Yesterday we held Wintergrasp for three straight victories. We lost the fourth because by that stage the horde were so annoyed they must have turned up with everyone on the server and the zerg was impossible to stop. We now have almost 40 level 80 players in the guild, so at any one time at least 10 of us are going into WG. The strategy planning is interesting because we have to make provision for two things: how to win against the horde and how to counter the random idiots who will show up on our own team. Someone will put forward a good attack plan but then we will spend most of our time working out how to send our moron allies off out of harms way, while thinking that they are at the cutting edge of the battle.

Anyway, after the third win we decided to do a VoA 25 man run. Half were guildies and half were PuGs. Crucially, the tanks were members of our guild, so we could easily control the run. A few of the PuGs were very loud-mouthed in the lead up to starting the run. I don’t know if they were excitied about seeing a 25 man VoA on the server after 60 years of not having one or if that was their normal behavior, but whatever the cause they were vocal and moronic. Gevlon may not be the best tactical leader but he sure is the best leader of the group when there are morons to be dealt with that I have ever seen. The first boss we did was the stone giant, and Gevlon announced before the fight that this was a dps test and anyone who did under 1500 would be kicked. Nobody was kicked. Then we did the Fire boss with the same conditions applying. Still nobody was kicked. Don’t get me wrong, they were vocal about this, but when it came time to put out the damage they got their heads down and did it. Then we moved on to the Ice boss that drops the sweet 270 loots. Gevlon came up with a fantastic plan: the lowest ranged dps on the orbs wouldn’t get any loot. There was howling about that, but when it came to the fight everyone did what they were supposed to do and we one shotted the boss. He dropped, and within 10 seconds the chat was filled with something like this; (I’m para-phrasing)

“Gevlon you fucking piece of shit you can’t fucking run it this way who the fuck do you thinkl yopu are you fucking son of a whore …”

He went on for quite a bit longer. Then unsurprisingly, he was kicked. This was a shadow priest, (there were no cloth drops), who put out 6800 dps, and who had been one of the vocal idiots during the whole run. I asked in chat what was his problem as I genuinely had no idea. His problem was with the rule for ranged dps on orbs. Forcing him to do his job had caused his dps to drop below some of the melee on the recount chart. Thus his temper tantrum.

I was staggered by this. I mean, we all make fun of gearscore, we all argue over recount and what its positive and negative points are, but at the end of the day most of us doing the arguing here in the blogosphere are somewhat sane and rational. So to see recounts true effect on players who don’t think somewhat sane and rationally is … insane. This guy had the biggest dummy-spit that I have ever seen in a PuG, and a PuG that was a complete success with no wipes and just one or two deaths. And what was it over? It was because someone succeeded in forcing him to do his required task at the expense of the recount meter. Because he did his task we got the boss down. But this upset him, a lot. Because he was only 4th on recount for that fight. It makes no sense whatsoever.

Now I know that Gevlon used recount at the beginning to threaten players with being kicked if they didn’t perform, but that was a minimum number, not a maximum. All you had to do was your required task and be above 1500dps. If the highest dps got a reward then that would be different as this players dps would have been “compromised” in such a situation.

I like recount and I refer to it often to gauge how I am performing. But the extent to which this tool is misused had escaped me until this situation yesterday. Gevlons idea of lowest ranged dps on orbs gets no loot was a brilliant one in this case. But going on how players are motivated by recount in a negative way, you will need to come up with a plan like this for every fight just to get players to do their job. Based on this, Blizzard has a sure-fire way to create a boss that a 25 man PuG will NEVER get down: make it so that a successful attempt will require dps players to run around and do all sorts of jobs so that if they do it properly their dps will never go above 2000. Or even better, include a special prize that the boss give out to a player in a group that wipes whose dps was over 10,000 lets say in this case. Evil.

Some players dropped the group after this but we decided to try the last boss anyway. But as we got there, one of the hunters misdirected the boss onto our group, left the instance and we wiped. Apparently he too was very annoyed at being forced to complete a task at the expense of his dps. Another PuG who had been fairly quiet for most of the run then said that we would be lucky to ever form a 25 man PuG again on the server and he dropped the group. So to sum it all up; we nuked the bosses, never wiped, and got the loots, but we will never form another PuG again because we made people do their jobs.

Oh, and no rogue loots dropped, sheesh.

ps; apparently the priest was not kicked, he quit group himself. And the rules were all clearly stated in raid chat before the first boss went down and players were saved to the raid.

