Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cataclysm Raiding and Badges

Blizzard released some info today on changes to raiding and badges in Cataclysm.

Essentially, 10 and 25 man raids will offer the same item level for rewards, and badges (or points, as has been proposed) is a distillation of what has been happening with WotLK.

Since I don't raid anymore, and have participated in exactly one 25 man raid in TBC, and have participated in exactly one 10 man raid in WotLK, my opinion is based on what I've heard from people I know directly, or what I've read about.  But it's an opinion, so I'll spout away.

On the forums, there's been quite alot of sad people heralding the doom of the 25 man raid, even amongst those who apparently prefer to raid in 25 mans.  This is where I get to sit back and point, and laugh, and giggle at the hypocrites QQing about their game that they've been participants in, going down the drain.

My thoughts:

  • Blizzard are making the change so that they don't have to deal with 4 levels of gear for each raid level that is released during the lifetime of the Cataclysm expansion.  They'll only have to deal with 2.  One for normal modes, and one for hard modes.  Alot of the complaints seem to be about 25 man raiders loosing an entitlement to better gear than 10 man raiders, simply because there are more of them.  This might be a legitimate complaint, if Blizzard were to introduce this change right now, but the current situation is that none of these people have played a Cataclysm raid, and it's highly likely that 10man and 25man raids will offer the same difficulty, as is appropriate for the number of players in the raid. 

Anecdotally (?), I always thought the 40man raids were slightly more forgiving than the 15 or 20man raids in vanilla.  You could have 2 or 3 people die because they did something slightly silly, and the whole raid didn't have to bite the dust.  Similarly, I would have thought that a similar thing might have occurred with 25man raiding.  However, with slightly better gear being offered as a reward, perhaps not.  With Cataclysm, and raids that have not yet been implemented, or nobody has actually played yet, you'd think Blizzard will be taking this into account.

So how do you compare a 10man raid with a 25man raid, and how can you find parity?  My guess is the DPS check.  Bosses usually have a health pool, and an enrage timer.  The simple math says you have to do this much damage per second before the enrage timer hits, or the raid wipes.

For a 10man raid, you'll have 2 tanks (one being off-tank for adds), 3 healers and 5 DPS.  Therefore, raid DPS will be calculated by the 5 DPS and 2 tanks doing damage on the boss.  The 2 tanks don't quite add up to two full DPS slots, because they only need to scale for threat, but Blizzard probably expect a certain percentage of damage (I believe it's now called Vengeance, but only applied to the main tank).

I've got no idea how many tanks, healers and DPS you have for a 25 man.  I might guess 3 tanks (2 are off tanking for adds), 4 healers (1 tank healer, and 3 looking after specific groups or the raid in general), and the rest are DPS (which would come to 18 DPS in my fictional group).

Now, to find parity between the two raids, Blizzard would need to tune it so that the each contributing DPS member would have to output the same DPS, regardless of the 10 or 25 man format.  To tune this, Blizzard would adjust the health pool of the Boss.

Of course, it doesn't stop there.  They would need to tune and find parity on a whole bunch of factors, like threat generation, damage mitigation, damage avoidance, adds, debuffs, buffs and whatever interesting effect that makes the raid fun to participate in.  In the end, DPS will heal the same amount of damage, and healers will be doing the same amount of healing, and tanks will be generating the same amount of threat, and everyone will be doing the same amount of fire dancing.

On the surface, I might say that the people in the 25man raid who may deserve something more are the raid leaders and officers who end up herding the few waste-of-spacers who just turn up each raid slot, expecting to get their phat lootz, just because there are 17 other DPS, or 3 other healers capable of hauling their slack.  But in reality, when you're taking on a raid encounter, at level, everyone has a role to play, regardless of raid size.

  • Blizzard are making the change so over geared 25 man raiders don't render 10 man raid content pointless.

The 10man raid format is good for guilds that want to keep things intimate, or can't or don't want to make up the numbers with randoms just to get some warm bodies filling spots.  However, what happened in WotLK is 25 man raiders taking their shiny 25man loot into 10man raids, blitzing it, then calling on Blizzard to produce more content because they're suddenly bored.  By having the same gear rewards for both size raids, and having a shared lockout, you're less likely to see 10 man content beaten so quickly.  You'll also allow an equal footing for 10 man raiders breaking into the 25 man scene.  The player wanting to trade for a bigger group to raid with can rely on their skill, not their gear, because the same gear is available in both raids.

  • Blizzard will still offer incentive for run 25man raids.

Somewhere in the post, they did state that 25 man raids will drop additional rewards, and that these rewards would be more gear in a single lockout, more badges and perhaps more gold.  They still want people to run 25 man raids, and the trade off for spending more time in a 25 man raid will be less time spent trying to hit the Valor points cap for the week.  They want 25 raids to be the more efficient method of gearing up.  I think those that currently run 25 man raids, do min-maxing and want to spend more time raiding and less time running heroic PUGs will cotton on to this and stick with the 25man format.

