Archive for the “Druiding” Category

To be filed under “Why didn’t I think of that” is a post by Brokentree over at Wayward Initiative, performing a very simple and yet helpful service;

Showing the DPS what each tanks’ most common AoE looks like.

The subtext goes back to a recent post there by another of the multitude of Wayward Initiative bloggers, Pugging as DPS.

The post is brilliant; it gives a visual example of what Tank AoE looks like, so that DPS have some idea what to wait for before they unload on the group.

I’m a sarcastic old Bear, so that’s a post I totally should have thought of first.

Why?

Because what it’s saying is, “Hey, you idiots keep pulling aggro off the tank in PUGs, time after time after time, in the first two seconds of each pull, before the Tank has ever even had a chance to reach the bloody mobs. But maybe the problem isn’t that you’re a complete f’ing moron. Maybe the problem is you just don’t know what the AoE effect looks like. So I will teach you. The more you know. GI Joe!”

That’s sarcasm to be proud of.

Look, there’s a foolproof, simple technique that will ensure you do not pull aggro off the mobs on the tank.

It’s called patience.

If you play as DPS, just wait a few seconds for the tank to get it stuck in before you open up. If you still pull aggro, then either tone it down, or wait a few more seconds the next time.

Try, and I know this is a crazy, out there idea, but try to use your skill to adjust your DPS output on single and group targets to take into accuont the current tank’s Threat output.

It may take you a pull or two to figure it out, but just do it. 

Stop with the “gogogo”. Stop with the pulling FOR the tank unless she asks.

Just be patient for a few seconds on each pull.

Mathematical tests have proven* that the potential amount of time you will save by pushing the group and screaming GOGOGO, or by pulling the groups yourself as DPS, does not outweigh the amount of time you lose from wiping and running back in, or by having the tank tell you to shut up or having the tank leave the group in disgust at your behavior or having the healer stop healing you each time you pull something antisocial so you’ll eat a repair bill.

If you are DPS and have a 15 minute queue time, and you want to get each Heroic finished as soon as possible so you can requeue, pushing the speed of a group and destabilizing the run is not going to save you time. 

Neither will screaming “you suck” at the tank if you pull aggro by not waiting, nor will screaming obscenities at the healer if you, as the tank pull half the instance in your 22k health/non-defense capped gear and die.

I will hammer this home until everyone seems to get it;

“Why is there never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to release and run back in?”™

Seriously.

If you’re the tank, learn what you can safely pull and hold before taking too much damage too fast. And go slow enough for the healer to keep up.

If you’re the DPS, wait until the tank has had a chance to tag everything before you open up, and hey, brilliant idea here, how about making your primary target the same one the tank currently has targeted? Chances are excellent that’s the one getting the lion’s share of the tanks threat output.

There are even mods/addons that make it easy. X-Perl unitframes let’s you turn on target of target display for Party mode. You can easily, at a glance, see what EVERY person in the party is targeting.

I love comparing, as the tank, what I’m targeting against what the rest of the group has targeted.

“Oh hey, how about that, every time I mark a Skull, the Mage is on something else and pulls aggro on it. Every time. Let’s see how he likes it when I stopped Growling.”

And healers… well, I’m sorry. That’s about all I got for you.

Oh no, wait, I do have one piece of advice.

If you go Engineering, you can get Rocket Boots enchanted on your feet. It really helps keeping up when the tank thinks his leet 22k health means heals are optional on the next sequence of groups. 

*Based on my slowing down every time I get one of those assholes.

Comments 17 Comments »

I’m going to start with an assumption;

If you read my blog, you also read MMO Champion, WoW.com, or the main forums, and are plugged into the “WoW news” scene, such as it is.

If not, that’s okay. I’m sure you’ll get the gist of what’s going on with Druids soon enough.

The proposed Feral changes, such as they were, were pretty good.

Plenty of stuff made me smile in the announcement, not least of which was the announcement of a new AoE threat/damage boosting ability, Thrash.

That’s nice, I think it’ll be fun in execution. However, once again, I refer you to a previous post, wherein I pointed out we have no idea how any change will actually work. The assumption would be that adding a new ability, Thrash, would add to Threat generation. However, in execution, if they dial down Swipe’s Threat/Damage as they add Thrash, balance them out so we need to use both together to equal today’s Swipe… well, see what I mean about not making silly assumptions as to how things will work until we actually get the game changes in our furry little paws? 

