Category Archives: Casual

Current pets used for Tournament and Pandaria Trainers

Just wanted to post a current list of pets used for Pandaria trainers using a carry pet, and for the Celestial tournament. This is less a guide and more just what I personally do.

Trainers: (some of my teams have been taken from various guides published though there exist many possible options for each)

Pet List:

Pandaren Trainers (13):

Rabbit, Untamed Hatchling, Emerald Proto Whelp, Darkmoon Tonk, Anubisath Idol, Snarly, Yellow Moth, Spirit Crab, Zandalari Kneebiter, Bat, Darkmoon Zeppelin, Aqua Strider

Beasts of Fable (5):  haven’t done these in a while, think they still work

Unborn Val’kyr, Chrominius, and Pandaren Water Spirit (all but No-no), Bat, Yellow Moth, Gilnean Raven (No-no)

Celestial Tournament – Celestials (10):

Unborn Val’kyr, Chrominius, Pandaren Water Spirit, Clock’em, Clock’em, Tranquil Mechanical Yeti, Cogblade Raptor, Menagerie Custodian, Blighted Squirrel, Darkmoon Tonk

Celestial Tournament – Trainers (21):

Rapana Whelk, Kun’Lai Runt, Kun’Lai Runt, Pandaren Fire Spirit, Pandaren Fire Spirit, Gilnean Raven, Onyxian Whelp, Biletoad, Harbinger of Flame, Son of Animus, Flayer Youngling, Emperor Crab, Devouring Maggot, Landro’s Lichling, Blighthawk, Disgusting Oozling, Anubisath Idol, Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling, Stinker, Magical Crawdad, Emerald Whelp,

Trainer Teams

Thundering Pandaren Spirit

Rabbit (speed 301+), Untamed Hatchling, <Carry Pet>

Notes: Scratch, Burrow, Dodge, Scratch etc. till first pet kill; swap to Untamed Hatchling, Tail Sweep till second pet kill. Swap to carry pet on death and immediately to your Rabbit. If Burrow and Stonerush are on CD he’ll always opt for his Burrow. To take no damage use dodge whenever he is underground, and use burrow whenever Stonerush is up and Burrow is not. The exception being immediately after using dodge to stop his burrow since the buff lasts through the next round stopping two attacks.

Courageous Yon

Emerald Proto Whelp, <Carry Pet>, Darkmoon Tonk

Notes: Bite, Shield, Bite till first pet kill; Bite, Proto-Strike, Bite till second pet kill. Ten do the usual carry pet swap to Darkmoon Tonk for the finish.

Burning Pandaren Spirit

Anubisath Idol, Snarly (or other crocolisk), <Carry Pet>

Notes: Crush, Stoneskin, Crush till first pet kill; Deflection, swap to Snarly, Rip, Blood in the Water, Surge kills second pet. On Snarly’s death swap to carry pet then Idol. Stoneskin nullifies the glowfly’s damage.

Seeker Zushi

Snarly, <Carry Pet>, Yellow Moth

Notes: Rip, Blood in the Water, Surge till first pet kill; Rip, Surge on second pet though the dive will kill you. Swap to carry pet then swap to the moth. Cocoon strike can stop the drowsy effect and just take him down with Moth Dust and Alpha Strike.

Aki the Chosen

Spirit Crab, <Carry Pet>, Yellow Moth

Notes: Always keep shell up, Snap until first pet kill; Keep shell up as needed, Drop Whirlpool, and Snap until second pet kill. Don’t refresh shield on third pet, swap to carry pet on death then finish up with the moth.

Wastewalker Shu

Zandalari Kneebiter (high power), Chrominius, <Carry Pet>

Notes: Black Claw, Hunting Party kills first pet. Swap to Chrominius (whirlpool still active on your team). Howl, Bite, Surge of Power kills second pet. Once Chrominius dies, put i your carry pet and then swap back to the Kneebiter. Black Claw and Hunting party finishes off the last pet.

Flowing Pandaren Spirit

Bat, <Carry Pet with decent HP>, Emerald Proto Whelp

Notes: Reckless Strike, Bite, Hawk Eye, Bite kills first pet; Reckless Strike/Bite until Bat dies then put in Carry Pet. Swap to Emerald Proto Whelp and Bite until third pet. Bite until the round when Whirlpool and Geyser are set to go off. Proto Strike to avoid them and Bite until the kill.

Mo’ruk

Darkmoon Zeppelin, Chrominius, <Carry Pet>

Notes: Missle, Decoy, Missle until first pet kill; swap to Chrominius. Howl then Surge of Power to kill the second pet. Do whatever you can to the third and swap to Zeppelin upon death. Missle/Decoy until enemy pet is low and Self Destruct to kill it. Only remaining pet will be your carry pet.

Farmer Nishi

<Carry Pet>, Aqua Strider, Darkmoon Tonk

Notes: Attack one round then swap to Strider (if your pet is higher level let him take one of the sunflowers big hits first). First change the weather then just destroy him with your water attacks. When the turnip submerges spend two rounds healing and charging up. Kill the turnip and simply swap to the tonk when the strider dies. Shock and Awe + Ion Cannon will do it.

Hyuna of the Shrines

Emerald Proto Whelp, <Carry Pet>, Yellow Moth

Notes: Emerald Bite kills the first pet. Bite, Proto-Strike, Bite till whelp dies. Swap to carry pet then your moth. Alpha Strike/Moth Dust as needed using Cocoon strike to dodge headbutt.

