Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hitting the Mark with Healers

Anyone who has looked at some of the new healing trees might notice something particularly interesting, and it is the desire for healers to contribute some dps as a way to heal with the 1-2 punch of talents like enlightened judgements and inspired judgement for paladins or as a way of conserving and regenerating mana with symbiotic talents like evangelism and archangel for discipline (possibly holy) priests. Shaman currently have a similar yet simpler ability in the current beta build called telluric currents. Because of last weeks developer chat, we now, without question, know these talents are no fluke.

Q. Some of the new talent trees for healers seem to emphasize a style of "mana regeneration by dealing damage." Is that intentional? If so, why?

A. Yes. In almost any situation, there are periods where heals are not urgently needed 100% of the time. Today, you probably just cast heals anyway in case someone takes damage, since mana doesn’t matter much. But if mana did matter, the “right” thing to do would be to do nothing. Talents such as Telluric Currents provide an active way to recharge mana while contributing damage. (Source)

Hit Rating

These talents look fun, and as someone who previously whined about the spell lockout for tree of life, I have to admit I am very excited. My only concern is the always hated and usually misunderstood stat of hit. Hit’s hated because it’s not sexy. Hit is the girlfriend guys keep because she’s safe and consistent. Want to boost your DPS? Get hit capped. It is the cheapest and most successful way to boost your dps until you reach the cap. It has similar qualities for threat as well. Sure, arcane mages would rather do the dirty with that beautiful haste down the street, but when it comes to topping the meters, they first have to take care of the lovely lady hit who they wake up next to every morning.

Until Cataclysm launches hit has also been a tolerable stat because it’s relatively low maintenance. Once you know your cap, you work around it and then like a good girlfriend, she lets you head over to hooters and check out the big crits as long as you come home sober and are able to mow the lawn on Saturdays. When 4.0 hits the live servers, hit is going to become that naggy girlfriend who isn’t sexy but demands a whole lot more attention because hit requirements will increase as you climb raiding tiers. Yup, hit rating is about to become a wife.

What is it Healers are Managing?

After reading the previously mentioned dev chat, a very specific comment on ret paladins started churning in my head and how it might relate to healers. “In the Ret case, we started with a basic question: what is it they should be managing? There are a lot of things they *could* be managing. Today it's cooldowns. It could be mana or procs or a lot of things.”

The most glaring distinction between a face rolling class like the current ret pally, and a more complex class is resource management. Arcane mages are relatively easy to play with a 2 spell rotation, but no one is accusing them of being lolmages last I checked. They sure as hell don’t get the snarky comments from the great and powerful crab the way paladins do. The question then becomes why?

In the case of arcane mages, it’s because they are managing procs and with both the Exodus like cast time and hefty mana cost of stacking arcane blasts, they are managing mana as well as the growing resource of mobility. Any time a mage spends standing in fire casting their blast is time they risk dying. If they decide to move, well they risk the loss of potential dps. Affliction locks manage dots and procs. Survivalist hunters manage abilities on varying cooldowns and lock and load procs which they need to use but shouldn’t clip. Ret pallies only manage cooldowns, and because of it they are seen as the huntards of Wrath, able to put out competitive DPS, but at the cost of letting valuable brain cells rot from lack of use.

Right now, healers manage time, or GCDs. It’s one reason haste is so important to a shaman trying to reduce the cast time of his chain heal and why insta-cast healers like disc priest and druids covet the haste soft cap. We have been told what feels like countless times now that healers won’t actually be spamming their biggest heals come Cataclysm because mana will matter. In many ways, where bring the player not the class was drilled into us for Wrath, “mana will matter” seems to be the theme of Cataclysm. Whether you are looking at the devs justifying DPS talents reducing damage taken, discussions on EH vs. avoidance, or healing, everything comes back to one central thought, “a healer’s mana will matter, so choose your stats/talents wisely.”

The Head Scratcher

With the understanding that healing decisions will matter, based on the heal you choose, or in the case of the talents, the healing you don’t choose in an attempt to regenerate mana, I am perplexed at another one of the answers in the dev chat.

