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Archive for July, 2009

Dodge changes in 3.2

Bear Dodge Changes

I totally forgot I had put this screenshot together. ūüôā Essentially, dodge is getting a 15% nerf, and parry is getting an 8% buff, to make them equivalent stats. For reference: (numbers from Righteous Defense)

Pre-nerf:
39.35 dodge rating was 1% dodge
49.18 parry rating was 1% parry
52.08 agility was 1% dodge

Post-nerf:
45.25 dodge rating is 1% dodge
45.25 parry rating is 1% parry
59.89 agility is 1% dodge

So, this sucks for bears, who rely on dodge stacking, and is meh for everyone else. Unfortunately, parry still isn’t a great stat due to diminishing returns on parry being much harsher (for those that don’t know, DR means that once you pass a certain point, it takes more and more of a stat to add an additional 1% avoidance). Bears will still gem for stam, or +stam/+dodge,¬† (or +agi for shared cat/bear pieces) depending on socket bonus. Pallies and Warriors, however,¬†have some thinking to do now for best gemming, as parry/defense are both possible better gem options now, depending on current gear and typical raidbuffs.

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Random Musing

So, plenty of these going around, but work is kicking my butt, hence little blog posting at the moment. I typically have lots of dead time at work (hence blog, since wowhead et al. is blocked) but that has not been the case recently, and will continue to not be the case until the end of August.

I really should write shorter, more frequent posts, instead of books.

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Andrew at Of Teeth and Claws has a post up about the limitations of the holy trinity model for MMO’s, which has spawned some excellent discussion. I’d like to add my own comments, and my thoughts were a bit too long for just a blog comment, so I posted them here. I’ll confine my comments to WoW, but they are relevant to all MMO’s, I think.

The current model

Many classes exist, which allows players to choose a personal avatar that fits them best. (WoW, for example- do I want to be the hulking warrior, the fireballing mage, the stealthy rogue, etc.) To succeed, a character has to balance two roles–doing outgoing damage, and mitigating incoming damage.¬†¬†When soloing, each class has to balance these roles within their own character. Most classes are reasonably well balanced at doing this…a mage has enough power to kill things before his lack of damage mitigation becomes an issue, while a priest can easily outheal incoming damage, or a protection warrior can shrug off most blows. This is good.

In group play, however, issues start to crop up. In order to challenge groups, bosses must be made more difficult. MMO developers have typically chosen to do this by making the boss hit much harder…hard enough that only a player who has chosen to specialize in damage mitigation can take a hit. Such was born¬†the group avatar of ‘tanks,’¬†and immediately following, ‘healers,’ who keep the tank alive, and heal any additional¬†group-wide damage.¬†Together, tanks and healers handle a group’s damage mitigation, and the final group role (DPS, for damage-per-second) handles the damage output.¬† This isn’t a bad model, and it’s worked well for a while, but it has some major flaws.

  • It breaks immersion. It makes absolutely no sense that two fully plate-armored paladins can be fighting a creature side-by-side, with one able to substantially resist its blows, and other dying to a single attack.
  • It places the responsibility for group survival on a small subset of a group.¬†This is bad…Keeping a group alive is challenging and entertaining, but also stressful. Again, it’s nonsensical that the majority of the group can charge in/blast away, with almost no thought to personal survival.
  • It requires the use of artificial mechanics to keep the boss attacking the person who can resist its attacks.¬† “Hi, I’m Joe the Gnome Warrior, and when I shout, the giant 100-ft cyclops will stop chasing the person who hit it him with a hugely destructive pyroblast, and try to kill me instead, even though I hit like a wuss.”
  • It limits the cool things that encounter designers can do to challenge the players. All random-damage elements must take into account the minimal damage mitigation of most of the players, so they can’t hit too hard; the boss can’t go off on his own and start attacking people, etc.
  • It pigeonholes players into¬†assigned roles.¬†This is unavoidable, to some extent, but it frequently reduces teamwork to an enforced construct.

