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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Gamer Girls

Who cares if you’re a female or a male, right? It’s a moot topic nowadays when so many girls play that we just go unnoticed. It’s actually a topic I never really think about anymore, until I happened across this post on Big Bear Butt Blogger .

Now, I’m not a “serious gamer” and I never have been and most likely won’t be. I have dug into WoW with a serious enthusiasm, sometimes bothering Malfean to play more than he’d like to. I don’t know if it’s the game itself or a Pandora’s box it unlocked in me, but I really have embraced it. Prior to WoW, though, I didn’t play video games, but I did play an online version of the tabletop games of White Wolf. Vampire: the Masquerade, Werewolf: the Apocolypse, Mage: the Ascension. You name that dorky stuff, I did it. It was chat-based, with Storytellers to hold the reigns and game mechanics mostly followed through. It also had its share of skeezbags always on the lookout for a girl playing the game and ready to glom onto her with all of their greasy “charm”. It was annoying, yes, when all you wanted to do was play the game and all they wanted to do was get into your virtual-panties, but you also got used to it and became adept at turning them away. (We won’t mention that this game is how I met Malfean. His charm, thankfully, isn’t all that greasy.)

Understandably, then, when Malfean wanted me to try WoW out for the first time, I was apprehensive. He had jokingly told me that being a girl in the game could be profitable and that didn’t really allay my fears any. Once the game got hold of me, though, the thought came and went. I didn’t notice any real problems with boys or men pestering me, except for the somewhat annoying, though easily ignored, comment regarding my real-life gender behind my character. What do I care if they think I’m sporting extra jiggly bits?

I think, too, that I got really, really lucky in my guild. My guild has a large number of female players, usually wives or girlfriends of the male players, but some aren’t. Some are just single girls that like the game and like that our guild offers a very female-friendly area to play it in. Sometimes I think the estrogen in Vent actually gets too thick for the male players and you can hear them making choking noises as they starve for testosterone fueled conversation. Of course, it takes a special kind of woman to enjoy gaming and our ladies hold their own, dishing out scathing or ribald commentary when they feel the need and taking it themselves with aplomb. I have never felt uncomfortable or nervous around our players in Vent and, in fact, am probably one of the most talkative people on during raids.

Getting back to the BBBB topic at hand, I don’t know if the gamer girls (women! but that’s not as cutely alliterative) that came before me blazed a trail to open up the gaming world to women so that they could be free of male harrassment, or if things have remained entirely unchanged and I am just one lucky woman. Obviously this particular blog bears no title stating the gender of either author, or even alluding to our relationship status, but one of us is a woman and, I dare to assert, a gamer and I find the topic intriguing. I would be interested to hear about other women and their experiences. Are they still having problems with their male counterparts in gaming that would indicate that I, and those that claim gender is moot, are simply lucky or has the tide has turned?

Also, on a side note, being a girl in WoW totally didn’t turn out to be profitable. But I think that has something to do with my lack of willingness to strip naked and dance. The only time the rest of the players see me strip naked is when I’m preparing to do a death-jump of some kind. And then there’s just not much time to throw money at me. Darnit.

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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’ve Got the No Wrath Blues

So, I’m hungrily devouring all of this cool Wrath info floating around the WoW blogs lately, and as I’m reading all of it, behind the excitement, behind the lust for secret, unattainable knowledge from the beta, something is gnawing at me. I am missing out.

Now, it’s not a getting to play Wrath before it comes out thing. I mean, that would be totally cool and I’d love it, but that’s really not what it’s about. It’s just a game, and it’s still in beta, so things are still changing and I wouldn’t necessarily be getting a taste of what it will be like on that magical November morning(post coming on that topic soon). It’s not even that I’d be able to stick my toes in the DK water and decide if I really want to play one when the expansion goes live.

It’s the scoop. I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out on awesome blogging material. I see all of these posts with hot little tidbits of Wrath info, and think “Damn, if only I could have been there.” Now, don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t begrudge those who’ve gotten into the beta. It’s awesome that you have gotten this awesome chance. However, I can’t help but feel a bit like one of those people who didn’t get in to the hot new club, standing around in the velvet ropes hoping.

I think part of it is that I’m currently struggling to find my voice, and, to be perfectly honest, I seem to be running out of things to say. My posting has been sadly infrequent, and it has nothing to do with lack fo desire. It has to do with lack of anything I could think of to post about. Maybe it’s all just sour grapes, I dunno. Anyone else feeling this way?

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If I Could Have A Class Flying Mount…

This is a response to the Blog Azeroth shared topic posted by Rakhman. Check it out here.

