Friday, September 26, 2008

The Rock says "know your role and shut your mouth!"

Listening to the rock is a good thing, especially as it applies to Wow. The best thing for groups is if everyone knows their role, does it, and doesnt whine about the other roles in the party.

I've always gravitated towards the Tank or Healer roles in Wow (Big surprise, my first character was a paladin). If I'm tanking, I'm doing my best to make sure as many of the baddies as I can manage are beating on me and not the DPS or healers with their soft outsides and rich creamy centers (that must be why mobs go after them unless they're gently "persuaded" to do otherwise, right?). I expect the healer to keep me healed enough to do my job. Enough, not all the way full. If I end a fight with 1hp and everyone is still standing, its successful.

As a healer, it is both more and less complicated at the same time. It's almost like an instant exercise in triage, who needs healing the most, for the best benefit of the group. Sorry for you DPS, you're probably not it. Most good players know this. Don't worry, I'll rez you after we've won. Most tanks I know hold aggro fairly well, I have seen PUGs where this is not the case, but those don't last too long. If you pull aggro and die, you probably had a hand in it.

I will be honest, I have only a handful of times been DPS in a group. This is limited to fury warrior and a few times each warlock and mage. However, a few things should be clear. Crowd control is part of the job. Sheep, charm, sap, trap, take your pick, you probably have CC abilities. Another thing that should be clear is that if you do too much damage too quickly, you will pull aggro. This will most likely result in injury and/or death.

I am not trying to say any one role is more valuable than the others. Unless you can solo the instance, you require support, thats why we group in the first place. I will be the first to admit quality CC is worth it's weight in gold. Tank has less to worry about, there is not as much damage taken, everything is smooth. What I'm saying is next time you run an instance, think of what the Rock would say: "know your role and shut your mouth!"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

There's a shining lightbulb above my head right now. . .

My first character ever in Wow was a blood elf paladin. I picked the class basically because I wanted to wear plate armor and be able to heal myself. I picked blacksmithing because I like making weapons and armor. I supported it with mining because I needed raw materials to make the armor and weapons. I made these assumptions pretty much blind although I was assisted by my coworkers, most of whom were playing paladins at the time.

Over the course of playing the game, I got more involved in making alts, trying new classes, and trying the other professions. A longtime friend from college convinced me to switch servers and roll alliance. I knew a little more at this time, so I could plan what characters I wanted in what roles, I tried a few new classes and basically learned the game all over again from the alliance side.

The next stage of my developement was when I decided PvP really wasnt my thing, and started completely over on an alliance PvE server. This is also around the time I started reading various Wow related blogs and thinking about the game more. This lead me to frost mage AOE griding, which lead me to prot paladin AOE grinding which leads me to the point of this post: I REALLY REALLY like AOE.

It's almost sad that it took me a year and a half to realize I basically want to play an MMO version of Diablo (which is most of why I tried wow in the first place, diablo was fun, warcraft was fun, why not?). I enjoy leveling, making new characters, crafting, itemizing (my fiance calls me a serial accessorizer, everything has to look cool) and running instances with my guild. What I enjoy most is gathering up a load of mobs and killing them.

I came to this conclusion this morning after a session last night where I was mining and herbing with my mage (mining being basically a placeholder for inscription once we get it). There were much lower level mobs around the nodes so I gathered them up, frost nova, blizzard, then arcane exploded them till dead. They were grey so I didnt get any real in game benefit but it was SO MUCH FUN!

I'd be curious to know who else had a similar epiphany about the game. . .

Monday, September 22, 2008

Crafting theory. . .

I love crafting. Every game I play, I strive to make most of my own equipment. I Wow, this led to me playing multiple alts because no one crafting profession gives you everything you need, and they all require on the other crafting to some degree for raw materials.

This is not me trying to write a guide on how to level, or which craft to take for your main. There are frankly better sources for that out there, and the decision is a very personal one. This is an approach that has worked for me, if you are trying to have all of the crafting skills covered and which classes work best with which professions. It requires at keast 5 chars currently, and there will have to be adjustments made when WotLK releases.

Blacksmithing/Jewelcrafting - warrior - A warrior is the choice for this build for a number of reasons. The statues from JC are a viable self-heal (wasted on pallies), and warriors benefit from a lot of the BoP blacksmithing items. Blacksmithing and Jewelcrafting go together so that you are sending ore or metal to just one character (metal for smithing or filligree/settings, ore for prospecting).

