A Blog by Bajingobomb, Horde US-Malfurion

Posts tagged “Blizzard

Blood Shield Sucks and Made Me Hate Tanking

I always enjoyed tanking as a DK in Wrath – you had a few different specs to play with, each of which was more or less viable – and you pulled pretty awesome threat with some excellent survival cooldowns.  You could tank as Blood and get Vampiric Blood for boosted healing (and back then it increased Death Strike healing so it was amazing), Frost for Lichborne to heal yourself with Death Coil, or Unholy for Bone Shield and Anti-Magic Zone so you could get Realm-First 3-Drake Sartharion.  It was great to have different options, but more importantly they were all fun to play.

Then Cataclysm showed up and fucked everything up.

I had been really excited when Blizzard had initially announced that Blood was to become a dedicated tanking tree for DKs in Cata.  While the three trees offered some fun options in WotLK, DKs were missing some valuable tank benefits.  We had no way reduce a mobs attack speed and you ultimately couldn’t get all the tanking cooldowns collectively, you more or less had to pick one.  “Fuck yes,” I thought, “DKs are finally going to be fun AND fully viable as tanks!”

Due to the fact that we tried to raid as a 10-man guild at launch of Cata, I was called upon to fill a more or less full-time tanking role in the guild.  I was happy to do so because I had liked tanking so much in Wrath and I was excited to check out how a full-blown tanking spec would perform in Cata.  I quickly realized, however, that there were a few problems:

I had shit for avoidance, I sat around forever waiting for runes to be off cooldown, and Blood Shield was a steaming piece of shit

So let’s pick these apart from least-shitty to most-shitty.
Shit for Avoidance
When we started working on 10-man content (which was generally regarded as being way overtuned for the first tier when compared to 25-mans), I would frequently get face-fucked by bosses that our Warrior tank would handle with ease.  There was a running gag in the guild that I might finally have over 15% dodge by the time we killed Sinestra.
I remember working on Heroic Halfus shortly before our guild fell apart and remarking that I had 9% dodge and 11% parry, which our warrior had something like 12% to each in comparable gear and something like a 45% chance to block from his mastery.  Dude just straight up took a lot less damage than I did.  Yes, I realize Blood Shield is meant to serve as my version of a shield block, but more on that later.
Runes on Cooldown, Thumb up my Ass.
The most concerning change for me in Cata was how the DK rune system worked.  Rather than each rune having an independant 10-second cooldown, each PAIR of runes would now share that cooldown.  This meant that any one type of run would not begin cooling-down until both runes of that type had been expended.  Blood DKs get a talent that increases their run regeneration rate to make up for not gearing Haste, but things are still dreadfully slow.  Having never seriously tanked on my Warrior (or a Druid for that matter) in Cataclysm, I can’t say for certain if rage users have this same problem of resource availability, but from my experience tanking as a Warrior in Wrath I was never short on rage.
What it ended up doing to me was making tanking boring.  The Blood spec in Cata is designed to queue up a lot of death runes, so you can choose between spamming Heart Strike or Death Strike as the situation requires – more threat or more survivability.  The problem was that I was getting raped so hard in early content that I was pretty much solely using Death Strike (except when I HAD to use blood runes), leaving me with more open GCDs than any other class or spec I have tried to date.  You also face the problem of having to time your rune usage around the enemy attacks – using Death Strike after taking a hit is better than using it before – so you’re just sitting there waiting.  I realize other tanks must plan when to use things like Shield Block, and now Holy Shield, but they also have other buttons to hit in the meantime rather than just watching autoattack.
You’re left filling time with Rune Strike because you have to wait for that big hit to blow Death Strike, which in turn means you’re wasting the potential of Runic Empowerment while your runes are sitting there already full, waiting to be used.
Blood Shield Sucks.  It Sucks Hard.
This is the biggest one for me, and in a way it kind of feeds the other two complaints above as well.  Blood Shield from a design standpoint is a lot more unforgiving than the avoidance mechanics of other tanks.  Even Savage Defense, which bear tanks complain isn’t good enough, at least has the benefit of being a passive damage mitigation proc you gain just from doing your thing.  Warriors and Paladins also have the luxury of a passive avoidance in the form of blocking with a shield.  The discussion of Paladin mastery taking it in the ass compared to warrior mastery is one we’ll save for another day, but both are light years ahead of druids and especially DKs.
There was an awesome post I read a month or so ago (shows you how busy I am at work these days) where Blizzard responded to these concerns:  Blood – What is the Developer’s Design Goal?
There is actually a lot of good information here from the blues, but some of the things they say just really piss me off as someone who loves this class so much.  Namely, in a day and age where Blizzard has gone out of their way to make every aspect of the game more accessible to every walk of life, why do they think its fine for Blood mastery to be such a punishing mechanic?  I’m not bad at WoW, but I also probably couldn’t hack it in a guild like Ensidia.  Regardless, everybody makes mistakes and its something you have to accept in a raiding atmosphere.  I know the attitude of many guilds where I know people is that they won’t use DK tanks if they don’t have to because the playstyle opens the door to a greater detriment when a mistake is made.  A Warrior, Paladin, or Druid have passive avoidance built into their mastery, while DK avoidance is reactive.
Even if I’m the best player in the world, a single momentary lapse in judgment can mean the different between a wipe and a kill – but only if I’m a DK.  Why leave room for potential error when there are less risky alternatives?  I guess maybe if your raid is really dying for another battle-rez, but that’s about it.
Adjusting Blood Shield to be something more passive rather than based upon damage previously taken wouldn’t be a game-breaking change and it would put DKs back on an even playing field with the other autopilot tanks you’d rather bring today.
Having to sit on runes to use at the right time for Death Strike also can cause issues with disease applications at inopportune times.  Our diseases are directly tied to both of our standard tanking debuffs – damage reduction (scarlet fever) and attach speed reduction (frost fever).  The blue speaks to disease uptime and treats it as a decision you have to make between threat or survival – I call bullshit.  If you don’t put those diseases up again for 5-10 seconds, you’re taking 10% more damage from each swing and the swings are coming 20% faster.  Diseases are part of our survivability – not to mention the damage on their is laughable so claiming they are for threat is ridiculous.  You’ll never hear a Warrior, Druid, or Paladin cry mid-fight that they didnt have resources available to reapply their debuffs.  Bring back glyph of disease or give Blood a talent deep in the tree to lower the cooldown on Outbreak.
Anyway…
The whole thing really bums me out.  I truly love my DK – the skills, the talents, the lore, pretty much everything down to his silly modulated evil voice. I wish tanking wasn’t so much of a waiting game though, and more importantly I wish DK tanks weren’t considered liabilities in progression just for the sake of giving them a unique Mastery.
What do you think?  Maybe I just suck at my DK…
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Is Blizzard Building Skynet?