What mostly brought a smile to my face was the way the tanking announcements, in general and across the board, all said that the intended goal was to balance damage dealing capabilities across all tank types. To have tools in place so that if any one tank class gets ahead of the pack, they can reign them in, or if one lags behind, they can pull that one up by the bootstraps.

The concern I have is that the term they use is damage, not Threat, when talking about balance. I know that many tanks worry about damage generation comparisons with other tanks, and that there has been a lot of complaining about the high damage output of some tank classes.

I don’t care nearly as much about damage output balance as I do about threat. I really hope that when they are talking about balancing damage amongst the tank classes, they also mean threat output.

The main point to take away from tank announcements is that they are trying to change the underpinnings of the abilities and mechanics so that they have easier tools at hand to balance the classes when they decide it’s needed.

I imagine that’s one of the reasons that the Paladin review is so delayed. Paladins have a very fine tuned, race car style performance when it comes to threat and damage generation. Messing with any of it is going to cause a lot of headaches for all concerned. 

As far as Bears go, with Vengeance, and damage reduction and Thrash and everything, it looks to me that Bears will do about as well as could be expected. Tools are being added to increase the complexity/diversity of the Bear playstyle, increase our group utility (Movement speed buff? Cool!), improve AoE threat generation (hopefully with Thrash) and keep our gear diversity intact.

The only fly in the ointment would be the lack of an announced ranged Silence pull, while in their infinite wisdom they gave Rogues (Rogues?) a Smoke Bomb to force ranged spellcasters to close to melee.

Did I actually expect to get a ranged Silence pull? No, I did not. Bears have so many other tools from Cat using the same gear and (mostly) same spec, PLUS self-Heals, that I figured, from a PvP standpoint, there was just no freaking way we’d get one.

If you don’t like it, play a Pally, right? We’re Bears. Toughen up, sunshine!

I will add that while I like the Smoke Bomb idea for our Ninja leather-wearing brothers and sisters, if you can do that, c’mon guys… hows about giving a Bear a fart cloud? Although, come to think of it, that would be more along the order of a Fear, wouldn’t it?

Hmmm. Actually, a fart cloud that stuns enemies in an AoE would be fun. I bet they can’t do it because you wouldn’t be able to put in diminishing returns for the effect…

Oh well, lesson here is, Bears, make sure your best friend is a Rogue, I guess. Good thing I married one. :)

As far as Cats go, they said that there would be no new earthshaking, wonderful new spells. They like the rotation so much, they don’t want to fiddle with it. However, they WILL extend debuff durations and things, so there is a slightly looser window to get each ability off that depends on a previous debuff being in effect on the target, making the rotation a little more forgiving to a slight blunder.

Restoration Druids aren’t expecting to get any new spells either; Blizzard thinks the ones we have fill all the required niches.

I can feel the desire for new shinies, but I honestly don’t need something new just to have a happy button added to my bar. I look at all the excess buttons on some of my classes, like all the buttons for abilities my Mage alt almost never uses, and figure that I’m good with having a tight group of abilities that all work well together.

I don’t play a Moonkin, personally, but I love the form. I would like to say one thing about their new spell.

Why, oh why, do Druids get to be the ones bringing the magic shrooms? Now there’s nothing for it but that I go grind Sporregar rep to Exalted so I can wear the Magic Mushroom purple tabard, proclaiming my hippy druggie status to the world. 

Okay, so I’m laughing on the inside. Trust a Moonkin to look at the enemy and think, “What you really need, what you really need right now, is to get high. Here, have one of these. Oh my, look at the pretty stars. And the lights! The beautiful, glowing, pretty lights. Oh, wait, those are my spell effects as I blow you the hell up…”

Lets move on to what is shaping up to be the big drama of the teasers; Treeform on cooldown.

If you follow Restoration Druid blogs to any extent, you might have noticed a stirring in the branches, as the winds of discontent blow through the community.

Down and dirty, they’re planning on changing Treeform from being a discrete form that Druids shift into, and make it similar to a long cooldown buff. 

