DKing It Up

So, I have decided what I will be doing when Wrath launches. That’s right, I’m going to be main-switching to a Death Knight, and grinding towards 80. Over the next few days, I hope to get some posts up regarding my EJ research on Death Knights, and my general impressions of the class. Until then, an idea of what my prospective Unholy leveling builds look like.

58 http://wotlk.wowhead.com/?talent=jZZfMMfxfkxcq0c0bL

63 http://wotlk.wowhead.com/?talent=jZZfMMfxfkxcq0cchx

I’m not 100% on leveling as Unholy, I may actually level as Blood. I need to play around with it a bit more, and see how Unholy solos(there’s been a lot of builds since I played around with Unholy, and I’m much more familiar with Blood soloing).

Also, I’m a tad late for my first post of NaBloPoMo, but I’m gonna count it anyway, since I haven’t been to bed yet. It totally counts!

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On Warhammer and Distractions…

So, it’s been quite a while since I last posted, and there have been a couple major contributing factors to this.

One, I gave Warhammer a whirl. It was pretty cool for PvP, and having read over the highlights from Blizzcon, I’m happy to see that Blizz will be incorporating some of the features into WoW, notably queueing for battlegrounds anywhere. Unfortunately, Warhammer’s PvE was sorely lacking, and a game whose only major merits are PvP-based can’t hold my attention for very long.

Two, must…level…alts. Trying desperately to get alts up to 70 before the xpack hits. I should easily have my shaman up to 70 by the time xpack hits, and my mage should be well along the way. This makes me happy. Options are always a good thing, although I very likely will be rolling a Death Knight on launch day. I’m about 90% on that. Which leads me to thing the third…

Beta! Got into the beta a while back, and really enjoyed messing around with stuff. Actually spent very little time on my druid(never even hit 71), however I did tank a bit of Naxx on a premade druid, and that was fun. Most of what I did, however, was play around with DKs. I wanted to get a good feel for how the class plays, and decide whether or not I would play one, and where in the roster it would go. I am sorely tempted to make my Death Knight my new main, and make it the first thing I do on launch day. They’re extremely fun, with quite a few cool abilities.

So, the main reason I’m making this post is to break the radio silence. I plan on posting in the next day or so regarding Death Knights, so if you’re interested but don’t have access yet, I’ll be breaking down some of the cooler/more fun abilities and aspects of being a former servant of the Lich King.

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Buff/Debuff Changes

So, there’s been a pretty huge post on the beta forums that I would like to address. Here’s a link to the original, as I’ll be cutting it up and only including the stuff I’m commenting on. I highly recommend checking it out.

There are thirty or so different categories buffs and debuffs fit into, and I will list each category and which spells/talents are in that category.

Armor Debuff (Major): Acid Spit (exotic Hunter pet), Expose Armor, Sunder Armor
Armor Debuff (Minor): Faerie Fire, Sting (Hunter pet), Curse of Recklessness
Physical Vulnerability Debuff: Blood Frenzy, (2nd Talent Spec TBA)
Melee Haste Buff: Improved Icy Talons, Windfury Totem
Melee Critical Strike Chance Buff: Leader of the Pack, Rampage
Attack Power Buff (Flat Add): Battle Shout, Blessing of Might
Attack Power Buff (Multiplier): Abomination’s Might, Trueshot Aura, Unleashed Rage
Ranged Attack Power Buff: Hunter’s Mark (only Hunters benefit, so no need to exclude against other class abilities)
Bleed Damage Increase Debuff: Mangle, Trauma
Spell Haste Buff: Wrath of Air Totem
Spell Critical Strike Chance Buff: Moonkin Aura, Elemental Oath
Spell Critical Strike Chance Debuff: Improved Scorch, Winter’s Chill
Increased Spell Damage Taken Debuff: Ebon Plaguebringer, Earth and Moon, Curse of the Elements
Increased Spell Power Buff: Focus Magic, Improved Divine Spirit, Flametongue Totem, Totem of Wrath, Demonic Pact
Increased Spell Hit Chance Taken Debuff: Improved Faerie Fire, Misery
Percentage Haste Increase (All Types): Improved Moonkin Aura, Swift Retribution
Percentage Damage Increase: Ferocious Inspiration, Sanctified Retribution
Critical Strike Chance Taken Debuff (All types): Heart of the Crusader, Totem of Wrath
Melee Attack Speed Slow Debuff: Icy Touch, Infected Wounds, Judgements of the Just, Thunderclap
Melee Hit Chance Reduction Debuff: Insect Swarm, Scorpid Sting
Healing Debuff: Wound Poison, Aimed Shot, Mortal Strike, Furious Attacks
Attack Power Debuff: Demoralizing Roar, Curse of Weakness, Demoralizing Shout
Stat Multiplier Buff: Blessing of Kings
Stat Add Buff: Mark of the Wild
Agility and Strength Buff: Strength of Earth Totem, Horn of Winter
Stamina Buff: Power Word: Fortitude
Health Buff: Commanding Shout, Blood Pact
Intellect Buff: Arcane Intellect, Fel Intelligence
Spirit Buff: Divine Spirit, Fel Intelligence
Damage Reduction Percentage Buff: Grace, Blessing of Sanctuary
Percentage Increase Healing Received Buff: Tree of Life, Improved Devotion Aura
Armor Increase Percentage Buff: Inspiration, Ancestral Healing
Cast Speed Slow: Curse of Tongues, Slow, Mind-numbing Poison.

