It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been a year since Cataclysm was first released. There’s been a lot that has happened – good things, bad things, and things in between that people really aren’t sure about. The expansion on a whole seems to be controversial in the fact that some believe it’s been a big success, while others believe it’s been a failure. I personally think that it’s an experiment that was partially successful, but that’s for another time.
As of November 29th, the beginning of the end of Cataclysm is upon is.
Blizzard has said that this will be the last full content patch for the expansion, and that this will basically be the end for updates before Mists of Pandaria comes out. This could be taken two ways: the optimistic way, thinking that we’ll be seeing MoP sooner rather than later and won’t have to do this content forever; or the pessimistic way, thinking that we’ll be doing the exact same content for a year, as we did with Icecrown Citadel at the end of Wrath of the Lich King (Ruby Sanctum doesn’t count).
Unfortunately I don’t work for Blizzard, and I don’t know when they hope to release MoP. Like everyone else, I’d rather see it sooner rather than later, but we know that it will be done when it’s done. However, all that being said, I’d like to take the optimistic view.
The 4.3 content patch has a lot in it. Not only do we get the new raid on Deathwing, but there are three new 5-man dungeons, a revamped Darkmoon Faire, Transmogrification, Void Storage, the Raid Finder, a bunch of new items from the raids and other content, and a whole bunch of balance changes. It would take too long to go through each one, so I’ll suggest you check out WoW Insider’s guide to Patch 4.3 to get the details about many of the new features.
Briefly, I’m very happy with Transmogrification. The interface is incredibly easy to use, and I finally am rewarded for being such a packrat for all these years. I was able to have one of my favourite looks of the Tier 5 shoulders and Wildfury Greatstaff for my Druid, which really makes me happy and nostalgic.
Void Storage is nice, but unfortunately a bit too restrictive. I have a lot of stuff in my bank from the many holidays that have come around, and I was hoping to empty a bunch out to free up some room. The biggest thing is that items labelled “unique” or items not soulbound cannot be deposited to VS. Many tabards, as well as other holiday things are all unique, and some of the holiday items like the Brewfest and Winter Veil gear are not soulbound, but I wanted to keep them nonetheless. So I deposited what I could, and at least freed up some room.
The Raid Finder has been one of the things I’ve been looking forward to most. As I’ve mentioned before, my schedule is very weird for when I can raid, so now I can raid whenever I want – as long as there’s enough other people queuing as well. I was able to get into a group, and successfully get the four bosses currently available with little drama. We only wiped twice, and there were people taking charge of the raid to get things done.
We also got Tyrael’s Charger. It’s pretty.
All in all, there’s some great new content that everyone can enjoy no matter what you do. Raider, casual player, leveling player, there’s something for everyone. As I experience more of the new content, I’ll post my thoughts about some of them. In the meantime, happy exploring!
The words “DON’T PANIC” are inscribed in large, friendly letters on the front of the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
When something new comes, there’s only a few different ways that people can react. If the new thing looks appealing and pleasing to the person, there’s a sense of excitement and anticipation. If the new thing doesn’t hold any interest to the person, there’s a bunch of apathy and boredem. If the new thing looks not good at all to the person, there’s a sense of doom, dread, and panic.
Something new came this week.
Earlier in the week, Blizzard released an early look at the Mists of Pandaria talent and spec calculator. It shows every class, what their new talent tree will look like, and more importantly what the different specs will look like come patch 5.0 and the release of the new expansion.
If you missed it, at BlizzCon it was revealed that talent specs are changing with MoP. Rather than just adding to a specific arsenal of abilities that every class has, each spec will become even more specialized. As an example, only Fire mages will have Fireball and only Frost mages will have Frostbolt, but every mage will have Frostfire bolt.
Between BlizzCon and now, there has been a bunch of speculation about how much each class would change. With the new calculator, it’s shown that every class will be changing, but each class has differing amount of change. The pure DPS classes seem to be having less change than the hybrids, which seems to give the impression that Blizzard wants the spec to do one thing and one thing only – which is what they spec into.
The big disclaimer that has been stated is that this is a “pre-alpha” build, meaning that the information given can and more than likely will change between now and release. Bashiok said that they are giving this information out because they want to get feedback from the players and see what can be improved or tweaked. If you decide to leave a note for Blizzard, just please remember the most important thing (and Wheaton’s Law): Don’t Be A Dick.