Tailoring/Enchanting - Mage/Warlock/Priest - Not re-inventing the wheel here,this build is fairly common. A benefit I have found for multiple crafters is always having a steady supply of things to disenchant to level enchanting. Tailoring is there because, well, they all wear cloth, and having someone to make cloth gear is useful.

Alchemy/Leatherworking(Inscription) - Hunter/Druid - I noticed when leveling leatherworking that a lot of the materials required were potions. Having an alchemist is also benefitial for those quests that require potions (strong trolls blood and frost oil are two that can be dis-proportionally expensive in relation to mats). It also comes in handy being able to transmute your own arcanite, etc. Admittedly, I don't really play leather wearers, so I could probably drop LW and not really miss it, but thats just me.

Engineering/mining or herbalism - Mage - Follow me on this one, a DPS class that can turn invisible, survive a wipe and rez the healer? It has definite benefits. Also making EZ throw dynamite for all your lower level alts is another boon. Honestly, I normally skip engineering because Hunters don't excite me so I don't need scopes, but when I level it, this is the way to go. The gathering profession is a throw in, since I go with a dual gatherer to get mats.

Mining/Skinning - Mage/Paladin/Druid/Rogue (Deathknight?) - You can go one of 2 ways with a gatherer. Stealth through areas killing only those mobs close to the nodes, or AOE kill everything in the area. Take your pic, I've tried it both ways, stealthing can be fun if you like Pvp, when someone from the other faction enters an area with mobs expecting nodes you've already tapped, you can give them a little something to remember you by. Lately I prefer the AOE method.

You can add a hunter with skinning/herbalism if you want, that's up to you. This will get you every crafting profession on 1 server. I used almost this exact setup when I got started on my alliance server, it was pretty successful. However, I discovered I don't much care for the leather wearing classes, so I didnt really need LW & Engineering (why level this if you dont want guns and scopes?).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My preferrences. . .

I'm not a theorycrafter, far from it. I play the game primarily for how it makes me feel. The sense of pride after a good instance run, the sense of accomplishment getting a new tier of crafting or leveling to get a specific ability, the determination from trying to get a grasp for a new class (and occasionally the frustration of running back to my body after a 70 decided to gank me for no good reason).

I love character creation in Wow. I love picking out the "look" of my character. I love going through the newbie zones, and then out into the wide world of Azeroth. I love looking at a level one and thinking what they'll be like in 20,30,40,50 levels. I love looking back and thinking how wrong I was.

Having played pretty much every class in the game to a reasonable level (I won't comment on priests because they're the exception), these are the specs I find most fun. Most effective I will save for theorycrafters and people who number crunch, these are the most fun for me.

Paladin - Pre 40 - Ret, Post 40 - Prot - I had to break this down pre-40 and post 40. Pre 40, you just lack most of the abilities that make prot fun. However, I must say there is nothing like the joy of rounding up 3-5 mobs at a time and seeing the damage ticking away on all of them at once. Yes, they might not kill 1 mob very fast, but killing 5 in the same time it takes you to kill 1 makes it very worth it.

Druid - Feral - I love cat form. You're like a rogue, except you are faster, and faster when you stealth. And in exchange for sap and lockpicking (the latter you can get from crafting), you get roots, thorns, and self heals. I never really use bear because if I'm tanking, its warrior or pally. As an off note, since everyone else now gets mounts at 30, does anyone else think the +30% should apply to travel form? Or that travel form should go at least as fast as a normal mount?

Mage - Frost - AOE grinding ftw! I love AOE grinding, ever since I found out about it, I wanted to get good at it. I still need a lot of practice, but it is SOOOO FUN! I don't even care if I get XP for the mobs half the time, its just fun killing 10+ mobs at once.

Warlock - Demonology - I know affliction is the consensus "best" build. I don't see it. Stronger demons take more damage, do more damage, and hold aggro better. Yes, it takes a little longer to kill mobs, I find the extra survivability more than makes up for it. A lot of people end up re-speccing demonology to get the felguard later in the game, I find it fun the whole time.

Hunter - Beastmastery - see above, better pet = better hunter. Marksmanship may be a better pvp build, but I dont really pvp.

Warrior - Fury - I went prot at 60 to run instances. No one seems to want a fury warrior. I wish I hadnt re-specced. I love devestate, but not as much as I love cleave and sweeping strikes at the same time, 4 hits on 2 enemies, yes please!