This changes it from being the form you are in while being a Healer fully specced into Restoration, and makes it more a “For 30 seconds you are in the form of a Tree, and healing power/whatever is increased by X amount. 2 minute cooldown.”

Or 5 minute cooldown. Or something.

The point is, it goes from being what it is now, a shapeshifting form exclusive to the deep Restoration tree, and reduces it to just another spell in the rotation. 

Now, Druids are unlikely to get a lot of outside sympathy for being unhappy about this. From the outside looking in, it resembles a simple complaint about a cosmetic change, and Ghostcrawler has already replied, saying that if Druids are so adamant about having a Tree form, they could add a Minor Glyph that would leave the Treeform appearance up all the time, but would leave the new mechanic unchanged.

I’d like to try and present a Druid’s viewpoint that cuts to the core of the matter without silly drama.

World of Warcraft has, as a large part of it’s charm, both a romantic and a mathematic side of the game.

The mathematic is represented by all things analytical; stats and mechanics and DPS curves and damage reduction by armor with diminishing returns, and all of the other things that allow a dedicated theorycrafter an opportunity to min/max their performance.

The romantic is represented by the graphical style, the non-combat pets, the rare and exotic pets Hunters can tame, the varying landscapes and cultures to visit, the tabards to wear, the mounts to ride, the clothing and gear that changes your entire appearance, the view of the tumultous sky over the mana engines of Netherstorm and the peacefulness of fishing the pools while watching the Sun set across the sea in Wetlands.

The game is not just stats and power curves and progression. It is not just preparing for, and engaging in, battle. If it were, it would be Squad Leader with a bare bones graphics interface on a Hex map.

It has those elements, that depth of complexity. But it also has the whimsical, the romantic, the things that bring the game world alive and make it so much more to a player than a set of stats on a cardboard placard or a token on a map.

The way the game is designed, and part of the continued draw of the game for me is the extent to which I can develop an emotional attachment to the characters.

It is, at it’s heart, what differentiates an MMORPG from an RTS; that I have a single character whose story throughout the World of Warcraft has some measure of escapist value for me.

Where the problem here comes in, is that from what Ghostcrawler has said, the developers are approaching this issue with only one concern; stats and effects during raids and combat.

Where the players that have Restoration Druids are coming from, is mainly from the point of view of any player with an emotional investment in the character they play.

To us, our Treeform is an ability that shows our heart is in healing. Much like Moonkin form, it is far enough down the Restoration Talent Tree that you don’t just take it as part of a hybrid spec. You have to be intending to Heal as your main function, you have to really dedicate yourself to being a supporting healer to be a Tree.

I know I’m only speaking for myself on this, but to me, I don’t see the lack of offensive spellcasting abilities in Treeform as a detriment to playing my class; I see it as a mark of honor and distinction, and symbol of my dedication to keeping your ass alive.

I don’t ever find myself railing at the cruel fates that have prevented me from casting DPS spells from Treeform. In the rare occasions that I throw down a Hurricane, mostly during the Shifted phase of the wraith boss in Violet Hold to kill the adds, I accept dropping out of Treeform as the cost of dealing damage, and I return to Treeform as soon as my brief foray into causing pain is over.

I know that Ghostcrawler seems to feel that the Treeform mechanic doesn’t add anything to the game, it doesn’t bring anything special to the Restoration Druid’s table.

It does.

What it brings is Treeform itself. What he just doesn’t seem to grasp is that Treeform, for a Restoration Druid, is a goal in and of itself. Not something to be pity Glyphed, but an outwards symbol of a Druid Healer’s resolve.

I truly hope that the developers that are trying to balance this incredibly complex game for raiding and PvP in cataclysm are reminded that there is a lot more to the game then stats.

At the end of the day, what keeps us all playing this rather than Star Fleet Battles on a MUD is our personal involvement with our characters. Our emotional investment in the class that we play.

Character involvement can be a fragile thing, and I truly hope that, before making such a significant change, the devlopers take a big step back and ask themselves; is what we expect to gain by making this change worth all that we WILL lose in terms of player goodwill?

Comments 60 Comments »

As far as Gnomeregan is concerned, I’m falling in line with the thought that a staged, phased reclamation a la Isle of Quel’danas is the most likely scenario.

