Arathi Blizzard: Brawling in the Snow

I’ve really enjoyed this week’s PvP Brawl. As a healer, the lowered visibility is great until of course six enemy melee pile out of the fog. It’s also created much faster paced games with less defending and a lot more aggressive play which suits me. Our last two games we ended up winning 5 nil as the ice over the water and the blizzard seems to encourage people to put aside the “now defend” attitude and get out there, trying to take bases before the enemy can respond. We also had some great 2 and 3 versus 4 to 5 fights using the visibility to hide from the enemy especially casters and of course playing the bait to drag any defenders away from the flag so it can be tagged behind their backs works really well with the weather conditions.

Plus and perhaps most importantly it has snowmen!

In the winter, it would be fun if this was a permanent option from the list as I think it could quickly become my go to map. Playing this week also got my second Priest exalted with the Arathi Basin faction which was her 55th exalted faction. It’s always nice when you get a reputation achievement whilst standing over the corpse of an annoying Paladin who seems to have made it his afternoon’s work to follow you around smacking you in the face with a large sword. Holy Priests definitely feel like they are in a great place in PvP at the moment, lots of options and decent damage, for example I’m almost 100 percent sure I would have beaten a warrior in a 1 versus 1 had not Mr Harpy’s mage and a passing Demon Hunter turned up to rescue me

Prestigious War Steed: Mount number 189

I finally managed to catch the last Black Rook Rumble I needed for this mount. It’s the reward for completing 20 of each of the four slightly more awkward pvp quests, Operation Murloc Freedom, Darkbrul arena, Black Rook Rumble and Bareback Brawl. Getting it had some brilliant moments, like going 2 versus 10 during Operation Murloc Freedom and technically winning although I died just after the 8th opponent fell over but Mr Harpy’s avenging Gnome took care of the other two (and yes, I was essentially tanking all of them on my Holy Priest… yay for Arcane mages and shadowmeld). There are also some less positive ones, Darkbrul arena I’m looking at you.


My favourite detail has to be the Troll head stuck just above the tail, gives a whole new meaning to eyes in the back of your head.

The Horde version is the Prestigious War Wolf.

Still Here

As the title says, I’m still here and still playing.

My Priest is almost exalted with all the Legion factions and mostly pvping. In order to properly progress she really needs to do either raids or dungeons.

My Mage is contemplating the forthcoming Brawler’s guild with excitement, working on getting the mount from the PvP world quests and planning a vacation to the Dalaran Sewers to farm a Ratstallion that I’ll never ride.

In the real world, I’ve just survived Christmas Day with both my Mother and my Mother in Law at the same table proving that whatever 2017 throws my way, I can probably take it in my stride.

As far as intentions go, I hope to be writing slightly more often than I have been although it might be about more than just Warcraft.

A slightly belated Happy New Year to everyone! (at least it’s still January).

The Return of the Good Old Days – Thoughts on Southshore v Tarren Mill

Tarren Mill versus Southshore was the home of my first forays into PvP as first a Warlock in those halycon days* before the Honor system was introduced when the only people you encountered PvPing actually wanted to be doing it (PvE server) and then whilst leveling my Night Elf Priest on a PvP server. I quickly grew to know every inch of that territory, where you could shadowmeld amongst the trees and hide from rampaging Horde and the easiest way to drop Line of Sight. I still remember clearly the feeling of satisfaction when level 45 or so wearing the Mageweave set and Whitemane’s Chapeau I escaped from a level 60 Enhancement Shaman making all the way from the road to the safety of Southshore much to his annoyance expressed loudly on IRC. It was also where I grew to hate engineering when my Gnomish Net-o-Matic backfired and netted both me and the exceedingly large and angry Tauren Warrior trying to kill me side by side. In the aftermath of that little incident I promptly dropped it and leveled Tailoring instead.

