Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer is Hard

I've written about the value of short naps before, or short breaks from the game. Memorial Day weekend was one such opportunity for a well-designed micro-break. Fuu and I traveled all the way to Ansted, West Virgina, meeting up with several friends in a cabin and having a time of it. Ever year around this time, we try to hole ourselves up with our besties somewhere and enjoy a bit of nature, board games, and drinking. Typically, due to our various locations in the world, the geographical center plops us somewhere in West Virgina. The mountain area is beautiful, so it works.

In any case, this is an unplugged (though even most cabins seem to have wi-fi nowadays) and refreshing weekend that we wouldn't give up for the world.  If only they could figure out RL porting, as neither Fuu nor I care much for the 7 hour drive.  Being cooped up in a vehicle is always just about as fun as you think.

I have to travel again this coming weekend (on Friday), but I'm going to try and pre-write some fiction so that I don't get into the habit of skipping.  Summer is hard.  Which brings me to point two (if there ever was a first point): take it easy on your guilds right now.  We're officially in Summersville (ironically, we visited Summersville Lake in WV).  That means that people aren't going to be around as much.  It's natural.  In fact, I daresay it's healthy.

Also, take it easy on your bloggers.  We shall endeavor to continue to offer the fine (or not so fine) content that we're known for, but there will likely be somewhat less of it.  Rejoice, for this means we are likely out there experiencing more and refilling out creative reserves to come back better, faster, and stronger word-wise than before.  For instance, I now have about seventeen different ways to describe clusters of foliage on the side of a mountain (None better than my observation that, if it weren't for the colors, I wouldn't be able to tell where the forest ends and the clouds begin up there.  I mean, isn't that pretty?  D'awww.  Fuu always looks at me like I'm special: "Yeah, it's pretty f-in cool.  Watch the felling road.  You're making me sick.")  Also, I have a great mental image (and digital as soon as I get around to emptying my phone) of the largest single arch span in the Western Hemisphere.  The fact that I kept wanting to yell "RELEASE THE RIVER" probably speaks a bit to my inventive state of mind as well.  I mean, doesn't everyone look at such a structure and think "I wonder what happens if a bunch Ents were to destroy a giant dam upriver from this and a huge wall of water were rushing downward to my position?" 

So, yeah, this is my service announcement that Summer is officially here and so be nice and all that junk.  Not like, be nice in game.  No, go on corrupting and cackling there.  Just don't bludgeon the poor writers/guildmates who are coming out of their winter caves, squinting at the sun, and thinking: "Gee, I'll bet it would really suck to be a bear emerging from hibernation on Tatooine, what with having two suns and all."  That, and they're probably hungover.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Annealed Raiding

On Tuesday, I post a quick response to the blue announcement about the 4.2 nerfage.  At the time, I had just skimmed and was musing about how the details would shape up.  Since then, it seems like a lot of e-words have been written about the subject, both for and against the change.  I guess I didn't realize it was going to be a hot topic.

Since it apparently is, I wanted to go a little more in depth about my feelings.

First of all, I guess I wanted to point out that there are several changes coming that are effectively nerfing raid content.  The blogosphere seems mostly focus on the 20% boss nerf, which is only one small part.  This is a very important fact when one begins to debate development strategies.  Blizzard is not simply pursuing one avenue de nerfage, they seem to be pulling out all the stops.

One could argue that a small effective nerf already happened with the release of the Zx instances and the change from daily to weekly Valor Point rewards.  Together, these improve the average level of gear across the board.  I was all for that routing.  In fact, I am still for it as proposed in 4.2.  Make no mistake, gear levels will rise as a result of the release of T12 gear, and the availability of T11 gear gets shifted down for us.  Such a change was expected, I think, all along, and is most welcome.

So far, in Cataclysm, I like how they've done gearing.  The stat changes seem well thought out.  The speed with which you gear up from greens, to blues, to purples is actually distinct and meaningful.  Sometimes it might seem a bit slow, but I'll trade speed for satisfaction any day of the week (to a certain reasonable extent). 

I would even go so far as to argue that we've got a good, healthy spread of guilds progressing through content.  The bleeding edge might find itself a bit bored, and those of us that have struggled with time concerns feel a bit rushed, but you can't please everyone.  The approach so far seems pretty fair to me.

The issue I take with the proposed changes for 4.2 is that it seems like they're trying to fix something that isn't broken.  Yes, I'm talking specifically about the 20% nerf that feels like it was simply tossed in on top of the pre-existing flow strategies.  And I have to ask: Why the rush? 

The articles I've read that have been "for" this 20% nerf seem to revolve around the common theme of "raid tourism."  That is, they seem to think it's a smart decision for Blizzard to encourage everyone to burn through "outdated" content as fast as possible.  Why linger?  The new hotness is here!  (Get it? Firelands.  New Hotness.  HA.)  Yet, to me, it seems like they're needlessly taking a strategy that is already working (namely: a successfully paced gear progression path) and throwing more on top of it.  In addition, they're completely ignoring the lessons learned in Wrath (namely: the success of the ICC stacking buff).

