Friday, November 30, 2007

Season 3: Different, Yet Similar

There isn't much going on these days in Azeroth. Everyone seems to be moving at a snail's pace. I've been sitting idle at my computer lately, starring at the blog composition screen in utter disarray and having no idea what to write about. And I imagine that the bloggers over at WoW Insider are dealing with a similar kind of writer's block, being that a huge majority of their posts have been about the same topic - the start of Season 3. And while the event is definitely worthy of a good deal of coverage, I just can't help but feel completely unexcited about the current state of WoW. With Bliz bringing everyone up to speed with "Welfare Epics" and what not, the game has just been more of the same all over again, and after over 180 days played on my Warlock, having to separate ourselves from the pack, for a third or fourth time, doesn't seem all that engaging.

With the introduction of Season 3 and availability of Tier 4-level epics to just about anyone at Level 70, the pace of play on my server has slowed to a crawl. The LFG tool is even less active than it was before S3, and Trade Chat consists of mainly, and get this, items advertised for sale. I don't think I've seen a "Need tank and healer than GTG" in Trade since S3's release, actually.

The point I think that I'm trying to make is this: Season 3 is as much a speed bump as it is platform for progress. Yes, you have definite improvements in gear and nice items that are only available through Heroic/Raid badges and what not, but the focus of play itself just seems different overall. And on a server with a relatively low population faction, that's potentially devastating in terms of activity. I mean, why would anyone want to run instances and chance a drop versus PvP'ing for a sure thing? Why would any guild need to recruit more players for 25-mans when as individuals, they can be responsible for their own raid-level epic gear? And indeed, from what I've seen, the meeting stones at Auchindoun and all over are gathering a bit of dust.

Pretty much everyone is PvP'ing. And as of right now, the game has mainly become another grind for honor; sitting in the same battlegrounds all day long for items that will satisfy for now while putting everything else on hold. And then, once we're through with this grind, 2.4 will come along and make all of our current individual efforts for not. Then Wrath of the Lich King will show up and we'll all be back to where we began - waiting for the new Season of PvP to start so we can get more easy-mode epics that we'll hardly ever use outside of a battleground.

The same thing, at a different time, all over again.

So what do we do to break this ridiculous and repetitive cycle of nothingness? We don't let events like the introduction of Season 3 fully dictate what we do. We take part in and enjoy them, sure, but we shouldn't allow ourselves to lose track of what is important on a grander scale because of them. I think this is where many people have gone wrong -- focusing too much on instant gratification instead of planning for the long term. And just like it did after the Rank 14 items were made available to the masses, it has the potential to cripple.

Hopefully this won't be an issue for too much longer. Hopefully people will get their gear and refocus on the bigger picture that is all of WoW's content. Hopefully the snail's pace will pick up. Hopefully this speed bump won't turn into a traffic jam for everyone, hardcore or casual. Hopefully we can all move on to something better. Hopefully, soon.

Italics for the win.

Have an amazing weekend.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This Week's LOL

Epic guild/trade/etc chat much? WoW Bash has you covered. Their material should keep you laughing for a while. And Lord knows some of us really need a good laugh every now and then. =)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Well-Hidden Nerf?

I'm tired as hell and work early tomorrow morn, so I'll keep this short. =)

Season 3 is upon us, and faster than you can say "wtf @ Personal Ratings," all of Azeroth is enjoying their new, easy-mode epics. But while everyone, including Warlocks, welcome Gladiator gear with open arms, I can't help but frown upon the indirect impact handing out 300+ Resilience will have on DoT-dependent classes such as ours.

The math isn't difficult to understand: greater numbers with greater Resilience equates to a lesser impact DoTS will have in PvP and especially low-end Arena play. In AB earlier tonight, I had already noticed a significant difference. I can't imagine what it'll be like in the Arena.

Did Bliz plan things this way? Was this change and the change before it planned together and intentional? Perhaps. Too much to overcome? Absolutely not. But significant and noteworthy none-the-less.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Rewarding Dedication

Gladiator. High Warlord. Grand Marshal. These are titles that are or were once bestowed upon those who exhibit the greatest amount of dedication to the craft that is WoW. Very few have achieved these statuses, and these titles are exceptionally rare as a result, which begs the question:


Get to it Bliz. Kthx. =)

Btw, lol at how it's tail owns my pet's portrait.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Song of the Week

I'm one of those guys that puts a lot of stock into choosing good PvP anthems. There's just something about a song that can get your blood boiling and up your game a bit. But this week's SotW isn't about that. It's about the flip side; the winding down and relaxing that occurs AFTER a hard night of honor grinding or arena play. And there are few songs better to kick back to than the Sneaker Pimps "6 Underground."

