Class feedback, 4.3 and other wibbling

I haven’t really paid attention to the official class feedback forum threads; previous experience suggests there’d be enough posts which I found irritating to pose a serious risk to my desk (and possibly my forehead).

I have read through a few of the summaries which the various Wow Insider class writers have written, and some of the comments. And I’m quite prepared to hold opinions, however misguided :).

Minimum range *can* be annoying (I’ve been playing my hunter a fair bit recently, and the bear boss in the zulroics can be a PITA if the other players don’t move out far enough) but to me, an admittedly fairly new hunter, it’s a core part of the class. How do I know I’m not a good hunter yet? Because I have a nasty habit of finding myself in the wrong place when a fight’s moving around. If I was a better hunter, that would happen much, much less. Apart from anything else, it’s something I can measure as I play — how often do I end up with greyed out shot buttons? Also, if hunters have no penalty for being in melee range, then I’m afraid disengage has no place. And you can have my disengage when you pry my cold dead dwarven fingers from it. Assuming you can get past my scorpid.

Pretty please, can some of the yo-yo RNG be taken out of fire spec? I *like* that there’s an RNG proc element to fire — it’s one of the things that appeals — but it seems to me to be a bit too critical (ha!) to the spec’s capabilities. Good RNG = ZOMGburnallthethings. Bad RNG = respec arcane, nub. Centrella (my mage) was rather enjoying being a fire mage before having one too many bad RNG patches and switching to arcane. Not because of it’s theoretical higher DPS, but because it leaves her, or possibly me, with the lions share of responsibility for how well she does. Not a fickle and easily distracted goddess.

Arcane *is* an interesting spec, I think, although only for longer fights. For shorter fights, as we all know, arcane is 1-button spam with a couple of cooldowns. And, bizarrely, I’m quite happy with arcane AoE being centred on … er … Cent.  Yes, it can be hugely limiting. I don’t mind. It’s an interesting variation and distinct from fire/frost AoE. The flavour tastes good to me.

Holy Paladins
Another patch, another rewrite of paladin abilities. Still, the idea of having a targeted AoE and possibly an AoE healing priority,as opposed to “hit Holy Radiance, hope people are nearby, spot heal/light of dawn if you’re well placed, maybe”, could make things interesting. Right now I’m back in the DPS camp, where the atmosphere is more raucous but the facilities are much dirtier, so I’ve not been as focused on this, but conceptually it sounds promising. Plus the opportunity to turn other players into little beacons of light-based healing sounds like a giggle.

Ret Paladins
I still don’t get all the wah-wah about the retribution “rotation” in cataclysm. Don’t get me wrong, I loved ret in Wrath, it was manic and fun, but there’s so much more to it now. The biggest problem with ret is probably that keeping track of inquistion and to a degree, holy power, is a PITA with the default interface. Fix that (which Blizzard probably should do, but which is trivial to handle addons anyway) and you’re away. It’s been a while since I played it, but I did find that when I wanted a quick blast of the old ret playstyle, Unholy DK dps could stand in as a “hit the button that’s off cooldown and remember the priority when you have choices” and served as both a patch of simple fun and a reminder that the “new” ret is, long term, more engaging for me.

Other than that, I think Antigen‘s post hits most of the major markers. I confess, I don’t do a lot of seal swapping mid fight precisely because it feels like the GCD loss either side is in many cases going to override the benefit of the cleave damage gain, but with a GCDless seal, that’d be a different thing. Although there’d *would* need to be some kind of tradeoff (like the increased mana cost) otherwise you’d just macro seals to crusader strike and divine storm and it’d be invisible. I’ve only just hit the “gearwall” of not being able to get any meaningful upgrades without winning a head/shoulder token (the 378 trinket from Hyjal rep appears to be a fairly minor upgrade over the Caber) or killing Raggy and being lucky enough to grab Sufuras (pleasepleaseplease), so I don’t know firsthand how much variation there is on boss fights due to RNG. My *feeling* is that it’s nowhere near as bad as Cent’s fire spec, but I’ll know better soon.

All that said, I’m not feeling particularly underpowered, There are still aspects of my personal play to improve which are likely to contribute more DPS than buffing X or twiddling with Y, and I like that.

Other nice things about 4.3: it seems like, once the initial run-the-new-dungeons-because-they’re-new phase is done, and once the run-new-dungeon-X-until-the-blasted-[item]-drops is over, running heroics for VP will be a) much less boring, and b) probably less essential. With actual tier pieces only dropping from raid bosses, the whole “should you cap VP” debate could well become moot. Of course, it could be replaced by the “should you run looking-for-raid groups to gear up?” debate instead, but that’s the wow community for you — if we didn’t have something to complain about, we’d complain about the lack of problems instead.

