Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Achievements and More Pets

My standard Warcraft routine is Looking For Raid after the weekly reset and move round to Tol Barad and Wintersgrasp at the back end of the week. In between I will try to finish off some achievements. The easiest way to get achievements for me is to do legacy raiding. My main character has polished off Vanila and TBC (except for Tempest Keep ). Naxx is mostly covered but I changed to Shaman healer for the other 3 raids in WotLK. A 10 or 25 man Ulduar would uncover a plethora of achievements for me. These forays are few and far between so I often fill my time trying to get furry cuddly companion pets.

Blizzard armory made the job far easier for the average Joe by showing what pets are owned and which are not. Of the 4 pages of pets many are specials Collectors Edition, Blizzard Store, Blizzcon or Trading Card Game. These Pets are lost to me and unless I become a Diablo III millionaire I will never own them. The remaining obtainable pets are World Drop, Seasonal, Darkmoon Faire, and Argent Tournament.

World drop are a pain in the backside and I have no stamina for endless farming. The only pet I regularly try for is the Fox Kit. This can be done whilst killing spiders (lovely skinnable spiders) in Tol Barad for commendations.

Seasonal pets are mostly from Children's week. I missed the first 2 events and spend subsequent years chasing the pets. Every year they seem to add more, but hopefully I will catch up this year I am still missing 5, Curious Wolvar Pup, Legs, Peanut, Scooter the Snail, and Whiskers the Rat.

The Darkmoon Faire, is due to start this weekend. I have yet to make a dent on the pets here and still need to collect, Cub, Monkey, Tonk, Turtle and Zeppelin. I hope to obtain at least one this time round.
I am not lover of the dailies here, but I don't mind the profession based quests. Just wish I could do the fishing quest as a daily, 35 skill ups a month would save a lot of time. Yes I know I am anal trying to get all my secondary skills to max before the arrival of the Pandas.

On the subject of boring or just plain annoying dailies, you can't beat the Argent Tournament. There was nothing wrong with several of the quests, ie. go here and kill bad people come back and get reward. The big problem was ride a mount and try and knock someone off. The problem I found was that I could get a lead and then lose all my shields by going for the kill and not keeping a close eye on the defence, and then it was game over. This was like a chess match but it seemed to last for much longer. To get to become a champion takes some considerable time but with all those pets on offer, I might need to review my strategy.

Last night with very limited playtime I decided to the The 'Unbeatable?' Pterodactyl: BEATEN achievement. Everybody I know hates this quest and the Jousters fly like a gold brick, but it's only 10 very annoying quests to get through. I am currently 6/10 of the way through it. After this high octane excitement, it was off to the Molten Front. The reason for this legacy activity is to hope that one day Zen'Vorka will give me his cache and it will have something of use in it. At 30 Mark of the World Tree, this has not been a very happy exchange. This time was different the RNG gods shone down and awarded me Scorched Stone. The best bit is I now have no reason to do these quests again except on my Gnome Rogue Engineer who needs the recipes especially the Flintlocke's Woodchucker.

Lawn of the Dead

It is rather shocking how somebody can spend so much time immersed in a game, and when not playing, reading as much information as possible, and still be totally clueless about some aspects of the game.

On my Hunter I have practically done Loremaster twice. I did the achievement pre Cataclysm and then to get the achievement for the questing in all the zones repeated the feat again. So you think I would be aware of 99% of the quests. Well over the last few days I discovered a huge gap in my knowledge.

For those trying to obtain as many furry little companions as possible you might have come across the Singing Sunflower.  This is a quest reward from a small chain of quests in the Hillsbrad Foothills just south of the Dalaran crater. Admittedly there is not much reason for any Alliance character to be in this part of the world.

Wowwiki describes the quest chain as "The Lawn of the Dead quest chain is a series of 5 quests that begin and end with Brazie the Botanist in Hillsbrad Foothills. Each quest zones the player to an instanced area, and allows them to play a game within the game, based on the popular internet game "Plants vs. Zombies". The interface changes giving you a new toolbar that allows you to use seeds. Once the final quest is completed, the player receives Brazie's Sunflower Seeds which teaches the player how to summon a new Cataclysm companion called the Singing Sunflower or Brazie's Sunflower."

On first read this translated as blah blah blah. So the upshot is that we have meta game based on another game that I never seen, that helps lots. The first few levels are relatively easy ramping up to the 4th and 5th which are very challenging. I failed the last level, hearthstoned to Stormwind and logged off WoW. I fired up Google to do a little research on improving my performance and found this on You Tube. I was fired up and wanted to log back immediately but it was late and my character was in Stormwind, this would have to wait.

As usual with these silly little games, I get very addicted to them and if I go to sleep soon after playing then I will dream about playing them. The original game that gave me such vivid dreams was Tetris. I used to rotate random shapes in my dreams. This time it was rows of triffids fighting zombies.

The next evening the first thing I did was login and wander off to Hillsbrad. Following the You Tube film the tactics worked a charm. So anybody having problems you know what to do.

