Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Patch 4.3 Discussions on PlusHeal

So, I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here or not, but I'm one of the administrators over at PlusHeal, a forum community for World of Warcraft healers. One of the things I do there on occasion is to compile lists of useful and informative posts, either according to recent timeline or based on a particular topic. Now that Blizzard has officially confirmed that Patch 4.3: Hour of Twilight is being released today, my most recent update is all about 4.3 discussions.

Since the compilation won't go live for a few more hours, I figured I'd give you, dear reader, head start, just in case you want to read up on it right this instant. =P

5-Player Dungeons:
Dragon Soul Raid:
So if you're interested in healing and an amazingly phenomenal forum community, feel free to head on over to PlusHeal and join the conversation.

PlusHeal: Join the conversation

Saturday, November 26, 2011

More Transmo-Gryph-ication!

I finally managed to get all the Valor Point upgrades for my Retribution set yesterday (plus a spiffy new axe), so I decided to celebrate the occasion by putting together my Retribution transmogrification set:

My purples are actually purple!

The entire above set, which is comprised of the Soulforge set plus Verigan's Fist, consists of pieces that can no longer be obtained. For those who like the look but don't already have the necessary gear, don't worry—the upgraded Darkmoon Faire will offer replicas of Soulforge pieces in patch 4.3, and you can seek out a Commanding Mallet to replicate the look of Verigan's Fist.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a reprieve from gastrointestinal bloating. ;)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Preliminary Paladin Ability Changes in Mists of Pandaria

Yesterday, Blizzard released their Official Talent Calculator for Mists of Pandaria, which includes not only the redesigned talent system, but also a list of all class skills and specialization skills. I'll spare you descriptions of all of the talents since you can just go there and look at them, and instead I'm going to go level-by-level through the Paladin abilities (both class and specialization) to outline the various changes I see. Here goes!

