An Interesting Find…

So, I’m in the Cataclysm beta, and there will be a post or seven forthcoming regarding my thoughts on stuff, however I wanted to post this up real quick, because it caught my attention, and has potential to be pretty damn awesome.

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Note the up and down arrows on either side of the character select window. Could we be getting more than 11 character slots? Only time will tell.

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Going Without

I’m just a touch early with this, but I’m gonna be busy and/or hungover the rest of the weekend, so I’m posting it now.

 

Nim over at Ankh=Life posted a Blog Azeroth Shared Topic that works rather well for me, so I just had to respond to it. She asked what other people do when WoW is unavailable. Over the summer, after introducing Sharon’s mom to, and subsequently addicting her to WoW, we started having latency problems. Just one of us on would sometimes see lag near 1k ms, with all three of us on it would sometimes spike to 2-3k ms. This pretty much made WoW completely unplayable, and lasted for 3-4 months. Those months sucked, however we found ways to fill our massive amounts of newfound free time.

 

For starters, my Xbox 360 stopped filing missing persons reports on me. Found myself playing a fair amount of World at War, Modern Warfare 2, and Dragon Age. It also sparked an interest in finding 360 games that Sharon and I could play together with local multiplayer. Soul Caliber 4, Forza Motorsport 3, Left 4 Dead 2,  and Guitar Hero have all been tried, haven’t found one yet we can agree on, besides GH.

 

Netflix watch Instantly. Our lag issues were problems with response times and timeouts, not bandwidth, so we were still able to watch movies and TV on Netflix and other streaming video. Let’s see, there was just about all of the new Dr. Who, Penn and Teller’s Bullsh*t, all of Battlestar Galactica, various stand-up and documentaries, various zombie movies, Behind the Mask(awesome, awesome movie), all of Whitest Kids U Know, and all of Weeds. Finishing an entire tv series(or at least up to what had currently been aired) and going “So, now what?” was not an uncommon problem.

 

Learning to play the guitar. My in-laws are both guitar players, and have a fair few kicking around. With all of that extra free time on my hands, I decided to try picking up guitar. Used a website called guitartricks.com, and it worked fairly well, although I’ve stalled out on it recently due entirely to my lack of finding time to practice. I’m likely going to pick up an electric from a pawn shop and see about taking some actual lessons in the near future.

 

Develop a social life. This one has actually had long-term effects, aka friends. Before the Dark Time of no WoW, going out with friends and whatnot tended to be scheduled around raid nights. Sad, I know. Now, playing WoW is happening around hanging out with friends, and it’s definitely a change for the better. I’m even having a party tomorrow night, and there will be people there who…wait for it….aren’t in my guild! Craziness! As a side note, screw turning 30.

 

And, finally, doing all of the above spending time together, facing each other. This one more or less speaks for itself. Playing WoW together was kind of “our thing” that we did together. However, sitting across from each other, talking on vent with guildmates, probably not the healthiest together activity in the world. Don’t get me wrong, we still do it, but it’s not primary anymore.

 

Jesus, this almost seems to have come across as a WoW Anonymous type of deal. We do still play, and I enjoy it very much, it’s just that a break from the game seems to have given a bit of perspective on it, and a bit more moderation.

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I return! And a review of Star Trek Online

And so, crawling from the deepest muck-filled tubes of the internet, I return to the blogosphere. What kept me away so long, other than my proven track record of not posting with anything resembling regularity? A combination of things, really. Moving out of state, moving in with my fiancee’s family, massive lag issues keeping me out of WoW for months, but mostly, a lack of anything to say. Thankfully, for the two of you who will read this(I can be optimistic), now I have something to say.

 

Space: the final frontier. To boldly go where no other MMO has gone before, and make it just…so…blah.

 

We’ll start with the good. Space combat is fun, if a tad bit much spacebar spam, and some tactics do come into play, especially(but not only) during space combat pvp. It would be nice if there were multiple classes of the newb ship, or the grind to get to the second tier of ships was shorter, but hey, very minor thing.

