Out With The Old

When Wrath of the Lich King came out, had I not taken a break I would have had a very good chance at world first level 80 Rogue. I don’t say that as a means of bragging, because well…what’s there to brag about? I didn’t get the achievement. So why bring it up? Well, to illustrate just what I thought of the rogue class at one point. Siori was my main. I loved Combat and then its evolution into Outlaw. So after Saintvache hit 50, I decided she was the next out of the chute.

With the druid and paladin, I fell right back into old habits and rotations and took care of business. Imagine my surprise when that was not the case with my rogue. I got Slice ‘N’ Dice going and made sure poison was equipped and the other usual things. But overall it felt flat. I was incredibly underwhelmed and while I can’t quite put my finger on why, I do think the current state of combo finishers plays a large part. There were more to choose from when I last played. And I found them more affective. Now hitting your rotation is just as easy, but there’s no DoT’s anymore (that I can really see). Dispatch is there for dealing damage and Cheap Shot of course for stunning the target (when Kick just doesn’t do the trick). But overall I just felt I wasn’t putting out as much damage as I used to. It made me really keep an eye on what felt like a depleted survivability.

I did end up getting her to 50 though. How much play she’ll see from here out is up in the air at best. I feel like my Feral Druid does rogue better than rogue does, if that makes sense. Her biggest asset at this point is probably making Enchanting scrolls and opening lock boxes. Not exactly where I expected to be with my rogue if you had asked me a few years back. And if you’re curious, I did look at the other specs. While they might be more optimal, I wasn’t really feeling them all that much more than Outlaw. So, I suppose it is what it is. Perhaps at some point I dust her off again and suddenly the class clicks for me again, I don’t know. But for the short term, the boss is going to be doing her work from behind the desk instead of out in the field.

5 Ups And 5 Downs In Wrath

It’s funny. Until you go back in time (no, not Warlords), you don’t realize just how much of the game has changed. But when you stop to think about it, Wrath ended 10 (!) years ago. With all the changes that have taken place, here are 5 things I like from Wrath and 5 things I’m glad changed.

Plus: Harder
Going back I’ve come to realize how much more difficult the game was, particularly at lower level. Yes, it was still the era where start zone mobs were yellow, but once you tag them, they can be hard to deal with. Even more so if they bring friends to the fight. My Mage has died a lot and it’s not from doing dumb things. Hunter could say the same pre-pet.

Minus: Mob Tagging
This was one of the things Blizzard got right, likely taking the lead from Guild Wars 2. There’s little more frustrating when you are doing a kill ‘`em quest and someone tags one of your mobs right before you do. And heaven forbid it’s a quest objective mob, otherwise you may as well get comfy for a couple of minutes.

Plus: Talent Trees
I might be in the minority on this one, but it was one of the things I always liked. The modern formula of choosing one of three abilities here and there was never the “better choices for the players” that the developers lauded when they brought it forward. Instead it became even more cookie cutter. Sure, the old trees still have their optimum build, but there is room to play around. And if the character isn’t raiding, the tree is your playground.

Minus: Profession Specialization
It’s a bit trivial, but having to choose between Weapons or Armor, for example, feels like you’re forced into a specific direction that by this time in the franchise certainly wasn’t necessary. For someone who also likes to have all craft options, it makes it a bit more difficult. But let’s be honest, if this is one of my gripes then things can’t be too bad.

Plus: Less Flight Paths
The abundance of flight paths post Cataclysm makes getting around significantly faster than it had been to that point. However, between that and being able to fly your mount, Azeroth got significantly smaller. But in the modern game if you are starting out then you’ve got 120 levels to get through. With only 80 back then, it wasn’t so bad. You could get Outland flying at 70 and Northrend flying at 80, the latter of which then unlocked the Cold Weather Flying option for any of your other characters and they just had to be high enough level to be in Northrend in the first place. But there’s something nostalgic about running from Loch Modan to Menethil Harbor, or Stormwind to Westfall, that while a short distance still seems to emphasize the “World” part of WoW.