I went to the WoW armory for the first time in probably 2 years today and found that the thing has gotten wtfhuge.

All my characters are flashy 3D, I can post and search auctions, I can even look at my pet and mount collections.  Perhaps the coolest (and saddest) thing I saw was that I can even find out which pets/mounts I don’t have, as well as where to find them.  I say it was sad because it was really exciting to me.

Here all along Blizzard has been building a home away from home for WoW players and I didn’t even notice because I was too busy playing the actual GAME.  Now I come to find out that even if I manage to pull myself out of Azeroth, I can still stay immersed in the whole thing while I am outside or at work.  This armory combined with the new mobile guild chat means I could theoretically never ever have to be totally removed from the game.

I’ll say it now, Blizzard is the herald of the rapture.  Eventually the armory will offer services that will let you level professions remotely, maybe go fishing.  Next maybe they’ll have wed-based daily quests you can complete towards actual achievements in-game.  Some of those Molten Front quests are so basic they could easily replicate them.

Eventually the armory will be able to play the game for you and then what?  Then it realizes it probably can do all the other stuff you do too.  Next thing you know, the Armory is self-aware and building giant orc robots to break down your door.

It could happen, just saying.


Frost Mages Suck in Raids

News flash, right?  The only time frost was considered a good raid spec was at the outset of vanilla raiding when everything you pulled was immune to fire damage.  Still though, Blizzard has made long strides since then in attempting to make all specs viable in both end-game PvE and PvP – so why is frost the seemingly lone remaining bastard child?

Anyone who has read the blog since I re-launched and cares to remember what I wrote for longer than 45 seconds might recall that I recently embarked on a new journey as a gnome mage.  The intent was to give me an avenue to check out all the revamps to 1-60 brought by Cataclysm, and hopefully give me new things to rant about.

When I hit level 10, I thought long and hard about which tree I wanted to lock myself into until level 70.  I ultimately decided to go with the frost tree just because my original mage had never been frost spec since the release of The Burning Crusade.