In each category, you can only benefit from the most powerful spell granting that effect. For example, Fel Intelligence grants Spirit and Intellect, both weaker than Arcane Intellect and Divine Spirit. If a player has Fel Intelligence and receives a stronger Arcane Intellect buff, he will gain the intellect value from Arcane Intellect and the Spirit value from Fel Intelligence.

In most cases, fully-talented players will have exactly equal power on the strength of these buffs and debuffs. Fel Intelligence is an example of where one ability is weaker than others. The buffs in the “Increased Spell Power Buff” category are also not all the same potency, as they scale in grow in radically different ways. In virtually every other case, however, the buffs are equal. This means, for example, that fully-talented Battle Shout and Blessing of Might now grant the exact same amount of Attack Power.

So, in effect, buffs and debuffs are being normalized across the board, to create parity between them, so that one class isn’t being brought to raids because their debuff is better than another class’ similar debuff. I see this as definitely being a good thing. My guild right now is in the awkward position of being a bit too big for it’s britches, but not big enough to move up a size. We can field 10 man raids no problem, and in fact usually have more people that want to go than we can bring, by a fair number. Unfortunately, we don’t really have the consistent numbers to steadily run two 10 man groups a week. So, most times I try to roster a Kara run on our popular on nights, we end up leaving 3-5 people sitting on the bench. Now, because of how our guild is(a casual guild that raids, not a casual raiding guild), we don’t bring people based on class beyond the bare minimums required for roles. Two tanks, 2-3 healers, rest dps. We’ve had nights with 3 hunters in Kara, and nights with zero priests(aka Heroic Moroes mode). What these changes bring to the plate for me is, I can continue rostering based on who hasn’t had a chance to go lately and things of that nature, and not take as big a hit in the performance department, at least as far as the view from game design is concerned.
It also makes it a bit easier rostering raids in general, and lessens the need to be a walking encyclopedia of the raid performance and quirks and whatnot of every single class in the game for a raid leader, and lets us get back to the more simple x tanks, x healers, x melee, x ranged formula. Easier to roster the raid, less time spent worrying about/balancing buffs/debuffs, more time raiding, less time yanking your own hair out. This change is full of win.

 

 

In addition to this change, we also needed to address the “mana battery” roles in a raid. The mana regeneration effect they grant is no longer limited to their own party, and it no longer depends on the amount of damage they deal. Each time they trigger the mana regeneration effect, 10 people in their raid group will receive a buff which causes them to regenerate 0.5% of their maximum mana each second. This buff, Replenishment, will be given preferentially to raid members with the lowest mana, but will re-evaluate which raid members receive it each time it is fired. Replenishment is provided by Shadow Priests, Survival Hunters, and Retribution Paladins.

This, on the other hand, has a lot less win. Now, granted, it’s better than it was, affecting 10 people instead of 5, however being mana efficient is now going to be penalized. If you have a solid casting rotation and have done the research to understand how to be mana efficient, you will most likely be passed over by the game mechanics to feed mana to people who recklessly burn through their mana pool with no thought given to mana efficiency. This change promotes mana inefficiency, because the more inefficient you are, the more likely you are to receive replenishment.

