Retirement Reasons and Reminiscing Part 5

Welcome to my last post in a series in which I’ve been discussing my reasons for my retirement from raiding and the game as a whole. As usual, I’m not trying to tell anyone else to quit. If you enjoy the game, please, keep playing. I’m just trying to share my reasons and help myself (and anyone else, I guess) gain a better understanding of why, exactly, after seven years of playing this game, I’m pretty much done. And yes, my series here will also serve as reminders to myself why I quit when, six months down the road, perhaps I get that itch again.

As always, please do respect the comment policy! Thank you. :)

Reason 5: A sense of accomplishment.

I started out in this game, as I’ve already said, without knowing a lot. I was a scrubby, scrubby n00b like many new players, but I got my act together, learned how to play the game with its fairly steep learning curve and did what I had wanted to do before I even hit that very first level cap of 60 — I became a raider.

I have been a raider, for better or for worse, since early April of 2006. I have been a casual raider, I have been a much more hardcore raider and I have been a raider who has spent most of that time somewhere in the middle. My ideal raid schedule is about 12 hours a week, or 4 nights of 3 hours apiece. I’ve raided as much as 20 hours a week (wayyyyyy too much), as little as 9 hours a week (not quite enough for me) and spent most of Cataclysm raiding with two guilds (Apotheosis and Choice) for about 15 hours a week (just a bit much, but since 6 of those hours were spent as a regular raider and not a leader of any kind, it worked out okay).

I have dissolved guilds (RIP, Fated Heroes), I have created guilds (hello, Apotheosis), I have left guilds, I have joined guilds. I have raided with seven guilds over my career. I have killed … oh man, this might take a minute… 155 raid bosses while content was current (including all the beast bosses in Karazhan and including all the opera event types there, too, but not including heroic versions of fights).

I have earned three raid achievement mounts (25-man ICC, Firelands, Dragon Soul). I have cleared one single heroic tier since they came out with that infernal change (Dragon Soul). I have earned a server-first kill (Heroic Hagara the Stormbinder).

I have satisfied my curiosity.

I’ve also shown myself I can make gold, recently, by starting out at the end of Cataclysm with 20,000g and (with Majik’s help via cooldowns and supplying me with raw materials) turned it into 444,000g (and change) in just over a month (since I got back from Italy on October 5). I’m sure with another few weeks, I could have hit the gold cap, but I didn’t really care that much, although everyone should open their mailbox to 30k gold or more at some point in their lives.

Given the fact that I wasn’t terribly impressed with the expansion (although they did do a lot of neat things that I’m sure I’ll talk about at some point), I had no new goals. I had very little to motivate me to keep playing. Instead, my sense of accomplishment over the history of my play has continually nagged at me saying “Kurn, you can hang it up. You’ve done everything you’ve ever set out to do and more.”

And it’s true.

I didn’t just become a raider. I became a raid leader. I became a healing lead. I became a guild master. I became a WoW blogger. I became a WoW podcaster.

World of Warcraft has been a great place for me to hang out for seven years. It’s great bang for its buck. $15 a month has allowed me to spend countless hours (okay, not countless, we’re talking 400+ days /played) lost in Azeroth. When you think about how much a movie costs, for two hours of entertainment, you can pay about the same amount for unlimited hours of entertainment in a month.

I was happy to spend all the time that I did playing. I got involved, I became really active. I did it all for the love of a game and enjoyment of a game that, these days, no longer inspires me, about which I am no longer passionate.

I accomplished what I wanted to do and more. I satisfied my curiosity. And mostly due to the changes I’ve seen over the last couple of years to the game I once was very passionate about, I can’t get excited about it any longer.

One of the changes I haven’t talked about much isn’t something Blizzard did to the game, though. One of the changes is the people.

Players often say “if it weren’t for my guild, I would have quit long ago” and that’s true for me, as well. Were it not for Apotheosis, I would have probably quit during the Firelands nerf and if not then, certainly the Dragon Soul nerfs. But I had made a committment and I stayed on.

Others did not.

Shadowcry, Osephala, Euphie, Terex, Tia, Kam, Toga, Dar and Daey are all people who raided with us for at least a short time in Cataclysm but are all people I’d known for years, dating back to Burning Crusade. These people are among those I considered the core of Apotheosis in Burning Crusade. And one by one, all of them stopped raiding with us in Cataclysm, mostly due to time considerations or a lack of interest in the game.

There is a single person on the Mists of Pandaria raiding roster of Apotheosis who was in Apotheosis during Burning Crusade and that’s Dayden — and even he took a break for a few months in there.

Without most of my old friends and especially without Majik playing seriously, there’s no reason for me to continue. No in-game reason and no social reason. It’s not to say that I don’t think the current Apotheosis roster is awesome, because they’re pretty great people, but they’re not Shadowcry, who reflected caster spells back at them on Hyjal trash. They’re not Euphie, who was our Divine Spirit priest. They’re not Kam, who was our warlock tank. They’re not Toga, who usually forgot to unequip his fishing pole after fishing up Lurker. They’re not Daey, who snubs his nose at 99% of addons and still destroys things with ease.

Those were the days, for me. I kept playing for in-game reasons beyond Burning Crusade. And I continued through Cataclysm due to having made a committment to my guild.

But the game holds no more for me at this time. And all of my long-time friends, save Dayden, the Last Naked Man Standing, have stopped raiding.

So it’s time.

Here’s to three 45-minute Baron runs: one where Whisper or Volloz bugged it out for us, a successful run with me, Tia, Tan, Crypt and Daey and one in 39 minutes without a tank (Tia, Tan, Crypt, Maj and me).

Here’s to “HE’S GOT A REALLY BIG SWORD” and the Dire Maul arena and the NPA crew.

Here’s to soulstoning Daey on Hakkar so he could die and drop aggro, then rez.

Here’s to Toga and I never missing Tranq shot on Magmadar.

Here’s to 27-manning Gehennas.

Here’s to pony kegs after Maulgar and Majik blinking into Gruul.

Here’s to WEST SIDE, STRONG SIDE on Vashj.

Here’s to Lay on Hands critting Dayden with Vashj at 5%.

Here’s to me forgetting to heal Kam on Kael and her never living through Leotheras.

Here’s to Daey running to the corner of Void Reaver’s room for a timeout.

Here’s to Daey and I being mistaken for each other on that fight at least once.

Here’s to Dayden healing and Daey tanking on our Illidan kill.

Here’s to “WARTHON STOP NOT TANKING SHIT PLZ” on our first, and only, night in Sunwell Plateau.

And here’s to the current Apotheosis — best of luck to you all in this expansion and thanks to all of you for the unprecedented (for me) levels of raiding success.

This ends my series of retirement posts, but I’m sure I still have some things to say about the game. My subscription officially runs out today, but the blog isn’t quite done yet.

Thanks for reading.

Retirement Reasons and Reminiscing Part 4

Over the last week or so, I’ve been discussing my reasons for my retirement from raiding and, thus, my departure from World of Warcraft. I’m not trying to tell anyone else to quit as that remains a very personal decision and it’s not one anyone can make for you. I’m just trying to share my reasons and help myself (and anyone else, I guess) gain a better understanding of why, exactly, after seven years of playing this game, I’m pretty much done.

As always, please do respect the comment policy. :)

Reason 4: Not being excited by the new expansion and new changes.

I wasn’t thrilled when, while watching the live Blizzcon stream, I discovered that the new expansion was Mists of Pandaria. PANDAS? Really? I wasn’t thrilled. Nor was I thrilled with the new talent system. Nor did I particularly like the idea of not really having one “big bad”. I didn’t like that it was “only” another five-level expansion (although I had expected it). So my initial impression was disappointment and that certainly coloured my views going forward.

So let’s talk a little bit about each of those things.

1) The Pandaren (and monks). Wasn’t thrilled. Still am not thrilled. I think the Pandaren seem fairly goofy. I do, however, love that they can be either Horde OR Alliance. That is pretty great. As to monks, I gave monks a lot of thought. I compared them to death knights in my head, remembering the introduction of the DKs in Wrath of the Lich King. DKs were completely overpowered and unbalanced in virtually every single encounter, including Sartharion with three drakes. Hell, DKs were still OP even in heroic Dragon Soul content, if you ask me — both DPS and tanks, but particularly tanks. So I knew that, come this expansion, monks were going to be pretty powerful. I haven’t done a lot of reading about monks in general for Mists, but I had an idea that we’d see similarities between the power of DKs and the power of monks. What I’ve ascertained through reading various blogs is that mistweaver monks, the healers, are very OP. I think the tanks are doing well also. The issue appears to be with the windwalkers, the DPS spec, as apparently there’s a learning curve that many people are not quite grasping and, even if you’re great at it, they’re kind of middle of the pack in terms of damage. All of which is fine except that monk healers are dominating pretty much every other healer out there, which is problematic for a variety of reasons.