I guess, at the end of the day, I simply don't agree with forcibly nerfing all of the previous raid content for everyone.  Especially when there exists such a simple, proven alternative.  Granted, maybe some bosses need a slight tweak to an ability or two, that'd be fine, but an across the board nerf?  Why not turn that into an across the board, de-clickable buff.  What's the difference?  What am I missing here?  Let each raid group choose.  Furthermore, why start at 20%?  Speaking from a casual raid group that generally brings up the rear in terms of staying in when we down bosses, the ICC buff added an extra element of fun and challenge to that raid. 

It was great.  It was like every two weeks there was another push to "get this guy down before the buff increases."  It gave us natural, mini-meta goals to shoot for.  It helped us parse out the long raid.  And 5% always seemed like just enough to get us over that next hump.  We'd down a few more bosses, hit the next progression wall, and struggle to try to Beat the Buff.  It was awesome, made even moreso by our success at finishing the content prior to the expansion (just barely).

We also used to click off the buff on "farm" nights.  I know that sounds crazy, but by the time you were near the end of ICC, you so overgeared the first wing that it was a joke.  It provided another fun mini-goal to try bosses without the buff as you gained the grace of gear.  

Why are we throwing this idea to the Gilneans?  If they wanted to be at 20% now, why not start with 5% increments two months ago?  Why not let the nerf be a choice in the form of a buff?  Isn't that a lot closer to "pleasing everyone" than forcing an unneeded change down our throats? 

In response to the raiding tourist crowd, there have to be better ways to accomplish the goal of seeing the content than this.  The buff is one idea.  Simple gearing should help.  It's like we're killing a fly with a sledgehammer here.  I like the old squishy nerf bats, not this new Fel on your Face version.  And I see a good many people out there that agree with me. 

At the end of the day, I just don't get it.  Hopefully, this is just PTR shenanigans that won't make it live like this.  Stranger things have been known to happen.  It's also not the end of the world if it does go live, it will just sort of cheapen the experience we've fought tooth and nail to create.  You'll still find us in Firelands, one way or the other, we just might be a little grouchier and untempered this way. 

And trust me, you don't want to subject untempered metal to extreme pressure.  (Then again, maybe that's why they went solely with the fire theme).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

International Planking Day

Today is, apparently, the day when we are supposed to mimic this. That is all. /plank.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I read this over at WoW Insider from Nethaera:

"With the upcoming content patch, 10- and 25-person Normal mode raid encounters will be receiving a comprehensive set of tuning adjustments to decrease their difficulty.

These changes will allow players, groups, and guilds who have yet to experience the content in Blackwing Descent, Bastion of Twilight, and Throne of the the Four Winds an opportunity to do so.

With the addition of a new tier of armor and weapons, we want to make the previous tier more accessible in ways other than just a shift of currency type, so we are making item level 359 gear purchasable for Justice points in the upcoming content patch."

I wonder how they'll be tuned. Decreases in health? Removable of abilities? It is my hope that they do this how they did ICC: with an un-clickable buff. We would likely use the buff, but I think it's good to have the option.

Also, I believe that last paragraph means that we'll be able to purchase that other tier pieces that were, until 4.2, merely drops. It took me a couple times through to glean that message. That's good stuff, too.

Like I said, I'm ready for 4.2, and I like this idea of retro-tuning to keep groups like mine moving. It should also help a bit with the usual summer slowdown. Hopefully they don't take forever to release the patch.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Done with Four One?

The honeymoon was sweet while it lasted, but I think I'm already back into a holding pattern waiting for new content.  I've run Zx enough that they're "just another heroic."  Don't get me wrong, I could still cash in on a ZA timed run or gather some more maelstrom crystals for the big enchants down the road, but, to me, that's sort of like "topping it off."  Those are the random things I'll knock out in the meantime.

Overall, I liked 4.1.  When we were on the TNB roundtable, I said that I wanted to reserve my judgement until later, so as to see when they drop 4.2.  I'm going to go on record now and urge a 4.2 drop in the next month.  If I'm sitting at my keyboard at the end of June and 4.2 hasn't dropped, I'm going to be a little peeved.  With the information already flowing, I have high hopes.  My point here is just that 4.1 didn't have a whole lot to do, but they assured us that they were going to follow a more aggressive release strategy.  Let's see that put into practice, Blizz.  4.1 is pretty much cashed at this point for a lot of people I think.

One of the big things I'm waiting on is a PvP incrementation.  Even before the 4.1 "speed up" of honor gains, I was pretty much PvP geared.  Now, I have every piece "Bloodthirsty" and all that remains is to try in vain to save up Conquest Points for the occasional epic.  That's another "topping off" activity in my eyes.  I'd like to be able to epic out my PvP toon now with PvP gear. 

That, and I'd like my TNB suggestion to come to fruition: Make the daily random PvP reward weekly just the same as the PvE stuff.  That'd help ease my Conquest woes, and I don't see why it can't be done. 

As for raid gear/content, I'm okay with waiting a bit for that.  Our group is making slow but steady progress.  I'm actually not one of the ones itching for the new raid content, but I wouldn't mind the gear boost.  Still, I think 4.1 did a great job of helping some of the more casual among us of filling our gear out with epics.  I've gotten a lot of upgrades in the past several weeks.  I actually have a good number of Best In Slot items, which is something I could never say before.  I've really enjoyed the gearing path in Cataclysm.  It has felt well tuned for PvE. 