Now I know you'll be spending time trying to figure out if the lead singer is hawt or not (flood lighting for the lose imho), but trust me when I say you should just forget the visuals and take in the audio and lyrics. Stellar stuff, so enjoy. =)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Loliday Login Issues

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you got your fill of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and everything else that makes the anniversary of a European invasion of the Americas worth celebrating. Personally, I'm totally and completely stuffed and am enjoying an incoming stomach ache worth of post-Thanksgiving proportions. I'm sure the 4 rounds of Pumpkin Martinis didn't help either, but I digress.

Sitting here, unable to move for fear of busting a seam, I tried to login to WoW for some PvP but to no avail. On each login attempt, I receive a "Unable to Connect" message, which is usually indicative of a dropped internet connection, but I've been able to browse the net just fine. I double-checked my firewall and port settings and everything is as should be. Odd, right?

Turns out the issue is probably not on my end to begin with, and after visiting the WoW Support Forums and seeing MANY threads on poor connectivity, I'm pretty sure Bliz is with dealing with a few post-Thanksgiving Meal hiccups of their own. Too many Pumpkin Martinis me thinks -- never a good thing!

No Blue response on the matter just yet, but hopefully they'll get things up and running again for those affected soon enough.

UPDATE: Authentication system has been fixed!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

2.3.2 Warlock Change... /sigh

Patch 2.3.2 is just around the corner, and with it comes some serious buffage! Shamans are getting buffed. Mages are getting hugely buffed. Hunters are getting buffed... again. And Warlocks? Well...

* The health cost taken from the Warlock after using Health Funnel will now remain consistent between uses.

Yup. That's it! While other classes are getting some major adjustments implemented, the Warlock has seen their Soul Well cast time "buffed" and a minor change to Health Funnel incoming. Serious business!

In my opinion, we can look at this from one of either two ways. First, Bliz considers the Warlock class very balanced and perfected in the current context of the game, and therefore, needing very little adjustment whatsoever. Or second, that Bliz views Warlocks as an overpowered, unbalanced class, and they are just trying to bring every other class up to speed. Both viewpoints would explain the little activity Warlocks have seen in recent Patch Notes well.

Is that a trend that will continue? I hope not, but I'm definitely not holding my breath until our class sees it's next buff.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Is It Real? Warlock Solos Hydross the Unstable

I had heard rumors about this going down but assumed it was done on a private server or something. A guildie that showed me this video, however, swears up and down it's for real. Take a look, and decide for yourself.

If this is legit, us 'locks better get in on that action before it's patched up. ;)

Btw, the song is Waterflame by Thunderzone. Follow this link to Newgrounds to take a listen and download. =)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Naming Your Toon, Part 1

Have you ever decided to start a new toon, got all of the features exactly how you wanted them, the colors just right, and were totally happy with the looks, only to get stuck on the character's name? I've had to deal with that a few times, to the point where the server would disconnect me for prolonged thought and subsequent inactivity. I'd have to start character creation from the start, just to have the same thing happen all over again a short time later! /sigh. The naming obsession may be a little extreme, sure, but your character's I.D. is a very important piece of the overall package that is you. And it doesn't matter if your toon is decked out in Tier 6 gear and looks sexy as hell -- if his or her name is "MWAHAHAHAHAHA" or "Wownightelf," you'll likely get a little bit of flak, and deservedly so. It's no wonder then that many players take great care in choosing names for their in-game counterparts, often investing much time in finding the one that's just right for them. Some methods lead to more effective name-picking than others, however, and being that I'm an expectant father and newly seasoned at the naming game, having named our child 6 months before he or she even shows up, I'll share some of my secrets with you. ;)

First, you have to start with the obvious question of gender. Are you choosing to create a male or female toon? Names are VERY gender-specific, generally speaking, and specific letter placements usually indicate one gender or another. For example, placing the letter "a" at the end of a name is usually characteristic of a female name, as a Warlock on my server named "Darcla" understands well after about the millionth person assumed he was a she. So yeah, understanding the specificity of names is a very important if not the most important variable you can consider. After all, most baby-naming books are organized by gender first and foremost for a reason.

