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 hint of Vanilla: My thoughts on the original game

There has been a fair amount of Vanilla WoW bashing going on recently, both on twitter  (*) and on the forums. However my memories of the original game that I started playing back in 2005 don’t quite seem to tally up with everyone else’s. I’m not saying it was perfect, far from it and I can understand why Blizzard made a lot of the choices they did, but rose tinted spectacles aside, in many ways, it was the part of the game I enjoyed the most. Now I know a part of that, at least, has to come down to that sense of amazement and awe of those first few weeks and months of playing. Of discovering sea monsters off the coast of Darkshore and being chased by crocolisks through the Wetlands. The Deeprun Tram and Stitches patrolling the road in Duskwood, yes all these played a part in my love affair with WoW but there was more to it than the visual side.

Same server battlegrounds:

Yes the queues were horrific for the Alliance on most PvE servers and the Horde on most PvP servers but PvP is best played when personal. When it’s guild versus guild or you versus your nemesis, the guy you’ve hated since you were both level 30 in STV and you spent the better part of an afternoon taking turns to kill each other whilst fighting quest mobs. I was also rather partial to 24 hours Alterac Valleys when you could go to bed at 2 am and get up and find the game going on eight hours later. In particular the guild versus guild AVs were especially fun but they also served a purpose, as nothing builds teamwork and better game play than trying to beat people who will go straight to IRC and brag about it for the next year if you lose.

World PvP:

Pre battlegrounds, World PvP was prolific and far more fun than it is now that flying mounts factor into the equation. You had a reason to group up for leveling because numbers counted, as shown by the fact that a group of three level 40s in STV could take down a level 60 if played right. Southshore/Tarren Mill and Crossroads provided hours of fun between willing participants. As there was no gear originally associated with this, you could guarantee that everyone was there because they wanted to be there, thus the name calling and whining was kept to a minimum.

No name changes/server transfers:

An officer in my first proper guild said to me one late night, “All you have in WoW is your reputation” and back then it was true. Behave badly and your chances of a decent guild, good runs or being asked anywhere were pretty much zero. Community mattered,  both in and out of guilds and was cemented by the same server battlegrounds. I knew pretty much everyone on my faction at level 60, either because I’d played with them on some dungeon run or other or through pvp or simply by word of mouth. Now I know a handful of people on my current server and through the use of LFR, LFD and random battlegrounds have no incentive to get to know anyone.

Attunement Quests:

Not because I liked running UBRS over and over and over again to help everyone in a 40 man guild get their attunements to Onxyia and Blackwing Lair but because of the story and the sense of achievement. That raids weren’t just slightly bigger versions of dungeons but something a bit special so you entered with a sense of awe. You couldn’t simply stroll in and start killing. They also served a purpose in helping you get to know people outside raiding, in building the team you needed to take down the bosses hiding within.

40 man raiding:

My first ever raid was Molten Core and could be described as a bit of a disaster but that feeling of fighting along side 39 others was intense and immense. That’s what drew me in and addicted me, once I got over my feeling of “omg what if I screw up!!!! and waste everyone else’s time”. I suspect that’s what ruined 10 man raiding for me as well, having done plenty of 10 man Stratholme and Scholomance runs back then I just can’t see 10 man raiding as something epic or exciting. Yes, not all 40 were ever equal but that’s true of every size raid group. There will always been someone or another who is being carried by the rest of the team. Having struggled for weeks to clear our way through AQ40 for example, when we finally managed to kill C’thun as a team it was an amazing feeling, one which wasn’t recreated by any of the boss kills which came afterwards.

No reward for playing badly:

You couldn’t get “good” gear by making mistakes or by doing dailies. You either had to “grind” to rank 11 or higher or you had to raid at a decent level. There was incentive to improve thrust in your face on a daily basis if you wanted to see the entire game. Screw up on a couple of dungeon runs and the whole server knew your name and if you wanted to get asked on other runs, then you had to improve and be seen to improve.

Healers versus Dps:

I could take on most players in 1 v 1s as a Holy Priest and I had a good chance of winning. By the time I had proper pvp gear, warriors could pop recklessness and still lose against me. Now, they’d have to be afk or really bad for me to have a chance of winning.

The 5 second rule and downranking:

These were two of my favourite aspects of being a healer and I have to admit that I was sad to see them go. By the time Naxx rolled around it was amazing what you could do with low level heal spells, especially if you timed it right.

That constant and continuous  feeling of the World:

Very few loading screens and no phasing getting in the way when you’re trying to save guildmates from being ganked.

In conclusion I can’t help shake the feeling that perhaps we’re looking at it wrong, that vanilla, that most boring flavour of all is best applied to the game in it’s current incarnation. When all play styles are accounted for and the distinction between striving to be the best you can be and just bouncing along doing as little as possible is tiny, then there is something wrong. Botters are rife, so are loud mouthed and abusive jerks in every aspect of the game because there are no consequences to  obnoxious behaviour. Blizzard have tried to give us everything we wanted and yet the social side of the game, that huge and important aspect has suffered as a result. I can raid, dungeon and pvp without investing any effort in the people I play with and that is reflected in the way people behave. “Oh I’m never going to see this person again… so I’ll roll on X loot, call him a bunch of names and then pull the boss and leave”, we see it again and again in blog posts, on the forums and on twitter…. somewhere along the line we have created our own form of hell.

