I’ve started a new Horde character on some pretty much random realm – this time an undead Mage, Celreth. I was never able to level a mage high enough, and I always disliked the old Forsaken questlines, especially the ones in Tarren Mill – I remember them as being full of unnecessary violence, poisoning people for no gain and other annoying stuff. I tried to level there a few times before, but always ended up disgusted and flying back to Kalimdor.
With the new questlines we got in Cataclysm the old world got revamped and I wanted to see if anything changed. I already saw the damage to Southshore and Hillsbrad on my warrior, but was there any story behind it?
Tirisfal Glades is mostly unchanged for the later part of the zone (at least if you disregard the plague spreaders in every city), but the first few levels are quite enjoyable. Being raised as a new Forsaken by one of the Val’kyr was definitely a surprise.
But even bigger surprises awaited me in Silverpine forest – seeing the place full of Forsaken fortifications and constant fighting with the worgen, witnessing the conversation between Sylvanas and Garrosh, assaulting Gilneas and finally learning who are the new inhabitants of Shadowfang Keep and why would we want to kill them. I don’t want to spoil too many things (thought it probably wouldn’t be a spoiler for too many people anyway), but as a Forsaken my mage has a very good reason to dispose of the three undeads.
And finally, Hillsbrad. After trying out how it is to be a cog in the Forsaken war machine and handing down few quests to idiots, I followed to the places I’ve just sent them. The first area – the Azurelode Mine – was quite boring, killing murlocs and capturing humans, but after going to the second quest hub it suddenly changed a bit – and for the weird. I landed in Hillsbrad in the middle of a quite strange conflict between a Forsaken Master Apothecary and another undead mad sciencist of sorts. It was even more weird that after cleaning one place of awful experiments and destruction of human life I was sent to Soutshore, which was also bombed with the plague – to continue experiments on the plague used by the Forsaken. Maybe the Apothecaries are just afraid that one mad scientist would become the next Putress.
While doing stuff in Southshore I’ve again encountered the last of the “idiots” I’ve gave out quests to at the start of the zone. I was expecting it at this point, seeing that I had to rescue the other two as well, but after finishing the first “idiot” quest I totally didn’t expect the quest chain that followed. The orc introduced as an idiot turned out to be more of a hero than my mage was. Again, not going to spoil it – just go and start Welcome to the Machine and continue the questline. You won’t be disappointed.
Oh, and by the way – it’s totally untrue that there are no reasons to group anymore. Near the yeti cave I’ve encountered a huge elite yeti with more than 5 times my health that’s an objective of a 3-man group quest. Of course I’ve tried soloing it, but that didn’t go very well – my frost nova was on a too long cooldown to reliably CC the yeti, and after I’ve finally got knocked back into some trees I died very quickly to its melee hits.
None of the quests or mobs were terribly hard, but I’m outleveling the zone a bit since I did a few dungeons earlier. I still managed to die a few times though if I wasn’t careful with pulling mobs.
Overall – as surprising and unexpected it is – for the first time I’m enjoying taking my new Forsaken mageling through her storylines. I think I’m gonna make more alts soon to see the rest of the new stuff. But for now, I’ll stick to this one and I hope to see more new stuff on the way. Hopefully it will be as enjoyable as the Kingslayer Orkus’ story.
Call me a fanboy if you wish, but I’m so tired of all the recent bullshit going around the blogs about WoW. Leading the way is of course Tobold, with yet another post consisting mostly of “back in my day, we fought raid bosses in EverQuest uphill in the snow” routine. Seriously, if you don’t like the game – just freaking stop playing it already.
Anyway, he linked to Dee’s post over at Lost in Azeroth today, spilling his wisdom again like some kind of a MMO Oracle or something similar. So while a) I already have two similar posts in my live writer that I’ve decided not to post, and b) I realize nobody actually cares if some random blogger from some random not even remotely popular blog is disagreeing with the Great Ora^W^W^WTobold, I’ll still post this one, because it bugs me.
Lets see then.
#1. Long-term planning. Apparently balancing the classes is wrong, because it makes one unable to “play a warlock and be the best DPS” or whatever. But that (and the accompanying topic of so called “State of DPS”) is not the point and the story at the end gets from me only a raised brow, because I raided a lot in Wrath and I certainly don’t remember warlocks rerolling enmasse.
“When I rolled my priest, I did so with a long-term plan to be the best healer possible, but over the years other classes were often better as healer”, says Tobold.