The strategy is on the lines of 2 columns of sunflowers this will provide enough energy for all your needs. Columns 3 and 4 use the red spitting triffids. Column 5 use the tentacles. Replenish when Stilwater makes your plants wilt.

Hand in quest and enjoy your singing Sunflower. Writing this makes me want to do it again on a different character. I might even look up Plants v Zombies. I foresee a night of vivid dreams ahead.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Min Max

A recent Dev post by Ghostcrawler highlighted the issues faced by MMO's when designing their games. Most have settled for the tried and trusted Holy Trinity - Tank, Healer, and Damage Dealer. The article was well written and very honest. However I must dispute the following claim

"We can get all of the DPS specs pretty close together on target dummies, and indeed they actually are very close on target dummies today"

Does Ghostcrawler play BM Hunter or Frost Mage? I know I do. I feel that these 2 are way behind the other specs available. Perhaps Ghostcrawler has inside information for a secret rotation that Elitist Jerks have not discovered. I know he has hinted at this in the past. Please GC let us know.

When I first started with a mage, as with every other class you get to level 20 without dying, then on a sortee into Stranglethorn Vale, I first noticed how easy the clothies died. Up against one foe the mage could execute anyone with a string of Frostbolt, Arcane Missile, and Fireball, but if they managed to hit you face to face that was very bad. From a leveling point of view it made absolute sense to me to make the most use of the slowing spells, which in vanila meant Frostbolt and Frost Nova. The leveling specs seemed to choose themselves.

The same was also true when I created my first character, a Warrior. I didn't really get on with the playstyle and quickly created another character. This time I studied the guide books and decided that I really liked the idea of having a pet fighting alongside me. At level 10, I picked up my first pet and my first talent. That very first talent point I placed in Beast Mastery, I had no reason to pick BM other than that seemed liked the best place to start.

I never took any particular notice until TBC when I wanted to know more about Hunters and in particular BM. I discovered first the Hunters Mark (a blog that is no longer with us) and from there I followed a link to Big Red Kitty. BRK was brazen in his love for his pet cat and the magical spells Bestial Wrath and the Beast Within. BRK believed that BM was capable of topping the meters, at a time when 50% of the hunter community was specced Marksman. This period is now considered to be time of the Beast Master but most commentators believed at the time that Marksman was producing vastly superior numbers. Is this a case of rose tinted glasses? What was not mistaken was how Overpowered BM was in the early stages of WotLK. The nerf bat was swung and the classic age of BM was consigned to history, never to return to it's once lofty heights.

The arguments at the time centred on BM being easymode and the more complexed rotations of Marksman and Survival deserved to be rewarded with higher DPS output. In Cataclysm none of the specs appears to be any harder than the others and in some respects BM requires the most management of both Pet and cooldowns. So does one spec deserve to be so undervalued for so long? If Blizzard is considering changing Hunters, Rogues, Warlocks and Mages from 3 to 2 alternative specs, which ones deserve to survive. In the case of Hunters, Survival lacks the flavour of the other 2 specs, yet this is the current top raiding spec.

For the Altaholics amongst us, swapping specs is a monumental undertaking. At present I play 10 characters with a total of 12 different specs to get my head around. If you just concentrate on one character it is not such a big thing to swap from Marksman to Survival, research the glyphs, rotations best stats etc. Then go and bash a dummy for 20 minutes. Multiply that by 7 and then it starts to become a problem

In the case of Mage I would argue that Frost and Fire are so similiar in terms of spells, that the only difference is the colour of the spells. In reality one of these specs is the top raiding spec and the other is flourishing in PvP as the first for the enemy to target to stop that never ending trap/ensnaring machine that Frost as become. It probably makes more sense to have a hybrid of the two with special damage being awarded for the cross use of hot and cold.

Warlocks and Rogues also suffer from the same inbalances, although I can safely say I don't enough about either class to make the same sweeping statements. So I would guess for the Pures, the choice is going to reduce to two. At the same time, the all singing all dancing Druids actually branch out to get a fourth tree. With this kind of versatility what hope have the Pures got of surviving future expansions.

A quick look on WoW Census shows that the four classes under the median of 10% are Rogues, Warlocks, Shaman, and Warrior. Rogues are probably on a little bit of a comeback with the current raiding tier offering a chance at a pair of Legendaries. Even without the Lengendaries on offer, Dragon Soul seems to shower the stealthy pointy daggered breatheren with weapons. Shaman like Druids used to suffer with a lack of race options and will probably always been a minority class. Warlocks have always suffered with a close approximation to Mages and have the distinction of being the Mages evil twin. This is probably a turnoff for the Teenage Human Paladin brigade. Warrior is an unglamourous class, with a stigma attached to those daring not to be Tanks. They suffer this problem more than any other class even though Death Knights have exactly the same makeup of one tanking Spec and two Dps specs.

So what is going to happen when there is a new Race and Class to choose from? I personally see a very black and white future.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Reputation Grinds

Two posts in and both are of a grumpy complaining nature, I am going to create a reputation for myself as a gnarled and grumpy dwarf.