Still, I'm done with Baradin's Hold.  Exalted with everyone (including Gilneas), and pretty heroic'ed out.  The guild challenges have helped push us to do some, but really they've also pushed us to do regulars on other toons.  To check out some alts and stuff.  So I'd say that's a positive and unexpected side effect.  It makes "alt runs" feel a lot more rewarding.  Still, I'm ready for a new set of dailies.  (I actually don't mind dailies).  I'd also like to see some of the BH token rewards get offered for gold.  Or maybe you could just buy tokens.  They can be hella expensive, that's fine, I just want another option besides doing those same quests for the billionth time.  I mean grinding them to exalted and then getting your one or two pieces... that's fine.  That's the purpose of dailies.  But I what about some of the nice, fun items?  They're so expensive and I'm sitting on a stock pile of gold simply from doing those dailies.  I'm not a AH player.  I'm not a gold hoarder.  But it would be nice to be able to cash some of that in for tokens.  You could even put a daily limit on that if you wanted, I don't care.

Anyway, those are just some of my ideas for the future.  Looking back is only good insofar as you use it to learn.  Mostly, 4.1 was fun and well done.  I'm ready for more fun and well done, even if it's not raid content.  Is it weird that I'd like to just have more "major" patching, quicker, but not necessarily with added raids?  I feel like they've done a great job of making the "rest" of the game fun again, and I'd just like more of that.  I'm okay with regurgitated five mans.  Hell, it could be fun if they all had a heroic, top level option, released in pairs monthly or something.  (It'd only be worth it if it were quick and didn't preclude the eventual release of true new stuff).

Until 4.2 drops, I'll be topping off my toons.  Valentis, my Worgen Druid might get some love.  Also, I'll dip back into the addictive timesink of Civ V.  My goal is to "beat" the game by winning on all difficulty levels.  I'm one away from that (only have Immortal left). 

What did you find you desire in 4.1?  Are you ready for 4.2?  Do you "top off?"  This inquiring mind wants to know.

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's Always a Warlocky Prank

Fulguralis cracked open the metal top on the large cauldron and peeked inside. Rummaging around a bit, his hand came back clutched around a flask of green liquid. He turned and held it up, flashing a cheesy smile at a very upset Dwarf.

"It's for your own felling good," Jessabelle growled.

The Warlock popped the stopper out of the flask and examined the contents. He'd forgotten again and the Flask Schnotzy had caught him. The angry little Dwarf spun away in a whorl of priestly robes and stalked away from him. No doubt she was going over to berate the Mage about forgetting to choke down some Sagefishhead or something.

"She's right, you know," his wife chimed in. "If you'd done your raid-prep like a good Warlock, it probably would have made that defense system a whole lot easier."

"Aha! There it was again." Fulguralis held up a finger. "Good. Warlock. See anything wrong there?"

Green flame shot from the Warlock's fingers. A nearby critter was reduced to a pile of ash. Fulgurlais cackled to the crackle.

Fuubaar rolled her eyes. "You're sooo evil, I forgot. Glad you could handle such a worthy foe. What would I ever do without you?"

Fulguralis glowered. "Shut up. It's not like we didn't manhandle those overgrown buckets of bolts in the other room."

"It was an automated defense system. And don't forget the giant, flaming worm."

"Yes, of course, big bloody worm. Dead."

"Fire, not blood."

"Right. Still, we put 'em both down easily," Fulguralis noted.

"But it would have been even easier had you taken the time to prep," Fuubaar countered.

Fulguralis shrugged.

Fuubaar shot him a sly smile. "I think you're just pissed 'cause you forgot. This isn't some sort of Warlocky prank. You're just getting oooold."

"Shut up," Fulguralis said.

Fuubaar stuck out her tongue.

"C'mon guys," Jessabelle yelled. "Let's focus and finish Maloriak off. He's about to throw another one of his colored vials into that cauldron of his."

"Man," Fulguralis said. "Everyone's an alchemist."

Fuubaar gave a dramatic yawn and then clanked off to hack at the overgrown Imp. Fulguralis tossed back his own flask, draining the green liquid in one, long gulp. He flipped the empty container over he shoulder. It shattered with a satisfying crash, and then the Warlock trotted off to join the rest of the team.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Point of Style

This is what our tier gear should look like, IMHO:

Yeah, it's a little dark, but that's how I roll.

(In other news, I could do without the WWE Title Belt.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Stat I Would Like To See

Sometimes good things really do happen to good people, and I'll be the first to admit that I'm not always able to "just be happy for them." I think that being happy for someone else in the face of your own struggles is quite the acquired talent. I do strive to be that way, but I don't always achieve that.

To be fair, I was being mostly facetious, and also I know Big Bear Butt to be a good guy and a good player. That he has, admittedly, gotten fortunate with a good group to see a majority of the content is not really something that bothers me. It's actually a great thing. The Bear has contributed a lot to the Community and set a good example for a lot of bloggers (me included). If someone is going to write about getting carried, I'm glad it's him.

I just wish it wasn't on a damned Hunter. That's what I'm saying here. Only a Mage would be worse. Then, I read that he was on his Warlock alt when all this started to go down, and I felt a small bit better.