I’m in two minds about LFR: I’m not massively keen on raiding with a selection of randoms from servers all over Europe just to get interim pieces, but it could be a fun thing to do when you’ve got a little time and aren’t in the mood for a 5man. I’m a little concerned that it might effectively kill raid pugging though — call me a freak if you like, but I do actually enjoy joining the occasional pug raid on my alts and part of that is the possibility of meeting friendly people whom I might play with again.

On the Firelands nerfs:
I’m not especially keen. For our guild, which is as much limited by available players than by gear/skill, it’s trivialised everything except Ragnaros. Post patch, every single encounter up to Ragnaros is made so much easier I actually think it’s has negative effects on the Ragnaros fight, which we’ve just started working on. Players’ full attention simply isn’t required anymore, and errors which would have made fights incredibly difficult or possibly caused a wipe can now be compensated for by other members of the raid. Which means a drop in concentration in time for a new boss which still requires us to focus.

The other downside is that it takes some of the joy out of the other bosses. It’s just less satisfying killing a boss you know is now fighting with one hand tied behind their back. It feels a bit unfair.

I just hope they don’t look at the number of guilds who were making slow-but-steady progress pre-nerf who are now stacked up on Ragnaros, and nerf him further, because that would achieve NOTHING, and really strip from me any satisfaction I might get from killing him. Guilds like ours who have made slower progress (for whatever the reason) are by their nature not filled with people desperate to be raiding heroic modes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I have no interest at all, but we obviously don’t feel like we’re “doin it rong” if we kill the end-of-raid boss before the next patch/expansion and don’t do much else. So if we have a good run through a tier, and naturally progress into hardmodes, great! But the nature of these nerfs make me feel like I’m being told that normal modes are completely irrelevant, which is a) crap, and b) rather missing the point of having bosses and “modes” at different difficulty levels.

I’m not looking at this as a “if you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough” deal. It’s personal. By trying and failing, I learn both a fight’s mechanics and to better use my character’s abilities to manage them. This, along with the gradual process of making my character more powerful through gear upgrades, is my personal progression. Obviating that by eliminating the requirement that I play a little better and/or upgrade my gear a little takes away one of the things which make playing fun. It’s not the whole of the thing, but it’s a significant part.

I want polkadot epics with bold underline italic ALL CAPS

At WoW Insider today there was a post about gear, and whether Blizzard should implement a level above legendary. This sparked a variant of the “lolepix” conversation in the comments, where various people proposed making epics “more like they were in vanilla”, where only the best of the best1 had purple gear. Everyone else was in blues and BY GOD they were grateful for them.

<imagine an embed of the Monty Python “Yorkshiremen” sketch, which acts as a study guide for the preceding paragraph. Right, that’ll do. You’ve all seen it, no need to watch it again>

Given that *every* time I attempt to comment on WoW Insider their comment system has a complete freakout and attempts to persuade me I don’t exist, I thought I’d post this here.

One problem with the oft-proposed “make purples raid-only” is that it would feel odd when you were replacing purples from the first raid of an expansion with blues from the second or third set of heroics 5 mans released in that expansion. I know there’s already some interplay between blues and greens when levelling (e.g. Throne blues being replaced by quest greens from Uldum/Twihigh) so it’s not unheard of. Still, I’m not sure it makes lots of sense to throw away the epic hat you earned in by defeating the first tier-end boss of the expansion in favour of a blue drop from a five-player dungeon in the same expansion that took 28 minutes from pull to valor points.

Aside from that, I don’t get this obsession with tooltip text colour. Gear upgrades are great, but the important questions are “will this let me do more dps/more hps/take less damage?” and “does it look cool?”, not “what colour is the icon border in the character view”. Even iLevel is only important insofar as there are content gates based on it (the various dungeon finder requirements).

We’ve all encountered people playing waaaay less effectively than their gear should allow.

We’ve *also* all encountered players who are comparatively less well-geared but who are making up for it with good play. The difference with this second group is that, unless you habitually inspect every new player you meet at the start of a run, you don’t notice these people. It looks like they’re doing an ok job, not the best, not the worst, so you think nothing more of it, and don’t realise how well they must be playing to do as well as they are with the gear they have. For both of those people, while their gear sets the upper boundary of their performance, it’s the way they play that most determines their effectiveness.

Ironically, if I’ve read correctly, Blizzard are implementing a variation on this in t13, where actual tier set pieces will *only* be available via raid drops. Valor points will allow you to purchase more-or-less equivalent pieces, but presumably without the set bonus attached. Perhaps the tooltip text of t13 setpieces will be ultraviolet…

In other news, it would appear I’m a DPSer again. We’ve acquired another fulltime healer *wave* which has meant that my heal-arious holy-ing (sorry, sorry) hasn’t been required. It’s been interesting.