Well, my main is a druid, so I’ve already got a cool as hell flying mount that’s all mine and you can’t have it! Actually, to be perfectly honest, the function of swift flight form is pretty awesome, but the form…meh. Particularly for tauren, we’re an ugly brown bird with some armor. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome to have our own special flying mount type, but I’m not really enamored of it. Warlock epic land mounts and Blood Elf pally epic land mounts are a bajillion times cooler than swift flight form, though. Sadly, I can’t think of anything particularly cooler. So I will be looking at this from the POV of my latest alt, the shaman.

Shaman are masters of the elements, sage elders and wild warriors who channel the powers and spirits of the raw elements. So, it would be only fitting for the shaman to call upon the spirits of air to carry him through use of the spell Windwalking. I envision two possible graphical effects for this. One would be swirling gusts of air whirling around the feet of the shaman as he ran around if the air. The other, possibly cooler one, would be like the whirlwind proc, having the shaman tearing across the sky as a whirling cyclone.

I’ve also, in the past, had a warlock, and I definitely think they should get their own flying mounts. A winged dreadsteed would be pretty cool, but you know what would be even cooler? Saddling up one of those massive tentacled beholders and riding it all over creation, raining beams of death, decay and destruction down upon all of the unwitting peons below! Muahaha! …er. Sorry, I’m better now.

And one last idea. This isn’t so much a class-specific flying mount as another profession flying mount. Blacksmithing. Zeppelin. That is all.

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XXXP

So, I had been going to write a brief post about how playing a shaman was really, really fun, but it got me to thinking about one of the best benefits of the whole triple XP deal. Yes, it enables leveling alts really, really fast(dinged 40 tonight with 28 hours played), and being able to grant levels is cool, and the summon thing is great for handling going to train and such.

Where it really shines, however, is in letting you get a feel for how a class that you’re unfamiliar with actually plays. All classes take some time to develop into their own. Enhancement shaman really blossom at level 30, same goes for warriors. Hunters completely change their playstyle at 10, and blossom at 20ish. The whole triple xp deal lets you get there really fast, and get a solid idea of whether or not you want to continue leveling the character without putting in a solid amount of time getting over the hump, so to speak. And, in my opinion, that’s just full of win.

Now for the shameless self-promotion of how awesome the leveling is going. As I said, dinged 40 tonight and picked up Dual Wield. Oh. My. God. I am a critting, dpsing, whirlwinding beast, and I love it. It’s extraordinarily fun, even moreso, I would say, than a DW warrior. Obligatory screenshots!

/played at 30

This is a quick screenshot of my /played right after hitting level 30 in Thousand Needles

And here's us showing of our newly purchased raptors. Sharon picked violet because it matches her hair.

And here's us showing of our newly purchased raptors. Sharon picked violet because it matches her hair.

And here we have the screenshot of my /played a little bit after hitting 40. Also, you can see my awesome dual wielding bad assedness. It's a word now.

And here we have the screenshot of my /played a little bit after hitting 40. Also, you can see my awesome dual wielding bad assedness. It's a word now.

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Triple Size Me

So, as Sharon mentioned yesterday, we went ahead and got a third account to take advantage of the crazy triple xp bonus, among other things. We’ve played around with it a few days now(did it the day it came out, Wednesday), so I figured I would talk about what I think about it, so far.

It’s somewhat hard to tell who this incentive program is aimed at. I find it a little hard to believe that it is actually aimed at bringing in new players. There are some interesting issues that occur when leveling that fast that I think could actually cause some problems for brand new players to the game. As has been mentioned elsewhere, hunters who are gaining the triple xp bonus do not pass on triple xp to their pets, so keeping a pet leveled up with you would be nigh on impossible, and about the only recourse for this would be to abandon and tame a new pet every few levels.

Also, you outlevel gear extremely fast, and with the crazy leveling pace, at least so far, you actually end up skipping a lot of quests, missing out on gear upgrades. So far, my shaman and her warrior are now level 23, at around 11 hours played, and that includes a bit of screwing around with tradeskills. We hit level 8 before leaving the Valley of Trials, and did all of Sen’jin village and two, maybe three quests in Razor Hill before leaving Durotar. A handful of quests in the Barrens, perhaps 10, and we’ve now moved on to Hillsbrad Fields. Did a couple of quests in Hillsbrad, and that’s where we really noticed how badly our gear had fallen behind. Her warrior was not even remotely able to hold aggro with me using any kind of weapon buff, even without shocks, and my flametongue weapon buff was hitting damn near as hard as my weapon was. We actually came really close to dying a bunch of times, and she did die once(I got mind controlled by one of the jailors and started healing him). So, right before logging, we actually hit the AH and bought up a bunch of greens to kit ourselves out in. Played aorund with them for about ten minutes, and it really did make a big difference.