It was there I learnt to PvP, learned to deal with res timers and tried to avoid dying as much as possible. The pattern was always the same, one side would gain ground to the point of entering the opposing side’s town and then would promptly be overwhelmed with guards. The trick being to try and avoid dying in downtown Tarren Mill unless you wanted to spend the next 40 minutes ressing, dying to more guards etc over and over again. The guard spawn would give impetus to the currently losing faction and back you’d go again. Some bright spark would always try and kill the Flight Master to stop people escaping and bring down angry animals all over you. Rogues would always sneak into the Inns and try and kill those licking their wounds and eating up. In many ways it’s predictability helped make it even more fun. We had a Mage guildmate whose favourite trick was to lure the Horde up to the cliffs and promptly slowfall off, much to our surprise, he got away with this time after time after time. It became part of the routine as did the comedy runs around the tower and the Warlocks all wandering off mid battle in search of soul shards.

duel01

Unlike Battlegrounds though, there was a lot less of the hate and venom you see being thrown around these days. Perhaps because everyone was participating because they wanted to rather than searching for some carrot on a stick like the legendary cloak. Yes, not everyone liked losing and there was the odd whiny message on IRC but in most cases, everyone took it in good humour. As the picture above shows (the only one I have left from back then), after the PvP there was silly things like cross faction unarmed boxing matches where everyone played by the rules and no one resorted to using spells or swords.

Therefore I’m sure it comes as no great surprise to anyone that I’m super excited by this announcement by Blizzard.

Tarren Mill vs. Southshore: The Rematch

If you engaged in PvP early on in WoW, you might have fond memories of—and perhaps a few scars from—the endless tug-of-war between Horde and Alliance players at Tarren Mill and Southshore. To recapture that feeling, we’ll be opening a Team Deathmatch–style Battleground based on that timeless struggle. However, unlike the old days of Tarren Mill vs. Southshore, there will be a clearly defined victor, so you’ll need to work as a team or face crushing defeat.

I am of course interested in just how they intend to pull it off. Deathmatch suggests that you start with 100 v 100 but that dying means just that which I admit does take away some of the old school feeling because everyone should experience ressing inside a Tauren mounted on a Kodo somewhere near that Tower between the two towns at least once. However I suspect I’ll be happy regardless although I’d prefer it if they didn’t make the Yeti cave, the farms and the mine count for anything just keep it focused on pure slaughter and of course have the guard spawns because it needs the guard spawns for realism.

As for it only being available for a limited period, I suspect that this could be a good thing. Taking 200 people from the Battleground pool all the time for 1 game would I imagine be problematic and with everything nostalgic it’s probably best to throw yourself in deep for a a month or so until you’re so sick of it, the very mention of it’s name has you gagging rather than want to drag it out. As with all PvP endeavors it probably won’t be for everyone however I hope people give it the benefit of the doubt and try it at least once.

I am of course happy at the thought of a Core Hound mount and a corgi on fire but for me, the reason I’ll be logging during the anniversary is 100 percent the chance to recreate old memories and make some new ones somewhere between Southshore and Tarren Mill.

*This is most certainly tongue in cheek.

Stand by Me: Thoughts on Instant Casts in Warlords

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
All the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won’t cry, I won’t cry
No, I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

From  the song Stand by Me.

I know Blizzard are going to be posting a blog post about the up coming Healing changes either later today or tomorrow but thought I’d throw in a quick post about potential changes first partly because I drafted it a week ago and also because wild speculation is always fun.

This post was sparked by a comment of Prinnie’s

But now, apparently, the WoD thinking is, “CASTING WHILE MOVING IS BAD.”

which only took firm hold in my head later on when I read this on MMO-Champion.

Raid encounters will have more interesting mechanics for healers, allowing them to avoid the boredom that comes with just spamming the same skill over and over.

I must admit these two so innocent looking sentences when added together have me considering a whole new career as some sort of dpser. For interesting mechanics my mind wanders back to Instructor Razuvious and that sinking feeling I’d get whenever we entered Naxxramas, made ten times worse by the memory of the night where I effectively had to solo tank him due to our other Priest’s mindcontrol deciding not to work whilst our raid was working on Immortality. I think of General Vexaz, a fight I hated as a Holy Priest and who can forget Leotheras the Blind and his inner demons which were a whole lot of pain to kill as healers and of course I think of vehicle fights in general.

Now I’m not denying the days of being able to spam Circle of Healing and win were boring in the extreme but I also don’t know many healers who like having the success or failure of raid depend on their ability to deal with “interesting mechanics”. I know we lost healers in Wrath over mindcontrol and also over tank cooldowns because they couldn’t cope with the fallout of timing it wrong and being yelled at by our angry raid leader, they just wanted to stand at the back and heal.