Whispering Pandaren Spirit

Anubisath Idol, <Carry Pet>, Chrominius

Notes: Repeat the pattern Deflection, Sandstorm, Punch, Punch, Deflection, Punch, Punch, Punch until the moth dies. Punch until death then swap to carry pet then Chrominius. Once the second pet dies, Howl, Bite, Surge of Power to kill the third.

 

Lastly, there are some other alternative strategies for these fights. Some of them may work much more reliably than the ones I’ve been conditioned to do. You can take a peak at them over here http://www.warcraftpets.com/community/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=7023 This guide does tend to assume you have a decent selection of pets of the appropriate breeds however. I solidified my trainer killer teams fairly early on when I didn’t have as many pets and I needed to power level new ones.

Lunchtime Musings – Battle Pets a go-go

So it was fairly recently that I decided to crawl down the rabbit hole that is World of Warcraft – Battle Pets. Having never played any of the Pokemon (or similar) types of games before I was curious if the rock-paper-scissors mechanics would appeal to me.

After asking some questions on twitter it was suggested to me to work with some fairly robust starter battle pets in order to level them up to 25 and then power level any new pets I might get along the way. Taking their advice I quickly slotted my Murky, Lil’XT and took a quick trip to AQ40 to grab the Anubisath Idol (thankfully on my first try looking for it).  We quickly worked through the low level quests and zones becoming acclimated to the interface and pet abilities/classes. I grew to understand why the Idol and a strong mechanical pet worked well against the multitude of critter/beast wild pets out there. I’ve never been a huge fan of leveling, even alts for that matter, but I found pet battles to be pleasant and low key enough that I could tolerate it well enough. I suppose it helps that I’m watching TV on my computer while I do this in windowed mode. It wasn’t long before I had a team of three level 25 battle pets (with Murky being swapped out for an Emerald Proto Whelp P/P).

Now that I wanted to cultivate a larger roster of leveled pets and take on the Pandaren Spirit Trainers and ultimately Beasts of Fable it was time to get my safari hat! Having 39 out of 40 trainers and having missed the Darkmoon Raven I opted to create an Alliance Worgen character and play it through the starting area. Having never done this before I thought it would be a good idea to experience it for the first time while picking up a Gilnean Raven and battling my last trainer alliance side for the hat. It took a few hours but I was rewarded with everything that I wanted and a new found appreciation for the worgen starting experience!

I decided that I would farm the Pandaren and Spirit Trainers for a short while to get a couple of stones (and VP) before giving the Beasts of Fable a go. After doing a little bit of Pet Collecting here is my battle menagerie currently:

Level 25 combat ready rare quality pets:

Anubisath Idol           Bat

Chrominius           Darkmoon Tonk

Emerald Proto Whelp           Emerald Turtle

Feline Familiar        Gilnean Raven

Kun-Lai Runt         Lil’ XT

Mini Mindslayer          Pandaren Water Spirit

Rabbit         Rapana Whelk

Yellow Moth

Pets in progress towards level 25

Flayer Youngling          Nether Faerie Dragon

Mojo         Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling

Spirit Crab         Disgusting Oozling

Snarly         Sunreaver Micro-Sentry

Zandalari Anklerender      Murky

*Bold pets are my priorities for leveling

With the pets that I do have leveled to 25 I decided it was time to take on the Beasts of Fable. While I know there are people out there that are already farming these guys regularly and I’m MONTHS behind the curve I was still really excited to be able to take them out.

And take them out I did. On my first serious attempt to clear them all, though there were wipes along the way, I managed to get them all done which was really exciting for me. Since i’m not using any extremely rare or hard to find pet I tried to stick to some of the basics for the fights and utilize whatever tricks that I could (such as Life Exchange on a few of them).

While I am no where near ready for PvP Pet Battles, I am still having lots of fun with the system and really must commend Blizzard for implementing such an amusing mini game. If something like this can get someone who logs in almost exclusively for raids such as myself to spend more time in game for a fun alternate method for VP acquisition then I consider that a victory. While it is old hat for many I might create a list of the pets I used for each encounter on here so people might be able to use it as a reference.

On the whole I must say that Pet Battles are indeed fun and inspire us all to be collectors. I will never expect it to be anything more than an amusing mini game but it is rewarding enough to feel like time well spent. This, in my book, is a success.

 

Feeling The Balance Burn – Heroic T15 content

I was really hoping that the druid changes would leave me feeling more empowered and to be honest for the first week of Tier 15 it did. I genuinely felt like I was getting a lot more healing done and being productive.

Then we accepted another Discipline Priest. This makes 2 Disc Priests a Monk and a Paladin in our primary healing core. I’ve found that the absorbs do tend to do a number on what I have available to heal. But I shouldn’t let that get to me. It’s time for heroics right?

Well, the problem I have with heroics and granted I’ve only done two so far in this tier is Blizzard’s lean towards periodic heavy hitting raid AoE attacks that can be planned around. When you have things like Ionize or Dire Call in an encounter you are giving absorb healers a chance to maximize their efforts which is great! But it also means that there may not always be as much for others to do when absorbs and burst are the preferred method for dealing with it.

On Horridon last night I was feeling quite a bit of frustration as I played my heart out and just wasn’t seeing the numbers that I thought I should. Our disc priests were rocketing ahead absorbing up the dire calls like mad and I was doing what I could to blanket heals where needed and have wild mushrooms available in exactly the right spots where the raid will be as we kite mobs.