The problem with this scenario is that a brand new player isn’t going to have the cash to set themselves up in AH greens every 10-15 levels or so, especially if they’re blazing through the levels and not getting as many drops or as much cash from quests/kills. In theory, the Recruiter will be able to hook them up to some extent, but depending on the server economy and just how much cash the recruiter has kicking around, that could get pretty damn expensive, especially when characters make the jump to plate/mail. This is one of the main reasons it seems to me like it is aimed at multi-boxers and people in the market for a second account. That’s actually what happened to us, I was considering getting another account to have more room for alts and bankers, and the new incentive program sold me on it.

Another issue I see with the incentive program being directed at brand new players is, part of the leveling process is learning how to play your toon. You get time to learn how abilities work and what they do, before you are forced to dive in with 4/9/24 other people and show them how well(or how little) you know your class. Now, it is true that things change significantly from 60 to 70, and that you do a large amount of learning how to play your character at 70. However, you learn the basics from 1-60, and the faster you burn through those levels, the less you learn, and this is especially true when you are new to the game and not only have to learn the basics of your class, but also the basics of the game mechanics.

The tools you get are pretty cool, and fun. It makes it much easier for me to be able to level my shaman in Eastern Kingdoms, since I can just hearth over to Orgrimmar, train, and then have her summon me back, as long as I don’t need to go back and trian again within an hour(believe it or not, this could actually be an issue, at least until 30). Also, being able to grant free levels is just awesome. She has a low level pally kicking around, and the plan is for me to grant levels to it to give it a pretty solid boost, then she can start with a really nice headstart in getting it up to 70. Plus, Sharon is pretty stoked about getting a Zhevra. I would have liked to have been able to get one, but it just worked out better for us to have the secondary account going into my name and having me play it(what with me being 100% out of alt spots).

So, all in all I would say that this incentive program is great for existing players who want to expand to a second/third/thirtieth account that have a partner they could play with, and people who are looking to multi-box that have not gotten set up with it yet, however for new players, while making the leveling process quite a lot faster, I don’t think that it creates a good atmosphere in which to learn how to play the game, and creates issues such as the gearing and pet issues that could be potentially very frustrating.

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We Bought the Hype

Have you seen it yet? Simply Recruit-A-Friend and you get all sorts of lovely bonuses. A free new mount! Triple XP! Free levels! Come on, you know you want to. The siren’s song of triple experience is too seductive to pass up. It’s obviously Blizzard’s attempt to encourage people to, if not do exactly what we did, then get anyone and everyone involved in WoW before their big expansion. Mmm, that $15 a month must be like mother’s milk, dripping in from all over the world.

I consider myself WoW-addicted, but I wasn’t sure how badly until I saw that advertisement and actually woke Malfean up to pester him to start a third account so that we could take advantage of the deal. It also doesn’t hurt that we’ve lost a few tanks and heals from the guild lately, so it just seems like a great way to quickly level up both. Plus, I get to try my hand at tanking while Malfean heals!

If the levels go fast enough, we likely will do another pair with him tanking and me healing so that we have one of each on my account and the spare account. Honestly, the levels are going so quickly that it feels like cheating. We actually dinged our first level off of the very first “go see” quest and made 16 levels in four hours yesterday. It’s crazy. Crazy awesome.

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Festival Dumplings

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of The Bronze Kettle, but these people are GENIUS! Malfean found the site, I’m not sure how, and decided he had to try their recipe for Festival Dumplings and, oh…my…word. They were SO GOOD. Even my son loved them and chowed down with gusto. I wasn’t too keen on them at first, because steamed dumplings are gooey and gross to me, but we fried them like the option in the recipe says and they were delicious.

Our Festival Dumplings

Our Festival Dumplings

Next I want to try their Spicy Hot Talbuk. Heck, I eat it enough in game. I want to try the real deal!

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The Promised Explanation

So, basically, due to a falling out with our webhost, we became temporarily unavailable, and since I didn’t have the foresight to do regular content backups, I thought all of our content was gone. Luckily, my own giant ego drove me to subscribe to our blog in my google reader(also to see when Sharon posts) and, thankfully, I had all of our posts during the period we self-hosted cached, so I was able to save that. The comments, sadly, are dead. But we’re back! Hopefully won’t be any more snafus, and as soon as this post is published I’m backing our stuff up.

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