In a conversation with my Guild Master the other day, the phrase “interesting times” was used  and certainly with every detail which drips out,  it seems accurate in the extreme.

In terms of casting on the move:

Holy Priests

  • Holy word: Chastise or Holy Word: Serenity (depending on Chakra state)
  • Renew
  • Power word: Shield
  • Cascade or Divine Star or Halo (Talents)
  • Prayer of Mending
  • Circle of Healing
  • Power word: Solace
  • Desperate Prayer or Spectral Guise (Talents)
  • Levitate
  • Holy Nova (Glyph)
  • Guardian Spirit
  • Shadowfiend
  • Power Infusion (Talent)
  • Void Tendrils or Pysfiend (Talents)
  • Angelic Feather (Talents)
  • Shadow word: Pain
  • Fear
  • Void Shift
  • Dispel
  • Purify
  • Leap of Faith

That’s 21 abilities that depending on my talents and glyph choices I could cast whilst running for my life. Out of that list, I currently have access to 19 (don’t have angelic feathers or power infusion on my Holy Priest) and 9 of them are ways in which I can increase the health pool of other people. Is that too many? Perhaps, I would definitely see no harm in adding a half second cooldown to the level 90 talents. There is probably room for Prayer of Healing and Circle of Healing to merged in some way, perhaps by making Prayer of Healing smart rather than having the party limitation and adding a small cooldown to stop it being spammed. When you’re AoE healing you are unlikely to being either of the instant cast Chakra power words, so they are fine. Tank cooldowns like Guardian Spirit and Void Shift I feel should be instant cast as they should be reactive not cast at x percentage of the way through the fight. The same is true of Leap of Faith, especially from a PvP perspective. Void tendrils/Pysfiend/Fear don’t really have raid uses and shadow word: pain isn’t likely to kill anyone. Holy Nova is little more than a gimmick, I have it because it’s still useful for finding stealths in PvP as well as stopping people tagging flags.

So in terms of what is useful in healing most aoe raid encounters we’re looking at:

  • Renew
  • Cascade or Divine Star or Halo
  • Prayer of Mending
  • Circle of Healing
  • Guardian Spirit
  • Void Shift
  • Shadowfiend
  • Power Solace if talented but the others require a lot less time management

which is a much shorter instant cast list.

I’m not going to do a comparison for every Healing Class, but thought I’d have a brief look at what’s available to a couple of other classes that I play.

Resto Druid

  • Rejuvation
  • Lifebloom
  • Swiftmend
  • Wild Growth
  • Ysera’s Gift/ Renewal/Cenarion Ward (Talents)
  • Wild Mushrooms
  • Wild Mushroom’s Bloom
  • Moonfire
  • Faerie Fire
  • Barkskin
  • Ironbark
  • Wild Charge
  • Nature’s Swiftness
  • Nature’s Cure
  • Innervate
  • Disorienting Roar/Ursol’s Vortex/Mighty Bash (Talents)
  • Stampeding Roar
  • Force of Nature (if Talented for)
  • Mass Entanglement/Typhoon (Depending on Talent choices)
  • Soothe
  • Nature’s Grasp

I deliberately tried to avoid anything which required cat or bear form but that still left me with 21 instant cast spells from the Druid. Like the Holy Priest a good few of those are utility spells and many match up, for example I suspect shadowfiend is instant cast because innervate always has been. Mass Entanglement too might be further down the tree than Void Tendrils but the two spells are very similar in every way apart from graphics. Of these stampeding roar and nature’s grasp definitely shouldn’t have cast times in my opinion as this negates their purpose, i.e. helping you escape.