As the proud owner of 10 Level 85 characters on the same sever I have a fair understanding of most classes. The only class missing from my stable 10 is Priest. It was an odd choice but I decided that I wanted to speed level a character from what was 1-80 as quickly as possible whilst collecting a bundle of herbs and a ton of ore. In my opinion priest wasn't the class that sprang to mind. The answer to me was simple - a Beast Master Hunter. Shoot once collect herbs and ore, loot corpse and rinse and repeat. At the time I set a personal record for days played for a max character, this of course is nothing compared to the time to level in the Cataclysm era, with the streamlined questing, LFD, Heirloom gear and xp for mining and herbing. This is the reason I have 2 Hunters and no Priest, anyway I can't have a Priest on religious grounds.

The biggest bugbear for an altaholic is rep grinds. The first compulsory rep grind I remember for all maxed characters was the Sons of Hodir. The only purveyors of Shoulder enchants. To get the Hodir to stop beating you up involved a long quest chain, and then there was the slow trickle of doing dailies in a far flung corner of the continent. Blizzard in their infinite wisdom later nerfed the grind and instead you could throw emblems at the issue and buy up the ever increasing supply of Relics of Ulduar. By the end of the expansion Half of my characters had become exalted with Sons of Hodir and the only reason why the figure is not 100% is because the shoulder enchants became Bind on Account.

Now it doesn't need take a huge leap of imagination to know where the rest of this post is going.  Therazane, the huge roadblock which requires the completion of Deepholm before you can even start the rep grind. Ok so you can get a Tabard but it still takes an age before you can get to that point. The modern grinds are nowhere near the torture inflicted by Vanila and TBC, anybody remember the original Timbermaw rep, or the number of Ogres killed to get your Talbuk from Nagrand. No wonder we got used to having a main character and alts stayed between level 10-20, there wasn't enough time to do everything once never mind twice.

I have started the grind to complete Deepholm on my Shaman, and I have to say it is very satisfying to oneshot everything in the zone and to move swiftly through towards my goal. The only zones I completed on every character are Hyjal and Uldum, so Deepholm was only used as a stepping stone to get from Level 82 to Level 83. This equates to about 20 or 30 quests of the 110 required for the Zone achievement.

My point is, it might be interesting to do a couple of times but there is no way I will complete on all 10 characters. So c'mon Blizz help us out a little, make shoulder enchants Bind on Account. On the subject of helping us out, any chance the ordinary people might get to see Epic gems in sockets of our Epic gear before we all go Panda mad. A transmute would not go amiss.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Reset Day

Wednesday, WoW reset day for the European servers. For the average altaholic that means several runs at the Looking For Raid. The Cataclysm expansion as been a hard slog for those with more than a main character to gear up.

At present that means 3 characters doing both parts of Dragon Soul and 2 doing the first part only.
The 3 characters doing the full Raid are Hunter, Shaman and Mage with Druid and Paladin cutting their teeth on the first 4 bosses.

After 2 Months of running weekly LFR's I have yet to snag a single weapon on any of my runs. Mostly it is not down to bad roll but it is more often a result of the wrong weapons for the current character. I am sure the Shaman could have won a Bow and Polearm and the Hunter a healing Staff or Mace. At this rate the Hunter will still be sporting the Season 10 PvP Rifle .

Last night was a complete disaster. The general consensus amongst most bloggers is that LFR is just too damn easy. Well I can safely say that depends on the 24 people that you are sharing the lootfest with. Entering the raid at 3/8 (Not sure why Blizzard didn't use 7/8) I felt that luck was on my side, 250 Valor, a chance at a weapon for 15 minutes coasting against Deathwing. I should have known better.

The chances are the healers had dropped out because the raid was less than useless. After 2 failed attempts and wipes on the far right handside were the flailing tentacles need to be single targeted, I decided it was time to review what was going wrong. Most LFR's I have taken part in the DPS is normally around 20K+. A quick check of the meters revealed a large chunk on 30-40K so it wasn't for lack of firepower. One of the Tanks was dying very easily when the party turned round to face the trouble at the back. On one occasion I went back to try to find him to give a heal and move on back to the party. I couldn't actually find him, I can only think he was fighting Deathwing via a coastal assault.

The biggest issue I noticed was that my Shaman was top of the Healing tables, and further more I was struggling for mana for large parts of the fight. Is it so difficult for DPS to move an inch to stand in the lovely blue glow of my Healing Rain. I do blame Blizz for sending out confusing signals. For 6 years the mantra was always don't stand in the nasty stuff. Now we have had 1 year of don't stand in the nasty stuff but stand in this nice stuff instead. All this whilst trying to maintain a rotation and switch targets. This particular fight does not require much movement and no nasty stuff on the floor. So c'mon DPS huddle up and keep those green bars up. I have no real desire to waste all my mana because you can't be arsed to move.

Next week I want a nice gentle stroll tossing out the occasional heal, and a nice healing weapon would more than make up for it.