Saturday, May 28, 2011

WoW in Popular Culture, Part Whatever

Yes, I've been around (so has Soul and Ehna), but I've been very busy at work and home.  But yes, there are new blog posts coming.

In the meantime, here's today's Working Daze comic:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Atari to Sell the Maker of Star Trek: Online

Apparently Atari's Cryptic Studios has lost $25 million the past two years, and therefore they're looking for buyers.

Gamespot: Atari Unloading Cryptic Studios

What We Need NOW

After having seen the proliferation of "these" sorts of games....

It only makes sense what ought to be developed next.

LEGO  World of Warcraft!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Attack of the Pug

One nice side effect of the reduced queue time for Tol'vir has been the return of the pug story.  Sure, I've got BG stories that are more interesting than your typical nerd rage variety, but I'd missed a good old fashioned pug tale.  There's something compelling about a group that puts the 'fun' in dysfunctional, making you grateful for your blissfully silent instance run.

My first couple of runs through Tol'vir were uneventful.  I'd prepared ahead of time in much the same fashion as people study raid videos, but of course that didn't stop me from making a few boo-boos.  Once I settled in, I got the feel of how the instance flowed, and got to watch group dynamics in action.  There was the tank who thought that the party could bypass the Croc boss, but that wasn't anything major.  On the whole, people were efficient and courteous, pointing out what to do where without so much whining.  I was starting to wonder if all the nuts had migrated to Cata heroics when I entered Tol'vir as Tomakan, proceeded to buff folks, and watched as the first pull turned into an adventure when the tank dropped.

Two of us were L85, so even if we weren't geared for Heroics we were able to put the trash down without anyone biting it.  "That was annoying," I said.

"Very," the healer replied.  "If he didn't like the instance, he could have dropped before we started."

So we waited. 

Five minutes later, a new tank zoned in and decided she wanted to go in the opposite direction.  So we reversed course and took out a few more groups of trash.

"I've gotta be honest," one of the DPS piped up.  "I'm only here for the rep.  Once I ding Exalted, I'm outta here."

"That sucks," the tank replied, and dropped.

Another DPS dropped as well.

"Thanks a lot, asshat," the healer griped to the DPS.

I had really nowhere to go, so I waited.  Tol'vir is quick enough of an instance --think SM:Library, Blood Furnace, or Utgarde Keep-- so I figured that it'd take even longer to requeue than go grab some coffee and wait for two replacements.

About 8-10 minutes later, a DPS and a third tank zoned in and we continued our run.  This time, the tank was a touch overeager on trash, attempting to pull multiple packs until the healer chastised him.  "If I don't have mana, you don't get healed," she said.

Things went well until the last boss.  On one of the DPS' request, the healer sketched out the strategy:  kill the ads, then in the second phase go after the boss.  So what did the DPS do when the fight started?  Went straight for the boss and managed to get himself killed via the deflections.  Luckily, the lack of DPS didn't mean a wipe, but it did mean that dropping that last boss took a lot longer.


That Tol'vir run wasn't the only one where being L85 came in handy.

I tried branching out on instances and queued for Vortex Pinnacle, but the 35 minute queue time was more like what I expected with Cata instances. 

Quintalan zoned in --remember him?  Blood Knight, about so tall, red hair, last seen taking a vacation on a park bench in Dalaran-- and listened in to the basics about the instance given by the Mage.  "...and you have to get in under that triangle before he starts his attack," he was saying, "otherwise it's instant death."

"And don't try to release and run back during the fight," I added.  "His attack is instance-wide.  Don't ask how I know that."

That earned a round of chuckles.

The first couple of pulls went okay, although there was a tendency to keep attacking the air elementals that were added for "flavor".  That's about all I can say about the elementals that see you and vanish without invoking my extensive vocabulary of profanity.  The first boss fight went well, but one of the DPS dropped off the platform instead of clicking on the whirlwind to move to the next section of the instance.  Oh well.

Then things began to get tricky.  Right before the first drake, the healer expressly said to the L82 warrior tank to "pull [the drake] out of the heal zone."  Well, the tank pulled, and then stopped with the drake half in and half out.

"Pull him!" the healer cried.

The tank kept the drake stationary, and then bit it.

I cursed, slapped on Righteous Fury, and started tanking.  The drake dropped, and the healer rezzed the tank.  Properly chastened, the tank proceeded to dutifully pull the next drake out of the heal zone without a problem.

Then we got to the section with the Neferset lackeys.

The first pull there, the tank ran in without marking or requesting that the Neferset healers be sheeped.  After realizing that the tank wasn't concentrating on the healer at all, I pulled off of the tank and started dropping as many interrupts as I could on the Neferset healer.