Minus: Corpse Run
I like the world to feel bigger, just not when I’m dead. Having to run across a zone to get back to your body can be painful sometimes. Ok, almost always. And if you’re the only member of a group or raid, you feel even worse while everyone is waiting on you to return. The changes that made getting back to your body a minute or less ordeal was definitely a step forward.

Plus: Leveling
As I said in flight paths, the leveling had to change for the modern game. But the pre-Wrath zones that were changed in Cataclysm took things too far. We got quest hubs that we often outgrew before even finishing the story or getting the xp for the area becase it was no longer worth it. Ten years ago, that wasn’t the case. You could do all the quests in a hub and sometimes it wouldn’t even be enough to level out of. You might head to another zone just to get topped up, and start a new trek. Combining that with the talent trees gave a feeling like every level after ten meant something.

Minus: Wailing Caverns 
I can honestly say I have almost no difficulty in any of the dungeons or raids from 3.3.5 and older. This one, though, is a whole mess of worms. Without the later introduced map tool for dungeons, getting lost is incredibly easy.  And then one wrong step or turn and you’re really running around in circles which isn’t the best in an already incredibly long dungeon.

Plus: Dungeons
No, I’m not contradicting myself. With this one, I’m removing WC from the discussion save for the fact it’s a good run if you want the Druid of the Fang armour. But that aside, I love the way things were. Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman aren’t 5-man’s. High Inquisitor Fairbanks is hiding behind the secret wall in Scarlet Monastery, Deadmines is back to the way it was meant to be (though Vanessa Van Cleef’s story was one of the better ones in Cataclysm).  The original dungeons had excellent stories, and you tended to farm them while leveling. Now the pre-80 stuff you might see two or three times if you’re lucky, again because leveling is so much faster.

Minus: Missing Race/Class Combos
Sure, this one is purely cosmetic (for the most part). But I miss a lot of the things we got in 4.0.3. For the most part they were changes that made sense. Human Hunters, Dwarf Warlocks, Tauren Paladins, Troll Druids, and so forth. There are a number of them I am quite fond of being able to create. That said, I do not miss the idea of a Gnome Hunter.

So there’s a handful of thoughts that have come about as a result of my time warp. I might be able to make the list a bit longer, and maybe even on both sides of the equation, but these are the ones that stand out the most. If you can think back that far, what changes are you happy for? Which ones do you wish had never changed?

Patch 7.0 Thoughts

500So close. Alas, the new patch means I missed out on the Quintet achievement.

With a couple of days now to peruse and test some of the features brought about by the pre-Legion patch, I sat down with the army to get their immediate thoughts. I’ll share mine afterwards.

Lioux7 Liouxpold: WHERE ARE MY ANIMAL FRIENDS?!?!?…oh, they have moved the stable.

Log7 Logard: I no longer have to use this bow like a coward? Excellent.

Hart7 Hartley: Now that the Skullflame Shield is across the account, you’re not going to kill me, are you?

Car7 Carrera: I received two axes in the mail. To that I say…”OUTTA MY WAY!”

Vast7 Vastego: Give me the Fabulous title already.

Zar7 Zarahi: The soldiers in my Garrison no longer bring in money. I shall feed them to the creatures of Tanaan.

Elcombe7 Elcombe: Does this mean I can finally leave Northrend?

Siori7 Siori: A pistol? What in Elune’s name am I supposed to- *headshots an Orc* …nevermind. We’re good.


Um, so…yeah. The new patch content is certainly interesting, to say the very least. The new transmog system is pretty solid, with Blizzard clearly adapting MogIt for in-game. I definitely applaud the move, particularly the ability to finally hide shoulders! Sharing gear across accounts is also fantastic. Nothing like taking your Rogue into a dungeon for two months and never getting the drop you want, but your Druid on another server gets it on your first run.

The class changes are just too many to discuss, and some I am just too low to properly gauge. But I will say the Outlaw spec for the Rogue is interesting. I don’t know if it’s the talents I have chosen or I just haven’t looked up rotation but I find it to be very heavy on stun and attack together. Slice & Dice as a Level 100 talent I’m not to sure of. Particularly when I find Roll the Bones to be ineffective for the most part. Could just be my relationship with RNG.

