Two Types of Raiding Fatigue

I was chatting with one of my guildies this morning while I was unfortunately awake because my asthma was bothering me. (Sidenote: I was sitting in Storm Peaks, while tabbed out and working on my Kick-Ass Raider’s guide when NPCScan went off and scared the bejeezus out of me. I flailed around like a moron and couldn’t find the mob. Thankfully, it was just Vyragosa. Had it been the Time-Lost Proto Drake, I would have lost out by several minutes. I found Vyragosa’s corpse three minutes later, after flying around like a moron. Also, I blame Shawn’s latest post for why I was sitting the Storm Peaks in the first place. And if you’re not reading Shawn’s blog, you ought to be!)

Anyhow, where was I? Right. Chatting with a guildie.

We were talking a bit about the complexity of bosses in Mists of Pandaria and Merk was telling me about how some heroic 25-man fights have required spreadsheets for boss assignments. I’d heard about increasing levels of complexity, but spreadsheets? Yikes.

This is when Merk and I talked about how there are two types of challenging boss fights: the ones that challenge you on the field, in the moment, and the ones that challenge the raid leader (or team) offline in an administrative sense.

Rhyolith in Firelands challenged you on the field. You could do some pre-planning, sure, but the volcano thingies popping up meant that someone had to direct Rhyolith on to them and that not only changed regularly, but those spawns changed on every single pull. There’s no organizing that. That’s chaos that you have to deal with in the game.

Normal-mode Majordomo Staghelm, on the other hand, was a pretty simple fight to execute, but was nightmarish to organize. Here. Have a look at actual cooldown assignments for a raid of ours in September of 2011.

domocds

S1/S2/S3/S4 was Scorpion Phase 1, 2, 3 and 4, while C1/2/3/4 stood for Cat Phase 1, 2, 3 and 4. The numbers beneath those notations were for how many stacks of Adrenaline (in Scorpion) the boss had before we dispersed and the numbers under the C1 notations were for how many leaps before we stacked up again.

All six of our healers had multiple times in which to use their cooldowns, such as Tranquility, Aura Mastery, Spirit Link Totem and Power Word: Barrier, plus our tank healers for the fight also had specific times to use tank cooldowns such as Hand of Sacrifice and Pain Suppression.

In a word, this was tiresome.

Rhyolith was tiresome in his own way, because of the nature of the fight (hitting legs to steer? REALLY?), but normal-mode Majordomo Staghelm was tiresome from an administrative perspective.

The question is, of course, what kind of interesting and new boss fights can you have without resorting to gimmicks like Rhyolith’s steering or Zon’ozz’s bouncing? It’s not that all gimmick fights are bad, but Yor’sahj, for example, was (IMHO) an inventive fight that wasn’t really based on some new-fangled gimmick. Yor’sahj was different enough from the regular sort of add-spawning fight (adds spawn, but choose ONE to kill instead of all of them) to make it interesting, but there wasn’t a whole new resource bar, a new button to push, nothing like that.

The trouble is that fights like Lucifron and Magmadar, the first two bosses in Molten Core, would pose absolutely no challenge to raiders these days. Lucifron consisted of the boss and two adds, plus a nasty curse that you needed to dispel. Take out the adds, dispel the curses as they’re applied and kill the boss. There wasn’t even any fire on the ground!

Magmadar was a bit more challenging because you had to have hunters with Tranquilizing Shot (which was a drop off of Lucifron!) and then you had to set up a Tranq Shot rotation. It also helped to have a dwarf priest with Fear Ward (that was the dwarven priest racial, they were the only priests with Fear Ward back then!) to cast it on the tank to prevent issues with Magmadar fearing them (or, since almost all tanks were warriors, they could also stance-dance and hit Berserker Rage… which you don’t even have to stance-dance to do anymore!). There was some fire on the ground, some fearing in general, but it really hinged on the Tranq Shot. Apart from the fears and a bit of fire, it was basically a tank-and-spank. Still, though, not remotely challenging.

By contrast, Merk was telling me that Heroic Thok consists largely of a cooldown chain lasting 40 seconds to ensure the health of the raid.

Raiding has changed significantly since the early days, obviously, but rather than have gimmicks being a large part of the fight now and again, they seem to be happening more often than not.

In Tier 12, you had one major “gimmicky” fight, which was Rhyolith. Everything else was a combination of adds or buffs or debuffs. No special buttons appearing on your screen, no strange bars displaying a new resources.

Yet, as I’ve been doing LFR after LFR during my seven day free trial, I’ve been astounded at the amount of gimmicky things in use on various fights. (For this post, let’s say that gimmicks involve something unusual, like an extra UI element or a different realm or something like that.)

Immerseus: Has a corruption bar that is his actual health bar. (And this was the least gimmicky of them all, IMHO.)
Fallen Protectors: Multiple-mob fight with the extra special bonus of needing to bring them all down to 1% at about the same time. While this isn’t NEW (Mimiron comes to mind), it’s unusual enough for me to mention.
Norushen: A Corruption bar AND a secondary realm? Lordy, it’s like the worst parts of Halion and Cho’gall. (Although I actually liked the fight on LFR.)
Sha of Pride: Hey look, it’s a Pride bar.
Galakras: Honestly, all the trash made me feel like I was in Hyjal… But this wasn’t very gimmicky otherwise.
Iron Juggernaut: Not all that gimmicky on LFR, although Crawler Mines are borderline, IMHO.
Dark Shaman: Not really gimmicky. Lots of chaos, but that’s not a gimmick.
General Nazgrim: Again, not much of a gimmicky fight.

So out of eight SoO boss fights I’ve seen (on LFR), half had a gimmick that was unusual to raid fights. Half. The other half consisted of many mobs, a lot of AOE or some combination of the two. As someone who hasn’t raided seriously since… oh boy, when was it… August of 2012, I guess it was, it’s interesting to see the differences between raiding now and raiding then (and previously).

This begs the question: do gimmicky fights fatigue players? I know that they always tired me. There wasn’t an encounter I disliked more in Firelands than Rhyolith. In Dragon Soul, it was really Zon’ozz (and all his bugs) who received most of my loathing. In general, the gimmicky fights were the ones that caused me, personally, the most fatigue. I was so tired of killing Zon’ozz by the end of raiding. I killed that jackass, in LFR, normals and heroics, over two characters, a total of 58 times. That’s about 50 times too many, if you ask me. But even just looking at my main raiding character, Madrana, it was 34 times (20 heroic, 12 normal, 2 LFR) and that’s a lot for a fight where people have to bounce this dark orb thingy between themselves and then at the boss. It just got tiring.

By the same token, I killed normal Majordomo Staghelm 9 times (and probably planned out another 5ish raids where I wasn’t in for the kills) and that was tiring. I had never been happier to switch a boss to heroic because it meant I no longer had to write up these epic-length assignments. That was a really tiresome fight for me, moreso than Zon’ozz and Rhyolith.

Is this the future of raiding? Spreadsheets detailing specific assignments? Special buttons and resource bars aplenty? Twilight-esque realms, harkening back to Sartharion, Halion, Valiona & Theralion? Flying mechanics that bring back awful memories of Al’Akir?

When I think about that, going forward, I don’t really feel the desire to experience that. Maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t been in a progression raid in forever. One of my fears, when I stopped playing, was that even if I wanted to come back, I’d feel left behind in the grand scheme of things. And I do, to an extent, but what I’m seeing now is a different problem: if people are acclimated to this gimmicky (or spreadsheety) raiding environment, have I missed the boat?

Let me rephrase that, because it’s not exactly missing the boat, but… how can I put this, exactly? Let’s try this: in the fall, after a hot and humid summer, the temperature of, say, 12 degrees Celsius (~54F) feels cold. As in you want to put on a jacket. In the spring, after a frigidly cold winter, the exact same temperature of 12C feels hot! You’re taking off your coats, walking around in shoes instead of boots and you’re generally gleeful at this fantastic weather. Why is this? It’s because you’ve been acclimated to the colder temperatures over the winter. You’re used to it being cold. So when you hit 12C in terms of temperatures going up, you’re thrilled and happy.

By missing a full expansion of raiding, have I missed the acclimation needed to enjoy raiding going forward? Is my distaste for gimmicks merely a sense of nostalgia, which I absolutely acknowledge could be the case? Do others feel like these gimmicks and spreadsheets are fun and I’m still the grumpy one thinking 12C is damn cold because I missed all of winter? In other words, would experiencing all of these fights over the course of the last year have acclimated me to what is potentially a new raiding paradigm where this is the standard? Or would I have quit by now, frustrated and fatigued?

Possibly more importantly, where is raiding heading in the future?

Lots of questions. Not a lot of answers.

What have you enjoyed (or not) about raiding in Mists of Pandaria? I’d love to hear your thoughts as we wait for answers that will inevitably come as we get more info about Warlords of Draenor.

DPSing vs. Healing

I started playing World of Warcraft in October of 2005, as a hunter named Kurnmogh. I primarily raided as a hunter throughout Vanilla, although I was certainly asked to swap to my alt holy paladin, Madrana, for several raids. (I remember healing Sulfuron and Golemagg in MC as Madrana, in particular, not to mention a couple of ZG clears and some AQ20 partial runs.)

When Burning Crusade came out, I dinged 70 on my hunter first. And then I didn’t really have any place to raid. So I dinged Madrana 70 and promptly got snatched up by a guild that was looking for healers. When that situation didn’t work out (8 of the 12 people on the main raid team in that guild got poached by another guild on the server), Majik, myself and a bunch of old Fated Heroes members (our Vanilla guild) formed Apotheosis.

Here’s the thing — I was so well-geared as Madrana, and we had so few healers, that I basically didn’t have a choice but to continue to heal as Madrana in raids.

It was okay. I wasn’t upset. It was very weird to me to progress as a healer, mind, but it wasn’t a problem for me. I just hadn’t really had the ability to choose what I wanted to do during BC. I mean, I wanted my guild to succeed, so I healed because I had the gear and because we needed healers. As time went by, I could have recruited another healer or two in order to replace me, but I didn’t. Over time, I’d made the decision that Kurn would get all the holiday titles and such (primarily for the free epic flying that came with the violet proto-drake) while Madrana would get all the raid titles and mounts and stuff. I’d made my peace with Kurn being my non-raiding character.

