Saturday, April 18, 2009

What's Next?

For what's it's worth, I'm a HUGE West Wing fan. Any excuse to stick in a picture of my favourite mythical President and I'm there like a shot.

Via my favourite Democratic President until Obama arrived...

So, this afternoon I got into a conversation with one of my favourite Guildies: what's next? Okay so the paint's still not quite dry on the sign to Ulduar but we know that Blizzard are already looking ahead, deciding where we go in 3.2. There have been hints of late, most specifically that Blizzard may not trail 3.2 as extensively because of the reaction they had to 3.1. I think I know the reason behind this.

3.2 will be known, I predict, as the PvP Patch.

It's no secret that there is a new battleground in development. It's no secret either that Arenas are fundamentally no-go areas for large parts of the Warcraft population, simply because you need such ridiculous ratings to get anything useful. I know the next season will fix some of this but the fact remains, most people really aren't that good at PvP. It, like the niche occupied by the Professional gamers is pretty small. People want accessibility like you get in Wintergrasp. Let's face it, WG is probably the best PvP most people will ever see: 30 minutes, clear victor, tangible and realistically-attainable rewards for the vast majority, and fun. It's not fun to stand around for an arena match and be the one who's ass is whupped. Constantly. I've been there and done that and I reckon I'm not a hugely bad player, but someone has to lose.

What Blizzard need to do is to give the larger player base a bigger chance to win, just as they have with End Game Content.

I am going to stick my neck out here and predict the following. Please feel free to mock me soundly if I'm wrong.

  • We see with the Argent Tournament a way of duelling with others which relies not on gear but luck and skill. I think this kind of 'mounted' combat could be a great way of getting more people into a PvP arena, as it is currently with vehicles in Strand of the Ancients and Wintergrasp.The right mixture of mounted combat, vehicles and ground assault will, let's face it, make WoW more old style Warcraft, something I'm sure the purists would love and the casuals could get very attached to. Therefore I predict the new Battleground will have all these elements to appeal to as wide a base as possible. It will also have a time limit, but will allow for lots of WG style Zergs. Most importantly, it will offer unique PvE rewards for rep with the new faction who run it. If I were Blizz I'd offer shoulder enchants with pure stats (crit, def, hit) to draw new L80's in and trinkets/pets/unique rewards for the more hardened veteran. Most importantly of all, this BG will have Hard Modes, so the real PVP veterans can aim for special items only available this way.
  • I predict a MAJOR revamp of Arena rewards. I'd even go so far as to suggest that Arenas could have Normal and Hard modes, and you need to play in Normal to get to a certain level before being given a score which will allow you to Hard Mode. Normal mode would reward lesser gear, Hard Mode the more serious gear.
  • I doubt it will happen in 3.2, but as World content in Professions has been streamlined it would be nice to think that Blizz might consider doing it with World PvP across all four continents. I wonder how difficult it would be to streamline the events in WPL, in Silithus, in Hellfire and Zangermarsh and Nagrand and instead of having them all award different marks for different rewards, to make them all award the same kind of mark which can be exchanged for rewards from 50-80, perhaps even PvP heirlooms in the same mould as the normal heirlooms available currently with Emblems.
One thing is very clear: PvP works, but not as well as it could. There are lots of different ideas out there, many of which don't even get used any more because the game has changed. What would be great would be to see them brought together and made more attractive to the general playing public and not the minority as was the case with raiding endgame.

So, when do we get 3.2 then?

Friday, April 17, 2009

RIP J.R. Hartley

Via he was a great old bloke, wasn't he?

It hadn't occured to me until this morning that a couple of lines in the 3.1 patch notes has sounded the death knell to those of us who considered Fishing as truly Old Skool. One of the areas of the game which so long stood apart from the Nerfbat has finally and soundly been given a right kicking. Ol' JR would not be amused, I am sure.
You can now fish anywhere, regardless of skill. Every catch has the potential for fishing skill gains, but you are likely to catch worthless junk in areas that are too difficult for your skill.
This means, in real terms, that if you are L77, in Dalaran and in posession of a fishing rod and a 1 skill in Fishing you can take and do the Fishing Daily, and you will eventually complete it. Yes you will. As long as you can survive Northrend you'll have a daily done and be suitably rewarded and you will eventually get to 450. No need to stand in SW catching fish, or following schools around Outland, you can simly spend 15-20 minutes a day in Northrend and it's job done.

