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.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,344 other followers