Second, you must consider the "feel" of your race and class. Just as many names are specific to certain groups IRL (hippies, etc), your toon's name should be indicative of his or her own background. What kind of message do you want to send with your name? Think about the roughness of the race (or lack thereof), the finesse and approach of the class (melee vs. magic), etc, and start thinking of words associated with those characteristics. This will sift through a lot of potential issues, preventing an Orc Rogue from being named "Sylfirestorm," for example. And as you've probably already noticed, this automatically takes care of the "lore" issue, and even if that's not a priority of yours, that will improve the overall "HUZZAH" feeling that your toon's name generates.

Finally, if you're having trouble coming up with words, think about meanings and emotions that you want your toon to inflinct, and then look up words associated with them. This takes a little bit of research and effort, but in all reality, it's not that difficult, and I find that it helps to make for a decently complicated name that is probably available on whatever server you're playing on. A few good sources to start with would be a medical dictionary (my favorite), astronomy journals, or even something as simple as a thesaurus will get the job done. And you can end up with a very interesting and significant name to say the least.

There are many other things to consider when naming your toon, but I'll leave those for a second post. At this point, just remember to have fun with it and not sell yourself short. A funny name that takes very little effort to come up with may be creative and get the job done, but it'll never be as fulfilling as one with UMPH. So take your time, think about it, and do your research. If you do, that's one less name change you'll ever have to worry about. ;)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Guitar Hero III Gets OWNED

I just saw this video over at Big Bear Butt and just had to post it here in case any of you have missed it. Haven't heard of Guitar Hero? Now is your chance to get acquainted (and fall in love) with it. Familiar with the game? Then get ready to pick your jaw up from off the floor. Enjoy. ;)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Battleground "Preparation" Bugged for Warlocks

Shortly after logging in for the first time today, I jumped into Arathi Basin for some honor grinding, and like a nub, I hadn't filled up on Soul Shards after my previous Shadowburning session. I had only 1 to work with, so there I stood, at the gate in AB thinking "Man, should I even summon a Soul Well for everyone?" But wait! I spotted the new Preparation buff that allows for "free" casting of spells before the start of the BG. /cast Soul Well. Everyone cheered, grabbed a Healthstone, and disappeared... just like my one and only Soul Shard.

Turns out that the Preparation time isn't "free" afterall, at least not for Warlocks. We are still being charged Soul Shards, which is odd since that is not the case during Arena game prep time. So, either Bliz is being really inconsistent or this is a little bug Bliz will hotfix shortly. My guess is the latter. But until Bliz actually does so, watch that Shard count of yours, unlike what I did today. =)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Song of the Week

I play a Warlock, and word on the street is that we're all emo by nature, and absolutely love it. So it makes sense that my pick for this week's SotW celebrates the Warlock in all of us that "smiles in the dark." And with all of the buffs other classes are getting lately, it's definitely a bit cloudy outside... just like we like it. >=)

Here's an oldie of sorts, but an awesome song none-the-less, Garbage's "Only Happy When It Rains."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Azure Whelpling Drop Rate

I'm an optimist. So when I had two Azure Whelplings drop for me yesterday, I was ecstatic and assumed a relatively high drop rate for the little bits of blue goodness. Oh how my classes in statistics and knowledge of randomness completely failed me.

Today, I spent some time in Azshara farming what I was hoping would be a good number of the whelps. Unfortunately, after a few very long hours of nothingness and over a THOUSAND mobs killed, it turns out that the drop rate for these little guys is much lower than I initially thought. Shocking? No. But still disappointing to those hoping to catch one of their own.

Mob info shows a drop rate of about 1% for the 3 that I picked up over the past two days. However, the data doesn't consider the mobs I was killing that didn't drop a whelpling. In total, the figure is about 1300 dragons, and with only 3 drops, that puts the drop rate at about 0.02%. Does that mean the Azure Whelpling is the rarest of the Tiny Whelpling family? Potentially, but given that 2.3 has only been live for 2 days, only more time will tell.

Happy hunting. =)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Azure Whelpling

Earlier today, I picked up this little guy off one of the elite dragonkin in Azshara. I was helping a buddy grind one for one of his friends and he let me take the first one. The drop rate doesn't seem too bad. Mobinfo2 puts it at about a 2% drop off of Draconic Mageweavers. I killed the other types as well; over a hundred in all in about an hour or so. Not too shabby if you ask me.

I'll be heading back there later tonight to help grind another. I'll update the drop rates accordingly.

Happy 2.3!

Blizzard is Evil

I think Blizzard does this on purpose. "This" being that they give us a set time frame for the servers to be brought back online, and then announce a delay only 30 minutes before the scheduled go time. I call shenanigans! If it were an honest mistake, you'd think the company would have learned by now to stop giving a schedule for servers to be brought back online. But these delays keep happening, and have occurred constantly and consistently for as long as I can remember. Why on earth wouldn't Bliz take a different approach to their announcements that would help remedy the situation? Because they want you checking, rechecking, and re-rechecking for the servers to be back online, to build an uber reinforcing response, that's why.