* Sorry for borrowing your post but you had the twitter conversation all nicely laid out already!

And the Wheel keeps turning: PvP and Chakras

Nothing seems to divide Holy Priests like Chakras. I know people who have quit their Priests all together over them, Priests who have gone Disc or Shadow because of them as well as plenty of Priests who have stuck with Holy but tend to pick their Chakra and stick with it regardless of their circumstances. My focus today is PvP but a lot of what applies here can also be used whilst dungeoning and raiding.

First of all, know your “enemy”!

chakra01

and

chakra02

Now I deliberately didn’t include the third Chakra and the reason for that is simple. Chastise is our default ability if we aren’t in a Chakra at all. So lets say I’m in Serenity and I have been for a while, all I need to do to throw a disorient on that pesky Holy Paladin over there is leave Chakra state, cast Chastise and then re-enter Serenity immediately incurring no real penalty (ok Chastise hits for less but…..).

chastise01

/cancelaura Chakra: Serenity
/cancelaura Chakra: Sanctuary
/cast [target=mouseover, harm, nodead] Holy Word: Chastise; Holy Word: Chastise

You do need to hit the macro twice to get the disorient but it leaves whichever of the two Chakra states you’re in and then will stun either your mouse over target if you have one or your actual target if you don’t. I’d definitely recommend using a macro because in hectic pvp combat the last thing you want to be doing is trying to right click off the right buff whilst the person you want to disorient is trying to smash your face in with an axe.

So with the basics covered, what I do use and why? Well my general rule of thumb sees Serenity as my go to Chakra for most things pvp related. I’m a great fan of casting on the move (you can tell I was a Resto Druid in a former life can’t you) and given that in most pvp, standing still just makes you an easier target, you can’t beat instant cast abilities. Being able to dance through and behind your enemies throwing out heals can make a huge difference on your time to live and that of your team-mates.

Also if you’re left alone, Serenity is definitely where it’s at. That instant heal can and will save your life over and over again.

However, especially in the two 40 mans, Sanctuary has it’s place:

Isle of Conquest

  • On entering the boss room to take down the opposing boss I switch because with his leap, every little bit of aoe healing counts. 
  • If we’re winning by attrition and camping the graveyard, i.e. everyone is grouped up in one place with lots of people taking damage, I switch.

Alterac Valley

  • End bosses are an obvious choice for Sanctuary, especially if you’re forced into pulling with towers up.
  • Any huge face offs on the road, i.e. by Iceblood graveyard or between Stonehearth and Stormpike, using Sanctuary is a potential option. It depends whether you’re just championing one person, i.e. a warrior/deathknight or trying to keep the masses alive.

As for Arenas, given that I only ever play 2 v 2, I tend to switch between Serenity, no Chakra at all for the disorient and then using Chakra: Chastise if I need to nuke.

Basically before you make a decision on which Chakra to use, consider the following:

  1. Are you sticking with the vast majority of the team or are you off either solo or with a handful of others. Then consider Sanctuary for the former and Serenity for the latter.
  2. How many opponents are there? Lets say for example that you and a rogue are attacking the Farm in Arathi Basin. There is just one defender but you know that this team have been fairly good at communicating thus far. Do you stick in your healing Chakra or do you switch to Chastise for the extra bit of oomph? After all, the faster they die, the quicker you can tag.
  3. Is anyone focusing you? Serenity all the way then.

TL,DR

  • Macro cancelling Chakra and disorient early and often. The more CC you can provide, the less healing you need to do. Consider things like Chastise – > Mindcontrol for defending the Lumber Mill in Arathi Basin or in 2 v 2s. Not only is it annoying, it’s also effective, especially if you follow it up by parking the person next to you and then fearing them. 
  • Serenity normally beats Sanctuary unless the opposing team is kindly focusing on aoeing down your team at roughly the same rate, you aren’t taking huge amounts of damage yourself and you don’t like anyone else in the team enough to focus them with lots of single target heals.
  • Chakra: Chastise has it’s place. I use it in scenarios, 5 man groups in which people don’t stand in bad and the tank actually uses cooldowns and for nuking demolishers in Strand of the Ancients. It can also be handy in one v ones against certain classes (i.e the ones which don’t currently hit very hard themselves) as long as you’re ready to swap back to defensive mode Serenity the second they get a mate. The other thing to consider is how many healers are on your team. If I end up in a healer heavy side and no one has the gear/spec set up, I’ll use Chastise for dps, especially to help kill flag carriers whilst the others heal. My Dps isn’t awesome but I’ve never come bottom yet although in random battlegrounds that’s perhaps not surprising.

