Monday, April 26, 2010

I Didn't See This Coming

If you haven't read it already go here and read the blue post before going any further.

Read it? Good.

My first reaction is holy shit! I recall that a few months ago WoW.com did a post where they speculated about this happening, but I for one thought that Blizzard would never do it. I am sure that this is going to cause the forums to go up in flames, but I want to discuss this in a somewhat calm manner.

In the interest of full disclosure the vast majority of my raiding is done in 10 man mode. They only 25 mans I participate in is the occasional pug. Personally I find 10 mans much more fun. In 25s I tend to feel like I don't really matter and its much harder to get to know 24 other people than 9 other people. I also like the feeling of importance that 10 man gives each member of the raid. In 25 I rarely feel like my specific performance effects whether the raid will succeed or fail. In 10s I know that at times I have singlehandedly given us the extra boost we need and at other times I have personally caused a wipe. However these are my personal feelings and I know that there are many people who enjoy 25 mans. I think the real question is whether this move will destroy 25 man raiding for those who do enjoy it.

I think that the concern people are raising that this will make no one run 25s is legitimate. I don't think that this will happen, but it is not a trivial concern. In the post Blizzard specifies that while 10s and 25s will drop the same loot 25s will drop more badges and loot per person than 10s, hopefully ensuring that those who enjoy 25s will still run them because it will be the most efficient way to gear up. I also suspect that 25s will retain its position of prestige in the raiding community, along with awarding 25 man specific achievements and titles which will encourage continued participation in 25s. I would suspect that come Cataclysm, if Blizzard sees a precipitous drop off in 25 man participation they might make adjustments to compensate, so lets all try not to get our panties in a bunch before we try it out.

So why did Blizzard decide to implement these changes? While I am sure there will be enormous QQ over these changes, lets also remember that there is significant QQ from 10 man only guilds that their achievements in raiding are always considered less significant. A prime example is that 10 man raiders cannot get the Invincible mount from defeating the Lich King. In the current situation a 10 man strict guild can never compete for a spot among the world's best guilds because the loot they receive is always inferior. I think other factor of the change is to help eliminate the grindy feeling of raiding. Serious guilds run 10 and 25 each week, forcing you to go through the same dungeon twice every week, significantly cutting down on the fun after you have been doing this for several weeks. This move is also a way to assure smaller guilds that they won't be at such a severe disadvantage come Cataclysm when guild leveling and achievements come out. A big benefit that people might be overlooking is that this will help cut down on the run away gear inflation that trivializes earlier content. Currently each tier of raiding has many different item levels for 10 man normal, 10 man heroic, 25 man normal, and 25 heroic, but with the change we will only have two tiers of item levels per raid tier. Ultimately what it really comes down to is that Blizzard doesn't want to punish smaller guilds and those, like me, who just enjoy 10 mans.

Well that's my two cents on the topic, I am looking forward to the blogosphere exploding and reading the many posts that will be sure to come.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

PvP Shame

Recently I've been working on improving my PvP skills. I've collected a decent set of PvP gear, picked up a dedicated PvP spec, and have been dutifully running my random battlegrounds. Despite my good intentions I am still pretty terrible, but the shameful part is that I know exactly why I suck. It's not lack of gear, knowledge, or practice. It's my own habits that I just can't summon up the effort to change. I do things like keyboard turning (gasp!) and clicking the spells that are part of my normal PvE rotation because I can't be bothered to memorize new key bindings. I also am fond of doing the biggest no-no in all of battlegrounds; fighting in the middle. In the beginning I usually start off playing the battleground correctly, but once it becomes clear that we are going to lose, a frequent occurrence on my battle group, I gleefully run to the middle and see how many people I can kill before I get taken out. I also like running my little squishy self haphazardly into the middle of a crowd and seeing how much destruction I can cause before my suicide mission comes to its natural end. I do this because I am lazy, but the current battleground experience lends itself to this kind of laziness. Unless you are a PvP god I think that most players feel like there is little they can do to actually affect the outcome of the battle. Hopefully Cataclysm and the new rated battlegrounds will fix this. I would love to care as much about my performance in battlegrounds as I care about my performance in raids. In the meantime however I guess I should probably actually try to cap a flag once in awhile, or not.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Adventures in (and out) of Azeroth: Podcast Hunting

Podcasts are a great way to entertain yourself while farming or running that random dungeon that you have done fifty times before. The first podcast I ever listened to was the good old standby, The Instance. Come to think of it, once I got into listening to WoW podcasts I became much more informed not only about WoW in general but about the existence of the wider WoW community. I have since expanded my podcast repertoire, adding and replacing along the way. This week I decided to try some new WoW podcasts and give a little mini review. If they sound interesting head over to Itunes and give them a try.