When Wrath of the Lich King came out, I was on the fence over what to do. I really enjoyed playing Kurn. I always had. So while I levelled Kurn to 80 first (as always, Kurn is the first to hit level cap), I was debating whether or not I’d raid as Kurn. Almost as soon as I dinged 80 on Kurn, I started levelling Madrana to 80. But I also dipped my toes into casual 10-man Naxxramas runs that my guildies were doing — as Kurn. I figured that it would be a good way to see if I wanted to change how I played the game.

It was the Abomination wing that made up my mind for me. We were trying to down Grobbulus. I’m sure most people in the 10-man raid were undergeared, not hit-capped and such, but we were dying to stupid things. People weren’t dropping things where they were needed to be dropped, adds were running amok and the like.

It was then that I realized that I was just one DPS. No matter what I did, I could not, single-handedly, kill everything. I was doing everything right and still, that was not enough. More to the point, it would never be enough. I, as a single DPS, would never, ever be enough to make up for all the other DPS in a raid situation.

By contrast, a single healer can make a huge difference. A massive difference. Our very first Vashj kill happened because I threw Lay on Hands on our sole remaining tank and it crit, buying us the precious few seconds we needed to get the kill. A well-timed cooldown here, a clutch heal there… Even one healer out of six or seven can make a huge difference, at least compared to one DPS out of 17. And, personally, I like being someone who really makes a difference on a fight.

Why am I talking about this?

I’ve been on a bit of an LFR binge. As of this writing, I have done all the LFRs relating to Tier 14 once. (And gained 5 Sigils of Wisdom and 8 Sigils of Power or something like that.) Of course, I’ve been doing these on my hunter, who has gotten a chunk of gear over the last few days. Madrana, much as I love healing with her, is still sitting pretty at 85, although it’s tempting to start the grind to 90.

We were on Wind Lord Mel’jarak and both tanks were dead by the three-minute mark. The fight continued for another four and a half minutes (total time was 7:22!) and I was literally mashing my buttons and trying to do anything I possibly could to get more damage out. At one point, I realized that was it: I could not put out any more damage. Everything (Rapid Fire, Murder of Crows, Stampede, agi potion, even my cat’s Rabid) was on cooldown and all I could do was wait for something to come back up and try to keep a perfect rotation while I waited.

As we whittled the boss down, I sat there thinking about how I could have made a difference as a healer. Maybe I could have kept at least one of the tanks alive. Maybe a druid would have given me Symbiosis, granting me a battle rez, allowing me to rez one of the tanks. The boss’ health kept dropping, I kept mashing my buttons and watching as OmniCC’s 1m started counting down in seconds on a couple of my abilities, rather than minutes.

Throughout it all, I knew that even that boost granted me by Rapid Fire and Murder of Crows was, ultimately, not the make-it-or-break-it portion of the fight. Even if the fight were extended by another 15 or 20 seconds, we would probably down it. Of course, it was LFR. In a normal or, more likely, heroic version of a fight where there are unforgiving enrage timers, DPS makes more of a difference. They have to put out a lot of damage or the entire raid will die. But even in those cases, I don’t think that I can ever feel as though I, personally, made a difference. Anyone can do damage. The fact that I’ve ranked on World of Logs on the majority of my LFR excursions, after not playing for 13 months, attests to that. ;)

There have always been jokes in my guild, and among my friends, that I’ve always wanted to raid as my hunter. I got teased a lot about it in Cataclysm as new people would join the guild and go “what the fuck, you don’t raid as Kurn but you want us to call you that and you refer to your non-raiding character as your main? What is up with THAT, you freak?!” (Well, perhaps they were a bit more polite than that, at least until they’d been in the guild for a while.) People made the assumption that because I wanted them to call me Kurn and because Kurn was my so-called “main”, that I wanted to raid as Kurn.

Nope. Healing is my preferred raid role. I could easily blame it on being used to healing, but that wouldn’t really be honest. I like being someone who is a difference-maker. That’s not to say DPS can’t make a difference, because they can — we had lots of people in Apotheosis whose presence would be the key to downing a new fight. But individually, I personally feel a lot more useful as a healer than as a DPS.

The fringe benefits (shorter queues for various content) are nice, too, but, for me,  it’s really all about keeping those other people alive so THEY can do crazy amounts of damage, as a solid group of 17ish DPS. As for myself, I’ll take being part of a kick-ass team of healers over disappearing into the huge group of DPS any day of the week.

As for my plans for the last three days of this trial: I have one mob left for the Glorious! achievement and I plan to try to do all of Throne of Thunder and Siege of Orgrimmar’s LFRs over the course of the weekend. (Wish me luck!) And I’d also like to get Gold Proving Grounds, too. :)

What are you doing in WoW this weekend?

I caved.

I wrote about temptation a couple of weeks ago, in that I had been severely tempted to play World of Warcraft, in a way that didn’t seem to be abating.

Well, I also saw in my Battle.net account, under my WoW account, under the Rewards & Referrals section, that I had a 7-day free trial that I could apply to my account.

While it’s not about the money, I eventually caved and took the offer of a free, short-term return to WoW. I think it’s so tempting because it’s so short. A week? That’s barely enough time to do stuff, if indeed there is stuff to be done. A month is a long time and while one doesn’t have to play for the full month, it sort of felt to me as though I’d be chaining myself to the game for a month if I resubbed. I know, I’m weird. But I’m someone who tends to binge rather than do things in moderation. For me, it’s often safer to abstain entirely than try to indulge myself on occasion. And WoW is definitely proof that when I do something, I go all out.

So late Monday night/early Tuesday morning, I caved and applied the 7-day trial to my account.

What have I done?

– I have spent a crapton of time over at the Island of Free Lewts.
– I have done both halves of Mogu’shan Vaults in LFR.
– I’ve got three each of the sigils I need for the first step of the legendary questline.
– I’m also honored with the Black Prince.
– I’ve done a couple of heroic dungeons.
– I’ve done Bronze and Silver Proving Grounds for DPS.

The Timeless Isle is a ridiculously fast catch-up mechanic. I’ve never seen anything like it. Badges in BC pale in comparison to how quickly you can gear yourself up on the Timeless Isle. Even better, you can mail your alts the drops that aren’t for your armor class. While my paladin is still 85, she has no less than three Timeless Isle plate pieces waiting for her to open if she ever gets to 90. My shaman has two Timeless Isle resto pieces (since Kurn had already picked up pieces in those slots). My druid, who is level 85 and on Proudmoore, still, even has a couple of pieces waiting for him if he ever hits 90.

I don’t remember my precise item level before I started, but I know it was less than 463, because I remember thinking to myself that Challenge Modes or Proving Grounds were kind of out of the question until I had gear that COULD be scaled down. So let’s imagine I was somewhere around 458 or thereabouts.

I’m now at 492.

RIDICULOUS.

As such, I have spent a lot of time reforging. And transmogrifying. And reforging some more. Oh, and enchanting. And gemming. Did I mention reforging?

Even with the help of something like AskMrRobot, reforging is a serious pain in my ass. Adios, muchacho. I won’t miss you.

I’ve never really been able to take advantage of a catch-up mechanic, such as the Timeless Isle, because I’ve just never needed to catch up. I’ve always been subscribed! It’s interesting to come back after a year and see what mechanics are in place for me to enjoy myself.

That said, while I’m pleased to be acquiring gear, I don’t feel accomplished. I feel lucky. I lucked out by getting most of my Timeless Isle stuff. I got lucky by coining my new bow off Will of the Emperor. I don’t feel as though I worked for any of it.

As to LFR, here’s a secret: I didn’t do any research at all on any of the bosses in Mogu’shan Vaults. I just dove in head first and winged it all. Hell, I didn’t even realize Stone Guard was a boss fight! I thought it was a slightly more difficult trash pack.

Overall, I felt moderately badly at my lack of preparation but then I realized two things.

1) LFR is easier than I remember.
2) People are dumb.

Even if there was a mechanic I didn’t really grasp, I still figured out how to move out of it. Flanking orders or whatever? Yeah, not hard. Get off of the platform before it drops? Not very difficult.

And yet, people died to everything imaginable. Tragic, really.

Further, I seem to be ranking. Granted, it’s LFR. Plus, I’m playing as survival and I imagine most hunters are being Beast Mastery (?), so there’s more opportunity for me to rank on fights if there are fewer people who have done the fights as those specs, but good God, there’s no way I should be ranking after never seeing the fights and being so very rusty. (I may or may not have done the second half of Mogu’shan Vaults LFR with a +Strength leatherworking embossment instead of a +Agility…)

I’m hoping to see the rest of the LFRs this weekend before my week comes to an end, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to swing it. It would be nice to see Siege, though.

So I also did a couple of heroic dungeons. Heroic Stormstout Brewery which was pretty much the same as normal, from what I remembered, and the other was Heroic Scarlet Halls. I miss my old Scarlet Monastery, but this was all right, I guess. (I was not pleased to see what they’d done to Scholo, back when that change happened, so at least SM isn’t too different.)

I quite enjoyed the Proving Grounds that I did. I honestly wish that my paladin were 90 so I could go in and heal forever in the Proving Grounds, but she’s not and I’m not going to ding her 90 during this trial. Next up will be Proving Grounds Gold DPS for Kurn.

Honestly, I’m not sure that this trip back to WoW is going to stick. As of right now, I don’t think I’ll resubscribe once the week is up, at least not until closer to the expansion. Maybe I’ll change my mind, maybe I won’t.

All of that said, though, it’s been nice to revisit WoW for a bit. My brain needed it, I think, but once this binge is over, I think I’ll be satisfied for quite a bit of time. :)

I have a few projects in the works while I still have access, by the way — just a matter of finding the time to put them together.