Over the years, maybe, Blizzard is known for not doing the best with class balance (remember spammable Circle of Heals in Zul’Aman?) But how about now? I can say only based on what I can observe from my raids – and I can’t say anymore that one of the healers is better because of the class. It’s all down to the player skills, as we all have similar healing abilities. Same thing goes with tanking – we’re done with “we have to have a warrior tank this to spell reflect things or else we’ll wipe”, now every class can tank every encounter in their own way.
So I can safely make a long-term plan to be the “best warrior tank” or “awesome druid healer” – rather than “the best tank at everything ever” or “best healer”. But if you set ridiculous expectations, you’ll gonna end up like that poor warlock from Tobold’s story.
#2. Short-term strategy. Tobold completely ignores half of the original point of Dee’s post and instead focuses on rotations. Why am I not surprised? Adaptability and awareness certainly belong to the short-term strategies and it’s certainly something that makes up a lot of player’s skill – especially if it’s a healer or a tank.
Strangely enough, on the WoW forums there are a lot of these questions and while some of them get directed towards a spreadsheet or EJ forum, you can find help as well – I know, I asked on this blog about healing Chimaeron and received a response.
#3. Resource management. Once again, skipping the important part of the post and focusing on details. Gold is important, but in the same post Dee talks about mana management for healers, and while it’s not an issue in heroics, you have to be good at it in raids. But Tobold doesn’t do raids, therefore the problem does not exist at all for him.
He also points out how mana management is only for the healers, let’s see. I guess the whole “Mana management” chapter of EJ’s Fire Mage Compendium doesn’t count, right? The whole arcane mage mastery and their DPS based on being as close to 100% mana as possible doesn’t count either? Or focus mechanic for hunters which is all about managing energy like rogues had to do all the time? How about a warrior tank that spent all his rage and can’t do anything useful? Or maybe having enough rage/energy for interrupts? I could go on, but I think it’s enough examples of resource management.
#4. People skills. I’ve been an active part of the Undergeared project, from almost the beginning to the very end of it. It’s true, I didn’t have to have any people skills to raid with Gevlon, I just needed to be good at healing (which I was – else I wouldn’t see the inside of Icecrown Citadel at that character at all). However, Undergeared was only a project, not the standard.
At the same time, I was raiding on my warrior, leading 10-man raids, and earlier helping to organize 25-mans, while it seems to me that Tobold never did. Why?
“People skills are at best secondary, most raid leaders would rather invite the less nice but better performing player than the other way around.”
Well, no, they wouldn’t. If a player is disruptive to your raid in any way – and you can replace them on the spot – you do so. With a warning preferably, but I’d rather have the less geared player and maybe wipe one or two times more, than have some hunter that proclaims that “you should all be thankful, this kill happened only because I was with you”, even if the hunter did the most dps of the whole raid. Insulting people was the clear and fast way out of my raid, and I had to do so a few times.
And yes, trade chat pugs have obviously different rules than guild raids, yet I’m willing to bet you’ll be still kicked if you show a total lack of people skills, same as you get kicked from LFD groups if you behave like an ass. Isn’t that what you oldtimers preach anyway? That back in your day you didn’t get far on your realm if you were an asshole?
And at last, raiding. Tobold still keeps going about “learning the dances” and how that sucks. See, the dances – the mechanics of the bosses – are important to know, but the raid encounter doesn’t end at them. There isn’t a way to learn any encounter to do it blindfolded (video link totally relevant, this one also). Random players will be damaged at any time, adds will come and have to be picked up, tanks don’t have perfect avoidance and might get hit hard few times in a row, things will pop up at the floor, randomly or not so much – these are just a few things but you have to be aware of all of them happening and react to them. Also, you have to remember that raiding is a team sport. People will react differently to mechanics, they may even *gasp* fail at something and then you have to scramble back to keep everyone alive. Is that included in the “dance strategy” you learn from Tankspot? I don’t think so.
You can’t make a machine that you’ll feed instructions on what keys it should press on your keyboard in order to successfully beat the boss – and you could definitely make one that would flawlessly complete any DDR song. Also, different classes will have different methods of dealing with the mechanics – a warrior might for example intervene someone to avoid an AoE and charge back at a boss, while the paladin would run to the side instead.
Honestly, I have no idea where Tobold (and mind you, I definitely don’t think he himself is stupid) got that awful and stupid image of raiding. Too much failing on Heigan maybe? But that’s seriously one fight out of a hundred or so in total, and we had to do it something about 2 or 3 years ago, just deal with it already will you.
