June 2009

Yesterday I spent the day in Darnassus. I also spent a lot of gold. On talent builds. I attempted every combination I could think of to test out my two new Ulduar weapons – to see if Sword/Fist could work. I tested the weapons without any buffs and I tested on the Heroic Boss combat dummy. I did use poisons though, as I wanted to give the fast off-hand a chance to proc this.

To begin with I tried Sword/Sword with a normal 15/51/5 combat sword spec. I used my new drop, Razorscale Talon as well as my trusty Hatestrike. Hatestrike’s speed is 1.60, so it’s not that fast. My average DPS was 2150 after a good few minutes thrashing the hell out of that dummy. I used a rotation of 2s/5e rinse and repeat. Just to keep it simple.

Next I threw my two fist weapons on, Greed and my other new drop, Kinetic Ripper. I kept the sword spec and got an average DPS of 1980.

Then I put my two new weapons on, Razorscale Talon in main hand and Kinetic Ripper in offhand – Sword/Fist combination with a normal sword spec still. The result was 2020 DPS.

Next I tried all three combinations once again, but this time using a combat 15/51/5 spec with Close Quarters Combat. The results were:

Sword/Sword: 2055 DPS
Fist/Fist: 2060 DPS
Sword/Fist: 2045 DPS

Then I tried my bastardized Combat Spec. I put 4 points in both CQC and Sword Specialization, while losing one point each from Endurance, Lethality and Combat Potency. The results were:

Sword/Sword: 2060 DPS
Fist/Fist: 2010 DPS
Sword/Fist: 2070 DPS

So after all that the very first combo that I tried was the highest DPS. Just to make sure, I went back and tried it again and still got an average DPS above 2100, and for some of it I was sitting on 2350-2400. Hatestrike is slower than Kinetic Ripper, but the faster fist still couldn’t make up for the mighty main-hand power of the Razorscale Talon.

So to sum up: It seems that your main hand weapon has a bigger overall effect than your off-hand, (even when using Fist/Fist the Kinetic Ripper couldn’t pull the worse main hand up), and Sword/Fist at this stage is a non event. Which is a shame; I like the Kinetic Ripper a lot. But in the bank it will stay until I get an awesome main-hand Fist drop. I’m going back into Ulduar tonight, so I may play around a bit again with these weapons and see what results I get.

Last night I jumped into Ulduar for the first time with my guild. We downed the first three bosses and then left off to have another crack at it on Tuesday evening. This run has caused me some problems, however. I got two weapon drops,Razorscale Talon and Kinetic Ripper.

So I have two new weapons from Ulduar, level 219 beauties, both of them combat rogue weapons, with one being a main hand and the other an off hand. Doesn’t get better than this, yeah?

Well, one’s a sword and the other is a fist and apparently sword/fist was broken a while back and never to be fixed again. So I woke up this morning and began to search on the net for info on this. And I’ve searched and searched and searched. And all anyone can say is that duel specs are dead. So I plugged these two weapons into Aldriana’s spreadsheet and I got some serious DPS numbers come up. Much more serious than my current numbers. So I am going to experiment, dear readers. Whenever a rogue asks on a forum post on which weapons they should use as a combat spec, more often than not the answer is to use the weapons that you have, and more often than not this is good advice to follow. So I am going to butcher my talent tree slightly and see if I can make these two beauties work for me.

I have one floating talent point which I can throw into CQC from Endurance. I am going to steal one point each from Lethality, Combat Potency and Sword Specialization to bring CQC up to 4 points. That is the plan. We will see how it goes. But if any of you have any advice on this to make it work, please throw it my way.

All in all I have three options:

Razorscale Talon/Kinetic Ripper. (Sword/Fist)
Razorscale Talon/Hatestrike. (Sword/Sword)
Greed/Kinetic Ripper. (Fist/Fist)

Oh the dilemma!

So coming up in the next patch are axes for rogues. It’s a little bit left field, but hey, we take what we can get, right?

Actually, all that this announcement has resulted in is rogues crying en masse on various forums about how this is a stupid idea. Apparently it is a stupid idea because:

It isn’t realistic and doesn’t fit in with the lore.

You can’t stab someone in the back with an axe or incapacitate a guard with one.

Axes aren’t concealable, (This made me laugh. Like my two huge swords are concealable.)

There are many others like this. Almost everyone says that the much better idea would have been to give shamans one handed swords, as this would have solved an itemization problem and taken nothing from rogues, amongst other arguments.

All I can say to this is, are you fucking kidding me? I mean, you seriously want to have another class rolling against us on swords? This would make you happy?? We got the huge end of the deal here and you guys are complaining? The Devs must be open mouthed in shock at this reaction. What do they have to do to keep you guys happy?

For me this is great news for combat rogues – it give us more options, and with the changes to the talent tree to accommodate it, (sword specialization will now be called Hack and Slash and also applies to axes), we could be seeing sword/axe as the new combat weapon combo.