Lastly, I wanted to pimp out Brutall’s YouTube channel. Brutall is the guild master of Static (H) on US-Arthas and has some amazing videos up on his channel. You can also follow him on Twitter @brutallstatic. I highly recommend doing so. His Life of a Guild Leader series and Backseat Raid Leading series are great and he even wrote and sang a couple of songs. (The LFR one was HILARIOUS.) So check out Brutall. I found myself nodding and agreeing with him as I went through ALL his videos (seriously, all of them!) and he seems to be someone who really understands stuff. I spent 358 pages in my GM guide covering a lot of stuff that he covers, but he does it in short videos that are probably easier to digest, unless you’re a fan of my long-windedness.

Hope everyone is having an awesome holiday season! :) I shall doubtlessly have more to say soon…

The BattleTag Saga

Last week, I wrote about how a new feature in the latest Hearthstone game client means that one’s BattleTag will be shown to your opponents post-game. I questioned the wisdom of this feature (to put it lightly) and then embarked upon a journey to see exactly how difficult it might be to remove my BattleTag from my account.

I opened a ticket.

Since the patch to Hearthstone this week (version 1.0.0.4217), my BattleTag is now purposely made visible to any random opponent against whom I play. I do not wish for this information to be visible. In fact, I don’t actually want to have a BattleTag at all. Hearthstone is the only Blizzard game I currently play and even if I returned to World of Warcraft, I would not wish to use a BattleTag for that game.

I know BattleTags are required for Diablo III, but I assure you, I will never again play Diablo III and I do not play Starcraft II. As such, I would like for my BattleTag to be removed from my account so that it doesn’t show up against my random opponents in Hearthstone.

(The BattleTag FAQ does not state that BattleTags are required for Hearthstone, only for Diablo III, so I would assume that I could continue to play Hearthstone without a BattleTag.)

Thanks for your help!

My first response:

Hello there, this is Marcus,

I understand your concern, however if you want to play against another player there has to be some way to identify you, the Battlenet tag was created for this purpose, an anonymous way to be represented in game. No personal information is shown to the other player.

However I see that your BattleTag has your first name in it, so if your concern is your actual first name being show I recommend using the BattleTag change option On Battlenet. If you have already used the change we can offer one more change for you :–)

Should you ever find yourself again besieged by the forces of evil feel free to reply to this ticket. If you would rather speak with a representative directly, please use our phone support or Web Chat, Our contact information can be found at https://us.battle.net/support/en/ticket/status

Have a great day!

Marcus, d=(^_^)=b
Customer Services
Blizzard Entertainment
https://us.battle.net/support/en/ticket/status

First, that’s not true. My BattleTag’s portion before the random numbers was not my first name. Since I opened the ticket at the website, my real name was visible through this whole thing, so I don’t know what Marcus was smoking.

Second, this guy doesn’t actually understand my concern. At all. But it was pretty nice of him to offer me a free change if I needed it.

Here’s my response:

Hi Marcus,

Thank you for your reply. I still have a couple more questions, though. :)

1) Does this mean that a BattleTag is required in order to play Hearthstone? This information is not in the BattleTag FAQ. (It lists only Diablo III as needing one.) That’s to say, if I had an account without a BattleTag and got a Hearthstone beta invite on that account, would I then be forced to create a BattleTag before being able to play?

2) What if I would like to quit playing Hearthstone altogether due to this displaying of my BattleTag? If I no longer wanted to play either Hearthstone or Diablo III, I should not need a BattleTag. Is that correct?

3) If I no longer played Hearthstone or Diablo III, would it THEN be possible to remove my BattleTag? As it stands, I will never play Diablo III again and I am seriously considering never playing Hearthstone again due to this forced display of my BattleTag.

4) Last year, in September of 2012, Blizzard said an Invisible Mode would be implemented “in the coming months” for BattleTag/RealID stuff. Any update on this Invisible Mode?

Finally, I appreciate your offer for another change to my current BattleTag, although I believe I still have one available to me. That’s really kind of you, but it’s not my primary concern in terms of privacy. Still, it’s nice to be reminded that I have the option to change it.

One further bit of clarification:

“if you want to play against another player there has to be some way to identify you”

I don’t want to play against another player that I know. I want to play ranked and arena matches with random people. I have no desire to play against anyone I know.

Thanks very much, hoping to hear back soon.

So here was their next reply…

I took a look at the ticket for you and I wanted to let you know that the Battle Tag is required for playing Hearthstone and we don’t have a way to remove it from the account once it is added. That being said, while people can see your Battle Tag in Hearthstone the only way they would be able to see if you are online is if you accepted a friend invite from them.

I would be happy to help you out further if you have any further issues with this about this or any other issue, simply reply to this ticket. Or, if you prefer, you can contact us via Webchat. https://us.battle.net/support/en/article/contact They are available between the hours of 10 am to 6 pm, Pacific Standard Time, 7 days a week. Or please call our Account and Technical Services personnel at 1-800-592-5499, or 1-800-041-378 if you are in Australia. Best of luck!

Finally, I have some answers to my questions.

a) BattleTags are required for Hearthstone play, despite the FAQ stating only Diablo III requires a BattleTag.
b) This means that if I don’t want to play D3 or Hearthstone, I shouldn’t need a BattleTag.
c) However, they do not have a way to remove a BattleTag from an account once it’s been added. (I call bullshit, but whatever.)

So here’s what I sent back:

Hi Rotohiel, thank you for your response. You have adequately answered three of my questions. So, as I understand it, a Battle Tag is required for playing Hearthstone and once a Battle Tag is attached to my account, I cannot remove it, only change it.

If this is correct, then as of this latest build of Hearthstone, I will not be playing the game any longer. This is due to the fact that my Battle Tag is being displayed to the random players against whom I’m matched up. I feel this is an awful change. Were it reverted or if I were able to opt-out of this, that would be fine, but there’s no way to do so.

Let’s be clear: I do not wish to share my Battle Tag information with anyone. I do not even wish to HAVE a Battle Tag. I have no intention of chatting with anyone in any Blizzard game through this system. I understand that I would have to accept invitations in order to have people see my online status and the like, but I have no intention of using the system and do not want to have spammers spam me with Battle Tag invitations the way other users are suffering in other games.

My remaining question, which went unanswered, is how is the Invisible Mode coming along when it comes to RealID/BattleTag chat? Blizzard announced it would be implemented “in the coming months” more than 15 months ago. While this would not solve all the problems inherent with your current chat system, it would make things somewhat more palatable.

In short: I want to play Hearthstone, but I don’t want my Battle Tag being displayed. If it’s displayed, I won’t play. I would consider playing despite it being displayed if there were a properly implemented invisible mode in the Battle Tag chat system. Please advise on how these efforts are coming along.

Thank you very much for your time.

And their response:

I appreciate you taking the time to contact us! I’m Game Master Toyoshu, and I want to thank you for your exceptional patience which has allowed me to work with you on your issue! I hope that this finds you well and in good spirits. :)

Sorry to hear about your frustrations with the battle tag system and hearthstone. As for your last question, I am afraid that customer service has not be told about a timeframe in which the invisibility feature will be implemented. One thing I may suggest, is putting your feedback on our forums to help keep this topic on the radar of our developers so they can keep working on it.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and Happy Holidays.

Thank you for the contact and if there is anything else we can do to make sure you have an excellent time in Azeroth, Sanctuary and beyond, let us know. :).

Of course, the other issue here is that posting on the Hearthstone forums also reveals your BattleTag. I felt obliged to bring that up.

Hi Toyoshu, thanks for your response.

I appreciate you letting me know that there have been no announced updates regarding the invisibility feature.

The last issue I want to mention is that posting on the Hearthstone forums ALSO reveals one’s BattleTag! Further, anyone who thinks this matter is important will also be reluctant to post on the forums. It’d be appreciated if you could inform the devs that there is a subsection of the playerbase that are really very much opposed to the recent change.

For more on why I (and others) have an issue with BattleTags being revealed, you can take a look at my blog entry about this: http://kurn.apotheosis-now.com/?p=2641

Thank you and have a great day.

And their final response:

Well met adventurer.

Thank you for sharing your concerns. However, as previously mentioned several times, Battletags do not reveal any personal information. That’s why they were chosen to represent players wherever a tag is required. We do not currently permit anonymous play or posting, and may not ever permit it. If you do not wish to share your feedback with Development, you are not required to post on the forums. Customer Support does not currently accept complaints or suggestions as we do not have any method of implementing changes – we are not Developers. I notice you have a WoW account. You may instead submit feedback via the lightbulb icon in the “submit a ticket” section, which will be sent straight to Development. I am sorry we cannot assist you further, but I hope this has clarified that Customer Support is not the correct department to assist you with changing how battletags are displayed.

So, after that many back and forth tickets, they still don’t actually grasp the concern I (and others) have about BattleTags being displayed. They say “we do not current permit anonymous play”, but they did, just a week ago! Sure, you saw the first bit of the BattleTag (minus the specific number), which, to be fair, was okay with me, but it’s the same difference as knowing someone’s name is José vs. José Theodore. One could be anyone, the other was an NHL goalie. Adding the last part of the BattleTag removes any kind of privacy regarding the BattleTag and opens you up to spammers, harassment and the like. Combined with a lack of news about the previously-promised Invisible Mode, I’m done playing Hearthstone. It was nice while it lasted. I really did enjoy the game and I’ll miss playing it, but it’s not worth it, to me, to open myself up to various methods of harassment using my BattleTag. I have never given out my BattleTag and, until there’s an overhaul of the entire system, I have no intention of giving it out.

Honestly, in these days where there’s all kinds of crap going on about privacy, you’d think a publicly traded company would be smarter about this sort of thing and wouldn’t give out identifying information without your permission. Alas, that is not the case.

 

Temptation

It should not come as a surprise to most readers that, over the course of my life, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time within World of Warcraft. I played for just over seven years and then stopped once my Annual Pass obligation was completed. I’d just stepped down as Guild Master (and Raid Leader) of Apotheosis and I was writing a novel for National Novel Writing Month, attempting my 10th NaNo novel in the last 11 years. I’d just finished university a few months prior. I had grandmother stuff going on (moving her to a residence and such) and was focused on getting a job — a real 9-5 job — in my field.