With heirlooms and a 50% slow on my main nuke, its pretty much faceroll to level as frost.  The pet is next to worthless except for the extra freeze, but thats fine because that’s usually all I need anyway.  I can easily down 5-6 mobs at a time with the ranged freeze + talented Blizzard slow – its mind-numbingly simple.

What I’ve realized from playing the spec though is that the same thing that makes it great for leveling is what makes it awful for end-game PvE.  Frost is a spec that has a very specific “flavor” to it – it favors roots and slows, as you would expect, because frost is something that is cold.  Without those mechanics, it wouldnt feel like a frost tree anymore.

The problem with it is that the damage has to suffer to give all those spells the “frosty” feel they come with.  Why would you use Fireball if Frostbolt hit just as hard AND slowed an attacker?  Why would you use Blast Wave for a daze if Frost Nova did equal damage and rooted?  I get that, and thats probably a trade-off that people are happy with.  It’s worked out for me so far in my leveling experience, and I can certainly see the appeal from a PvP standpoint.

That said, given that everything in raid content that counts (trash doesn’t) is immune to slow and root.  Even the bottom tier frost talent has to have incentive to use it against mobs that are immune to freeze effects.  You’re left with your gimpy damage that is being offset by utility that you literally cannot take advantage of.  Fingers of Frost goes a little ways in mitigating it, but even then Ice Lance is never going to be your primary source of damage.

So what could they do to make frost raid-viable?  They could probably sort it out with some creative glyphs – something that allows you to remove the slow effect from your frostbolt and increase its damage.  But if they did that, what’s the point of being frost?  As it stands, the slows/roots are what defines the class.  Take those away and bump up the damage and you might as well be playing a fire mage – you’d be using the same basic rotation with procs thrown in (mind freeze may as well be hot streak as it is).  Even then it would still be inferior because fire offers better options for getting dps on adds without having to fully abandon the primary target.

I guess what I am really saying here is that the leveling experience has given me an appreciation for something I thought was completely terrible.  It’s actually fun being able to kite around elite mobs and solo shit I probably couldn’t burn down with the glass cannon approach of the other mage specs.  I feel though that the aspects of the frost tree that make it unique will ultimately prevent it from ever becoming a fully raid-viable spec.

And maybe that’s fine.  After all, it’s not like being the black sheep is something new to the Mage class…


4.1 – The Mage of Patches

So I know this is a little bit late to be posting about, but I just picked this up again so sue me.

Blizzard announced last week that 4.1 was going on the PTR and the dataminers immediately got to work pulling all kinds of cool shit from the game files.  They found things like crazy firebird mounts, Firelands zone files, new pets, and ZOMG LEGENDARY STAFF!  People were like, “Yay new content!  I can’t wait to kick Ragnaros in his little polio legs!”

But it was all for naught, as the announcement quickly came that none of this stuff was coming in 4.1, but was being added in preparation for 4.2.  Bummer.

So what do we get in 4.1?  Let’s go to the Blue Post!

The main content features currently planned for 4.1 are:

  • Zul’Gurub revamp
  • Zul’Aman revamp
  • New level-85 Stranglethorn quest line (phased) leading players into the troll dungeons
  • New tier of Heroic dungeon gear (epic item level 353) to give players a slightly bigger boost going into raids for the first time
  • New & updated flavor items, vanity pets, and mounts
  • Guild Challenges (new guild quests)

And the Ensidia’s of the world collectively groaned.

Let me tell you how I read this:

  • A new heroic that you saw 5 years ago.  It won’t be as hard as it was then.  It’s the one we removed in Cata so we could replace it with 2 quests for level 30s.
  • Another new heroic you saw 3.5 years ago.  It won’t be as hard as it was then.
  • A couple “feeder quests” to actually point you to the entrance, in case you don’t want to use Dunegon Finder.
  • Epic gear that is better than other heroics, but if you’ve done any sort of raiding then you probably won’t care.
  • A snail pet.  Also some reworked mounts from ZG and ZA that won’t be as cool as the ones that dropped originally.
  • We stole the guild quest idea from Rift, so it’s at least on our radar.

Let me start off by saying I really liked the idea of reworking some of the original dungeons from vanilla.  The new Deadmines is fun (though most people bitch about it taking too long).  New Shadowfang is a bit less cool but at least it has a neat nostalgia factor to it.  That said, I really don’t want this to be a well they return to throughout the course of Cataclysm.  Reworking 5-mans as updated 5-mans is one thing – reworking raid instances into 5-mans is another.  They’re already rehashing half the end-bosses from vanilla raids (Nefarian, Ragnaros) in new raid content, is it too much to ask for something (completely) new?