  • Rawrcast - I realize I'm a bit late to the party on this one. I've heard about it plenty of times before but never checked it out until now. After only 15 minutes into it I realized that I have been missing out. It combines good production value with articulate, knowledgeable, and hilarious hosts. The discussion straddles the line between informative and entertaining perfectly. This is one that will not only be added into my regular listening routine, but I also plan to download back episodes and listen to them. I can't recommend it enough. In a ripoff of The Movielicious I give it a Woot! (this podcast does have an explicit rating, but as far as I can tell it is just for judicious use of expletives)

  • Ctrl Alt WoW - I'm a bit on the fence on this one. The upsides are that it is deliciously long, all their episodes are in the 2 to 2 1/2 hour area and I am of the opinion that longer is better. I also think that the combination of hosts provides a variety of perspectives as a couple of them are hardcore raiders and one is an avid altaholic and multi-boxer who has mastered the leveling game, but doesn't really have a clue about end game. While there was discussion of news items they spent a long time just discussing what they were doing in game. I think that this is a show that you listen to more for the personalities than the content. The fact that I only listened to one episode combined with the sheer amount of hosts that they have makes it so that I feel that I don't really have a firm grasp on what I like or don't like about the hosts. This falls under the category of wait and see. I will stay subscribed for a couple of weeks and sees if it grows on me.

  • CASTaclysm - This podcast, while only 8 episodes old, is enormously entertaining. It focuses on Cataclysm information and speculation. The hosts had me laughing out loud which is always a good sign. Once the beta comes out I predict that this will be great place to hear and discuss all the information coming out of the beta if you are not lucky enough to get a beta key. I will definitely be subscribing and listening to all the back episodes to hold me over until a new one is released.
The above are the new podcasts that I tried out but I'll also give a quick rundown of what was already on my itunes feed in case you want to check them out too. Some are WoW related and some aren't.

  • The Instance - probably the most successful WoW podcast. It's not my favorite anymore, but its still a must listen in my opinion.
  • Call To Auction - a fairly new find for me, this podcast talks about making gold in WoW. Even if your not a gold capping kind of person you can still learn a few things and the hosts are pretty entertaining too.
  • WoW Insider Show - most people are probably aware of the shake up they have had recently. The podcast has definitely gone down in quality since Sacco and Turpster left, but they do seem aware of the problem and are making some changes to improve it. I'm holding out hope that these newest changes will be for the best and haven't dropped them yet.
  • Twisted Nether Blogcast! - I can't express how much I love this show. Great interviews that inspire me to keep blogging + great hosts + wonderfully long = EPIC!
  • Polygamerous - A general gaming podcast. I'm a one game kind of woman but its generally entertaining and fills the void when I run out of podcasts to listen to.
  • The Incredible Podcast of Amazing Awesomeness - Honestly I have no idea what this podcast is supposed to be about and neither do the hosts, but it doesn't matter. I listen to get my fix of Sacco and Turpster. It's good to hear them podcasting again.
  • The Movielicious - A movie review podcast. I actually have no interest in movies at all, but I get very excited when an new episode is put out. It features Turpster, Nichole Spag, and most importantly, Patrick from France. The WoW community misses Patrick but you can get your fix here.
I had such a great time doing this Adventures in Azeroth that I might pick it up again and review some more podcasts in a week or two. Happy listening!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Trying Desperately to Hold on to the Nerd Rage

This weekend Blizzard had another developer Twitter chat. Like its previous incarnations it was mostly things we already knew, with a few shiny new tidbits thrown in. One of these tidbits was the news that the new tree cooldown form, which we all know that I have raged against (save the trees!), will be similar to the Ancient models. Now every since I saw these lumbering through Darnassus on my very first toon (a night elf hunter of course) I have been in love with them. Since I started playing a druid and new models were introduced for cat and bear form I have dreamed of the day when I could turn into an Ancient. However I never thought that it would happen and that if trees ever did get new models I would have to be satisfied with significantly less epic models. The lure of turning into a giant ass-kicking Ancient tree is almost, almost, enough to overcome my outrage at removing tree form as a permanent ability. But all I have to do is think about the disappointment I will experience once I have my hands on this epic new tree form and I can't see it in all its glorious awesomeness all the time to rekindle my tree form passion.