Level 1:
  • Armor Skills (Passive) remains relatively unchanged. It just removes the reference to training, since classes will automatically learn abilities rather than having to train them.
  • Weapon Skills (Passive) is unchanged.
  • Crusader Strike deals 176% weapon damage (rather than 135%) and generates a charge of Holy Power [ed. note: it generates a charge presently, but for whatever reason the WoWhead tooltip doesn't show it].
Level 3:
  • Seal of Command: a new single-target damage-dealing seal. "Fills the Paladin with Holy Light, causing direct attacks to deal 26 additional Holy damage." Seal of Righteousness is being moved to level 42 and having the AoE component from the Seals of Command talent built in.
  • Judgement is being moved to level 5.
Level 5:
  • Judgement is being moved here from level 3 and given a 30 yard base range (up from 10 yards) and 6 sec base cooldown (down from 8 sec).
  • Devotion Aura is effectively being removed. There is a new Holy specialization ability with the same name at level 60, but the effect is completely different.
Level 7:
  • Hammer of Justice is being moved here from level 14, but is otherwise unchanged.
  • Holy Light is being changed to a level 32 Holy specialization ability.
Level 9:
  • Word of Glory appears to be having the base cooldown removed for all Paladins.
Level 10:
  • Parry is conspicuously absent. Not sure if it's being removed or if it's just not mentioned in the new talent calculator.
  • (Holy) Holy Shock remains as-is, though the new calculator does not mention the 40 yard range for friendly targets. Not sure if this is an intended change or oversight/tooltip limitation, but I'll assume the latter.
  • (Holy) Walk in the Light remains mostly unchanged, but no longer mentions the cooldown reduction for Word of Glory. Combined with the Word of Glory change from above, it seems the cooldown will simply be removed for everyone.
  • (Holy) Meditation is gone.
  • (Protection) Avenger's Shield is unchanged.
  • (Protection) Touched by the Light gains some new effects. In addition to the current effects, it now "reduces the chance you will be critically hit by melee attacks by 6%" and "increases your mana regeneration by 10%".
  • (Protection) Vengeance seems to be unchanged (though it will probably follow 4.3 mechanics).
  • (Protection) Judgements of the Wise is being moved to level 30.
  • (Retribution) Templar's Verdict appears to require 3 Holy Power to use, and only deals 39% weapon damage (down from 90% with 3 Holy Power currently).
  • (Retribution) Sheath of Light gains some new effects. In addition to the current effects, it now also "increases the damage you deal with two-handed melee weapons by 25%" and "increases your mana regeneration by 10%".
  • (Retribution) Judgements of the Bold is being moved to level 30.
Level 12:
Level 13:
  • Redemption is being moved here from level 12, and is unchanged from the 4.3 version which increases the range to 40 yards (up from 30 yards in 4.2).
Level 14:
Level 15:
Level 16:
Level 18:
  • Divine Shield is being moved here from level 48, but is otherwise unchanged.
  • Exorcism is being changed to a Retribution specialization ability at level 50.
  • Hand of Protection is being moved to level 48.
Level 20:
  • No mention is made of the summon mount abilities for Paladins. Not sure if they're being removed or just not mentioned in the new talent calculator.
  • (Holy) Holy Wrath is being moved here from level 28 and is now a Holy specialization ability. It only costs 8% of base mana (down from 20%), has no cooldown (down from 15 sec cooldown), and no longer stuns demons and undead, but instead "prevents targets from causing critical effects for the next 6 sec."
  • (Protection) Hammer of the Righteous is moved here from the Protection tier 3 talent position. In addition to a damage increase to 39% weapon damage (up from 30%), it now also "reduces [the targets'] physical damage done by 10% for 30 sec."
Level 22:
  • Supplication (Passive): a new passive class ability with an effect similar to the last part of Crusade. "For 15 sec after you kill an enemy that yields experience or honor, your next Flash of Light heals for an additional 300%".
  • Blessing of Kings is being moved to level 32.
Level 24:
Level 26:
  • Seal of Truth is being moved here from level 44. Remains relatively unchanged, but now mentions "direct attacks" instead of "single-target attacks".
  • Retribution Aura is being removed, as are all current Paladin Auras. =(
Level 28:
  • Divine Protection is being moved here from level 30, but is otherwise unchanged.
  • Holy Wrath is being changed to a level 20 Holy specialization ability.
Level 30:
  • (Holy) Judgements of the Pure (Passive) is being moved here from the Holy tier 1 talent position. It no longer increases haste, but retains the 4.3 function of increasing Spirit. It now states "Your Judgement increases your mana regeneration from Spirit while in combat by 30%".
  • (Protection) Judgements of the Wise (Passive) is being moved here from the level 10 Protection specialization. It no longer grants mana, but instead states "Your Judgement hits grant one charge of Holy Power".
  • (Retribution)  Judgements of the Bold (Passive) is being moved here from the level 10 Retribution specialization. It no longer grants mana, but instead states "Your Judgement hits grant one charge of Holy Power and increase the physical damage taken by your target by 4% for 12 sec."
Level 32:
  • (Holy) Holy Light is being moved here from level 7 and is now a Holy specialization ability with a 2.5 sec cast time (down from 3.0 sec).
Level 33:
  • Seal of Insight is being moved here from level 33. The Glyph of Seal of Insight is being built in, so the seal now improves healing by 5% innately. Additionally, the seal now mentions "direct attacks" rather than "single-target attacks".
Level 34:
  • (Holy) Sacred Cleansing (Passive) is being moved here from the Holy tier 4 talent position.
  • (Retribution) Crusader's Zeal (Passive): a new Retribution specialization passive ability. "Your normal melee attacks have a chance to increase the attack speed by 25% for your next 3 melee swings" [ed. note: awkward wording straight from Blizzard—personally I think it should read "increase the attack speed for your next 3 melee swings by 25%"].
Level 36:
Level 38:
  • (Retribution) Divine Storm is being moved here from the Retribution tier 3 talent and is changed into an AoE version of Templar's Verdict. It now requires 3 Holy Power to use rather than 5% base mana, no longer generates Holy Power, no longer heals allies, and has no cooldown (down from 4.5 sec). It now states "An area attack that consumes 3 charges of Holy Power to cause 100% weapon damage to all enemies within 8 yards".
Level 39:
Level 40:
  • Again, no mention of the Paladin summon mount abilities.
  • (Protection) Shield of the Righteous is being moved here from the Protection tier 4 talent position and now requires 3 Holy Power to cast. In addition to dealing damage it "[improves] your block chance by 10% for 5 sec."
  • (Retribution) Hammer of Wrath is being moved here from level 46 and is now a Retribution specialization ability, but is otherwise unchanged.
Level 42:
Level 44:
  • Heart of the Crusader (Passive) is the always-on passive replacement for Crusader Aura.
  • Divine Plea is being changed to a level 46 Holy specialization ability.
  • Seal of Truth is being moved to level 26.
Level 46:
  • Turn Evil is being moved here from level 78, but is relatively unchanged. No longer states "Damage caused may interrupt the effect".
  • (Holy) Divine Plea is being moved here from level 44 and is now a Holy specialization ability, but is otherwise unchanged.
  • (Retribution) Seal of Justice is being moved here from level 64 and is now a Retribution specialization ability. Now properly slows instead of capping movement speed, and states "Fills the Paladin with Holy Light, causing direct attacks to reduce the target's movement speed by 50% for 5 sec and deal 12 additional Holy damage".
Level 48:
Level 50:
  • (Holy) Infusion of Light (Passive) is being moved here from the Holy tier 3 talent and no longer increases Holy Shock critical effect chance, but retains the 4.3 change which includes the option to reduce the cast time of Holy Radiance.
  • (Retribution) Exorcism is being moved here from level 18 and is now a Retribution specialization ability. It no longer costs mana and instead generates a charge of Holy Power, but is not always available and states "Your autoattacks have a 20% chance to activate Exorcism".
Level 52:
Level 54:
  • Rebuke is being moved to level 36.
Level 56:
  • (Holy) Divine Light is being moved here from level 62 and is now a Holy specialization ability with a 2.5 sec cast time (down from 3 sec).
Level 60:
  • (Holy) Devotion Aura is effectively the Holy specialization ability designed to replace the Holy tier 5 talent Aura Mastery and its combinations with Concentration Aura and Resistance Aura, and has no real relation to the current Devotion Aura other than reusing the name. It is an instant cast, 2 min cooldown ability which states "Inspire all party and raid members within 40 yards, granting them immunity to Silence and Interrupt effects and reducing all Fire, Frost, and Shadow damage by 20%. Lasts 6 sec."
  • (Protection) Sanctuary (Passive) [ed. note: yes, it intentionally links to Toughness] is the Protection specialization passive ability version of the Protection tier 2 talent Toughness, and has no real relation to the current Protection tier 3 talent Sanctuary other than reusing the name.
Level 62:
  • Crusader Aura is being removed and replaced by Heart of the Crusader at level 44.
  • Divine Light is being changed to a Holy specialization ability at level 56.
Level 64:
  • Seal of Justice is being changed to a Retribution specialization ability at level 46.
Level 66:
Level 70:
  • (Holy) Light of Dawn is being moved here from the Holy tier 7 talent position and is unchanged from the 4.3 iteration, which heals up to 6 targets (up from 5 in 4.2).
Level 72:
Level 76:
Level 78:
Level 78 80:
  • (Protection) Mastery: Divine Bulwark (Passive) is unchanged  [ed. note: the base block chance is 18%, though for whatever reason the WoWhead tooltip doesn't show it].
  • (Retribution) Mastery: Hand of Light (Passive)  is unchanged  [ed. note: the additional Holy damage is 17%, though for whatever reason the WoWhead tooltip doesn't show it].
Level 81:
  • Blessing of Might moved here from level 56. No longer increases attack power and mana regeneration, but instead increases mastery by 5.
  • (Retribution) Inquisition is being changed to a Retribution specialization ability and as the latter portion of Inquiry of Faith partially baked in so it lasts for 10 sec per charge of Holy Power (up from 4 sec per charge without Inquiry of Faith, but down from 12 sec per charge with Inquiry of Faith).
Level 83:
  • (Holy) Holy Radiance is being changed to a Holy specialization ability that is otherwise unchanged from its 4.3 incarnation.
Level 85:
Level 87:
  • Blinding Light: a new short-duration crowd control ability that costs 20% of base mana and is instant cast with a 3 min cooldown. "Emits a dazzling light in all directions, blinding enemies within 10 yards, causing them to wander disoriented for 6 sec."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Sand-Filled Vial