Now, points. Heroic points, Valor points, Honor points and Conquest points.  This is what Blizzard will be using to present the concepts of Badges, Emblems, Honor and Arena points in Cataclysm.

Conceptually, it's not so different from what we have at the moment.  When each new raid tier is introduced, the currently top emblem gets down graded a little, and a new emblem is introduced to buy the latest gear to fill the gaps until you can get drops that may or may not trump.  Though instead of having a collection of 4 or 5 badge types at the end of the expansion, you'll just have Heroic and Valor points.  With Valor points, you can buy the latest gear, and with Heroic points, you can buy gear from the last tier.  This should make gearing alts for raiding a bit easier, and you won't have to deal with lower denominations of emblems that you can't do anything with. 

I like the idea.. however, the representation is a little bleagh.

We've been dealing with Honor for so long, and we're comfortable with Arena points, because Arena is a little like a sport.  But settling for the "points" system for PvE rewards seems a little boring.  I'd rather having something with a tangible name, even if it's going to be represented virtually on a Currency Tab.  I'd like to see some sort of stone, shard, crystal, gem, powder or even just dirt.  Magic beans are a more imaginative in game representation that points.  And for PvP, perhaps scalps, clasps, hilts, ears, swatches of dried skin or gladiator molars and canines.  It's hard to come up with something that hasn't been used before, but points, while easy to read in a currency UI frame, are just a little dry for the imagination and palette.  Even tokens, though tried and tired, strike up a bit more enthusiasm than points.

The next transmutation material for alchemy will be interesting.  In Vanilla, we simply had enchanted leather, or converted iron to gold, and mithril to truesilver.  In TBC, we had Primals and Motes.  In WotLK, we have Eternals and Crystalized thingies.  In Cataclysm, the elements will be playing a bigger role and elementals everywhere will be spilling earth, fire, water, air, shadow, life and combinations therefore quicker than you can calculate just how many you'll need to farm to max any given profession.  Lets hope they come up with something better than Chunks and Lumps and points.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pathak considers Dwarfism

I was reading an article on today, and one of the questions was about deleting high level characters.  The writer had never done it, but had deleted a lvl 65 night elf warrior before race conversions were possible, because he looked silly.

I don't mind Pathak being a Night Elf, but there are arguments for having him change race.

I'm well represented by Night Elves.  Currently, I have Pathak and Anion, my two relatively active, or at least, played Night Elves.  Lore wise, I'm probably the wrong way around.  The warrior should have been female, and the druid should have been male, but never mind.  Back on Malygos, I also have Nevynoch.

Human Diplomacy is handy.  Blackthorn, Benzol and Chivers all find the 10% bonus for reputation to be quite spiffy, and I really don't like the reputation grind.  However, I'm over represented by humans, too, so that probably won't happen.

I'm under represented by Dwarves.  I've started two Dwarves in my time, but they never really got past lvl 13.  The first was Mosesjones, a Pally.  He disappeared to make way for Colerejuste when TBC was released.  The other was Roquette, a female rogue.  I had Fidgette on the go as well, and decided I didn't like playing the rogue class enough to have two of them, so Roquette went the way of the dodo.  The deciding factor was that female Gnomish rogues are too cute to delete, especially went they're being all stealthy-like.

So, I think when I do get back to playing, Pathak will undergo a race transformation and become a Dwarf.

There are bonuses for playing a Dwarf, but my info might be outdated.

Treasure!  When Pathak isn't tracking herbs, he can track treasure.  Too bad if it's in a lockbox.  Maybe Cataclysm will allow Blacksmiths to create keys capable of unlocking high level lockboxes (not sure if this was possible in WotLK).

Stone Form!  Now that might be a racial that is gone by now, but I do remember Dwarves once having the ability to temporarily increase armor via Stone Form.

Enthusiastic emotes!  I find the Dwarven emotes to be the best of the Alliance classes.  Or maybe it's that I don't have a Dwarven character yet that I've not got sick of them.  I usually enjoy grouping with a Dwarf, and having /charge, /cheer and /ty coming through the speakers that the continue moanings of a male gnome(Bojsen: "Pleeeease heal me!" )

Got any toons you'd like to see undergo a transracialmorphgrafication? (It's a Gnomish process, don't you know?)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cataclysm Class Changes

It's only been 6 days since I last logged into WoW, and 4 days since my subscription lapsed, but the WoW community has been turned on it's head by the previews of the class changes that Blizzard will be making for the Cataclysm expansion.