Of course it's great news for any of you who thought the fishing skill up was useless and pointless and a waste of time. This way you have the potential for new pets, 100g vendorable items (yes I got one this morning) and a new skill which means you can make a fortune selling fish on the AH coz no-one else has the skill... hang on, wait a minute... bang goes that moneymaker then ^^

In reality this has been a long time coming. The Crockilisks in the City quest from Old Man Barlow was generally accepted by most Guildies I know as a great quest as it meant they could level a bit in SW AND still have a chance at the quest item. For the pet collectors especially it was very well recieved. Considering that the complete the Salty Achievement requires you to fish up a fair selection of items, I suppose it really was a matter of time before this changed. Doesn't make me any less sad though. It was a LONG haul from 1-450, and for a long time in my Guild I remember being the only person with the 300 skill at all. I'd supply people with fish in exchange for potions. Aaaah, nostalgia.

Oh well, off to get all my alts who can take the quests in Shatt to do the dailies there so they can level in Outland then...

...and I feel Fine!

So, there are those who have decided, because the professionals went in and cleared out Ulduar in a night and a bit, that it's all a bit too easy. They've decided that the entire raiding experience has been cheapened or debased. They've decided it's the End of Warcraft as we know it.

What a load of utter bollocks.

We went in last night for the first time. Our team could have been better (for a start they could have found a competant Boomkin) but we weren't there to try and clear half the instance, we were there to have a look and judge what we need to be aiming for. We started with 10 man because we thought it was going to be easier. How wrong we were.

Ulduar ISN'T easy. It's not got the advantage of having existed pre-expansion and it doesn't have the advantage of lots of Guild having been there. PTR training aside *before you even get inside* there are FOUR VERY COMPLEX AND CHALLENGING 10 man encounters. See, I did that bit in capital letters. There are ton of new skills to learn for the Flame Leviathan encounter but this does at least allow you a measure of leeway (if you die you can come back in, wait for a new vehicle type to respawn and return to the fray) We downed him on the second try of asking once we worked out you need someone on top of the vehicle and you HAVE to take out the turrets:

As an aside I clearly didn't get Epic Flight Form on Wednesday, and neither did I join the Brew of the Month Club. Blizzard Changes FTL :(

We then spent an hour on Razorscale and concluded that we needed a better strategy than the guides we could find would give us, so we avoided Ignis the Furnace Master and headed straight for the XT-002 Deconstructor.

When we left we'd pulled him down to 34%. It's an incredibly complex fight by my standards, there is a LOT going on and you need to be totally aware of your own health and what is occuring around you. The damaging debuffs come thick and fast and you are required not simply to just stand and dps (which is so often the case in Naxx) but to watch your range to everyone else, to watch your health and to watch the spawning of robots which, if you let them get too close to the boss will bugger up all of your good work. Plus, he's on a six minute enrage timer. Yes, SIX minutes. So it means (if like us you bought two tanks, and two and a bit healers) the dps have to be VERY good.

I suspect we will be spending some time in the Ulduar Car Park. I suspect it is going to take us quite some time to make it to Yogg Saron. If we are as typical of casual raiding as I believe we are, this is going to be a long road before we've cleared the content. In this respect I think Ulduar is a total and complete success. If you think it's too easy you're either spoilt rotten or talking pants, or you've simply not had the chance to be here.

When we finally kill Yogg Saron on 10 man, and we will, it will be one of the hardest fought victories I've ever achieved in game. And we will have earnt it, good and proper.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009



Ah, if only my patch was this fluffy... *sigh*

It took the best part of a day for the US servers to be operational. It's taken 10 minutes for the patch data to download write into what I already had on the PC.

Right then, off out with the kids...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Don't Panic!

Ooooh look, I was wrong. 3.1 is tomorrow. Who'd have thought it?

MMO have the new cinematic for Ulduar, and it marks something of a departure from previous events. The Horde and the Alliance (thanks to the King in the main, whut a nublet) really are at each other's throats after the Wrathgate incident, and so it really is up to us, the humble Adventurers, to get into the instance and kick butt. The fate of Azeroth moves out of the hands of the Horde and Alliance radicals and into the hands of the people. We are truly the masters of our own destiny.

I'm not sure I'm ready for all this responsibility, you know.