There are undoubtedly some smart behaviorists over at Blizzard Entertainment. They know how to push buttons, both literally and figuratively, to get you to come back for more. Whether it be checking for the servers to be online, or trying week after week after week to get a specific item to drop off a boss in Karazhan, they have you exactly where they want you - addicted to WoW.

In general, addictive behaviors all pretty much work in the same way. You have a behavior that gets paired with a desired stimulus, and the response is that the behavior is more likely to occur. It's basic learning principles; reward, punishment, etc. They key factor in getting someone to perform a behavior over and over again, however, isn't just in the reward they get, but WHEN the reward is given. And when that reward is variable in nature (as in, it doesn't occur all the time and it's presentation cannot be predicted), it elicits the greatest behavioral response.

Imagine a gambler sitting in front of a slot machine. He feeds it with bills and coins and pulls the lever mechanically, not knowing when or even if it will give anything in return. Yet, there he remains. Why? The knowledge that the stimulus he's looking for, as unpredictable as it is, CAN happen. That unknown variable servers almost as a type of motivating factor, keeping the gambler hooked until it does happen (even though it never may).

Blizzard implements the same type of reinforcement schedule in WoW. Drops in instances or off any mob for that matter, the magnitude of stimulant variety that can occur, and even server schedules - they all reinforce our almost ritualistic, compulsive behavior to check and recheck, try and retry. It keeps us hooked, and Blizzard knows this.

Makes ya see server delays in a different light, doesn't it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Warlock or Mage?" The Answer, part 73,228,417

I was chatting it up recently with a Swedish Paladin buddy of mine that is looking to put together a competitive 3v3 Arena team. After talking about potential class composition and the changes being introduced in Patch 2.3, we digressed to the very irrelevant but oh so important topics of Euro Dance and Swedes being hottest people on the planet (sorry Brazil). But once back on track, we narrowed the team down to his Pally, a Warrior, and a clothie, kinda. Here's how the rest of the conversation went:

Pally: More DPS would be good. What about a Warlock or Mage?

Me: I dunno man. I guess it depends on your style. Warlocks have longevity, so that'd take a bit of healing pressure off of you. But Mages generally have greater burst damage.

Pally: Yeah, but a Fire Mage is also easy to kill.

Me: You're the one that'd be healing. You don't think you could keep one up?

Pally: It's not that. It'd just be nice to have both DPS and longevity. You think a Mage would be a better fit than an SL/SL Warlock?

Me: For DPS, big time. SL/SL 'locks don't rely on Shadow Bolts, don't have Shadowburn, and rely on DoTs or their channeled Drain Life to do dmg. That's hardly bursting damage, which you'll definitely notice when you need it fast.

Pally: But the mage, I mean, once he burns everything, he's pretty much a paper weight.

Me: Yeah, but stick a Mage and your Warrior on one target, and that'll probably be one less to worry about right quick.

Pally: Unless it's a Pally healing. He can just bubble and heal our target through the damage. Ugh, I guess it comes down to whether I want to try and out-DPS the other team's heals or outlast them.

Me: A Warlock for out-lasting, for sure. Better long-term mana efficiency and the other healers get to blow their mana on removing DoTS all match long. And don't forget that 'locks can drain mana. Might come in handy. But if you want to try and DPS a target down asap and try to catch healers off guard, a Mage would work better me thinks.

Pally: Bah. Maybe I should just grab a Hunter.

Me: lol, well, they don't wear cloth. And they are getting buffed big time in 2.3.

Pally: That, and people in my battle group fall for feign death all the time.

Me: lol!

Pally: And cloth for the lose come Ignore Armor.

Me: Cloth definitely for the lose.

Pally: So it's settled then. Pally, Warrior, and Hunter.

Me: Grats man.

So there you have it! When trying to choose between a Warlock and a Mage post Patch 2.3, go with the Hunter. We can now finally put this issue to rest. Thank you, Blizzard. So very much.


Al'ar the Phoenix God - My First Time

Last night was a pretty interesting night for me. I log in expecting to be in a Karazhan raid as usual, but am put on stand by since I pretty much have all the Kara gear I need. Not a bad deal since the guild gets to spread the wealth and I got to take care of things around the house, so I didn't mind one bit. Towards the end of the raid, I received a whisper from one of my first acquaintances in WoW and my first real Guild Master. He is currently the raid leader for a much more active guild than I am in, and he was hoping to make use of my 'lock's DPS on Tempest Keep, in instances I have never ventured into. I figured that since my guild's raid was almost over (which it ended up not being, but that's a story for another time), I would jump in and help out. If nothing else, I could learn something useful.

