Friday, February 29, 2008

Life Tap in 2.4: How Will it Affect the 0/21/40 Build?

I don't have much time to post tonight, but I will leave you with this thought for the weekend. If Blizzard insists on making Life Tap scale negatively with Stamina, therefore forcing us to allocate our Talent points into worthless Talents (especially in the Demo tree), they also have no choice but to reconstruct our talent trees to make them more efficient and complimentary to this change. There is no question about it -- it just has to be done during the next class review, and soon!

I mean, just take a look at the state of our 0/21/40 end-game DPS build (and yes, I know these aren't the best talent allocations, but just bear with me so I can make my point):

The way things stand now on the PTR, we'd be foregoing Demonic Embrace and Fel Stamina (once staples of the Demonology Tree) for talents that buff our soon-to-be sacrificed pet. How backwards is that? And don't even get me started about having to drop 5 points into Cataclysm -- what was a "meh" talent now becomes a must, sacrificing the investment of points for more important talents down the tree.

In any case, both trees are in desperate need of a review and much needed action. And when you're considering changes, Blizzard, please remember that you've already created a Mage class.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

PTR: Life Tap Tweaked

I hate amusement parks, mostly because I hate amusement park rides. I've never been able to stand them, not because I'm frightened of heights or anything like that, but because in my mind there's nothing fun about making yourself nauseous. How does turning your stomach inside-out equate to a good time? I just don't get it, and I just refuse to take part. While dating a girl in high school, I made her go on a roller coaster by herself. Harsh, but I just didn't feel like vomiting the rest of the evening, ya know?

Anyway, I'm getting off track (lol...).

A new build of the PTR came online today, featuring the Life Tap changes that Bliz Blue Hortus told us were coming. This change, from my perspective, and by the way Hortus had written his comment, seemed like it would be an all-out improvement on the Life Tap issue based upon the feedback Bliz had received over the last few days. However, the end result has left me, and pretty much all of the Warlocks I have spoken to, scratching their heads.

Down. Up. And down yet again.

Life Tap now, at Rank 3, converts 20% of a Warlock's maximum health into 20% of his/her maximum mana -- a more amplified version of the change that got Warlocks, and raiders in general, into a frenzy. Why should a PvP-motivated change affect PvE at all?

People are angry, no doubt. The grandeur of posts on the official forums makes that clear. But what is even more pronounced is how confused people seem to be over this most recent change. Instead of taking a step back from their original plan, which is what Hortus's post seemed to imply would be happening, the devs have taken another step "forward" in a direction players did not want to see them heading. Is it simply a matter of lazy implementation in nerfing PvP, or is there something to this change that many of us just aren't seeing?

I'm still trying to figure that one out, personally. With the reintroduction of Life Tap ranks, the sting of the initial nerf is definitely less painful since we'll be able to down-rank where necessary. But, the change is still a nerf to PvE, and is quite the annoyance for the average raiding Warlock for sure.

Changes will likely keep incoming, however. So don't get too comfortable just yet. Just keep your fingers crossed, and hopefully we'll see an up-turn in this carnival ride yet.

Tip of the Week: Google Pack Goodness

As WoW players, we are frequented by the idea that all of the hard work we put into our toons can disappear in a flash the moment our account is compromised. I'm sure you know of someone, maybe even a small crowd of people, that has been hacked and seen all of their gear destroyed or their toons deleted. The experience is harsh, and the process of recovery is a long and daunting task. So what can we do to help ensure we do not experience these issues first hand? Google offers a few options, and they're free. ;)

Head on over to the Google Pack front page where you will see a collection of software programs that you can install at no cost whatsoever. Among this excellent list are two key proggies that are a must-have for anyone looking to help secure their system: Spyware Doctor and Norton Security Scan. Both do a great job at catching potential risks and removing them without a hitch. In my experience, they are catching items even my corporate anti-virus program is missing. Not bad for a couple free programs!

