February 2010

I’ve had good PuG’s all weekend, (even the one where the paladin told me to jump into the lava on a corpse run back to Blackrock Depths because it was a ‘short cut’ and I stupidly took him at his word), but then I had the usual horror PuG from hell that you know is just waiting around the corner when things start going well. This one was about levels of badness that leave me without anything to say, so I will just write instead. I leave it up to my readers to determine who was the fail member of the group.

Dear Tanking person, a few things that I wish to bring to your attention before we go into this instance run. I would not call this a formal contract as such, but it does require your signature at the bottom. If this is asking too much of you, a large X will suffice nicely. You, who will from now on be referred to as the ‘tank’, will do your best to follow these simple rules and requirements whilst tanking this quick run. Firstly, please be aware that even though technically you are running into every fight first, this does not make you the defacto ‘leader’ of the group. Often the best leading is done from the back, as you are more likely to stay alive, and seeing as anyone can put the funny symbols on the mobs now, we can handle that quite effectively thank you very much. You are simply required to run in first and gather ‘threat’. This means that the monsters want to hang around you, so feel free to use any of the awesome AoE abilities at your disposal. Please be aware that we are not impressed with how many mobs you can gather up. We are impressed with how many mobs that you can keep. If you subtract the second number from the first number and you get something greater than zero, then you are not doing your job properly. Please adjust accordingly by reducing the number of mobs that you gather up. We know that this hurts your ego, but it is necessary.
Please be aware that we don’t require you to tell us all what to do at every step of the run. We know that we need to buff people, we know that we need to use certain abiltities, we know to stay out of the fire. We also know that we need to run very fast in order to be able to keep up with you. You do know that when you’re running very fast that we can’t heal you if we can’t see you, don’t you? Perhaps you should take that into consideration. Please also take into account our drinking requirements as we get thirsty often and need to stock up on a little thing called mana. If a DPS takes threat off you it either means that they are doing awesome DPS or that your tanking sucks. Lets assume the latter until the former is proven, shall we? If we let you run in first, then give you ten seconds to gather as much threat as you can, and then at the first damage we do all the mobs run to us, something is not going right from your end, capisci? On that note, if the whole raid wipes but you manage to stay alive, this does not make you a great tank.
I realise that calling you the ‘tank’ is slightly off-putting, but until you begin to address us by our names then you will just have to live with it.
On DPS – yes, it’s great that you can do DPS too, we all feel full of warmth for you. But your job is to hold threat, not to try and beat the DPS players in a DPS race. So please concentrate on that instead of linking recount in the middle of every fight. When a boss goes down there is some stuff called, ‘loot’, which drops from said boss. This is not for you to dish out as you see fit, and if someone asks if it is okay for them to roll need they are not specifically waiting for your own approval. Also, try and control yourself and not roll need on cloth gear even if the stats are awesome for you. I know this sounds obvious, but hey, you’re not the brightest spark in the room, are you?

This is a plug for the web site that has been my home page for a few months now, Grognardia. If you are an old school gamer, if you grew up rolling funny dice and spending two hours agonising over whether to open the door or not, then this is the blog for you. James Maliszewski writes exceptionally well, (his book and game reviews are awesome), he has a stack of content and he also gives detailed updates on his current tabletop RPG campaign. Go back through the archives and start from the beginning, (they’re listed under Dwimmermount and have the number next to them, the latest being Dwimmermount 30), it’s a wonderful way to laze away a cold Sunday. He also posts about old games, whether they be modules, supplements or the games themselves, so if you played these then this sure brings back a lot of memories. It’s just a wonderful site, so enjoy.

Oh, and for those of you who don’t understand the blog name, it comes from the French word, Grognard, which means grumbler or complainer. Historically it refers to a member of Napoleans Old Guard who saw him through thinck and thin but grumbled a lot. The term was then picked up by tabletop gamers in the 1970’s, which is where it is relevent here.

The other night my awesome troll mage who’s hobbies include knitting, vomiting and flying to the moon, headed for the first time into Blackrock Depths. It’s been a few years since I last set foot in here, and let me tell you something:

I had no idea where to go. And neither did anyone else in the PuG.