I absolutely love the concept of having a built in 5-man group using bridge officers and security(red shirts) while soloing. The AI is decent, and you have the ability to control the NPCs to some extent.

Aaaaaaaand that’s pretty much it for the good. Sadly, and with heavy hearts longing for our one chance to bring the wonderfully vivid, imaginative world of Star Trek interactively into our living rooms, we move on to the bad.

 

Sector block travel, the way you get from system to system, is painfully slow. I understand there needs to be travel time, but it just feels sluggish and boring.

Ground missions, and really most missions in general, are extremely cookie cutter. Go here, kill guys, collect loot, beam out. Go here, interact with five objects, beam out. And when the missions aren’t repetetive, they’re downright annoying. Go here, talk to planetary representative. They need 10 shield generators. Have fun wading through possibly multiple sector blocks to get the needed items.

And, quite possibly the worst offender, the Briar Patch. This is a system filled with explosive gas that makes full impulse(fast movement, major penalty that takes time to diminish to attack, shields, and auxiliary power which affects turn rate, some special abilities), impossible. You have to take out ten turrets and some enemy ships, then storm a base. Gas clouds spawn all over that, if any weaponsfire happens near them, causes them to explode for ridiculous damage that bypasses shields to anything within 4km, which is kinda big(max weapon range is 10km). At times useful for taking out turrets and ships, more often than not you will find yourself blown up. And sent back to the entrance, because regardless of the map being somewhat large, and slow to traverse, unlike many(most?) other space missions, you have only the one respawn location. Just terrible mission design, completely lacking in polish. And the only way to really do the mission in any reasonable amount of time is to fly above the gas clouds, where half the turrets can’t target you, which just feels cheaty.

Murder, Death, Kill. So many of the missions involve busting a phaser cap in Klingons, or Klingon allies, it’s frigging ridiculous. Yes, we get it, the Federation and Klingon Empire are at war. But outside of a tiny number of scripted events, all space combats are to the death. No opponent, even non-Klingon enemies such as pirates, fight to the death with no survival instinct to flee, even if just to recharge shields. There is such little diplomacy in the game that it’s negative amounts. Every time you complete a mission, a war breaks out in a third world country. For realz.

Polish. It’s what’s helped to keep WoW the top MMO ever. This game? Very little. It feels slapped together, ground combat is awkward at best, mere days before launch and there are still what appear to be placeholder NPCs(from Champions Online) in dialogue options. The game is being rushed, it shows, and unless Cryptic has some major patching planned for very early, I think it will be the death of this game.

Instancing/Zoning. There is no contiguous feel to the game world. It’s so split up into system zones, and sector block zones, with instance caps of 50, and in some case 5 players, that it barely feels like an MMO.

 

Now, I may seem like I’m being harsh, but none of these issues are unfixable. Two more months of development, beta testing(with controlled numbers, and not open beta access being used as a marketing tool to sell preorders), communication between testers and devs, and this game would have a much better chance. It would be a pretty awesome game, one I would definitely play. Sadly, this is not going to happen. The bottom line is being put before producing a quality product, and it’s going to sink it.

I want this game to be good. I love Star Trek, and wish desperately that this game would live up to the awesome IP it’s based on. And there’s some just downright cool stuff. Being able to design your own, right down to the game mechanics influencing racial traits(think D&D 3/3.5 feats)? Brilliant. Leonard Nimoy voiceovering sector overviews? Incredible. But these are just small things, awesome by themselves, but not nearly enough to overcome the incredibly meh gameplay with it’s many issues.

 

I guess, then, there’s just one thing left to say. Help us, Bioware, you’re our only hope.

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More PTR Whining

So, yesterday a new PTR build dropped, and I just got around to reading the patch notes/undocumented changes on mmo-champion today. You can read it here.