Now like I said, I had never been in TK before last night, so I had no idea what to expect, how my spec would match-up against their TK-seasoned Warlocks, or even where I should be standing at any given moment. Thankfully, the trash had already been cleared and before I knew it, I was standing beneath Al'ar the Phoenix God herself. After a quick run through of what to expect, she was pulled. I peed a little.

/cast Curse of Recklessness. Normally I would put up an Agony or maybe even a Doom if I'm feeling a little devious, but since all of us Warlocks had our Curse duties set, and since this was not my guild, I figured I should abide by their rules and not my own. How rude of me if I were to do otherwise, right? Besides, being my first experience with Al'ar, I was more concerned with taking in the encounter than with my DPS... lol, okay, maybe not, but I WAS learning.

During Phase 1, it's apparently all about DPS'ing her down to 0%, and we did that just fine. I was 2nd in damage done at that point via DoT'ing with Corruption, Siphon Life, and Shadow Bolt nuking, making sure to Dark Pact or Life Tap while running between platforms (while Al'ar is out of range). Throughout the first 20-25% or so, I was casting Immolate until I finally realized that hey, it's a Phoenix, there's a reason my Immolates aren't landing. GG on my part. =)

Phase 2 was bit more complicated than your average nukefest, with Al'ar casting Meteor spells and summoning Phoenix adds to the floor. Being fairly spry as an Affliction 'lock, I kept everything DoT'ed as best I could, cycling between Al'ar and her adds and Shadow Bolt spamming the adds at every opportunity (when they die, they drain 3% of her current health, so initially, they take priority). Everything was going rather smoothly through the first 50% of Phase 2, but eventually the off-tank was unable to keep the adds off the rest of the raid and we wiped. That's pretty much what happened during all 3 attempts.

It was a seemingly simple encounter that is very sensitive to simple mistakes. I believe the only reason the raid did not down her was because after our 3rd attempt, people had to log for RL reasons. Had that not been the case, another couple of attempts would have probably seen her fall for sure. But as should always be the case, RL takes priority, and everyone was happy with the progress they had made as a guild.

From a Warlock'ing standpoint, it should be no problem for our class to get top DPS in this encounter, especially if you're Affliction spec. Just being aware of your DoT cycles (on Al'ar and all adds) and SB nuking when you can should do it. With that approach, I had the highest Damage Done for all attempts combined, and having never seen the encounter before and while being overly careful, I was very happy about that.

Now if I can just remember to keep from casting Immolate next time. See you then. =)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Today's LOL: Patch 2.3 Eye of "Kill"rogg Buff

This video speaks for itself. Enjoy!

EDIT: Okay, so maybe the vid doesn't speak for itself. Here's the deal: a Warlock doing some testing on the Public Test Realm noticed that his Eye of Kilrogg could do melee damage. Whether this is working as intended or not, we have no idea, but it makes for a very fun time at the opposing faction's popular dueling areas.

Second Eye Film

Thursday, November 8, 2007

WoW Figure Packaging; Unboxing Not Required

So I got my hands on one of these highly-sought-after WoW Figurines that DC Comics recently released. I wasn't really sure what to expect from them, being that they are "toys" and all, but to my surprise, and relief, they are really quite impressive! The figures themselves look great, and are fairly accurate representations of in-game characters. They are also decently large in size, with the "Meryl Felstorm" Warlock figure I purchased standing nearly 8 inches tall - a nice change compared with most "action figures" you see today, not that I'd know. The figurines carry quite a presence indeed, even while still packaged in their clear, plastic packaging. Here are a few images of the Warlock in it's original packaging, just to get you drooling a little.

I personally would have preferred a package more like the The Burning Crusade: Collector's Edition box, but the nerds guys at the comic shop tell me that the clear plastic allows you to enjoy the figure without actually removing it from it's box, which could diminish it's potential worth in the future. Sure. Okay.

In terms of the figure's actual looks, you probably noticed that while it does look pretty sick, it's not an exact replica of what is seen in game. Last time I checked, the Corruptor's raiment wasn't purple, for example, and the chain-link was on the helm, not the shoulders. But even with slight inconsistencies such as these, it is still a very nice piece to look at imho, and pulls off the game-to-figurine translation very well. GG DC.