Us dpsers have been getting a bit of grief lately, particularly from smug tank types who, just because they can walk straight into instances and that we’re dependent on them to a certain extent, seem to think that they can treat us like dog shit. Because, here’s the thing; good tanks don’t walk into a group and start reading everyone the riot act about how they need to behave to make this tank happy or he will leave, yada, yada, yada. Good tanks walk into an instance and start tanking well.

So, to be fair to those good tanks, (and I love you good tanks, I really do), I wanted to set out a few little points that DPS can use to make those good tanks lives easier. The bad tanks can go kiss my butt while I put them on follow.

1. Don’t be Lazy – Yep, that’s right. Don’t be lazy. Is running PuGs a snooze-fest for you? Well, then go and do something else because I don’t want to carry your lazy butt, (but I may do anyway, see point 3). Get in there and do good DPS, goddamit. Your role is to do DPS, not to waltz through the dungeon whistling a merry tune. (I am assuming here that you are actually able to do good DPS.)

2. Understand your Tank – All tanks are not created equal. They like to do the same thing but often in different ways. You need to quickly work out what your tanks style is and adjust yourself to that. It is not the tanks job to adjust himself to you. Is he a sprint and pull tank, gathering up mobs and herding them together? Does he take his time? How long does he need to get good threat? Do your big crits give him problems? Is he able to handle a good deal of AoE? Does he mark the mobs for kill order? Does he give the mana users time to drink? Whatever his style, you will have to adjust accordingly, so do it.

3. Recognise your Priorities – No, I don’t mean spell rotation. I mean, why are you in there? Why are you running this PuG? Is it for badges? Reputation? Experience? Gear? Whatever it is for, quickly size up if this group will get you what you want. Back in Burning Crusade, I used to run a lot of battlegrounds. I was doing it for the honor points to get some gear. If our side won the battleground I would get a lot more honor points. So players logging on and then going AFK were a liability for me. If a player on a PuG now goes AFK, work out if it will hinder your chances at getting what you want. If the rest of the group is great and you’re going to steamroll through the content anyway, carry the prick and then ignore him at the end of the run. If your goal is gear but players are needing on everything, drop the group. It isn’t going to give you what you want. If you need to finish some quests in the instance but the group won’t give you the time to do it, maybe it’s worth finding another group also. Recognise your priorities and act on them.

4. Is your Healer up to the task? – A great tank coupled with a sucky healer means that you may have to spend some time looking after yourself. And you may have to spend more time than usual saving the healers butt. You may keep the healer alive through every fight but the recount chart doesn’t reflect your efforts. Do it anyway, the best thing the fail-healer can do at the end is put you on ignore. The worst combination is a poor healer who is a rez nazi. The kind who cause the group to wipe but expect every player to run all the way back, even if the instance is a long and meandering nightmare such as Mauradon. In this case, let them die just before each boss goes down. Deeply satisfying.

5. Be nice. Say hello to everyone when you zone into the instance. Put out a table without being asked, throw some buffs on immediately, ask people which buffs they prefer, set your soul stones to the healer, ask if everyone has done the run before, admit when you haven’t or that it’s been a really long time and you might need some brush-ups. And at the end thank everyone, (and then immediately stick the utter fail-cases on ignore).

Oh, and if you get any grief, particularly after the party has used up its vote-kicks, put on a pirate hat. It really seems to annoy people.

The Undergeared Project continues apace – I recently passed the all-important level 40 barrier on my mage, and now get to ride around at something above a slow crawl. Some new spells, the 7th tier of the talent tree, and a bunch of new portals to whisk me around the world.

Although rogues and mages are both DPS classes, their play style is vastly different. My rogue was my first ever character in WoW and as such, I don’t think that I have ever really appreciated quite how tricky it is to play. Leveling a mage and running instances is proving to be substantially easier. (more…)

Listening to the latest Instance podcast yesterday, my ears perked up when the boys spoke about the infamous pre-rogue nerf, DPS chart from Festergut. For those of you who may have missed this chart, here it is.

DPS for Dummies also spoke about this today, but I want to add my own unique viewpoint to talk about the ramifications of these figures.