Mistweaver Monk

  • Healing Spheres
  • Chi Wave/Zen Sphere (Talents)
  • Renewing Mist
  • Detox
  • Paralysis
  • Nimble Brew
  • Expel Harm
  • Thunder Focus Tea
  • Chi Brew
  • Tiger’s Lust
  • Roll
  • Uplift
  • Revival
  • Dampen Harm/Diffuse Magic
  • Summon Jade Statue
  • Disable
  • Ring of Peace/Charging Ox Wave/Leg Sweep
  • Chi Torpedo/Rushing Jade Wind/Xuen
  • Life Cocoon
  • Zen Flight
  • Blackout Kick
  • Tiger Palm
  • Touch of Death
  • Grapple Weapon
  • Mana Tea (can be glyphed to be instant)

So in the notes on MMO-Champion, I did notice that they’re planning on removing Healing Spheres as an actual spell because:

We’re removing it because of the bad gameplay it provided, despite its power. Healing Sphere was spam clicking on an intended target’s feet, trying to account for their movement and latency, tight hit area.

Which personally I disagree with, never having had issues and would rather be in control of where I place my healing tools so that there is a small chance people other than myself will actually use and benefit from. It would also make the current Proving Grounds somewhat harder for Mistweaver Monks.

I find the fact that Summon Jade Statue is instant cast when Lightwell has a cooldown interesting but mostly these spells fall within definite categories. Each one has a hot of some sort, spells which deal with mana regeneration, i.e. innervate, shadowfiend, power word: solace tend to be either baseline instant cast or have the ability to be modified in that way. All single target dispels are instant too and so are movement modifiers whether that’s clearing snares like Nimble Brew or just increasing speed like Stampeding Roar, Roll or Angelic Feathers.

These lists are actually longer than I expected them to be given these are just abilities you can cast whilst moving and perhaps more importantly, they highlight the fact that too much choice can sometimes be a bad thing, especially when it comes to balance. I’ve been watching a quite a few PvP streams on Twitch lately and whilst you tend not to notice it when you’re the one running around chased by three male Bloodelves all wearing plate, carrying very big swords and spamming /lick macros, one grumpy Orc who can’t stop spitting and a gossip of Goblins, spectating on PvP shows just how much of it is done with instants these days. In fact I suspect that’s the issue, each expansion has seen huge amounts of interrupts and crowd control given to every class and in order to counter that, everyone has been given instants to actually be able to cast something. Pare back the control and there is much less need for instants in any aspect of the game.

The Bridge at Dun Baldar

Every time I end up fighting at the Bridge to Dun Baldar, my mind wanders to a certain poem we had to read at school so with apologies to Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay and to brave Horatius, I’d like to present a snippet of my version.

Great Drek’Thar of Alterac, by the ancestors he swore
That the great house of Frostwolf should suffer wrong no more.
By the ancestors he swore it, and named a trysting day,
And bade his messengers ride forth,
East and West and South and North,
To summon his array.

East and West and South and North the messengers ride fast,
And tower and town and cottage have heard the trumpet’s blast.
Shame on the false Frostwolf who prefers to roam,
When Drek’thar of Alterac is on the march for home!

Many many verses later

WoWScrnShot_110213_125950

When the gnome mends his armour, and trims his helmet’s plume,
And the nightelf’s shuttle merrily goes flashing through the loom;
With weeping and with laughter still is the story told,
How well Wildberri kept the bridge in the brave days of old.

(albeit from 30 yards behind any real action but everyone knows healers win the game!)

As an aside, this is how everyone should pvp, less trying to avoid it and allowing people to cap flags rather than dying defending objectives to buy time for your team.

Then out spoke brave Horatius, the Captain of the Gate:
“To every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late;
And how can man die better than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his Gods,

It’s not a bad motto for life in general either.

Tycertank’s #WoWScreenshot a day (Day 6)

DAY 6 – “This is important to me!

important2

Winning is important to me but that’s not why I picked this shot. If you follow my beam (I’m the Nightelf stood next to the Jade Serpent Statue), you’ll see a Gnome taking on all comers and that’s why this was the natural choice.

That Gnome when he’s not punching Horde in the face has helped me up pyramids, their stones slippery with rain. He’s carried me down a volcano, struggling for safe footing in the ash. He’s stood between me and not one but several crocodiles and was willing to take on a Grizzly Bear and a bunch of Mexicans armed with machetes with only a swiss army knife (not at the same time obviously although that’s purely because Grizzly bears don’t hang out in Chiapas).

Keeping him alive in a video game might not quite compare with what he’s done for me, but it’s a step in the right direction.