Q. I'm excited about the Smite mechanic in Disc. Are you going to do anything about hit so that mechanic can be effective?

A. We had a talent to give you a bunch of spell hit in a beta build, but spell hit on your offensive spells is a hard sell in the new talent model. But yes, we want to do something about spell hit for the Discipline Archangel specialization, possibly move up Twisting Faith to a tier that Discipline can obtain it in Shadow (so your spirit would convert to hit as Discipline/Shadow sub-specialization).

What the fuck kind of answer is that? In a world where mana is the issue and not the time it takes to get the heal off, why would it matter if smite had a 100% hit chance for disc priest tied into a deeper talent? We know through things like glyphs for spells like righteous defense and dark command allow for a single spell to receive a hit modifier when your others do not. If discipline priests are expected to smite when they need mana and the opportunity cost of doing so is no healing, I will ask again, what the hell would it matter if every smite hit? The same logic applies to shaman with telluric currents. If the devs are concerned with healing specs doing too much damage because of their hit, then why even consider letting them grab talents like the new twisted faith. Allowing them to grab all encompassing hit talents would then bump up their dps because any spell will hit. Allow discipline priests to smite away for mana, but don’t let them put up devouring plagues and mind blasts without the added cost of a miss.

Shaman are the class who could really face mana issues in higher tiers of content without the expectation of taking elemental precision making it a pretty costly talent when it’s supposed to synergize with a talent hanging out deep on in the restoration tree. The logic is faulty at best, and mind numbing when it starts to get scrutinized.

The solution is easy, and it’s not one the devs are vehemently against or they wouldn’t have hit bonuses in the paladin tree. Latch on spell specific hit bonuses to talents deep in the tree. It might make the tooltip a little long and confusing, but after seeing the tooltip for chakra we know long and confusing tooltips aren’t exactly a concern of anyone over at Blizzard HQ.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Misdirection; The New Races Leaked?!?


Holisky over at recently posted they had sources inside Blizzard who have confirmed both the name of the expansion, and the new playable races. Cataclysm will be the expansion name, and goblins for the Horde and Worgen for the Alliance are the playable races.

Am I the only one who thinks it would be great it the report were true based on the sources and totally false at the same time?

We all know has sources inside Blizzard. Hell, Sacco used to be a blue. We all understand that some of their writers are highly respected within the community. Remember that the crab himself commented on the Allison Robert piece on the new crushing blows.

I am unable to find the source post, but there was also a time when was convinced GC was a female. Do you know when? Right before BlizzCon last year. The best I can find is the post where he was introduced at BlizzCon and some of the comments ask, “and who was it at WoWinsider that convinced everyone that he was a girl?”

Let’s recap on the facts…

  • 1. We know the Blizzard loves their secrets.
  • 2. We know that has inside sources and that many of the Blizzard staff read
  • 3. We know that Blizzard conveniently chose not to squash the GC is a girl rumor that started circulating before BlizzCon last year
  • 4. We also know that Blizzard loves playing jokes on the community. Anyone remember the bogus achievement data mined in the 3.2 PTR?
Blizzard loves jokes, and they love the idea of outsmarting the entire community. Why is it so farfetched to believe some of the confirmed information is a red herring that would make Agatha Christie smile?

All of the events leading up to the leak and BlizzCon being just a couple weeks away make everything just so perfect, maybe just a little too perfect. I am not saying the leaks aren't completely accurate, but wouldn’t it be great if Blizzard was able to pull off one hell of a misdirect and shock the masses at BlizzCon?


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nice Pick-Up!

I have been absolutely bored with WoW since I know the patch is close. I can’t justify leveling anything in Northrend anymore because I want them to do it with not only flying mounts, but faster flying mounts, so I have been playing both the druid and the paladin so much that I’m sure at the login screen they are both thinking, “oh shit, he’s gonna pick me isn’t he.”