A better approach

I think Andrew nails it when he says tanking is the issue. So, let’s explore a world without tanks. Obviously, raid-wide mitigation has to go up, or boss damage has to go down. I don’t see a problem with that. You can still let plate classes have the best mitigation, but make the cloth/leather classes more durable (have fun with it…priests have divine protection which softens blows, warlocks have demonic armor, mages have warding spells, etc.) Now, the intent here,¬†I think, is to give each class enough damage mitigation to where they can take a couple hits, but not a prolonged pounding.

That’s where the next innovation comes into play–give each class some form of threat drop. and some form of “protect other” ability. This leads to a MUCH more dynamic combat environment, where all classes must constantly watch out for themselves, and seek to defend others as well.

Let’s create a hypothetical giant, who fights with a two-handed hammer. The giant can melee, smash (cast-time, must be dodged) and¬†whirlwind (knockback¬† + stun)¬†This encounter occurs in a large cave, so the giant’s attacks also occasionally cause cave-ins that must be avoided. We’ll engage this boss with a party consisting of a warrior, a mage, a rogue, a priest, and a hunter, and examine the fight using both the classic model, and the new model.

Classic Model: Party enters room. Warrior tank engages boss. Giant’s attacks all land on the warrior. who has nothing to do but push his ability buttons to keep the giant’s attention. Rogue moves behind boss, blasts away, and (hopefully) pays enough attention to dodge the smashes, and runs back in¬†after the knockback.¬† Mage and hunter dodge the cave-ins and blast away. Priest keeps the warrior healed and yawns, hoping the giant will finally drop the Staff of Win (nobody ever explains how a giant wearing only a loincloth, who lives in a cave, somehow has dozens of magical artifacts, and yet only drops two)

New Model: The party enters the room and¬†engages the¬†boss immediately (with no tank, there’s no need to worry about “pulling threat”).¬† The giant first attacks the obvious target, the warrior, but the warrior succeeds in dodging the first two blows. The giant then feels a vicious stab to the back of the knee, and notices the rogue withdrawing his dagger.¬†The giant¬†spins, knocking the two melee¬†characters back, damaging and stunning them.¬† He then¬†raises his hammer to smash the rogue, but the mage creates three mirror images of the rogue, leaving the giant confused. After swinging his hammer ineffectually at one, he growls and charges the mage after a large fireball slams into his ear.

His charge is abruptly slowed, however, by the appearance of a large net from the hunter¬†that entangles his legs. While pulling the net apart, he bellows, causing a cave-in, which crushes the poor mage (who fails to move in time).¬†After the last shards of the net are gone, he charges the last target in sight, the priest, who has been attending to the rogue and warrior. The priest begins to murmur a prayer and raises his hands skyward. Suddenly, a white aura envelops the priest, and the giant’s attacks are abruptly slowed as they reach their conclusion, causing little damage. The giant continues to attack viciously, and suddenly, the priest’s concentration abruptly breaks, the aura winking out of existence. The giant snarls triumphantly and prepares a final attack.

Unfortunately for him,¬†he finds himself unable to lift his hammer, as the multitude of small bleeding wounds from the hunter’s arrows, and the ripped cuts from the warrior and rogue, have taken their toll. He aims one final kick at the priest, which is deflected by a quickly interposed shield from the warrior, and collapses.

Obviously, the latter scenario requires much more thought and effort from the players (and I admit to a bit of artistic license)…but wouldn’t it be a rush?

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(Yes, I stole the post¬†title from BBB. He decided not to use it, so hopefully he won’t mind.)

For those unaware, Ghostcrawler, the public face of the dev team, has been doing a class-by-class Q&A roundup–¬†yesterday, it was the Druids’ turn. Here’s the link: read through, if you’d like, then I’ll publish paraphrases and¬†my comments. Overall, however, I see some complaining about this Q&A, (hence the title)¬†and I’d like to provide a counterpoint. I think Druids are fine…a bit OP, actually, though I won’t admit that loudly. I have a “State of the Druid” post upcoming in the next week or two, to hopefully go into more detail on that. Onto the Q&A!