Having a new race is fine. New continent, new race, okay, I can deal with that.

Why did we need a new class? Did we really need a sixth healing spec and a fifth tanking spec and what is technically a 23rd DPS spec? Seriously, 11 classes, all with 3 (except druids who got guardian to separate it from feral which makes sense, I think) specs + guardian = 34 specs in the game, spread out over a total of 13 races? Good God. The combinations are getting pretty nuts, too, especially after old classes were able to be new races in Cataclysm (night elf mages, for example, or dwarf warlocks).

I don’t know why this bugs me, which is partly why I’m writing about it. I guess the monks are integral to Pandaria and the Pandaren or something, but with the dilution of 25-man raiding, is there really a huge need for a 5th tank, 6th healer and yet another DPS? I mean, even in 25-man raiding, you can’t support all five tank specs and it would be rare to support all six healing specs.

Maybe the introduction of a new class of healer and tank was in order to help reduce queue times for all random group content? It never hurts to have more tanks or more healers in the population. But if that’s the case, that hasn’t really worked out particularly well. My hunter still faces queue times anywhere from 20-30 minutes for any random heroic dungeon, just like in Cata.

Anyhow. I wasn’t thrilled with the Pandaren and the monks. I still remain unimpressed, although the fluid animation of the Pandaren models make me jealous as all get out.

2) The new talent system. The big complaint everyone had was “oh, it’s dumbed down” because we went from 41 points to spend to a grand total of… six. One every 15 levels. Which is a far cry from Vanilla. But no, it’s not dumbed down so much, because you are now expected to change your spec frequently. As well as your glyphs.

I admit that it was challenging for me to remember to change my glyphs around in Cataclysm. I would occasionally forget to swap glyphs and would inadvertently take more damage than I needed to for glyphing/not glyphing Divine Protection and the like. The glyphs didn’t seem to matter too much for me in 5-man content, but in raiding, I did have to occasionally change out glyphs and even had a second holy spec for pretty much the whole expansion so I could have a “standard” spec for most fights and whatever progression fight I was on would have its own custom spec, basically. (Like Chimaeron and Yor’sahj, for instance.)

But there was always so much going on in my raids, particularly for me as the raid leader, that it was really easy for me to forget to swap glyphs/specs/etc. So the idea of doing that but also with talents is, in a word, daunting. I’m very used to a “set it and forget it” type mentality when it comes to my talents. The game has taught me that over the last seven years. It’s a hard habit to break and while I’m sure I could do so, that’s not particularly engaging gameplay for me. “Oh, hold on, I need to swap that and that and dammit, hold on, let me reload my UI. And crap, does anyone have any Tomes?” The actual process of swapping things out is not engaging to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing something and going “man, this talent/glyph would be GREAT for that fight!” and I enjoy tailoring my abilities to a specific fight. I’ve been doing this on Kurn as I swap between dungeons, dailies, rares and such. But in a raid situation? When you can’t do the swaps in combat? When it’s just one other thing you have to remember to do in addition to your food buff, watching your flask timer, listening for or reading your assignments, trying to remember when to best use various cooldowns on this fight…? Ugh. If I could plan out a “by fight” plan for my toon, like “as soon as I see Morchok, unglyph Divine Protection” and “as soon as I see Yor’sahj or Zon’ozz, reglyph it” and it would DO it for me, that would be great. That would take the busywork out of the equation and just leave the planning in place. Which I really enjoy. But at the same time, pre-programming your spec and glyphs sort of automates stuff in the game and I know the devs don’t like that. Still, there must be a better way than manually opening your talents up and doing all that in the midst of prepping for a pull.

So while I don’t think the talent system is particularly dumb compared to the talent trees of old, I don’t think it’s particularly efficient, nor do I find it engaging at the mechanical level. A small complaint, perhaps, but that’s my two cents.

3) No “big bad”. The last time I raided without a “big bad” was in Vanilla. The big villain in Burning Crusade was Illidan and then, later, Kil’jaeden. In Wrath, it was Arthas — he was everywhere. He taunted you. Youwanted to kick his frozen ass. In Cata, it was Deathwing — this is the jackass who obliterated Auberdine, who fried us as we were out in the world, innocently doing our thing. Vengeance would be ours!

I don’t always need a reason to kill things. I’m not big into the lore. But it helps to engage with “the big bad” as you level up to encourage you to do what you can to get to That Fight, you know? Vanilla raiding, for me, was trying to clear ZG (done!), AQ20 (3/6), kill Onyxia (guild never did it) and Ragnaros (we spawned Domo, never got him or Rag down, as a guild). Why? BECAUSE IT WAS THERE.

It’s likely the same kind of attitude today (I haven’t read anything about the raids), but I feel a big bad sort of ties things together in a way that made things more cohesive and coherent in BC, Wrath and Cata than in Vanilla.

4) Five levels. Again. I hated the five level part of Cataclysm. I really did. Levelling was clumsy, gearing was awkward and the levels were insanely long with very little reward, it felt like. And it feels exactly the same way to me in Mists. I’ve got two 90s now, my hunter and my shaman, and while I used to really enjoy the levelling process in previous expansions, it felt like such a chore to do it this time around. Some of the quests are great. Some of the zones are amazing. But the levels are so long and again, there’s little to no reward for dinging. Grats on 86! You get… nothing. Grats on 87! You get one new skill. Grats on 88! 89! And you get nothing for that. At 90, you get your level 90 talent and the ability to fly and that’s great, but it’s like, what is the point of 86, 88 and 89? Now, more than ever, to me, the levelling process has felt like an artificial barrier before dinging max level.

Now, a 10-level jump would have brought us to 95, so I can understand why it was another 5-level expansion, but the levelling process in, say, BC, meant abilities every couple of levels and talents every other level and it was spread out over 10 levels with only the last one before max level was really particularly bad. Same for Wrath. But I felt it was a chore in Cata and even moreso in Mists. Which makes me sad. It took me 30 days (THIRTY DAYS) of /played time to get Kurn from 1-60. I took my time, I enjoyed things, I explored the world and I eventually got to 60. It was an accomplishment on its own. Now, max level is a pesky pre-requirement for all the “content” they’re putting out, I find.

So those were all things I was concerned about before the game even launched. Since the game has been out, there’s one more thing that has caused me to think that I’m making the right decision in quitting.

5) The devaluation of organized raiding. (While I’m a proponent of 25-man raids, I think what I’ll be discussing also affects 10-man raiders, for once!)

Mists of Pandara has a crapton of PVE things you can do at max level. I mean, a crapton.

– Dailies
– Scenarios (still haven’t done one since Theramore and I’m pretty pleased about that, to be honest)
– Dungeons
– Challenge mode dungeons
– LFR
– Organized raiding

There are more things, of course, but all those things give you Valor Points, which is basically the upper-tier PVE currency. The current VP cap is 1000 VP, with a hard cap of 3000 VP.

The ways in which you can get Valor Points is pretty crazy, with all kinds of “bonus” VP for the first time you do a certain task. Here, Wowhead has you covered.

It says that the first LFR of the week that is completed gives you 90 VP. Assuming that’s, say, the first half of Mogu’shan Vaults (3 bosses), that’s approximately 30 VP per boss.

That is more VP than in 10/25 normal/heroic modes, which only garners you 25 VP per boss.

That is only the first LFR of the week, though, true, but a daily Challenge mode is 60 VP, plus other amounts if it’s your first gold/silver/bronze of the week.

Scenarios net you 60 for the first, 20 for the second every day.

And don’t forget the dailies where you get 5 VP for each daily, up to 48 dailies a day.

Valor Points are needed (along with reputation with various factions) to gain some of the top PVE gear available, particularly in the early stages of the expansion. Previously, you could cap (or come close to it, at least) by doing dungeons or raiding or a combination of the two.

Now, you cannot VP cap by killing 18 bosses at 25 VP apiece. That’s only 450. In order for raiders to get another 550 VP, what should they be doing? Well, that’s where we run into problems with time and effort and the like. Right now, there are “only” three LFRs open, as I understand it: Mogu’shan Vaults 1 and 2 and HoF 1. So, if you full-clear MV and HoF, which is the entirety of the raid content right now, that’s 12 bosses at 25 VP per for 300 VP. Then if you do all three LFRs successfully, you get 90 + 45 + 45 = 180, so that’s a total of 480.