Now so far in the game there is but one raiding axe in Ulduar, which is a main hand. But you can bet your little piggy bank that they will bring a bunch of other axes in to cover this. So we will have more goodies to choose from. More goodies, more options, more drops, more hot chicks … and we didn’t even ask for them. So they haven’t fixed vanish yet, well that is a bummer, but hey; I’m taking this new axe option with glee.

If you’re one of the rogues who have been complaining about this … well, I mean seriously:

Just do us all a favor and go roll a Death Knight.

I work as a rafting guide in Northern Italy, and being an Australian, the cultural differences can sometimes be interesting, if not amusing. Today I was asked to “work my special magic”, by the other guides. This involves the division of the clients into 6 man teams, not always an easy task. There was a group of 6 men and a group of 5 women that I had to mix together, as 5 lovely ladies just wouldn’t have had the necessary power to get the raft down the river. My “special magic” is my ability to divide them up quickly and without any drama, as most people are resistant to the idea – they want to raft with their friends. The other guides have big problems doing this, but it is their approach that is wrong.

I was thinking about this ability and how it pertains to leadership. Basically, the way that I approach this problem is not to convince them to do it, but to convince them to like it, or at least understand it. But at no point am I giving them a choice in the matter. If they have a choice on whether or not to do it, then there will be resistance to the idea and arguments. I merely try and make them like it or at least understand the need for it. In this case it was easy to make the boys like it, the girls I had to convince by means of explaining the safety issues behind the idea. Job completed in a couple of minutes though, and happy customers all round.

Sometimes when leading a guild, decisions have to be made. The trick is to decide and then talk the others through the idea, but with the same basic principle at hand – you’re not trying to get them to agree to do it, you’re trying to get them to agree to like it or at least see the necessity of it. Sometimes this approach may not be valid. Another way of achieving the same end result is to convince them that they have thought of the idea. Who cares who thought of it, as long as it gets done, right? Right?

Herein lies the problem. When people assume positions of authority, “… the corporal lurks in almost every bosom, and each man tends to use authority when he has it, thus destroying his natural relationship with his fellows …”

Most people are insecure of the decision-making process, and this is mostly due to the fact that they attach themselves to the decision in an emotional way. Thus if the decision or idea was a good one, then they are good, and if it was incorrect then they are bad. A few “bad” ideas in a row quickly reduces them to a nervous wreck, and the normal reaction is to begin to use their authority in a negative way.

The trick is to not use leadership as a means for personal acclaim. It is not important who is seen to be pushing an idea, the important thing is that it gets through. Do not attach yourself emotionally to decisions that you need to make. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, find out why, ask your officers to help you, ask for input so that next time it has a better chance of working. If someone comes up with a better idea them mine, then I am all for pushing it through. My life as a GM is made easier by good ideas and decisions being made. Often at an officers meeting on Vent, I will sit back and let them thrash out all the ideas, while putting a word in here and there. But at a certain point a decision will need to be made, so I will step in and make it. You can talk around an issue for only so long. Eventually something needs to be done.

But too often I have seen leaders who don’t want to decide things. They just want to make everyone happy. This isn’t your job. You are not a happiness coach, you are supposed to be a leader. So lead, decide and then convince. And if it turns out to be the wrong decision, admit that it was wrong and try something else. People don’t mind mistakes, but indecision can quickly become a problem. And don’t get emotional about this stuff. You’re a not a good person if the decision was the right one. You just happened to make the right one this time. Being a leader is about rising above your ego. You’re not out for acclaim, you’re looking for results to move things forward.

I asked one of the girls after the trip if she now understood why I had had to split them up. She still didn’t; some people you just can’t make understand. But that’s okay, the job was done. I probably shouldn’t have even asked her. But no matter how much we try and rise above it, sometimes we still want people to tell us that we’re good. I’ll have to do better next time.

The quoted text is from “The Ionian Mission” by Patrick O’Brian.

The Instance is described in its website as the most popular WoW podcast on the web today. There is a reason that they are so popular – this podcast is very good indeed. Hosted by Scott Johnson of Extralife fame, and Randy “RandyDelux” Jordan of The Instance fame, these two guys really know what they’re doing.

The basic outline of each podcast episode follows some general topic themes which are always included in every show. These include, The Big News of the Week, The Town Crier, (where listeners phone in and email their questions), Rumors & Scuttlebutt, Quick-Fire Questions and more. Each of these formats is preceded by a very professional audio intro – when Turpster was a guest on the show he made the joke that he only knew the show through the quality of its intro’s.  The podcast rounds up with various collaborators own snippets. Patrick’s Mods of the Week, Mean Gene’s PvP tip of the week, Ask Buxley and more. The quality of these can sometimes be suspect, but the suspect ones tend to disappear from future episodes.

Occasionally the boys will have a guest on the show, but for the most part the show consists of just the two of them going through their regular routine. So why is this podcast so good?