History/Current state of druids:

  • GC acknowledges that, PVE-wise¬†druids were (end-game) meant to be healers in classic WoW; that all specs were buffed significantly for BC (where trees and bears were great, cats and moonkin were viable but typically non-competitive), and buffed again for WOTLK, to where all four specs are viable. In PVP, resto druids have been dominant for much of BC, with the other specs being non-viable; now, resto druids have come back to the pack a bit, feral’s a bit below average, and balance has serious issues.

Bit difficult for me to comment on history (or PVP, for that matter) since my druid is mainly a WOTLK creation. This seems accurate, though. Moving on.

Balance:

  • GC thinks that Wrath and Starfire are not differentiated enough, and the¬†Moonkin rotation, as a whole, is a bit stale, with not enough synergy between the spells. He likes the ¬†PVP-wise,¬†¬†he thinks casters in PvP are generally underpowered, with the exception of frost mages.

While I’ve never raided as Moonkin, I was specced Moonkin for quite a while pre-WOTLK, and I couldn’t agree more. The rotation back then was far too basic- keep up your two DOT’s, cast your highest DPCT nuke. Pop Starfall/Treants on CD. The addition and buffing of Eclipse helps, but it still feels like an arbitrary way to force you to rotate your nukes. Just for grins, lets look at some of the other casters fun abilities (I’m sure I’ll leave some stuff out):

  1. Fire Mages get  instant Pyroblasts.
  2. Frost Mages (as mentioned) get instant Fireballs.
  3. Arcane Mages get to adjust their rotation to prioritize DPCT or mana conservation; and get Missile Barrage procs.
  4. Affliction Locks get instant Shadowbolts and a spell Execute.
  5. Demo Locks get to weave Incinerate/Soul Fire, Demonic Empowerment, and Meta.
  6. Destro Locks get Conflagrate and Backdraft.
  7. Ele Shammies get Elemental Mastery.
  8. Shadow priests…Actually, I have no clue…lotsa DoT’s, that’s all I know.

The thing that strikes me? Most casters get either an RNG¬†“hey click me for instant burst DPS” button (All Mages, Afflocks), or a less frequent but¬†timeable¬†burst DPS (Demo, EleShams, or just general craziness (Destro Locks). Spriests need some help, and so do moonkin. Treants aren’t burst, thy’re essentially an instant DOT with variable damage. Starfall is good, but it’s underpowered. Eclipse gives you some burst DPS, but what’s crucial, you’re not hitting a different spell…you’re just hitting harder with your standard nukes. I’m sure Graylo or Hana has some really well-thought out ideas, but I think Wrath needs to be designed as the basic nuke, and Starfire designed as the hard-hitting nuke with a CD. Then, give MF a chance per tick to proc an instant SF, and IS a chance to proc an instant Wrath, or something like that. The set bonus is already moving in this direction, I think.

Feral:

  • GC doesn’t want druids to be able to DPS, tank, and heal, in one spec…being a superstar shuts out other players. He’s okay with hybrid builds, but thinks they’re relatively rare, as most players prefer to specialize in a role. He does want to encourage more shifting, so they’re considering¬†reducing/eliminating shapeshifting mana costs. ¬†He’s fine with the complexity of the cat DPS rotation, thinks cats have enough interrupts to be successful in PVP, and mentions the addition of Savage Defense and 360 degree bear swipe as good changes.

Well, I think I do just fine with¬† my hybrid build. ūüôā I have successfully tanked Razorscale, then switched gear/glyphs/flask and and topped DPS meters on XT in Ulduar-25.¬† In general, though, I don’t understand how he can be down on hybrid builds, but want to encourage shifting more frequently. Can’t say much about PVP, since I’m not a PVP’er, but lowering shifting costs would certainly help¬†feral PVP. Ferals can either burst like rogues, or absorb damage like warriors, but not both. The cat DPS rotation is excellent fun and should remain the same…I think bear swipe could use a rename, now that they’re pretty different, but that’s minor.¬†

Resto:

  • GC has a huge glurge paragraph on long-term plans for Resto. He specifically says “this is one paragraph you should read,” so go read it, but in summary, with the potential removal of shapeshifting costs, they’re trying to find ways to encourage more frequent shifting…possibly by making Tree form a CD, like warlock Meta. They really don’t like that trees are locked out from half the spellbook for what amounts to a buff.¬† They also don’t like that Druid armor never gets seen.