But what if you kill all 18 raid bosses and then all FIVE LFRs?

18 raid bosses = 450 VP
LFR x5 = 90 + 45×4 = 270

Total Valor Points available through only raiding: 720.

Well, gone are the days when you could even come close to capping out VP by solely doing raid content.

In Blizzard’s desire to make things accessible and give people choices, they have (perhaps inadvertently) forced people to do content they don’t want to do in order to get the rewards they want to better equip themselves.

Let’s say you want something pretty from, oh, the Shado-Pan. Let’s say you want a helm, like Six Pool’s Open Helm. It requires Revered with Shado-Pan and 2250 VP.

In order to get Shado-Pan rep, you have to open up their faction and I believe that means first getting to Revered with the Golden Lotus.

So you have to do the Golden Lotus dailies until you’ve gotten all the way through honored (which is, frankly, when I gave up). Then you have to do Shado-Pan dailies until you get to revered with these guys. And then, you have to make sure you have 2250 VP. If you’re capping, that won’t take too long, but in order to cap, you will probably default to doing the dailies which you have to do ANYWAY in order to get the rep. (Plus, DPS players don’t have to wait 30 minutes in queue for dailies, so it’s something you can do more quickly and perhaps more efficiently than waiting in queue for a dungeon, unless you do dailies while you queue. Anyhow.)

And then when you’re exalted with everything and a new bunch of VP gear comes out with the next tier, then what? Are you still going to be unable to cap while solely raiding?

Sure looks like it judging by this tier.

Let’s be clear, Valor Points are the successors to “badges”. Back in Burning Crusade, the developers realized among other things that there existed a huge gap in gear. You often had a bunch of people who were geared from Karazhan (T4 gear) and a bunch of people who were geared from Mount Hyjal, Black Temple and, later, Sunwell (T6 gear) with few people in between. Many guilds and raiders who tried T5 content simply broke up or gave up. This led to a major problem for guilds in T6 content — they couldn’t recruit anyone and expect them to keep up with healing or DPS or even threat/survivability for tanks.

I’m not saying this was the sole reason for the introduction of badge gear, but that’s when badge gear was introduced. You could take your Badges of Justice and go purchase gear with this currency that dropped in ALL the raids. You could farm the crap out of Kara with its 12 bosses or whatever and use that to buy near-T6 equivalent gear. Voila, people pushing T6 content could now recruit people with halfway decent gear without keeping T5 instances on their raid schedule specifically to gear up the recruits.

That’s the start of the Valor Points we use today. It was used to allow raiders — raiders! — an opportunity to gear up for the current content without having gone through the previous tier. That was new, it was ground-breaking and it was probably a really good thing.

But nowadays, everyone can get VP gear and raiders no longer can get capped exclusively through raiding.

For me, this is indicative that there is less value being placed on raiding. The way I’ve always seen raiding has been the pinnacle of PVE content, where you see the most challenging encounters, requiring the most people. It’s changed, obviously, because now you can raid in LFR with 24 people you don’t know OR you can spend 10 hours a day raiding heroic modes trying to get world firsts. Either way, however, by trying to make sure raiding is accessible and trying to give people “more things to do”, they have, perhaps mistakenly, removed some of the incentive to raid in an organized group.

If you want to see the content, do LFR.

If you want to cap VP and get VP gear, do LFR and dailies and dungeons and scenarios, whatever.

If you want to raid, you can pick your kind of group (10 or 25) and difficulty (normals or normals and THEN heroics) and raid.

People used to raid for a lot of reasons — to see the content, because normal raids were the only way to do it (pre-heroic raids, of course) or to get gear (because you didn’t used to get badges from dungeons or anything except raiding) or to work together as a team.

Now, you can see the content elsewhere, you can get gear/VP elsewhere… and all that’s left is the “working together as a team to defeat encounters” aspect. Don’t get me wrong — that’s why I raided. But I was always aware that people raided for other reasons as well.

By giving us so many choices, did Blizzard shoot themselves in the foot? Did they give us too many methods to cap out VP without thinking about how that will affect raiding populations?

I guess my point here is that, due to the variety of issues I’ve already outlined, I don’t trust that Blizzard has thought this stuff through adequately. I don’t trust them. At all. They’ve eroded it over the years and now it’s just gone. While I don’t know that people will stop organized raiding, I think it’s a possibility. I think the amount of stuff to do out there devalues what I always felt was the pinnacle of PVE content, was always the end goal of any PVE-oriented person.

Along with the nerfs, this kind of lack of respect for raiding and raiders really underlines why my decision to quit is the right decision for me.

The next, and likely last, post in this series will discuss the fact that I feel fairly well-accomplished and how I feel as though I’ve met most of my goals that I set out to achieve in this game, leading to an overall lack of incentive to continue playing.

BREAKING NEWS: Holy Avenger and Holy Paladins

Back in preparation for 5.0, I wrote a post where I talked about talents, including Holy Avenger. In it, I said:

You can see that Holy Shock and Holy Radiance both get the appropriate 30% bump. Even though I had Beacon on me and was healing myself with Flash of Light and Divine Light (and getting the extra holy power), neither of those spells were affected by the 30% bump.

[…]

Remember, though — those would only on the beacon target and it may actually be intended that you don’t get a bump to healing with those spells on a beacon.

So let’s look at Holy Avenger’s tooltip:

Abilities that generate Holy Power will deal 30% additional damage and healing, and generate 3 charges of Holy Power for the next 18 sec.

For a holy paladin, we can generate holy power in the following ways:

– Casting Holy Shock on any target
– Casting Holy Radiance on any friendly target
– Using Crusader Strike on an enemy target

… but we can also cast Flash of Light or Divine Light on a target with our Beacon of Light on them to gain holy power, via the Tower of Radiance baseline holy passive ability.

Now, if you were to use Flash of Light or Divine Light on a beacon target, you WOULD get the three holy power. Great. But you would NOT receive the 30% extra healing.

Since late beta testing and early 5.0.4 testing when I noticed this, I’ve been asking (bug report forum, beta forum, tickets, even tweets to Ghostcrawler) which behaviour is intended? The way I saw it, the Tower of Radiance heals were either incorrectly giving the extra holy power (if those kinds of heals are not supposed to benefit from Holy Avenger) or they were incorrectly not benefiting from the extra 30% healing bonus (if those kinds of heals are supposed to benefit). And I could not get an answer about it. Either way, it was buggy. Half of the tooltip worked on those heals, half of the tooltip did not. You see the issue, right?

Finally, today, Ghostcrawler responded to a tweet I included him in with the holy paladin in my guild, Jacii, who had been lamenting that he had accidentally kept Holy Avenger as a talent through last night’s raids after testing to see whether or not the Tower of Radiance heals did or did not benefit from it.

So he said it wasn’t intended to work with Flash of Light and Divine Light on a beacon target. Okay, that’s fine, that makes sense — but why, then, does it grant extra holy power?

I tested it on live servers and screenshotted the combat log and you can clearly see it IS giving me 3 holy power due to Tower of Radiance and Holy Avenger.

So there you have it, holy paladins. Holy Avenger WILL work with Tower of Radiance heals in 5.1. As to right now? Nope, still not working.

The first two heals are without Holy Avenger. Flash of Light hits for about 31k, Divine Light (non-crit) for about 40k. (Bear in mind this is on my pally at level 85 in heroic Dragon Soul gear.) The next three are with Holy Avenger and you can see that there isn’t a substantial difference between the first two heals and the last three heals (barring the crit, but if a crit is an increase of 100% from a non-crit heal, you can do math and see that the crit Divine Light wasn’t empowered either, since half of 82k is 41k).

You can see that though I’m gaining the extra holy power through Holy Avenger and Tower of Radiance, Flash of Light is still hitting for about 31k and Divine Light is still hitting for 40-41k, all before Holy Avenger fades.

CONCLUSION

Holy Avenger is still broken in terms of the healing bonus on live right now, but Ghostcrawler says it DOES work in 5.1.

So there you have it, holy pallies — don’t completely discount Holy Avenger once 5.1 goes live. I’m glad I was able to get in one last piece of important holy paladin information for you guys before my subscription ran out. :)

UPDATE: This has been fixed in 5.1.

