Monday, 21 October 2013

Broken Arrow

My children have been away for the weekend and my wife was working nights, so over the weekend I gorged myself on World of Warcraft. I have played on characters that  I have not played on in months, and even did the daily Timeless Quest on seven different characters in one day.

My wife caught me sneaking off to complete a quest when I should have been somewhere else, doing housework. She said, "Get downstairs now!", I replied that I was just killing a mob and would down in a minute. At this point she came into the computer room and stared at the screen. "That is not one mob!" I said it is OK I am a Death Knight, "You are killing five, level 90 Elites at the same time, this game is so broken."

There you go, that is the verdict of my wife who has been away from the game for 3 years. She quit when Blizzard decided that all instances should be rock hard, and that healers should heal with triage. That was one bad move Blizzard, it killed my entire network of friends, when 5 people communicating over Skype could not co-ordinate themselves sufficiently, then the skill level was quite frankly way out of kilter.

Death Knights have always held a special place in the class structure. They are the only class deemed to be hero class, although the only benefit that bestows would appear to be ability of starting at level 55. Death Knights starting zone is about learning skills and gathering a complete Blue set. This made them extremely over powered and despite radical changes to the class the Blood Death Knight remains incredibly difficult to kill, providing it is managed correctly. This unique ability once the preserve of the Paladin class with the multiple survivability techniques, allows Death Knights to solo content that they have no right to be able to defeat.

I have stopped worrying so much when doing the Timeless Isle. The Elder Turtles buffering me along the beach is not a major issue, they do only small amounts of damage. Other classes can be absolutely mauled by the spin ability, three hits and you are dead. Death Knights soak up this damage without really breaking stride. An iLevel of 500 really seems to be the tipping point and the three Timeless buffs  Dew of Eternal Morning, Book of Ages and Singing Crystal. The buffs take a few days to assemble a few of each, but once you do then the Daily quest becomes a matter of routine. I took a Monk and a Druid to the Isle and had a torrid time until I was able to work out a technique and choose my battles with up most care and attention. A little tip to make the best use of the buffs when they are in short supply is to log out on the Isle. Hearthstoning back to Pandria will destroy any Timeless buffs.

The issue of buffs is a strange one, a proc that heals you for 60,000, 8,000 of a useful stat, or 100,000 additional damage. These are huge boosts and all three can be used at the same time. It takes a few days to get started for a new character on the Isle. Would it not have been easier or simpler to not have the buff and to nerf the power of the mobs.

At a time when Blizzard is working hard on scaling issues Flex, Proving Grounds and Challenge mode dungeons, they could have set the island to a specific iLevel. The Isle never gets easier or harder, just a constant level of challenge. At launch I found the Isle difficult on all characters with the possible exception of my Hunter. Gear and buffs means that I can rattle through on 5 characters, and struggle like hell on the other 6. If the Isle never gets easier the challenge will always be there even when the next expansion comes along. The gear rewards are purely to assist in getting into LFR and Flex.

The regular Raiders who arrived in the Timeless Isle at launch must have thought the zone was a joke and would have assumed the huffing and panting from the casuals was because they were rubbish. How are Blizzard supposed to balance open world content when some people have iLevel 450 and others have iLevel 540.

Level the playing field and it will be so much easier to aim the content at people. In general if the rewards are below your current iLevel then the content is not really designed for you.

I am starting to suspect that the majority of players prefer easy to difficult, and Blizzard are making 90% of the content to accommodate. The 10% will have to make do with Heroic Raids, Challenge Modes and Arenas. Only this week I heard the Turpster talking about pining for the short and sweet AoE fest dungeons of the Wrath expansion. The aging WoW population would seem to agree.


  1. DKs are still a hero class. They can do things no other class can do. Heck, even an undergeared DK can go in there and sweep up a dozen mobs and have no problems when a mage or a shadow priest of the exact same item level can pull one mob and if they make even a tiny mistake they are dead. A warrior or even a paladin at the same item level, to use similar classes and gear, would be better off than said priest or mage, but would get mauled to death if they tried half of a pull that a DK is capable of.

    DKs still are a hero class, don't let blizzard propaganda get you to believe otherwise. They are still designed to be the most powerful class in the game and nothing I have seen would make me believe otherwise.

    As for the island, I think it was well designed. There are areas of various degrees of difficulty. Even on a fresh 90 you can land and run around and get to dozens of chest mostly unmolested. This gets you some 496 gear hopefully. Then when you are ready there are some mobs, some cranes and yaks and snakes, each with unique abilities, that you can now handle. The snakes are easiest for pet classes, the yak for ranged and the birds for melee. Each can be done by the others, but are more difficult for them. Being they are so spread out, you can easily pick and choose your battles. Your mileage might vary.

    Then they step up the ability with the panda village or the alementals in the cave or on the shore, if you want to go further. Then they step it up a little more with the tigers and the frogs when you feel like pushing it.

    When you are ready for the real battle you can start making it up the hill where you will start to meet the hardest battles on the island, the yungols of increasing difficulty.

    The bottom starts innocent enough with mostly non elite mobs and one elite with them, if any, the center of the bottom area starts to give you 2 elites with some nons. Then the top of the bottom area gives you double elites of increased power and some little ones.

    When crossing the bride you are warned that things are going to get harder now. That guy charging you and stunning you then doing a ground effect is good warning. If he does not kill you with the charge alone, which is his way to saying, you are not geared enough to cross yet.

    Now the larger challenge. Spread out well enough so the geared characters that want a challenge can take it slow, as the crane, yak and snakes were below to the low geared, the yungol are to the high geared. Spread out enough that you can choose your battles.

    Then in the top corner and over the second bridge is the real test, if you are willing to solo them and from seeing all the people die to them I can tell you with a high degree of knowledge that most people even in 540 gear can still not solo those harder ones.

    Oh, and it does not end there, go over the broken bridge and into the courtyard when you are able and watch as groups of 5 people in 560 gear wipe repeatedly to two high priests at the same time, with some of their friendly neighborhood pats.

    Anyone who complained about the island being easy was, no offense, a complete idiot. Of course the stuff down below is easy for a raid geared character, it was not made for them. Go solo two high priests at the same time as easily as you handle two cranes, then they can say the island is easy. And even at that, it would only be easy for them. Not everyone.

    As far as the island goes, it was the best designed area they have ever made in terms of scaling difficulty for everyone involved. I say kudos to blizzard.

    I agree it is hard to balance for both 450 and 540, that is why no solo scenario like on the island of thunder, those were not made with a fresh player in mind. I think this island was.

    Sorry for rambling on so long, I was on a roll and could not stop. :P

    1. Thank you for the response, it was worth a post on its own. I guess I keep myself contained in a very small area of the Isle, and where it was once tough it is less so, for those that are progressing. The classes I am least familiar and are naturally less well geared are still finding the whole area tough. It is a good point that the Isle comes with its own scaling.

      I would like to take my bargain basement characters out so they can get at least get 20,000 coins for some weapons (Rogue, Warrior) At the moment I might need to call on some backup.

      Scaling could have been an option for the area, but in general I think the player base just likes to feel superior and to scythe down the outside content. Instances is were we want a bit of a challenge, but even then not too much. Heroics are for when we think we are uber.

  2. i agree with grumpy,this game is as easy or as hard as ya make it.when on the isle with not much time ill kill birds but when wanting a bit more of a challenge ill go further up or try tackle the pirates.i do also think they could have done some solo scenarios maybe explaining the island a bit more