I’m still feeling lackluster though. I am also seeing a couple issues with the predictable pattern and absorb plan when it comes to our healing. When priests are able to completely or mostly negate the damage from an effect on people within the raid (but not everyone) it cause my wild mushrooms to be incredibly erratic. Despite a handful of people being near them if half of those people got shielded up the wazoo the mushrooms would simply overheal them like a boss. I sometimes got upwards of 50-60% overheal from the mushrooms despite great placement.

My second gripe is one that I touched on in my previous post. When the raid is taking rather significant damage and I can’t overheal with rejuvenation at all (which is theoretically fine mind you) I don’t ever get that option to provide burst healing. If an encounter does periodic damage to people at a rate where every couple of ticks of rejuvenation might end up overhealing due to other healers healing then I would at least get to store up some for a big burst when another raid wide ability decimates us. When everyone is hovering or struggling in health I don’t like losing the chance to recharge that spell. It is what it is though we simply need to trade off our burst for effective rejuvenation healing at that point I suppose.

This may come off as whining but its more that I’m just feeling frustrated. I want to feel useful and relevant. Someone in my guild said yesterday “it must be easy to rank as a resto druid right now, no guilds are taking them to the hard stuff”. While that’s clearly an exaggeration and I, and others, are clearly being taken to raids…it is still a rather dangerous mentality that is floating around out there. As fights become predictable or people gain familiarity with encounters the absorb mechanics and smart heals will continue to be very favorable and these are strong healing classes to begin with. No one likes playing the healing class that all other healing classes unanimously agree is the weakest of all of them.

Blogiversary! …and other things!

So it’s a tad belated but I just wanted to say that it has been an honor writing and receiving feedback this past year here at Rank 4 Healing Touch. It’s my first blogiversary (sp?) ever and it feels nice to know that i’ve stuck to my guns and kept writing even though things are a tad slower than when I charged out of the gate a year ago.

I wanted to write because I like talking and I like sharing information. I’m not always completely right and sometimes my theorycrafting purely armchair but it feels like I’m doing something and contributing to the community in a positive way and that makes me happy. I hope that I have brought something new and/or useful to the table for you guys and if not maybe I can at least serve as the butt of a joke or two that’s fine with me as well!

I’m still plugging along raiding though I’ll be honest my high level toons haven’t maintained my interest that much as of late. I haven’t touched my shaman, paladin, or mage 85’s in quite some time other than to help some folks out. I have been working on twinks though. I know it’s a completely separate world that of the 19 twink but I’m finding it to be pretty enjoyable. I wanted to stay away from the damage monkeys (rogue and hunter) because they’re so rote and easy. I opted for a protection paladin and discipline priest. http://us.battle.net/wow/en/character/zul’jin/dartania/simple and http://us.battle.net/wow/en/character/zul’jin/zethra/simple. I’m far from done on them because both require arena grand master trinkets and some fine tuning gear wise but I feel comfortable trotting them out on the field. The paladin is extremely resilient and can (with fortitude and rumseys etc.) reach a decent enough HP to flag carry. I’m still a ways off from those double AGM “of stamina” folk with 2700+ hp flag carry sets but I’ll take what I can get. The priest gets rocked really badly because I don’t have any regulars to queue up with. Frustrating indeed.

Twinking is a really odd hobby and definitely a lesson in frustration depending on group make-ups. I do question some people who go into those BG’s with their experience turned off that are sorely undergeared. I’ve actually seen guys with 600hp with fortitude saying at the start of battle “It’s ok guys, don’t worry about me I’ll die a lot”. Not the most reassuring thing ever. When there is a good match-up though the fights can be extremely rewarding and crazy at the same time.

On a completely unrelated note, I wanted to share some music with you guys. To those that know me well I’m a lover of all sorts of eclectic bands and artists from many different genres of music. Traditional folk music and the bands that dip into that from time to time always peak my interest because of the rich and meaningful stories they convey. Not many bands pull this off but I feel that Great Big Sea succeeds on a level entirely their own. They are a Canadian folk-rock group that performs a host of their own material as well as modernized version of Newfoundland’s sea chanties and folk songs. I know what you may be thinking (if you haven’t heard them), that it sounds a little weird. I get you on that but if you give them a chance I think you’ll find they will impress you. I’ll post a slew of links below to some of their songs on youtube but if anyone has any songs of theirs they really like please feel free to suggest them:

Original Songs:

When I’m up http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-oC-kNtPTs&NR=1

Consequence Free http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGp9bnDm0n0

Lukey http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOw3w-00Jqw

Ordinary Day http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wcjBU8zbdY

Sea of No Cares http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKfQG9iQkI4

Cover

End of the World http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-5oGnvfUEU

Folk/Sea Chanty themed

Mary Mac  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6TukZyXcAY

Boston and St. John http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEFYi2ddXi0

River Driver http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKifepOopo8

General Taylor http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASdb00xMndU

I don’t often advertise bands or anything of that ilk on here but I thought I’d share a little something of myself. I have a tendency to be sentimental and enjoy moving music like theirs (given my hard ass raiding style my guildmates would probably be surprised to hear this). Deep down I’m a bit of a sap at times. I hope you enjoy their music or if anything take a listen and pass it along to someone you know who may enjoy them.

Lunchtime Musings: Being Part of a Vocal Minority

Many of us have at one point in our lives been part of a vocal minority in one form or another. You may have found yourself put out by something that affected you strongly enough to speak up but the majority of your peers were unaffected. While this is a fairly common occurrence, no where is it more prevalent than the internet. Given the nature of internet communication and the ease at which information can be spread, you have an avenue for the extremely vocal to be heard be it by the company or group they are lobbying with or by peers who may be interested in the cause. The problem with being a vocal minority is that you are just that – a minority. When within your group of peers your voice feels strong, vindicated, and one of common sense however outside of that group you don’t hold nearly the same amount of water.