They’ve split the instance into two halves, but I’m buggered if I know which is the end boss. We walked into the big circular bit with packs of hell hounds and iron dwarves wandering around the edges. We cleared them up and then it was literally a case of einey meeny miney moe. We picked a random corrider, walked down it to the end while killing a few unfortunates, went down some stairs, killed some other unfortunate and the little flash came up saying that we had completed our PuG and had a nice bag of goodies to open, (which knowing the usual run of events would be a pair of tanking gloves masquerading as cloth.) This is supposed to be one of the longest instances ever. They designed the new dungeon finder to be quick. They even divided the longer instances into little bits, because they knew that we’d want to do it quick. So why on earth couldn’t they have stuck instance maps in there like in Northrend? I mean, is this really hard to do? Does it take up a lot of time? Are we asking too much for you to do this instead of designing another fucking non combat pet?

Don’t get me wrong, I like to explore. I enjoy taking my time. I would love to wander around and go through it bit by bit – but PuGs don’t. They want to be in there and out of there faster than a sailor with the only ten minutes of shore leave that he’s seen in six months. The other really crap thing about these dungeon finder runs is that you never know where the hell you are. Scarlet Monastary has three or four wings, but the dungeon finder doesn’t tell you which one you’re in. So you wipe, and you rez outside and you run back, (a mission in itself as I never have any idea where I’m going anymore), and then you walk into the entrance hall and then are 4 instance entrances … so …. which one do I go in? They couldn’t just write something at the top of the screen somewhere? Is that asking too much??

I solved this one though: you just walk into any entrance of the instance, then you walk out which means that you’re teleported back to your own realm, and then you hit the roving eye on your little mini-map and it teleports you back to where you’re supposed to be … damn good streamling that.

It’s gotten to the point where I’m apprehensive about hitting the random dungeon button. At least most of the groups find themselves in the same dilemma – which usually results in us doing weird things together that we never do, like talking. Maybe Blizzard did this on purpose.

So Blizz, some maps plz, k, thx, bye.

So apparently only 30% of trial players make it past level 10. This makes me a fucking genius for getting a toon to 80. Taking away all the gold farmers and other hijinks of that type, I find this very weird. I mean, have you seen how long it takes to download a trial version of this game? It’s a long time. Really long, like seeing your bus leaving as you’re running down the road to catch it and then, knowing that you have another hour to wait, you go into a cafè and order a coffee and there’s a girl there and you want to talk to her becuase she looks lonely and cute and stuff and you think that you could make her life better, you could make a difference and that sweet lonely looking girl would transfer all her attention to you and …

Fuck! I’ve missed the bus again!

That kind of long.

So after all of that, you start up the game and you don’t get past level 10?? Okay, I know that I downloaded Age of Conan and I didn’t get to level 20, but that’s because Age of Conan sucked big hairy donkey balls of suckiness. Wait, maybe that’s what they think of WoW. Could people actually think that WoW sucks? How could they think like this? This is blasphemy! The starting area isn’t that bad, I know because I did it with my troll mage just a few months ago. Oh wait, no, it sucked. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. The amount of stupid inane things that I had to do. But it’s not as if the rest of the game is like that.

They better get Cataclysm out quick.

By the way, anyone noticed the horror lag? Larisa has written about it, and Blizzard has an anouncement on the start-up screen saying that they’re aware of the problem, blah blah blah. But could it be that all this lag is the precurser to a pre-cataclysm world event? There was a good deal of earthquake movement before the lag. Stranger things have happened.

You roll need on lockboxes because you want to level your skill.

You stealth slowly into fights so that they’re almost over before you get there.

You think that strength is a good stat for you.

You still haven’t got any helm at level 50 because you haven’t found one yet.

You don’t use poisons.

You die early on and keep writing ‘Rez me!’ in the chat box while we’re still fighting.

You ask my mage for water, (I mean really, what the fuck?)

Your name has the word ‘killer’ somewhere in it. Examples, Deathkiller, Killerguy, thekilla, killsforgolds, killsyoualls, etc.

There is a reason why I don’t want you to attack the sheep.

Did you know that you can use your kick ability to interrupt spellcasters, particularly the healers? Oh no, you didn’t? And I am a fucktard for telling you? Well, how about that.

You need on gems because you’re leveling jewelcrafting? Really? Well, I’m levelling enchanting, so I suppose that i can roll need on everything then.

Why is your DPS really low? Well, lets have a close look at all those points that you have in the subtlety tree …

You don’t look good wielding a bow. Or wearing that cloth.