Since my main is a Feral DPS Druid, I thought I’d give my impressions about that class.
One big change to Druids is one that all hybrids who can do any sort of healing are experiencing. If you’re not specced into the healing tree, there will be very limited choice for what healing abilities will be present. Rather than having Healing Touch, Regrowth, Nourish, Rejuvenation, and Lifebloom – it’s down to Nourish and Rejuvenation that are baseline. All of the other spells will be available at certain levels if you spec into Resto.
On the other hand, the times when a Bear could do decent DPS while not tanking are long gone. Druids are having the distinction of being the only class that will now have four specs: Balance (Moonkin), Restoration (Tree), Feral (Cat), and Guardian (Bear). If you want to be a bear, you’re a tank and a tank only. Even though this is definitely a loss for Druids, it is bringing us in line with the other classes that are out there. A Protection Warrior isn’t able to do good DPS while still in spec, why should a Bear be able to shift to Cat and do well?
That was definitely one of the benefits of being a Druid in the first place, and we’ll still have a limited capacity for it with the level 90 talent of Heart of the Wild (there are some bloggers out there who think that it will not be very useful at all – which I’m inclined to agree with). However, Druid specs will most definitely be very specialized.
The biggest news that I’ve seen so far is the new level 87 ability called Symbiosis. The text reads: “Creates a symbiotic link which grants the druid one ability belonging to the target’s class, varying by the druid’s specialization. In exchange, grants the target one druid ability based on their class and combat role. Lasts 1 hour and persists through death.”
On first glance, this looks absolutely amazing. Of course, this likely means that it won’t be as amazing as we hope it will be. Lissanna at Restokin gave a really good writeup about how she thinks it will work, and I think she has the right idea. It will probably take a specific ability from each class, rather than taking a random one, and since it will last an hour and persists through death it shouldn’t be left up to chance. Unfortunately, this won’t be able to be properly tested until the beta comes out, so until then we’ll be left with speculation (unless Blizzard decides to give us details about how it exactly works… /wink).
As with expansions in the past, we just have to get used to the “new normal”. There are things we may not like, but at the moment they’re not set in stone. If this is how things look when MoP is launched, then there might be some other words being used at the time.
I think that things are going in the right track, but will definitely need some tweaking. While we see the specs make the player focus on a specific role, there are then talents which encourage us to do other roles… but we won’t have as many tools to do said roles. It just doesn’t make much sense to me now. We’ll see how things go as time progresses – just remember, the game isn’t even close to being out yet.
What defines a person? What is the thing that is at their core, which makes them who they are? There can be many things that do this, which can be small or large parts of their lives. As a gamer, we have a way to extend these definitions of ourselves into the virtual world through the characters we play.
Of course, not everyone does this. There are people who play only for the enjoyment of what a certain character can do or a role that is required. I believe that someone who truly enjoys playing a certain character does so because it’s something they can identify with.
Looking back at the characters I’ve played over the years, I can see a progression of how I identified with these characters and why I chose what I did. More so, I can see why I’ve stuck with my Tauren Druid so long and still really enjoy playing him.
Of my many characters, I’m only going to focus on two: my previous main, a Blood Elf Paladin and my current main, a Tauren Druid.
I stuck with my Paladin for a long time, starting on BC launch day and raiding as a healer through Tier 5 stuff (Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep). This was my first experience playing a melee oriented class that I actually enjoyed, as previously I had played only ranged/magic classes in my online gaming career. With this character, I found that I could identify with him somewhat.
In real life, I’m a very ordinary guy. I work for a living, I have a great family, I do very normal stuff. However, part of what I do in my job is help people out (since I work for a bank, it just happens to be financial help), and that is part of who I am.
When I focused on being a healer and a paladin, I could identify with what the paladin is supposed to be. A protector of others, putting other people ahead of one’s self. As I was healing my guildmates and keeping them alive through these encounters, I could see myself in that role as well. Because of this, I believe that I stayed with the character for a while.