Retirement Reasons and Reminiscing Part 3

My subscription runs out on Saturday, November 10th, just a few short days away. So I’ve been writing this series about the reasons why I’m retiring. Part 1 talked about raiding nerfs and how I feel the developers and I don’t see eye to eye on a number of issues to do with raiding content. Part 2 talked about how I don’t feel as though I have many of the same views as the majority of the playerbase, in terms of researching my classes and basically learning how to play. My last post, while not a full-fledged part of this series, demonstrates pretty clearly that not only do the vast majority of players of the game and I have little in common in terms of how we approach our play, but in terms of their social skills and abilities to not be total jackasses, we also tend to differ. As always, I’m not trying to convince anyone to quit. Play or don’t play, that’s your choice. It’s your $15 a month. I’m merely documenting my reasons why. And please do note that there is a comment policy in effect. Thanks. :)

Reason 3: The Bugs, oh God, the Bugs

Okay. I get it. I really do. World of Warcraft is an enormous game. I’m not a programmer of any kind, but I’ve done website coding for a living, so I understand how finicky even basic HTML/CSS code can be. I can only imagine how insanely complex the code within World of Warcraft is. As such, I am generally really, really forgiving of in-game bugs and issues. Not only that, but the devs are usually really good at hotfixing things once they recognize something is wrong.

Having said that, Cataclysm was the buggiest expansion I have ever seen. We’re talking brutally buggy in some cases. Let us examine some of the worst cases I experienced.

Tier 11 – Blackwing Descent, Bastion of Twilight, Throne of the Four Winds

The biggest issue we found in this tier of raiding was the “flexible raid lockout” system. We had a brutal night fighting with the raid lockout system last April when myself, Hestiah and Tikari were all saved to a different heroic ID than the other 25 people in the raid, despite no one killing any heroic bosses. Go ahead and read it. It’s a fun blog post. But it meant we were insanely careful about raid lockouts for the rest of the expansion, even going so far as to not swap specific people just so that we wouldn’t have to change who had the title of “raid leader” in the raid group, just in case another screw up like that happened.

In terms of specific fights where we encountered issues…

a) Heroic Magmaw: I have a video of this SOMEWHERE, but you’ll have to take my word for it because I can’t find it anywhere. On one of our progression attempts, Magmaw, instead of slumping FORWARD for a burn phase, instead bent over BACKWARDS. I wish I were kidding.

b) Conclave of Wind (both difficulties): Okay, this is less of a “bug” but is perhaps a technical limitation… We had to have people logging on every single platform in order to ensure we had a complete view of what the hell happened on this fight. Terrible design, that the combat log from one platform didn’t reach to the others.

c) Heroic Valiona & Theralion: Similarly, and we saw these issues through ICC and Ruby Sanctum as well, combat logs don’t work from one realm to another. This is still happening in current raid content with Gara’jal.

Okay, that’s not so bad, despite the raid lockout weirdness.

Tier 12 – Firelands

a) Rhyolith: I can’t point to a specific moment, but there were times when he was not moving the way he should have been. Honestly.

b) Alysrazor: Do not get me started on bugs with flying, bugs with tornadoes and other environmental stuff. People would fall out of the air despite having gotten their rings, people would die to a tornado and not actually be anywhere near one… The words “look at where I did! Just look!” were said in our raid more than once.

c) Heroic Baleroc: Touching people was always, well, touchy. Sometimes to pass on your debuff, you had to stand on top of someone, sometimes you only had to be a few yards away. Latency? Possibly, but unlikely when most people are standing still during these times…

Actually, again, not so bad, although adding this persistent issues to the Tier 11 frustrations.

Tier 13 – Dragon Soul

Here’s where the “fun” starts.

a) Zon’ozz (all difficulties): The Void of the Unmaking is buggy as fuck.

b) Hagara the Stormbinder: Two major issues here, but the first has to do with chaining the lightning. The second is that, and yes, I opened tickets about this and posted bug reports about this, if you cast Hand of Sacrifice on the person about to take the Focused Assault BEFORE the Focused Assault starts, then it fades prematurely, before transferring 100% of your maximum health or lasting the full 12 seconds. This happened to me on two separate holy paladins, in two separate raid groups, on a variety of different tanks.

c) Warmaster Blackhorn (heroic): Deck Fire. Do I REALLY need to say more?

d) Spine of Deathwing (all difficulties): Cut scene disconnects, getting stuck on the boat and having to relog, Grasping Tendrils not actually holding you in place.

e) Madness of Deathwing (all difficulties): Thrall drops people. This From Draenor with Love comic is perfect.

All of these bugs from Dragon Soul are either commonly experienced (Madness, Spine) or are easily visible in some videos I posted in this post about bugs in Dragon Soul or in this first Heroic Blackhorn kill video of ours: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwllU3Kqce8. Look at all that delicious Deck Fire when Goriona is on the ship. Terrible.

There are, doubtlessly, other bugs, including things like previously-mentioned logging issues (figuring out who pre-potted on Ultraxion when you ditched into the twilight realm to do a healer-only heroism? Nightmarish.). As an example, there’s a “bug” (or perhaps it’s working as intended, I have no confirmation) where right now, the Holy Avenger talent doesn’t work right for holy paladins, where it grants 3 holy power when you drop a Flash of Light or Divine Light on a beacon target, but those heals aren’t boosted by the 30%. It’s like, it listens to the tooltip for some of the spells, but not all the spells. And I’ve opened tickets, posted bug reports, even tweeted Ghostcrawler, all to no avail.

Anyhow, the game is immensely complex. I get that. But many of these issues are repeatable. They are problematic. They are broken. The broken Hagara chaining mechanic was ludicrous. Why not fix problems in current raid content when it’s current? Those fights were out from November 29th, 2011 until the launch of Mists of Pandaria on September 25th, 2012. That’s 10 months. Are you seriously telling me they couldn’t fix Deck Fire issues, lightning issues, Thrall DROPPING people in ten months?

The lack of quality control has been problematic for a while. All you really need to do is ask rogues about vanish, right? ;) But it really made its mark on me during Dragon Soul. I’d previously seen things that weren’t that dire or were eventually fixed. They even fixed the old demon, Klinfran the Crazed, in the Burning Steppes, to work with the “new” Scorpid Sting not too long after they revamped Scorpid Sting entirely.

But you don’t really see that kind of attention anymore. Yes, you see hotfixes, bug fixes, tooltip fixes, but not a single one of my Dragon Soul issues were fixed. Why not? It’s just gotten worse, from my perspective. I hear there are some painful phasing issues to do with some dailies these days too. These issues are ongoing, so that’s one more reason I’m not interested in renewing my subscription.

The next part of the series will address my lack of enthusiasm for the Mists of Pandaria expansion.

A Comment that Helps my Arguments

So someone didn’t read (or read and didn’t care about) my comment policy after reading an old post I linked in yesterday’s Retirement Reasons and Reminiscing Part 2 post. He left a comment on the old post (we’re talking April of 2010 here). The posting of this comment actually helps to add to my point from yesterday’s post about not thinking like most other players. I won’t approve the comment, but I screenshotted it and thought I would take a moment to rebut it.

First of all, despite the fact I blurred out the poster’s email address and IP address, let’s be clear — I know exactly who the poster is. He plays a warrior named Daxia on Turalyon. (In addition to this and, obviously, his email address and IP address, I have the guy’s name and a variety of other bits of information that I am too kind to share here, all gathered in the span of about ten minutes.)

So now that we’ve determined who this guy is, let’s look at his comments.

a) According to this dude, I am a whiny, whiny baby. Well, given that I’m in my 30s, I would have to disagree with this point. Do I whine? Sure, on occasion, as does everyone. Do I bitch? A lot, probably more than most. But “baby”? Nope, don’t think so. Yay hyperbole?

b) Someone who used to raid with me linked him to the blog. Well, based on the roster of his guild on Turalyon, this comes down to one of two people. The first is the current GM of his guild, who stepped down from raiding with Apotheosis in early November of 2011. The second is a friend of that individual, who raided with us also until about early November of 2011. We kicked that second individual’s ass out of Apotheosis in early December of 2011, after finally receiving enough complaints that were severe enough to warrant it, in the officers’ estimation. I would presume that the commenter is just a wee bit biased by the individual who had the “honour” of being the first person to be removed from Apotheosis due to behavioural issues. (The GM of the guild in question actually tweeted me a couple of weeks ago to say: “I didn’t appreciate it before, but your style of raid leadership made me a better player and I thank you. Cheers to you Kurn” so I’m guessing it was the second individual who attempted to get the poster to rile me up.)

c) I had another post berating my old guildies. Well, if you look at the other posts around April of 2010, why yes, yes I did. But I wasn’t in Apotheosis back then. That was in Wrath, when I was burning out so hard that six weeks later, I was posting about how I was completely burnt out and hated 90% of the people in that guild.