Above all, don’t be afraid to play around with them. Also I have it on good authority that chastise the disorient is cheating (rich coming from a Paladin :p) so use it often!

The three reasons why I love the Tillers

I admit to being a little dubious when Blizzard first raised the idea of farms in WoW, but a month into the expansion I find myself exalted with the Tillers and more importantly glad I farmed their rep. Quite often the best pleasures in life are simple ones and in many ways you can’t get simpler than planting vegetables and tilling the land, which in a roundabout way brings me to my all time favourite Tiller items.

Gin-Ji Knife Set

This wonderful set makes your character don a chefs hat and start chopping as if you’re in the final minutes of a closely fought Iron Chef battle. You swiftly reduce your kill to a pile of blood red guts such is your enthusiasm. There is a 20 minute cooldown because we can’t have it all, but given that you can use this little beauty on the fallen corpses of your enemies it’s well worth every penny not to mention the bag space it consumes. It’s not usable on anyone who releases fast but those who hang around hoping their mates will kill you… well they could be in for a surprise. A word of warning though, anyone who has been through the “mincer” is likely to spend the rest of the battleground stuck to you like glue (or hiding in a corner shaking).

Goats

I’ve always been fond of goats, in fact I think gnomes and goats have a lot in common as demonstrated in the picture below (the arm belongs to Mr Harpy).

Now I finally have a mount which correctly reflects the state of my bags.

I.e. weighed down with everything apart from the kitchen sink.

Scarecrow

The cocky crow is a wonderful touch, it’s just a shame the scarecrow doesn’t come to life, asking about getting a brain or even better given the time of year set out to get it’s own braiiiiinsss by chasing passers-by because everyone secretly knows that scarecrows or tattiebogles as they call them around here are actually very creepy.

So what are you waiting for, if you’re not exalted go go go and if you are exalted and you haven’t bought your julienne set… shame on you!

Thoughts on being 90

Whilst levelling is a journey full of wonder and amazement, arrival at 90 is like landing at the airport to discover they’ve lost your baggage, customs want to strip search you but you’ve won the lottery to compensate. Sure there are a lot of positives but some definite negatives thrown into the mix as well.

1. Dailies, dailies, dailies as far as the eye can see. The choice is overwhelming as is the feeling that you should ignore the “fun” ones (Tillers/Anglers/Cloud Serpents) whilst concentrating on the rest in the run up to raids and the arena season starting. Given that I don’t go back to work until Thursday, we have been spamming the lot but it definitely feels like overload. On the plus side (a phrase I never thought I’d ever use in this context) most of the daily hubs involve going to one specific area and slaughtering & collecting. On top of that, compared to the Molten Front, killing vermling, playing catch with baby dragons and beating up sharks with your bare hands is a refreshing change.

2. Heroics aren’t really heroic in any shape or form. When I queued up for the first time I was really nervous remembering back to the start of Cataclysm when on some trash packs mana was an issue. I didn’t need to worry, in fact even after boss fights my interweaving of power word:solace into the mix meant I didn’t need to drink then either. I know the challenge modes are there for just that purpose but I would have liked the Heroics to be slightly tougher. It just feels a bit wrong where the Stormstout brewery for example felt harder on normal at 86 than it did at 90 on heroic (just wearing blue 450 gear in every slot apart from my 463 legs and my epic trinket from Coren).

3. PvP is awesome. My favourite all time battleground now has to be the Temple of Kotmogu. It’s fast paced, fun and a bit like arenaing but with objectives other than making sure you’re the last team standing. I definitely don’t feel squishy as Holy unless the whole opposing team piles on top of me (or I’ve been hogging a power ball too long) which is a good start to an expansion too. I plan on doing a proper post covering my choice of glyphs + talents as Holy for each of the maps once I’ve finished testing a few things.

4. Scenarios! I love all of the ones I’ve played so far (apart from Theramore). They’re quick, varied and because it’s not just standing still and healing like a proper dungeon, great fun (ignoring the lore side of it, Theramore is just a bit too much like running a dungeon).

The loot bags are annoying though, I know RNG is RNG but so far Mr Harpy has had an item from pretty much every second bag and I’ve had zero which makes gearing up a little more irritating.

5. Priesting. Why oh why can’t chakras last after death and on zoning. I know it’s not a massive issue for most things but it’s still a quality of life issue. Other than that, I’m pretty happy with Holy. Mana is 10 times better than it was at the start of Cataclysm in both pve and pvp. In fact the only other thing which annoys me is the lack of useful minor glyphs for my chosen spec. We have a choice of ten, four are shadow specific, one is disc specific, one is holy specific but requires your death and the others are just flavour.

6. Pet battles. Fear my Hopling because it will lick you to death! This turned out to be more addictive and less annoying than on the beta. I’m still working my way through pre Outlands pets but I hit 250 unique pets a while back and am route to 400 albeit slowly. I have to admit I went and tamed an Infested Bear Cub even though I said I never would. (By the way, they only seem to spawn after midnight if you’re looking, at least that’s the only time I’ve ever found any sign of them). Also whoever designed Jaguero Isle to have a separate weather system to that of southern STV can take a spinning crane kick to the face.