The sound of your pets wings flapping is very annoying. I don’t care if the parrot makes you look more like a pirate, put it the fuck away.

There is a reason why nobody is a dwarf rogue you know.

I hit 50 today on my mage, which gave me quite a shock as I wasn’t expecting it and the achievement freaked me out a bit.



So much social conversation in WoW.

I was running a PuG in the Black Temple again, and once again I actually got a good group. Even the hunter was good, which was nice. And I was thinking about that and how I’m going to rip it up to level 58 and hop over to Outland when it hit me:

I’m going to have to start doing PuGs with Death Knights.

As Scattered Shots reminded me today, a lot of the bad players stopped being Huntards and became Death Knights over the last year or so, thus giving hunters a bit of a break, (I actually think that they’re rolling rogues as well as I have seen some serious fail-rogues over the last 20 levels or so). And pretty soon I’m going to start running into these failures and most probably they’re the ones that are going to be doing the tanking. It is making me dispair somewhat just at the thought of it.

So I’m wondering what I’ll do once I get my first DK tank PuG run. Do I ask him straight off the bat if he knows what he’s doing? Do I just remain mute and assume the worst until proven otherwise? Do I wonder why I cannot get cherry cola in Europe? Over at GTFOOTF, Cozmo has posted on running his death knight as a tank and the prejudices that he is having to face. So it seems as if I do have cause for concern. I know the Ramparts in Hellfire like the back of my hand – I ran that place a lot back in the day. That is the spot where I will probably face my first Death Knight experience. I think my only option is to hit the leader button before we go in and make sure that I am leading the group. Usually it is taken as a given that the tank leads the group. It is much easier that way for all concerned as no written communication is required. The tank leads, you follow. If someone else leads then they must do so by written commands, which is much more time intensive.

It’s a long-winded way of saying that I’ve been lazy on my mage. It’s lazy to sit back, and always let the tank lead and then crap all over them if they suck. It takes effort to lead the group this way, something which I have not been doing. So I think the best thing that I can do is to climb down from my high horse and put a bit more effort into PuGs instead of following along behind the tank and killing things. And if the DK’s are fail, then I’ll try and help them to not fail so much.

There have been quite a bundle of interesting developments this week which I have been saving up to talk about in an orgy of wall-of-text. So lets pop straight into it with my unique take on all the goings on. Unique in the sense that this is completely opinionated.

Both Bornakk and Ghostcrawler have been active on the forums this week. Lets start with the announcement of the new Auction House app. To be honest I have no idea how this will effect gameplay. There has been a fair bit of predicting allready around the blogosphere, so I won’t add to that. What interests me are two words from this blue post:

“Premium based.”

Is Blizzard on the way to stacking two different levels of paying accounts with different features for each one? If they are, this is just an underhand way of upping the subscription price. You add a premium service with a few things that only a small percentage of the player base are willing to pay for. But over time you add more and more services to this until it is the type of account that is needed by the average player. Subscription rates haven’t gone up for five years or so, so I suppose that it is not unreasonable for them to raise it a bit. But why the underhanded manner? Why not just say, ‘Hey, it’s been five years at the same price, there is a thing called inflation you know.’ As for the auction house app, unless they add a way to access mailboxes this won’t mean anything much.

Ghostcrawler posted about changes to the the talent tree in Cataclysm. There are a few points worthy of note to look closely at here:

“… 1) We are changing talent trees, in some cases substantially. The major focus is pruning out boring but valuable talents that passively increase say damage or healing.”

Lets take a look at the combat rogue talent tree and see what this means for us. What would boring but valuable talents be according to this definition? I would say that Precision, Improved Slice & Dice, Aggression, Lightning Reflexes, Hack & Slash, Weapon Expertise, Vitality, Combat Potency, Savage Combat and Prey on the Weak are ‘valuable but boring talents’ according to his defintion, and these are just from the middle tree alone. Combat rogues really only have three ‘interesting talents':

Blade Flurry, Adrenalin Rush and Killing Spree.

