Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Glory Days

Standing Guard at Snowfall

It's official: PvP is great again.

For me at least, Arenas kinda sucked all the life and fun out of the entire PvP experience. It became too much about the gear and not enough about enjoying the game. To do PvP you needed to be Pro: top notch gear, imba friends, hours of practice for quick bursts of adrenaline and rewards that, although impressive, did not seem enough for all the work needed to get them. If you did BG's they were slow, frustrating and ultimately depressing if you were Alliance in my Battlegroup. When Blizzard announced the XP gain in Battlegrounds and the changes to each area a bit of me silently /cheered and hoped that finally there'd be some love for the people who play their game in PvE and take PvP as a hobby. As it stands, I've yet to be disappointed.

Losing a game is no longer a loss when everything sub L80 has a benefit. My Shaman's been PvP-ing pretty much constantly for the last three levels between questing, and it's 325 kinds of awesome. I'm getting honor I can save to buy some very useful (and relevant) L213 items once I hit 80 (so what if they have resilience as a stat, it gives me a head start over the items I'm already wearing), which will supplement my existing PvE gears (the pile in the bank of crafted epics and AH-bought items is growing nicely) As I fight my way through the BG's I pick up a pretty steady stream of Achievements as I go, and yes they are working as just that, a way of making me feel I am progressing. My XP gain is frankly immense (so much so I find myself thinking Blizzard may nerf AV, nearly 19,000 XP per tower captured with rested seems too good to be true) However by far my most important gain while doing this my skill in healing. My reaction times are faster, I'm thinking in a more group-orientated way, and PvP is making me better. I can feel it happening, and when I've been healing in 5 mans I know that the skills I've picked up in AV, AB and in WSG especially are helping me to make a better character. I cannot state this fact enough.

There is a downside: PvP doesn't make you money. However, this is SUCH a minor issue for me, as I have plenty of other characters who can do dailies and supplement my needs while levelling, that I find myself thinking that the cash doesn't matter. Anyway, I'm having way too much fun to care anyway!

There's also moments of utter brilliance and comedy, moments which make you just feel GOOD, and I love the fact this game can inspire such emotional responses. There was the Strand of the Ancients game that we won with five seconds to spare with a display of utter teamwork from a group of random players as to make you wonder why it's taken this long for people to work out what to do. Or there was that AB match which we won with no-one in the party higher than 75 with higher-levelled opposition, and by 200 resources, where three people took the time to whisper me and to thank me for my superlative healing. That makes a girl feel good.

The best moments however are in AV. I'm in the same battlegroup as the German servers, who's reputation as battlers is pretty legendary. You get the Germans in your BG and you KNOW you're in for a long fight, in the middle of the map with no ground given. To make matters worse the Horde have started forming insanely organised premades, headed by 5 or 6 L80's who forge ahead and cap everything, leaving lower levels to guard the captures. Yesterday, 30 of us camped out in the Hall of Stormpike as a last ditch attempt to stop one such group. I got half of my Loyal Defender achievement in one hit. It's possibly the most fun I've had in a BG for a LONG time, and I'm not even 80 yet.

The word is spreading: I've seen an increasing number of 80's in my Guild in Battlegrounds or in WG, and it's not simply for the gear or the Achievements. More than ever before PvP his a great way to let off steam, or play your character and improve their skills if you have limited playtime. Wait times are down, enjoyment is up. Blizzard did exactly the right thing when they updated the PvP options, and I for one hope that things continue in this vein.

Long live PvP!

Game Over!

The Druid's seen all the content (in 10 man) that the Crusade has to offer. The last boss fight is suitably taxing, but if I'm honest it's the PvP fight that makes the encounter overall. It all comes down to the RNG and which six jump down from the Arena. Last night was a big step forward from Wednesday's first try and it does reinforce the point that tired eyes and brains are no substitute for coming to an encounter fresh. Last night was two tries and done. I hope the same can be said for Mimiron on Sunday, who we had to 20% on Phase Four last night before we went to bed. I can see Yogg-Saron in my future...

I'm very happy with my Druid at the moment, not simply because I'm doing really challenging stuff currently which I'm finding extremely enjoyable. I'm finally able to do the damage I think I should be capable of. Observe this Recount log from a 25 man VoA in the week:

There were glorious moments when I broke the 4000 dps mark. I've NEVER done that amount of damage on anyone, anywhere, and it brings home to me that there are some REALLY large numbers to be had from the combination of decent gear, good enchants and the right rotations. I have a Starfire/Wrath combo that really works for me and I'm not far now from the haste cap for my Boomer. Haste makes a LOT of difference I now realise: casting spells faster means more spells more often which of course equals more damage. Duh. If you want to beat these more complicated fight, the big numbers, like it or not, really do matter.

The rest of this week has mostly been about PvP, for which I will make a separate post. Needless to say, I think people need to re-evaluate the merits of PvP in the light of XP from BG's. The 80's may hate it but BOY is it great times for everyone else.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

La Liste de Seau

Everyone and their Gran right now seems to have a Bucket List. I'm seeing people ask for tags in on-line communities to sort them, people discussing them on non-WoW sites. The community has readily accepted the fact that Azeroth as we know it will be No More and if you want to do things, now is the time, coz soon a great many of them just won't be there any more.

There was even a queue at the weekend to hang Ony/Nef's head in Stormwind.