So when I stopped playing World of Warcraft, I didn’t really miss it. I had a lot of other stuff going on in my life. That was, however, 13 months ago.

Lately, I’ve found myself tempted to start playing again. And it’s not just the “oh, it would be nice to play, but whatever” temptation. It’s the “man, I really want to play and this isn’t waning!” type of wanting to play. It’s the type of wanting to play that you have during weekly maintenance when you know you can’t play, so, obviously, that’s all you want to do. (Interesting. I wonder if I resubbed, and suddenly could play, if the temptation would subside.)

This latest bout of temptation has lasted about a week, so far, and shows little sign of abating.

That said, I’ve at least realized why I want to play. It’s got very little to do with the game itself, although that’s a part of it. It’s got to do with the fact that I am currently not feeling terribly accomplished in “real” life. But there’s always something to do in WoW that will help you to feel accomplished. Got a lot of farming done? There’s that sense of accomplishment. Killed some raid bosses? Amazing, there’s some achievement. Even got your equipped ilvl up a few notches? What a great feeling! Virtually everything you do in WoW has the specific goal of making you feel accomplished. (Insert long diatribe about how the game has a zillion tiny, and not so tiny, hooks to keep you playing…)

This was a problem for me, back in university. Who wanted to read about what dead German guys thought about society when you could go make 10,000 gold on the Auction House? WoW has always been a place where I could feel accomplished, so it’s no wonder that I’m looking in the direction as accomplishments in my “real” life are few and far between at the moment.

It’s not to say things aren’t happening in my life, but the lack of full-time employment is wearing me down. Apart from not having a reliable, regular income, which I’m actually somewhat managing, family stuff is taking a larger and larger role in my day-to-day life. To be honest, while I do love my family, I could do with a little less of them. So not only am I looking for something that will give me a sense of accomplishment and achievement, but I’m looking for something to take up space in my life. A full-time, fulfilling job would be keen. As it stands, I’m doing freelance web stuff (which is actually working out nicely and I just confirmed a new client the other day), but the downtime as I wait to hear back from clients is irritating, to say the least, and it means that projects drag on a bit without me doing any of the work I could be doing, because I’m waiting for feedback. (What, me? Impatient? Never! ;))

So is it any wonder that I’m looking at WoW? I could do any number of things in the game. I could take Kurn, who’s already 90, and go try to get geared up. Or I could take Madrana, who’s still 85, level her to 90 and then try to get HER geared up. Or I could take my shaman farming alt and mine and herb ALL THE THINGS and work on getting up to a million gold. Or I could roll a new toon somewhere, taking advantage of being able to mail BOA stuff cross-faction and cross-server. (I think I’ve had no less than three offers to come hang out with various guilds on Twitter, should I decide to resub and roll a new toon!) Or I could do any number of other things! (For some reason, I’m also tempted to do old dungeon video guides. My LBRS guides on YouTube, which are at 240p and are of terrible video quality, remain my top-viewed videos! WTF?)

The trouble is, though, that while I do believe my experiences in WoW have been nothing but amazing in terms of having learned stuff, at the end of the day, my item level doesn’t matter in “real” life. So all those feelings of accomplishment wouldn’t actually help me to change my “real” life situation. Ultimately, change in my “real” life is what’s going to make me feel accomplished and useful and will take up space in life so that I’m not dealing with my family so much. (Alternatively, if I could find someone in this city worth dating, that’s another option for taking up space in my life and such… but let’s not get into my lack of a love life.)

And yet, I wonder, would it be such a bad thing to resub for a month? The month of December is going to be fairly uneventful for me except for some stuff around Christmas and the end of the month. I’m in a holding pattern for both of my web clients right now (and one is going away for the holidays), so why not spend some time feeling good about achieving various things, even virtual things?

The other consideration is that I’m writing my Kick-Ass Raider guide and it would be really helpful if I could use examples to illustrate my points that don’t come from, you know, Wrath of the Lich King or Cataclysm. While I’m sure the major keys to being a great raider haven’t changed a lot in the last 13 months, it might be good to visit even LFR to get an idea of what Mists of Pandaria raids are like.

Speaking of my guides, something that’s really interesting (to me, anyhow) is that I’ve enjoyed writing them with some distance between me and the game. I feel as though it’s just a lot easier to write about various aspects of the game without having been a part of it for a while. It does make it a little more difficult in terms of talking about the pitfalls of raiding, which is why it would be nice to have more contemporary examples, but I couldn’t have written my GM guide while I was still GM of Apotheosis. I was just too close to the situations. It was even still difficult for me to write about certain situations in that guide because of how keenly I still felt them, and I didn’t even start writing that guide until I hadn’t been playing for over six months. Even after six months, I was still feeling things deeply. It’s easier now. So if I get back into the game, will that make things clearer for me or will things still feel “too close”, obfuscating the actual issues I should focus on with emotional reactions?

The other interesting thing is that so many other people have the desire to play! Several of my friends from Apotheosis who have quit now want to go back. Even my brother wants to go back. He and I had a chat on Friday evening that went something like this:

Me: “I’ve been so tempted to go back to WoW, lately.”
Him: “Me too! I WANT TO PLAY!”
Me: “Ugh.”
Him: “Oh my God, do you want to roll a new character with me on the Horde side somewhere?!?!?”
Me: “No!”

(What he doesn’t know is that it’s not because I don’t really want to roll a new toon with him, but that it’s because he said Horde and not Alliance. ;) I’ve never been good at resisting my brother’s cries of “LET’S START NEW TOONS TOGETHER!” It’s how I have a shaman, a priest, a mage and a druid. All his fault.)

Obviously, I remain torn. I do intend to resub at some point, prior to the expansion’s release (which I still think is happening around June 10th, 2014, give or take a couple of weeks) and I do intend to be around for at least a month at the release, but the question is when? Now? January? March? May? I guess we’ll see just how tempted I get over the next few days, weeks or months, eh?

How about you? Are you still playing? Tempted to go back if you’re not still playing?

Hearthstone & BattleTags

Well, it’s been nearly a month since I last posted and, thus, last ranted in this space. ;) (Actually, my last post wasn’t too bad and actually included praise, so hey, go me!)

A new Hearthstone closed beta patch launched this week (1.0.0.4217) and lots of things changed. I’m in favour of many of the changes, ambivalent about others, but I’m quite annoyed at a specific change.

“New Feature: Recently played Opponent – Your friends list now displays the last person you played against, provided they were not a Real ID or BattleTag friend. If you had a particularly great match against someone, you can now friend them for future play!” (Source)

How do they do this? By actually displaying the BattleTag of the person against whom you last played. Here’s a (slightly obscured) screenshot of my “friends list” that shows the BattleTag of the person whose ass I kicked to get to rank level 23.

hslastplayed

It does NOT seem to persist after a logout, so if I played you and then logged out and then logged back in, your name would be gone. (Such was the case with DJNOclue.)

Kurn, you may ask, Kurn, why is this a problem?

Quite simply, I feel strongly that my BattleTag should not be displayed to anyone but me without my permission.

Uh… why the hell not? It’s not as though it’s your RealID or anything.

Excellent point. (Although I should note for full disclosure that I have actually turned RealID off on my Battle.net account.)

Putting aside all the issues I have with the incredibly inelegant RealID/BattleTag chat stuff (and boy, do I have issues!), let’s look at how things came to be in order to perhaps better understand my issues.

Once upon a time, Blizzard created World of Warcraft. Then, they added RealID. Then, they added BattleTags. None of these things were actually necessary to play this game or, another contemporary of WoW, Starcraft II. However, when Diablo III was released, suddenly, BattleTags were not only created, but were required to be created in order to play Diablo III. Since I played D3 for a short period of time, I was forced to create a BattleTag. Even once I abandoned the game, my BattleTag persisted. Even though there is no requirement for BattleTags to be used in World of Warcraft, I still have one and I cannot get rid of it. (Actually, I just opened a ticket through the website to try to get it removed. I am not optimistic, but we’ll see!) I believe that they are planning to make BattleTags required for everything, but as it stands, you can still play World of Warcraft without a BattleTag. (I just created a new Battle.net account and was never prompted to create a BattleTag when creating the account, although there was an option to do so once I was in my account management.) Further, there is absolutely no way to go “offline” or “invisible”, despite the fact that, more than a year ago, Blizzard said Invisible Mode would be implemented “in the coming months”.

Why do I need a BattleTag? Well, I don’t believe I do. So let’s take a look at the Battle.net BattleTag FAQ:

A BattleTag nickname is a player-chosen handle that identifies your Battle.net account in Blizzard Entertainment games, websites, community forums, and more. Similar to Real ID, BattleTags give players on Battle.net a way to find and chat with friends they’ve met in-game, form groups, and stay connected across multiple Blizzard Entertainment games.

BattleTags are required for Diablo III play, where they are used to publically identify players in groups or when chatting in-game, as well as on the Diablo III forums.

As a player who has been in the Hearthstone beta for a few months, I have never once wanted to find and chat with anyone I’ve met in-game. When playing WoW, I hadn’t really found a compelling reason to even keep RealID enabled on my account and never found a compelling reason to give out my BattleTag, even while recruiting for my guild. (It would have made things easier, but I wasn’t prepared to let potential applicants know where I was in-game, on which server and which character at any given time.)

Further, I do not want to “stay connected across multiple Blizzard Entertainment games”. As of right now, I’m only playing one of them, anyhow, and even then, I don’t even want to play Hearthstone any longer because my BattleTag is being displayed to every random player I play against!

My objections largely stem from the fact that:

a) I was forced to create a BattleTag in order to play Diablo III, which I played to level 50 and haven’t touched since (more than a year ago)
b) It is always on.
c) It is now being displayed to random players without my permission. (Unless, by “permission”, you mean playing the game with another random human being, which is basically all the interesting gameplay in Hearthstone. It would be like your BattleTag being displayed to everyone you hit a random dungeon or raid with, in WoW.)
d) Further, your BattleTag, in case you were unaware, is publicly shown to people in the Hearthstone forums when you post there. (Just discovered that one tonight.)