If you want to grab one of your own, check this website for local resellers. Move quickly though -- they're selling out fast.

PTR: First Real Experience in Zul'Aman

I just finished my first run in the new Zul'Aman instance, which goes live next Tuesday. And I don't want to spoil any surprises for you, but I do have to say that the instance is most definitely a gear check. Our group of players was getting slammed all over the place, tanks nearly one-shotted, DPS seemed to be running out of steam, and healers just barely kept up, and all on the first boss!

Given, the raid group was a PuG on the PTR, and that created some communication roadblocks and other difficulties that probably made things more complicated than they needed to be. Still, the instance does seem to up the difficulty level for 10-mans, even if just a bit for those that are properly geared. The under-geared in our group definitely had a very difficult time, however, and our overall performance suffered as a result. The impression I had (and do keep in mind that this is only my first) is that pre-Karazhan blues just won't cut it in Zul'Aman. And casters, an excellent Spell Hit rating is a must.

All in all, the run was an enjoyable introduction to what we all be will seeing quite regularly come next week. Oh, and when you do eventually venture into Zul'Aman, bring two tanks. I know, I know, I said I wouldn't spoil anything. But trust me. You'll thank me later. ;)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tip of the Week: Hitchhike a Battleground

If you're like me, you often find yourself in Shatt with Hearthstone on cooldown, but needing to visit the AH for some auction goodness. If you then portal to Org or the UC to take care of business, you'd have to make your way back to Outland via the Dark Portal, which is a bit further than around the block. Of course, you could always summon the help of a Mage to tag along and port you from one place to another, but willing Cloth-wearing Vending Machines are a little hard to come by. And since waiting for your Hearth's CD is definitely out of the question, what do you do?

The answer is actually pretty simple. Que up for the PvP Battlegrounds before you port away from Shatt. Once you've done so, you can head over to Org or UC, deal with your AH duties, enter a Battleground, "/afk," and viola, you're back in Shatt. In order for this to work, however, you'll have to move rather fast, hope that the BGs don't pop too soon, and not allow the invitations for them to expire. If you can do all of this, you've essentially created another Hearthstone.

Instant gratification for the win.

Thank You

Pie for everyone! To all of those who whispered, emailed, and cheered at the blog's recent mention in WoW Insider, a heart-felt thanks. And I gotta thank the wonderful cast over at WI as well, who took the time to read my message, the blog post, and for their efforts in keeping all of us WoWers informed. Many thanks. =)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

PvP: Season 3 Start Date, Bye-Bye Season 1 Titles

Take note, ladies and gentlemen. On this day, Blizzard kept their word. You may want to pay attention to today's date as well, not only because it is indeed a rare and momentous occasion, but also because two weeks from today, Season 3 of Arena PvP begins. That's November the 20th - the morning after a weekly scheduled maintenance. And what does all of this mean, exactly? Well, outside the realm of the team-rating resets and the introduction of Season 3 gear, it would probably be a good idea to SAVE YOUR ARENA POINTS at this point. S3 gear will cost just as much as S2 gear does now, and even if you have your eye on a current piece (like I do), it'll be marked down come the 20th, so hang on to those points either way.

Also, if you haven't already, now might be a good time to start hording your 75k in standard BG Honor Points and Tokens, to spend on the refreshed Veteran's gear and even S1 gear if you need it. Not only does that gear offer a great starting point for those who lack Resilience, it's also sexy as hell. Consult Drysc's handy Q&A resource for further information.

Speaking of that post, did anyone else notice the bit that mentioned Season 1 Titles being reset? Apparently, titles are only offered as a reward for the previous season's performance. If a player does not participate in the following season or does not perform as well, they will either lose their title or it will change based upon their new standing, respectively. In other words, S1 Gladiators would have to perform their PvP feat all over again during S2 in order to keep their title. Otherwise, POOF, the title is gone. Pretty harsh imho, even if just a little.

Suddenly, having a permanent High Warlord title seems like a much greater thing than it did a minute ago...

See you next season. =)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Song of the Week

When I first heard this song late last week, I was absolutely floored. So much so, that I had to consult with other audiophiles to make sure that it was as good as I thought it was. They agreed that the song (and it's music video) is simply amazing; a marriage of different sounds so flawless that it has literally taken a few days for me to allow it's grandeur to sink in. I've listened to it over and over, and each time I appreciate it even more. I can say with certainty that this is the best song I have heard all year. Why I hadn't heard this song since it's release in 2005, I can't explain. Everyone should hear this asap, and this is why it comes to you now, early as this week's SotW. Here's Nightwish's Nemo. Enjoy. :)

PTR: Silence Changes Cancelled, Bliz <3 Shamans

Wow. Just, wow.