Often times, in the circles that we run, the vocal minorities are fans (players) of some level of dedication who would prefer a movie/series/game/etc to be a certain way that would appeal to them. I can’t fault anyone for that honestly as we like what we like and we would prefer to see those thing we love treated a certain way. It was recently when reading an article on Operation Rainfall that I had an idea to discuss this topic. For those who are unaware, Project Rainfall is a grass roots fan campaign that is pushing for Nintendo of America to localize three role playing games for the Wii console: Xenoblade: Chronicles; The Last Story; and Pandora’s Tower. All three of these games received praise and good to high marks in their Famitsu reviews (given its loyalty take that with a grain of salt) and were highly anticipated by American Wii owners looking for new compelling RPG experiences on their systems.

Despite the high marks and feverish outcry of American fans from Operation Rainfall these games are not slated for release in North America. Nintendo is currently localizing them for Europe where it does plan to sell them. Nintendo is a corporation and their goal has always been to make money while at the same time keeping its fanbase happy. They clearly have in their mind an idea of what types of games sell better in different regions and I’m certain it is backed up by financial data. With that in mind and Rainfall’s message out there Nintendo posted a response on their Facebook page:

“Thank you for your enthusiasm. We promised an update, so here it is. We never say “never,” but we can confirm that there are no plans to bring these three games to the Americas at this time. Thanks so much for your passion, and for being such great fans!”

While it is not enough to completely discourage the Operation Rainfall folk as they clearly say “never say never” it still speaks volumes. Companies have a responsibility to their fanbase however they also have a responsibility to their bottom line that cannot be avoided (Don’t get me wrong though, I am a huge fan of monolith’s work (Xenogears, Xenosaga) and would love to see this game come to north America). At the end of the day the vocal group speaks with its wallet. If all of the demands and outcry don’t translate to a respectable sales figure at the end of the day, It is a loss for Nintendo regardless of how happy that small group might be.

Similar to the Nintendo situation, many larger companies are shying away from, or at the very least being extremely wary of, ComicCon and other major conventions of similar ilk as far debuting movies or games. Comic book, anime, and video game fans (possibly “geeks” or “nerds” to you) are EXTREMELY vocal on the internet as well as live at these conventions. So much so that it actually creates a hugely misleading opinion of an upcoming project. There is now a long list of studios that have left ComicCon thinking “Wow…man those guys LOVED our movie we are going to do amazing” only to have the movie bomb horrendously in the box office. These geeks (and I use that word to denote those extremely vocal, fervent, and possibly less social aclimiatized as myself) can often be overexcited and overbearing in their messages in defense or against that which they care about. This adds up and makes their vocal minority seem much, much louder than it really is. At the end of the day you vote with your wallet and if you make up a small portion of the “voting” community then your value is going to be representative of that. Some comic book fans may dislike that their opinion of a comic book movie is of the same value as Joe Shmoe but that’s how it is.

So what does this mean?

A raider’s feelings on the game and its direction is worth the same as a casual (not derogative way) non-raider or altaholic. I know this is not a popular statement to make but fairness is something we have to strive for.  It goes beyond just that statement though…whenever we talk about wow we need to understand that all the following statements are true:

A raider is worth the same as a casual 5-man dungeon player

A casual 5-man dungeon player is worth the same as a hardcore PvP player

A raider is worth the same as a hardcore PvP player.

A hardcore raider (ensidia, vodka, method etc.) may appear to be worth more for playtesting purposes but at the end of the day are worth the same as everyone else.

A players worth, at the most fundamental level, is their monthly subscription fee. We show our dedication and fan-dom with our wallets. I’m sure in reality there are much more complicated business models and projections at Blizzard based on the shelf life of each type of player and the likelihood of each type to purchase additional store content but we can’t necessarily dwell on that for the moment. As a WoW player it is very easy to be in a vocal minority and not even know it simply due to the sheer number of players who partake in the game.

I remember when they announced the removal of Tree of Life as an always-on shapeshift and the addition of the cooldown ability. Their logic was quite sound when it was first announced: blizzard wanted to balance druids with other healers in a form that can cast all of the spells in their arsenal, as other healers can. This allowed Tree of Life to be a temporary gain above and beyond our standard form/balance. I’ll admit I strongly disliked the change and was quite vocal about it. I liked being in tree form, didn’t care about seeing my armor, and thought they could just allow all spells to be cast in tree form and give us another cooldown to use. All the druids I knew felt this way and most druid forums I visited echoed this sentiment. What I didn’t do though was look outside of my sphere of the game to see the other million+ druids out there and find out what they thought. Once I branched out and started reading and talking to players I learned that my take on things really wasn’t the pulse of the community. Tons and tons of druids really disliked tree form with a passion and the thought of running around in caster form was much more appealing to them.

If I didn’t make the effort to look, I would have continued to think “man blizzard really has no idea what druids really want and this is a completely ludicrous and stupid change”. I would have been wrong.