d) He claims my old guildies, the ones I was apparently berating, are now pushing heroic content with him in his guild. Hm. Ignoring the fact that the only people in that guild who ever raided with me in Apotheosis are the two I mentioned above… The armory says 6/6 normal Mogu’shan Vaults and 1/6 normal Heart of Fear. Hm. According to the World of Logs reports for the guild (corroborated by the armory), they have one Will of the Emperor kill. The logs don’t have any record of them “pushing heroic content” — literally, they have 0 recorded wipes on any heroic bosses. (Hey, fun fact, Apotheosis is actually 2/6 normal HoF, so technically, they’re ahead of them in progression. Funny, that.)

e) This blog is horrible. Well, you know, that’s a personal opinion. He’s entitled to it, sure. I’ll grant him that. No skin off my nose.

f) This might be my favourite part: “gearscore!=skill”. I’m talking about Halls of Stone, an instance from two expansions ago. And using old gearscore numbers. And this guy thinks the post is remotely relevant to current content? Oh, man. I laughed.

g) “many tanks do this” (use non-tanking gear, I presume) “because the DPS players with them are so shit that without good tank dps the instance will take 2 hours”. Hang on, wait, I’m sorry — did you just prove the point I was making in yesterday’s post about people not putting effort into how they play? Why yes, yes, I think you did.

h) “I also top the meters and clear any Mists heroic in under 20 minutes”. Well, I can’t prove or disprove this, but hey, if you can do that, great for you, although I would wager your healer is generally either raid-geared, a guildmate or cursing your name but not wanting to wait for another tank in the queue. Just my two cents on that. I could be wrong.

i) “Die in a fire.” Lovely! Thanks so much for closing with such utterly… inspirational words?

You may be wondering why give this guy the attention he obviously so desperately craves. The reality of the situation is that he inadvertently proved the point I was making in yesterday’s post and brought up a new point that I wanted to briefly address. Not only do I have very little in common with the vast majority of the playerbase in terms of how they approach their character and their play, but the vitriol displayed in his comment, especially his parting words, just reinforces to me that the vast majority of players out there aren’t people with whom I care to associate. Apotheosis has a strong set of policies about language and such and all you have to do is sit in Trade for 10 minutes on any medium to large server to see just about all of them smashed by various players (not my guildies, obviously).

So I’m tired of the playerbase in general; their continued laziness and incompetence as well as their “social skills”. I mean, really, why is it so common to see racist slurs in Trade? Why is it so common to see homophobic language? I’ve spent seven years reporting people for what I feel is inexcusable language and offensive names and I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of the “make me a sammich” jokes, I’m tired of the fact that so many people use “rape” to indicate total domination over an enemy in a video game, I’m tired of wading through the crap from trolls and jackasses.

I’m just tired of it.

Obviously, there are more people out there than the mouthbreathers such as the commenter I responded to above. This guy is not necessarily representative of everyone, clearly. But finding the people who aren’t like this guy? That’s difficult. It’s tiring. It’s draining. And it’s something I’m done with.

(Also, inflammatory comments will not be approved and will, possibly, be picked apart and mocked by me in this space. Remember the comment policy! :))

Retirement Reasons and Reminiscing Part 2

The other day, I wrote part one of this series in which I discussed how raiding has evolved over the years and how the devs’ ideas had similarly evolved. The major issue is that my own ideas don’t match up with what the devs are doing and planning and, as such, throughout Cataclysm’s many, varied nerfs to raid content, I became less and less excited about Mists of Pandaria.

I ended with a segue into how other people’s thinking is different from my own and how that’s another reason that I’m choosing to quit.

Again, play or don’t play, that’s your choice. I’m merely documenting my choices here and you’re free to read it or not. As always, please recall that there is a comment policy. Thanks.

Reason 2: I don’t think the same way as most of the players do.

What, exactly, do I mean by that?

Here. Let me show you.

 I don’t know why I’m still surprised…

OMG

Yet another fail “tank”

My blog is RESPLENDENT with examples of players being dumb, stupid, lazy and overall bad.

Now, don’t get me wrong — I was once terrible. Seven years ago, when I started this game, I didn’t understand the concept of filling out one entire spec of the talent tree to get the 31 point talent first. It had to be explained to me. I didn’t get the idea of ranks of spells for my pet, gained, back then, by taming other pets, learning those skills, then training my older pet with those new skills. I used to dual-wield daggers as my melee weapons, and at least one of them had an on-hit proc.

By the time I was 60, I had learned how not to be a total scrub. That doesn’t mean I didn’t keep learning, but it does mean that I continued to put in all the efforts I could into learning how to play appropriately.

I don’t bring Kurn into content that my hunter is incapable of helping out with. I make sure I’m hit-capped. I make sure I’m buffed appropriately. I even often ask what pet my group would prefer I use.

On my paladin, not that she has done ANYTHING in Mists, it’s about making the most of my character so I’m not a drag on the group. In 5-man content, that means keeping people alive, although not necessarily through their own stupidity.

These are standards I hold myself to.

Part of the reason I have them is because I started out, as I mentioned in my previous post, as someone who wanted to be a raider. I knew that I’d have to play better and learn more and work for my gear in order to get to be a raider.

People no longer have that reason to improve, because anyone can be a “raider”. There’s LFR, there’s 10-man normals, there’s 25-man normals, then there’s 10 and 25-man heroics. That about covers the entire spectrum of raiding, no? LFR people who can’t hit a button on Ultraxion and who (I am told) fall through the floor on Elegon. Normal raid teams who spend a night a week progressing until the nerf catches up to them. Heroic raid teams who power through normals and clear heroic modes before the nerfs or the next tier show up.

And all you really need to be a “raider” is to be at level cap and have a certain item level of gear.

You don’t need any of the dedication or knowledge to be a LFR-type “raider”.

You don’t need a huge time commitment to be a normal-mode raider and, let’s face it, normal-mode raiders can afford to be poorer players than heroic mode players, because the mechanics generally are nowhere near as punishing as on heroic mode.

You do need knowledge and some form of time commitment to do some of the “necessary” things as a heroic raider, but then again, I have been a heroic raider. This is the category in which I would place myself over Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm. So my beef isn’t really with my peers, exactly, it’s with the people like those I wrote those earlier blog posts about. People who don’t put in the effort. People who don’t take the time to learn. People who flat-out don’t want to learn.

Apotheosis has been fortunate in that many, many of our applicants have been of a high quality, but we’ve had our fair share of /facepalm apps. It’s those people I don’t want to play with any longer. And with the number of 25-man guilds continuing to decline, it’s getting hard to recruit for 25-man content. It was downright brutal at the end of Firelands last expansion. Sometimes, you have to trial someone just to give them a chance IN CASE they are secretly a great player and their logs or application didn’t show it, just because having a body in the raid, or available to raid, is better than calling a raid. Sometimes you have to try to teach the applicants rather than decline them off the bat because, well, it MIGHT turn out.

Oftentimes, it doesn’t work, which is why we generally only took “iffy” apps who were already on our server, so no one was wasting money if they were declined, as they were likely to be. But the sheer number of questionable applicants is downright overwhelming at times.

I don’t want to raid with people like that and I would be not only naïve but downright stupid if I thought that a raid roster was going to remain exactly the same throughout an entire expansion. Out of the 24 people I had listed in my very first Apotheosis 2.0 roster (created September 23, 2010) a grand total of THREE of those people (Majik, Dayden and myself) were still around at the end of Dragon Soul. And Dayden had taken a long hiatus. Of those 24, ten of them didn’t even complete a trial period.

In short, the one thing you can count on in a raiding guild is turnover. Looking around, there don’t seem to be a lot of quality, like-minded individuals out there: people who do their research, read strats, watch videos, understand how to play their classes at a high level. We’ve seen applicants fail to respond to our feedback in raids over and over again. “Dot all the things,” I remember telling a shadow priest app, in the hopes of helping them get their DPS up. Open up World of Logs, look at the uptimes, all the dot uptimes are below 60%.

“Always be casting,” you tell a random DPS, and you look at the logs and over and over again, the active time is reflective of their damage, which is below the tanks.

I can’t deal with it anymore. The changing approach to raiding and raids and all this “accessibility” by the developers has led, in my mind, to lazy players. Lazy players who are just, quite honestly, bad players. If that’s the kind of player that Blizzard is creating these days (and while there are certainly exceptions, it seems, more and more, as though these are the players that Wrath and Cata have spawned), I don’t want to have anything to do with them, nor do I want to be hunting high and low for quality replacements for those in my own guild. Searching for replacements is common for any guild, but I suspect it’s just going to get even more difficult given the overall quality of players out there.