But my point is just that my sort of mini-rant last week wasn't about Bear in particular. I felt like the feeling I experienced was something that is pretty common in this game of ours, and really highlights the importance of intrinsic motivation. It's one thing to feel an initial sense of jealousy at the fortunes of someone else. I daresay that a bit of that is simply human. It's quite another if I had gone off the deep and end decried the game "too easy" or thrown in my raiding towel because someone else didn't have to walk uphill in the snow both ways to get where I got. Instead, I tried to turn in my human nature into something silly and fun (at least that's what I was shooting for, I may have erred, as humans are wont to do).

I have chosen to raid only once a week for two hours. I have chosen to stick with my group of people and learn to succeed with them. To me, raiding is a team sport. Winning has a lot more of an emotional reward when you do it with people you care about (not that winning a random pick-up game isn't fun as well). With my decisions come certain limitations. I understand and accept that.

One of the stats I would like to see is "wipes/hours per kill." Maybe it exists out there somewhere, but I imagine it would be hard to measure. What I'm talking about though, is a measure of the perceived effort a group has to put in to succeed. However, if we could figure out a way to do this, I think they should start using such a stat to rank the "top guilds."

(Aside: Even as I write this, I can think of about a million ways to "game" such a system. Likely, it would take someone more clever than I to come up with an accurate and consistent way of implementing such a measure. Fortunately, life has proven that I'm nowhere near the most clever person alive... so I can still hope.)

I know, there is something "fun" about the whole race to be first. I'm not looking down on that, I promise. Kudos to those folks. I'm just not able to even begin to participate in that because of my chosen lifestyle. (Note: I'm not making a judgement here of "better" or "worse," just different). To me, the true measure of the skill of a group is really how quickly they adapt to a new fight. How many tries does it take them to learn. This, perhaps, hinges on my belief that lessons in this game of WoW are hard-fought. That's where my motivation comes from. I know that when my group eventually succeeds, we've fought tooth and nail to learn it our way, and that has value to me. Nothing about that depends on what anyone else is doing. My motivation is intrinsic to our group.

I really wanted to highlight that difference. Someone else achieving something takes away nothing from my own achievements. What the Bear says, then, is true:
What it proved to me is that skill and coordination and talent all play the largest roles… even to the point of a very good 9 person team being able to deal with a horrible noob and still come out on top. At least, as long as that noob ain’t a tank. Or a healer. Or one of the people needed for CC.
I would argue that those other nine have earned it. I'm sure they've spent the "hours per wipe" needed to know those fights, to earn the proper gear. Skill has a lot to do with that, but even skill isn't as simple as a "gift of the Naaru." Skill is something we fight for as well.

To a certain extent, even Bear earned it, though he claims otherwise. There's a saying escaping me about surrounding yourself with good people, like a President with a stellar Cabinet. In life, we are both supported and hindered by those we choose to surround ourselves with. In Bear's case, he's formed relationships with these good players enough that they want him along (presumably because they have confidence that at the very least he'll stay out of their way and can take directions, but maybe also because they suspect he could bring a bit more than the average Bearhunter in terms of skill or just plain likeability). Forming solid, trusting relationships is something we fight for also. That's the part of the second M in this online genre.

I've gotten lucky recently too. Our group has had a really difficult time getting our team back off the ground. One of the problems inherent to any casual raiding group is the RL boss, and our hours per wipe on that one are way, way up this year. I feel extremely fortunate that we've gotten as far as we have, with the hurdles we've faced. We're lucky that Blizzard is putting just enough "welfare epics" in the game still that a group like ours can sort of "keep up." And I'm also lucky that I've found 9 other people that share my goals and desired pace of play in-game to be able to do what we do for years now.

I think there's one thing Bear and I both agree on as far as this "race" goes: There is something epic about setting your own goals and then working to make them happen, whatever those goals may be.

Even though he and I are doing the same encounters, we're not really on the same course. Sometimes that's hard for a cranky human Warlock to see right away, but there's another saying about forests and trees. And also, I'm not a Druid.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fresh Off The Boat

"The good Captain seems to be getting along with the Major just fine," Harrison mutters darkly to Carl. "Keep their drinks topped off, Carl. I don't want any problems tonight."

"Will do, sir," the head waiter replies.

Harrison slides the package from underneath the bar and tucks it inside of his of his jacket. Drink in hand, he exits the bar area and lets his eyes sweep the establishment. Every table is full. Every guest has a drink. More importantly, no eyes are on him. Usually, such a night would please the proprietor. Tonight however, something feels off. It could have to do with the orphaned package Harrison finds himself stuck with, but that alone is not enough to cause the smooth man unease. He's been in far more precarious predicaments before. There's just... something.

"I'll be in the back," Harrison notes. "I have something to take care of. Keep eye on things for me, would you, Carl?"

"Certainly sir."

Carl loads up his tray with drinks as Harrison strides away. Weaving his way among the tables, the waiter exchanges full glasses for empties. He is halfway through the room when a dazzling couple enters.