Death Knight tanks are being gutted. There is no other way to describe it. Let’s review the impending changes between the PTR and Live, shall we?

General

Frost Presence: 15% magic damage reduction to 10% magic damage reduction. Flat out 5% magic damage mitigation nerf. This is a nerf to all DK tanking specs.

Blood

Blade Barrier: Changing from 10% parry to 5% damage reduction. This is a flat out 5% nerf to DK damage mitigation on physical bosses, and a 5% gain on magic damage. Except Frost Presence is being nerfed by 5%, so it’s no gain overall. This is a nerf to all DK tanks, as it is one of the core talents in all tanking specs. This also reduces DK threat per second, as fewer parries means fewer rune strikes.

Will of the Necropolis: A 15 second cooldown is being added to the damage reduction effect. This is one of the changes that just completely floored me. It seems very much like the age old situation of a PvP nerf FUBARing PvE.Blood spec nerf.

Vampiric Blood: Cooldown doubled to two minutes. The, as Blizzard calls us, “cooldown tanks” now have fewer cooldowns available during a fight. Blood spec nerf.

Blood Gorged: Losing 5 expertise, gaining 5% armor penetration. More TPS(maybe?), less damage mitigation on most bosses due to parryhasting effects. Blood spec nerf.

Frost

Lichborne: 25% miss chance being removed from the cooldown, making it a will of the forsaken for Death Knights. The “cooldown tanks” now have one fewer cooldown available. This is, for the most part, a nerf to all DK tanks, as Lichborne is taken in almost all DK tanking specs. Upside, 1 more talent point available to blood and frost specs, 3-6 more TPs available to unholy spec.

Unbreakable Armor: The lackluster ability(25% armor increase) this cooldown provides on live is being changed to damage reduction that scales with how much armor you have, and the amount of parry it grants is being nerfed from 10% to 5%. Cooldown is doubling to 2 minutes. So, the cooldown is being made useful for magic damage, but again, fewer cooldowns available during a fight. Frost spec nerf.

Howling Blast: The gutting of Howling Blast has been somewhat reversed, it’s gone from 5 second cooldown double damage on targets with frost fever to first 5 second cooldown, +50% damage against targets with frost fever, to 10 second cooldown base damage doubled scaling doubled. Not sure how this will effect the ability. Also moved from 31 point talent to 51 point talent.

Unholy

Bone Shield: Cooldown doubled to 2 minutes. Yet again, the “cooldown tanks” have fewer cooldowns available during a fight. Unholy nerf.

So, Blood DKs are getting hit the worst(expected), with Frost and Unholy also getting significantly nerfed with the spec specific nerfs and the general DK tanking nerfs. Now, I understand there are some issues with tanking parity and shield-based tanks falling behind druids and Death Knights. The answer to this problem, however, is not to break Druid and DK tanks so that all of the tanks are subpar for bosses with big, slow hits. Specifically for Death Knights, the tanks with the most Damage Taken Per Second(DTPS) are going to be taking even more damage. I do not envy the struggle healers will be facing healing Death Knight tanks in 3.1.

Oh, and so I can avoid being told that all I’m doing is whining without any kind of suggestions for ways to fix the problem that don’t involve nerfing Druids and DKs to the ground, here we go: Change shields so instead of blocking a set amount, they block a set percentage of damage from a hit. Seems like it would buff a warrior or pally’s capability of dealing with big, slow hits without screwing those of us not using shields.

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Windows Vista Gadget Link

Here’s a link to the windows vista WoW Explorer gadget.

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Update!

Lord, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I really am terrible at the whole blogging thing, apparently.

So, big things are afoot in the RaidedM household…mainly, it is changing locations. I was laid off in November, and we’re moving to BFE, Texas so Sharon can be closer to her family…down the hall closer. We hit the road March 10th, so things have been and will continue to be hectic. Also, we’ll be without ‘net access probably for about a week or so once we get down there. Is there a way to set up an intravenous WoW drip?