The Hunter now has the most diverse specs and all three feel really good and unique. I still have to get used to getting into the fight with Survival. Unfortunately, Liouxpold loves his range weapons so for the first time ever he is no longer that spec (just Logard is at this point). He still thoroughly enjoys Beast Mastery though.

The change to adjusting talents is fantastic. Just having to move to a rest location and being able to change spec or talents is phenomenal and long overdue. It’s something I honestly never even considered and now wonder why it wasn’t a thing ages ago.

Glyphs are gone and I’m personally not upset about it. There were only a handful that were used for major slots, so many were redundant. After all the years of Blizzard saying they trimmed the talent trees because powers weren’t getting used, glyphs were a natural evolution of that thought. Though I will miss some of the minor ones like Confession. Even Siori tried to Sprint on water, much to no avail.

Obviously without being a raider, it’s hard for me to truly gauge what the classes are like now. I’ve heard from beta testers that most are really solid at 110, and that’s good to hear.  What I can say, from a casual player’s perspective, is all the experiences I’ve had related to the new features and changes are fantastic. I’m sure there will be bumps along the way the deeper I delve, but thus far the developers really seem to have nailed this one.

Commas Confuse Me (And Other Thoughts)

…there’s no cream for that.

In the last two days I’ve actually managed to get back into the game a bit.  No, not on my main computer.  So far Blizzard’s reply to my ticket was to refer me to the 5.0.4. known issues thread and post…which doesn’t mention my problem and I’ve already done all those things.  Of course upon telling them that, I’ve not heard back.

From a talent standpoint, things are certainly interesting.  I’ve only done some questing at this stage, so I don’t know how the changes would stand up for me in a raid or dungeon setting.  I do know this: most of the level 15 talents do nothing for me and don’t feel all that much like a “choice.”  It’s like when I ask my son if he wants jam on his peanut butter sandwich or not.  In the end, he’s still having peanut butter.

I cannot get used to commas in the game.  Whether it’s my gold, or damage meters…it’s just weird to see.

I really love the flavour Glyphs.  It just feels to me like that’s how they should have been in the first place.  I also like the idea of learning abilities from them (Corpse Explosion!!!).  As I haven’t been on as much as I’d like, I don’t have a full grasp on them, nor have I managed to make as much gold off them as I wanted to (still do well enough just the same).

AoE looting is wonderful.  I say that truthfully, but still manage to completely forget its very existence more than half the time.  The same can be said for no longer requiring range on my Hunters.  Liouxpold keeps backing up to take his shots.  Old habits die hard, don’tcha know.

Read Tides of War and will be posting a review on it.  Short thoughts:

  • Jaina’s final destination makes complete sense.
  • Windle Sparkshine was tied in beautifully.
  • I didn’t like the key relationship in the book.
  • Um, exactly how did Garrosh’s new assistant end up where he is?  Seems kind of “So, I’m here now.  Deal with it.”

I need to be updating the LBR schedule for this month.  After the Alliance go get Illipants this weekend, the Horde will get Arthas next weekend.  I had originally planned on getting a Deathwing run in before Mists but after a minor incident a few weeks ago, I think something current (plus still adjusting to all the class changes) would create the wrong environment and defeat the purpose of Laid Back Raids.  I’m sure in no time I’ll be adding the Cataclysm ones in though.  I can’t wait to see them for the first time!

Indeed, the only Cataclysm raids I’ve done are the two Deathwing ones in LFR.  It wasn’t intentional, it just worked out that way.  Plus, I know for a fact if I wasn’t running LBRs each week, I would’ve been able to go with Myth on a few.  Sad thing is how many Transmog outfits I could make even better if I did go.

Speaking of Transmog, you’d think I would be burned out after the games wrapped up.  to some extent this is true.  But, having said that, I have something in mind.  No, no more contests for a while.  This is just an idea I had that won’t involve too much work.  I think I’ll start it next week or the week after.