I just did one Shared Topic few days ago and now there’s another interesting one right away next week. Awesome. This time, Naithin of Fun in Games asks the following:
Pretend for a moment that WoW hasn’t yet been released. Or perhaps it is, but you’ve never heard of the whole SWG NGE debacle, and thus have no fear about dramatically changing how everything works post-release.
You have the original (or BC, or Wrath, or Current, your pick) design docs to start from, but you’re free to change absolutely everything if you so choose.
With all this power, what would you change? What would make WoW the dream game for you?
A tricky question indeed, especially given that I’m mostly satisfied with how WoW works and plays out. If I had to choose, then I have only two things to add to the current design.
Living NPCs in a living world.
We all know how NPCs work right now. Most of them are still standing in places they started 6 years ago, unless that place no longer exists of course. Only a handful of NPCs ever walk around or do things, and they’re mostly guards, non-interactive citizens or random vendors nobody really needs.
What if every NPC was scripted? Imagine dwarfs in Ironforge leaving their posts and going to a nearby inn for a drink? Vendors and trainers moving around their shops and just doing stuff. Or closing shops for the night – you can still find them nearby, sleeping in their beds and could still interact with them and learn/buy whatever you need (since it’s a game after all, and limiting this to work hours every day would be stupid, especially given that people play in the evenings as well), they just wouldn’t be standing around in one place for all eternity. Imagine if all NPCs would be like the flying trainer in Dalaran – you know, the usually bored Hira Snowdawn, who sometimes flies around the landing pad on her dragonhawk. I always liked that about her.
Also, how about being able to interact with every NPC? After all, they’ve been living in that bloody place forever, surely they would have something to say to a hero like you, wouldn’t they? Or maybe they’d be just scared that a weird looking alien or a walking ex-Scourge wants to talk to them and would run away. There’s a hint of that right now – in some places like Dalaran or Isle of Quel’danas NPCs react to you being exalted with their faction, but while it’s a nice touch to make the player feel noticed by the world, it’s really quite rare and not really enough.
Scripting all NPCs would really make Azeroth feel more alive.
Quest choices and consequences.
There’s a very cool quest in the Mount Hyjal, called A Bird in Hand. You and Thisalee Crow have to capture and interrogate the harpy matron. And the interrogation is nothing like the infamous quest in the Borean Tundra that so many people disliked.
You have a choice of how to ask the harpy and what to do with her afterwards. This is an awesome thing, but what if this choice affected the later quests given by Thisalee? Not to the point of making them completely unavailaible if you make the wrong choice, but just having a slightly different quest texts would be enough. Having the choice in the quest itself is already awesome, now how about making that quest matter?
That’s not to say I’d like to see some kind of a morality system like in Fallout or Fable, though that’s also not a bad idea in itself. I just want NPCs to react to my character’s actions. If I kill and torture that captured harpy, surely it should have some kind of an effect on the druids that are camping the nearby place. Would they give me bad looks then and talk like all they want is to make me go away from their place as fast as it’s possible?
How about having different quest turn-in points? It’s even currently in game for the Forged Documents quest for Inscription – you can talk to different NPCs and take their gold. While the quest itself and things that NPCs say when turning it in are awesome, I still kind of feel bad each time I’m doing it. There should be also a “good” way to finish it, like the fishing daily in which you can either fish for yourself or take other fishermen’s catches. Or, maybe the “good” way is just to not forge documents. Oh well.
Anyway, why not have this technology applied to normal questing as well? It shouldn’t mess with quest rewards, only introduce splitting of the storylines for one or two quests. Even if the quests were essentially the same – like having either “kill 10 elementals” or “use this item on 10 elementals when they’re low on health” as a solution to an elemental problem around the quest hub – it would provide a way to make the questing process less boring and more unique. Even if in the end it wouldn’t matter if you got 5 gold from one NPC or the other, and both would follow up with the same quest.
Paired with scripted NPCs and their ability to react to player’s actions, it would make for a world that feels far more alive than it currently is.
Unfortunately, I’m fully aware how many quests and NPCs this game has and how much work would it take to implement the things I’m asking for. I believe it would be totally worth it though – making Azeroth feel like a living place should be just as important as making new raids and endgame stuff.
My guild is finally raiding and even with some success. I am of course an active part of that success, but unfortunately not with Vrethir yet. This must be the first time ever that I’ve seen a guild that doesn’t have a problem with tanks – even more, has more tanks than you can shake a stick at. Instead we were (and still are) short on ranged DPS and healers.