Today, this happened:

Wait...did I just drink a vial filled with sand?!

It took me ages to gather up the necessary materials, but thanks to some very good deals on flasks on the Auction House and my relentless determination to annoy all my transmute-capable friends, I managed to obtain a Vial of the Sands. Since I know no one who is willing to be recruited into World of Warcraft for the purposes of getting me an X-53 Touring Rocket, this was my only real option for a passenger-carrying flying mount. Now, I just need to find a passenger to carry around. =P

Do not anger me, for I have plenty of BBQ sauce!

Friday, November 18, 2011

On PvE Scenarios

I was sorting through some of the news from this past BlizzCon and I was reminded of an upcoming Mists of Pandaria feature that I had completely forgot about: PvE Scenarios. These scenarios will essentially be smaller, lighter versions of PvE dungeons, and without the physical dungeon aspect (i.e. in an instanced open world environment). They're supposed to be similar to the various group quests found throughout World of Warcraft, but repeatable and with Valor Points as a reward.

Personally, I've been waiting for something like this since PvP Battlegrounds were introduced back in patch 1.5 way back in 2005. Back then, I was replaying my way through WarCraft 3: Reign of Chaos and I ran into chapter 2 of the Orc campaign which entailed escorting a caravan of kodos through the Barrens and defending them from centaur and harpy attacks. While playing it, I found myself thinking, 'Hey, a quest like this would be awesome to have in WoW!'

Now there's a chance that such a scenario will be made into reality, and I think that's just flat-out awesome. I really hope Blizzard takes the time to flex their storytelling muscle with the feature, because it seems like an excellent opportunity to push the Alliance/Horde conflict in a PvE setting, as well as reintroduce some of the minor characters that we haven't seen for a while, such as Gryan Stoutmantle.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Well, That Sucks

I wish this post could be about how my raid group took down Ragnaros and now we're good and ready to see the Dragon Soul raid of patch 4.3. Unfortunately, we didn't. We managed to get into phase 3 again, but things just didn't pan out.

As it stands, I'm not sure what the plans our for my raid group and Firelands once patch 4.3 finally launches. It's possible that we'll bring back a second day per week for raiding old content, but I get the feeling that the other members of the raid are ready to move on and not look back.

I think the most frustrating thing about this situation is that I am probably the reason why we didn't manage to defeat Ragnaros, since I'm the one who was bringing up changes in strategy and other tactical adjustments over the course of the night. Maybe if we'd just stuck with the same plan and tried to slowly and steadily push further into the fight, we'd have been better off. All I know is that unless Blizzard decides to hold off on releasing patch 4.3 until several weeks after Thanksgiving, we've pretty much officially failed at taking down the end boss of current content while that content was still relevant, and that's something that irks me endlessly.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On the Rivalry of Mastery and Beacon

Holy Paladins have traditionally been known through World of Warcraft's history for being the healing class with the smallest healing toolkit. Over time and expansions, our tools have grown more numerous and eventually Blizzard standardized healing abilities to some degree in Cataclysm, but generally speaking our toolkit has rarely had an excess of abilities that performed the same basic task. The current Holy Paladin mastery—Illuminated Healing—and one of the tree's defining activated abilities—Beacon of Light—seem to me to be the new exception.

As things currently stand, both Illuminated Healing and Beacon of Light are two tools that essentially share the same primary function: to act as a health buffer for tank healing. However, the two act in such conflicting ways that they feel like rivals competing for a single job rather than two distinct utility abilities that each have their place in our toolbox. The way Beacon of Light is designed makes it less appealing, even with Tower of Radiance, to cast directly on the buffed tank unless absolutely necessary, but the Illuminated Healing mastery makes it more appealing to cast directly on the tank and thereby bypass Beacon of Light's whole purpose. Since both Beacon of Light and Illuminated Healing are wasted on targets that are not consistently taking damage, the only time the two effectively work together are when multiple tanks are taking damage simultaneously and for prolonged periods of time, which only happens in raids, and even then not on every fight.

The problem is made worse by the rules governing the Holy Radiance ability in patch 4.3. Even though the ability is being redesigned as an active heal rather than a passive one, it still won't be allowed to transfer through Beacon of Light, unlike our other AoE healing ability, Light of Dawn, and our other primary Holy Power generator, Holy Shock. However, it will be allowed to benefit from the Illuminated Healing mastery, which makes it feel like it should be used on or near tanks in order to not risk making the tank's health less stable.