All in all, I have to say, I like the direction that the Blizzard dev team is taking the game in. I think the new philosophies of making raiding more accessible to smaller guilds, and creating parity between the classes both in the buff/debuff department as well as the tanking and healing departments is going to be great for the game. Some people, I’m sure, will complain that the classes are being diluted, that everyone is being given the same abilities and playing a druid tank will be just like playing a warrior tank will be just like playing a DK tank. To this, I say bullshit. It’s very much possible to level the playing field without putting everyone on the same team. From everything I have read, the classes will retain their unique flavors, however they’ll be given tools suited to their flavor to get the job done. I can’t wait.

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Release of the Cash King

I’ve been giving some thought to Wrath lately, and when it will be coming out, and I’m fairly certain we will see Wrath come out shortly before Thanksgiving. I have a couple reasons supporting that theory, and I’m gonna lay them out below.

Black Friday. Biggest retail day of the year. I really, honestly can’t see Blizzivision missing out on the opportunity to have Wrath on the shelves for Black Friday. It’s like a license to print money, and with all the fervor over Wrath, it’s like a license to print really, really large bills. Anyone have change for a million?

We’ve also already seen a press release(or whatever it was) that said Wrath was coming in Q4 2008. Now, a lot of people have said that Blizzard gave us a November date for TBC and blew it, and that is patently false. A placeholder date of November 3rd was posted on gamestop.com, and many people took this to mean that that date was the announced release date for the expansion. Blizzard never announced a date prior to the March date, and purposefully played their cards close on that. It’s how Blizzard rolls. However, now what we have is a date not given to players, but given to investors. That’s srs bzns right there. When you give a period like that to your fanbase, it’s fluid. When you give it to your investors, especially in the middle of the sort of merger that is going on with Vivendi and Activision, you might as well have had your hand on the bible, because disappointing the fanbase builds greater anticipation, disappointing the investors builds loss of capital.

Recruit-A-Friend. This new program debuted on August 6th, 2008. The triple XP period lasts for 90 days, taking us up to around November 6th, 2008. That’s 90 days of people furiously leveling alts while they have their triple xp burning. That’s 90 days of people focused on the game without having to raid, depending on far fewer people than you would be if you were doing 25 mans. That’s 90 days of time bought to help prevent unsubscriptions. That’s 90 days of stall.

So, yeah, I definitely think we’ll be seeing Wrath at some point in mid to late November. It’s where the money is, and the money rarely lies. Thoughts? Counterpoints?

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I Can’t Believe I Drank the Whole Thing

So, there’s been quite a bit of hullabaloo in the past couple days regarding Potion Sickness. Personally, I see this as, all in all, a good thing. Am I a little disappointed that I won’t be able to use these as a cash cow with my alchemist? A little. But in general, I think it’s a move in a good direction.

As it is right now, I think encounters are balanced and abilities function with the idea that chain-chugging potions is possible, and that, moving forward, such will not be the case. This is definitely a good thing for the casual player such as myself. I won’t need to farm them, or farm the mats to make them, which is more time I can spend doing things that are fun instead of farming. Now, don’t get me wrong. I definitely feel there should be some farming involved in the game. It’s the nature of the beast, and gives those with the time to dedicate to the game a way to get a leg up. However, I dislike the idea of that leg up being what content is designed around.

Right now, to get myself raid-ready involves around 100-150g in mats/consumables, assuming I don’t farm for them, and probably around two hours of farming(sadly, I can’t farm all the mats I need yet, as my hunter alchemist isn’t quite 64 yet). I think around one hour is much more reasonable, especially considering that farming is outside of just doing dailies to pull in gold to pay for the stuff I can’t farm. An hour less that I have to spend farming is another hour I can spend running a five man, leveling an alt, or doing one of myriad other things that is more fun, and less boring.

Also, on a vaguely related tangent, Alchemical Blood looks pretty freaking awesome. The 40% increase from the Alchemist’s Stone on health and mana potions seems a little lackluster, considering it takes 5 primal mights to make the non-upgraded version. I definitely think it becoming a passive skill for all alchemists that also affects elixirs and flasks is ten pounds of win in a nine pound bag, and will allow alchemy to become a solid raiding crafting skill, instead of mainly just being a cash cow.

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