Rogue - Combat swords - I don't really play a rogue like a rogue, I am too impatient to stealth up to someone, I play them like a dual wielding warrior in leather.

Shaman - Enhancement - see above, except substitute self healing dual wielding warrior in mail.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

WAR, what is it good for?

I've been reading a lot about WAR lately, and now I have a song in my head with visions of jackie chan and chris tucker dancing to go with it.

OK, so now to the point. I have read a lot about WAR, and one of my coworkers and occasional guildie has jumped headlong into it. I have read extensively and from what I can gather, the game holds no appeal to me for a number of reasons.

War is centered around Pvp, I don't like Pvp - yes, I've read about higher level gankers turning into chickens when ganking lower level players, honestly I prefer not to have to deal with it. I'd really just like to quest and be left alone. Yes, I play Wow on a Pvp server, but that is because that's where my friends are. My preferrence is Pve on alliance.

The majority of WAR's content is designed around grouping, I don't like grouping - except for instances (which I think are pretty fun to solo when I can), and VERY few scenarios, I enjoy soloing. The majority of the fun in Wow for me is designing a character, thinking of how I am going to use them, learning as I go, and eventually ending up with an effective character.

WAR's crafting system is not as deep - I LOVE crafting. Part of the reason I have so many alts was to pick up more crafting skills (and now I'm an addict). I feel so much better equipping my alts in crafted gear than buying it in the AH, and I prefer something I made over something a guildie made. I feel self sufficient that way, not to mention being able to get certain items whenever I want, rather than relying on who's online to make it or how much someone wants to charge in the AH.

Lastly, I just don't feel like I'm "done" with Wow - This is probably the biggest factor. I have spent a lot of time playing Wow. I've learned a lot about it, read blogs about it, toyed with different talent builds and I still feel I have things unfinished. I've never gotten to 70, I've never soloed an instance with a frost mage. I've never soloed an instance with my Paladin. There's tons of content I haven't seen. When I think about Wow, my thoughts are always "what project am I going to work on today?", not "Geez, I have nothing to do". I can understand if someone was at the level cap, ran all the instances, finished every raid, and was just generally bored with the game. That person is not me.

So yes, in a nutshell, I will not be playing WAR. Now will guitar hero world tour tear me away from Wow? That is another matter entirely. . . .

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wow is a sport?

So we of the midwest are recovering from the aftermath of hurricane leftovers. We basically lost power from Dayton, OH to Louisville KY, and everywhere in between. As a result no Wow, no xbox, not even lights. But we had work because I believe my work is built to withstand a nuclear strike. However, on to the topic at hand. . .

I've been thinking a lot about the similarities of Wow and team sports. I think I read something to this effect on one of the blogs I read, I'd give it credit if I could find it, but thoughts like these normally take a few days to ripen. I will admit, I don't raid at all. Not my cup of tea. However, I don't know of any sport that involves teams of 25, so I don't believe it affects the analogy. I believe Wow has many similarities strategically to sports.

I am a pretty avid hockey player. I primarily play goalie, but I also play defenseman, and occasionally wing if we're short. When I'm playing hockey I know what my role is. Whatever position I'm playing has different techniques, skills involved, and expectations. Thats why we have positions in the first place. The goalie doesnt steal the puck, skate the length of the ice and shoot on the other net, you know what to expect when someone is a goalie. How is this different from Wow?

Pick any role: healer, tank, or DPS/CC; you should know basically what you're getting when they say that. Granted everyone has different classes/talents/preferrences that make them unique. But each can do things in different ways and still be effective.

What's the point? I've seen a lot about "cookie cutter" group makeups. Warrior tanks, priest heals, mage, rogue and lock DPS. The secret to winning is making use of your team's strengths. Heavy on DPS, not so good on the heals? Let er rip and burn them down. Tank not holding aggro to keep up withthe DPS? Slow it down and support the healer. In any team related activity, individuals may perform poorly, but in the end, it's the team that succeeds or fails.

I think healing is one of the toughest roles in Wow. Its not hard to click on an icon, press a button and wait for the bar to fill. What is tough is triaging a situation and accurately gauging whose needs are paramount. If there's a wipe you're generally first or second in line for blame, and rarely in 5-mans do you hear "man sweet heals!". You're more likely to see people competing for top of the damage meter.

I'm not saying Wow is a sport. As a matter of fact, I consider it about as far from a sport as you can get. However, I think by applying some of the principles of sports teams, groups can be much more effective and everyone can enjoy their experience a lot more.