On the WoW front, Blood has surprising become a very viable tanking spec. I’ve been main tanking Naxx 10 using this spec, which I’ve been extremely happy with. Sadly it’s getting a slight nerf in 3.1 as of the PTR right now, losing the expertise on Blood Gorged and gaining armor pen. On the upside, it gives some more liberty to not go 51 points deep in Blood, and play around a bit more in the other trees. Once 3.1 lands, I’m considering going with a Blood/Unholy tanking build that uses Death Strike for it’s U/F pair, skipping Annihilation for more toys in Unholy.

Also, in news from the PTR, Frost is taking it in the ass. Not only is Howling Blast getting moved to the 51 point talent, it’s taking a 25% damage cut, nerfing aoe threat generation for frost tanks in a big way, which will push more people into Blood or Unholy for tanking, and push the majority of DK DPSers to Unholy, pretty much killing Frost’s viability. The good news? Unholy is being buffed, so we can expect a nerf to Unholy and a buff to Frost shortly after the patch, if things remain as they are on the PTR.

And why is all of this taking place? Because Blizzard can’t seem to figure out how to make dual wielding a non-viable raid dps spec. Now, granted, the HB/Impurity/Crypt Fever build has been pretty broken for some time. Tossing on some rep blues/mostly greens in 3.0.3 and rocking 1800-2k DPS in heroics was a tad broken. However, there has to be a way to kill the DW specs without gutting Frost tanking in aoe situations. If they’re that determined to nullify dual wield in raiding situations, just remove the ability from DKs and compensate one handed weapons in inventory somehow.

Why do I say Blizzard is trying to remove dual wield viability entirely, rather than just balance it? Let’s look at the facts. Back in beta, Blizzard openly stated that they wanted 2h DPS to be superior to DW DPS. Also, let’s look at the tree. With Howling Blast moved to the 51 point talent, it is no longer possible to obtain it and Impurity, which was the main talent boosting the damage on it so high for DW DKs. You’re also no longer able to pick up desecration, another cut to the HB damage. I believe these changes would have brought DW spec in line with 2H DPS. However, to remove those talents interacting with Howling Blast -and- cut the damage on it by 25%, you’re gutting the ability, yet again making a substandard ability for the 51 point ability in Frost.

As a disclaimer, all of this ranting is regarding PTR patch notes/changes, which are subject to change at any time.

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Death Knight Tanking Spec

So, it’s been way too long since I posted…this seems to be becoming a bit of a trend for me, unfortunately. I’m hoping now that I’ve hit 80 and things have become a bit more relaxed, I’ll have more time(and inspiration!) to post.

Today, I bring you my Death Knight’s tanking spec. Here’s a talent calculator link.

Right now, I’m specced 23/48/0, and quite happy with it. The highlights of the spec are Guile of Gorefiend for the boost to Icebound Fortitude, Acclimation, Frost Aura, and Spell Deflection for caster mitigation, Improved Icy Talons for buffing the party/raid, Howling Blast for aoe tanking, and Unbreakable Armor and Lichborne for the talented oh crap button.

So far I’ve tanked most regular 5 mans with this spec. Frost is far and away the best tanking spec, in my opinion, as the aoe rotation is much cleaner, and the mitigation is much better, at least at lower gear levels. Once I’ve pushed my avoidance higher, I’ll try Unholy again to see how the uptime on Bone Armor is enhanced.

My basic rotations are Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Blood Strike, Blood Strike, Obliterate, Frost Strike, wash rinse repeat for single target. For aoe tanking, the rotation alternates. Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Pestilence, Death and Decay for the first rotation, then Icy Touch, Plague Strike, Pestilence, Howling Blast, Blood Boil for the second rotation, with some RP dumps thrown in the end of each, situationally.

So, that’s my extremely basic Death Knight tanking guide. Hope this helps some of you.