Unsurprisingly, they are not regulars. Harrison's club is infamous for attracting individuals that are just passing through. Carl sizes them up in an instant. The man, tall with dark skin and matching hair, appears to be looking for someone. While he certainly cuts an imposing figure, he does not radiate Gilnean, though Carl is fairly certain that that is where the man's origins lie. A waiter is sensitive to such things. Carl glances nervously back at Major Strasser, but the Goblin hasn't appeared to take notice yet. There is no love lost between their two races.

The woman, on the other hand, has already begun to capture eyes. Male heads turn as neighbors are nudged. Lustrous dark hair cascades luxuriously over bare shoulders and burning blue eyes compliment pale, delicate features. Though both her and her date are finely clothed, it is the woman's dress that shines, catching every bit of the dim light in the club and reflecting it back with unbridled bravado. Together, they appear the very part of a wealthy foreign couple on holiday.

"We have two free seats at our table."

The voice at Carl's shoulder is Captain Renault. The head waiter turns with a smile to find the policeman with a full glass in his hand and a fake smile on his face. The waiter raises a questioning eyebrow.

"The Major has requested they be seated with us," Renault adds through his teeth. He then drains his drink in one long swallow.

Carl senses the man's displeasure, yet the smile remains glued in place. "Another drink, sir?"

In reply, Renault helps himself to one from the tray. With a nod and a second glass for his companion, the Captain heads back to his table. Though most of the eyes have returned to their own tables and conversations, Carl notes there is one set still on the couple in the doorway: Major Strasser's.

Carl weaves back though the tables and sets his tray on the end of the bar. Wiping his hands on a nearby towel, he turns and strides quickly toward the door. The two newcomers had just been starting to make for a few empty seats near the back. He intercepts them a few steps from the door.

"Please. If you would be so kind as to follow me. The two men at the front request the pleasure of your company. Shall I escort you to them?" Part of Carl hopes they choose to dine alone, for Harrison's sake.

The man's green eyes find the Captain and Major. One side of his mouth dips almost imperceptibly, quickly replaced by a suave smile. "Well, I've been looking left, right, and center for that man also," he says, the Gilnean accent heavy on his voice. As well as sarcasm. "After you, then."

So much for that, Carl thinks, but only voices, "Right this way."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Demonology 4.1 Update

I went ahead and did a quick skim/update of my Demonology Primer. This one was a bit quicker to do than my Affliction side since it's more basic. Also, I don't think there were any major changes to Demonology that would affect rotation and the like. You still should be trying to do the same basic things.

The biggest change is that the Felguard should be the pet of choice now. For a while, the Succy was beating the big guy in a pure DPS race, but I don't believe that to be the case with 4.1. I glyphed Lash of Pain before, and now I swapped that back to Felguard as noted in the primer.

Additionally, I made the same swap I did in my Affliction guides for stats where I rely primarily on Ask Mr. Robot. You can pop the stat values given there into Pawn and still make use of the addon for something in game, but I've had nothing but great results using the resource. I don't see a reason to try and do things the hard way when there's a reliable tool available. The major difference between Affliction and Demonology stat priorities is that Mastery is given a slightly higher rating than Crit (in Affliction they're the same weight). Otherwise, the hierarchy looks pretty similar, though the specific contributions (scalars) vary a bit.

Anyways, if you've been running Demo, give it a look. Let me know if there's anything I messed up. I haven't had the chance to run this spec all that much in Wrath (what with the de-emphasis on AoE and all), but I wanted to keep up with the tree changes and keep offering the primer. The Demo spec can be a whole lot of fun, and can really help you get in touch with your inner Warlock. These days, I'm primarily using it for the odd quest/daily.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

OmNomNom... itron.

I have to admit, I was a bit jealous of the Bear earlier in the week. I mean, some of us have been toiling away for months over here, and he strolls in all casual like and passes us up in progression in just one day! Also, to add insult to injury, he did it on his hunter.

Fortunately, we downed Omni last night for the first time as well, knotting the score, as it were. Not that there's any sort of race going on, just... he hasn't raided in forever. He usually doesn't even write about raiding. And he then steps in. And on a hunter. And. Just. Blech.

Having now experienced it successfully as well, I feel I'm properly prepped to critique his strategy guide. (Okay, it's not a strat guide, I'm just being a little flippant here. Bear with me. HA... get it?)

So, today I proudly present the Campbell's Condensed Soup Version of Big Bear Butt's Bearwall Strategy for the Omnitron Defense System Fight And Stuff.

(The author of this post acknowledges that all trademarks are used without permission and completely without endorsement. Except for Omnitron. They gave their permission. I swear).

Here's the strat:

1. Avoid bad shit.
2. Stand in the circle that looks like Rainbow Road and sing Dreamweaver. And by sing I mean DPS more.
3. /flail
3.5. Switch Targets
4. Avoid bad shit.
5. Run away. Just run away.
5.5. Switch Targets
6. Who's interrupting the.... oh, nvm.
6.25. Switch Targets
8. Avoid bad shit.
9.1. Switch Targets.
9.2. Don't stand in th-Switch Targets.
9.3. Avoid th- Switch Targets.
9.4 Switch Tagets
10. Swi- Nope, they're dead.
11. Yes. All of them.
12. We're sure. You can breathe now.
13. ???
14. Win sweet fiery hood and become a real Warlock. (Thanks Blasty).