So I choose to remove myself from Blizzard’s environment. I don’t agree with their raid philosophies any longer and I certainly don’t have much, if anything, in common with the average WoW player.

The next part of this series will focus on the quality control (or lack thereof) with regards to World of Warcraft.

(As always, please remember there is a comment policy in place. Thanks!)

(Edited to add: Here’s a sort of follow-up post, based on a comment I received but did not approve.)

Retirement Reasons and Reminiscing Part 1

It’s official. In eleven days, my World of Warcraft account subscription will expire and, for the first time in years, I will not be renewing it. This, I imagine, is not news to anyone who’s read this blog more than a couple of times in the last several months, or listened to Blessing of Frost since, oh, Firelands was nerfed.

I haven’t actually clicked the “cancel” button yet, but the last time I renewed my sub, I used a game time card so that even if I forgot to cancel, they couldn’t bill me again. Once I do hit that button, I plan to use these forthcoming posts to help describe my reasons for leaving the game. (There’s no way 500 characters or something like that would ever even put a dent into my reasons and feelings about the game.)

Anyhow, I’m not out to convince anyone to quit or that the game sucks or anything of the sort. Play or don’t play, that’s your choice and your choice alone. I feel compelled to document my decision and my reasons to better understand it all myself. I also want to blog about it because I’ve become more interested in the decision to game/raid/etc than the actual content of the game and so exploring my own reasons seems like a good place to start.

Reason 1: The Evolution of Raids/Accessibility of Raiding Content

Since I discovered what “raiding” was, back in Vanilla, I have wanted to raid. I wanted to be like that guy from my server, Thack (no, not Theck, Thack) who was in 9/9 Dreadnaught Armor (warrior T3) and who was a Scarab Lord. He would stand around Lagforge Ironforge on his bug mount, in his gear and would basically just look awesome.

I was fascinated by the idea of a team, a real team, of 40 people working together in concert to do stuff. So when I discovered what raiding was, courtesy of my brother who was killing Ragnaros with another guild, I went into research mode. I found out everything I needed to know about attunements and questlines and then I shared that info with my guildies. The old Fated Heroes guild had a significant problem in that people would join the guild, we’d work hard to help them get to 60 and then they’d hop over to a raiding guild on the server. So I approached the GM and asked him if he WANTED to raid. All the officers did, they just didn’t know how to retain the players. That’s where I came in. I helped to educate the players and helped to put into action these plans about raiding. I did attunement runs out the wazoo. I helped recruit people. It was a great team effort just to start raiding ZG, then AQ20 (to an extent) before finally hitting up MC and trying to down Onyxia.

Then, the guild kind of fell apart and we kind of went our own ways for the start of Burning Crusade, only we all regrouped in May and then formed Apotheosis on June 1st, 2007.

Here, I thought, was my chance to raid with some people whose company I really enjoyed and we’d do it better than we ever did back in Fated Heroes. We formed with the goal to kill Illidan. And, eventually, we did.

While we fell apart in Wrath of the Lich King, we reformed for “Apotheosis 2.0” for Cataclysm and we put the old Apotheosis to shame by doing 7/13 HM in T11, 6/7 HM and Glory of the Firelands raider in T12 and following it up with 8/8 HM in T13 Soul along with Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider. These were unprecedented levels of raiding success for our guild. So many people had grown with the guild and had come back to play with us and it was really amazing to see this mix of old and new together, working as a team and succeeding.

Having said all of that, I play the game to raid. I LOVED learning Lucifron in Molten Core. It was such an epic fight to me back then. I remember this one moment where I realized I was about to die, because I had Impending Doom on me. I had used my healthstone. My health potion was on cooldown. My bandages were on cooldown. In fact, here… Since I knew I was going to die, I took a screenshot of it. This was taken on July 22nd, 2006.

So I did die after that Impending Doom. And yet, that ended up being the winning attempt. Lucifron down! And I got the Tome of Tranquilizing Shot. Then we played with Gehennas a bit (Magmadar with just 1 Tranq Shot? HAH.) and called it a night.

I loved the teamwork we showed in this instance. I loved setting up my hunter rotations for Tranq Shot — there was me, Toga, Kaiu, Sharpbow and a few others over the course of the next few months. We never missed a single rotation. We nailed it. Because we worked together as a team.

Now, you may be wondering, Kurn, don’t you still have to work as a team to defeat raid encounters?

Yes. But only to an extent. Why only to an extent? Well, dear reader, if you wait long enough, Blizzard will nerf the encounters.

In their ongoing goal to make raid content “accessible”, their design choices have changed drastically from what they did in Vanilla to what they do now.

TO ENTER MOLTEN CORE IN VANILLA:

– Attunement quest at Level 55, requiring you to defeat most of the bosses in Blackrock Depths in order to get your core fragment. This often required you actually knowing how to play your class well enough to be part of a successful core attunement run. (Or for you to be carried by friends/guildies/etc. Or summoned by a warlock.)

TO ENTER DRAGON SOUL IN CATACLYSM:

– Ding 85.

It’s not exactly even. And don’t get me started on Onyxia attunement. (Dammit, Maj, I still cannot believe YOU DIED on Jailbreak, dude. ;))

Now, and this is where I think a lot of people misunderstand me, I want to make it clear that I don’t much like jumping through arbitrary hoops, despite my admiration of attunements. I think a lot of things they’ve changed about raiding through the years have been quality of life changes.

In Burning Crusade, they introduced the “1 flask or 1 Guardian elixir and 1 Battle elixir” rule. They also changed food buffs so you could only have one on you at a time.

Lots of people cried “NERF OMG” but I was one of many others who were like “oh thank God, I don’t need to have a flask, plus another 5 elixirs on me.” I mean, look up at that screenshot again — I don’t even have an Elixir of the Mongoose on. (Bad Kurn.)

The change made sense. It allowed the devs to assume everyone would have one flask OR two elixirs and one food buff and they would build the encounters with that in mind and it allowed people who wanted to raid to not, you know, farm for the 20 hours a day they didn’t raid. ;) I was a fan of this. (Less of a fan of them nerfing holy paladins and Illumination, but ANYWAY.)

Later in BC, Blizz lifted the attunement requirements to Serpentshrine Cavern, Tempest Keep, The Battle for Mount Hyjal and Black Temple. While we didn’t do the attunements for SSC and TK in Apotheosis back then, we did do the Hyjal and BT attunements just by virtue of progressing through T5 and we also wanted the shadow resist necks for the Mother fight in BT, so we got just about everyone that attunement.

While I wasn’t, shall we say, thrilled by the change, my guild benefitted from it. So I can’t really complain too much. And we did the “important” attunements anyhow, getting most everyone Hand of A’dal and their BT necks.

One month before Wrath of the Lich King was to be released, Patch 3.0 dropped. With new talents and abilities and such came a 30% nerf to all raid bosses. Unchangeable, couldn’t turn it on or off. If you were raiding, you were dealing with a 30% nerf to everything. More, it was initially undocumented.

This was the first really big nerf that Blizzard implemented.

Again, my guild benefitted from it. We were 4/5 Hyjal and 5/9 BT at that point. We knew we would get Archimonde down without the nerf, but didn’t have the opportunity to prove it. Then again, without the nerf, we probably wouldn’t have gotten through the rest of BT and wouldn’t have achieved our goal of killing Illidan.

I never thought this would become a trend.

The next time we saw huge buffs/nerfs like that was in Icecrown Citadel, with a stacking “buff” to make players more powerful in increments of 5% all the way up to 30%. I first killed Heroic 25-man Sindragosa at the 15% buff and later, repeated 11/12 HM progression on 25-man mode (with another guild) at the 25-30% buff level. It was still difficult, because fights like Heroic Putricide and Heroic Sindragosa were more about coordination than raw power.

I was okay with the buff, for the most part. It got pretty silly by the 30% point, but I told myself it was just because the instance was going to be the last major one (please, who counts Ruby Sanctum? Screw you and your boots, Halion!) of the expansion and it was going to last a while. And it did last a while. It lasted a year. A YEAR.

Then Tier 11 showed up in Cataclysm and, well, chunks of it were really difficult. Apotheosis went 7/13 HM before Firelands came out and we were like “SEEYA” to Blackwing Descent, Bastion of Twilight and Throne of the Four Winds.

They nerfed T11 normal modes when Firelands came out. They did not touch the heroic modes.

I felt that nerfing T11 normals was a bad plan. My guild’s alt run carried me through T11 normals on my hunter post-nerf and it was ridiculous. In a single night, Kurn got Defender of a Shattered World, a title that had taken Madrana several weeks (three months?) to earn.