So grab those programs asap and run those scans regularly. I'm sure you'll be happy with the result.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

PTR: Life Tap Progress

The last 48 hours have introduced quite the predicament for Blizzard developers:

Thankfully, it doesn't look like it'll ever come to that.

Warlocks, and the WoW community in general, came out in great numbers to oppose the Life Tap nerf and Bliz's blatant disregard for PvE while making PvP-focused changes. And while it didn't quite get to the point of erecting billboards and forming picket lines, it may as well have, as a multitude of threads were started all over the interwebs, arguing against the ground-breaking change. As a result, Blizzard has taken note, and the nerf will be tweaked in a PTR patch to come.

Obviously, this isn't the end of the story and there will be much more to follow... but there is still something tugging at me about this whole ordeal. See, Blizzard is a smart company, with very intelligent developers (even though sometimes, that's hard to believe). How could they make such a grand mistake with the mechanics of one of their most popular classes?

Call me crazy, but I'm thinking that this Life Tap nerf is only the beginning of a change Blizzard already has in store for the Warlock class. Introducing this huge nerf first may be a way to make the upcoming change more palatable -- making it the lesser of two evils, if you will.

Heh, look at me sounding all conspiracy theorish... but whatever. I'll just leave you with that thought and let time do the rest.

For now, I'm off to lunch, where I won't be feasting on Bliz babies. At least not today. ;)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lady Sylvanas: New Model FTW!

After word spread via WoW Insider that the new skins found in the updated PTR files may belong to Lady Sylvanas, commenter Meira went to work. She produced this wonderful WoW Model Viewer image of how the new Banshee Queen's skins would look in her current gear, and I must say, I'm liking it big time.

Hopefully we'll be seeing this as our Forsaken leader very, very soon.

GG Meira!

PTR: New Skin for Sylvanas?

Poster Gurluas over at the MMO-Champion member forums uncovered an interesting skin within the files of the updated PTR. As he states, they resemble a female Blood Elf with red eyes and gear that closely matches those worn by Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, the leader of the Horde's Forsaken.

Currently, Sylvanas is modeled using the Night Elf skin, which according to WoW lore, is a very inaccurate portrayal of the Banshee Queen. This "new" skin (and I can only hope that's what it is), however, would better depict Sylvanas's history as a High Elf, a race that eventually took on the name of "Blood Elf" in honor of their fallen brethren - a pretty sweet story imho.

Here's to hoping we see this skin on the Live realms soon, and as Sylvanas for sure! And a big thanks to Gurluas for uncovering it. Good work!

PTR: Regarding the Life Tap Nerf

Currently on the PTR, Life Tap is removing 16% of a Warlock's max health and returning 16% of the Warlock's max mana. Anyone familiar with the Warlock class should immediately recognize a major problem with this class-defining mechanic -- it reinforces the stacking of Intelligence over Stamina, which is contradictory to the Warlock's history and design (which encompasses talents, spells, and especially gear).

I'm saving my thoughts, and tears, until the Life Tap nerf becomes official, but given the fact that the Emberstorm change isn't "official" and yet is accepted as true, this situation is definitely not looking good.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

PTR: The Fire Warlock Materializes

So just as expected, Blizzard updated the Emberstorm talent in the latest PTR build to provide a 10% cast time reduction to Incinerate. We knew this was bound to happen after MMO Champion's recent report on the very odd, 1-rank change to Emberstorm in the last build. But quite frankly, I'm surprised it (the new PTR build, that is) was sprung on us so quickly. And yet I am pleasantly surprised to find that, imho, they got it right this time -- reducing Incinerate's cast time between 2% and 10% based on the investment of up to 5 talent points.