7. MoP transmogrification. Yes please! The cloth pvp set consisting of a pants suit had me panicking slightly but the weapons and off-hands are stunning.

8. Pandas. I’m still not 100 percent convinced, but I’ve made one even though she hasn’t made it out of the start zone yet. She’s a Priest (surprise surprise) called Snowflower after a book I fell in love with a little while ago when I found a beat up copy in a charity shop. I’m slightly saddened by the fact that my favourite beta hairstyle isn’t available at the character creation stage but am hoping it will be an option once she escapes the Isle.

9. The Storyline in general. I’m really impressed with the stories this time around. Blizzard have added some really lovely touches and some tragic moments. I was particularly taken with the fact that my evil double giggles.

It’s a great mix of tragic, comedic and thought provoking.

I think I started out looking for things to criticise, wanting to believe that WoW had nothing left to offer me, that I reached my final destination as far as the game was concerned but it seems that somehow despite my cynicism, Pandaria’s beauty and sense of wonder has managed to pull me back.

Random Battlegrounds: Blizzard’s own Stanford Experiment

Today I want to talk of many things, primarily the three Gs of PvP, gear, graveyard camping and griefing with a slight focus on community. The PvP community understandably gets a bad press a lot of the time and I want to look at why and perhaps more importantly what we can do about it.

First up,

Graveyard camping. Now Cynwise has started a great series about the maths and logic behind graveyard camping (WSG and AB) which you should definitely go and read if you haven’t already. Now in the games I play, I see three separate but common reasons for graveyard camping occur over and over again.

1. 40 man premades in AV/IoC which are designed purely for this purpose. The idea is to trap as many of the opposing team in one location and farm the reinforcements down that way. They let the other team take the mines as well as any other nodes to keep the reinforcements as high as possible and then set about farming their way to the Bloodthirsty title. Whilst these are beatable,

for the average random team there is nothing they can do but choose not to res, afk or get farmed for fifteen to twenty minutes.

2. The second type occurs primarily in the 10 or 15 mans, when one team is vastly stronger than the other. The first clash goes very one sided very fast and then the bulk of the winning team scenting blood flood towards the graveyard. Keeping them penned in or dead helps you win faster because that way they are demoralised, trapped and not beating up your flag carrier or running/destroying vehicles in SotA.

3. The third type like the first occurs primarily in the 40 mans. Perhaps the other team are doing a far better job of defending than you and so the only the way you can win is by pouring back into your own base, wiping them on the boss and then camping them at the graveyard.

Now I don’t particularly like graveyard camping in which the flag carrier sits in the camping pack nor the premades set up purely for that purpose but in general I’m fine with the concept. If the discrepancy between teams is so great that you’re being camped at your spawn point, then it’s likely you’re going to lose regardless. The opposing team showing pity and moving back thirty yards so you can try and scatter, having buffed up is not going to make much of a difference. In fact from my perspective it’s worse, I don’t want to be zerged by five well geared melee who pitied me first, I’d rather they just squished me like a bug underfoot without first pretending to offer me a chance when we all know the reality is that the only option is die or stop ressing.

I’m sure if you ask many people, graveyard camping would come under the heading of griefing but in PvP, that’s such a massive and inclusive category. I suspect if you asked fifty people for their opinions, you’d get a huge list of things, sure they would have commonalities like cheating and botting but griefing is in the eye of the beholder. For example I class people who saunter in into lev 85 wearing gear that’s two expansions out of date or do less dps than (I am a Disc Priest remember) to be griefing me and I’m sure the DK called “Your Mother” when you translated his name out of their native language felt griefed when I took out my Mummy issues by throwing him off the LM repeatedly whilst giggling at him. The same goes for the guy who hit 85 yesterday and is on the receiving end of a rant from some one in arena gear who is sick of losing. However when you delve a little deeper, the root of the vast majority of issues seems to be a common one. Frustration, anger at losing, tired of playing with randoms when the other side are premading, sick of having no healers when they have three. Rather than accepting that life isn’t unfair, some resort to cheating or botting and others yell, swear and name call.

In many regards, it’s as if Blizzard are setting us up to fail. Random battlegrounds are not just a stepping stone for many, they are something people with gear do for fun and there in lies the rub. I played six games last night, five of those were lost and won by gear and bots (the sixth was AV). When five of your team die to one Ret Paladin in the time it takes to levitate from the Lumber Mill to the Blacksmith, it causes issues. The same for the SotA in which we ended up camping the graveyard because it saved us having to chase vehicles. I wasn’t healing, I didn’t need to, I was staring at my screen pretending I was a proper dpser as these people with no resilience repeatedly splatted. Before the game even started, the result was clear. It didn’t matter how well I played in either of those games, my part didn’t matter and that is annoying. We won half but apart from the AV one side or the other ended up graveyard camping because the overall item level cap was just too big.