MMO Champion has been quick to pick up the posts, and has been close behind with attempts to offer insight in to what these changes will mean for players.  I've got no idea of what's happening on the official forums or EJ, since the Blizzard forums have a high troll ratio and Blizzard haven't released enough information for EJ theorycrafters to offer anything more than guess work, like most of the other sites.  Actually, that's a bit prejudiced of me.  EJ just seems to deal with what is better than what might be, and they usually don't tolerate flights of fancy all that well.  Maybe I'll check them out later.

As yet, Pally changes are the only thing left unannounced, and we're not really expecting anything until April 16.  Looking back on how the Pally has been changed in previous expansions and patches, this is going to be "interesting".  The kind of interesting where you may wish for someone to "live in interesting times".  Nerfs, buffs, a complete change in paradigm or just not knowing how they could improve or scale the pally experience to level 85.  Who knows?

Another "interesting" is the changes to the DK rune and runic power system.  I've been following Skeleton Jack for a long time, and his insights into the best specs for leveling and end game have enhanced my DK experience quite alot.  However, he's not a fan of the DK changes for Cataclysm at all.  I'm of the opinion that these changes are necessary if the class is going to scale to lvl85, and remain interesting.  If they're still up, you can read a few posts by Blackthorn on the site for my thoughts on the matter.  Hmm, I wonder if this would be one of those times where I should QFT?

The druid changes have also been announced.  On the whole, also classified as interesting.  I was a little disappointed that there would be no new spells for the Resto Druid, but also comforted that Blizzard thinks they're in a good place and have just about all the spells they think they will ever need.  The Tree of Life changes are different though.  I think it will be fun to have the ToL become situational, instead of a passive effect that makes you not show off your armor.  I'd really like to see the caster form sprout a few branches from the forehead, much like the antlers we see on some druid artwork, or perhaps develop hands of Cenarius for temporary improved healing.  With this information, I think I'll be leveling my worgen druid as feral, then switch to balance/resto in Outland.  Well, I'll try.  That didn't work out so well with Dubh (now Anion) when an attempt to move to Balance was made at lvl71 with no actual Balance gear.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Glass Cannon Rail Gun

Blizzard have recently released class changes for Warriors and Priests.

Priest changes look quite fun, offering a Mind Spike to fill the gap for Shadow Priests when they don't get a chance to ramp up their full rotation.. and shadow orbs.  I'm also a fan of the Leap of Faith ability, which can be useful to pull people out of the fire. 

I'm sure there will be comical situations of playing tug of war with locks and mages, as PvP DKs and Priests from both sides push and pull their glass cannons from the middle of a battlefield.  In fact, I'd like to see a glass cannon rail gun effect with Horde DKs down one side, Alliance priests down the other, and an Alliance mage or lock getting pushed and pulled all the way down the middle.  For the callous of heart, your rail gun ammo could be a dwarf shaman, and a tauren balance druid could be waiting at the exit point to do a knockback off the end of a cliff.  Who knows, maybe we'll see some sort of WoW movie featuring some sort of dwarf or gnome toss by the end of the Cataclysm beta.

Heroic Leap seems to be making a comeback for the Warrior, providing a leap and a thunderclap.  I wonder if Warrior changes will make Prot less viable for soloing as it was in WotLK, or it will leave it in the same place where you just don't do as much damage as your Arms and Fury counterparts, but you get the job done eventually.  Gushing Wounds looks fun as well, making a "run away now that I've stabbed you three times, will you?" seem quite undesirable.

I'm really looking forward to the druid changes that will be out later this week (or next week.. my RSS feed to MMO Champion will keep me informed).

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Taking a WoW break

I've decided to take a little WoW break. 

I'm not sure how long it will be for, and at the moment, all it consists of it removing my credit card details from the WoW Subscription screen so I don't get automatically charged.  My current subscription runs out on 8th April 2010.

I'll be back again sometime before Cataclysm hits.  Probably when the Cataclysm beta starts.  I may even be back as soon as the end of May so Hinny and Grizzlyadam can pick up their Brew of the Month.

In the meantime, I'll be playing a bit of Diablo II and a bit of Dungeons and Dragons Online.  DDO is free to play, and has been quite a refreshing change from WoW.  Most dungeons, except for the ones that have to be solo'd, can be done in Casual (really really really easy), Normal, Hard and Epic modes.  I think there's a Raid mode for further down the track.  In fact, before you can do a dungeon in Hard mode, you must complete it in Normal mode first.  And Normal mode is usually easy enough to do solo, and if you're good enough, or are running the right class, you can usually do the Hard mode solo as well.. well, at the lower levels, anyway.

So if you do decide to play a little DDO, I'm on Khyber and are playing Colerejuste (Pally) and Anion (Cleric).  I may even buy a Turbine Points Bundle so I can be a Premium Member and get up to 4 character slots to try out a Rogue and some sort of spell caster.