On an un-related note: thanks to gnomeaggedon and Larisa for support of my blog. It means a lot.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Snap judgements are not a paladin buff. . .

I'm sure I've read something like this in a blog somewhere, but I thought I would share my thoughts on certain classes/specs at first glance without knowing the player (hence the term snap judgement).

Hunter - probably good only for some DPS, you won't trap things, and I will not carry more than one of you in a group, no matter what.

Rogue - You made a class to gank people and now you want to run instances, how novel. At least we'll have sap to CC some mobs to make up for you breaking kill order, pulling aggro and screaming for heals most of the fight.

Fury/Arms warrior - You better have a shield. Wait, you said you only DPS? /punt

Ret Paladin - Can you tank? OK, well can you heal? see above

Warlock/Mage/non-holy priest - ok, heads you're good, you DPS, you CC the mobs, you switch up the attacks so you don't pull aggro. Tails, you pull aggro, die a lot and whine about the tank not holding aggro or the healer not keeping you alive.

Druid/Shaman - I put these two together because they are way too all over the place to even develop a stereotype. Tank, heal, DPS, no way to tell, best just to ask.

Lets be honest, Holy priest, Holy paladin, Prot warrior, Prot paladin - lets call a spade a spade, your spec says what you are/intend to do. The major variations are gear and skill.

OK, it has crossed my mind on occasion that I have a generally low opinion of people that I don't know. . .

Why gnome warrior is an oxymoron. . .

So I've been thinking about this for some time. I have many experiences both fighting with and against gnomes on all of the various servers I'm on. For every time I've seen the gnome rogue jumping around stun-locking me (if you've ever played on a PVP server, odds are, its happened to you too), I've ran a dungeon on alliance side and had a gnome warlock or mage providing more than adequate DPS. This isn't about my experiences in the game at all. Blizzard has said gnomes are allowed to be warriors. My point in all of this is that Blizzard is just plain wrong for allowing this in the first place.

Put Wow out of your head (more difficult for some of us than others). For myself, I derive enjoyment from games where I can either imagine myself in the shoes of the protagonist or admire them for some trait or aspect they possess. I would never presume to tell someone what they should enjoy about a game, my arguement is one of common sense. Put yourself in the mindset of a 3-4ft tall being in a land of magic surrounded by monsters intent on your demise. Your race is mechanically inclined, legend has it you even spring from mechanical beings. When presented with an imminent threat, your first instinct would be: A) blast him with a spell, that'll show him! B) Have your summoned imp blast him with a spell while you add one for good measure! C) sneak behind him and stab him in the back really good while he's not looking or D) stand in front of him, knowing that he is almost certainly bigger and stronger than you (unless he's a murloc, not getting into that at the moment) and beat on him till one of you dies. I would submit to you that if your answer was D, you probably wouldn't be exceptionally long lived (again, putting Wow aside).

This is the core of my problem with gnome warriors. Why on earth would you stand in front of something bigger and stronger than you and fight a war of attrition when your racial trait is increased intelligence!?!? This is not an intelligent tactic. I would submit than any of the other above options would be superior. My arguement is not one based around game mechanics, or balance, or ensuring that each race has equal selection, it is one of common sense, and in my mind, gnome warriors just don't make sense.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Here I am. . .I wish I had a weapon!!!

So here I am. . .blogging. . .about World of warcraft. I don't really have much of a point really. I enjoy reading quite a few of the many warcraft blogs around, figured I'd add my own to the list. I'll save a post on why I chose that name for #2.

My Wow habits are all over the place. I don't raid or have any intention to raid. I don't Pvp. I just like making alts and crafting. Not that I'm exceptionally talented at either. What I lack in talent, I'm sure I make up for in volume. 28 alts across 3 servers (Azuremyst(alliance), Daggerspine(horde) and Dentarg(alliance) yeah, its bad). I have leveled every class in the game to at least level 40 (except priest), most of them on both factions. I also have not a single 70 (this is the part where I hang my virtual head in shame).

In real life I work for a financial services firm where I read Wow blogs all day and occasionally pretend to talk to people about their retirement accounts. I play hockey recreationally (goalie in ice, defenseman in inline). I am engaged, no she doesnt play Wow. To be honest, I don't think she thinks too highly of ME playing, but I don't interrupt her wedding shows and reality TV, she lets me play Wow.

Once I figure out how to work this thing, I may even post the blogs I read when I should be working. . .