With my many alts I realised a while ago that there are only so many hours in the day. Getting Loremaster on three L80's would require more investment than I will ever be prepared to give in Azeroth, so the Hunter has been designated the Explorer/Achiever for all the non-Dungeon and Instance content. The Druid picks up the achieving for all the progression content, and the Lock... well she just does her thing. Any swirly dingage is a bonus.

However I have decided with my Shaman fresh into L75 that it might be nice to go do the World Explorer achievement one more time, taking some screenshots along the way, with a view to making a slideshow of the Old World to keep for posterity. Hell, I may even try some video capture on Hubby's Mac. There are some really beautiful parts of Azeroth a lot of people forget are there, and once they are gone... anyway, watch this space. Time to clear out the screenshots folder...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


- Further to the Arm Pen grumbles, I now get why Blizz are doing this. If you take a look at the team who completed the World First Heroic Trial of the Crusader, 3 of the top 5 placed DPS-ers are Combat specced Rogues. Check their gear out on the Armoury... Arm pen gems in EVERY SINGLE SLOT. #1 dps in that fight = 10,003.

Now I understand.

Ironically there was one hunter in that group. He was Marks. He has just about every slot gemmed Arm pen as well. He only managed #14 on the meters.

As my US brethren would say, Go Figure.

- I did the Occulus last night in under four hours. I remember how traumatic that place used to be, but with better gear, drake scaling and a sensible game plan it's now no more hassle than any other Heroic. Amazing what a little gear and some time can do to soften the blows. I'll need to do it again when the Proof of Demise quest rolls around but after that, truth be told, I'll be happy never to go there again.

Some places just hold too many bad memories.

- We now present, for your viewing enjoyment, my Hunter's next Project after 40 Exalted Reputations:

So I've decided I'll be aiming for 25,000 acts of well-calculated slaughter in the coming weeks (probably should add months here as well ^^). As it's taken 4 and a bit years to get this far I have no idea how long the remaining 3265 will take to complete, but it should be interesting to watch the counter. This will in turn allow me to completely upgrade all my PvP gear to 213 and beyond via the wonders of Honor, plus I am sure there will be achievings. I could get all the mounts as well I suppose...

- This week will therefore be some PvP, some levelling and quite possibly a fit of mass gathering to restock all my alts with potions, foodbuffs and other sundry gubbins...

Monday, September 07, 2009

Hit it and Hope

So I have finally done some experimentation with the merits of levelling in BG's.

Here's my Shaman's achievement list from yesterday. I managed Damage Control after three AV's, the Grim Reaper and Class kills came from the first. It took me several weeks of play to pick Stormpike Perfection up on my Hunter: that came from the second AV of the day. I was getting invites roughly every 5 minutes: each tower destruction or enemy target awarded 18.5k XP with Rested. Yesterday I did pretty much a level in an afternoon (Rested bonus plus two +10% XP items). In the group there would be 2 or 3 L80's, the rest were 71+, and it was INSANE, but in the best of ways. At one point I was one of fifteen people in Iceblood Tower trying to beat off a particuarly insane L80 Pally. Healing spec really paid off, my regen was pretty good and clearly I could do the big numbers over a reasonable battle. Only when the German server group turned up did I see anything like an epic fight, and that only lasted 35 minutes. The rest of the time it was quick, clean, and pretty much the fastest levelling experience I've seen.

Suffice to say I'd bet this XP level will be nerfed by Blizzard at some point, because I reckon it's giving an advantage to people levelling via this method. If you want to advance using PvP, make the most of it!

So, I've done Koralon in both modes with the Hunter, and even with 25 it's hardly difficult (though saying that I would not want to heal the fight, the potential for stupidity really is very high) We had the dreaded 1% wipe with only my second PuG, and he died next pull. It took a LOT longer to grab the achievement with Emalon. I've seen Rogue loot drop from 10 and 25 man a LOT, and yet again last night there were no rogues around to sweep it up. Where have they all gone? :( Happy though, 226 hunter gloves are now MINE, 3/5 tier also dun. IoC was yesterday's BG daily as well (though still need to complete it) but this did give me a chance to do some Achievement sweepage. Back Door Job ftw! (fnar fnar)

This week I will look at the other BG's with the Shammy, but I'm betting that none will do the job as well as AV for instance XP. Plus, there's the small matter of the 25,000 HK achievement on the Hunter...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Bugger :(

The nerf to armor pen in 3.2.2 is intentional. Compared to the recent buff where we increased the value of armor rating to 125%, this nerf would take it back down to 110%. While we are still evaluating the effects of this change in the 3.2.2 build, we did want to let you know of the possibility in case you were about to spend a lot on armor pen gems.

In fact, this was really the point. Several melee specs (and Marksman hunters) had begun to focus on armor pen at the expense of all other stats. Gear without armor pen was being passed over and gem sockets were increasingly being filled with just this one stat. While every spec has stats that are more valuable than others, this one felt like it was starting to trump everything. Not coincidentally, characters stacking lots of armor pen were starting to do more damage than their peers and more damage than we were comfortable with.

This change is largely for PvE reasons, though we won't cry at all if melee damage in PvP drops a little as a result.

We're letting you know now so that this doesn't feel like a stealth nerf, assuming it goes live. While you might disagree or be frustrated by the change (though I also suspect it won't come as a surprise to many players), we ask that you try and keep your response to something appropriate for these forums.
Oh arse. My hunter FINALLY becomes viable with a Marksman spec, and I start being able to seriously compete with the clever Survival hunters. I can do equal damage in instances. I don't have to spend all my time having to concentrate on stupid shot rotations to be on a similar footing.

I should have known they were going to nerf it :(