At the moment, random battlegrounds are the Azerothian equivalent of the Stanford Prison Experiment staring the geared as the Prison guards, the bullies and the aggressors and those without as the Prisoners. Even with the patience of a saint, it’s hard to keep your tongue when for the fifth or sixth time in a row you end up with people who haven’t gemmed, enchanted or bought any PvP gear at all. Who flop over dead the second someone glares at them and then blame you for not keeping them alive even though according to the combat log that Mage did 120k damage to them in 2 spell rotates. In that AB I referenced earlier, just like Prisoners in that experiment, they turned  on each other in an attempt to prove to the “guards” that they, unlike the others had value. Under pressure, the community devolves at a frightening rate earning us a horrible hateful reputation. In many cases, they don’t even have to be losing to attack others, even a slight setback can cause an outburst. The current battleground system with it’s random teams, premades and gear differences is set up to turn people against each other.

Now I normally try and play the peacekeeper, amongst my own team at any rate. I’m sure the Horde who see a pint sized green haired thing charging at them would find that hard to believe but having done my own fair share of bullying as a bitchy teenager, I grew up into a woman who full well understands the harm that words thrown out so casually can wreck on those they’re aimed at.  Last night however, I found myself close to breaking point. Words of contempt bubbling up like bile in my mouth, I wanted to tell them why we were losing, that no it wasn’t because the Alliance sucked, no it wasn’t because we were facing a German team, it was because we were infested by bots, lazy players and idiots. People who seemed incapable of taking responsibility for themselves, who were too mean to buy gems, enchants and the basic blue pvp set. Who would rather cheat or bot because it’s easier than spending your own time but who find it acceptable to waste the time of others. I ended that game, not only annoyed with them but mad at myself because I’d come close to slipping, to losing my temper.

Now I’m not laying the blame for the toxic community solely on Blizzard’s shoulders but there are a few quick fixes which  go a long way to removing some of the ignition points.

  • Come down on the botters and the cheaters like a ton of bricks. Ban their accounts permanently or at least remove all the honour/conquest points they’ve accrued plus the gear they’ve spent it on.  The punishment for this has to be something which makes doing these things pointless.
  • Improve the matchmaking system so that premades meet premades rather than randoms. I.e. if I queue as part of a 5 man premade, I’ll be matched against a team compromising another premade.
  • Ban the AV preformer, scripts shouldn’t be able to access the battleground queuing system. Not only would you stop teams coming together with Real ID specifically to farm randoms but this would also cut off  one avenue for the bots to exploit.
  • From the second arena season of an expansion onwards, divide the end-game random battlegrounds into two dynamic brackets based on gear. That way you have the first bracket where 100k health meets 100k and a second one where gear beats up gear.

It’s rare in winning games or even closely fought games for one team to turn on each other and this little list would help make all games that little bit more even. Of course we’d still have to deal with bad language, lev 1 whispers from the opposing faction and emotes but it would definitely be a step in the right direction to ironing out some of the issues.

As for what we can do, well next time you hit the level cap on a character please put a bit of effort into a character before setting foot in a battleground. For the rest of us, yes it’s frustrating but it’s hard to fight properly when you’re spamming chat with expletives. At the end of the day, we reap what we sow and one way or another, we’re all in this together. You might not say a word in battleground chat but that still makes you apart of the problem, just as you’re a part of the issue if you turn up naked or sit afk in a corner for the entire duration. Take advantage of that Stanford herd mentality, call the bullies and the bots and cheaters out and more often that not, the majority will support you.

World PvP Powerless: Some are more equal than others.

This is a rant so if you are of a nervous disposition you might wish to look away now.

The only thing that doesn’t work is PvP Power-fueled healing. At the moment, you only gain the healing benefit when in BGs and Arenas. The reason is because that we don’t want PvP gear to be super effective for PvE content (useful is fine, but super effective is not). 

That design goal is easily met for damage dealers, because they won’t benefit from PvP Power when damaging creatures. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple check for us to determine if a healer is healing damage done by PvP or PvE. In an Arena or BG you can make that assumption, but in the outdoor world you may be engaging in world PvP, or you may just be questing. 

Ghostcrawler.

No no no!

The healing component has to work everywhere out in the world because PvP, especially on PvP servers is often just a heartbeat away. Doing dailies is just an excuse for outright war and as a healer under this system you run the risk of being damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

The world should be consistent, the second you start having to have rules within rules it points to bigger issue, highlighting that the PvP Power system is flawed. This is like trying to use a bandaid to stop the Niagara Falls, futile, frustrating and something which will need fixing in the long run.

Group questing is a joke as it is, on the beta I haven’t really come across a quest that we needed more than 2 people for and I’m sure that on most quests a handful of dpsers with zero healers would have managed. As for World Bosses, long term they’ve never been taxing in themselves, the hard part is usually cross faction guild competition, i.e. World PvP. Neither of these is a good reason to start treating healers like second class citizens. The game isn’t balanced around low levels and it shouldn’t be balanced around group quests or the difficulty of a World Boss where you could technically use four separate raids.