The Paladin was a member of the Blood Knights, originally siphoning power from M’uru, and thinking that he was just doing this for his own advancement. Yet, as time went on he realized that he actually liked being able to help others out. Rather than just being another Blood Elf minion, he established himself as a member of his guild and a vital member of a raiding team. When he found out about the betrayal of Prince Kael’thas, he decided to focus on the friends he had made in his guild and only be loosely affiliated with the Blood Knights, even though the Sunwell was restored.
My current main character was born because my wife had recently started playing WoW as well, and we wanted to level characters together. She had created a Tauren Shaman, and I wanted to create a new Druid – hoping that it was better than the original time I tried to level one in Vanilla. We had a lot of fun, and made it to max level in Burning Crusade, and I eventually made him my new main.
I see my Druid’s identity as part of that original experience. He was going through the world with his wife, trying to help people out and bring glory to the Horde. His loyalty is first to his family, then to his fellow Tauren, then the Horde. This is basically how I am in my real life situation.
Our experiences shape who we are, in-game and out. Whether that is a traumatic experience that makes you cringe when you see spiders, or a smile whenever you see kittens because you just love them. If you value protecting others by keeping them safe, a healer or tank might be a good option for you because it aligns with natural personality. If you protect others by removing things that would cause others harm, there’s DPS for you. What type of DPS? Take out your frustration by stabbing things as a rogue. Enjoy setting things on fire as a warlock.
WoW’s longevity can be credited to a number of things, and I believe that relatable characters is a very big part. I wrote about this before regarding NPCs, but this definitely also applies to player-controlled characters as well. Why have a hero if you hate being that person?
Lately I’ve had difficulty having inspiration for a new post, and have been thinking about what to post about. Patch 4.2 has just recently dropped, but sites such as WoW Insider have much more comprehensive coverage of things in there than I could ever give. However, one thing that I can give is where I’ve come from through my time in WoW. Let’s take a trip with the way-back machine to Wrath of the Lich King and look back at Naxxramas.
Naxx was one of the entry raids of WotLK, the other being Malygos in the Eye of Eternity. It was originally a 40-man raid at the end of Vanilla, but the difficulty level and attunement process was quite high at the time. Very few people were able to experience it, even through Burning Crusade. Thus Blizzard decided to bring it back in Wrath, along with updated items and tier armours.
This tier of raiding was the first time people got to experience having the choice between 10 and 25-man groups of the same instance. They were on separate lockouts, so if someone had enough time they could do both versions of the raid to get gear faster. Personally I felt it was better suited for 25-man raiding, as it is such a very large instance, and it feels even larger when there aren’t as many people. The size of the instance and rooms were not changed from the original 40-man raid, so that probably has a bit to do with it.
There were four wings, each with a boss at the end that needed to be defeated before moving on to Sapphiron and Kel’Thuzad (originally – later through Wrath it was possible to skip the wings and go directly to them). The four quarters were: Military (or Death Knight), Plague, Spider, and Construct. Each wing was themed with similar trash mobs and bosses, with each having their own little special thing.
Back in Vanilla, Patchwerk was the DPS check for the instance. If the raid DPS was high enough to kill Patchwerk before he enrages, the group is probably ready to do the rest of the instance. Fortunately with Naxx being the first raid of the expansion, it was a little more forgiving.
I never had the chance to do it in Vanilla, but I have heard that the entire instance retains much of the original feel. Fights like Loatheb are still very difficult due to the very big mechanic of not being able to heal except for a few brief seconds every minute. Heigan still requires the entire raid to dance between the flames. Kel’Thuzad is still a royal pain if you’re melee-heavy with the ice blocks.
Altogether it wasn’t a bad instance, and I certainly enjoyed the time we had through it. There were certainly things that could have been improved, however. Standing out to me was the Instructor Razuvious fight in 25-man mode. It was a requirement for there to be two priests in the raid, as there are two adds that need to be mind controlled for the fight to tank the boss. In 10-man mode, there were crystals that were used for this reason so anyone could do it. Even though there are 25 people in a raid, there were a few times our guild couldn’t do that quarter because we didn’t have enough priests.
There were a LOT of bosses. 16 altogether (I’m counting the Four Horsemen as one boss), and while that allowed a lot of loot to be given out, it also made for a lot of time in one zone looking at the same stuff over and over again. I’m all for a lot of content, but sometimes there’s a bit too much.