But you can always decline the invitations!

Due to my various objections, due to the clunkiness and inelegance of the entire system (see previously linked posts about RealID and such), I have no intentions of accepting any BattleTag invitations. Since I will not accept them, I do not want people to bother me with invitations. So I don’t give out the information. Period.

Is it such a big deal to decline invitations?

Why don’t you ask people who are on the receiving end of dozens of invitations from gold selling spammers?

While you’re probably still being overly weird about this RealID/BattleTag business, I accept that you’re not going to change your mind on this. So what do you want out of this situation?

It’s simple: allow me to remove my BattleTag entirely or, if BattleTags are required for Hearthstone (despite the FAQ not saying so), allow me to opt-out of other people being able to see my BattleTag if I play against them in Hearthstone, or allow me to turn off BattleTags the way you can turn off RealID. (For all I know, removing my BattleTag would happen if you could turn them off, but in case it’s a different process or whatever, I include the turning off option.)

It’s been more than 15 months since Blizzard promised various changes to the chat system, including invisible mode, and the fact that they haven’t yet implemented anything gives us the impression that they’ve dropped the ball on this. As such, let us turn the thing off. I don’t even see why it’s precisely required for Diablo III play, to be honest, but it’s not required for World of Warcraft, I’m pretty sure it’s not required for SCII and I’m hoping it’s not required for Hearthstone, even after this latest patch. I like Hearthstone and would hate to feel like I can no longer play it because my BattleTag is on display for all my opponents to see.

Warlords of Draenor Reaction: Miscellaneous Features

I think I’ve covered the majority of my Warlords of Draenor reactions in my two previous posts, about raids (obviously) and itemization. There are a lot of other things to talk about, but I don’t have particularly much to say about any of them, so I thought I’d stick them in a single post. :)

Garrisons

Well. It’s an interesting concept. I’m not thrilled yet. Cory Stockton seemed really excited about them. I’ve never really cared about player housing, so maybe it’s just something that eludes me as being SO COOL. It’s like the farm, but like, times a thousand or something, one of them said? I liked the farm, but more than one was difficult to do consistently. Are all of our characters expected to have a garrison? Isn’t that a LOT of garrisoning? I think someone asked if our alts could be our garrison followers and I think that would be a pretty awesome option.

I am a bit intrigued by the limited access to professions you don’t have through your garrison and followers, but obviously need more info.

The mini-game of setting up missions sounds cool, but some of them take days? A week? Not sure how I feel about that, although, at the moment, I’m not impressed. I haven’t really given it a lot of thought, though, so maybe it’s fine that they take X number of real-life days.

Inventory Updates

YAY FOR HEIRLOOM COLLECTIONS. And toys, I guess, although I don’t have many of those. Would LOVE to see tabards added to collections. Love that quest items won’t be stored in your bags. Love that you can craft directly from the bank! But will you need to have your bank open? Or can you do it anywhere in the world as long as the mats are in your bank?

Stacks upped to 100 items. Beautiful.

Level 90 Boost

Okay. Seriously. Is anyone else a little concerned about letting people loose upon the world (and LFG…) with a level 90 they’ve had extremely little experience playing? Anyone? I am petrified of the level 90 “tank” who shows up in LFG for an introductory dungeon who doesn’t know a damn thing about what they’re doing. The words I fear seeing as an excuse for poor play: “lol 90 boost lol”.

That said, I think it’s a good idea to bring back past players who stopped playing a while back. I’m pretty much buying the expansion (I still want to get a realm first skinning, dammit) so I’m wondering which character of mine I should boost to 90. Right now, I have my hunter, Kurn, at 90 and I also have my shaman alt at 90 (since he’s my miner/herbalist). If I’m remembering correctly, I have:

Madrana of Eldre’Thalas at 85
Madrana of Skywall at 85
Skywall mage at 85
Proudmoore druid… at 80? 85? I think 85.
Eldre’Thalas priest at 85
Eldre’Thalas warrior at 80
Eldre’Thalas mage… in her 50s, I think.
Eldre’Thalas rogue bank alt at 5
Eldre’Thalas horde druid at 8. (Yes, 8.)
Ursin horde rogue at … 15, I think?

I think the most hilarious thing to do would be to take my level 5 bank alt on ET to 90. Except I don’t like playing melee classes. But it would be pretty amusing to have my bank alt sitting at a level cap.

What’s interesting is that this could also be used on a level 1, newly created character. So if you’re looking for another profession alt… there you go. That’s also a possibility. I don’t actually have a blacksmith or engineer…

If I’m smart, I’ll resub a couple months prior to the expansion coming out (at the latest) and get Madrana of ET up to 90, along with the priest. And maybe get the warrior up as high as I need to in order to continue to max out inscription. Then I should start a new toon, boost to 90, make it an engineer/blacksmith and I’ll have at least one toon with each profession.

If I’m less smart, I’ll resub just before the expansion drops and waste the boost on Madrana.

Honestly, it could go either way. >.>

Heroic Upper Blackrock Spire

I’m worried that this will mean a complete revamp of LBRS as well. I love Blackrock Spire. Both Upper and Lower, plus Blackrock Depths. These are some of my favourite dungeons in World of Warcraft. Will using my Seal of Ascension still spawn Vael in the Rend fight? Will you still be able to see LBRS from UBRS? I mean, LBRS is a maze, a true labyrinth, but it’s MY labyrinth. I know that place! UBRS is a lot more linear. Will the Father Flame event still exist? Will we still kite Drakk to the Beast’s room? I mean, so much of both of the dungeons are completely outdated, but… still. I have spent the equivalent of DAYS OF MY LIFE in UBRS/LBRS. Days. Probably even a week’s worth of my life in there. This is definitely the curmudgeonly old Kurn talking, but don’t you fuck with my Blackrock Spire(s).

I disliked revamped Scholomance. True, I think I only ran it twice (on my level 50-something mage) or maybe three times (I have a vague recollection of running it on Kurn to see what had changed), but I really, really didn’t like it. Also important to note, I didn’t like the original Scholomance much, but at least I’d gotten used to it. I hope they don’t mess with UBRS too much. To see an instance I LOVED get messed with would make me very sad.

And if they get rid of Lord Victor Nefarius saying “Foolsss… Kill the one in the dress!”, then WoW is truly dead to me. Best emote ever.

Avoiding Breakpoints

And now, for something completely different: actual praise.

I love how they plan to tackle various loot/raid mechanic issues with flexible raid makeups. The way I understand it’ll work is this:

If, at 10 people, you get one debuff cast on someone, and at 15 people you get two debuffs, here’s how it breaks down for numbers in between:

10 people: 100% chance of 1 debuff
11 people: 100% chance of 1 debuff, 20% chance of a second debuff
12 people: 100% chance of 1 debuff, 40% chance of a second debuff
13 people: 100% chance of 1 debuff, 60% chance of a second debuff
14 people: 100% chance of 1 debuff, 80% chance of a second debuff
15 people: 100% chance of 2 debuffs

Beautiful, elegant solution. And if you have debuffs going out several times a fight, I’m guessing these chances are calculated per debuff, so you could end up with 1 sometimes and 2 other times. It’s great.

As to loot, if you get 2 pieces on 10 and 3 on 15, then you get the same chances as above per person (20%) to get that third piece of loot. Also elegant.

Brilliant solutions here, actually. Like, I couldn’t be more pleased with how that seems to be turning out.

Item Squish

Part of me is sad that we’re not going all the way back to Vanilla levels (hands up, all those who are shocked… yeah, that’s what I thought) but I think the amount of damage and such seems reasonable, from what I heard at the panel. In my hastily typed notes, I have:

1100 int, 2209 Fireball down from 20640 int, 47k Fireball

Should be interesting to see how that all turns out… and how quickly it ramps back up.

Lore & Story… and Stuff

Look, I’ll admit it: I started playing WoW for reasons completely unrelated to the story. I don’t tend to care too much about the lore, as long as the story interests me. Killing Illidan, even if I didn’t know who he was? Interested me. Killing Arthas, after having only a vague idea of who he was at the start of the expansion? Interested me. Killing Deathwing, after seeing him BURN AUBERDINE TO SMITHEREENS? Very much interested me. Pandas? Not so much.

I am on the fence about Warlords of Draenor. Here’s the thing: we’re obviously going to defeat Garrosh & Co. and the Iron Horde will not come through the Dark Portal to our version of Azeroth. I mean, when have we NOT defeated the bad guy, right? We’re heroes. That’s what we DO.

So if what we do in Draenor doesn’t affect our actual past (the devs have said it won’t have any effect on “our” history at all) and if we’re basically going to win anyhow… then what’s the point?

Plus, the fact that it won’t affect our past bothers me. Continuity and timelines and stuff is something I enjoy (and have enjoyed since the Back to the Future movies). If you go back in time and prevent your parents from getting together (like Marty almost did in BttF), there have to be repercussions to that stuff, you know?

Being a fan of Star Trek, too, I’ve had a bit of exposure to their ideas about timelines and time travel. And they state the same thing: you screw with the past, you risk screwing with the future. Picard’s instructions to his crew in First Contact were to settle down and keep a low profile.

I know that, reasonably, the reason Garrosh’s meddling in the past doesn’t affect “our” past is because that would be a stupid amount of work just in the name of consistency. But it still bugs me.

Also. Orcs? More Garrosh? Ugh. Almost makes me want to resub so I can go defeat his smug ass in Siege of Orgrimmar. I’ve wanted to bash his face in since Trial of the Crusader. Also, since I pay very little attention to the lore, I don’t really know all of these orc clans. I know OF many of these chiefs, like Ner’zhul, Grom Hellscream (Gromsblood, anyone?)… I love that I now understand why the Eye of Kilrogg is so named (Kilrogg Deadeye). I like that I know OF pretty much all the clans and stuff. But I don’t know terribly much about them. Honestly, a lot of these names are recognizable to me just because I know there are servers named for these characters!