I just need to make copies of all my Talents, across the family, then I am prepared. I'll spend an hour today making a list of all the new stuff I need to be on top of tomorrow as well.

Chaos is but a day away...

Monday, April 13, 2009



So. What do we do now then? :D

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Stupid is as Stupid Does

Not for nothing does my Guild tab have 'Dora the Chief Guild Nub' on it. I can, when the moment takes me, be SPECTACULARLY stupid. I could recount numerous tales, gentle reader, many involving pets and crowded instances, Auto Shot, keyboard running and turning... the list goes on. However on this occasion, I need but one story. One I KNOW will haunt me for the rest of Online Time...

Guildie friend got his new Tier 7.5 pants yesterday but was strapped for cash. I offered to make him an Icescale Leg Armour (Frozen Orb, 2 Arctic fur, 2 Icy Dragnscale) Made the patch, traded him in IF, job done... except the patch disappeared. Guildie couldn't find it in his bags and it was gone from mine. Exhaustive searching commenced... still no patch. Guildie ticketed a GM, who was less than helpful (no it WASN'T the soulbound patch, I made the damn thing and traded it) so reticketed it.

This morning, whilst hanging out washing, Mr Godfather calls me from inside.

'You know that patch you made yesterday that was supposed to have disappeared? It didn't, you just traded it to some random gomer in IF.'

I was standing next to my Guildie, but clearly I didn't look hard enough to see who I was actually clicking on. Some random L80 got a free armour patch.

I get to be called Justifiably Stupid for the foreseeable future.

Calm Before the Storm

It is palpable, right across the Server. People are waiting.

Whether it's the fact I can get a PuG for my Lock in 5 minutes of joining LFG (L78 and a bit now) and it's not full of people on Easter Holidays (though I did have an 11 year old tank earlier in the week ^^) or it's the fact that even the Azerothian crafting mats sell within one 48 hour window, the signs are there. The IMBA 25 Man Guilds are dressed in their PvP gears at the Mailbox. WG has 5-6 groups per evening assault. There's more than 49 people in Molten Core.

People are waiting for 3.1.

There was an amended set of patch notes yesterday, which normally means we're less than a week away. I'm still sticking to my assertion it's gonna drop 21/22nd but part of me is gearing for this Wednesday because... well, I'm wrong more times than I'm right, let's be honest. While I wait, first up, more from Ghostcrawler on 10 man raiding.
There are groups of players who just prefer to run smaller raids. I don't know off the top of my head how many, if any, exist on your server. They do exist. You can't always assume they are small guilds. Sometimes they are large guilds of more casual players with only a few raiders. It varies. What happened in LK is a lot of these players (who remember prefered to do 10-player content) just gave up and joined 25-player pugs because those were easier and provided better loot. For Ulduar, we predict they will have more motivation to do the 10-player version because the 25-player version is going to be more challenging. They might join a pug, wipe a lot, and remember why they prefer to run smaller raids with friends.
I know a LOT of Guilds like this. I would suspect it counts as a lot of the populations on a lot of servers as well, the 25 man people just don't notice because... well, they're running 25 man ^^ We do 1 x 25 man a week and 1 x 10 man a week and this fits most people into a raid schedule without any issues at all. As it happens this week we had trouble getting 10 people together. Normally we have 30 online on a Saturday evening, last night it was 13. Suspect that won't last long after 3.1 hits, I'd be expecting login queues and lag and...

W should be Locking at 80 in the next few days. She has rested up to 79, and is well into the Sons of Oh Dear dailies. I am grinding Emblems as well in various places across the Storm Peaks, and as soon as someone else turns up to quest I move on. Honored at 78 is not beyond the realms of possibility as a result, so at least I don't have to worry about getting Scryer marks for shoulder enchants any more. Shatt is even more of a Ghost Town than it normally is right now. I was the only Alliance person there for at least an hour earlier this week :(

M the Shaman is 61, and accumulating Rested. I suspect if 3.1 does hit she's gonna be there for a bit, if not we will probably badger Mr Godfather for some boostage. I've decided once I hit 70 she's gonna run through as many PuG's as I can find, partly as an exercise to see just how good/bad the PuGging experience has become. I know at least one priest in the Guild who learnt their trade this way, and now instances are by design shorter and MEANT to be easier it shouldn't be too much of a stretch. I am going to pick up some really cheap 70 epics for a bit of a healing boost. The results will, of course, be reported here.