We are considering just letting PvP Power affect healing everywhere but dungeons and raids. That would solve world PvP and only risk unbalancing group questing and world bosses. Even the world bosses probably don’t represent a huge game balance risk, given that the option always exists to get tons of players together to zerg them.

Ghostcrawler

Yes please. The other point to note is that by the time we all have enough PvP Power to make a difference, group quests and dailies are hardly going to be relevant content that the game needs any form of balancing around.

Just like Death and Taxes, World PvP will always be with us but group quests come and go. I just two manned the Crucible of Carnage in PvP gear…… oh noes, what an exploiter I am. Oh wait, it’s hardly relevant content and to be honest even if it was, it still wouldn’t make up for me dying to some random dpser who got 100 percent of the benefit of his gear whilst I only got a fraction of mine. Lets take me and Mr Harpy, we PvP a lot but we both put in the same effort in to get that gear and thus should always get the same benefit from it. Stats shouldn’t just turn on and off because you zone (unless it’s a raid/dungeon).

If Blizzard want content to present a challenge then make it hard, don’t penalise healers.

Seven things I’d fix in random PvP

I’ve been doing a lot of pvp recently. As the embers of one expansion die down, I always seem to drift into doing more battlegrounds than normal. As with anything you do regularly, you find yourself noticing the flaws and wondering how you would have done it better. These are a few of the things which really bother me in random battlegrounds these days and my solutions to the problems because without solutions it’s just whining.

1. Gear Discrepancy

  • The Problem: Quite often when I zone in to a battleground, I have one of the highest health pools. Now as a Disc Priest, that shouldn’t be the case. You look around and see the obligatory melee with 110k health  (usually a plate wearer but can also be a feral druid) and your heart sinks. Unless the enemy team have the same, you’re basically playing one person down. In SotA yesterday for example I had four Horde on me, they were interrupting and basically doing everything right but they just didn’t output enough damage to put pressure on me. Now I realise that Blizzard are taking steps to deal with this in MoP but I don’t think their steps go far enough. Everyone having basic resilience will help but in the scenario I described, it wasn’t their survival which was an issue, it was their damage or lack of it.
  • My Solutions: Split the endgame random battlegrounds into two categories. Group 1 would be everyone who just hit level, the people with no gear whatsoever. This group would get more honour per game but zero conquest points for winning. On reaching a certain item level (a level which would move up with the start of each new season), you would be moved into the second pool and would start earning less honour (still the same amount we currently get) but getting conquest points too. The benefits of this would be twofold, less complaining on the part of both the geared and the undergeared. Also games would be more interesting because the playing field would be reasonably level. This would only apply in the 10 and 15s, i.e. the games where gear matters. So if you queue to random with a well-geared friend, it would automatically put you into the queue for 40 mans. A second and certainly simpler solution would be to re-visit the Burning Crusade method of adding basic PvP gear to the reputation vendors.
  • Possible negatives: People trying to stay in the bottom category until they have a full set of gear or to farm undergeared players. That’s partly why I don’t think conquest should be available in this category, it’s meant to be transient not somewhere you set up home and attempt to specialise at. Another potential negative would be the risk of running of new players increasing wait times in the first category but since there seems to be a neverending supply of them in the current system, I’m sure that wouldn’t be an issue.

2. Perceptions

  • The Problem: The scoreboard shows names and specs, mindvision works from every start zone apart from AV, SotA and Isle of Conquest and addons like Battleground Spy exist. Before the gates even open people have compared their team to the enemy team and often decided there is no chance. We had a Twin Peaks the other day in which we were one and a half healers (the other half was a Holy Priest with 100k health) versus a team with four well geared healers. Before we started our dps were complaining that it was a loss because of perception. As it turned out, it wasn’t because the majority of our dps could cc and kick but at least one person afked before we started because of that belief. We got lucky in that our team decided to actually try before giving up and sitting in the graveyard.
  • My Solution: Don’t populate the scoreboard before the game starts. Let people figure out who the low geared players and healers are on the battlefield, not in advance. If half the team comes from the same server, we shouldn’t know that until we get out on the field.

3. Premades in General

  • The Problem: Beating organised groups with randoms is harder, yes it’s doable if the premade is bad or your team also has a premade component but to tie into the previous issue, perception plays a part. I might be willing to go 1 v 5 but a lot of my team aren’t. They see the same server name or the same guildtag and lose some of their will to fight. You start getting people saying “Oh it’s a premade…. lose fast”.
  • My Solution: If 5 people queue up together then match them with 5 people who are also queuing up together. Don’t put them with a mix of randoms. Now don’t take this the wrong way, I can’t remember the last time I got farmed at the graveyard but in the run up to Cataclysm, I premaded a lot and yes, playing with friends is always fun but you should be facing other people who are also playing with friends not Scrubby McGraw the Dwarf Mage who queued solo and who just wants some honour points so he can buy his first bit of proper PvP gear.
  • Possible Negatives: This is a multi-player game and we are meant to be playing with other people, friends, guildmates, the guy we met ganking in Tol Barad. However, I’m not sure that the queue times would radically increase if 5 man group met 5 man group and so on. It might also lead to a better quality of game.