That said, the BC-era player in me is excited at the opportunity to revisit a somewhat familiar land. When I heard that Karabor is the home city for the Alliance, I gasped and literally said “I love my Medallion of Karabor!”. I wonder if using my Medallion of Karabor in Warlords will bring me to Black Temple in Outlands or Karabor in Draenor. ;)

I love that Nagrand is there. I loved that zone. Apart from, you know, almost living there. Between killing clefthooves for leather and farming elementals up on the plateau, I spent a lot of time in Nagrand. It’ll be nice to take a look at another version of it. (I will die laughing if Elemental Plateau still exists! The existance of Pure Pools of Water is what got me fishing on Kurn beyond the ~100 or so points I had in fishing from random fishing as I had levelled.)

Flying in Draenor

The big news post-BlizzCon is that flight in Draenor is likely to be postponed until patch 6.1. I estimate this will be between 2 and 4 months after launch. Patch 4.1 was about five months after launch. 5.1 was was only two months after launch.

Frankly, I don’t care too much. The levelling process, to me, has always been on foot (Cataclysm excepted). I’m used to it. I’m a bit miffed that I have to wait until AFTER I’m level 100, in that even when I AM 100 I won’t be able to fly, but really, whatever. I get that they want to herd us carefully. I don’t mind too much. Besides, when’s the last time you spent quality time with your ground mounts? (Okay, I have the Baron’s mount, I have my epic pally mount, I have the Brewfest Kodo… I have fun ground mounts.)

That said, I understand that people are pissed. It’s always the same argument, though. When we couldn’t fly in Northrend ’till 80, it was the same thing. Couldn’t fly in Pandaria ’till 90? Same thing. After a certain time, you just don’t care about hearing the same pointless arguments. The devs don’t want us to fly, so we can’t fly. End of story.

Other Stuff

I’m looking over my notes and I don’t have a lot else to say… I guess I’ll just include a few things at random from the opening ceremony and Warlords announcement.

– Love that they’re porting Hearthstone to iPhone and Android. (Haven’t been playing. Should play more.)
– Although I probably won’t play, the Heroes of the Storm trailer was pretty awesome.
– Loved the memories that Rob Pardo showed. TM vs. SS, 40m Ony, Dark Portal, AQ gates, ZG’s corrupted blood (which is the whole reason I started playing!)
– I have a note here saying “for the motherfucking Alliance, yo”. I’m not sure what the hell that was for. Still, I just laughed as I read it, so I thought I would share.
– I do like that it’s 10 levels. These 5-level expansions make levelling weird.
– “Oh God, not the Arakkoa!” I don’t need a whole expansion of Majik (if he plays) yelling “KA-KAW!!!” at me.
– I like the ogres.
– Looking forward to seeing Hellfire before it became Hellfire.
– Love the Gronn! I miss Gruul and his sons.
– Looking forward to the pre-launch 6.0 event for sure. The Dark Portal. Man, such memories.
– Player models: Not a lot of stuff to say yet. Wait ’till we see the new humans and night elves. THEN I’ll have stuff to say. Although I will say I quite like the work they’ve done that I’ve see so far. The undead’s bones, the dwarves look great, love the orc, too.
– Upgrades to core spells rather than gaining new spells: I like. (Probably until they screw with my spells. We’ll have to see.)

Okay, I guess that’s it for now. What about you? What do you think about flying? The story? Are you as scared of level-boosted players as I am? ;)

(Oh, and before I forget, there’s a big post-BlizzCon sale going on over at Kurn’s Guides! Check it out!)

Warlords of Draenor Reaction: Itemization

Believe it or not, guys, I am going to try to leave my curmudgeonly “get off my lawn” self aside in this post. I may not entirely succeed, but I’m going to give it a shot. ;)

Removing All The Things!

One of the problems the developers have recognized is that getting a piece of gear kind of sucks, when instead it should be this great thing to get. Why? Because you get it, then you have to probably gem it, then likely enchant it, then you need to reforge it (and, let’s face it, most of the rest of your gear) and then you can upgrade it with valor.

That’s not REMOTELY intimidating, is it? Well, yes, yes it is. Intimidating to some, annoying to others and just a basic fact of life when it comes to high-end raiding. But still, it takes some of the joy away from getting the actual piece of loot.

So they’ve removed reforging entirely, which I think is a fantastic call. I didn’t like the reforging balance game and it still didn’t prevent people from wanting their supposed “best-in-slot” piece, despite the fact that you could change the stats on that item.

Not only that, but to prevent worries about caps and such, they have also removed hit and expertise.

I’m less sure about this move, but I think it’s more my old, curmudgeonly side that walked uphill, in the snow, both ways, that’s saying this. Maybe it’s because I clued in to the importance of hit rating when I was in Burning Crusade and, since then, have always taken care to be hit-capped on a DPS character. Or maybe it’s because I think it’s dumbing down the game. But having even a little bit of experience in having to juggle hit and expertise caps on my hunter, I can appreciate that this is quite a big quality of life change.

I wasn’t a fan of expertise being needed by a hunter in Mists of Pandaria, still seeing it as something “the melee” had to deal with and didn’t like that agility mail was really interchangeable between hunters and enhancement shaman, but again, that’s probably the grumpy side of me. So the removal of expertise doesn’t bug me. Hilariously enough, I still think of expertise as a “new” stat, although it’s been around since mid-Burning Crusade, if memory serves.

My question, and perhaps it’s been answered, is… are we always going to hit with our abilities? Our white attacks? I’ve seen people speculating that it means we’ll always hit with our specials and have a small chance to miss with our white attacks, which sounds reasonable to me. But how are they going to deal with level disparity? Hit has always been dependent on your level vs. your opponent’s level. Raid bosses are viewed as being 3 levels higher than you, which is why 15% hit (nowadays. It used to be 17% for casters.) was needed, while only 5% was needed for a player of equal level.

I think that they’ll need to somehow preserve the missing mechanic for level disparity, but I’m not sure how to do that. Like, if you’re 4 levels lower than a boss, is it going to be impossible to hit? What if you’re out in the world and you’re four levels higher than some toon you want to gank, is it going to be impossible for them to hit you? I’m hopeful that they’re already on top of this stuff, but a bit wary because, well, hit has always been in the game. (Really, as soon as they removed defense gear, removing hit had to be an option eventually because the entire combat roll table changes.)

And speaking of removing defense gear, now they’re removing dodge and parry.

I get it. These aren’t exciting stats for tanks. Aren’t prot pallies gearing for haste these days? To me, though, it sort of further consolidates loot. Will there be much, if any, gear that tanks will want that strength plate DPS or agi leather DPS won’t want? Will a ret pally need anything tankish in order to tank?

Well, judging by the other major change, possibly not.

Dynamically Changing Gear

The other major change is that gear is now going to change by specialization. That’s to say that if a pair of plate shoulders drop, with, I don’t know, 100 strength, if you’re a holy paladin, they will have 100 intellect instead of strength. But if you change your spec to say, retribution, they will turn into 100 strength. Without hit and expertise caps to worry about, armor changing based on spec seems like a really brilliant plan. No more “shoot, I left my tank gear in the bank”, because guess what? Your tank gear IS what you’re wearing (basically). All you have to do is change specs and voila, you have tank gear. (This is just for armor, of course, so rings, necks, cloaks, trinkets and weapons will be more specialized, but still.) Not only THAT, but if you have, say, 4pc tier as a holy paladin, your 4pc tier will become 4pc TANK tier when you swap specs.

Rohan says that this is a brilliant solution to the persistent Intellect plate problem, since there’s only one class/spec combination in the game (out of what, 34 specs?) that uses Intellect plate. (Having raided as that class/spec, I can’t say I was ever disappointed to see Intellect plate drop, but I understand other people not enjoying that.)

It also mostly solves a problem I know that we dealt with a lot in Apotheosis, back in BC and even in the newer incarnation: how to deal with offspec loot? Problem (mostly) solved now. You don’t have to “waste” DKP or EPGP priority or any of that for tier gear for offspec stuff because your main spec gear turns into your offspec gear (for the most part).

However, I have some concern over this. I’m really trying to leave my grumpy, cranky self out of this and I think I’m about to fail, but this touches on an issue I looked at a while back: the devaluation of gear. In that post, I talk about how the “magic” is gone from gear, that gear itself doesn’t really matter. That caused some confusion, so let me try to state it a different way:

The fact that gear can dynamically change based on location in the game (Challenge Modes, Proving Grounds) and now based on talent specialization just shows that gear is nothing more than a mechanic in the game.

I’m not sure that’s so much better than my other attempts to explain it, but let me try to expound on it a bit. Ghostcrawler said, at least twice, that gear/items are the best thing they can give to the players. They want you to care about it. But my question here is, how much meaning can be ascribed to a chestpiece that has intellect one minute and strength the next? That’s ilvl 500 one minute and ilvl 463 the next?

There have been pieces of gear I have chased after. It took me 28 runs of Scholomance to get my T0 helm. It took me sixty runs of UBRS to get my T0 chest and I only got it during Wrath of the Lich King. I worked hard for my Rhok’delar. I’ve helped others to get Atiesh, Dragonwrath, Shadowmourne, Val’anyr. I have resented bosses who haven’t dropped my preferred piece of loot (stupid Halion, stupid Saurfang, stupid any boss for the spirit/haste ring in Dragon Soul…). So I have chased loot, I’ve wanted loot in the past so badly that I could almost taste it. (And I’ve also just accepted that loot is a tool to help me and my raid group progress.)

But once Blizzard started messing with their tech and actually changing the gear itself, that’s where I got hung up on things. If a piece of loot is supposed to be a tangible reward (as tangible as anything gets in the game, anyhow), then how can the devs keep messing with it and expect us to still feel amazing about getting it? Does that make sense?

I wanted the Beaststalker Helm because it was a good helm for me and it was also part of my tier 0 set. I wanted my epic bow because it was the reward after a long, challenging quest. So let’s look at another piece of loot that I wanted, that had nothing to do with tier or being a reward for a quest.