Which is why I have to raid on Sheven and heal. Not that I mind much, because I either way I’m still raiding and that’s where I find fun in this game, but I would still prefer to tank. Maybe some time later, after we kill more bosses and it will be easier to recruit other people.
First two bosses of BWD weren’t much of a problem for healing. We have pretty solid healers in our group with a holy paladin, holy priest and me. We delegated the priest to heal his group while I focused on mine, and the paladin was doing what they always excelled at, being spamming the tank with the Light. This setup worked well throughout Magmaw and Omnomtron, which to be completely honest, aren’t very hard to heal, as long as everyone keeps doing their job and not standing where they don’t have to. I’ve kept my Lifeblooms on the main tank for Clearcasting procs and healed whatever was in need of healing.
Next we dealt with Maloriak. This fight required more coordination from us – announcing on vent if one of the healers was flash freezed (and slapping some DPS that were too quick to kill the ice blocks, killing frozen people by accident) helped a lot, as did saving Tree of Life for the red flask phases. On our killing try I couldn’t do that though, as there wasn’t enough time between them. With two mages and two hunters for slowing traps and Freezing Circle goodness it went pretty good.
Then we went to Chimaeron, on my request nonetheless. In retrospect, maybe Atramedes would be a better choice…
We didn’t make a lot of tries since it was getting late already, but the healing there just didn’t go well. Rejuvenation is much too slow to heal people up and they would die, HT and Nourish were too slow and they would die… You can probably imagine my frustration.
Next time we’re gonna try doing it something like that:
- Paladin heals the offtank taking Double Strikes, with beacon on the main tank to keep him above 10k health.
- Priest focuses on his group, I have never healed on a priest, so I have no idea about this one to be honest.
- I will keep Lifeblooms on the main tank for Clearcasting and healing above 10k, using glyphed Regrowths and Rejuv + Swiftmend for keeping people up.
Unfortunately rolling multiple Lifeblooms and keeping them up with Nourish will end in 4.0.6, so that tactic won’t work anymore. Too bad though, I always thought that was a neat thing. Maybe a bit too easy to do though, but if you had a fight with lots of things to pay attention to or a lot of movement, it was also quite easy to lose the extra stacks.
I suppose we will still have to get used to that fight. I just don’t like all the randomness of it – random Double Strikes, random phase 2, bleh. Well, next try either on Thursday or again over the weekend sometime.
It was a long time since I last participated in Blog Azeroth’s Shared Topic, but here comes the current one from Ringo Flinthammer with a question about Archaeology. Since I’ve been doing it quite a lot recently, it’s a good moment to talk about it a bit more.
I have to admit I wasn’t really paying a lot of attention to Archaeology before the expansion’s release. Obviously, I knew it was going to be in and that it will provide bits of lore and stuff, but that’s pretty much all. I definitely wasn’t prepared for what it really is.
It’s a bloody annoyance and yet I still do it.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I dislike the profession itself – after all, I get all kinds of different stuff from it, some useful, some not really, and the most useful ones are very rare and seem impossible to obtain. It’s just absurdly annoying to do, even with the abundance of flight paths all over the world and a 310% speed flying mount.
I like getting new pets, mounts, fun stuff like Bones of Transformation or Innkeeper’s Daughter (speaking of hearthstones, I’ve recently read the Stormrage novel and was surprised at how apparently hearthstones are very rare and expensive artifacts – yet all adventurers have one) and even the gray common items have either amusing tooltips or provide nice lore fragments, but it all just takes a lot of time.
I wish Blizzard would “fix” it a little bit, and I’m not talking about tinkering with the Survey ability, which will happen in 4.0.6 and will reduce time spent on the site itself. That’s all good and a welcome change indeed, but how about some kind of a mechanic that will not spawn a site in Winterspring after I complete one in Uldum?
How about extending the durations on the items? Surely there’s nothing wrong with me running for an hour around Stormwind as a Naga or a Wisp – the transformations either drop if I enter combat anyway or I can’t use spells and abilities in them. 20 seconds is cool for random amusement in raids before a pull, but not for much more.
So… it’s an annoying profession and has a lot of downtime spent on flying around, but it’s still something to do in the time between raids or when listening to some podcasts, as it’s a bit hard for me to focus on tanking or healing while being distracted by people talking. Which is about on the same level for me as Fishing or other gathering professions are.
I didn’t pick it up on my druid and probably won’t do so on either of the alts here on Deathwing, but I might use it to speed up leveling on other realms. And on low level, the new 4.0.6 prices of common items will surely help to get some gold.