These are interesting I suppose due to the fact that they put a use icon on our in-game ability tabs. How else due you define interesting? I struggle to think of another way. Does then mean that most of our talents will have in game buttons for us to use? I really hope not. If you make everything interesting in this sense then all you end up with is confusion. These three abilities are interesting due to the fact that they are quite unique. One of the big problems that I found with Age of Conan was the abilities and talent trees. The abilities were basically all the same. The icons looked the same, the did the same sort of things, so that in the end you couldn’t really understand what did what. It was all generic. The talent trees? The same. They tried to make them intersting, but it had the opposite effect – they are boring and confusing. So I hope Blizzard won’t fuck this up. It reminds me of that old saying:

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

He also says; “… 6) We are not deepening the trees. This actually unlocks some interesting opportunities. For the first time, you can reach a 51 point talent and a 21 point talent in another tree.”

For combat rogue this would mean that we would have a shot at Cold Blood or Hemorrhage, either of which would be interesting to have.

On the World of Warcraft home page, Blizzard posted a little snippet of information on the new mount in Icecrown, Invincible. My question is, who writes this shit?

“… It was Invincible’s unfaltering faith in his master that inevitably led to the stallion’s death and unholy rebirth. On a cold winter afternoon as snow was blanketing the ground, Arthas was desperate to get away from the city even if it meant riding through harsh and unforgiving weather…”

Snow was blanketing the ground? I didn’t know that this required a tense signifying a continuous action. Does this mean that I can look out my window and say, the snow is blanketing the ground? I could I suppose, but my English grammar would suck. And why was he desperate to get away from the city? Was his grilfriend annoying him? (Notice that that is the correct use of the past continuous). Had his mother asked him to clean his room? I suppose that we will just have to make something up ourselves …

In other news, yesterday I had a wonderful PuG experience. I hit the daily random button and got teleported with a spash into the last wing of Maraudon. Oh goody. The priest buffed us all, asked for a mana break and the rest of the group ran off and started pulling. Yey. We caught up with them, killed a few mobs and then the tank went AFK, which meant that we all died and had to suffer the horror of the Maraudon corpse run. Eventually the only ones of us to survive that harrowing experience and stay in the group were myself and the priest. We kicked the AFK tank and put ourselves back in line. We picked up a shaman, a hunter and a warrior tank. The hunter began immediately pulling mobs by himself. The tanks response?

“Let him die.”

Which we did, and then we ran off and left him. He eventually realised that we thought that he sucked and that we wanted him to leave, (due to the fact that we were all writing that in chat), and he took the hint and left. We picked up another mage to go with my own. The tank was sensational. Patient, knowledgeable and a nice player to boot. As were the rest of the group. We ran the instance, I got some nice loots, and then we decided to do another run together. Off to the Sunken Temple! We cleared the whole thing in record time with no wipes. Down in the center section with all the dragon-kin, the tank gathered up truely astounding numbers of mobs and managed to hold threat while myself and the other mage went ballstic. I hit 500 DPS on this run, which isn’t bad at level 48. The other mage had some nice heirloom items so he was cracking 550. Then at one point the shaman left without a word. So the four of us went through and finished off the rest of the run. Probably the best group that I’ve had so far playing my mage. It’s just such a pity that you can’t add friends from other realms. I loved you guys, you were the bestest.

Have a nice Sunday, groovers.

Scrolling through the Lich King boss kills from MMO Champion, one thing jumped out at me:

Warlocks are kicking butt.

This is a dramatic turn around from the situation a few weeks ago when they were the laughing stock of the internets. So it seems that the buffs have been working for the demon lovers, or both these guilds have awesome warlock players that go above and beyond the known boundaries of possible DPS. Whatever the reason, rogues fare ok I suppose. But not that great when you think about where we should be. Death Knights are everywhere, hunters barely get a look in and mages are nowhere to be seen. It’s a fickle world this DPS one.

There have been a lot of blue posts over the last few days, and I will be getting to those this weekend. Lots of juicy fail-cake there.

Have a good weekend downing the Lich King and getting banned for it!

So if you haven’t heard, the mega-European based guild Ensidia downed the Lich King and got a world first doing it. This guild live for world firsts. For some of them this is their actual paid for employment. So this is a big deal for them. Congrats all round, right? Well, no. They then got suspended by Blizzard and had their achivement and loot cancelled because they used an exploit in the game to effect their world first. Apparently this is bad. Whether this is bad or not does not interest me. What arouses my attention is Blizzards definition of the word, exploit.