Zod’s Repeating Longbow. In Wrath of the Lich King, I was doing the occasional PUG or GDKP raid on Kurn and I desperately needed a bow. The bow I was using was from heroic dungeons. It was tragic and sad. Zod’s, even the normal version, was basically the best bow I could hope of getting as I raided casually on my hunter while raiding much more seriously on my paladin.

Getting that bow was a huge boost to my damage, to my stats and to my viability as a player in a PUG or GDKP run, not to mention in my daily dungeon grind.

It was that bow in particular that I wanted, that I felt would really aid me in what I did as a player in the game. The stats were unchanging. It would always grant me 108 agility, always increase my DPS 561.4 (on average). This was a bow I absolutely coveted back in Wrath of the Lich King.

Would I feel that way about a bow today? Or in Warlords of Draenor? While an upgrade is an upgrade, the bow itself is not a static item upon which I can always rely. It’s that dynamic shifting that makes the loot feel, to me, less tangible. Less real. (Of course, “real” is a relative term, considering we’re talking about pixels on the screen.)

So when they talk about solving the Intellect plate “problem” and making primary stats change on gear, based on spec… I have to ask myself why should we even bother with gear? Why not just give everyone a base set of gear that upgrades by 1% or something every time that person kills a raid boss? There’s no need for gear to help us progress. They can automagically change our stats and, thus, our character’s strengths whenever they feel like it.

What about enchants, gems, reforging and upgrading? I would say that those actions (upgrading least of all) are enhancements because the player actually applies those items (or not) to the item in question. That makes it feel as though the player is enhancing the still-tangible item, rather than having things be changed for you.

I’m probably still not explaining it right, but this whole dynamic gear thing doesn’t sit right with me. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’ll solve more problems than it creates, I’m still a fan of removing reforging, all that stuff, but if things keep changing in various circumstances, why bother with them, you know?

(I know. Loot is something that a lot of people view as an end-goal. You have to have loot. This game is BUILT on loot. So while I may be going a bit far in suggesting that perhaps we have a base set of gear that upgrades itself over time, I still think it’s the same principle as what we’ve seen with scaling gear levels and what we’ll be seeing with dynamic gear stats.)

Tertiary Stats

Interesting. I don’t wholly know what to make of these, but I do enjoy the idea of movement speed as a tertiary stat on items. I like the idea of Cleave as a stat, though I’m unsure how that works (or would work) for a hunter. At any rate, it’s interesting and I’ll be looking forward to more information about them, for sure. I do worry that people will try to assemble whole gear sets with specific tertiary stats and that those will become “the norm”, but if they really do keep them rare, or on specific slots of gear (ie: movement speed on boots while cleave is on gloves, for instance), I think it could work out well.

All right. I’m done talking for now. Talk back! Tell me what you think about itemization stuff!

(And stay tuned, either on Twitter or Facebook: big stuff happening at Kurn’s Guides this week!)

Warlords of Draenor Reaction: Raiding

Ever since I learned what a raid even was, I wanted to raid. I went to great lengths to raid in my first real guild, Fated Heroes. Many people used Fated Heroes to level to 60 and then would bail and go to another guild to actually raid. At one point, I just flat-out asked the guild master why we weren’t raiding. Did we not want to raid?

Of course we wanted to raid, he said, but people just left as soon as they hit 60.

That’s when I started building the raiding culture of the guild. I did research on attunements, made that information available, helped people on quests leading to attunements and the like. By golly, I wanted to raid, so I was gonna raid!

Out of the seven years I played World of Warcraft, I spent six and a half of those years raiding, pretty much.

So, of course, having watched all the World of Warcraft BlizzCon panels from Friday, the biggest thing I want to discuss is, you guessed it, raiding.

Flex Takes Over, Heroic turns Mythical

There are two things I want to discuss here. The first is the flexible aspect of virtually any raid team going forward. The second is the new “mythical” raid type and size.

They’re renaming stuff and adding flexible raid sizes to things. Let’s look at how things look right now.

1) Looking for Raid/Raid Finder: Introduced in Patch 4.3, the Dragon Soul, LFR raiding is a group of 25 people put into the same raid wing via queueing. It is tuned for 25 people (2 tanks, 6 healers, 17 DPS), but it’s quite low on the tuning scale because they don’t assume that 25 different people from different realms, etc, are going to have the organizational abilities that a “normal” or “heroic” raid group does.

2) Flex Raiding: This is a new format, introduced in Patch 5.4. Flex is a difficulty that is below Normal raids but above LFR. It is tuned for 10-25 people and scales appropriately depending on the people in the group.

3) Normal Raiding: This is the “standard” difficulty level and, currently, is able to be tackled by two raid sizes: 10 or 25. It does not scale dynamically like Flex Raiding. Normal raids are also required to be completed by at least one member of a raid team that wishes to tackle current heroic raids. (Example: Your raid leader must have defeated Garrosh in Normal Siege of Orgrimmar to unlock heroic Siege of Orgrimmar for your group.)

4) Heroic Raiding: This is the “difficult” level of difficulty, which is also able to be completed either on 10 or 25, and nothing in between.

That’s how things stand right now. Technically, that’s 6 different raids: LFR, Flex, 10m normal, 25m normal, 10m heroic, 25m heroic.

In 6.0 (Warlords of Draenor), this is what they want to do:

1) Looking for Raid/Raid Finder: Same as LFR today, only flexible, meaning that if you’re waiting for six people to fill your LFR group after a wipe, you don’t actually need to wait — the encounter will have changed dynamically and you can just go with your 19 people.

2) Normal Raiding: This is what is currently known as “Flex” raiding, in terms of difficulty, it looks like. The size for this raid will be 10-25 people and will be flexible and dynamic. This is why they’re removing “flex” as a difficulty. Instead, they’re applying flexible raid technology to all difficulties of raiding. (Well, except one.)

3) Heroic Raiding: This is what is currently known as “normal” raiding, in terms of difficulty. Again, this raid size will be 10-25 people and will scale dynamically.

4) Mythic Raiding: Currently known as “heroic” raiding, Mythic raiding will be the “elite” raiding level. The raids will be tuned for 20 people and will not scale up or down, instead of the 25-man size raiders have been using since Burning Crusade.

To be honest, I’m still in a bit of shock.

What This Means

If your standard, 25-man heroic raid looked something like 2 tanks, 6 healers and 17 DPS, you’re now looking at something like 2 tanks, 5 healers and 13 DPS. How do I figure?

Well, you kind of need two tanks. I can’t imagine a scenario where just one tank is going to be required for everything.

6 healers divided by 25 raiders = 24%
20 raid members times 0.24 (percent) = 4.8 = 5 healers

17 DPS divided by 25 raiders = 68%
20 raid members times 0.68 (percent) = 13.6 DPS

Obviously, it’s not precise and I’m sure there will be times when you drop to 4 healers and go up to 14 DPS or maybe even drop a tank and go up another DPS, but, by and large, you’re looking at a 2/5/13 breakdown.

Many people expressed a sentiment along these lines on Twitter:

It’s an interesting problem that Blizzard is dealing with here, and they do not seem to have learned terribly much about the transition from 40-man raids to 25-man raids. Let’s look at this situation.

According to GuildOx, 77 total guilds (36 25m and 37 10m) have cleared Heroic Siege of Orgrimmar. 5612 of those have killed Heroic Immerseus, the first boss in the instance, with 831 25m and 4773 10m.

What this shows is that, after two months of the latest tier being out, over 5600 guilds are in heroic content. 831 of them have 5 people “too many” for Mythic raiding and 4773 guilds are missing 10 people off their roster to be able to do Mythic raiding. Mythic raiding, if it is actually intended to be the successor of current Heroic raiding, is going to be nightmarish for most of those 5600 guilds. Obviously, between now and launch (which is not yet announced, but my money is on June, 2014), guilds will split up, people will quit and all that jazz, but it’s clear that there’s a significant amount of people who would do Mythic raiding if it remained at the 10-man format, but they may not be able to do so at the 20-man format. And that’s JUST two months into a tier. Six months from now, those numbers will have gone up and more people will be trying heroic fights. If people want to maintain their 10-15 person roster AND challenge themselves with mythic content, uh, they can’t.

Oh my God, I’m worried about the viability of 10-man raiding. Who am I??? ;)

No, really, what I’m most concerned about is Blizzard’s statement about WoW being more fun with friends. That doesn’t work with their raiding plans for Mythic raids. It works great for people who want to do LFR, normals and heroics (in the new vernacular) but it completely falls apart for Mythic raids. Completely.

Check it out.

Say I have 32 raiders on my roster for a 25-man (present-day) heroic raiding team. Come Warlords of Draenor, I need to cut at least five, perhaps six, maybe even eight people from my roster.

If my breakdown above is pretty much on target (2 tanks, 5 healers, 13 DPS considered “standard”), then this is what I would want for a total roster:

– 2-3 tanks (2 tanks with one OS tank who is extremely comfortable either tanking or DPSing OR three tanks, all of whom can DPS if needed)
– 7 healers (or perhaps 6 healers with a solid OS healer who is extremely comfortable either healing or DPSing)
– 15-17 DPS

That’s like, 24-27 people or so on the total raiding roster in a guild that I would hypothetically be running. Too many more and swaps become a problem. Too few people and you start needing to have 95%+ attendance requirements.

So say I want to run with 3 tanks, 7 healers and 15 DPS on my roster. That’s 25. If I had 32 to start, that’s seven people to cut. How is that playing “with my friends”? I’ve just lost seven of them.

Conversely, if I’m coming from a 10m heroic raiding guild with, say, 2 tanks, 4 healers and 7 DPS, I now need to ADD at least 7, perhaps as many as 11 or 12 more people. How is that playing “with my friends” when I practically have to double my roster?

One might argue that the 25-man cast-offs may join up en masse with the 10-man guilds, but even if that happened, you’re still looking at a huge imbalance.

831 25m guilds have started heroic 25-man content today. 831 times 7 (the cast-offs, shall we say) gives us 5817 people who are potentially looking for a new home. Assume you need to add just the bare minimum of 7 people to those 4773 10m heroic raiding guilds to bring them up to 20. That’s only 831 10m guilds that are now capable of doing Mythic raids.