I hope Blizzard doesn't leave the situation as-is, especially as design moves forward for the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion. To some degree, it feels to me that if the two abilities can't (or won't) be made to play nicely with each other, then either one should be altered to fit a more distinct role or the two should be rolled into a single ability.

Monday, November 14, 2011


This is the gear set I plan to use for my main once 4.3 finally launches. It doesn't quite match 100%, but it's close enough that I think it looks decent:

For Great Justice!

The items are:
The 5 items of the Paladin tier 4 Justicar set:

Here's a closeup of the shield, because the above image does not do it justice (har har!):


Friday, November 11, 2011

On Ragnaros and the Raid Finder

The raid group I run with is currently 6/7 in Firelands (normal). This means that of the 7 total bosses, we've only managed to kill 6 of them. The final boss, Ragnaros the Firelord, continues to elude defeat, and this annoys me to no end. One of the reasons we haven't downed him yet is time: we only raid 3.5 hours on one day per week, not factoring in the 15-20 minute break we take midway through the raid. Compared to many other raids, this is a pittance, but overall it's an understandable reason to be stuck on the final boss—people have other things to do and one of the accepted truths in the TRI family of raids is that real life is more important than the game.

The other reason is that the Ragnaros fight is a complex one, and small losses eventually cascade into bigger problems later on. Eventually, this can be overcome through practice, but given our limited time investment, our progress is slow. Part of this can be helped with things like addons, but not everyone uses or wants to use addons, and considering that I refused to use addons throughout raiding in WoW prior to the Burning Crusade expansion, I have no room to criticize. Still, the limited progression is frustrating to no end for me.

This, I think, is why I'm looking forward to the Raid Finder so much. Perhaps it will be a way for me to get my fill of progression without becoming increasingly and irrationally frustrated with my regular raid group. Perhaps it will allow me to get more practice on various boss mechanics so I'll be less likely to screw things up when time is of the essence. Perhaps it will expose me to new strategies so I can step forward with actual, concrete suggestions for improvement instead of just "this doesn't seem to be working".

I wonder, if at some level, I'm just drawn to the potential promise of the Raid Finder more so than its pragmatic realities. I still haven't had a chance to experience it first-hand yet, so it's quite possible. Maybe it will come out and I'll just be left with a sense of disappointment, or maybe it will allow for everything in the above paragraph and me a better, happier player. The mystery is exciting. I hope the wait is worth it. =)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Blizzard to Discontinue Java-Based Mobile Authenticator

In case you haven't heard yet, Blizzard has announced that they are planning on discontinuing the Java-based version of their Mobile Authenticator. Before you start panicking, though, know that the version that's being discontinued is for older cell phones, not current smartphones.

If you're still using an older phone and want to buy the $1 version of the Java-based Mobile Authenticator, be sure to go to the Blizzard Mobile site before December 13th. The app will continue to function, but will no longer be available for download. After December 13th, you'll either have to get the physical Battle.net Authenticator, or you'll have to have a smartphone to download the Mobile Authenticator via your smartphone's market app.

Also, the various ringtones and cell phone wallpapers on the Blizzard Mobile site will also be removed on that same day, but before you go scrounging up the change to buy them, note that Blizzard's blog post also mentions that they're looking to bring them back as free downloads in the future.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On 11/9/11's Class Q&A

Blizzard had a live Class Q&A event this morning where the class designers Celestalon, Ghostcrawler, Koraa, Watcher, Wradyx, and Xelnath all participated to answer questions about World of Warcraft classes in real time. Unfortunately, they provided absolutely no answers for Holy Paladins, which makes me a sad panda.

Now, I can understand why they provided no answers. Earlier, Zarhym (@talkingcongas) posted the following tweet showing some of the statistics for the event:

Some #WoWCiL perspective stats: 1 hr 39 min live. 2 hosts. 6 devs. 4 mods. Over 130,000 readers. Over 10,000 comments/questions submitted.

In comparison, the class designers were only able to answer about 108 questions, so there was only about a 1 in 100 chance for any given question to be answered. Still, though, absolutely no answers for Holy Paladins is a real disappointment.