  • Hitting things is fun. This is very important.
  • My DPS gear is better than my healing gear
  • I won a shiny new axe from Shannox
  • I still might get to ninja healing plate drops anyway :D
  • It’s much more satisfying to charge in and hit stuff at the start of the fight (vs. lurk at the back waiting for incoming damage)
  • There’s lots of running about and a few fun jobs (DPSing Beth upstairs, chasing doggies on Shannox, steering Rhyolith, stupid stupid sons of flame)


  • Healing is also fun
  • The healing view is generally better, provided one remembers to look up from the green boxes.
  • I could try to blame my healing failures on gear or on “not being a mainspec healer”. I’m supposed to know how to DPS *eek*.
  • Welcome back, faceroll jokes. Oh how I’ve missed you. Much like my consecrate button. Clearly I need bigger ears.
  • I’ve lost all my lovely tools. Farewell, aura mastery. Please, please, PLEASE, please can I have speed of light in retspec? PLEASE?
  • HOW much running about? I swear Riplimb was laughing at me. And those stupid whackamole druids on Alysrazor.
  1. of the best of the best of the best, repeating of course []

The ‘blame it on a generation’ generation

Once upon a time, I kept a personal blog which I wrote sporadically whenever something amused, irritated or offended. It was largely moribund before I started writing here at MB, but given the ranting I’ve posted recently I could probably resurrect it. Just in case I decide to, here’s some more.

I’ve just about had enough of “generations”. I’ve been reading wowblogs and forums and apparently, the young generation or the twitter generation or the ADD generation or the insert-perjorative-generation are ruining everything. Yoofs. Damn them.

It’d be more accurate, perhaps, to say that game companies are ruining everything, by designing games which cater to the lazy generation. They’re just in it for the money, chasing the LCD to maximise shareholder return. Capitalists. Damn them.

…except don’t all of those studies about gamers seem to suggest the “average” gamer is somewhere in the 30s-40s bracket? So surely they should be designing for those people instead? People of middle years with money and lives. Damn them. Er, us. No, them.

Best not to think about that too carefully, I suspect.

For those who don’t already know, I live in London. In Catford, home of the “famous” Catford Cat, should any of you feel like dropping by for a chat and a dram.

Catford cat

Although it wasn’t extensively covered by the news, Catford had its own small share of “fun” during last month’s UK riots, with a few stores looted and/or damage. Damage was light enough that, during the #riotcleanup twitter phenomenon, the council posted a tweet which effectively said ‘thanks for your support but we’ve got this.’

Aaaaanyway, the news aftermath was largely what you’d expect, with sensible discussion in some places, liberal handwringing in others, and a goodly dose of old-fashioned string-em-up, hanging’s-too-good-for-‘em, bring-back-national-service shoutiness as a constant backbeat. And lots of “generation”s.

The selfish generation. The Me generation. The feral generation. The yob generation. So many generations.

My concern: generations don’t spring fully-formed from the mind of Zeus. Each generation is shaped by the generation before it, by parents wanting their children to have the things they didn’t or couldn’t have. By parents seeking to avoid the “mistakes” that *their* parents made. They’re shaped by the society they’re born into (which is shaped by the preceding generations). They’re shaped by the events of the time.

Did I just take a long time to write “parents are responsible for their children, and should feel so.”? I guess in a roundabout way I did.

Back to Warcraft. If you’re finding yourself cursing out WoW’s generation Z’ers, it might be worth considering what your contributions to their attitudes and the way they have developed may have been.

PSA: Zombies

I’m interrupting my irregular posting to bring you an important Public Service Announcement.

If you are one of the many World of Warcraft players who play other games too, you’ve probably noticed the spread of the plague that threatens to engulf us. If WoW is your only game, you may yet be unfamiliar with the dire situation the world faces, so allow me to summarise.

Zombies. Thousands of ‘em. 



I thought perhaps the disease had been stopped, but no. We’re still neck deep in games where, bereft of any ability/desire/willingness to invent new “bad guys” (or even the ability/desire/willingness to choose a different trope), the design meeting must have gone something like

“Ok Bob, settle down. We’ve some great gameplay elements in the bag already, but we need a story. A structure. A narrative that ties together the encounters you’re designing and the abilities we’re giving the player.”


“C’mon guys, help me out here. Let’s brainstorm a bit, throw some scenarios out there, some characters we can build on.”


“Please. Seriously. We *need* this. I’m already responsible for the website, managing our forum community, keeping our social media presence lively and responsive and more. I write the docs. I do the accounts. I even sent for a hygienist to deal with Alex’s… problem. Can’t you guys wake up a bit and help me here? I can’t write a whole new scenario by myself.”

*pause*.. “Hey, I thought of something!”

“Brilliant. Let’s hear it!”

“If this is officially a project meeting, can I expense my lunch? It’s 12.03.”

“Fuck you guys. I’m not slaving away if you lazy bastards won’t help. Zombie apocalypse it is. AGAIN. Hell, at least I won’t have to rewrite the box copy.”