Well…okay, yeah, the spell lockouts are a limitation that other classes don’t have. So? If I want to cast damaging spells as Resto, that means that things are either totally screwed-up, or the content is so trivial it doesn’t matter. I don’t try to heal as a bear or cat (though Tranquility can still save 5-mans), and I don’t try to heal as boomkin. If we’re supposed to be specialized, then it’s perfectly fine if our other abilities are gimped. The fact we have them at all is awesome,¬† actually, only one other class comes close to our versatility (pallies).

The biggest problem, I think, and this applies to boomkin as well, is that there’s not enough differentiation between the¬†specialized¬†form¬†and caster form.¬†Boomkin/Trees don’t get anything special except a small buff. ¬†¬†Wild Growth/Starfall should probably only be able to be cast in their respective forms, for example.

Itemization:

  • GC answers¬†complaints¬†that crit is useless for trees, finding good tanking gear is difficult for bears¬†since many pieces have block/parry, and cloth is often better than leather for casters. His answers: Yes; Yes; and dodges the last question.

I was a bit disappointed with his answers, but then again, I was a bit disappointed with the questions. Every piece of gear has stats that are good and stats that aren’t as good. Things would be easier, but ultimately less interesting, if every piece of caster gear had nothing but +spellpower and +int, or every piece of dps gear had +AP and +str. While he didn’t answer the question, I would not be surprised to find out that HoT’s can crit in 3.3. Of course, this will warrant a nerfing of HoT’s coefficients, so QQ will be massive regardless. For bears…meh. the only pieces that buff block/parry are cloaks, trinkets, rings, and necks, which¬†provide the fewest itemization points.¬†It does kinda suck that we have less selection, but it’s not going to cripple a bear to have an old neckpiece or cloak. DK’s have the same issue, but not quite as much since they can¬†parry as well, so warrior/pally gear isn’t quite as bad for them.¬†

The caster issue is much greater, though, since that applies to all items. (Note: this question was rolled in with the tanking gear question…he answered that one and ignored the bit about cloth.) I personally don’t have a problem with letting resto druids roll on cloth, but our guild healers are very good at communicating to find upgrades. Pallies and cloth…that’s a little different story, due to the emergence of RF healer tanking being a large help on some fights. We haven’t really had an issue, since there always seems to be lots of healing plate to go around…but then, we’re short on holy pallies.

Minor Things:

  • GC dislikes relics being on the vendor, since then they become standard kit. He does acknowledge that some relics are too difficult to get, and is considering making relics part of an entire instance’s boss loot table. He has no plans for a special 310% flight form…your swift flight form will just speed up if you have a 310% mount. He may allow Warstomp to be usable in forms; and plans are to update Travel and Aquatic forms next.

Relics (sigils, librams, etc.) are silly, and Blizz needs to make up their mind what to do with them. Unlike regular items, there’s generally no choices involved…either you have the best one, or you don’t. It’s a very linear progression. The problem with making them boss drops is that there’s a high chance that they won’t be usable by anyone in the raid, which sucks, but that’s the case for several items. (Rogue daggers, caster plate, etc.) I could go either way with this, really…I just think it’s absolutely ludicrous that they’ve skipped three levels of idols for bears, so that your only choices currently are the lvl 70 badge idol, the blue idol from the Grizz Hills PVP dailies, or an idol from Gen V in 25-man Ulduar. Can someone explain why the badge vendor has an epic kitty idol, an epic resto idol, and an epic boomkin idol…and that’s it? The other stuff…sure, sounds good.

Whew, long post. Not going to be 1500+ words every time, I promise. 

Roundup of other druid blogger reactions:

  • Bell at 4Haelz likes being arboreal. (Yes, this is your vocabulary word of the day.)
  • Hana at Flash of Moonfire agrees with me that Druids are fine, and has extensive commentary on the Q&A. Go check it out.
  • Graylo at Gray Matter adds his moonkin comments. (Summary: Nothing new here.)
  • Lissana at Restokin has many thoughts.
  • Sylly at Rolling Hots can’t stand ANOTHER GCD to have to deal with.
  • Keeva at TBJ has much more to say about the possible resto changes. (Healing lazors FTW!)