Monday, May 9, 2011

4.1 Aff'lock Guide Updates

All right. I've done the research and updated my Affliction guides for 4.1. The following represents a brief summary of the changes. You should fine the updated pages over on the left side. If you find something I screwed up, please let me know either here or over on the proper page.

My spec is staying the same, though I did clean up the writing a bit. I don't see any reason to change it right now as I believe I'm going with the "agreed" optimal Affliction Spec (for non-drainers).

So first, let's revisit the rotation and glyphs. One of the key things that changed in 4.1 for us is that Bane of Doom has become a superior single target spell. The downside is that it doesn't work as well with Soul Swap. Plus, I'd been running with a glyph for Bane of Agony (and talent improvements). Still, BoD should be better in pure single target fights. Thus, I've updated the guide to say the following:

If you find yourself going with BoD more often, you may want to swap this [Glyph of Bane of Agony] out for perhaps the Glyph of Unstable Affliction.

Above 25% Health, Single Target
Shadowbolt > Corruption > (Bane) > Unstable Affliction > Haunt > Shadowbolt > Curse of the Elements. Spam SB until a refresh of each disease is needed (monitor them individually with a DoT timer. Fortex or Xperl is great for this). Life tap sparingly. You don't have to worry about clipping for anything but BoA, so ideal refresh time is to start casing somewhere in the last two seconds to make sure you don't get any drop off.

Bane Choice: Currently the maths favor Bane of Doom on a strictly single target scenario. BoD can only be up on one target, however, so if you're doing any soul swapping to adds or whatever, it is better to use Bane of Agony, which does swap over. Thus, your choice of Bane as an aff'lock becomes highly situational. Very simply, if you're only running on one target and never using soul swap, then run with BoD.

After the diatribe about how other modifiers update on dot individual ticks...

There is one exception to the above diatribe, and that is why I switched to lead off with a Shadowbolt. If you are specced into Shadow and Flame (which I am), you want to get this up BEFORE applying DoTs. Apparently, S&F does not update like everyone other ability. I'm not sure why, that's just what the research has turned up. I believe we're talking 5% extra crit on your DoTs here, which, with DI might add up to be substantial. It's hard to tell, so I can't say whether this is a big deal or just a medium deal. It's going to be hard for me to lead off with a casting spell, but I'm going to try.

Lastly here, we'll revisit Pet Choice/Stat Priorities. Pets shuffled around a bit, so I've updated my priorities lists to match. Also, I've switched to letting Ask Mr. Robot do all of my heavy stat lifting for me, so I've reworked that entire section to indicate such. I don't see a reason to not use the site, as it really is stellar and has proven itself as far as my toon goes. Updates to the guide are the following:

Pet DPS List
  1. Infernal - Best AoE
  2. Doomguard - Best Single Target
  3. Felhunter - Got some nice buffs in 4.1, provides a buff and a silence effect (DS: DoT buff)
  4. Succubus - Has some nice PvP talents like knockback and seduction CC. (DS: S-bolt buff)
  5. Imp - If you talent him with Dark Art, he can be pretty decent. Also, Singe Magic is a highly useful dispel. (DS: Increased crit to Destro spells... SB and SF for us I think.)
So my priority looks like:
  • Doomguard- Once a fight
  • Felpup - 90% of the time
  • Imp - When I need a dispel or ranged
  • Succy - If I'm feeling lazy

LinkGenerally, I simply hit the "optimize" button to help me make gear decisions, but I've also put the following weights (from Mr. Robot) into my Pawn addon so that I have something in-game as well:

Int -1, SP - 0.85, Hit - 0.53 (until capped), Haste - 0.45, Mast - 0.37, Crit - 0.37

Otherwise, there were extensive changes but they all can be boiled down to "I use Mr. Robot." Simple enough. If you have any issues with the site, hit up their forums. They are really great about answering concerns.

And that's it. This should summarize the changes that affect how we play. We got some other simple buffs in the patch, but none of those should really change what you were already doing. Again, let me know if you notice anything I've botched or would like a clarification.

Friday, May 6, 2011

No Story Today

Sorry. I'm taking a week off. My creative well feels dry for some reason, and I don't want to just go through the motions. Generally I don't even like writing apology posts like this, but I know there are a good number of people that look forward to these stories and I appreciate that a ton. End result is I always feel a bit guilty hiding quietly in my shadowy corner, but sometimes you just need to Harvest Souls.

As a consolation prize, I'd like to offer some "insider" news.

For those that aren't all that interested in my fiction and are just here for the Warlockery. I'm updating the guides. I looked at them, and decided they needed a lot of work. Especially the pet choice/stat priority guide (which I've temporarily taken down). My spec is still the same, though I made some very minor edits to that guide and it's up and good to go. The rotation part had a little more of a gutting, though I believe I've gotten that one fixed and up now as well. I'm going to try to finish up the third part over the weekend and plan to post a "summary of changes" post next week. Then I'll need to tackle the Demonology Primer. Yikes!

For those that are interested in my fiction, I two pieces of news that I hope are as exciting to you as they are for me.