Which, let’s face it, sounds pretty cool. :)

But I keep thinking of Ironforge.

Cataclysm is supposed to bring flight to old world Azeroth.

That means things are being changed to accomodate that, changes to zone edges and such, things that never had to be worried about before, because players could never actually reach there.

I remember one time, at band camp… no, wait, just kidding.

I remember one time, when the game was brand new, hopping up hills at the perimeter around the Hunting Lodge in Loch Modan, and I made it up and onto the top of the ridge on the northern edge… only to find that the terrain became a featureless wireframe of orange flatness.

I ran and ran for a long time, to the north as I recall, wondering where I would end up. After a while, I turned around and headed back to resume what I was doing; leveling my first ever character, Windshadow.

The urge to explore was strong, to see what was over the next rise, maps being rare and hard to find on the internet, and to be honest, I never imagined back then that the desire to explore would ever be frowned on by Blizzard.

It was a huge game world, and it never crossed my mind that I’d get in trouble for wanting to see more of it. Instead, I assumed that if I could get somewhere, I would be rewarded for my ingenuity with something neat. Finding the quest bear way up high in the mountains of Loch Modan NE of the flight master only reinforced that idea. 

It was shortly around this time, looking on the forums for the suggestions of others on places to explore, that I found the official forums ringing to claims of people being banned for finding ways to reach areas that were not meant to be reached… and sharing the techniques.

There but for the grace of WoW go I. That could easily have been me, in my innocence, posting about something neat I’d found and wanting to share it. If I hadn’t seen that others were being banned for doing that, I certainly would have posted my own experiences.

I remember it well, the main claim was that someone on the official forums was banned from the game specifically for figuring out how to reach the little dwarf airport/landing strip with the cool planes way up above the mountains over Ironforge, using a technique of climbing and gliding with the Engineering-crafted Parachute Cloak. I believe the statement from a Blue poster was along the lines of saying that the Airstrip, and other in-game places like that, were meant to be visual points of interest, and not actual locations to ever be visited.

Ah, the mystique of that little Dwarven landing strip. The hours I spent exploring the mountain chain from both Dun Morogh and Wetlands, trying to scout out the hidden path that assuredly must exist to allow me to visit that place. The drive to climb that mountain, to plant my flag, to be able to say, if only to myself, “Vini, vidi, vici” and take a screenshot.

It was the first little blow to my love affair with World of Warcraft, when I read the claims that players could and had been banned for exploring where Blizzard did not want them to go… when there was nothing I had ever heard of, no warning I had ever read to that time, that said “It’s okay to explore, as long as you only try to explore where we think it’s okay for you to explore… and we won’t tell you, you have to guess. But if it seems hard to get there, don’t try.”

Now this isn’t a bashing on Blizzard, although I’m sure it could be taken that way. For all I know, it was all total BS on the part of players, and nobody ever got banned or suspended for exploring, ever. It’s the official forums, you know what it’s like there. Tons of helpful people, hidden amongst the loud crazy idiots.

The point is, since the very first time I flew over the dwarven airstrip when taking the Griffon from Ironforge to Wetlands, I wanted to get up there, to visit that airstrip, to hop in the planes, to run around like a goofball and see if there was a super-secret quest giver there.

When I think about Cataclysm letting us fly in Eastern Kingdoms, I think immediately about visiting that airstrip.

But more than that, I want the airstrip to become a place where flying players can find new quests to perform. I want it to become that dwarven center of aerial adventure about which I’d long dreamed.

So carrying over from my previous post about the fall of Ironforge, I would be hoping to see something in Cataclysm that would indeed cause the Dwarves to flee, to abandon Ironforge, to take up as refugees in the capital of Gnomeregan… and let adventurers have a new raid, the Retaking of Ironforge, where you cannot enter via the massive front gate.

Oh no, not the front gate for you! The mighty climb to the gates of Ironforge would be shattered, the gates themselves sealed shut, and players would have to fly to that landing strip high up in the mountains, there to enter as a group and fight their way down into the mountain itself.

If you think about it, we’ve long seen signs that we’re supposed to believe there is far more to Ironforge than what we’ve already seen in the game. Towers jutting out from the side of mountains high in the sky, clearly meant to be reached from within.