The change will obviously make raiding with Fire much more reasonable for our class, but what is not immediately obvious is the new dimension this may provide to the raiding Warlock. When choosing between throwing Fire or Shadow, it's always reasonable to consider what gear we have (most of our available gear tends to favor Shadow), but now it will also depend on who we are complimented with in-raid. If we are partied with a Shadow Priest, curse with Curse of Shadow and spam Shadow Bolts -- as per the usual. If partied with a Fire Mage, however, it might be more beneficial to curse with Curse of Elements and take advantage of the Scorch effect. Not only may this result in very competitive damage, but based on usual raid compositions, it may be a greater benefit of the raid as a whole (CoS vs. CoE with more DPS taking advantage of CoE post-2.4). Lots of potential here, for sure.

It'll be interesting to see how these changes play out in-raid and how many Warlocks will be swayed to the lighter side of the dark side. Time will tell, I guess. But in the meantime... lets just sit back and enjoy the moment. This is a buff for our class, after all. Who knows when the next one will come around. ;)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Incinerate Buffed, Shadow Warlocks Laugh Mildly

In the World of Warlocks, there has always been one unequivocal truth: Shadow beats Fire. Even with the introduction of the fire-based Incinerate spell, the Improved Shadow Bolt talent and the Bolt's great scaling has kept Shadow-'locks seeing their fire counterparts fall behind them in DPS meters very regularly. It's a sad reality for pyro-fanatics for sure, and no matter how hard they try and much damage a Fire-'lock is able to put out at any given moment, a Shadow-'lock can always do better. And oh how Fire-'locks have cried.

Well, Blizzard is apparently (some would say "finally") looking to give Warlock fire DPS a bit of a boost, and as soon as Patch 2.4, even!

In what is listed as an "Undocumented Change" over at MMO Champion, PTR Fire Warlocks have received a slight buff in the form of a tweak to the Emberstorm Talent. Instead of just increasing damage done by fire spells, the first rank of this five point talent will also increase the casting speed of Incinerate by a whole 2%!

If that number seems small and relatively insignificant, it's because it is. A 2% increase in the base casting speed of Incinerate amounts to only a 0.05 second decrease in cast time. So instead of firing off Incinerates every 2.5 secs, Fire-'locks will be able to cast them every 2.45 secs instead. To put that into perspective, it would take 50 Incinerate casts at 2.45 secs to gain enough time to fit in one extra Incinerate, compared to the current 2.5 sec standard. Not very impressive.

When considering Spell Haste and how it will affect the Incinerate "buff," I don't see the changes being relevant, especially since you would need a great deal of Spell Haste to have a profound impact in the first place. And in most cases, stacking Spell Haste is usually at the expense of Spell Hit and Spell Crit, which Destruction Warlocks currently live by in end-game (and which Bliz seems to be leaning back towards in Sunwell). Quite a disappointing and frustrating mechanism to say the least!

But all is not totally unsubstantial. At least Blizzard is finally listening to the Fire-'lock's complaints and moving to make their situation a little better (even if it's painfully obvious they have no idea what they are doing atm). Hopefully they'll tweak things a bit more on the PTR to make the changes more significant. I'm thinking that taking this relatively minor change a few steps further and offering a 10% increase in casting speed of Incinerate with 5/5 points in Emberstorm is where this change will end up going. Given the weak performance of the current status of things, I can't see how Bliz could justify NOT making such a change.

But until that happens, whenever that day may be, my Shadow Bolt-spamming self is just going to sit here and snicker a little. ;)

Good times.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Song of the Week

Growing up as a child of the 80's, one of my favorite music videos was Genesis's Land of Confusion. It was a video that was chopped full of hilarious puppet goodness and an awesome beat -- two things any kid would enjoy. Being so young, little did I recognize the motivation behind the song and the powerful message it was sending. These days, the message is just as applicable, and even more clear with Disturbed's remake of the song, which is this week's SotW. A great song to raid to, PvP to, or just listen to. It's a decent animated video too. ;)


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tip of the Week: Milk Valentine's Day Seasonals

I know the title of this post is a little odd considering the content of my last one, but trust me, it'll make sense when this post is all said and done and I've explained to you how you can get everything you want out of this year's Valentine's Day seasonal event... except a girl or boyfriend, that is. But who needs those expensive luxuries anyway when you've got Romantic Picnic Baskets and Lovely Black Dresses to find? ;)