First of all, from the relaxed and free-flowing banter you would assume that they were recording each episode sitting in the same room. In reality they’re usually a few thousand miles apart and recording on Skype. This speaks volumes for their professionalism and ability. They make it sound easy, when in reality it’s not, particularly when compared with other podcasts trying to do the same thing. However, the fact that there is just the two of them talking certainly makes things much easier, something which they are well aware of. Why make things hard for yourself? Having four people talking above one another is a recipe for disaster, as the WoWInsider podcast can attest to. If Scott and Randy do have a guest it will be just the one, and they will usually be restricted to just a section of the show. As it is, with just the two of them speaking the banter can fly back and forth without things breaking down. They also are very used to working with each other and know just when to back off and give the other time to have a nice rant on air.

The real reason that the show is so good however, is the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes. Make no mistake, these shows are scripted. They know exactly what they are going to discuss and what each of their arguments will be when they sit down to record. This usually results in very in-depth and thought provoking discussions on whatever topic happens to be before them. They often disagree with one another, but they are happy to do so and often one of them will be turned around and swayed by their partners argument. While still keeping an underlying level of humor running throughout the show, their discussion and disection of the topics at hand are serious, intelligent and often deadly accurate.

Scott has a great ability to not let things get out of hand. While other shows will ramble on for 10-15 minutes at the beginning about what each of them is doing in WoW that week etc, Scott knows just when to hit that intro button for the Big News of the Week. He keeps the show moving at a brisk pace, as he understands that listeners often have short attention spans and want to hear the show progress towrds their favorite segments. The beauty of this show is that he is able to do this while still making it seem like two guys sitting around a fire with drinks in their hand yapping on about their favorite game.

Scott’s main is a Hunter while Randy plays a Priest, so there isn’t much joy for Rogues here. But the podcast is more about general WoW issues than getting down into the nitty gritty of class details. I highly recommend this podcast, it will not only keep you entertained but will ensure that you are up to date with everything that is happening in the World of Warcraft.

Ivan sent me a new piece of artwork based on my toon, Elizà. I’m really blown away by the work he has done on this one. It’s the new banner at the top of the home page. I have put the full sized version on the custom header artwork page. Check it out.

This post was on wowinsider a week ago, and it refers to the fact that Blizzard feels that it may need to tweak 5 mans as they’re not completely happy with them. A lot of discussion was generated, with some interesting ideas. A few people commented that instances these days don’t have the old “dungeon” feel to them, like Blackrock Depths and Sunken Temple. Others mentioned the old Dungeon Armor Sets, and how they added to the game. People asked for hard modes. The mount drop in the timed Strat run is seen as a huge motivator to run that 5 man. People mentioned how atunements in old 5 mans and raids worked well.

A lot of people think that the answer is for Blizzard to design a bunch of new 5 man instances that are on a Naxx 25 level, with new loot and rewards. That would be a hell of a lot of work from Blizzard and I think that the idea isn’t that great. So you have a bunch of new instances, so what? We have a huge amount of new instances in Wrath and they didn’t fix this problem.

I don’t think at this point that the answer is to provide new content. I believe that Blizzard needs to revitalise and repackage the old world content that already exists. As one comment on the wow-insider thread said: Deadmines heroic!
It’s a good idea, if implemented properly. For the last few weeks I’ve been traveling around the Old World, mining nodes in preparation for my mega-fast level of Jewelcrafting. There is a lot of content out there. And it’s good. It’s big, and it’s epic. And what’s more, we remember it fondly. The Deadmines was my first ever instance. It was mind-blowing at the time. Would it be mind-blowing for me again? Not to that extent, but I’d love to go back and run it with my level 80 rogue as a heroic 5 man. What would Blizzard have to do to make it viable?

Apart from the obvious work of tweaking the fights for level 80’s, the major task would be incentives, reasons to go there and to balance it out. There are a bunch of ways that this could be done. Apart from having emblem rewards on the bosses, they could bring in new dungeon armor sets, with different pieces being found in different instances. Never underestimate the will of the player base to collect stuff. This game is all about stuff – getting stuff and having stuff and showing off that stuff. Achievements would be an obvious one as well, but not mega hard achievements where you have to finish every single instance on heroic mode and special boss fights. Break it up into sections, with a reward at each step. That way it’s easier for players to keep at it.

The most important thing? I think that Blizzard would have to do it all at the same time, every single Old World instance. Otherwise we will still have the situation of players moving from one part of the world to the next all together at the same time, the classic “pig in the python” effect. Bring them all back and create some dynamism in the game again. While they’re at it, instead of bringing in new zones, why not actually do something with the zones that they already have? Azshara, anyone? Stonetalon Mountains, perhaps? There are zones that have never been utilized or were just badly designed in the first place.

I really think that this would create some genuine excitement in the Warcraft World. It would need to be carefully balanced, particularly with regards to gear drops, but I for one would be first in line to PUG a group for Deadmines.