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Horror Story With a Happy Ending

No, not that kind perverts. So, I showed up at Gamestop at about quarter of ten, and was the third person in line. Third! There was much geekery and nerding and I was the oldest person there for the longest time, at the dried up age of 28. After waiting, and chatting, and discussing PvP, and raiding, and all that good stuff, they opened! Hurray!

I walk inside, and give them my phone number for my preorder, and pick up a third copy for a guildmate who’s local that preordered from Circuit City(they gave him a delivery date of Dec 22nd, he cancelled). So, they give me my total, I swipe my card….declined. WTF?! I swipe it again…declined. They run it as credit….declined. Pwned.

So, I ran off to find an ATM, and call Sharon to have her call them and find out how late they’re letting people in, and find out it was happening to everyone. Every card that was swiped was declined. I lost my third spot in line for no good reason! Argh!

However, I found an ATM, scored my copies of Wrath, and am now installing. Happy! Anyone else have horror stories of Wrath day?

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History

With the release of Wrath of the Lich King looming on the horizon(ZOMG ELEVEN HOURS), I find myself looking back over the time I have spent playing World of Warcraft, and quite a lot of it, at that. However, looking back, I honestly can’t say that I am regretful of the majority of my time spent in game. A lot of people like to talk about how WoW players have no lives, are wasting their time on the game, etc.

In looking back, and considering how much time I have spent playing this game, and how much enjoyment I have gotten out of it, and then factor in the cost of the game, it becomes pretty obvious.

And there I go, sidetracking myself. The reason I am writing this post is more in regards to history than cost effective means of entertainment. So, here we go.

Four years ago, seems like forever. I played around in the beta, and bought WoW a month after it came out, since money was too tight right at launch. I rolled a human paladin, and got it up to level 20 before getting frustrated with the playstyle, and slow, slow, slow killing speed. So I went and rolled a dwarf hunter, who was the first character I ever raided on.

January, 2007. At this point, I had a 60 dwarf hunter, 60 night elf male, 60 gnome warlock, and 60 night elf druid. TBC launched, and I stormed through Outlands with my old guild, ransacking demons and fel orcs and naga for the glory of the Alliance. I remember, shortly before I took a long break from playing, attempting Karazhan and Gruul’s, and wiping horribly. This was before we really knew what the gear requirements were like, almost no one had the rep for heroics yet, and we were still trying to figure out how to raid in the days of 10 and 25 mans. Now, I look at my old guild, and they’ve merged with another guild to become one of the bigger progression guilds on the server.

November, 2007. I get back into playing the game, this time dragging Sharon into it with me. At this point, I can definitely say that I have not looked back since. Being able to share the game with someone I love, and being able to level and farm and grind and run raids with someone across the room to vent to, laugh with, and in general enjoy the game with is one of the most rewarding experiences to be found in World of Warcraft, in my opinion.

November 12th, 2008. Here I sit, anxiously awaiting the work day to be over, ready to dive into the latest xpack, at a midnight release no less. Last November, I rerolled Horde because Sharon preferred them. Now I’m rerolling DK because they’re awesome. I’m not going to make this a yearly thing, I swear.

 

As an aside, if any of you five people who read this are going to be at the Arsenal Mall in Watertown, MA for Gamestop’s midnight release, I’ll be the heavyset guy with beard and glasses, black wool coat and black hawaian shirt…screw it, I’ll put up a picture when I get home. Although the black with red highlights Patriot’s hat might be a good distinguisher.

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RaidedM at Midnight

So, if any of you out there are completely psychopathic, and have some strange desire to meet at least half of the dynamic duo here at RaidedM, then you are in luck. I will be at the midnight opening of the GameStop at the Arsenal Mall in Watertown, MA. Sharon would like very much to attend as well, but that would involve trying to find a babysitter to cover from 10pm to 1am, which is…unlikely, at best. More details tomorrow, hopefully.

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