Whenever there is a change to the game that offers a quality of life improvement for what raiders, often in a cruel way, call casual players or item rewards there is an outcry. Raiders, who often think themselves possibly more hardcore than they are, feel that blizzard is dumbing down the game, catering to casuals, ruining everything, stealing from babies, and chopping down the rainforest. While yes they do give the more casually inclined players access to some very nice items through dailies, valor points, and Bind on Equip they still continue to make some very challenging raid content to keep people busy. Their responsibility is to cater to everyone at the same time. For every one raider that speaks up, or whines uncontrollably on the mmo-champion forums, there are probably two, three, maybe even four other players who are happy with whatever change has been implemented. We as a raiding play base need to realize the sheer scope of WoW as a whole and what percentage of it the non-raiding or casual raiding communities make up. People speak with their wallets and just because we are a very vocal community and generally only hear the shouts of those that echo our sentiments, we are not the majority.

Before you find the need to flame me please understand that I’m not advocating the dumbing down of WoW. I am one of those players who would like to see things still stay a bit harder for everyone to keep the thrill and challenge intact for all players. I just came to the realization that I can’t actually fault blzzard for everything they do that I don’t agree with. Without having access to the massive amount of data and feedback they have I’ll never really know just what the pulse of the community as a whole really is.

Two different schools of thought

The inspiration for this article came from a PUG that I was in last night on my alt healer. I am not going to mention names in order to put anyone down as it is the experience that I cared to remember not the players involved.

In trade chat an individual was advertising a PuG he was putting together for Nefarian as his lockout was cleared 5/6 in Blackwing Descent. The PuG was to be for people who have completed the kill already and are familiar enough with the fight to make it relatively easy. Wipes surely could happen but if anything it was implied that people would know what to do regardless. Once in the dungeon I became aware that the advertisement I had gotten in trade chat was completely different than what was actually going on. Two members of the raid had NO gear enchanted except for their weapons. Half the raid didn’t know the actual mechanics of the fight and required explanations. When questioned about the players missing enchantments the raid leader simply responded that “I’ve never found DPS to be a problem, just execution”. While I do understand his logic, un-enchanted blues rub me the wrong way.

Well we wiped a few times fairly quickly on basic mechanics. Someone who didn’t understand the encounter mass rezzed us on the lower level with Onyxia forcing us to wipe a second time. After some more wipes we get to phase two and people didn’t know to interrupt the adds. At this point a few of the better geared players in the group decide to hop out of the raid. They were polite enough saying they were sorry but this wasn’t exactly the experience that they signed on for and didn’t have time to learn the encounter with the newer folks. I got what they were saying and while I didn’t drop group at that moment I was certainly leaning in that direction.

This was where it went off the rails. All of a sudden the “entitled raider” talk started coming from the pick up players complaining that the standards for PuG’ing shouldn’t go up as content becomes nerfed. I cringed a bit as the guy with no enchanted gear piped up (with some expletives mind you) on this topic. I understand people don’t want a repeat of Wrath Heroics where you got kicked if you weren’t very well geared in order to keep the speed of the run up to par. That being said it is Nefarian…he’s still a challenging boss if you don’t understand the mechanics (or are wearing lots of blue gear). I had a fairly civil conversation on the topic with one of the players who remained, and eventually cooled off a bit. He thought our wipes were progressive and promising and couldn’t understand why these raiders (whiny, elitist, entitled etc.) would jump ship after only a few wipes.

I explained to him there was clearly two separate interpretations of how this PuG was going to go down. Seeing it advertised as 5/6 BWD going to kill Nefarian with achievement linking required, gave the players with very well geared alts (or mains who are running Firelands and can pug BWD) the impression that people would be going in and popping off a nerfed Nefarian. The other PuG players clearly saw this as a chance to learn the fight, or get carried seeing as they are poorly geared and equipped. These two interpretations are so far from each other that there is no way they could ever come together in any worthwhile way. The amount of time required to teach these more casual players Nefarian was simply not part of the other players schedules.

While I don’t think either side handled themselves in a entirely positive way I could see each other’s point of view. It really hit home though and the expression “finding out how the other half live” was applicable. These casual players wore their heart on their sleeve and weren’t shy about saying how they feel about elitist raiders. How many more players out there are like these people I need to ask myself. What percentage of the community do they make up? Am I, as a raider, actually in the minority? It was something to think about and as such I was compelled to write this today.

How do you feel about being in a vocal minority?

I get older and they stay the same age

Incoming Non-Spellchecked rant! This is a rant based on my observations and is in no way representative of my guild, its members or their actions.

I have had some feedback on this post through e-mail and I want to apologize if it comes off as unfair to younger gamers. This post is just as much about me struggling with going into my 30’s and realizing that a lot of my memories are alien to some of these newer folk. There is some venom and complaining here and if that bothers you I genuinely apologize.

I know this expression is often used in a slightly more illicit way but I thought it very fitting for my thoughts today.

I know that I’m getting older as each year goes by. The games that I played as a child are turning into retro and nostalgia. I played Super Mario Brothers before most college seniors were born. I was playing Warcraft 2 LAN in high school before high school freshman today were born. I’m not ancient by any stretch but the video game universe has evolved to a point where there clearly is a distinct past very different from the present that we look back to.

This current generation of young gamers are quite different than how we used to be. I’m not going to go into “old fogey” mode, but more just direct you to the foulness that is XBox Live chat during FPS shooters and the like. Not all of them are like this per say and we weren’t angels by any stretch. It just feels like the increased anonymity of the internet has allowed immature (age indiscriminate mind you!) behavior to flourish. See Gabe’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory.