To have a shot at one of these seasonal items, you must first purchase a bottle of perfume or cologne and a stack of Valentine's notes/cards from a vendor that sells them (Innkeepers in the main cities do). Put on the perfume if most of the guards around you are male, or the cologne if most are female, and wait for hearts to appear over their heads. When they do, talk to them, and choose the option at the very bottom that gives them one of your cards. In return, they will give you a box of items, very few of which contain the items we're looking for. Either that, or they will reject you, but we're not worried about that. You can only receive one of these gift boxes once per hour -- but that means you can do this incoming tip every hour!

Here's what you do: make several level one alts and run them to the nearest capital city. Send each of them 2 silver (enough for a bottle of cologne/perfume and a stack of cards), and login with each toon every hour to receive a gift box from your guard of choice. If you don't want to have that much downtime in-between attempts, start a single alt, run him/her to the nearest capital city, send the toon some gold, buy the items, interact with a guard, check your box, delete the toon, rinse and repeat. Pretty simple, and it cuts your wait-time by about 50 mins! This will greatly increase your chance at receiving either the Romantic Picnic Basket or the Lovely Black Dress.

The basket is a really fun seasonal novelty item that every collector will enjoy. It's soulbound, so you can't move it between toons readily, but the trick is to keep the basket INSIDE the gift box you are given by the guards. That way, you can move it to whatever toon you'd like... even a prospective buyer. ;)

The dress, well, it kinda speaks for itself:

The great thing about this item is that it is NOT SOULBOUND and can be freely sent from one player to another. Since they are fairly rare and sexy as hell, they also sell for a decent amount on the AH, often going for 200-300g. Very easy monies ftw.

So there you have it -- very easy tips to milk the current season of all of it's lovely goodness. Good luck with those gifts, and Happy Valentine's! <3

Monday, February 11, 2008

Live: Valentine's Is Upon Us

As most of WoW's community keeps busy scouring the webs for new Patch 2.4 info, my good friend and fellow High Warlord warlock Demordrah decided he'd rather spend his time making a Valentine's day gift to celebrate the holiday's kick-off in Azeroth today. And I must say... it's quite "dairy-ing," as you can obviously see.

I'm so taking that to Kinko's and making me a mousepad! LEWL.

Thanks Demo, and a happy start to the Valentine's seasonal to all. <3

Sunday, February 10, 2008

2.4: Timbal's Focusing Crystal

I could write in great detail about a trinket being introduced in Patch 2.4 and how wonderful it will be for Affliction Warlocks... or, I could just post a picture and let it do all the talking for me. =)

Hello DoTS??? I mean can you even imagine what kind of damage this item can do with multiple DoTS ticking on multiple mobs all at the same time? There is definite PvE and PvP potential here, as long as the internal cooldown isn't too lengthy. But even if that is the case, this sweet little item should be VERY high on every Warlock's list come Patch 2.4, and at the top of Affliction Warlock lists for sure.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

PTR: New Fire Animation

Guildmate Jezpadoo pointed me in the direction of this YouTube video that shows the new fire animation in WoW Patch 2.4. The video isn't of incredible quality (and seems to abruptly come to a end) and is very short, but it's enough to show the vastly improved fire presentation that I can only hope will apply to fire spells as well.

Patch 2.4: Badge of Justice Priority

Big changes are incoming to the way most guilds are likely to approach their daily operations. As WoW Insider reported earlier today, new, Black Temple-level gear will be available via Badges of Justice come Patch 2.4. The vendor is on Sunwell Isle, and probably won't be all that difficult to get to (selling raid spots, anyone?). But the items themselves are probably going to be VERY expensive, on the order of 100 Badges and up I'd imagine, which would take several weeks of farming raid instances to acquire.

So, that begs the question... are Heroic Dungeons going to see a much larger role in the average guild's list of priorities, come Patch 2.4?