That said, I did participate in the event by submitting my own question. If you're curious what I asked, here's my submission:

Rumor has it that the upcoming Mistweaver spec of the Monk class will be a healer that stands in melee range of the boss while healing. Is there any truth to this, or is the rumor unfounded? If true, and if the heal-from-melee paradigm works out, has there been any thought to giving the plate-wearing, shield-bearing Holy Paladin a similar treatment?

Since I know not all Paladins are interested in a heal-from-melee playstyle, I'm not at all surprised that my question went unanswered. Still, I hope the more dynamic Monk playstyle works out and is successful enough for Blizzard to adapt it towards the Holy Paladin. It still annoys me that our healing plate may as well be cloth and our shield slot may as well be filled with an off-hand frill item for all the use they get in raiding.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On Patch 4.3's Holy Radiance Change

I'm not quite sure I like the upcoming change to Holy Radiance. The fact of the matter is that the current incarnation of Holy Radiance feels like it satisfies the potential that Paladin auras always had, but haven't truly been able to fill as always-on, free-to-cast abilities. Blizzard can't really make auras any stronger than they already are due to balancing issues, but Holy Radiance worked nicely as a short-term, mana-expensive buff that could bridge the gap between aura and non-aura.

Personally, I would have preferred that Light of Dawn have been made the chain-castable, mana-using AoE heal while Holy Radiance were powered up and turned into our AoE Holy Power spender. One of the benefits for this (in my mind, at least, since I'm sure there are plenty of Paladin healers who would disagree with me) would be to emphasize the idea of using the play area of the screen to heal rather than the UI. It's always kinda bugged me that tanks get to play with bosses, damage dealers get to play with the environment, but healers have to play with the UI rather than the friendly characters/positioning. There's already enough whack-a-gnoll with the single-target heals, so I feel as if AoE healing should take a different approach.

Monday, November 7, 2011

On Item Squish

On Friday, Blizzard posted a Dev Watercooler post by Ghostcrawler about troubles they're running into with exponentially increasing item levels. If you haven't read it yet, I highly suggest you at least give it a once-over, because the various figures work to explain the problem really well. As a quick summary, the core issue is that item levels are increasing exponentially compared to character levels, and Blizzard is not quite sure how to deal with it. On one extreme, Blizzard could leave things as-is and figure out a better way to communicate and compute large numbers, while on the other extreme they could squish item levels back down to a more manageable level, but risk alienating the playerbase with the perception of a very major nerf. If Blizzard does nothing about item levels, then it needs a better way to communicate the numbers we'll be seeing on our screen (after all, it's somewhat hard to tell the difference between 100000 and 1000000 at a quick glance). If Blizzard does squish item levels back to into line with pre-expansion content, then players will suddenly feel like they've been nerfed extremely hard because their abilities that were doing thousands or tens of thousands of points of healing or damage will be brought back down to doing hundreds of points of healing or damage instead, which could be potentially disheartening even if all of the other numbers (such as target health) were brought down the same way.

Personally, my solution would be to set up a slow squish system. It would be a significantly larger undertaking up front, but it would allow for item squish to happen without making players feel like they were nerfed into oblivion. Essentially, how it would work is that Blizzard would set a hard upper limit for item levels, and set things up so that whenever tier of items would normally be introduced above that limit, those items would instead be introduced at that limit and nearly everything else would be squished a little downward instead. For example, if the upper limit were set to item level 500 and a gear tear would normally add 10 item levels above that, instead of coming out with a new tier of gear at item level 510, the current and previous tiers of gear would be squashed down to item level 490 and below and the new tier would be introduced at item level 500.

What this does is that it essentially splits one massive nerf into dozens of tiny nerfs that are far less jarring. Damage and healing numbers wouldn't suddenly jump down from the thousands into the hundreds, but instead would effectively cap out and slip down slightly (and temporarily) every time a new tier of gear was introduced, and slightly more for each new expansion. Item levels for any given tier would eventually slip down to where they would have been if Blizzard had followed a more linear methodology, and that would act as a floor so that the numbers eventually settle where Blizzard wants them to be. At some point, the exponential curve will flatten out and the hard cap can be done away with.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, this would require significantly more work right off the bat than either of the solutions Blizzard has used to highlight the problem. For one, all items would have to be made able to scale downward so that Blizzard can squish them repeatedly until they reach the desired item level. Secondly, it would mean tweaking the numbers for every raid boss every patch, or possibly linking boss numbers to expected item level numbers so that the bosses scale down naturally. Ultimately, it would probably be a very complex solution to program and implement without taking up massive amounts of developer time, but I also think it's a more elegant solution than the two Blizzard has shown publicly.