Class tier item sets dropped were re-skinned Tier 3, updated for Wrath. Some of my favourite tier sets are in tiers 3 and 7, so I was quite happy when I got my sets. Along with it were some very interesting looking weapons, including Journey’s End and Origin of Nightmares (guess what spec I was during that time). Unfortunately, as much as feral Druids loved these two items we suffered the usual pains of not being able to see them while in combat.
This instance was a very good raid to start off the expansion with. It was perfect for Wrath’s lore, and had a variety of fights that people had to adapt to very quickly. Thaddius and the positive/negative gimmick was always a lot of fun and very frustrating at the same time.
If you ask me, that’s what raiding is supposed to be like – have fun while ripping your hair out. Good times.
I am having a complete mental and creative block. I’ve been trying to think of a topic to write about, but I’ve had no inspiration lately. Therefore, we get a mid-week screenshot!
My very first night of working on Al’Akir – as expected, we wiped a lot. This was before 4.2, so there were no nerfs and we were trying to get him down properly. Unfortunately it never worked out, but at least I got a neat perspective of the area while flying back indefinitely.
It’s not just any Tuesday today. Maestro, please begin the ominous music.
Today is when patch 4.2 hits North American/Oceanic realms for World of Warcraft. It’s been just over six months since Cataclysm was released, and our first major content patch with new and exciting things to do. We technically have had a content patch already, but redoing two existing instances takes a lot less work than a whole new raid and daily quest hub.
To say that there are a lot of changes is quite the understatement. I will be referencing links from WoW Insider throughout, and the best place to get a run down of the major changes is their guide to patch 4.2.
The major points of the patch are the inclusion of the Firelands raid and the Molten Front daily quest hub. Ultimately defeating Ragnaros once and for all, the raid also includes the chance to get a new DPS caster legendary staff. Similar to the Isle of Quel’Danas, the Molten Front area is a daily quest area that advances along with personal progression (I touched on this on a previous article).
For the first time with a patch, we actually have explanations for the class balance changes that came along with it. Ghostcrawler took every single change and said why they made them in point form. Rather than just saying “here you go, deal with it”, we at least have an idea of the philosophy the developers use when making their decisions. There are a great number of changes, best to take a look at which ones apply to your own class(es).
Another great change is the Dungeon Journal, which includes a version of AtlasLoot. Once again we see Blizzard taking addons that they like and feel should be part of the default UI and incorporating them. The Journal has information all the fights of Cataclysm content (will be expanded for the rest of the game eventually, I’m sure), along with abilities that the bosses use and gear that can drop. Currently there is the gear information on the Battle.net website, but this is a great way so people don’t have to use a third-party addon or alt-tab to find out what drops from a certain boss.
Lastly, one of my favourite things about 4.2 is the inclusion of a great cosmetic change. Since I’m back to being feral DPS, I can be a flaming kitty! I believe that it only requires the person to have the staff that drops from Fandral, and whenever you’re in cat form you become a cat… on fire. Dragonwrath turns the caster into a dragon with a proc, but it looks like this is a passive cosmetic change.
I hope that this opens the door for more cosmetic changes down the road, as we really need them – especially for druids. We have great gear, but in combat we’re in the shapeshift forms and are unable to see the great looks. The community has been asking for changes such as this for years, so hopefully we’ll see more down the road.
New content is awesome. I know I’ve been getting impatient, as this six month period since Cataclysm released seems to have gone by very slowly. Hopefully I’ll be able to raid the new place, for the main reason of becoming a flaming kitty. Otherwise, at least I’ll have the new daily quest area to keep me busy for a while.
A little while ago, something happened that caused me quite a bit of frustration. In essence: I love to raid, but I was denied the chance to raid. I was mad at first, but after having the chance to reflect upon it I have some thoughts to share.
Being in a guild comes with rules attached. This is even more important for guilds who raid, as there are the intricacies of determining who gets loot, discipline for people being jerkfaces, attendance issues, among other things. What is the rule for who gets to raid?