As I play WoW and more and more 18 and 19 year old players join my playing circle I do start to see some things that bother me somewhat. Keith Malley once said most people don’t really classify as an adult (being capable of making incredibly important and life changing decisions) until they are 25 and I think there is some validity to that statement. He is not saying that if you are under 25 you can’t be mature or a stable human being. The point is more that you just haven’t experience enough of life to know exactly what you want yet. Some people are lucky and they find their path before then but that tends to be rare. For some folk, there is a brashness to them and a disregard for how things were (in gaming as well as WoW) compared to what they are experiencing now.

As I have logged into vent servers for pugs, through the tail end of Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm, full of immature gamers (often young, but maturity doesn’t always come with age) I have been completely inundated with massive amounts of ludicrous bragging and e-peen flexing that is enough to make you want to claw eyes out. In wrath it sometimes went “I finally hit X gearscore on this toon, I am so beast” “Yeah, well I have two other toons with gearscore that high and I can outdps you anyday on that toon, if fact people should be so lucky for me to bring those toons” “Yeah…well I can out PvP you anyday I have a holy paladin ranked <insert number> that I can heal circles around any toon you bring” blah blah blah.

It wouldn’t be so bad I suppose but it threatens to creep into my guild somewhat. As guilds continue to recruit we are going to be bringing in the younger gamers, the “wrath babies” and the like it cannot be avoided. I’m not saying they are bad players…they may be pretty awesome players. They simply aren’t as good as they are in their own mind. My guild is focused heavily on character and class. Not everyone is perfect but we allow zero drama, zero trolling, and strength of character matters when interacting with others in your team. Excessive bragging can be a poison that threatens to eat away at your guild’s social structure. Soon you’ll find people putting others on mute both in game and vent and it spirals from there.

I wouldn’t like logging in to vent only to hear one of them going off about all the awesome stuff he did in PvP the other day and another saying how he was in a PuG and was amazing top DPS and it was charity that he was helping them. Similarly someone saying how they should totally be raiding in a <either DPS, Healing, or Tanking> role instead of what they are now because they are so amazing at playing one of their other toons in that role they’d blow the mains (who clearly suck?) of that role away.

Thankfully I haven’t experienced anything nearly that bad though I can say that friends of mine have. I wouldn’t wish that kind of attitude on anyone or any guild. With skill and talent should also come humility and grace. You can know that you are a good and multifaceted player…you don’t need to let people know in a moronic and abrasive manner. Childish bragging (it gets really bad when you put multiple cocky folk together in one channel) gets old fast and it doesn’t endear you to the rest of your guild.

Maybe I need to add an addendum to my “applying to a guild” post about not being an arrogant prick on vent to your fellow guildmates during initiation? Crossing my fingers in hopes that I’m spared the horribleness that others have been subjected to.

New App: Dungeons With Friends

Warning: This post is a little ornery and is more of a reaction to a reaction piece

Call me “old” (in wow terms i guess) and crusty but I really don’t get why there is so much vitriol and venom being spewed in response to Blizzards newest premium service idea. What are they offering you ask? Well, if you become a premium member you get the option to invite RealID friends of yours into a group in order to run 5 man dungeons.

There’s obviously some very nice perks here especially if 5 mans continue to offer some rather nice rewards like the Amani Battle Bear. Being able to tackle these challenges with friends from other realms is really cool if you ask me. You could also run lower level dungeons together with a friend even if s/he’s on another server  in another guild.

What has people so up in arms is that this will be a premium service. Paying the additional $3 a month would grant you this benefit as well as the web auction house and guild chat features. People are claiming that this is a feature we should have had anyway and that WoW is turning into a model similar to the free to play microtransaction games. Um, no offense to some of these people but giving non-essential perks for a few dollars a month may appear roughly similar, the core game is certainly more robust than any of those other game models (LOTRO being one I can’t speak much about). WoW is not going to morph into a game where there are distinct benefits to purchasing the additional content. As long as it remains purely cosmetic or a matter of quality of life then it really is a perfectly reasonable course of action.

One of my real qualms with this is the statement “they can’t charge us for this because it is something we should be getting for free”. First off programming time is not free. Nor is anyone’s time doing computer maintenance or data management. Everything has a cost. The major content patches and class tweaks you clamor for costs money. Storing your character on the servers costs money. Lots of things cost money and that is baked into your subscription. Many $60 dollar games offer you only 15 to 20 hours of gameplay. I’m pretty sure many of us raid almost that much in a week (12) and pay effectively $3.50 to do so.

The second issue I have is that this is a perk. One that we don’t necessarily deserve for free. I know I’ve been playing WoW for a long time and I may be a bit jaded but once upon a time if you wanted to play with a friend at all you needed to start a character from scratch on their server/faction. There was no server transfer and there certainly wasn’t a faction transfer. There was no way to go say hello unless you put in a huge time sink all the while they were probably doing max level character things. With the invention of the transfers this becomes possible but it is still an investment. You pay for the data transfer and coding required to make the swap and viola you can now play with your friend but at the cost of leaving your old server/faction.

If being able to play with friends in 5 mans is something you feel that you will take full advantage of then I say go ahead and get the premium service when it becomes available. They’re putting in the hard work getting this feature up and running and if it works well then I think we will all benefit in the long run if it leads to the code for BoA cross realm items etc.

Musings: Mage alt decisions

This is probably going to be a double post day. First off I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. I do not celebrate the holiday myself but I did spend it with my girlfriend’s family and it was a lovely time. For those who did not celebrate it, I hope you had a wonderful Sunday J Later on tonight I will probably be making revisions to my restoration guide including modified specs and new spell information (along with a general 4.1 round-up, the relevant bits at least).