So note to Blizzard; I refuse to be bribed by this incredibly awesome, wet dream inducing, drool worthy, new tree form. Instead I demand even more earnestly that you save the trees. After all, if I am fighting for the right to look like a rotting piece of broccoli, just imagine how much more hell I will raise in order to be an awesome Ancient tree.
P.S. Don't worry Ghostcrawler, I still want to have your babies. Now if only you would answer my calls.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Two Cents on The Celestial Steed

As I am sure everyone is now aware of, Blizzard just introduced the Celestial Steed mount for $25 and the Lil' XT non-combat pet for $10 on the Blizzard store. As always happens when they release a paid non-combat item many flock to the store to give Blizzard their money and others head to the forums to declare that the gaming apocalypse is upon us. They say that this is the slippery slope that will lead us to paying for things like weapons, gear, extra talent points, and the like.

Personally I have no interest in buying these items. Would I take them if you would like to give them to me for free, hell yes, but obviously there are plenty of others who think differently. When I logged on the day of its release I immediately saw four My Little Ponies crossed with Algalon, uhh, I mean four Celestial Steeds, hanging out in Dalaran. I think that this is a brilliant move by Blizzard and on the whole is well received by the community. I do understand the slippery slope concerns but I'm not going to start QQ-ing about it until they ever, god forbid, do sell things like gear for real money.

My only gripe with it is that everything they sell on the store so far is bordering on the ridiculous. Pandaren monks and celestial flying horses, while cool, really jolt me out of the immersion experience. To be fair there are items in game that could be said to break the so called fourth wall, like the little bombling pet for example, but it is the obnoxious quality of the items being sold coupled with the fact that I am completely aware that that person purchased that pet or mount that really breaks the immersion for me. Don't misunderstand, I am not against Blizzard making a quick couple million bucks on these things, hey its more money to put into Cataclysm development. I just am pointing out that the items really make me think about business and money when I see them, rather than about Warcraft. Do any of you feel the same?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Cleaning

I always have plenty of gold without trying too hard, but I recently stumbled across quite a lot of free money while cleaning out all of my characters' banks and bags. I made over 3,000 gold selling all of the accumulated crap I had collected. Take a look through your bags and bank, especially that of characters you don't play too often, and see what you have hanging around. I found that the best sellers are old world crafting materials, specifically those that you would usually collect in the 30-60 range. I sold rugged leather for 70g a stack and stacks of dreamfoil for 40g. Other things I made a nice profit off of were:
  • elementals; motes, eternals, crystallized, primals, etc
  • low level gems
  • pearls of all kinds used in crafting
  • meat and fish, presumably used by people leveling cooking for alts who can't be bothered to farm it
  • low level cloth
  • recipes
  • items that can be turned in for reputation with various factions
  • Northrend herbs that I never used in my alchemy, to my surprise I was able to sell Talandra's Rose, which I never have a use for, for 40g a stack

Even if you find things that you think are crap wait and see what it is going for on the AH before you toss it. Particularly lower level items can go for surprising amounts of gold as 1) not many people are in that content right now so supply is low and 2) people would rather pay obscene amounts for things their alts need rather than farm it themselves. Even if you don't make the kind of bank I did you'll at least free up some storage space.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cataclysm Class Changes (minus Tree QQ)

After sitting in a corner and crying over the loss of Tree of Life form I now feel ready to talk about the rest of the class changes that were announced last week. As there are plenty of other places you can go for an in-depth analysis of your specific class changes I am going to talk about some of the major themes we have seen emerge in what Blizzard has planned for Cataclysm.

Haste and Crit

Currently HoTs and DoTs are only affected by haste if you choose to use a glyph that applies haste to a particular spell. This glyph then causes your haste to decrease the time between ticks, thus doing more damage or healing in a shorter amount of time, but causing it to fall off more quickly. Now all Hots and Dots will always be affected by haste, but the spell will always last its full duration, haste will instead add additional ticks within the original duration of the spell. This will make haste an even more desirable stat.