WordPress added a “random header” feature that allows for your header to change.  I don’t know when, but this makes me happy.  I like being able to have a non-stagnant header and this will allow me to feature more members of Team Amateur more prominently.

Talented Thoughts

Thus far, as we prepare for the launch of Mists of Pandaria, I’ve managed to keep my knowledge of the upcoming expansion pretty balanced.  I’ve learned about some of the things I wanted to know prior (such as the Jewelcrafting Mounts, as well as the account-wide system) and avoided things like lore and talent trees.  Yup, I haven’t looked at a single talent tree.

Property of manaflask.com

Well, until now.  I also specifically picked the Warlock tree because my highest Warlock is 14 and as such pretty much the entire tree is a moot point.  So as I was saying, I’ve not looked at the talent trees.   I also haven’t read up on what’s going to be the best spec and such or what talents are a waste (if there are any).  The main reason is that I want to genuinely be surprised. 

I’ve lamented on Blizzard before regarding the talent system, but if you’ll recall it was never the system itself.  It has been the company’s explanation for the latest changes because they want “less cookie cutter builds.”  As my eye starts to twitch again at that stupid phrase I have to ask, “What is less cookie cutter about SIX talent points in one tree compared to the days when we had 71 points to scatter across three trees as we saw fit?!?!”

And breathe.

Honestly, I don’t have a problem with the concept -just the explanation.  Quite frankly, there were many occasions where you sort of “wasted” 2-5 points just to get a talent that fed off another.  The Glyph system drastically reduced the need for some items in the talent tree because straight-up glyphing gave you the same boon.  So, by the time you cut some of the “dead weight” the trees do shrink.  As well, many of the lower talents that you needed to take were inapplicable until 10-30 levels later.  For new players, that’s pure confusion. 

But back to not previewing the talent trees.  We as players, and humans in general, can be fickle.  Can?  Okay, give us the interwebz and we bitch nonstop.  When you’re researching something, it’s hard not to become a product of the environment sometimes.  If folks found things to be negative, your own mind might focus on that more than the good things that are coming.  Then again, there might be one must have ability for a class like a Warrior and everyone is going “yeehaw!” all the while the class has the worst options for build that it’s ever had.  Of course that isn’t the case, but you know where I’m going with this. 

I want to see everything fresh for the first time.  To be able to log on come September 25th (note to self, renew your sub at the end of August) and have an open mind as I come across it all.  With close to two dozen toons having to pick between 1-5 talents across nearly all the classes, I’m actually looking forward to it.  Again, I haven’t the foggiest idea about what each class looks like come Pandaria. 

I’m a bit nervous about it, because I’m comfortable Pally tanking and Priest healing more than anything else in the game and I know that might change.    At the same time, maybe I’ll regain the lost confidence of playing a Rogue.  Either way, I’m approaching it with genuine optimism and it’s a nice feeling.

NBI Week Four: Learning Is Fun

I haven’t said or done too much in regards to the New Blog Initiative, despite my thoughts that it was a great idea.  However, I did decide to take part in Battlechicken‘s challenge for this week, which is all about research and discovering something new.  Coincidentally, I’d recently spoken to my guild leader Yuush about focusing more on being a Holy Paladin rather than a Prot Pally at 85. As this is my first Paladin to get past level 16, I’ve learned that I love tanking with Saintvache.  I always had a Holy OS, but that doesn’t mean I’ve ever used it.  I have healers if I want to heal.  Saintvache just rounds everything up and watches it fall.  But that doesn’t mean I’m against the notion.  Quite the contrary.

I’m more than happy to take on the role of a Holy Paladin, save for one minor detail.  That would be not having the foggiest clue about healing as a Paladin.  Not stats, not spells, not glyphs…sweet fuggle.  My first thought in reading some of the spells I’ve got (aside from those that I had nearby for saving my tank butt because of unpredictable pugging), there’s some similarities to other healing.  I also know Spirit, Int, Haste will matter to some degree.  Looking at MMO Melting Pot I learn I’m not far off:

  1. Intellect
  2. Haste
  3. Crit
  4. Mastery

Spirit isn’t on the list because it’s priority fluctuates based on your mana and mana management.  Again, with a couple of other healers (though only one at 85), this doesn’t surprise me too terribly.  It’s pretty much the healing foundation.