Still, they hadn’t nerfed the heroics and we weren’t touching T11 content anyhow, so I thought, well, that’s fine. I guess.

And then came the Firelands nerf. This is where I became acutely aware that Blizzard’s ideas on raiding were now significantly different from mine.

What had previously been end-of-expansion nerfs or buffs, what had previously been “last tier of content” stuff, was now hitting my CURRENT normal and heroic raid content.

That’s when it stopped being okay for me.

“We want raids to be more accessible,” Blizzard told us.

Fine, okay, I get it. And then we got LFR. And I thought “hey, there might be a bright side here. ANYONE can see raids through LFR. Now they’ll leave our normals and heroics alone!”

But I was wrong. They continued to nerf the crap out of both normal and heroic Dragon Soul, ultimately reaching a 35% blanket nerf on all encounters.

This was basically my breaking point.

I had started raiding back when it was a pretty punishing hobby. I enjoy many of the quality of life changes we’ve seen since then (don’t get me started on how they’ve now removed cauldrons and made feasts inferior to 300 stat food) and have enjoyed how raiding has absolutely gotten more accessible. However, when I started, people worked and worked to get bosses down. There was nothing on the horizon that was coming soon to help you get over that hump. All you had to work with was your raid team and all you could do was keep bashing your head against the boss, until you suddenly had a breakthrough and got the boss down.

These are the epic moments I remember best. People didn’t rely on just waiting until they became more powerful or the boss became weaker due to some developer tweaks, they worked hard to improve themselves — farming gear, using consumables appropriately, researching their class. Gruul did not just fall over for us one day, he finally died because we realized we needed this thing called “hit rating”. Lady Vashj was over 100 pulls of over 35 different raiders and a variety of strats before we got her down.

That’s the challenge I like, knowing that I am stuck on this boss until I down it, knowing that the boss will behave in exactly the same fashion time and time again until such time as I work out what it is we’re doing wrong.

When Blizzard buffs the players or nerfs the encounters, that changes and it infuriates me. I feel like they’re saying “oh, you aren’t progressing fast enough, so here, let us help” and then they drag that finish line closer to us by about 10 meters. That ruins the kill for me.

Let’s look at when Apotheosis first killed Heroic Ultraxion, shall we?

It was Tuesday, February 28th. We had had a crushing 0% wipe on Heroic Ultraxion on Sunday, the 26th. We had spent pretty much all night on Ultraxion by that point, but because we wanted to clear the rest of the instance that night, we had decided that our last pull on Ultraxion would be around 11pm, leaving us an hour to finish up the rest of the instance on normal. The date is important. Why? Because on Tuesday, February 28th, the 10% nerf to Dragon Soul went into effect. This made a huge impact on our decision for Sunday’s raid. “Well,” we said to ourselves, “if we don’t get it tonight, at least we’ll get it on Tuesday with the nerf.”

That’s my problem. Even though I have serious issues with Blizzard nerfing the instances, I had to take it into account. What was more important to us? To kill Heroic Ultraxion and maybe miss out on Madness loot (which was still a bit new to us) or to ensure a full clear and know, with total certainty, that we would kill Ultraxion on the next reset?

Logistically, it made more sense for our raiders to get new trinkets and weapons from Spine and Madness, so that’s what we did. Had we not had the nerf incoming, I think I would have continued to work on Ultraxion until he died, because that kind of “he will die next reset” certainty wouldn’t have been there.

The very presence of the nerfs altered the way I ran my raid. That isn’t a concession I’m happy to make. I do miss the old days where if you were stuck on a boss, you were stuck on the boss and all you could do was farm previous bosses and improve your own performance to get through it. Now, you just wait for the nerf. Even my raid group did it, although I’m not pleased about it, because it made sense for us at the time.

Of course, not everyone misses those old days of being stuck on a boss for weeks, months at a time. That’s a great segue to my next point. My next post will discuss the disconnect between other people’s thinking and my own as a reason for my deciding to quit.

(As always, please remember there is a comment policy in place. Thanks!)

Raider Time Sinks: Dailies, Cooking, Fishing and More

I’ve been wanting to post this for a few days, now, but felt I really should post now after having read Anafielle’s excellent post, Mists of Farm-daria.

Let’s be super-clear about this: I am no longer a raider. As such, I have a lot of latitude in being able to do what I want to do. But I’m in a raiding guild and I read blogs by raiders and follow many raiders on Twitter. The biggest concern I keep seeing, over and over again, is how much time people are spending doing all the non-raid stuff they feel they “should” do as a responsible raider.

At Level 90, I gather that there are a few dailies a raider “needs” to do for rep with various factions. Here’s what those factions give you:

– Golden Lotus: Tailors and LWs particularly due to the patterns available at honored, plus VP rings at honored. At Revered, Shoulders and Chests become available with VP.

– Klaxxi: Blacksmiths get their plans here at honored. There are also VP necks here at honored. VP legs and belts are available at Revered. Exalted has some blue-quality (ilvl 463) weapons available.

– Shado-Pan: VP cloaks at honored, VP trinkets and helms at Revered.

– August Celestials: Enchanting patterns at Revered, as well as VP boots, gloves and bracers.

Of course, “needing” to do the dailies is a very subjective term. From my perspective, a raider should probably maximize his or her gear in order to perform better in raids. As such, since VP gear is available from ALL of those factions (and I’m not even talking about how you had to earn rep with factions for JUSTICE point gear until recently!), raiders should likely rep up to at least revered with most of these factions.

I feel that a raider should maximize his or her gear within reason. (And bear in mind that my thoughts no longer necessarily reflect the mindset of Apotheosis!) That means I feel that you shouldn’t need to drop 200k on a heroic drop at the Black Market Auction House. It means you shouldn’t need to craft something worth 60k (possible exception for the Darkmoon Faire trinkets).

At the same time, it means that I feel one needs to do LFR weekly for upgrades, rep up for upgrades, cap VP for upgrades.

Not everyone will agree with me. Raiders who fall on the more casual side of things than Apotheosis will think I’m insane. Raiders who fall on the more hardcore side of things than Apotheosis will be more likely to say “of course, duh, PLUS you need to get those BMAH items AND craft all the things”.

The fact remains that in order to improve your performance in a raid, your gear needs to be upgraded. How you do it and how dedicated you are to doing it is all that’s in question.

That brings us to cooking.

In brief, fuck cooking.

I say that as someone who has ALWAYS had at least one max-level cook. In Cataclysm, I had 3 max-level cooks. I own three Chef’s Hats. In short, I enjoy cooking.

Whoever decided to fuck with cooking in this expansion needs a smack upside the head.

Don’t get me wrong, the farm thing is cute. I like being able to grow things. My problems with cooking are not problems with farming, although they are tangentially related. No, my problems with cooking consist primarily of the fact that it takes an incredible amount of materials to max yourself in one single Way of cooking and that unless you max all the Ways, you can’t drop a 275 stat food feast. Plus, 275 stat food feasts aren’t even as good as the 300 stat foods that are single-use! What the eff happened here?

If we look at my personal feelings about gear, doesn’t that mean I think everyone should use personal 300 stat foods? Sure. Until you look at what’s REQUIRED for 300 stat food. Say I want to make the 300 Agility food for Kurn. That’s Sea Mist Rice Noodles.

Ingredients for 5:

– 1 Rice Flour (Ironpaw Token)
– 25 Scallions (farm or 1 Ironpaw Token for 25)
– 5 Tiger Gourami (fishing or 1 Ironpaw Token for 5)
– 5 Raw Turtle Meat (farming mobs or 1 Ironpaw Token for 5)

At minimum, for a stack (20) of 300 stat food, you’re looking at 4 Ironpaw Tokens, 4 days of farming on a farm that is at least 5 plots, finding 4-5 Tiger Gourami schools and fishing them, possibly two, then killing some turtles for the meat. Or spending 16 Ironpaw Tokens for all the mats. Or mixing and matching and supplementing with the Auction House.

Imagine a typical progression raid guild can wipe 30 times in a single night. You now want at least 30 foods. Add another 2 tokens, minimum, up to another 8. For a single night of raiding.

I’m pretty sure many people will agree with me when I say “fuck THAT right in the ear”.

There are different swaps to be made, of course, something about Bundles of Groceries and trades with Spirits of Harmony and the like, but that’s still pretty rough, particularly the farming of mobs and the fishing up of fish.