Perhaps flame elementals, perhaps dragonkin, perhaps the deep down dark iron dwarves, striking a blow for revenge.

Perhaps all three… dark iron dwarves in league with the risen dragon forces to strike at Ironforge from within, aided by elementals erupting from the lava around the great forge, sundering the home of the dwarves. 

Of course, I don’t think it would really happen. I think it’d be super cool, but realistically, we’ve got far too many underground dwarf/dragonkin based raids in the game already for Blizzard to be spending design time making another one, no matter how cool the concept.

Blackrock Depths, Upper and Lower Blackrock Spire, Blackwing Lair… from a game raid design standpoint, I doubt they’ll add Ironforge to the mix.

Sigh.

I still think it would be really darn cool, though.

Comments 19 Comments »

Had a nice writer send in a couple questions that I thought would be worth sharing the answers on, so here we go;

“Stratus” of the Darkspear wrote in saying;

My son convinced me (in wisdom beyond his years) to be a bear tank a couple of months ago.  I thought to myself, “I’m actually going to have to know these encounters now.”  So, now my main spec is level 80 bear tank.  Fun, fun.  But so much to learn.

1) On Ony 10 – I just run thru Ony and drag her to the back and turn around fight – no problem.  Have done this 6 or so times.  On Ony 25 – you cannot do this.  You die after about 2 hits to the back.  Talk about shocked.  A little background – I use my mouse to move my bear.  I did not grow up with laptop games.  I grew up with arcade games – lol.  So – using the keys to move and strafe and all that – really pretty foreign and not comfortable to me.  So – my question is.  Can’t I just run thru Ony and immediately turn around as Ony turns around and then back up that way?? (Using my keyboard here of course)  These are 25 man raids and I hate to be the one to screw it up right off the bat.

2)  Have finally figured out how to tank Halls of Reflection to where I have at least a 50% success rate.  This dungeon is mob dependant.  Can’t control mobs – you won’t complete dungeon period.  Your blog back in 2007 (tanking mobs) once again opened up my eyes.  Wrath, moonfire?? I never saw anybody do that or read about it but that is brilliant.  Anyway – my question here is – do you have plans on updating that blog in the near future??  Would love to read it.  Without the benefit of learning tanking as I leveled up – I am having to learn very quickly.  Players get a little “testy” when level 80 tanks can’t seem to do the job.

Someone mentioned in that blog commments from 2007,  “good tanks are hard to find”…I wanna be that good tank and I am counting on your blog to be a big part of that process.

Have a super day.

To address question 2 first… I’m glad that someone has already noticed I added that ancient post on Bear Tanking Multiple Mobs on the sidebar… and got something out of it.

I have this tendency to never look back at what I’ve written, I move forward. This is why my sidebar is kinda messed up, and why some things never get updated. I’m looking ahead to writing the next post or doing the next thing, not looking back at something already done.

However, in thinking over topics that would be of help to new tanks, or players for that matter, one of the subjects that I keep returning to is aggro and threat. What it is, how you get it, how you hold it, how you lose it.

I recalled writing what I thought, at the time, was a pretty decent overview of how the actual mechanics of threat in a party, broken down for each party member, worked. Healer threat, DPS, tank… all together in one example.

So instead of writing it all from scratch, I went looking… and found it from when I posted it in 2007. I read it, and marveled at how much had changed since it was written, in terms of Bear tanking strategies.

But the core of party threat generation discussion was still pretty good, and I decided, instead of rewriting it, that it would be fun to add it to the sidebar… with a little (2007) next to the name.

A fun look back at the craziness of years gone by… and hopefully, an appreciation for what we’ve got now.  A reminder that the name of the game is not competing to be a better tank than the other classes, but to enjoy being a good tank for our own groups, and an acknowledgement that Blizzard has done a good job of adding to and changing up our skill set since the old days.

Perhaps also, to serve as a reminder to the new generation that, you know… you might not want to bitch too loudly about having difficulty tanking with the tools we’ve got now, because in the old days, Bear tanks had to Swipe uphill… in the snow… both ways.

And it was a colder snow, and a higher hill than the snow and hills you get these days.

I hope that, for those that take the time to read that post, it has thrills, chills, amusement, nostalgia, and maybe for some a tip or two.

Now, about question #1 – initial squishiness.