Now a cursary glance at this chart shows that out of the top 10 DPS, only five are pure DPS specs, and they come from only three of the pure DPS classes, rogues, hunters and mages. Retribution paladins swing in at number 4, Unholy Death Knights at number 5, Fury Warriors at number 6, and Feral Druids at number 7, before we stumble upon Arcane mages at a pitiful number 8. Survival Hunters and enhamcement Shamans round out the top 10.

The big losers in all of this, apart from mages, are Warlocks. Affliction Warlocks come in at a lowly number 12, just in front of Arms warriors and Shadow priests. The truly amazing thing on this graph is that Frost Death Knights come in at number 13. Keep in mind that Frost DK’s are the tanking spec, so we have a hybrid tank spec beating out pure DPS class specs. I can only imgaine what Warlocks are thinking right now. There must be spittle coming out of their mouths. The only thing they’re good for is creating portals, but we don’t even need those now due to the new LFG system. Scratch one class?

The core argument to come out of this is the question of pure classes over hybrids. Should pure DPS classes do more damage than hybrids? And if so, how much? If we put two specs from each pure DPS class in the top 8, that would still leave a lot of room for the hybrids to swing in. Pure DPS only gets invited along to damage stuff. Remember that crowd control doesn’t exist anymore and I’m not sure who really needs a buff to intelligence. If every other class is beating you on that then your reason for existing must be up there with Sarah Palins’.

But the most glaring example of fail for me in this chart is the figure lurking in 6th position – Fury Warriors. Warriors aren’t even a hybrid class, they are the traditional tank. The Fury spec is the warriors long forgotten cousin, the spec they pull out when an off-tank isn’t needed for example, or when you want to level them and not suck outrageously. For them to be beating mages and warlocks in every spec that they have is insane. This is insanity people! How can this be justified? To put it in perspective, rogues would need to have a healing spec and have it be more powerful than priests to give a similar comparison. How has this become so unbalanced? Is this something to do with the world of total fail that is Arenas?

Assasination rogues, and combat rogues also to a lesser extent, have been nerfed since this was published, but from what I understand they are both still at the top of the table. What can Blizzard do about this? Buff this, nerf that? They need to do something. And I need to re-examine my reasons for leveling a mage, goddamit.

This is going to be a rant. The type of rant where you can picture the writer at the keyboard pounding blood out of his fingers and howling at the moon all Worg style. I’ve titled it, “Dual Specs Sucks”, but really the rant is about a whole bunch of things and dual spec is just a little bit of it. But I had to have some sort of catchy title that would bring ’em in from google search.

The fact of the matter is, in present day World of warcraft, playing a pure DPS class, such as a rogue, mage, warlock or hunter is just plain stupid. They may as well cancel out these classes right now. Just throw them away. Because that is what they have effectively done. The process of making hybrid classes equal to the pure classes in terms of roles, which began some years ago, was the first step in the process. Druids could heal for example, but not as well as the pure healing class of priests. So druids complained – a lot, and eventually Blizzard listened and they made all the classes shiny happy equal people. And this was okay, we could handle this. Because we were still needed. Then Wrath of the Lich King came out, and we suddenly realised that every single instance and raid was missing something: crowd control. In Magistars Terrace, if you didn’t have CC you were screwed. In Northrend it is completely gone. Thrown out of the game. None of us really said anything because we figured that the next raid around the corner would have crowd control. Well, it didn’t. So you can just bring any old DPS class now, because we’re all the same. Who can we bring to the DPS party now? Well, apart from us pure DPS classes you could bring priests, paladins, druids, warriors, shamans and the good old death knight. Actually it was more a case of who couldn’t you bring, and the answer was nobody. Everyone can do dps now, we are all shiny little stars. Bring the player and not the class. Remember that? And a lot of us thought that was awesome. It was bearable until one little extra thing happened:

Dual fucking specs.

You see, before this abomination happened, sure warriors could be dps, but why bother? You were a tank. Not any more. Now you are everything. Everyone is DPS at any time, at any moment, at any situation, and where did that leave us? Scraping along at survival level until patch 3.3 put the final nail in the coffin. The new Looking for Group system is now the most effective way of leveling. You can level faster running instances using the LFG system than by killing mobs and doing quests. You just que and go in. That is, unless you are a mage, rogue, hunter or warlock. If you have a tank or healing spec then your average wait time is probably about 3.3456 seconds to get a group. I am leveling my mage for the blue geared project and I can tell you that my average wait time is close to 10 minutes. And half the time I’m brought into a group that just has a couple of bosses to get down but lost a DPS. So after all that waiting I get maybe a third of a run.