Now, I happen to enjoy fishing. Prior to Mists’ launch, I had ALL the fishing achievements. I like it. But a lot of people don’t. And a lot of people may feel pressed into fishing to get that “best food”. Plus, the fact that there are SO MANY ingredients means that the AH is not a great source. There may be hundreds of carrots up, but not hundreds of Tiger Gouramis. Which leads back to tokens or farming/fishing yourself.

Now multiply that by 10 or 25, depending on your raid size. Gah.

So in terms of effort vs. gain, having the guild bank handle banquets is probably your best bet. After all, it’s “only” 25 stats. But, and I don’t know about you, it would drive me crazy not to have the 300 stat food on me. (Have I mentioned I’m glad I’m not raiding? No? I AM VERY GLAD TO NOT BE RAIDING.)

Say you want the 300 stat food and want to rep up with, oh, everything. That is a stupid amount of time investment. Plus, you still may run dungeons and LFR in addition to raiding…

I’ll be honest with you. I’ve been doing Golden Lotus dailies, Tiller dailies and Anglers dailies on Kurn. I’m a hunter. Pure DPS. It still takes me ~90 minutes to do all my dailies and tend to my farm. And I’m not even doing Klaxxi dailies because, well, ew, gross. Add in another 20-30 minutes for Klaxxi, then another 20-30 minutes for other factions as they become available and you are looking at 90 minutes to 2 hours for a not-particularly-geared DPS to earn rep EVERY DAY in order to get better gear. God forbid you’re a healer.

Then there’s flasks. Gone are cauldrons entirely. And each flask requires a Golden Lotus. Do you know I haven’t ever PICKED a Golden Lotus on my herbalist? Haven’t seen any. As such, the most reliable method of getting a Golden Lotus is trading in a Spirit of Harmony for three of the herbs. Whee, that’s one night of flasks in my guild, but hey, that doesn’t even include the herbs. Thankfully, the other herbs are only 4 of a single type, in conjunction with the Golden Lotus, so it’s no longer 8 of 2 separate herbs, it’s just 4 of one herb. Feel bad for the Strength users who pay out the wazoo for Fool’s Cap, but anyhow.

This seems as though it’s overkill. In their effort to give more, diverse things for people to do, Blizzard has only succeeded in making a lot of the things “mandatory” for many of the raiders in their game. When, then, do raiders have the time to do Challenge dungeons? Scenarios? Hunt down those rares? Level alts?

Blizzard has, in my opinion, screwed up and needs to rectify certain things ASAP:

– Banquets should be 300 stat food (450 stam for tanks)
– Cauldrons should be re-integrated into the game at a similar cost as last expansion: 3 of each flask (int/str/agi/stam) (I still think we’ll outgrow Spirit flasks, so I don’t think that’s necessary to include in the Cauldrons)
– Cooking should not be quite as brutal in terms of materials required
– Dailies should NOT be taking 90 minutes every single day

And, as was pointed out on Twitter by Rades and Vosskah, why the reversion back to a DAILY heroic dungeon for VP instead of just capping at 7 heroic dungeons a week?

Blizzard has done a lot of things right this expansion (I love a LOT of little things) but these “wrong” things are things that would drive me to quit if I weren’t already planning to do so.

Kurn's First Pandaren Experiences

So, I’ve been in Italy for the last couple of weeks. I left home on Monday, September 24th, landed in Rome at about 10am local time on Tuesday, September 25th. That’s right, I was in Italy for launch. And most of the first couple of weeks. I got back home on Friday, October 5th.

Since I am not planning to raid this expansion and since I am, in fact, probably quitting WoW shortly after my current subscription expires (after the Annual Pass expires), I have not been in a rush to level. I’ve logged on to just about all my toons to get them rested, of course, but I’m just chilling. Kurn just hit 86 last night and I’m, again, in no rush to level more quickly. I’ve been raising professions — all three of my alchemists, my JC, my scribe, plus my herbalist/miner. Poor Kurn’s professions are not very high at the moment (540-550 range) but I’ll get there eventually. (Must make use of the DMF profession things for +5 to various professions.) The biggest issue I’d encountered is that I had, for some reason, never levelled my enchanter on Eldre’Thalas to 525 enchanting. Nope, she was stuck at 450(!) so I had to get her to 475 to start DEing Mists stuff. She’s sitting around 525 enchanting now, I think.

What’s absolutely astounding to me is that, for the first time since Vanilla, I am totally lost when it comes to stuff. People in guild chat are talking about locations and mobs and instances and I am completely lost. I am saving all these cooking ingredients I have because I don’t know what I need to use yet and I don’t know what isn’t needed by me.

Of course, nothing is really “needed” since I’m not raiding, but you get what I mean.

It’s so very strange to take a couple of weeks off and be THIS lost.

At the same time, it’s kind of a good thing, I think.

Anyhow, time to go enjoy myself doing whatever I want (including making a lot of gold). I’m sure I’ll chime in about things once I’ve hit 90 on some toon. In the meantime, you should look at some of the pics I took in Italy:

http://twitpic.com/photos/kurnmogh

Invisible Mode: Too Little, Too Late (for me)

It was announced today that Blizzard will be implementing an “Appear Offline” mode (aka Invisible Mode) to BattleNet “in the coming months”.

Let me be clear, this is a great thing and is long overdue.

However…

The RealID/BattleTag chat system is still clunky, clumsy and inelegant and “Appear Offline” is going to add to the clunkiness of it all, not remove the clunkiness.

It is a great thing that people will be able to go invisible, don’t get me wrong. I’ve very excited for everyone who will make use of it. However, rather than look at the system in a critical way, I feel as though Blizzard is using “Appear Offline” as a band-aid to the underlying problems inherent in the system.

With the information we’ve been given (which is, to be blunt, not a lot), it can be understood that people will be able to be seen as “offline” with this option, to RealID/BattleNet/character friends.

To begin, here are some of the immediate questions that came to mind concerning how this will work in World of Warcraft:

1) Will you have this option before logging in to a character? As it stands, you have to log in to WoW first (thus becoming “visible”) before you can edit your BattleNet settings.

2) Will the Appear Offline mode persist through different logins? Say I log in to Kurn and I set myself as offline. If I log out as Kurn and log back in (on Kurn or any other character, for that matter), will the mode persist in the same way announcements do?

3) What implications are there for guild listings? I presume I’ll still show up as online in my guild, which I think is fine — that’s part of the deal when you join a guild, really. But what if someone on my realm (with whom I am character friends) does /who Apotheosis and sees Kurnmogh online? Would they see me? Would they not see me? How would that work? Could they still whisper me?

Now, while you’re all chewing on that, let me re-iterate a point I’ve made in my previous RealID-related posts:

– Social interaction between people is complex. The ongoing lack of any kind of personalized contact system for one’s RealID/BattleTag friends is antiquated. We are firmly in the era of social media and social networks. If Blizzard is intent on creating/using their own social networking system, they need to recognize that social interactions and relationships are extremely complex in nature and one-size-fits-all does not, in fact, fit the needs of most communities. Is it better than nothing? Maybe. But it can be a LOT better.

So how is it clunky? How is it antiquated? Aside from the points I’ve brought up (versus other solutions) in my other posts, let’s look at BattleTags. BattleTags are also “always on”, just the way RealID is and, worse, you have to have one if you want to play Diablo III. So I have a BattleTag, because I played D3 for approximately eight minutes. (Okay, level 50 or something.) And it’s always on, despite the fact that I have RealID turned off. I don’t share that information with anyone, but the fact remains that BattleTags are something we are forced to use (as in we are automatically logged in) in other games if we’ve played Diablo III. Really? How is that okay? And there’s no off switch, either. There’s an enable Real ID option, but nothing about enabling or disabling BattleTags. Why not? Let me turn off being able to communicate with me via BattleTag in a game that doesn’t currently require BattleTag use. Especially if I’ve already turned off RealID. (Follow-up question, why require BattleTags for D3 in the first place?) What if I wanted to chat with people in D3 but not in WoW? Why not be able to have an option to turn on BattleTags for each individual Blizzard game, rather than just opt us in without a choice?

Do you see how it’s inelegant? It could be so much better. It should have been so much better. And I would have been its staunchest supporter.

As it stands, the RealID/BattleTag system is, in my opinion, deeply flawed in a variety of ways. The “Appear Offline” option is definitely a step in the right direction, but it’s not the panacea for the system. At best, it’s a quick-fix solution for a system that is invasive, persistent and not even as smart as a system that was built in 1996, namely ICQ.

16 years after ICQ, this is the best Blizzard has to offer?

Too little, Blizzard. Far too little for your customers and way too late for me.