Not long after I finish my post on the changes incoming to Silence and Interrupts, I do a search for recent Blue posts and find a thread by Eyonix retracting the diminishing returns tweak altogether. Apparently all the complaints coming from certain classes paid off (not certainly, but definitely likely). Either that, or Kalgan has a Shaman alt we don't know about.

Eyonix did say that the issue will be addressed in the future, however. Why they are putting it off considering that it makes complete sense from a game-mechanics standpoint is beyond me though. From what I experienced, the changes had a very minimal effect at best in most situations, and in 5v5 Arena, it actually forced people to be more careful and play better. Was that too much of Blizzard to ask? Was it too difficult for players to put up with?

Apparently so on both counts. Very sad indeed.

DC Comics Figurines are Toys

Am I the only one taking issue with DC Comics for calling their WoW offerings "action figures?" As if I didn't feel juvenile enough already for playing a video game and writing about it every day. And now, I'll have to explain to my wife why I spent money on what's normally conceived as a children's toy. They couldn't have called it a sculptured piece or a collector's figurine or something a little more distinguished like that? Sigh. Well, if they didn't make the Warlock figure as excellent as it looks, I wouldn't be having this moment of discontent. At least they didn't call it a "doll," I guess.

To get an "action figure" of your own, check this website for local resellers.

PTR: Silence and Interrupt Changes

About midway through the General section of the PTR Patch Notes, you'll find that "Silence and Interrupt effects now have diminishing returns when used on PvP targets." And while this has many classes up in arms, it has me saying "it's about time!" Sure, a Warlock's Fel Hunter and Spell Lock will be affected by the changes being implemented, but I'm not too worried about that. An astute Warlock doesn't spam the ability or have it on "Auto" anyway, but instead uses it conservatively and carefully in any PvP environment. That's especially so in Arena play. So really, the impact on the 'lock is minimal from that standpoint.

From the opposite end of the spectrum, however, it's a different story. Where the changes really come into play are with abilities such as Earth Shock, Improved Shield Bash, and the like, all of which are on short cooldowns and can be spammed accordingly (drain-tanking Warlocks know that all too well). And while this created more of a nuisance than a real problem, I often felt that the mechanics were a bit slanted.

With all of the nerfs that have been applied to the duration and return of CCs such as Fear and Polymorph, I often wondered why Silence and Interrupt effects weren't thrown into the mix. They are a form of control themselves, after all, so it makes complete sense that they are given the nerfed PvP treatment, no matter what some have to say. So it's good to see it finally happen.

In actual play, the changes are noticeable, at least when giving them an extreme amount of attention. In 5v5 Arena, keeping the healers in check proved to be a bit more difficult and doing it well and effectively emphasized coordination and planning between different types of CC. In other situations, the changes were still obvious, but a little less pronounced.

One thing is for sure: in PvP play, finesse is becoming more and more important than than basic brute force (unless you have a Warrior, like Kalgan does). Given the list of changes over the past many patches, it's a safe bet that this is the case, that the trend will continue, and that players will just have to adapt to the new "style" if they are to remain successful.

It'll definitely be interesting to see how these changes sum up and affect the Arena scheme of things, and PvP in 2.3 in general.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

WotLK: The Clown Suit Returneth

I always found the Plagueheart Raiment to be one of the most interesting looking armor sets in the World of Warcraft. I would often joke upon seeing a T3-raiding 'lock that the circus must be in town, because even while others were seeing the Sand People from the Star Wars series, I was seeing Bozo the Clown. The Voidheart and Corruptor sets did well in making right the look of the raiding Warlock, but in an unfortunate twist of fate, it looks like we'll be getting a reminder of just how bad we once looked when Naxx is refreshed in the Wrath of the Lich King.

Blizzard Blue Bornakk has stated that Bliz intends to use the same Naxx armor models for the new version of the instance. So whether we Warlocks like it or not, our clown suit will be playing a major role in our raiding habits come Level 80. I can't say I'm thrilled about the decision, especially given the fact that I believe our T6 Raiment was a step in the wrong direction, but it is what it is. And I'm sure the updates stats will make-up for the gear's visual shortcomings.