The four pure DPS classes are now a sad joke compared to the multi-class characters. Blizzard, in their moronic effort to level the playing field has just about made us reduntant. Do you need to take a rogue in a raid now? Nope. How about a mage? yeah, if you want a teleport to Dalaran afterwards. Hunter? Can’t see any reason. Warlock? Only if we need to teleport someone in – oh wait, there’s the new LFG system, isn’t there. No, warlocks can go suck it up now as well.

The new LFG system is also killing the social aspect of the game. Leveling my mage on a new realm, I’m not meeting anyone. The only way to do an instance run with people on my own realm is to spam local chat channel. Which is useless, as everyone is using the LFG system. I don’t have a single person marked on my friends list from meeting running around. There is nobody running around at all, everyone is doing instance runs to level. If I pick up a quest that needs 2 or 3 players to do I just drop it immediately now. What’s the point? I’m never going to find anyone to help me with it. I do see some players running around though. Guess who they are? Yep, you got it right first time – mages, rogues, warlocks and hunters.

Is there a solution? Yes, there is, but it’s ridiculous. Blizzard cannot go back now. Their system is in place. So they have to give the four pure DPS classes a second role, ie tank or healing. What else can be done? Bring the player not the class. Moronic in principle, plain devastating in real-game playability.

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.

There was an article on wowinsider today, (linky), that without any detail or explanation suggests giving rogues the shaman bloodlust buff to improve our raid utility. This demonstrates that the writer understands nothing about rogues. Apart from this, his basic reasoning is unsound. He wants to solve the problem of there not being enough shamans around to hand out the bloodlust buff by giving it to the currently most underplayed class according to his research. If you wanted to spread a bit more bloodlust around, surely this wouldn’t be the way to do it.

The article is facile. The argument that it generated was slightly more interesting. But time and again the comments revealed a complete lack of understanding of rogue raid utility and why people play a rogue in present day WoW. So why are rogues so underplayed as a dps class as opposed to say Death Knights or Hunters? The answer is instant gratification. People play the game for different reasons. Some people get satisfaction out of doing things slowly, by discovering the best way to do things, by getting the most out of their chosen class. Other players have less time or patience for this sort of approach in what is, in effect, just a game. They want to go in swinging now and they want to get great results. A lot of the hybrid classes and some of the pure dps classes are like this. You can spam a few buttons and you can achieve relatively good dps results for your average play. Don’t get me wrong; take the time to learn the class well and your results will be much better. But a large number of players just want to get results now. They want instant gratification. Which is fine.

Unless you play a rogue.

Do not expect to play a rogue and achieve good results by spamming sinister strike. Our class is all about learning its secrets. Which poisons go on which hand, what are the best rotations, what abilities should you always keep up, how should you gear up, what weapons should you use, how to manage your cool-downs correctly. It can get so involved that we need excel spreadsheets to sort it all out. I have seen two rogues equipped with very similar gear go into a raid and score vastly different dps all based on skill and ability. Playing a rogue rewards effort. It’s not about spamming a few buttons and then bringing a raid buff as well. Those are the instant gratification classes.

Which is why our raid utility is dps. If you play a rogue properly, if you take the time to learn the ins and outs of the class, then you will be rewarded with very high raid dps. Your ability will be recognised and rewarded with guaranteed raid spots. A lot of players complained that they couldn’t get a raid spot as a rogue. Well, I’m sorry to tell you this but that’s because you couldn’t play the class well enough. Which is why the number of rogues has dropped as those instant gratification players have moved to death knights and the like.

But here is why the writer of that article doesn’t get rogues. We don’t want a raid buff. We’re perfectly happy with where we are and we’re perfectly happy with the fact that not many people are playing rogues. They’re not playing rogues because they aren’t able to. They need to bring a buff to the raid because a lot of the time that’s the only reason they’ll get in. Which is the great beauty and satisfaction of playing a rogue. It’s the opposite of the instant gratification classes. We are the ones who must put in the time and effort to learn our class and improve as players. We have to, it’s the only way to play the class well. And so when you score high dps, when you get a raid spot, it’s because you earned it. This class caters for the player who wants to put the effort into their game-play. Trying to cheapen it with offering a raid-wide buff would be terrible for us. So please Blizzard, keep it as it is. We’re a small player group, but we love our class.