Along with the haste changes all HoTs and DoTs will no longer be able to be clipped. I think there is a lot of confusion about this change. How I believe it will work is this; say you have a HoT/DoT that lasts 20 seconds, there is currently 4 seconds left on its duration and you recast the spell. The HoT/DoT now adds 20-4 seconds (16) to the duration, resetting it to 20 seconds, not 24 seconds thus preventing spamming a spell at the beginning of the fight and having it last for a ridiculous duration which is how many were reading the explanation.

Crit will now innately be applicable to all HoTs and DoTs, previously you had to take talents to allow your HoTs and Dots to crit. This is a very welcome change and should make Crit more appealing to all classes, Restoration druids especially.

The Low Level Experience

Blizzard is planning some very welcome tweaks to the low level experience. Among them is hunters will start at level 1 with a pet and have some melee abilities removed. Enhancement shamans will get a new weapon based attack, letting them feel less like bad elemental shaman while at low levels. Shadow priests will be getting some strange floating shadowy orbs things which is particularly to allow shadow priests to feel like shadow priests before they get shadow form. I really applaud these changes, playing your character should be fun from the beginning, not only after you have ground through the crap levels. These changes combined with redesigned zones has me very excited to roll a new character and really enjoy the leveling experience again.

Buffs and Debuffs

There are many changes to buffs, and a fair amount of class homogenization going on, like mages getting Heroism/Bloodlust like skill. There is some QQ about this, but in the grand scheme of things I think it will be good. All spirit buffs are also being removed as spirit is a healer only stat. The biggest change is that all buffs or debuffs that increase your party's chance to hit are being removed. I welcome this change as it will mean that you always know what your hit cap is as it is not dependent on your group composition. I also anticipate having to spend significant more effort reaching the hit cap, which we might expect will help to keep runaway dps down at higher gear levels.

Crowd Control

Many classes, like the hunter's ability to set traps at range, make it clear that Blizzard is intent of bringing back CC. Good luck with that. It doesn't matter how many tools we have to CC, we won't do it unless we are going to wipe if we don't. I will be very interested to see if Blizzard can manage to put crowd control back in the game.

All this information overload has had the effect of making me positively giddy with anticipation of the beta when we can dive headlong into even more wild speculation about how game play will change come Cataclysm.

Oh ya, SAVE THE TREES!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Save The Trees!

As I am sure you are all aware Blizzard has been offering us previews of class changes coming in Cataclysm and as of today all but the Paladin previews are out. I originally planned to do a post where I expressed my excitement for the changes and criticize all the people needlessly QQ-ing, but then the druid changes happened. The changes, or rather one particular change, actually possessed me to make my first ever post on the official forums. If you are somehow not aware the big news is that they are making Tree of Life form a cooldown ability, something you can only pop once in a while for extra benefits. I encourage you to read the post and Ghostcrawler's subsequent replies but the basic reason they gave for the change is that druids give up too much utility in Tree form to be just as good of healers as other classes. This may be true, but as many posters have stated there are other ways to resolve this problem. They could remove the restrictions the Tree form has or they could provide us with an ability that temporarily allows us to cast any spell in Tree form. I'd even be happy with a minor glyph that allowed us to use the form for cosmetics only.

Ghostcrawler goes on to say that Tree form just doesn't seem to really do anything besides change your art, the buffs it provides to healing can easily be rebalanced and put in other places. My response is, so what? Moonkin form simply provides buffs and changes your art. The same for cat and bear form, a cat is rogue except its not, precisely because it is a cat. Druids are shape shifters. Period. The end. SAVE THE TREES!

If you feel similarly please head over to the forums and post a well written, well thought out, and polite post to encourage Blizzard to change their minds. I promise that this is my last QQ for a while. Next time I'll talk about all the things that were awesome in the class previews.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Shared Topic: Gold Selling

This week's Shared Topic at Blog Azeroth is about raising awareness about account security, hacking, and gold selling. I have never been hacked and I am the proud owner of an authenticator, but I know several guildies who are hacked over and over again. To address this topic I just want to share a little story from my guild chat that took place not too long ago. One of our members, a very nice guy and an officer, brought up the topic of buying gold. He said that he had a friend who would buy gold because he looked at it as a time saver. He wanted to spend time playing the game, not farming for gold. Some guildies agreed that that made sense. While I am usually pretty quite in guild chat I just had to say something. I let anyone who would pay attention know that gold buying is wrong for 3 reasons;

1). It is against the Terms of Service.

