t seem to be addressing a couple of important points. Firstly running out of mana even though you’re doing everything right but your group is hugging the fire, not using cc properly and the like is not engaging.  Frustrating, annoying and likely to drive you mad perhaps, but engaging or fun, no.

PvP Implictions.

Now we all know PvP isn’t balanced around 1 v 1 and that’s fine, Warcraft is a multiplayer game. However when you want healers to have mana issues PvP becomes a problem. At the moment as a Disc Priest I have a chance to beat all classes in a 1 v 1. It comes down to how well I play versus how badly they play. Which in my mind is how it should play out, the best player of the two should win.

In theory Dpsers should have high damage to compensate for the fact that they are A. squishy and B. can’t heal. Healers on the other hand, should have weak dps but can heal. However over the years the lines have blurred and with Cataclysm it seems as if all the classes who currently have no self heals whatsoever are gaining them. Take hunters for example, at the moment they are usually a win for me. Yes, they can have high damage but since they have no way of healing, with dots, shadowfiend and reflective shield, I usually have no problems in a 1 v 1. It might take me a while but I can wear them down.

Fast forward to Cataclysm, they get a heal mechanic, their damage will scale up and we get less regen across the board and our fast heals get a hefty mana hike. Unfortunately fast flash heal type spells have to be bread and butter in PvP because even if people’s time to live is increased to the point where you can happily use greater heal to keep them up, kicks and interupts become a problem. Add in the fact that anti healing debuffs are being reduced across the board to 25 percent and I can’t help thinking that whilst health pools are definitely increasing, healing won’t scale at all well.

I fully admit when my Boomkin sees a well geared Disc Priest my little feathery heart sinks and like most if not all dpsers, I hate going 1 v 1 against a healer but even without nerfing healing, Cataclysm is already giving us more tools for dealing with the “cheating swine”. Classes without interrupts are gaining interrupts which will make beating healers easier.

Is that a problem? For me yes. I like healing in PvP, I’ve always healed in PvP. Yet, if I can’t beat anyone in a 1 v 1, it lessens my options in group PvP as well. Why bring a healer who is a squishy liability when you could just bring another dps. Things will die faster and it’s not as if said healer will bring anything when it only takes one member of the opposing team to deal with them, with the healer having to focus 100 percent on keeping themselves alive. Having the philosophy of fast expensive spells versus slow cheap efficient ones is ok in PvE when damage is predictable but less good in PvP when the choice is a simple cast X expensive spell or die.

Gearing and Levelling.

There will always be a sweet spot when gear reaches a certain point. Let’s say it’s tier 14, grab this gear and suddenly you have mana to spare again. If Blizzard hold the faith on their philosophy, they would have to nerf regen which then negatively effects everyone who is below the gear curve. If you start levelling a healer six months into the expansion, things could be worse than levelling one at the start and by the sound of it, levelling as a healer at the start will be no walk in the park. Neither is it good for the healers in tier 14 who are all excited about their new shinies only to log in a month later and find they are back where they were when they had tier 13.

Wow is all about character progression and having one of the three roles either remaining stationary or even worse going backwards whilst the other two move forwards is bad design plain and simple. No one wants to be weaker as they level up and yet that’s what is happening to the healers on the beta right now.

Looking for Group.

At the moment the Looking for Group finder just picks 3 dpsers, 1 tank and 1 healer and pops you all into a dungeon together. That design really won’t work if CC is as crucial to 5 mans as Blizzard seem to want. Will people be leaving group immediately if the party doesn’t contain say a rogue (sap, blind, stuns), hunter (traps, pet to offtank perhaps) and a mage (everyone’s favourite CC polymorph)? Quite possibly I would imagine, especially if healers and/or tanks have instant queues they may turn out to be very picky. In fact I’m not sure I would blame them, if running a certain instance was considerably easier with a particular group composition then I might be in trade looking for the perfect group rather than just joining the LFG as well.

The flavour of CC you bring might be the new gearscore, which for certain classes is a bit nasty. Take priests, our CC comes into two basic flavours, fear (which really isn’t great in an instance unless you pull each trash pack way back) and mind control (which also effectively crowd controls the priest). Neither of those is good enough to keep a mob out of action for long periods of time, especially when compared to the likes of polymorph. On top of that, shadowpriests bring psychic horror but a 10 second cc on a two minute cooldown is hardly ground shatteringly exciting or useful.

General thoughts.

Is Blizzard balancing around raid content, where it’s likely everyone will have replenishment available to them? If they want healers to struggle it’s likely that they are, otherwise in raid conditions, mana would be less of an issue which leads me to another problem I have with this design chance.

Back in vanilla, I was the master of my fate. I had a huge stack of mana pots, nights dragon breath and bandages. Sure, I got the odd innervate but by and large, I had to stand on my own two feet and I was balanced around my ability, not some random buff that class Y might bring. This is the perfect chance to remove replenishment, make mana tide shaman only, alter hymn of hope slightly so it only works for the priest and so on. Give us control and let us live or die by our mistakes not our party makeup.

I fully support healing requiring some thought but I think Blizzard are going about it all wrong. Remove buffs like replenishment or give them to everyone so you can balance content around them (obviously I would prefer removal). Give us the five second rule back and downranking, so that smart play is rewarded, rather than just tying one hand behind our backs.

As things stand at the moment, I won’t be healing a dungeon whilst levelling and for the first ever  in the five years I’ve played WoW, I’m considering making a dpser my main for Cataclysm. Not because I shy away from a challenge, I’ve two manned plenty of heroics in both this and the previous expansion (back when gear was an issue and we actually had to use CC) and I still remember healing a 10 man Stratholme virtually solo the day our tank got his arcanite reaper. It’s not because I think Cataclysm will be too hard, but basically I pay the same amount per month as everyone else and I really don’t appreciate the fact that it seems as if I will be a second class citizen.

Also if you play Horde in Misery EU and are between lvs 71 and 79, queue for AV please. I’m sick of WSG, AB and EotS and my little warrior wants to slam her new shield in your face :D

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,172 other followers