Know what that is? That’s crappy is what that is. In order to challenge yourself at the highest level of content, raiders are being told they must conform to the 20-man size, which screws over all current heroic raiding guilds. Even if this had just eliminated the 10s or the 25s in favour of one OR the other, at least some guilds would largely remain unaffected. However, Blizzard did not learn from their first attempt at changing raid sizes back in the Burning Crusade. Well, they did, but maybe not as much as they could have learned.

The Transition from 40-man to 25-man & 25-man to 20-man

Once upon a time, end-game raids consisted of 40 people. You had Molten Core, Onyxia’s Lair, Blackwing Lair, then the Temple of Ahn’Qiraj, then Naxxramas.

The devs recognized that putting together and organizing 40 people was, well, a logistical nightmare and, as such, lowered the required number of people to 25. Except, that’s not exactly what happened, because the first entry-level raid of the expansion was Karazhan, which was a ten-man raid. Raiding guilds, and I’m talking about successful raiding guilds who had progressed into Naxxramas at level 60, were cutting half their team and then had to split up the remnants into teams of 10 for the first bit of Burning Crusade! Ridiculous.

It doesn’t appear as though Blizzard is going to do something as ridiculous as making the entry-level raid a 10-man raid, but they are making similar mistakes to their transition from 40s to 25s with their change from 25s to 20s.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I basically grew up on 20-man raids. I loved Zul’Gurub. (I didn’t like AQ20 but that was more because I hate bugs.) I like the overall idea of 20-man raids and I remember the feel of them. They felt pretty great. Not as epic as 40-man raids, but not as tiny as 10-man raids. I think 20-mans are a good size, overall.

What Blizzard did back then was they broke away from the expectations that they, themselves, had set. “Serious” raids were 40-man affairs in World of Warcraft. ZG and AQ20 were often not even completed by well-progressed guilds because there was no incentive for them to do those instances, because they didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. All the serious raiders were finishing AQ40 and dipping their toes into Naxxramas at the end of the original World of Warcraft game.

With everyone knowing that raids were 40-man events, Blizzard changed everyone’s expectations and released raids that required 25 people for the majority of the expansion.

They introduced Karazhan as a 10-man, of course, but also brought in Zul’Aman as a 10-man raid later in the expansion. Then, in Wrath of the Lich King, they made 10-man versions of every raid, but they weren’t quite as “serious” as 25-man raids, because they were generally a bit easier and the reward (loot) was definitely not as powerful as the 25-man versions.

It was only in Cataclysm that both 10s and 25s were treated equally. That’s a long road for 10s, to be honest. First, they were almost non-existant barring a couple of raids in Burning Crusade, then they were accessible for each raid instance and finally, they were given equal rewards in Cataclysm. But you see how gradual it was? That’s spanning nearly four years. Four years for another raid size to gain full equality in terms of reward and even respect. (Do you respect Paragon for being the first 10m guild to kill heroic Garrosh? I do.)

But the trouble with the original drop from 40 to 25 is being replicated in the drop from 25 to 20 (and addition from 10 to 20!): it’s a rapid shift in expectations. Sure, we have something like eight or nine months to acclimate to the idea, but knowing what’s on the horizon, how are people in any heroic raiding guild going to keep motivated? 10s are going to need to scramble to recruit or even merge with other guilds, while people in 25s are going to be living in fear of getting the axe. And how screwed over must the 10s really feel after being validated just two expansions ago only to be told that, for the peak of PVE content, they need to double their rosters? Ugh.

The social repercussions of this kind of “unknown” factor is not going to be easy for people to deal with.

Fallout

What’s going to happen? Well, realistically, here’s what I think are our main possibilities:

1) 25-man heroic guilds will come through relatively well, despite social issues stemming from roster issues. The 20-man raid format will probably be a bit more popular than 25-man heroic raiding is today, perhaps another 10%-15% or so, I’d imagine.

2) 10-man heroic guilds will have a tough choice: either recruit like crazy, merge with another guild or just content themselves with the “new heroic” raids, which will probably be about the same (or slightly higher) difficulty as normal raiding is today. I do think this will bring the numbers of 10-mans down, but not so much that it’ll be really felt. Still, that’s going to suck. (Believe it or not, I really feel badly for the 10s. And I personally really hate that raid size. A lot.)

3) Everyone else will enjoy the flexibility of their raid sizes and will take advantage of them in “normal” and “heroic” raiding.

Since, according to GuildOx, nearly 22,000 guilds have killed normal-mode Immerseus, the vast majority of guilds are going to be just fine in terms of raiding the new normals and new heroics. If the new heroics are about the same level as current normals, 22,000 guilds can still go in with their flexible raid size and kick some ass.

This problem really only becomes a problem at the Mythic level of raiding. Looking at the numbers of guilds at least 1/16H compared to at least 1/16N on any size, we’re looking at about 25-26% of the raiding population that even bothers with heroics (within ~2 months of the launch of a tier — so that’ll go up, but I’m not sure how much).

So it’s not a problem that’s going to affect everyone. The flexibility of the other difficulties will be great for everyone, but the people who are, arguably, the most dedicated to the PVE end-game are getting screwed over. All the heroic raiding guilds will be experiencing a major roster change. All of them. Some will merge, some will disintegrate, some will stop raiding the content they want to be able to raid because they’re constrained by their size. All I know about this, really, is that I am super happy that I am not a guild master or guild officer right now. Good luck, people. ;)

Despite the fact I’m not in a position of authority, in the coming weeks, I’m going to be writing a free guide on how to deal with cutting people or recruiting/merging — basically, on how to manage your roster for a Mythic raiding guild. I learned a lot from the Burning Crusade change in raid size and from a lot of guilds that dropped to 10s from 25s. The important thing, for now, is to not panic. There’s still plenty of Tier 16 left, still several months left before Warlords of Draenor comes out. The best advice I can give to anyone right now is to remind your guildmates that WoD isn’t even in beta and that you’ll cross the roster bridge when you come to it, but for now, not to worry.

Heck, there’s even a chance that they’ll reconsider the single Mythic raid size because they’re not even in beta yet. (I doubt they’ll go back on that, but you never know.) If the Mythic size has you troubled, you should post on the forums (and be polite!!!) and explain why it troubles you and what repercussions you foresee it having on your guild. Get them feedback. Be nice about it. But ultimately, don’t hold your breath. The game is geared less towards the min-maxing 40-man raiders of yesterday and more towards the “raiders” of LFR these days.

More This Weekend

Sadly, Real-Life has crit me this weekend, so I’m not even able to watch BlizzCon events live. I’ll have more to talk about on Saturday evening or Sunday, including my thoughts on the Level 90 boost, my Outlands/Draenor thoughts and more.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts? How will the changes to the various raid difficulties and sizes affect you?

Pre-BlizzCon 2013

I have a confession to make: I’ve never been to BlizzCon. And I’m pretty much okay with that.

I bought virtual tickets for BlizzCon 2010 and 2011 and that suited me just fine. I was really excited for the 2011 convention and actually got trapped in Twitter Timeout for an hour or whatever because I tweeted way too much about the announcement of Mists of Pandaria.

I haven’t played World of Warcraft for the last almost-year. November 10th marks the anniversary of my account expiring. (Exception: 30 minutes on a trial account, trying to figure out which Horde race can get to Trade Chat soonest. Tip: It’s the Tauren.)

And yet, I bought myself the virtual ticket this year. I won’t even be able to watch live on Friday, due to some pesky Real-Life things, but you can bet I’ll come home and watch the What’s Next session for World of Warcraft. Despite not having played in a year, despite all the issues I have with the game, which caused me to stop playing, I still care about the game. Weird, isn’t it? (Yes, yes it is.)

Anyhow, I’m sure I’ll be posting Friday or Saturday about BlizzCon and what’s next for WoW. As of yet, I’m undecided between the new expansion being The Dark Below or Warlords of Draenor or something else entirely. I don’t know if we’ll go to 95 or 100 for the level cap. I don’t know if we’ll have a new class or new race or new class/race combinations. I don’t know if there will be a new profession.

It’s a little strange to be so calm and sort of blasé about BlizzCon. For years, it’s been this treasure trove of information that I, generally, cannot wait to hear. And this year… I’ll see the panels when I get home from my real-life stuff on Friday evening. I’m going to try to stay spoiler-free until I do get home. For once, I will not be scrounging for every little morsel of information possible. It’s kind of nice, to be honest.

However, between you and me, I kind of hope that whatever they announce for WoW is something that’s really exciting to me. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to playing as much as I used to, I don’t think I’ll ever do organized, heroic-mode raiding again, but I’m sure I’ll take another crack at server-first skinning come the expansion (assuming professions aren’t completely reworked to the point where such achievements no longer exist!) and it’d be nice to dip my toes into WoW again. But none of this will likely happen before the new year. (And if I end up getting this one job that I really, really, really want, it might not happen until much closer to the launch of the expansion.) It’ll happen, though, even if it’s just for a month to see what’s happening in the game.

With BlizzCon happening, this is a busy weekend for me because I’m sure I’ll have to update Module 5 of my Kick-Ass GM Guide, which is all about expansion planning. So that’s going to be interesting. :) Check back here later this weekend (or on Twitter, or Facebook) because I will certainly have some BlizzCon-related stuff and sales going on at Kurn’s Guides!

Oh, and speaking of weekends, next weekend, Majik and his wife JD are coming up to Montreal and those two, plus my brother Fog, Fog’s wife (I) and myself are all going up to my parents’ cottage for a fun weekend of chilling out (literally), hanging out, doing some outdoorsy stuff if it’s not too cold and probably playing a ton of board games. It’s gonna be fun. And I may try to get Majik to sing for the Blessing of Frost listeners, at long last.

Anyhow, I hope that all those heading to (or already at) BlizzCon have a truly awesome time and that those who feel left out feel better by knowing that they are almost certainly not going to get “con crud”. ;)

Happy BlizzCon, everyone. Enjoy yourselves, no matter how you’re spending this weekend. :)