That said, I doubt the two solutions Blizzard has shown are the only options they have up their sleeves. I think it will be interesting to see how Blizzard decides to deal with the problem as Mists of Pandaria inches closer to release.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy 3rd Birthday, The Lion Guard

Happy 3rd Birthday, blog. I was hoping I'd be able to give you the gift of a Ragnaros kill, but alas, things didn't work out last night. We had a bunch of great attempts, though, and made it farther than we'd ever gone before. But, close doesn't cut it, so there's always next week, or the week after. =)

Blizzard did, however, come out with a new Dev Watercooler - The Great Item Squish (or Not) of Pandaria blog, which I'm sure will be excellent blog fodder for the near future, so there's that. =P

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Why I Stopped Blogging

Sometimes, when I think about this blog, I feel like I owe the 3 people who may actually check it on occasion an explanation as to why I simply haven't been around here, even though I've been as active as ever on Twitter and PlusHeal. Part of the answer is personal and has to do with real life, and I'm not going to get into it here, because, quite frankly, I don' wanna *stomp stomp* *pout pout* so there! =P

The other part of it about how World of Warcraft has changed these past few years. There are, at the very core, two reasons why I play World of Warcraft—the story and the raiding. The storytelling in Cataclysm has been leaps and bounds better than its predecessors, and I have to give major kudos to Dave Kosak for that. Having major lore characters actually going out into the world and doing things is fun to watch, and getting to help them do those things is a joy to experience. Getting to see the plot unfold first-hand is amazing, and my only real problem with it is that the factional divide locks me out of experiencing some very key moments in Alliance lore unless I play a Horde character (such as the full story of Gilneas). Unfortunately, the storytelling does not make for a particularly blog-worthy experience unless I decide to take things in a more RP-centric direction, such as Flinthammer Hall or Travels through Azeroth and Outland, because everyone who is interested in the story can simply log into the game and experience it for themselves.

As such, most of my blogging desire is a result of the raiding aspect of the game—an aspect which I've been equal parts frustrated and content with for since Cataclysm launched. It's not so much with how Blizzard is handling raids (although I'm saddened that Blizzard's 10/25 raid lockout changes have essentially wrecked my old raid group), but rather the inescapable feeling that I'll eventually have to move on from my raiding group of the past 6-7 years if I'm ever to find the style of raiding I'm looking for. The fact of the matter it that, among other things, 10-mans are just not my thing. The days of Upper Blackrock Spire and running Karazhan weekly alongside the 25-man raids during the Burning Crusade have firmly implanted into my head the idea that 10-mans are supplemental large dungeon groups rather than raids proper, and it's an idea I just can't shake no matter how hard I try. Hopefully, though, the introduction of the Raid Finder feature in patch 4.3 will allow me to experience the best of both worlds—raiding with people I know and have a vested interest in seeing succeed, without feeling locked out of running larger, more epic raids.

All in all, between the upcoming storylines and upgraded game systems, I'm becoming more and more excited about the next big patch by the day, and that excitement is the reason why I'm trying to get back into blogging—I finally feel like I have something to say again.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Horde Favoritism in Theramore's Future?

Warning: This posts contains spoilers for the upcoming Mists of Pandaria pre-launch in-game event. Normally, I wouldn't even talk about this since it comes from datamined/unreleased sources, but I'm going to take the fact that Blizzard has taken the time to respond to the posts (including explicitly stating what happens in the events I'm referring to) publicly on their official forums as a sign that they don't mind public discussion about this. If you would like to read the threads and the official responses, you can find the first thread here and the second one here. Click the little Blizz icons to be taken to the first (or next) Blizzard post.

The posts linked above reveal an interesting plot point for the upcoming Mists of Pandaria pre-launch in-game event: the Horde under Garrosh Hellscream's leadership attacks and destroys the port city of Theramore. After the many losses suffered by the Alliance in Cataclysm (relatively speaking, compared to losses suffered by the Horde), some Alliance players are taking the razing of Theramore to be a sign that Blizzard is outright favoring the Horde to be the ultimate victor of World of Warcraft.