"Let me sheep him!" the Mage cried.

"Okay...."  I peeled away and stepped back.  "I'm off.  Go for it."  I remembered to breathe when I saw Mr. Lion Man become a friendly little lamb on the ground.  As is typical, once the healer went down, the rest of the mob followed suit. 

The Mage then rounded on the tank.  "Next time, let me sheep the Healer first; they have to be CCed or this takes forever."

"Got it."

Well, the tank didn't quite get it, because on the last of those packs he bit it again.  Because he didn't wait for the Healers to be sheeped, I got to play tank again.  All I can say is thank goodness for Lay on Hands.

I did not have a good feeling heading into the final boss, but I comforted myself in the knowledge that we'd covered all this beforehand.

Silly me.

On the first Supremacy of the Storm cast, the tank stayed outside the grounding field, and...

I knew the drill by then.  Slap on Righteous Fury and start spamming stuff to keep my threat up.  When there's a Mage in your party with more health than you, you know that there's a good chance that you'll lose threat, especially with the way Ret is specced these days.  You simply don't have the tools (or mana) to swing tanking for long stretches.  However, I don't think I lost threat more than twice in that fight, and each time Hand of Reckoning dragged the boss back my way.  I don't know exactly what that healer did, but whatever it was worked:  he kept myself, the Mage, and himself upright throughout the rest of the fight.

The Mage was thoroughly disgusted with the way things went that he quickly passed on the two items and dropped group.  I can't say I blame him.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

iLevels and Deception

For most people out there, this particular rant doesn't apply to them.  They leveled, they ran normals, then got enough gear for heroics.  (Hell, who am I kidding?  They're way past that now, deep into raid progression.)

The average WoW player probably grumped at bit about iLevels and the restrictions for the heroics, or they had heroic pugs where at least one puggee griped about an undergeared party member.

I, obviously, didn't follow the normal progression.

Due to time restrictions, I leveled, skipped instances entirely, and concentrated on battlegrounds.  After running BGs for about a month or two (and crafting gear), I've gotten enough PvP gear on Tom and Neve to be able to jump straight into heroics, almost completely bypassing the Cata normals.  If I work on my PvP gear for another couple of weeks, it's entirely possible I could queue for Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub without having set foot in a single Cata heroic.

And I'm here to say that isn't right.

The point of the iLevel restrictions for heroics and the 4.1 instances are to make sure that the players have a fighting chance in those instances.  Whether you get the gear by crafting, running normals, or the auction house, once you get into one of these instances the gear shouldn't be what holds you back.  But PvP gear, by it's very nature, will do just that.

I've said before that to run a BG you don't need PvP gear, and I stick to that assessment.  Regular BGs have a hodgepodge of people with all sorts of quality gear --from Cata greens to full Gladiator sets-- and anybody can join in.  However, if you want to run Heroics --and, more importantly, tank or heal in them-- the reverse won't be true.

The emphasis on Resilience (and gemming for spell penetration) hurts PvP gear when you run PvE content.  Sure, you can compensate with skill, and iL PvP gear that is far higher than your PvE gear will be better overall, but if your gear has similar iL, PvP gear will be inferior to PvE gear in PvE content.

And that doesn't address the overall problem of bypassing most of the content to get to the latest PvE stuff.

I'd like to see Blizz fix this issue by dividing the iL into PvP and PvE tracks, much like how the gearscore app has evolved over time.  PvP gear won't count toward your PvE iLevel, and vice versa.  Or at least have a requirement like Magister's Terrace, where to unlock the Heroic mode you have to have run the normal instance to completion at least once.  For the Zandalari Heroics, I'd suggest that having run at least half of the Cata Heroics would suffice, although by the time you get enough PvE gear to get into the Z-H's, you'll probably already have the Cataclysm Dungeon Hero achievement.

As for me, I'm not planning on using my PvP gear to sneak into Heroics.  I know better; just because you've got the gear doesn't mean you can slide by.    I also don't want to misrepresent my guilds this way, either.*  I've discovered that normal Tol'vir has both a small queue wait and a short run time, so I've been spending some PvE time there, but when I get around to it, I'll expand my PvE immersion.  But not until I feel that my PvE gear has gotten good enough will I walk into a Heroic.

*I believe that when you affiliate yourself with a guild, you represent that guild when you're out in Azeroth.  It's just like in the real world, where you wear a shirt with a university or sports team or company on it, people will judge the name behind that moniker by your actions.  It's not fair, but it happens.  In Azeroth, if you behave like an ass, people will judge your guild and your server accordingly.

EtA: My last comment about Zandalari Heroics disappeared into the interwebs, so I had to go fix it.