Things have gotten so bad that I have done the unthinkable and started to level fishing. A profession I berate people for and tell them if they are that bored they need to turn off the damn game and do something productive. In my defense, we have one car, and the better half has been taking it to work in the evenings, so I am actually stranded at home. My something better to do has included, but is not limited to, watching entire collections of The West Wing, Friends, seasons 1-5 of Will and Grace (that’s all we have at the moment), and The Big Bang Theory, doing the laundry and actually folding all the socks. I am even simultaneously reading one book on Bill Clinton, someone I love, and another on Roger Clemens, someone I despise. Talk about being confused during congressional hearings. Cigars and intravenous needles were going where?

Last night I decided to try and level fishing on my shaman. He has no suga’ mama paladin to finance his every desire because he is on the old server I called home. I just joined LFG for Violet Hold and then sat in Dalaran fishing up trash. After getting an invite, I joined the group and a level 80 tank volunteered. Now, I am in no way bashing this tank because he had respectable gear. He had my favorite shied, a T7 piece, and even some 213 epics. He was still wearing the ring from reg Gun’Drak, but it was a regular VH run so I wasn’t scared. I was tanking that place with 15K health; a level 80 could handle it with 25K easy. Lesson number 1 from this experience is that gear and achievements don’t always tell the whole story.

He had some issues getting to portals, and picking up the split portal that opens up right in front of Zuramat, the voidwalker. It wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle, and again, he wasn’t a bad tank, but you could tell he wasn’t a polished tank either.

On one of the split portals, he went running up the Erekem platform and lost 2 of dragons as they trailed down the other side. I chain lighting’ed them and then drug them over to the consecration. Our healer was a real healer, and definitely knew what she were doing but because of the beating I was taking the priest was being focused with an arcane stream and losing health. Inside all of that mess, I decided to drop a healing wave on the priest to buy the time for the healer to save my stupid ass since I knew I was in range of a chain heal.

After the portal closed, the healer said, “nice pick up Nio.” I thought she were getting onto me for being dumb and grabbing the mobs, so I apologized and said I was trying to get them to the tank. She then said, “no, on the heal.”

I realized right then, I’m not a DPS, no matter what I think. Most of my early WoW days were spent as a lock, and I loved topping damage meters, but somewhere in TBC I leveled the both the paladin to tank and the druid to heal and I lost my original focus.

Now, even as DPS, I am constantly looking at health bars, watching threat for another player who might want a little extra oomph applied to the tank with an MD, and generally more aware of my surroundings. Some of you might think this makes me a good DPS, but it is just the opposite. I’m no longer good at it. I can’t stop playing babysitter in groups or raids long enough to fully meet my damage potential.

I have heard, even made, some of the arguments for hybrid taxes and have always understood them, but hybrid taxing is only important in a subpar group. If the group of players you are running with are all competent and capable, there is little for a hybrid to contribute outside of their intended role. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you will, or even should. Lesson number 2 from this experience is hybrids may be valuable for what they can do, but they never shine when everyone is on their A game.

Taxing a class for what it might do is as bad as Tom Cruise arresting people in Minority Report for crimes they might commit. Don’t forget that for every story a good hybrid has about saving the day, they probably have countless memories when they didn’t react fast enough to pull off the save. Hybrids are the closers of WoW. When a closer walks up to the mound and gets a save, he gets patted on the ass, but when he blows it, he gets hammered with people reminding him that he has only one job and he managed to fuck it up.

Next time you run with a hybrid that manages to save the day, be sure and throw out a /hug or /kneel and let them know you appreciate what they do. It will make their day, I promise.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Kobolds Have Me Cornered; Advice for Overwhelmed Parents who don’t Play WoW

Today on WoW, Casually, Robin Torres gave some solid advice on playing with your reading aged child. Interestingly, this weekend on the rawrcast, Stomp and Haf hit on some advice and even solicited some words from the ever popular Totalbiscuit for parents and their kids who play WoW. Whether you are playing with your kids or paying for their accounts, the rules that apply to child rearing in real life are very similar to the ones you would apply in the World of Warcraft. Parents who do give a damn may understand the basics, but not necessarily how to translate it all into WoW-speak.