In a nutshell, a rogue used a saronite bomb, (yey rogues!), to bypass one of the encounters hurdles. The siege destruction nature of the saronite bomb caused the platform during the encounter to respawn, thus making the fight easier. This apparently, is what Blizzard calls an exploitation.

So a player uses a legitamite device that is found within the game, (and has been used by dps for some time now), against a fight mechanic. If this is banworthy then just about anything within the game can get you banned if Blizzard decides it is in their own best interest to do so. The player used an item found within the game on a boss fight. That’s all he did. If this act had unforseen consequences, then how is this the fault of the player? Particularly after all of Blizzards so-called testing beforehand. There are seige weapons in the game, and you design a platform that can be affected by seige weapons. It doesn’t sound like rocket science to me.

This reminds me of the Martin Fury incident earlier this year. A Blizzard employee makes a mistake and sends a player something that he shouldn’t have, and it is the fault of the player for using it? And don’t trot out examples such as if a bank puts more money in your account than you should have then you can’t legally use it. This is not a bank we’re talking about here.

It’s a game.

That we pay money to play.

You give me the game then I will use it. Give me an article within the game and I should be able to assume that I can use it. You gave it to me, I spent time getting it, there was no label saying, ‘do not use in such and such situation.’ Whenever such a situation comes up it is called a BUG, or in the case of the martin fury incident, a mistake. And it is Blizzards job to fix those bugs after they have been identified, not punishing a player, (or in this case an entire guild) for using them. It was an important encounter? This was the Lich King? Well, so fucking what? Spend less time making paid for vanity pets or designing ipad auction house apps and get something right that you have had since November 2008 to get right.

The real reason Blizzard is pissed off? They hoped that the Lich King would be a big mean mother fucker who would cause guilds grief for a long time. The reality? Blizzard didn’t put enough thought into the encounter, and it is punishing real life high profile players who happen to be the messenger. I will finish this little rant with the words of one of the Ensidia team:

“… There are no exploits in the game. Full stop. Period. End of discussion. There’s only retard designers and good players. If retard designs a building and good player uses bomb which does siege dmg, who in this case should get the “ban”? Any person with any common sense would fire that stupid designer so fast he’ll be doing mcdonals free games for the rest of his life…”

I have to say that I agree.

edit: It seems in my haste to read info on this that I made a mistake. The quote above is not from a member of Ensidia but from Larisa’s guild, over at The Pink Pigtail Inn. Here is the link to that post and my apologies to the team over there for not sourcing them.

The new patch notes get released and a lot of crying is heard across the internets. Oh my, how easy it all is, how we are gearing up these lazy players with all these tier 100 loots. It is a pox on the humanity of playing WoW. Nothing means anything anymore …

Of course it doesn’t, you fools. We are at the tail end of an expansion. Your shiny new epics that you slaved over getting, through running countless horrible PuGs, will be made worthless in the blink of an eye, (or a couple of levels), once the new expansion hits. Once Cataclysm hits your gear will be meaningless. Blizzard wants as many players as possible to join in the raptous slaying of our old buddy Arthas, so they’re gearing us all up. Hell, your grandmother has epics and she doesn’t even play the game.

This is one of those happy times in the game for people who play WoW in a mostly superficial way. I has loots! It is not a happy time in the game for players who want to be challenged. Which is why the Undergeared project has been put forth with perfect timing. It is a challenge for me at this time when I do not wish to succumb to the hysteria of mass epic looting.

My rogue is in a limbo. I have no desire to run through countless instances with morons just to get emblems to get the next teir of gear when said gear is going to be outdated as soon as the expansion hits. I would rather run endless instances with morons to level my mage so as to get on the Undergeared team. My rogues gear is nice enough. Nearly every piece I earnt running through a raid with my old guild. They mean something to me. Why do I wish to bother running through heroics that have been nerfed once again into the ground so as to make it even more easy for me to get the gear. Why don’t they just put it in a shop in Dalaran for gold? Epics are mostly meaningless now. One is as good as another. I have all epics, that’s enough for me.

“Get your two daily frost badges or be left behind in progression!”

I’m going to say it once – you can’t be left behind on progression any more until the next expansion hits. So relax, smell the roses, level an alt, try out some new professions, conquor the auction house, do whatever you want to do. This is a nice time in WoW, it doesn’t happen very often. You can afford to take it easy.

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