Some back story to begin with, as my situation is a bit weird. I’ve mentioned before that I can’t raid as much as I used to, due to real life circumstances. I am married to a wonderful woman and have a great son. Unfortunately I don’t make enough money to support us all by myself, so my wife has to work part-time on weekends and some evenings. As it happens one of the nights she usually works is a raid night, and the other raid night is one where I work late every second week. Therefore, due to our work schedules there have been many times where I have been unable to raid because of having to look after our son or because I’ve been working.
Prior to The Spawn arriving, I was a regular raider. From Vanilla all the way through Wrath, I was there for a majority of our guild’s raids, so I have good experience. I’ve been in the guild since it was formed, so I have tenure. Plus, I enjoy raiding as it’s my version of a “guy’s night out” or poker night.
It happened that this certain Friday, I wasn’t working late and had been given the all clear to sign up for the raid. We’re doing 10-man raiding right now and eleven people had signed up – since I’m a DPS class, my role is always one that’s fought over. This was my first time being able to sign up for a raid in over a month, but I had experienced most of the content in the expansion thus far. The night’s agenda was to go to Throne of the Four Winds and work on Al’Akir, as he’s the last boss we need for the Guild Glory of the Raider achievement.
I logged on, asking if I was going to be able to raid that night. The decision was made to have myself and another DPS do a /roll with the low roller sitting the night. Ultimately, mine was the low roll and I was out. To say I was mad was an understatement.
The arguments came to my mind very easily: I’ve been a member of the guild for years! If it wasn’t for my situation, I would have been there for every raid! I deserve equal chances to participate in the raid! Other people go to every raid, but I have the rare chance! Why do they go but I get shut out?
Almost a week later, I’ve looked back and realized that the decision was made properly. I wish that it was made ahead of time so I would have known, but that’s beside the point. It was a progression raid, and the people who have worked at the content for weeks deserve the chance to get a guild-first downing of a new boss.
There needs to be a balance for inclusion of all members who want to raid. I’m not suggesting that just because you’re a warm body means that you should go, but given a chance. If the raid agenda was to do content that was being farmed, my anger would have been justified. Since it was a progression night, it was not my place to take the spot of someone who has been there all the time.
Who gets to raid?
This is the core of the problem. When I was an officer back in Burning Crusade, we were getting together people for a Gruul’s Lair run, and we were short one DPS. We had a player log on, one who wasn’t around very often, but was raid ready. They joined the raid, and after killing Gruul we had the Dragonspine Trophy drop – for the first (and eventually only) time of the expansion for us. At the time, our loot policy was to /roll and high roll wins. This player ended up getting the highest roll… and quit the game a week later. (Loot rules are a whole different ball of wax)
Because of the above reason, there is definitely a reason to put the proper people in a raid. Whereas I may be someone who knows what to do, I truthfully didn’t deserve to take the spot on that night.
Obviously there are times when it’s not possible to be picky. If there’s only 10 people on who can raid, you have your raid. Depending on the skill and gear levels of the people involved, that will determine what will happen that night. Progression may not be possible, but it will likely be possible to bring up other people to the point of being able to progress later.
If there’s 15 people who want to raid, there are going to be five people who will have to do something else. Should the plan be to progress through raid content, the obvious choice is the people who are ready for the content.
However, there must be a chance given to people who want to raid. It’s just the timing that needs to be decided on. Firm communication between guild leadership and the members is key. If the plan is to do progression, make sure people know that preference will be given to those who are geared and ready for the fight. For farm nights, some preference should be given to people who need to gear up.
All of this must be done within reason. A whole raid full of people who need to gear up won’t go very far in a raid. I’m not saying that those who can’t make every raid must be given a spot on farm nights, but to take their situation into account.
I love to raid, as it’s something that I enjoy doing with the friends that I have made through World of Warcraft. My schedule limits the times that I can raid, because of the schedule my guild has established.
I was wrong to have been upset at being sat out for a progression night. Hopefully things will work out and I’ll be able to raid again soon. I’m looking at you, people who set my wife’s schedule. /glare
In the meantime there are PuG raids that I could join, there are Zandalari heroics, and upcoming single player content in 4.2 that could make me pass the time. Lots of things to do, and hopefully raiding with my guild will be one of those things again in the future.
There are times when I wish I wasn’t as accommodating. Yet, I only have myself to blame for it. I try to do things with the best intentions, but sometimes things just don’t work out.