I guess I just need to be a bit less metro about it, is all. =)

PTR: Gassy Nether Drakes

I don't know what Bliz has been feeding their Nether Drake mounts on the PTR, but whatever is on the menu, I wouldn't recommend eating it. The epic mounts are now emitting a plume of gas during flight. A small graphical tweak, but a tweak none-the-less.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

PTR: Mad Alchemist's Potion Fixed, Can Buff Twice

So it turns out that the Mad Alchemist's Potion was bugged after all, and that the recent patch to the PTR took care of the issue. Upon logging in and downing the 4 potions I had on me, I received 4 consecutive and different buffs, having to had canceled the previous one, of course.

I also looked into answering a question I had upon first hearing of this potion. The description always stated that it would not replace an existing elixir if one was active. However, I wondered if this was Guardian and Battle Elixir specific. After taking two pots back-to-back without canceling the first buff, that does indeed appear to be the case.

The question now becomes whether or not the pots will always apply a complimenting buff if the player already has a single elixir active. For example, if I had an Adept's Elixir (a Battle Elixir) active and I consumed a Mad Alchemist's Potion, would it only try to apply a Guardian Elixir when it procced? Or would it try to apply both types and have a greater chance at failing as a result?

After a bit of testing, it seems that the Mad Alchemist's Potion DOES recognize Elixir types, and tries to apply it's compliment as a result. In six of seven attempts where an Elixir was already active, the potion applied the compliment. So, one can argue that the potion does indeed recognize elixir buffs that are already active on the player and automatically attempts to apply the other elixir class. However, given that there were only seven trials, the observations could very well have been due to chance, and should be taken with a grain of salt. We'd need to complete many more attempts before we can come to any real conclusion on the matter.

Still, given this limitation, today's fix to the proc-rate of the potion itself brings it up to the level it should be. WAI, this is definitely a worthy pot all Alchemists should consider.

PTR: Mad Alchemist's Potion Effects

After a tip from Jesyka, I found myself looking at a pic posted over at World of Raids, which highlights some of the Mad Alchemist's Potion's side-effects. From what the info detailed, the 1-hr elixir buffs occur at a 95% proc rate (wth?) and are class-dependent, and since the OP was a Rogue, all of his buffs were melee-based elixirs, as in the image below.

What's most interesting to me is the 95% proc rate, a number that seems very high, and which seems to contradict information available on other websites and my own testing, where I consumed 20 Mad Alchemists Potions on my Warlock and have yet to receive a single buff. The following image is from MMO-Champion, and also depicts a higher proc-rate than from what I experienced only a few days ago.

Perhaps it was tweaked in the recent PTR update, or maybe I just have terrible luck. Who knows. But in any case, there are definitely some questions that still remain, and so it's back to more testing for me. Hopefully I'll have a list of caster buffs for you to drool over very soon. =)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Song of the Week

Yep, even after scouring through a bunch of titles, this week's SotW is another from Flyleaf. Hey, it's not my fault they bring it. ;) Here's All Around Me. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

PTR: Mad Alchemist's Potion (Update)

Sometimes, pictures work just as well as words, and since I'm feeling a bit lazy today, I'll use them instead of having to put thought into type. So here are a few pictures of the Mad Alchemist's Potion in action on the PTR. Enjoy. =)

Notice the actual description of it's use? The potion only gives a chance of a side-effect buff, not applying one with every single use. Given what Drysc had to say earlier, this is incredibly disappointing, because it sounded like the potion would proc an elixir buff every time. Instead, we are left to wonder not only what buff it will proc, but whether or not one will be applied at all. And after a bit of testing, the proc rate seems to be low, on the order of 1 out of every 10 uses or less (not a single one out of ten procced for me during testing).

Now keep in mind, all of this testing was done on the PTR and and may not be working as intended. But as things stand now, this is definitely not the buff to Alchemy I once thought it to be. Hopefully things will be tweaked for the better once 2.3 goes Live, but in the meantime, we'll just have to wait and see.

Warlock Pet Scaling

Is Blizzard open to the issue of Warlock Pets and their lack of scaling at high levels and improved gear? Well according to a recent thread on the Warlock Forums and a response posted by Bliz Blue Nethaera, it sure looks that way.

The argument is that Demon scaling is not working as intended, and Warlock pets are far too easily disposed of as a result. The approach to the problem, as most Warlocks see it, is that re-working 'lock pets to scale appropriately would be more of a fix than a buff. And with Nethaera's call for more information from the 'locking community, such a fix seems to have the potential of getting off the ground.

I'll be the first to admit that some pets need scaling fixes more than others, but that doesn't mean the issue doesn't deserve to be looked at closely, nor that Bliz could apply a fair fix specific to each individual pet. This is definitely worth keeping an eye on, and be sure to put in your two cents in the original thread as well.

Democracy in action people. I feel so patriotic. =)