In the guild I am currently in, there is a standard hierarchy that is applied to certain objectives in-game, and which seemingly never fail. Daily quests are easily at the top of the list, with many guildmates spending hours logged in on mains and alts for the sole purpose of completing them. When those are done, PvP then takes precedence with many taking to the Battlegrounds to grind Honor Points. A distant third are the lonely Heroics, which at best are only run once a day by a small minority of the guild.

Currently, it's understandable why Heroics aren't that big of a deal -- the motivation to run them, the Badge of Justice, drop like candy in raid instances, which are scheduled, weekly runs. For example, where you would only receive 3-4 badges in any given Heroic, you would receive over 20 when clearing Karazhan. Sure, the raid takes more time, but it's time set aside and planned for, which is not the case for Heroic Instances (at least not in this guild), and hence why Heroics are a distant third to dailies and the Battlegrounds.

However, I can't see that approach remaining popular once extremely high level gear is introduced via the Badge-vendor system. Even when raiding several 10 and 25-mans a week, it would take several weeks to acquire the number of Badges that will probably be needed to purchase these BT-level items. Complimenting the raids with Heroic Dungeons, which are not limited to a lengthy reset time-table, would be a great asset in acting to acquire these items asap. Thus, it would be very unreasonable for a guild to not make running Heroics (and gearing up their members for Sunwell) a much bigger priority.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Draining a Long Ways Away

While not the result of any 2.4 changes that have hit the PTR earlier this evening, my Warlock's Drain Soul saw an incredible range buff earlier today. I was minding my own business, collecting Soul Shards in Terokkar, when all of a sudden the beast I was draining was propelled a huge distance in front of me and out of site. My Drain Soul spell kept ticking, however, and I eventually received a Soul Shard even though the target was well out of range.

Strange, isn't it? The phenomenon was probably due to lag, but the fact that the spell was still doing damage and that I received a shard still has me scratching my head. Oh well, at least it makes for a good picture.

WTB range like that on all our spells pls, kthx! =)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Song of the WeeK

This week's SotW is the result of an email I received from "Gregory" in the UK. In it he asks "Jagoex, why no trance music for your songs of the week?" Honestly, Gregory? I have no idea! I LOVE good euro-dance, like DJ Encore and even a good amount of old school E-Type and Scooter. So, how about some of the awesome DJ Tiesto and one of my favorites, Love Comes Again? Enjoy! ;)

Monday, February 4, 2008

On the Warlock Forums: Spell Haste and Affliction

Spell Haste has been a very hot topic since it was announced that it will decrease the global cooldown in Patch 2.4. Where most of my interest lies regarding the change is whether or not it will have a significant impact on Affliction Warlocks and their end-game raiding DPS. Some seem to think that with faster, less spread-out DoT applications, a Warlock will be able to throw in another Shadow Bolt or two before it would be time to refresh, therefore increasing damage output by a decent amount. Others, however, don't believe the change will add up to much of a DPS difference at all, and are looking forward to more tweaks that would better help the Affliction tree in end-game.

Two threads worth reading on the matter are HERE and HERE, with the first doing a bit of theory-crafting about the changes and it's impact on Affliction while the second asks why Spell Haste doesn't speed up DoT ticks and offers up some valuable responses.

I'm sure this topic of discussion isn't going to go away anytime soon, so expect more info to be incoming at any time. =)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Wii Be Rockin'

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of Guitar Hero III. I've posted about it several times, play it almost every day, and talk about it with my students waaaay too much -- almost as much as WoW, even. But even still, as excellent and fun that game is, I have always been a little jealous of PS3 and Xbox 360 owners. No, not because of better graphics or a more substantial library of titles. I'm jealous because along with GHIII, they get to rock out to Rock Band as well.

Well I am thrilled to say that I am jealous no more!

EA confirmed that Rock Band will be coming to the Wii sometime this fiscal year, and oh how Wii owners should be rejoicing. Not only do we get to play the hottest game on the market today, BUT WE GET TO DO IT WITH WII-MOTES! HA!