I disagree. The fact of the matter is that the Horde instigating an escalated conflict with the Alliance is the only way forward that makes sense. Both the Alliance and the Horde have suffered huge losses over the course of recent WarCraft history, especially in Cataclysm, and as such, both factions are trying to consolidate their power and rejuvenate their resources. It just so happens that the way these two factions go about this is in diametrically opposing manners that cut to the very heart of what it means to be Alliance or Horde.

The Alliance would most likely undertake this consolidation by renewing and reinforcing the ties between its varying races, as well as seeking someone to champion the cause of the faction as a whole, such as happened during the Second War with Anduin Lothar (and later Turalyon). During BlizzCon, Blizzard revealed that a major quest plot point for Alliance players in the future will be to act as a squire for King Varian Wrynn as he undertakes herculean tasks for the other Alliance leaders in order to be worthy of becoming said champion. Indeed, in addition to this quest chain, steps towards closer diplomatic ties between the Alliance leaders are already being taken as Prince Anduin Wrynn has been sent to study the ways of the Holy Light under the tutelage of the Draenei, who had until then been about as far from the center of Alliance political power as possible.

The Horde, on the other hand, is in the worst shape it has ever been in. The new WarChief, Garrosh Hellscream, is despised by most of the other Horde racial leaders. Cairne is dead by Garrosh's hand and Magatha Grimtotem's treachery, Sylvannas misses no opportunity to show her contempt for Garrosh, Vol'jin has been exiled and trusts Garrosh so little that he even sent emissaries to Stormwind City to ask for aid in the wake of the Zandalari resurgence, Trade Master Gallywix is certainly using the Horde for his own ends, and who knows what Lor'themar Theron is up to. The most obvious and orcish solution? Pick a fight with the Alliance to force Horde leaders to unite under the WarChief's banner.

Additionally, some posters in the above-linked threads are complaining that the next step they fear Blizzard may take after Theramore's destruction would be another Alliance loss with no consequence for the Horde. Personally, I don't think that's very likely because the lore itself does not bear that out. When we look at why the Alliance hasn't retaliated against Horde aggression thus far, two primary reasons come immediately to mind: 1)there were urgent matters at hand with significantly higher stakes; and 2)two powerfully influential proponents of peace were in perfect position to mitigate an Alliance military response.

The Theramore incident takes place after Deathwing's death, in the lead-up to the Mists of Pandaria expansion—an expansion in which Blizzard emphasized that there were not going to be any overarching doomsday plots that would suppress the conflict between the Alliance and the Horde. Even if we were to completely ignore Blizzard's emphasis on factional conflict, the fact that there is no imminent threat from the Burning Legion or Lich King or Old God-controlled dragon aspect putting all of Azeroth in jeopardy means that point number 1 above ceases to be. In other words, the Alliance can stop focusing on whether or not there will even be a tomorrow and start focusing on what kind of tomorrow they wish to live in—and chances are said tomorrow will not include a unified Horde threatening their stability at every turn.

As for the second point, the two characters preventing the military might of the Alliance from turning to face the Horde were Prince Anduin Wrynn and Lady Jaina Proudmore. As mentioned earlier, Prince Anduin is off studying in the Exodar, conveniently out of the way and unable to talk his father out of war. Lady Jaina Proudmore, on the other hand, is caught right at the epicenter of the conflict. Something tells me that this time she's not going to advocate for peace after the Horde levels her city.

All in all, I'm excited, because if WarCraft past is any predictor of the WarCraft future, the Alliance is about to show the Horde exactly why you don't rouse a sleeping lion from its slumber. I can't wait. >=)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Oh November

November is National Novel Writing Month. No, I'm not writing a novel, but I figure I may as well take this month as another attempt to revive this blog and get some actual posts done. For the most part, I haven't been writing due to some circumstances in real life seem less and less likely to change by the month, so I figure now's probably going to be a good a time as any.

Anyway, I have a fully written new post lined up for tomorrow, as well as some post ideas rattling around in my head for the upcoming week. Let's see how this goes. =)