So now what?  Sweet, there’s a link to Kurn’s guide aka Holy-How-To.  First thing Kurn looks at is talents.  Let me just say in terms of explaining a talent tree, this is about as good as it gets in my opinion.  Basically presented like a stop light, right?  Green is go, red is stop/avoid, and yellow is proceed with caution.  In game terms it comes down to options that vary depending on your build.  There’s also an awesome explanation of the talents and why you do or don’t want them.

So, let’s take a look at Saintvache’s tree and how I made out on my own.  Well, from the gate I’ve gone with 32 points and Kurn only mentions 31.  Without any research I also seemed to recognize the talents that were useless and still hit the major ones.  Go me!  I didn’t take Crusade in the Retribution tree due to not reading it close enough and thus not understanding it’s usefulness.  I’ll be respec’ing to tighten up my ability, at which point I’ll correct this oversight.

Of course, I’m nowhere near geared or glyphed for Healing though.  Heck, I don’t even think I’ve got Saintvache all his tanking glyphs (quick Armory check and sure enough, missing a Prime and all minor).  I have managed to put together some gear that would do for now, but come 85 I’ll obviously need to get better.

Looking at spells that Paladins use, I’m optimistic they’ll have a few less than a Priest.  I find as a Priest I have a tonne of spells.  It’s not as bad as it sounds, as I have my core ones and then a plethora of situational ones (Fear Ward, Shackle Undead, Flash Heal).  Still, a less cluttered UI would be nice.  Oh, what’s that?  Kurn tells me Paladins have 25 abilities.  Excuse me while I cry in the corner…wait!  Look at this!  A complete run down of all those abilities and when to use them, including specific bosses.  Well that’s explanatory.  Let me just say the first time I heal with Myth, if it goes even close to well, I think they need to send flowers to Kurn as a thank you.

It seems as though the one thing I’ll have to get used to as a Paladin healer over the other classes, is Holy Power.  I’ve come to understand it pretty good while tanking, so it won’t be too much of an adjustment.  That will come more in when to use it (and with which of the two healing spells) as well as how best to generate it while healing.

However, I’m not about to take for granted it’s as simple as that, and I certainly recognize more opinions are better than just one.  I would’ve hit Paladin Schmaladin for some help, but unfortunately it’s days are long gone.  Fortunately, a writer who joined the site late in its existence is my son’s godfather, so he’ll certainly be able to help me out.  I also have my good friend Magik, who has a Prot/Holy Paladin in Claws of Nature.  He’s pretty good at both roles, so having both him and the godfather to talk things through verbally will help.  Then, much like back in the days of learning how best to Priest heal, it will come down to trial and error, and familiarity.

With any luck, I’ll get the hang of it just as I have with my Shaman thus far.  It’s just the matter of testing my theory and abilities once I fix things talent/glyph/action bar wise.  Hopefully there won’t be more than one or two wipes in the process!

Can we heal it? YES WE CAN….I think.

Mists Of Pandaria – Thorough Thoughts

As I had suggested yesterday, I was going to take some time to read up on Mists of Pandaria to try and get a better feel for what the World of Warcraft expansion would be bringing down the pipeline.  I gave my trailer reaction yesterday and I can comment today with more knowledge in the barrel, so to speak.

First off is the Pandaren themselves.  Having a race that is neutral for ten levels and then makes you choose Horde or Alliance is a nice touch.  It’s unique, and I think it will work out well for the most part.  How it effects PvP is a question I would love to ask.  I suppose only the “evil” Pandas will be targetable. 

The Monk class, as I said, is a class that makes sense.  We’ve faced them in the Scarlet Monastery and seen Monk-like classes elsewhere in the game.  That the class does not have an auto-attack is as unique as the Pandaren themselves are.  They do have what sounds like a combo-like attack system.  While I’m not sure about Street Fighter gameplay in WoW, I approve in concept and it will be interesting to see if this becomes a standard class or if you can only roll one if you buy the expansion (like a Death Knight requires WotLK).