First, Fuu and I are working hard to get all of my IC Friday posts compiled into a format fit for e-readers. There is a lot of grunt work involved in this, plus I want to do some basic editing and maybe write some new parts to kind of make things flow more smoothly. I plan to make it sort of a novella, and hopefully find a nice "ending point" for the first installation. I already have a solution figured out that will allow you to download the file for free directly from the site here. I'd been approached by several people asking about this, and I just wanted to let you know that we have all the parts together to make that into reality. We just have to get the time to do it (and I want to do it well).

Second, part of the reason I've been so starved for time is that I've been working on a second, "secret" project. This may not come as a surprise, but I really enjoy writing fiction. And while I don't have leave to produce novels in Blizzard's universe, I can most certainly produce stories of my own creation. This is what I've done. Yep, I'm going to try to make it as a middling author. While I've been writing for years (and have one novel almost ready for release), only in the last five months have Fuu and I delved seriously into the thoughts of publishing these ourselves. It was always sort of a pipe dream for me, but with e-readers building steam, I figure why not now? I enjoy writing, and I think there are people out there that enjoy reading what I write. I'm not looking to be the next Kindle Millionare or anything, but I would like to some day be able to devote more time to writing. At this point in time, it's completely reasonable to self-produce for a small audience (and hope it grows!). That's our plan, and if it's something you're interested it, you can find out more over at my author website.

This venture is still in its infancy, and I'm working to get small posts up and really get the blog off the ground. The progress of my projects can be seen over there, as well as musings on what I'm doing and why. If you've enjoyed my fiction, I would love to see you over there. I'm planning to rely pretty exclusively on word of mouth to sell anything, and I'm doing this because I love doing it, and I'd like to learn and improve. This means succeeding with the reader, and that means I really want to hear from you. What do you want to see? How does your creative process differ from mine? What can I improve on? That's the type of readership I'm looking to build over there.

I have been amazed and enormously grateful with the people that found me here at this blog. It grew beyond my meager expectations and evolved into something where I've been able to connect with a lot of really awesome people. I can't believe how active and helpful commenters have been around here. I feel like I've dodged a whole lot of trolls (which, let's be honest, is pretty common when talking about WoW), and I feel like I have great readers to thank for that.

I'm hoping to build on the success here over in my other blog. I know not everyone is interested in fiction that has nothing to do with WoW, and that's fine. A lot of you may not be interested in the genre(s) I'm writing too. But if only some of you awesome folks get involved over there with general fiction as well, it could be a whole lot of fun.

Anyways, thank you for reading. Sorry for no fiction today. I hope some of the above excites you. It has certainly excited both Fuu and myself.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Warlocky Economy Buffs

I've seen a small bump in the number of gold making/saving posts out there recently. Perhaps it's just me, but it seems like Azeroth may be going through some economic downtimes. Therefore, I wanted to point out some ways that Warlocks could help support the flagging economy.
  • Kill critters - Though they are generally worthless, what you don't know is that you're providing jobs. Jobs in the form of whoever cleans those little bodies up all the time. They have to be paid at least minimum wage. It's Azerothian Law.
  • Conserve Resources - Buy some of that new Nelf Spice Hair, Body, and Minion Wash. Reduce your time in the shower. Since we all know that time equals money. If you can lather all the important things up in one fel swoop... you're saving money, and resources.
  • Go green - Fel flame every tree you can. It'll help make building roads faster. And roads help stimulate trade.
  • Ride a hybrid - Keep your aggro as high as possible to encourage those classes with multiple talent trees to do those other jobs more efficiently. I think they're called tanks and healers. Apparently, sometimes they need just a little extra encouragement.
  • Flame the Bribe Initiative - Has there ever been a more blatant example of wasteful developer spending? This is pork at its worst. Set the pork on fire. Turn it into bacon. Mmmm.
  • Recycle Souls - Harvest them whenever possible. It's terrible, the amount of soul litter around Azeroth. People just tossing their souls off their mounts as they ride by. There ought to be a fine. Until then, take matters into your own hands. Collect and redistribute to those in need. Soulfiring a Mage is a great way to recycle. It's fun too!
  • Wear a Robe - Other armor is expensive to produce. Cloth drops from everything. This one should be a no-brainer. Plus, it breathes.
  • Reuse Excess Healing - Life Tap often. Those odd classes that fling helpful spells at you? Yeah, they have tons of spirit, so their mana is constantly refilling. Unlike yours. Help them out with their waste while keeping them employed. It's really a win/win. They get to heal and you get to kill more. Bonus points for standing in a fire, because then you look really badass.
  • Stock up on CC - You can fear a sheep many times, but you can only kill it once. At least that's what my Grand-lock used to say. There's gotta be a pearl of wisdom in there somewhere. I mean, dude was old. You survive that long messing around with demons, you're doing something right.
  • Summon More - Yanking things from the nether is, like, free. Plus demons destroy stuff, which (you guessed it) creates jobs!
  • Simply Kill Moar! - Gravedigger is a lucrative job. Increase the supply to create a demand for this noble profession. Especially during Children's Week, there should be plenty of opportunity. Every orphan you kill is one less mouth to feed, and one less burden on the State. Plus, maybe they get brought back as an Undead or a Death Knight, which is also recycling. Just sayin'.
So, invest in a Warlock. We won't be swayed by petty things like compassion, duty, honor, or charity. You can rest assured knowing your wealth is being preserved through the finest, most self-serving activities. Put your coin <.< ... >.> in good hands. Roll a Warlock today.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Difference A Day Makes

Our guild has struggled with raiding in Cataclysm. I've mentioned it on here before. So we've been scrambling to find solutions. A lot of us are former officers in large guilds, which means we have a lot of potential ideas with a lot of merit. We're facing problems many of us have faced before.