The 2009 fiscal year begins in April, so we'll be seeing this game sometime after that. And like its PS3 and Xbox 360 counterparts, I'm sure it'll cost a pretty penny.

Wii owners, start saving. ;)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Razer Lycosa Reviewed

Back in October, I was in the market for a new desktop keyboard and posted about a new, gamer-centric board produced by Razer. The Lycosa had many attractive features, including a variety of macro functions, back-lit keys, and a price well within even the most frugal gamer's budget. On paper, it seemed to be a WoW-player's perfect fingering companion (O.o), but how would it stack up IRL?

To help answer that question, CNET recently put the Razer Lycosa to the test. And while they went into the review with high expectations and found some qualities in the board to get really excited about, they came out of it just a little disappointed.

To sum the review up, CNET praised the macro functions of the board and it's solid feel and build quality -- some major points if you ask me. What they didn't like about it, however, was the dim and unadjustable keyboard back-lighting, which they said wasn't strong enough in a well-lit room (lol?). They also were not impressed with the single USB slot on the board itself and it's apparently flimsy software offering -- items that are relatively minor imho, but they may matter more to others and are definitely things to keep in mind.

All in all, they gave the board a "Very Good" 7.7/10 rating. Not bad at all. =)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Tip of the Week: New Realm Name-Squatting

Blizzard has announced another round of free transfers for players of select realms. My realm happens to be one of them, and many players on the server are scrambling to take care of last-minute preparations before hitting the transfer button and moving their toons. All the while, because the destination realm is a new server closed to new character creation, many are worried about their character names being taken by same-name individuals that beat them to the transfer-punch. Thankfully, there is a simple solution to this potential identity crisis.

Instead of rushing a transfer in order to keep your name and potentially missing something important along the way, find a source realm that doesn't have a toon with your name on it, create a character with that name, and then immediately transfer it to the destination realm. Then, when you are ready to transfer your own character to the new realm, delete the newly created toon and transfer yours over with name intact.

Easy enough, right? But understand, it's not a sure thing.

In a scenario in which your name is very common or popular, you may be unable to find a source realm without a character with that name already. In such a case, it'd be best to take care of your business quickly and efficiently, and then transferring asap. It takes a little bit of patience and luck, but unfortunately, it's your only option.

Good luck! =)

You Call This "Caster Love?!"

After a lengthy period of practically no substantial news on the WoW front whatsoever, the internets has just about exploded with activity regarding some new and interesting information about Patch 2.4. Many people are incredibly excited, and even Warlocks seem happy about what they are seeing. However, not all information is straightforward information, and unfortunately for us Warlocks, it looks like Patch 2.4 offers us the short end of the buff-stick yet again.

As Eyonix explains in a thread on the Warlock Forums from earlier today, Warlocks will be able to use their Ritual of Summoning to summon a player into an instance from anywhere in the world. In other words, the restriction that prevented players from being summoned into an instance will be removed, allowing them to be summoned from the outside, in. And, that's it. Seriously.

To put things into perspective about just how dull this "buff" to the Warlock class is, take into account what other clothies are receiving. Mages will see their DPS much improved thanks to the synergy they'll have between their Icy Veins talent and a newly tweaked Spell Haste system, which will lower the Global Cooldown of spells that are cast in under 1.5 seconds. And lets not forget about Priests, who will be allowed to cast Fear Ward in Shadowform, removing the need to switch forms to cast it while saving some much needed mana -- a very functional change.

Those changes, THAT is what you call "caster love," my friends. What the other casters are getting? THOSE are buffs, people. What Warlocks are receiving, well, lets put it this way. The change makes life more convenient for those being summoned, and does next to nothing for the summoners themselves. It's not a buff to the Warlock class -- it's just another tweak we receive to a non-combat ability, while seeing many other classes have their combat skills improved. This is not a buff.

It's a back-handed slap in the face.