What I wanted to discuss briefly is…Mages. Yup you heard me right. This is one of the few times that I veer completely off druid course and talk about something different. If you aren’t interested I completely understand. This post is also about an alt of which my familiarity and knowledge of are lower so this will be more of a gut reaction article than anything else.

I’ve spent a lot of time raiding as moonkin when my guild needed DPS over the last few years. I pride myself on being a fairly strong DPS player (with some gear limitations taking only what would be sharded) and more than pull my weight when working on difficult content. I’m competitive by nature when it comes to DPS’ing on my druid. It’s not that I’m a meter whore or anything like that, I just want to make sure I’m not a liability. I like to know that they value my performance when I am asked to DPS and that I’m not three quarters or seven eights of a full time DPS’er. Because of this drive I find myself a little at odds when it comes to playing my mage.

I leveled up as arcane for a good chunk of my play time on the mage and then swapped over to frost once I hit the content where arcane blast couldn’t two shot mobs as easily as it did everywhere else. Frost grew on me a lot while playing and I enjoyed the rotation it offered with a range of dynamics procs to manage and cooldowns to work off of. It was fluid and intuitive. When I hit level 85 I still rocked frost while gearing up and running heroics but soon saw the allure of fire. With comparable effort I was able to do much more damage on all accounts and soon I was mastering that rotation as well. The AoE took me a little longer to get the handle on but it is quite fun.

With patch 4.1 on the horizon and simulationcraft results showing arcane pulling ahead at 372 ilevel (vastly different than 352 I know, especially with the mana cost reduction trinket they use) and frost coming up just behind fire as a semi-competative spec I’m very torn. I love frost and have a fondness for arcane but I’m not sure I enjoy their level 85 play style and rotation. Here is what I’ve found from trying all three specs out on my alt:

Frost

Pros

– I much prefer the frost cast rotation to either of the other two.

Cons

– Hard to evaluate without raid buffs, I come up short of the crit soft cap and lose a substantial amount of damage

– Mobility and movement dps loss is a problem

– Most mana inefficient spec, requires a chunk of time spent in mage armor

Arcane

Pros

– Potentially the highest single target dps after 4.1

Cons

– Terrible movement dps loss (blink helps some)

-Enjoys mastery, gear is currently primarily crit/haste

Fire

Pros

– Simple rotation, high damage

– Great mobility and movement dps

Cons

– Ignite munching greatly improved but not removed

These are purely observations from someone playing an alt mage. I’ve done tons of reading on forums, sites, and elitist jerks in order to better familiarize myself with the class. Having had a chance to start raiding a smidge with him some this weekend I’m seeing areas where playing him differs from DPS’ing on my druid and I enjoy those subtle variations. I just want to find some type of compromise between choosing the spec du jour and a spec that I thoroughly enjoy playing. Anyone else find themselves in a predicament like this? Anyone out there with a lot of mage experience want to chime in and discuss the decision behind the spec they’ve chosen to play or plan to play in 4.1?

Dislike based on idolized classics – Portal 2 theme song

So I’m still part way through Portal 2 and loving it. I have made a decision to not listen to the closing song until the end because, as it did with the first game, it carries so much more weight when you know how the story unfolds.

What I have seen on message boards is a large chunk of posters speaking out against the new song. Whenever I read any of their posts here is the mental image I get:  someone with a super nasally voice saying “Well ACTUALLY <SLURP> the song Still Alive from the first game was SO much better than this song. <SLURP> It was so much more (insert original, unique, independent blah blah blah)”.

While I cannot comment on the general quality of the song just yet, being a massive Jonathan Coulton fan I am going to stand by a decision that it is more than likely very good and fairly creative. What frustrated me sometimes is the gamer/geek community’s obsession with holding onto classics and old ideas like it would be sacrelidge saying the new material is better or that it somehow would spit on the old. Still Alive the song was something a lot of us held dear. It made fantastic references to moments in the game, it made a half-life joke which we all loved, and it was an errily moving song from a super creepy robot we all love to hate.

Portal 2 has wonderful dialogue and fantastic character development that I honestly didn’t think was possible after how the first game left off. i’m more than satisfied with the experience I’ve had so far and i’m sure the very end will have some more fun moments and lasting memories to be had. Is there a chance I like this song less from a musical standpoint? Maybe, it’s very much a possibility. Should I rank this song lower because the first of the two ending themes had more of an emotional impact at the time? A possibility.

I guess i’m less annoyed that people are crapping all over the song and more that they are doing so with no justification. People get very attached to memories and timing but won’t admit that’s the reason why. I know a lot of younger gamers who are crazed Final Fantasy 7 fanboi’s primarily because it was either the first one they ever played, or it was their first big Playstation RPG and the polygon graphics with FMV excited them so much it burned an image in the brain.

Anyways this is more a ramble than anything else. I hope you all are enjoying your Portal 2 immensely and if you don’t own it yet I highly recommend it. Peace out!

Update: Having beaten the game and listened to the song, I have confirmed that these people are nutjobs. I can understand if someone likes the second song less strictly on musical merit (free country after all) and I understand that some have an emotional attachment to the first song. All that being said the second song is good, is not sh*t, and does not deserve to be crapped on at all.

Lunchtime Rant – Will LFD Incentives Work?