4. Achievements

  • The Problem: I’m fine with the concept of achievements in PvP but what I hate are the ones which aren’t focused on the objectives. Things like “take 50 graveyards in AV” and “Get 20 killing blows without dying” spring to mind. I have actually lost games because a small percentage of our team were too focused on getting certain achievements and not playing the actual game.
  • My solution: From this point forward, all the PvP achievements should be designed around the objectives or things which don’t actively hinder those objectives. If we take “take 50 graveyards in AV” as an example, because games are fairly short unless you run into a hk farming premade, people who are after this achievement often try and tag graveyards that don’t help you win. Iceblood for example when you’ve already got Frostwolf and could really do without everyone you just killed ressing in the base, the one place you’re trying to get to. I’m also iffy about achievements which favour dps classes like the killing blow one. We shouldn’t have to either get creative (Sprout got hers at lev 82 courtesy of a siege engine in IoC) or play a role we don’t like in order to get an achievement (yes I realise that achievements aren’t mandatory but I’m not convinced the vast majority of the player base does).
5. Bots
  • The Problem: Winning when half your team aren’t actually playing is tricky.
  • My Solution: Harsh penalties for those caught botting. Because this is a multi-player game, cheating shouldn’t be tolerated. Also I don’t see why anyone should profit from such behaviour. I’d take away every single piece of pvp gear, regardless of whether they were botting or not when they got it. However, I’d also take a look at the way the game allows certain scripts to be used. At the moment you can enter  battlegrounds using a script and I believe this is how a lot of bot programs work. Removing this loophole would also stop the AV pre-former working which would get rid of the 40 man hk farming groups which are fairly common at the moment, at least in the EU.

6. “Killing blow stealers” – Those that Complain

  • The Problem: This ties in with the previous issue. Every battleground seems to have at least one, usually either a rogue or a ret paladin who seems to assume that everyone they hit will provide them with a killing blow. They have their addon installed to track said killing blows and believe that their prowess in this field demonstrates how super awesome they are. If anyone else happens to accidentally “steal” said killing blow, they stop whatever they are doing, even if it results in their death to complain vocally about how unfair and pathetic you are and that you should “get your own killing blows mate”.
  • My solution: Sort the scoreboard by something other than killing blows as default. It’s the least important feature on there. What it should do is read your spec when you enter and sort by damage for everyone who isn’t a healer and healing for all those that are.
  • Possible negatives: This wouldn’t make the annoying KB hunters go away but at least it would make pointing out they’re doing the same dps as a wet paper bag whilst you’re trying to defend a node solo a lot easier.

7. Absorbs not showing on the scoreboard

  • The Problem: As a Disc Priest around 50 percent of my contribution in a battleground doesn’t show on the scoreboard. Now I can live without my dispels turning up and the same for my cc but it annoys me on so many levels that all my pretty shiny absorbs that save lives are missing.
  • My Solution: If addons like recount can correctly figure out the absorbs from the combat log I see no reason other than laziness as to why this hasn’t been fixed already. If something is going to be displayed for public consumption, I’d like it to be accurate. Explaining class mechanics to idiots whilst trying to play properly is a little frustrating.

The full list of things which annoy me in PvP is actually considerably longer but is comprised of things could only be fixed by not letting half the player base play battlegrounds. So have I missed anything? What would you like to see changed about the way we battleground going into MoP?

Random Battleground Ranting

One of my favourite pieces of MoP information is the potential blacklisting of up to two different battleground maps.

I hate the “randomness” of random Battlegrounds. Now I fell down the stairs last night and sprained my ankle so I’m not in the best of tempers but I defy anyone to like a system which thinks five Strand of the Ancients in a row can possibly be ok. My foot is slowly turning that lovely shade of deep purple which looks gorgeous on plants (thinking violets and pansies here) but not so hot on feet. The random Battleground finder is turning my mood the same colour considerably faster.

Why the loathing?

Because there is no choice at all. It’s either use the random queue or don’t PvP. The queue times are considerably longer when you queue to a specific battleground and unreliable too, you may get one in a few minutes and then have to wait hours for the next one or you might just have to wait hours. Compare that to getting a random battleground within 2 minutes of queuing up even at weird times in the middle of the night. Then there is the honour or rather lack of it. For winning a random we get an extra 270 per game winning game, not to mention the conquest points but when you queue for a specific battleground, guess what… no bonus. Now since the honour is an incentive to queue up for randoms, that might seem fair enough until you consider the fact that the bonus honour was implemented to replace the tokens that we used to get.