2). Accumulating gold is part of the challenge of the game. Buying gold is like using a bot to level, somehow inventing roll hacks, or taking advantage of an exploit that makes the game easier. Plus gold is not hard to get, seriously people, how lazy/stupid can you be?

3). The most important reason not to buy gold is that the gold you are getting BELONGS TO SOMEONE ELSE. Your bought gold was stolen from someone who got thier account hacked, someone whom presumably earned it legitimately.

Aside from this you can get your account banned and then your gold won't do you a lot of good. If getting gold is such a burden then you probably really don't enjoy playing WoW anyway. I'm sorry if this comes off as a bit of a rant, but this topic really makes my blood boil. So the lessons are buy an authenticator and don't buy gold!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Munchie Monday: Go Bulldogs!

First off I just have to brag and divulge to the Internet that I attend Butler University who is playing for the NCAA National Championship. While I will be watching the game at Hinkle Fieldhouse because I sadly do not have tickets you too should shut off your computer and cheer for the Bulldogs and while you're doing it chow down on a delicious pasta with bacon, that's right I said bacon.

Ingredients:

1 box penne pasta (really anything you have around is fine)
40-60 frozen pre-cooked shrimp
1 lb smoked bacon
1 large red onion
3 cloves garlic
1 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup white wine
1 egg yolk
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Cajun seasoning to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Chop up bacon and fry in large skillet, when done remove bacon with a slotted spoon leaving the grease in the pan. Saute chopped onion and shrimp (make sure to take the tails off) in bacon fat and add minced garlic just as the onions are finishing, be careful burned garlic tastes disgusting. Deglaze pan with wine making sure to stir up all the bits on the bottom then add frozen peas and keep over low heat until cooked, just a couple of minutes.
Put one egg yolk in a small bowl. Take a ladle full of the boiling pasta water and slowly pour it into your egg yolk bowl, beating continuously, this process is called tempering so your egg isn't scrambled. Drain pasta, return it to the hot pot, then pour egg mixture over it, followed by your shrimp mixture, add the bacon, and seasoning, and finally the Parmesan. Hold off on adding salt until you add the cheese as cheese is naturally salty. Enjoy! and did I mention Go Bulldogs!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Thinking Ahead

While it is a little early to start stockpiling mats and Mountain Dew for Cataclysm if, like me, you are anxious for its arrival there are some long term goals you can start working towards now in preparation for Cataclysm.

  • Purchase a Kirin Tor ring. You don't have to upgrade it the latest version, but just having it will allow you to teleport to Dalaran, giving you instant access to the city portals and allowing you to set your hearthstone where you are currently questing.
  • Purchase a Traveler's Tundra Mammoth. The ability to be able to repair and vendor items anywhere will give you a leg up while leveling.
  • Obtain a pony for your argent squire, this will cost you 150 champions seals from the Argent Tournament dailies (remember them?). This will allow you remote access to either a vendor, your mail, or your bank once every 8 hours, something else that is useful for effective leveling.
  • Purchase a personal guild bank for space to store all those new mats.
  • Get all of your 80 characters secondary professions up. In Wrath cooking and fishing were very lucrative, especially in the beginning of the expansion. Make sure all of you characters are in a position to take advantage of this. Also picking up a Mastercraft Kalu'ak Fishing Pole will make leveling easier. While Chef's Hat is nice fun item to pick up.
  • Pick up heirloom gear for any alts you plan to roll come Cataclysm.
  • If you are unlucky like me keep trying to get your Green Proto-Drake and Polar Bear as you probably will never go back and try to get them once Cataclysm hits.
  • Finish any achievements you have had your eye on, particularly Loremaster.

There are some things that you might want to hold out on until we get PTR data. For example, I'm not purchasing my Traveler's Tundra Mammoth until the PTR is out in case there is a new, awesomer, similar mount coming in Cataclysm.