There’s only one solution to this plague. And no, it’s not to take off and nuke the site from orbit.





Fish feasts, word beasts

The title rhymes for a reason.

I was getting bored of buying my own food for raiding ‘n stuff, so decided we needed to get the recipe for the lobster jacuzzi. A fishing competition seemed like the thing… but with a little guild like ours, a “first person to get X number of fish” competition wasn’t going to work. Neither would a “everyone get together on X day and fish”, unless we decided to forgo raiding for an evening to do it (no thanks). So… the fishing and poetry competition was born.

Entry requirements: 120 fish from pools plus one poem, haiku or limerick. Delivered in about a week or less.

Results: well, we got the fishing achievement before all of the entries were in. And guildies are now voting on their favourite poems, with the winner taking away a unique guild rank (tbd) and their choice of a pet from the Blizzard pet store OR a bike mount. Whichever one is left will then be awarded to another entrant by that most capricious of judges, Lady RNG.

To give you an example:

There once was a man called Ano
Who thought he could play the piano
But his thumbs were too big
On just his first gig
They compared his recital to guano

He sat at his desk with a pen
And thought about hobbies again
Where is the thrill
When your hands have no skill?
And you fail nine efforts in ten

He decided to put us to shame
And started a dragony game
“But which class to be
With these phalangees
I’m tired of being to blame”

So he took up a paladin mace
And flourished in dungeons with grace
But his method was flawed
We thought he tapped the keyboard
But the whole time he just played with his face

And no, I didn’t write that. Bastards.

Also, I’ve been playing too much to write, but I have been reading. This morning, I read this post on wowhead news, linking/quoting from a couple of articles about “why cataclysm is bad” or “why WoW is dying”. There’s very little point in commenting on it there, and not much more point in writing about it here, but what the hell.

1. “Most people dislike Cataclysm”. Really? I see no hard data on that (feel free to point me at some). I see a lot of forum bandwagon jumping, but that’s normal. I see a bunch of people who don’t like specific things. I’m not sure that adds up to “most people dislike Cataclysm”. Not even slightly. Anecdotal: I’m having a good time. So are the people I’m playing with.

2. A study quoted in the Gamasutra article surveyed 2865 self-selected WoW players, 72% of whom were from the US, 70% of whom had played for three years or more. And which was published six months before Cataclysm was released. It’s an interesting study on the subject, but as far as I can tell it’s got nothing to do with the article quote from the author, who says “I think people get bored more quickly”. Than what? And, er, ok.

3. Again from the Gamasutra article, there’s a quote from a staff writer and wow player who says “There isn’t a lack of content in Cataclysm. The problem is the lack of strong appeal for anyone in particular. The gear doesn’t carry enough psychological weight for the hardcore players, and the raids are too difficult for more casual players, especially relative to the rewards they provide. The last raiding tier was significantly nerfed in 4.2, but its rewards are now behind what casual players can acquire by doing 5-mans, so there’s no incentive to raid older content beyond doing it once or twice just to see the new bosses.”

The thing is, that’s not really true. You can buy chest, legs, hands, bracers, one ring, one neckpiece and a relic/wand from the VP vendor, all of which are better than gear from tier 11 but it’ll take you several weeks of dungeon running to buy them all. You can buy boots, a trinket, another ring and a cloak from the JP vendor, which are *as* good as, not better than the drops from tier 11 (give or take, depending on your stat priorities), plus you can pick up t11 chest, legs and hands which might be better than raid drops once you have two items (for the set bonus). The rest is raid only, unless you want to spring for BoEs or crafted items.

Also, there we go with the whole “casual” bullshit again. What’s a casual player in this context? Someone who doesn’t raid regularly? Someone who only pug-raids? Someone who can only commit 90 minutes to any one gaming session? If you’re that “casual”, you’re hardly likely to be drowning in VP/JP so … eh? That has a bit of a smell of the old “if I raid, I want to be massively, visibly and demonstrably better looking/better geared than you nooby scrubs” thinking, which I tend to dislike. If you’re interested in that sort of boasting, send people links to the RSS feed/screenshot of your character newsfeed, with the date of your first kill prominently visible1.

That last point comes back to something that makes me twitch a bit. Are there really so many people who play until they’ve ticked off every item on their “I want this” gear list, and then unsubscribe until the next patch adds in a few new weapons or what have you? The reward mechanism for WoW (group content) is pretty well known, but I always thought it was a combination of things: exploration (new bosses/mechanics), teamplay, social interaction (raidchat/voicecomms), personal performance (execution), group performance, progression (next boss/harder mode/achievements for difficult things), “tangible” rewards (loot). Is the last item >>>> all of the others?

  1. PS: if you do this to me as some sort of boast, it’s possible I will conclude you’re a knob. []