When I read about the pet combat system, quite frankly the last thing I thought of was non-combat pets.  The short of it is Blizzard is turning your pets into Pokemon.  The crazy part is that you can build up their awesomeness in level and skill points and then sell them on the auction house.   I’ll elaborate more on this in a future Monday Money Making column but the day the expansion hits the pet portion of the auction house is going to go crazy.  But at least now the pets will apparently be account bound.  So all your toons will have access to the same pets you’ve acquired and levelled…so long as someone has the pet.

Speaking of account bound, raid achievements are apparently going to be account bound as well.  So, your fresh level capped Death Knight can get into raids that you’ve cleared with your Mage without people questioning whether you’ve been there.  That’s a feature I definitely approve of.

Weapons.  For starters, Hunter folk are losing their melee weapons.  The good news to go with that is that there will no longer be a range minimum on your crossbow/bow/gun.  All a Hunter will have is their range weapon.  This is a feature the class should have had from the get go (and I’ve actually got a Dwarf Hunter I play that way anyway).  To tie-in with that, the other classes are losing their ranged weapons, or relic slots.  Oh, and Wands are becoming Main Hand.  Honestly not sure what I think about that.  Hopefully caster stats boost their effectiveness.

PvE scenarios.  The example they gave was basically a reminder of the old days of Alterac Valley, where it was more than just zerg everything.  You’ll instance with a few other players (but not require healer/tank/dps) and have goals to accomplish.  In the one described, you’d take out a certain number of enemy soldiers before moving on to some of their artillery and then eventually having to take down the general himself. 

PvP specific gear will be no more.  Resilience will be an innate ability and will increase as your character levels.  I have mixed opinions on this.  I really liked the idea that PvP folk had their own armor sets and that the environment required a different set of stats, but at the same time this royally nerfs the people who would acquire PvP gear just to meet a raid’s ilevel requirement and then be utterly useless in said raid.

Challenge Mode Dungeons is something people are going to like, or hate.  I’m in the latter because as I have stated before I am not keen on this “run through everything as fast as we can” way of combat.  The unique gear skins that sound like they are the reward for succeeding in certain time frames is a solid idea, but likely won’t be enough for me to want to do it.  Time may change that once I see the actual mechanic, as sometimes I can’t get the concept past my brain.

There’s more than what I’ve mentioned here and it will be interesting to see what comes of the opening news for the expansion.  But what I think will be the biggest impact on players, is talents.  How can I put this simply…ah, yes.  The trees are gone.    That’s the plain and simple of it.  Under Mists, characters will gain a new talent every 15 levels, for a total of six.  Each level you’ll pick from three possible talents.  For example, the first one for Paladins is Speed of Light, Long Arm of the Law, and Pursuit of Justice.  Not sure what each one does, but again you’ll pick one and continue doing so every 15 levels.  This is…I will really need to see this “in effect” to have an accurate opinion but I’m really not sure initially.

If I could sum up reaction on the internet, it seems to be a great deal of “is it April 1st or something?  No, really, is it?”  I’m not sure if I fall into that category entirely, but I am somewhat underwhelmed and dumbfounded at the same time.  Based on everything I’ve seen and read, Mists may or may not be the end for me.  There are some things I like (Hunter changes, Monk class, more account-wide variables), there are a few things that don’t impact me (Pandaren, Poke-WoW), but the biggest concern I have is the gameplay.  The changes they’re talking about are intriguing but concerning as well.  As it stands I probably won’t buy the expansion.  That’s still my thoughts after getting more info than the trailer.  But my other thoughts are more concerns about some of the changes I’ve outlined.  The talents would be the biggest one, and it might not be concerns as much as a fear of the unknown.  I’ll most certainly give things a thorough chance when the time comes and I’ll do so with an open mind, but after reviewing all the news from yesterday I do think this will be a turning point for World of Warcraft one way or another for me, and many other players too.