You posit a situation where your goal is to intercept and develop threat on a boss that WILL follow you when you move, that is located in the middle of a large chamber, that has a knockback attack, and that does a great deal of damage.

There are several points to moving to the far wall behind Onyxia.

In the first ‘pull’, Onyxia is in ground phase 1.  Her abilities consist of a frontal Cleave, a frontal Flame Breath attack, a frontal cone Wing Buffet that does unmitigated physical damage and knocks you back, and a rear Tail Swipe knockback.

When you initially pull Ony, what you are looking to do is, as fast as possible, get her head faced away from the raid. Because everyone, including healers, is charging in behind you, and Ony is big, the most direct route to this is to run through her so that she changes facing, looking away from the raid instantly.

You do not want to Charge when doing this in most cases, because the healers will be hard pressed to have reach on you… they are not moving directly behind you, they are angling to the side, so as not to be within the arc effect of Tail Swipe.

The only rush in moving Ony around is to get her head away from the raid. You do NOT have to run to the back wall. All you have to do is get through the mid point on Ony’s hit box. Once she turns, you can turn around, and waddle backwards until your butt is at the wall. Your being stationary means she will advance and become stationary, and melee DPS can hit her in the flank without worrying about front cone AoE effects or rear Tail Swipes.

If you are waddling backwards towards the wall, and she does Wing Buffet, all that she accomplishes besides damage is to move you to where you want to be faster. :)

In looking at your Armory gear, you’ve got a pretty darn outstanding set of tanking gear. Obviously, the movement impairing trinket and the Expertise gems aren’t contributing directly to tanking survivability, but the sum total of your gear is so good that it really isn’t an issue. No worries at all on that score.

If you move directly to Ony, flip 180° and waddle backwards, that should take care of the insta-gib issue.

Now, to add that extra cushion, there are always a few things you can do.

First, trigger Barkskin when you reach Ony. That will provide a very solid damage reduction. You don’t have the 4 piece Tier bonus on reduced cooldown, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is giving your healers a chance to get stationary so they can use their full repertoire of heals.

Working along with that is triggering Survival Instincts when you reach Ony, so that your max health pumps up for a short time, giving you more of a cushion to eat damage until healers are ready.

You won’t want to trigger Frenzied Regeneration, because the Healers only need a few seconds, and while it’s up you’ll have your Rage bleeding away. In the very first two or three seconds of the pull, you want to be establishing rockstar aggro, not sitting there Rage starved, waiting to be hit or do the hitting to get more back.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of suggestions, but since you state you are successfully tanking Heroic HoR 50% of the time BEFORE today’s nerf, I have to say that this should be more than enough to see you through.

And on the subject of Heroic Halls of Reflection… I was working on a post. Then, today, out of nowhere as far as I was concerned, they nerfed the ghost waves in HoR. I’m gonna have to check my notes, as Riff would say. :)

I’m sure you already know about Line of Sighting them into one of the boss alcoves, and also know that the biggest key to each wave is having your group hide in the corner, and YOUR being ready to pound out instant AoE threat to overcome the inevitable Healer aggro since the healer is glowing like a sun trying to top everyone off while you hide there. And the second biggest is communicating beforehand a simple CC strategy, so that, say, the Hunter knows to toss a ranged Ice Arrow at the most distant mob, and YOU know he’s gonna do it so you don’t work at getting within it’s range to aggro it.

Anyway, thank you for the very nice letter, Stratus, and thank you for the kind words. Take care, and enjoy today’s patch!

Comments 15 Comments »

As you probably noticed, things have gone off the rails this week in terms of follow-through.

Have no fear, I shall post part two of the gear list (the analysis is done, it’s writing a post that has dozens of bloody wowhead links that takes time) and there shall be more fun posts as well. Assuredly.

Work is simply building to some form of operatic conclusion, and I fully expect, in the grand tradition of any opera, that there shall be tragedy before it’s all over. Perhaps the plant shall burn, while a mezzo-soprano sings about thermal updrafts beneath the wings of her steed.

At any rate, I find myself at work long after I should have gone home, attending to one emergency after another. By the time I get home, all I’d like to do is decompress. It shall get better. Of this, I’m sure. After all, once the plant HAS actually burned down, well… at least they can’t page me for another emergency, right?