A little background on my guild for anyone who is a newer reader. We have perhaps twelve active people in our guild. Most of us have been playing since TBC (and before), but we have a few Wrath babies as well. We're close knit. We're friends. Most of us have met in real life.

We also only raid for two hours per week. No more, no less. Two shall be the number of the raiding hours and the number of the raiding hours shall be two. Five is right out.

You see, when we coalesced from the smoldering embers of various other big guilds (which imploded as big guilds are wont to do), we had very specific goals in mind. We shared views of where the game stood in terms of priority. A couple people have bowed out over time, and we've picked up a couple more. For the most part, though, we're all on the same page. No one (that I'm aware of) contemplates quitting guild when we struggle. For us, it just means more to get through it together. It's about the people, not the content.

The problem, then, comes when real life starts being uncooperative. Someone has to work late or travel (hotel internet sucks!). Someone's kid gets sick. Storms knock out power, electricity, and internet. A router decides to throw a hissy fit. You pick. With only twelve possible raiders (many of whom live in the same vicinity or even the same house), it doesn't take a whole lot for us to find ourselves undermanned and out of luck. Such has been the pattern for us so far in Cata. For every day that everyone can make it, we have a day where we're missing a couple of people. It's not usually the same people, either. It's this person today, that person tomorrow. We've all been guilty of it. And we've done a great job with finding subs, but that's always a suboptimal route. You simply raid better with the people you know, and consistency helps with learning.

One of the other things we tried was to move our Monday time to Thursdays, in an effort to hit more people. Mondays were bad for a bit. Last night, we went back to Mondays. Thursdays became bad. It seems like every two months or so we have to re-evaluate the raid day due to seasonally shifting schedules. Perhaps we should just accept that that is how it goes.

(Which we are, and our wonderful organization Queen, Jessabelle, has recently gotten us going on a new tool, Doodle, that has really worked well for us. If you're looking for a simple way to poll your members, it's pretty straightforward. And Free!)

In moving the day back, I noticed something. We all seemed more energetic on Monday. We seemed more relaxed, less stressed. We were even short one person and had to call in a late sub. It didn't seem like as big of a deal. When we finally got around to giving Magmaw some good learning attempts, we struggled, but we stuck with it and got him down before the end of the night. There were frustrating moments, sure, but at least to me, it no longer felt like we were just spinning our wheels.

I'm not sure how much is just me. I'm not sure how much of it is 4.1. But I do find myself wondering how much difference the day of the week makes. For us, it seemed like people tended to be more tired later in the week. Since most of us work full time jobs, perhaps there's something to that. A full week certainly takes a toll on people. It may be harder to drag yourself around to face the stress (and there will always be stress) of raiding later in the week.

Mondays can be sub-par because of the reset schedule, but they seem to be one of the better days from a human standpoint. I think it's easier to look forward to on a Monday. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's just as simple as the usual wear and tear of a week. Or, since Mondays suck anyways, you're already starting low, so it's easier to put a positive spin on wiping. After all, any success at anything on a Monday makes it a good Monday, right?

I do know that without weekends, most of us would probably go insane. Perhaps there is something to raiding earlier in the week then. I'm curious, for those of you out there with multiple raid nights... do you find earlier in the week better?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Two Quick Monday Updates

On Saturday morning we got a last minute invite to the Twisted Nether Blogcast 4.1 roundtable that took place Saturday night. Hence, I couldn't really give any warnings on here about our inclusion. However, if you were there live, or if you end up downloading the cast when it comes out later this week sometime, you'll notice that both Fuu and I were there. It was a great discussion covering just about everything with 4.1, so if you're interested or just want to hear our lovely voices, check it out. I wasn't as sick and Fuu wasn't as drunk this time (though she does get in a pretty good Pally rant).

The other quick news item is that I updated my DK primer over there on the left. I still need to do some research as far as pet choice goes for Affliction 'locks (I'm suspecting we'll want to officially change to the Felhunter now, but I haven't chased down the numbers). The DK changes were easy. Basically, with Blood Runes now being permanently converted to Death Runes as part of one off our talent choices, I just removed it from consideration in my rotation/priority system. Otherwise, I'm still taking the same basic approach to a PvP/BG/Daily spec. Nothing groundbreaking.

I'll try to see what we have out there as far as Aff'lock pets go tonight, so look for a quick update to that guide tomorrow. I also did a little bit of modifying on the Zul'Gurub short strats, as I've now been through that place twice and wanted to tweak them just a bit. Nothing major there, just minor wording changes that I think make them a small bit clearer. Is anyone finding those helpful? I did add a page for them on the left so that hopefully they can be easy to find as they begin to get buried in other posts.