Given that I can’t raid hardcore anymore, I’ll probably take advantage of ZA and ZG despite my bashing of the idea.  After all, Death Knights weren’t able to ever obtain the Bear mount from ZA and 10 months worth of ZG runs twice a week resulted in the one Tiger mount drop I ever saw being won by a rl friend.  Still though, the mounts aren’t identical, couldn’t this have all been part of some new troll instance somewhere?

The bigger thing about 4.1 that kinda astounds me is that many (maybe thats an overstatement, maybe) people will be looking to this patch to determine whether they should stick with WoW or head to the greener pastures of Rift.  I know in my last post I wrote about how I would ultimately not be staying with Rift, but the fact remains that it looks to be the best MMO to be released since WoW and could actually steal some subscribers.  Blizzard should be responding to the release of Rift with something new and cool, something that says, “sure they have big rifts in the sky, but we have THIS!”

Instead they are saying, “here’s a lot of stuff you’ve already seen to some extent in the last 3-5 years with a new coat of paint.  New shit will be here in June so please stay tuned!”

Maybe they are underestimating Rift, maybe they really think these smaller, more frequent patches will appear to more players, maybe both – I can’t say for sure.  But it seems to me that, knowing many guilds blew through Cata release content a lot faster than Blizzard would have liked (unless you’re a 10-man guild – more on that in a future post), and knowing a new MMO just launched that actually provides an enjoyable experience comparable to WoW, now would be the team to present your best stuff.

In the long run, it probably won’t matter.  It’s not like Blizzard is going to lose 50% of their subscribers overnight to Rift or any other game.  They probably know that they’ll keep most of these folks either way.  And maybe that’s the real problem.


My Mage Sucks in 3.1…without spirit!

From the latest PTR build:

Molten Armor now causes 170 Fire damage when hit for all ranks (Up from 75/130/170) and also increases your critical strike rating by 25% of your spirit.

LOL HEY MAGES YOU THINK YOUR SPIRIT ON YOUR GEAR IS WORTHLESS HUH?  WELL YOU SHOULD HAVE KEPT YOUR FILTHY BLUE MOUTHS SHUT CUZ NOW YOU’RE REALLY GONNA GET IT.  YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT!  STACK SPIRIT OR ELSE YOUR FAVORITE BUFF IS WORTHLESS!  HOW MUCH SPIRIT?  OH, Y’KNOW, ENOUGH THAT YOU’LL NEVER GET UP TO THE LEVEL OF CRIT THE SPELL GIVES NOW! HAHAHAHAHA!  BETTER GEM SPIRIT AND ENCHANT THOSE BRACERS YOU SORRY FUCKERS!

So glad I re-rolled!


3.1 Preview – Not Even a New Icon?

I know this is a few days late, but I just wanted to point out that Mage was again the “Class Most Likely to be Shit Upon” in the first round of previews for the upcoming 3.1 content patch.  Each class got a few interesting little morsels to chew – a few new things to look forward to in 3.1 be they ability changes or talent swaps or whatever.   Mages, however, got this:

Improved Water Elemental – this talent has been removed and replaced with a new talent that grants Replenishment (similar to Shadow priests).

We are also working on a way to give frost mages Ice Lance “Shatter combos” in PvE.

We are also working on more survivability for Fire spec in PvP.

We are also working on making Spirit a more useful and interesting stat for all mages.

Later, Ghostcrawler was quoted in saying “Hey guys we came up with some cool stuff for everybody else, but we’re just can’t figure out what to do with you yet.  We’re kinda hoping  you’ll just get distracted by your flashy spell effects.  If not, we’ll probably just make all of your talents scale with Spirit so you have to gem for it.  Cuz why not.  Eat shit, bitches!”


3.0.8 Malygos – Why make new content when you can fundamentally change current stuff?

So 3.0.8 finally went live yesterday, much to the dismay of fans of Volley and Summon Gargoyle.  One of the things a lot of people were really excited about were some changes made to a few of the achievements involving time limits, namely Gotta Go! and You Don’t Have An Eternity.

If you still bother to read this site, you probably recall that my guild has been working the 5-Minute Malygos achievement for the past couple weeks.  Well, as luck would have it, we finally nailed it this past Monday (01.19.09) and killed Malygos in four minutes, eighteen seconds.