Now I might be a special little snowflake but there are times when I want to chill out in 40 mans, bullying Horde in Stonehearth bunker or seeing just how many people  I can kill whilst they are attacking Balinda. At those times, the random Battleground finder throws me into WSG or Strand of the Ancients. Then there are times when I just want to work on my Arathi Basin rep, of course then I get everything and anything but Arathi Basin. Sometimes, sure I really don’t mind which battleground I end up in, I just want to kill people. Then of course I wind up in the Isle of Conquest, the blink and you’ll miss it game where tracking down the enemy faction is akin to finding the fox cub mini-pet, i.e. the odds are not in your favour.

Why can’t winning a battleground reward the same honour regardless of how you got there? That way I wouldn’t keep ending up in Strand of the Ancients with a bunch of people who don’t know what they are doing. Blacklisting isn’t necessarily the fix I would have gone for (a system a bit like my old cd player in which it never plays the same song twice in a row would have been my first choice I think) but I have to admit I intend welcoming it with open arms.

The only bit I find a bit odd is the caveat about the battleground weekends.

So If I exclude the Strand of the Ancients when SotA weekend rolls around, it will unblacklist itself and when I queue to random, there is a chance I’ll still wind up on the beach. On their respective weekends, the smaller maps are often crawling with premades so the sensible solo player wants to avoid them more than ever but as things stand when you queue to random at those times, you still find yourself thrown into the weekend battleground. I was hoping that this change would go a long way towards fixing that issue but it seems not. I understand that Blizzard want their Battleground weekends to be a success even when it’s SotA but I do think this devalues the whole point of the blacklisting to a degree. Yes, we’re getting more new maps so the gap between SotA weekends will be increasing but I’d still like to never ever go there again.

So which maps will I be avoiding?

Whilst I think it will vary on a character by character basis, SotA is definitely on the list (no surprise there!). Games of two halves don’t work under Blizzard’s model of Player versus Player. If the team who attacks first doesn’t break through the final wall, more often than not they don’t fight in the second half. They want to obtain their losing honor quickly, after all the best possible outcome at that point is to lose fast. Even if you hold the game to a draw, it’s counted as a loss in your statistics because the armoury doesn’t recognise draws (another reason why I dislike the armoury), so you might as well lose fast and hope you get better luck next time around.

My Druid and my Shaman like it a lot more than my Priest as both have ways of slowing vehicles down or bringing them to halt outside tailoring nets but despite my good win rate in there, I’d be happy never to have to get sand in my shoes ever again.

As for my second choice, I think I’ll wait until I’ve fully tested out all the new maps before committing but Isle of Conquest is a contender. The map is too big for the number of players on it. You can easily go all game without seeing any red name plates and if you do decide to defend in order to get some actual PvP, more often than not it’s you versus 40.

In conclusion.

On the plus side though, outside of the SotA weekends, everyone who ends up there should be there because they want to be. AV will be full of people who want a proper AV game not a quick rush with zero pvp. Hopefully this change will improve the quality of pvp for all of us because each game is full of players who want to be in that map, who aren’t shuddering behind their screen, who aren’t planning on afking half way through but who are actually there to play and to win.

I am curious to see what everyone else goes for avoiding. I know quite a few Horde players who don’t intend ever doing AV or Isle of Conquest again, as well as a few people who hate the two flag carrying 10 mans. Mushan posted about his choices here as well. I think given the size of the pool, this shouldn’t effect queue time apart from perhaps the 40 mans late at night but it will be interesting to see how it all balances out.

Just when I thought I couldn’t be surprised any more…

I’ve been a bit preoccupied with real life stuff recently but when I was flicking through my feed reader, I noticed this post from Tome of the Ancient.

I don’t know if other bloggers do this, but I have a few posts that I wrote and then found lacking and they’re just sitting here collecting dust.

At the last count, my drafts folder has something like 105 potential posts gathering dust so before Mists dawns, I intend on getting rid of them by taking a leaf of the Duke of Wellington’s book and yelling “Publish and be damned” at the screen whilst hitting the publish button with my eyes shut.

Anyway, I’d like to offer my own unwritten rule #241

It doesn’t matter what level of pvp you are indulging in, there will always be someone on your team wearing the equivalent of a wedding dress and very little else. It might be the fang set (why they couldn’t just transmog it is anyone’s guess), it might be a lovely black dress or it might be 20 levels out of date but they’ll be there, running about in all their glory attempting to carry the flag.

I encountered this in an Eye of the Storm.

Fair enough we thought, it’s going to get dressed just before the game starts. Nope, it leapt from the starter stone still wearing that lv 1 robe. Maybe it’s a bot, we thought as it rode down to Fel Reaver on an epic mechostrider. Perhaps it’s making a video and will show super awesome skills that don’t require clothes. Nope, it went splat in approximately one second flat. I then spent the rest of game indulging in my own personal game of trying to “keep the mostly naked gnome alive” which went surprisingly well. Although we did win, I never quite got to the bottom of why they were still wearing that dress, I mean it’s not even very pretty.

After this, I’m never going to feel guilty about battlegrounding in slightly behind gear ever again.