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So, I had a post in mind for this…then a whole bunch of other people did too. ūüôā Go check out Lissana’s guide at Restokin…I’ve added my comments there.

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WoW Lockout Timer

I DID have more blog posts planned…but guess what. Blizzard decided to give me a 72 hour suspension this weekend, citing¬† “FINAL WARNING – Economic Exploitation.”

…(anger rising.)…

Pissed about this for the following reasons:

1. I KNOW I haven’t do anything wrong. I use Auctioneer, sure, but I’ve done that ever since starting WoW. I had¬† more volume than usual the day before getting the suspension- probably spent about 2-3k gold…but that’s a drop in the bucket. My account has not been compromised.

2. The only way to dispute Blizz disciplinary actions is by email to the Account Administration peeps. Of course, the suspension happened Friday afternoon (1AM Saturday for me here in Korea) which means, I’m assuming, that nobody could even look at it until Monday. Therefore, no raid slot for me for the weekend.

3. I immediately replied via e-mail…and have heard nothing. I’m back in, now that the 72 hours are up, but I’m afraid to use Auctioneer again until I hear something. I feel that I’m owed, at a minimum, an apology an a three-day credit…and probably a week’s credit for the inconvenience.

…(anger cooling)…

On the bright side, I did give EQ2 a shot, and really enjoy it, enough to drop $15 for a month’s time to see how things progress.¬† I find that, unlike WoW where it takes quite a bit of time in a class before you can find if you like it, you can see quite a bit with low-level alts. May come up with another post on that down the road. Currently rocking a Wood Elf Warden (think balance/resto druid mix) and a Fae Illusionist (no real comparison to WoW…kind of a hunter/mage mix; lots of mage CC abilities, with a pet.)

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So…they did it. One of my guildies made the mistake of asking me “so…what addons do you use anyway?” That’s….not a short answer. Depending on how you count them, I’ve run anywhere from 30 to 200 over my¬†time with WoW.¬†In order to help my fellow guildies, however, I figured I’d write up a series of posts on addons I find essential, and the design of my user interface (or UI.) I’ve included a screenshot of my current UI below- click for fullsize.

Admin Note: I’m not going to link every addon I mention- if you want them, go to Curse (or use the Curse client) which is where 95% of my addons are hosted. WoWInterface for the rest.

  Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of discussing individual addons, let’s look at the broader picture for a moment. Why do we use addons, or customize the UI? What’s wrong with the Blizzard default? Every player will have a dfferent answer to that question; however, I use them for three primary reasons.

(1) Addons allow me to process information more quickly or make decisions faster. Take for example healing addons such as Healbot, Vuhdo, (Clique,) etc. The default UI makes healing a two-click (or two-press) process for raid healers…select the target, press (or click) the appropriate button. Addons, however,¬†allow the healer to simply click on the member in need of healing. This gives the healer much greater flexibility.

(2) Addons allow me to control the¬† postioning and display of information on my screen. I think the default Blizzard UI is horrible at this, personally. (Why they didn’t take more of a cue from Diablo is beyond me.) With my setup, I attempt to minimize the positioning of elements to the left and right of the screen, in order to maximize my situational awareness. I’ve still got a little more work to do on this before I’m happy, I still have the Blizzard default party frames displayed, for example, even though I never use them, and I can condense my buttons quite a bit more then they are currently.

(3) Addons allow me to automate in-game processes, saving time. As a Druid who specializes in filling multiple roles, I NEED this to manage 2 specs and 3.5 sets of gear. Not only that, trivial tasks, such as working with mail, or dealing with questions, can be made much smoother with the proper addon.

I’ll wrap this post up here…in Part 2, I’ll begin discussing the specific addons I use.

(Shout out to Nibuca at Mystic Chicanery for the idea and post title. Hope you don’t mind me stealing it. Thanks!)

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