1. Be Involved

You don’t have to play the game to be an involved parent. If you are one of those people who WoW appeals, then by all means get you an account and play with your kid. It will be the best 30 bucks a month you ever spend.

If you are not one of those parents who can appreciate what WoW has to offer, I would recommend a 30 minute homework session. is probably the best place to do your homework. It’s clean and concise and they rarely get to in depth about anything. They are an easy one stop shop to catch up on the events going on in the WoW, and you will find communicating with your child about the game they play is a lot easier when you have a clue what in bejesus is going on.

Being involved could mean knowing what class your kid plays as his/her main or even knowing what a main is. It could mean knowing that the game, like your real life, has drama, or it could mean you are just making an effort to understand a social game.

WoW isn’t like buying them an Atari. They have friends they play with, and they have people they try and impress. WoW is a living breathing world full of people who you would be proud to let your kids hang out with and some you might be depressed if you met in real life. Listen if/when they talk about the game and learn about these other real people on the servers they play on.

2. Talk With Them

After reading up on daily WoW events don’t be afraid to talk to your kid about it at the dinner table, if people even do that anymore. Dinner was at 6:15 every night in my house growing up and my parents used it as the opportunity to catch up on the day’s events with me and my 3 siblings.

No matter how you do it, find the time to talk with your kid. Mute the television or pause the TIVO if you must. If you decide to follow a WoW site and come across something interesting like a player getting banned for pwning bosses with a magical shirt, then talk with them about it. Let them know you are interested in what they are doing. This goes farther than you think it does.

3. Listen to Them

If you are so inclined to start a discussion with them about any news in WoW, be prepared to listen to what they have to say. Talking to them about game ethics will save you a ton in therapy bills and allows you direct access into the psyche of your child.

Adult discussions about WoW topics lets them know you take what they do seriously, and you might even teach each other a thing or 2 after you finish up talking about the “right” things to do in-game. I’d even go out on a limb and say your kids will be relieved to talk about something serious after an evening of dealing with “anal trade chats.”

When talking with them remember Robert Greene’s 1st rule from his book, The 48 Laws of Power and “never outshine the master.” WoW is your child’s domain, and since you aren’t an avid player, you aren’t likely to bring their insight or expertise on any subject matter. Your job is to listen and evaluate what they say and do your best to relate it to real life. Even if you disagree with them, never treat them like their opinion is wrong.

Back when my best friend’s little boy was 5, I was at their place, using the f word, like I’m inclined to do. His son walked up to me and kindly told me, “we aren’t supposed to use that word.” My best friend jumped in immediately and let his son know I was allowed to use that word if I wanted to, but it wasn’t something they wanted him or me to use, but they weren’t my boss. They, kindly, let him know that his thoughts were important and sharing them was ok, but sometimes the same rules don’t apply to everyone.

Listen when your kid talks about WoW. Conversations with your kids will tell you as much about them as it does paladins and murlocs.

4. Take them Seriously and Act Accordingly

My parents were formidable foes growing up. Like Haf mentioned, you can have respect for someone and understand the balance of power. My curfew was and I quote, “don’t be an asshole in the morning.” It meant I was allowed to come home anytime I wanted as long as I called sometime in the evening and told them what time I would be home, but I wasn’t allowed to be a jack ass in exchange for the privilege.

It only took once for me to learn my lesson. I came in at like 3 in the morning on a daylight savings time weekend. When I walked in the door, my dad was in his chair and he asked I was late. Having already thought this out, I said, “dad, it’s only 2 after the time changed and I said I’d be home at 2.” He smiled and said, “ok, well we will be cleaning out the shed in 3 hours, no matter who’s time we are on, so you better get some rest.”

That was one of the most miserable days of my life, but I knew to keep my privileges I would have to suffer through it. My dad had a 20x20 shop that he called a shed, so at around 4 in the afternoon that day, we finally had taken everything out, cleaned, and moved everything back inside. There is no governor like a self governor, and believe me I never tried to pull any more shit about what time I would be home again.