Naturally, we were thrilled.  The achievement took us one step closer to Heroic: Glory of the Raider, as well as moved us closer to the top of the food chain.  So Tuesday rolls around, it’s patch day, the timer is increased to six minutes and we figure getting the achievement for those that sat out on Monday night would be pretty simple to pull off.

Wrong!

From the 3.0.8 undocumented changes posted this morning on MMO-Champion:

You Don’t Have An Eternity – Both normal and heroic version of the achievement have been changed to 6 minutes. (Up from 5) The encounter has been changed and made slightly harder, the achievement isn’t necessarily easier to obtain.

The actual change is that the power sparks summoned from the portals now have a 90 second maximum duration.  That’s 90 seconds from spawn to gone regardless of if the spark is rooted or already popped – after 90 seconds all traces of it despawn.

Additionally, the explosion caused by the dragons breath has had it’s blast radius quadrupled, so melee needs to head for the hills after each breath if they don’t want the tank to blow them up.

If you read a few posts back about 5 Minute Malygos, you saw the basic strat was to stack up 4-5 sparks and then blow them all at once, reducing Malygos to nearly dead before P2 begins so he dies almost immediately when you enter P3.  This strat proved to require the coordination of Druid roots and Death Knight grips to stack the sparks in place, as well as skillful manuvering of Malygos himself by the MT to ensure that the sparks get to the desired spot without first risking them being intercepted by the dragon.

Throughout our attempts at 5-Minute Malygos we routinely commented on how well-tuned the encounter appeared to be, something Blizzard has overall done an excellent job of on the vast majority of the achievements.  The encounter was difficult and challenging, but most certainly doable with precise execution.

Conversely, the post 3.0.8 6-Minute Malygos at first glance appears to be a cluster-fuck.

The absolute best you can hope for is 2 stacks maximum at a time.  By and large the largest drawback of the spark cooldown is that you now have no feasible way to get through P2 anywhere near fast enough to meet the timer, even with the extra minute.  Granted, we only put in a handful of attempts last night, most of which were further hindered by crippling lag at the outset of P2 (which I could have sworn was supposed to be fixed…).  However, I’ve now heard mumblings that Blizzard does not expect most groups to be able to actually complete the achievement now until better gear is available (ie. in 3.1 with the introduction of Ulduar).

So, ok, it’s harder now – so what?

True enough.  It’s certainly still nothing compared to trying to execute fights like pre-3.0 M’uru or Kil’Jaeden, but that really isn’t the point and it isn’t why everyone was so irritated.  What is so infuriating about this change is that it was just a cop-out change that hinders what was an enjoyable encounter “just because”.

No doubt, the biggest problem Blizzard probably had with the original incarnation of the achievement strategy was the “requirement” of four Druids and a couple Death Knights.  Needing specific classes who bring specific abilities in order to defeat content is completely against their entire design philosophy at this stage in the game.  Sure, that’s ok, I get it.  They could have gone about it other ways…

If you don’t like the “requirement” of Entangling Roots, make the sparks vulnerable to other CC.  Let a Paladin stop one with Repentance, let Mages sheep them, I don’t know, something.  The argument that you “need” Death Knights is even worse, because a tank who can move the dragon quickly enough and to the right locations essentially can pull the spark to the desired location without Death Grip.  Sure, it’s nice to have Death Grip to make it easier, but the point is that it wasn’t absolutely necessary like a lot of people thought.

Instead, we now have an encounter where less is less. The strategy is now limited by the encounter, not by skill.  The encounter is now billed as harder, yet you get nothing more – still the same loot you’ve been disenchanting for the last 2 months.  All you get is a lot more casuals who will get their achievement 3 months from now when they have gear to win a straight DPS race popping sparks whenever they want and blowing lust in P2.

“Hardcore” guilds, if you can even call them that anymore, will still pound away at it because it’s something to do and because they simply like to raid.  But they’ll be having less fun doing it now because Blizzard decided to kill the encounter for the sake of letting your best friends tag along.

It’s really a shame that, in a game where Blizzard claimed the Heroic Achievements would become the new form of hardcore raiding while letting casuals still see all of the content, they now take steps to make the Heroic Achievements more casual-friendly – even if they are harder.

The fight has gone from one requiring careful planning and execution to one where you really just need to bring a big enough stick.  And that really sucks.