In this case, it all has to do with my DPS specs. A while back now, I decided to change from feral cat DPS to a boomkin because the guild needed more ranged people. I volunteered, because I always wanted to try the spec out and see what it’s like. One of the biggest problems is that I barely make it to the raids due to real life schedules, so in the end I didn’t really do much to help the guild out with getting a ranged class.
Finding that I was missing being feral DPS, I decided to change my second spec (feral tanking, which I had not used once since I got the spec set up and reforged all the gear) back to a kitty and tried it out in a heroic to see how I would do. For comparison, as a boomkin I would average around 8-10k DPS – which is not very good at all – by any comparison for my gear level.
My first thought was: “Why in the world did I ever switch?”
After doing a heroic Zul’Aman, my average DPS for the entire instance was around 13.6k, and my highest was around 18k for Nalorakk. At first I thought it was just that instance, but after thinking more I realized that it’s just something I’m so used to doing that it flows easier.
One thing I was really bad about as a boomkin was my DoT uptime. There were some fights where I was below 30%, because I just forgot to reapply it with being so focused on my regular rotations. Fortunately as a kitty, the DoTs that I use aer some of the most important parts of my rotation and come naturally. That in itself is a great way to make sure I don’t slack.
Plus, I found I was getting bored with being a boomkin. There were definitely fun parts about it, but altogether I was finding that I was just there and not being very excited to instance or raid at all. Perhaps that’s how I got my priest to 85 so quickly, because I just wasn’t feeling it.
Whatever the case, I’m definitely back to being a feral DPS spec. I had so much fun with it through my first instance, I don’t care how many rogues and other ferals I have to beat up to get my gear. As well, if I needed any other reason, the staff that Fandral will drop from Firelands in 4.2 turns cat form into a fire cat form. ‘Nuff said. I’m back to a melee state of mind.
It’s time for me to add to the growing group of voices in the blogosphere in regards to the upcoming change to the Looking for Dungeon group tool in 4.1 and the addition of the “Call to Arms” feature. There has been a number of posts regarding this issue, and a number of different opinions about it. From all the posts I’ve read and podcasts listened to, it seems people are pretty much split down the middle.
When the announcement first came out from Blizzard that they were adding in the “Call to Arms” feature for the LFD tool in 4.1, I have to admit I was a bit surprised that they would make such a move. Since the tool first came out in Wrath, there have been average wait times depending on your class. DPS players have long queues, healers are medium to short, and tanks are extremely short or instant. People (mainly DPS – including myself) have complained about the wait times, but nobody has had any ideas of how to fix it.
Enter Call to Arms. Basically, this feature adds an incentive for a player to queue as one of the roles that is lacking in the LFD tool at the time to help speed things up. Lots of healers and DPS in the queue but lacking tanks? The system will add CtA for tanks, and give that person an extra reward after a successful dungeon run. Basically, it’s a new version of the grab bag added at the end of The Oculus from Wrath to convince people to do something. It’s not a bribe, it’s incentive.
To break it down in a simple format, here’s what I think:
Good things about Call to Arms
- Gives people a reason to want to tank – for example: making it a dual spec, rolling an alt.
- Extra rewards are bind to Battle.net account, so the rewards aren’t just for that character.
- (Hopefully) fills roles which are needed in the queue at the time, reducing wait times all around.
Bad things about Call to Arms
- Throws money at the problem without fixing the overall issues – the tank is the expected leader of the group, whether they know the instance or not giving extra pressure.
- Increases chances of getting tanks who aren’t ready for heroics – their item level might be high from other gear, no clue how to tank.
- DPS will never get the extra reward – likely it will be tanks most of the time, healers rarely.
- Encourages people to queue solo, as there are no rewards for queuing as a needed class with a group.
I personally have my second spec set up for tanking as a bear. I tanked through Burning Crusade and Wrath, and enjoyed it. The changes that came through in Cataclysm made things different, and I wasn’t comfortable with doing it again, but I would like to try. 4.1 has some good changes for bears, which will hopefully make keeping aggro easier for AoE groups.
Altogether, I think the Call to Arms system is a good one. I just hope it works as Blizzard intended.