In a WoW context, understand your child maybe raiding with 9 or 24 other people. If he has a raid spot, he is valued. Make pacts with your kid about his responsibilities and stick to them. If they expect to raid 2 nights a week and you want certain things to be done, tell him. If he doesn’t comply with your wishes, PLEASE, don’t ever punish them by not allowing them to raid after they have made the commitment. They have made commitments to other people and breaking commitments, no matter the reason, is not, nor will it ever be, a good lesson to teach your child.

Be the patient parent, and hold your tongue. After the raiding is finished, let them know they will need to inform the raid leader as soon as possible they will not be able to attend next weeks raid. This allows the raid leader to fill the spot and it teaches your child that you respect what they do, and they have to respect you as well.

WoW raiding is a team effort, and you wouldn’t punish their baseball team with a forced absence. Respect a raid the way you would any other team effort because, of all the lessons your child will learn from working within a team, the one you don’t want them to learn is it’s ok for them to act selfishly.

The ideas are basic and generic, but I think some parents chalk up WoW as “just a game.” No matter your opinion, I can tell you it is very much more to those of us who play. Respect your kid and you will find they will come to respect you.


Staying the Night at the Hunting Lodge

I recently sent Brigwyn of the Hunting Lodge an email after listening to him on the podcast. I hit on the hinted overhaul by GC in the hunter Q&A and reached for a little more in the 3.2 patch notes.

Like I alluded to in the email, I think separate trap cooldowns is a step in a direction similar to the rune system of death knights.

I never really considered the runic dumps, and Brigwyn actually came up with a much more sophisticated system than I would have even imagined.

Shots could work like runes, and sticking with the simplicity of the patch notes, hunters would have frost, fire, and nature shots. 6 feels too much like a death knight, but 9 feels like way too many. Depending on the overall cost of the shots, 9 might be an appropriate number.

The runic power bar would be replaced with ammo. The ammo slot on a hunter would then be replaced with a clip or quiver with a certain capacity. The iLvl of a clip would mean more shots in the gun before you would have to reload.

Taking a hunter out of combat for a reload would be similar to a mage who drops valuable seconds of DPS for an evocation. There isn’t a mage alive that likes to have to evocate, but if he wants mana he knows he has to while his diabolical superior, the warlock, can keep casting to his little black heart’s content.

I am excited about the hunter resource news that has been hinted for BlizzCon, and hope it’s as good as the ideas that Briwyn’s been tossing around lately.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rawrcast Contributions

Stompalina and Hafrot have allowed me to contribute to the Rawrcast, so many of my post will be appearing there from now on.

Please make their site a regular stop of yours as some of the other contributors are quite entertaining.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Respecting a World with Real People

The new piece over at on drama is absolutely amazing! This week they hit on taking calls or going AFK during a raid, and I was extremely surprised at some of the comments.

For the most part, many of the readers understood the overall feel of the situation. The advice was sound and it really didn’t cover anything most of us with built in respect don’t already know. It’s only the second week, and sadly every piece of advice that has been given reminds me of the golden rule.

Both Lisa and Robin are reminding us that the life lessons we are taught both at home and in grade school are valuable tools is WoW as well. I thought the phone call piece was classic for examining the microcosm that is Azeroth

See, the great irony of an MMORPG like WoW is that every inch popular culture moves towards them as a mass form of entertainment, the more we also move towards being information age lackeys.

Those of us who get the best transfer speeds on our modems and forage the internet for the best addons like we are sophisticated cavemen on a great hunt are some of the same people who become face book freaks with 50K friends and think that our cell phones have to be on us at all times because we never know when we might miss an important call.

Again, I love the column and the perspective, but was saddened by the way some of the commenters twisted the advice.

When I log onto the paladin, if see anyone out in the fighting world, I will bless them. Hell if they are fighting and low on health I will heal them and even if it is a Hordie, I often run in with reckless abandon, though not in the dramatic fashion that some other classes can, and help drop the SOB that is trying to kill them.

Helping people out comes with living in the real world, I just wish more people knew it was part of playing in Azeroth. I hope the drama mamas bring more of the golden rule to the servers in weeks to come.