Blizzard just announced that they are attempting to add incentives to the dungeon finder tool in order to decrease DPS wait times by luring in additional tanks and, to a lesser degree, healers. While I understand their goal and it is a noble one, I am not entirely convinced that it is going to prove effective. The incentives right now are as follows: additional gold, chance at a rare quality gem (20-100 gold value), chance at a flask (80-120 gold value), a good chance at a non-combat pet, and a very rare chance at a mount currently obtainable through soloing a 5-man dungeon (Ravenlord, Hawkstrider, or Death Charger). At first glance you’re thinking, hey that’s not so bad that’s a pretty high potential for gold and resources right there eh? We shall see.

Right now, as Blizzard aptly put it, tanks and healers are not frequenting the LFD system for a myriad of reasons. These reasons range from incentive, to group dynamics, to why people don’t really partake in those roles to begin with:

-The first reason is avoiding those roles due to increased responsibility. A DPS can make a crucial mistake and die in an encounter and the fight will generally go on, heck two or three DPS can die in a fight and I’ve seen it conquered. While the speed and efficiency of a run is very much dependent on the skill of the damage dealers, the smoothness and cleanliness of a run is borne on the back of the other two roles. This responsibility, coupled with the fact that those two role’s job requirements are directly linked to how well or recklessly the DPS plays makes it a slightly more risky proposition. Given WoW’s repetitive nature, the path of least resistance is always going to be favorable to players and guild groups will be the preferred method of queuing.

-Healing in cataclysm is not intuitively easy, and tanking continues to be a role that requires a high level of awareness. Both of these roles require the capability to make critical decisions on the fly. The general difficulty in performing these tasks, coupled with the fear of being the weak link in a group or the target of a players derision after making a mistake also serve as a barrier to entry. Simply put, healing and tanking are intimidating to a lot of people.

-Many players enjoy a certain level of obvious gratification when playing the game. While this can certainly encompass vanity pets, mounts, vanity loot, and epic pve or pvp gear, it also includes the visceral satisfaction up blowing stuff up. People like big numbers. Having a very real and tangible metric of how well you are doing your job (not including fight mechanics and interrupts) by way of damage meters, DPS classes are directly rewarded for their success. Similarly seeing large numbers pop up on the screen, and having the ability to kill stuff dead super quick, is generally appealing. While tanks do see big numbers to a degree now with the addition of vengeance, they along with healers are not a class so easily benchmarked by output. Healers are unsung heroes more often than not, and are rarely given credit for melting someone’s face off with the sheer power and awesomeness of their healing. Healers are generally given credit for not screwing up e.g. no one died and the fight ended as intended. Tanks are generally viewed in the same way, in that they are either doing their job or are terrible. Healers and Tanks actually form a more symbiotic relationship in that the skill in which they play and gear themselves properly directly affects the experience for the other.

-Being dependent on other players in order to do your job is felt more by tanks and healers. While everyone’s ultimate success throughout a dungeon is intricately tied to everyone else doing their job, it is perceived that healers and tanks “feel” that more. This can seem like an added sense of vulnerability to new tanks and healers and may sway them from going out and queuing without the safety net of their guild. Sometimes all it might take for a healer to shy away from PUG groups is one idiot DPS player yelling at them, asking why the healer couldn’t keep them up through that kind of aggressive damage taking when others have done so in the past.

-Friends. There is no way to put a tangible measurement on just how significant the benefits of friends are while running a dungeon. If a tank or healer wants to queue, and knows that it will be short they will more than likely help out DPS players within their guild first and foremost in order to shorten their wait. The added benefit of yielding guild experience and reputation pushes this to an even higher level of importance. Even after all of that, the comfort of knowing you’re with guildies may really help someone run heroics who may be less confidant in their skills or is still learning the nuances of the role.

You have a lot going up against you when trying to encourage more tanks (and to a lesser degree healers) to partake in the LFD tool. Money is always a good start, but these days people have access to quite a lot of gold and resources. The companion pets are neat but I think that within the general population only a small amount of players have a strong interest in acquiring more of these. I know from personal experience I really could not care less, though I have Murky and he’s all you ever really need. The mounts seem to be the big thing they’re pushing to encourage players “called to arms” to join the LFD system. These are mounts though that tanks have an extremely easy time farming as they are so durable when running solo (or they are horde and don’t really care about two of the three mounts). I honestly don’t think these rewards offer enough of an incentive to draw tanks and healers away from running with predominantly guild formed groups.

So what else could you do? They talked about valor/justice points being an option they considered but it doesn’t necessarily continue to draw in players once they have purchased everything they need. This limitation though doesn’t just extend to tanks, but to healers and all end game DPS. You need to create a viable, and recurring sink for Justice Points or Valor Points. While I cannot offer an improved suggestion at this time, I think creating a continual use for Justice and Valor points will draw players in. Perhaps they could go a step further and make it so that for each PuG in your group with you, when called to arms, you gain additional points up to a max condition of 4 PuG players. If called to arms players received a significant bonus to Justice Point earnings and, for example, selling purchased Maelstrom Crystals (or the next crafting rare) was a viable source of significant income then that could be a way to go.

I commend blizzard for making the attempt to bring more players back into the fold but I just don’t think the carrot on the end of this stick is big enough. Tanks and Healers will continue to be a challenge role to perform…and they will more than likely continue to play with their guild members on average. I know personally I will continue to only do guild dungeon groups or nothing at all if I can help it. I hope though that all my nay saying is for naught, and that this does have a profound effect on queue times.

[Reference, my first two 85’s were healers with DPS offspecs, and my third will be a tank with a DPS offspec. Maybe my 4th or 5th level 85 might be primarily a DPS class]