Moving on…

As I said, once I do get home, I make it a point to chill when I can be in game.

In the game, it’s been more fun than ever. The game itself, for the last few weeks, has been probably the most exciting and fun that I’ve seen in a long time.

We had a fun event last week, dancing in front of the gates of Orgrimmar taunting the Horde, but mostly, yes, it’s playing with my friends in the new LFG randomness… and flying solo just to see what I get, as well.

You know, before 3.3, if someone mentioned running a PUG in a Heroic, chances were you’d hear the other party say something along the lines of, “Hell no! I’d rather run with my friends than a bunch of random strangers.”

There are always exception, and I know a few folks who have long commented that they love running in PUGs, and never had a problem to speak of.

My own experiences before the new LFG were rather scattered. Sometimes, I’d meet some really nice people that became friends (or at least got added to my friends list), and other times I’d meet, well… the opposite. :)

But damn, things have changed. People are openly running in Pick Up Groups a lot since the new cross server LFG got started, and I have to wonder what it is.

I can’t speak as to why other people are loving it. Or hating it, for that matter. All I know is what I like.

First, I like that the rewards for being in a randomly chosen heroic or regular Dungeon are granted simply for going random, and NOT for being with strangers. If you and four friends want to run some heroics, you don’t get penalized for not having any strangers in your group.

Sounds silly, I know, but there was some talk before the Patch went live that you may have to be grouped with randomly chosen players in order to get the extra Emblems. Wouldn’t that have been ridonkulous? 

  • “Sorry Bob, I know we’ve been doing 5 mans together for years, but if we’re going to get Frost Emblems, somebody’s got to go, and we’ve voted you off the run. Tough luck, man.”
  • “But… but I’m the tank!”
  • “Yeah, about that… we never wanted to tell you but… you kinda suck.”

The extra Emblems are a nice reward for being willing to take the luck of the draw on Heroics… and for me, right now, it adds a certain amount of spice. What’s it going to be? Huh? Which one do we get?

The second thing, of course, is that by making it cross-server, there are conceivably more folks available ready to do something. You add that in with the novelty of three new instances with awesome new loot, extra Emblems for going LFG, and a TON of Tier gear available from those Emblems, and yes… right now, LFG is being heavily used.

Give it 3 months, and I think it’s safe to say that things will calm way the hell down. But for now… well, it’s Christmas for runs!

So what happened? Everything bright and wonderful now? All win?

Well, I don’t think so.

I know that I mentioned earlier a warning to pay attention to what’s being needed or greeded in your groups… which some people took in a weird way, but if you really get offended at the idea that folks should be cautioned to follow the rest of the group in how you roll for loot because different servers have different customs, hey, that’s your choice.

Regardless, it’s pretty obvious that there are some bugs in the woodwork in how loot is being handled.

I’ve gotten used to not worrying about loot, since first, I don’t really care, and second, you can trade loot you get with other people that were in the instance with you.

It’s been an eye opener that, at least the times I have tried it, you cannot make that trade if the other person is from another server.

I think this is a bug, because from what I’ve read by Blue posts, you are supposed to be able to trade items so long as everyone is still in the instance together.

When I tried it, our group got a message, “You can only trade conjured items with players from another server.” Or something to that effect, anyway. The conjured item thing is what stuck out, Strudel is fine, just not that shiny Spellpower Dagger the Warrior won through the Greed roll.

Later on, I ran into another slight drawback with the system. Killing the last boss of Pit of Saron, we had three Plate wearing DPS/tanks, a Shaman and me wearing Leather.

A nice Cloth spellpower item dropped… and everyone started Greeding as you’d expect. Well, I wasn’t permitted to click Need. Neither was the Shaman, or the Paladin. And people had already started rolling Greed.

So, sure enough, we had to all roll Greed… and the Warrior got the nice caster Cloth item as well. And could not Trade it to anyone else.

Those are a couple points to keep in mind. Great upgrades for you can drop, and even if you’re not a careless distracted goofball like me, you still may not be able to get it because it’s not exactly the same as your normal armor type.

But with all that, still the LFG is being used aggressively. I know I’m having fun with it.

So, what’s the upside again?

For starters, you want to run something with friends, be it anything at random or something in particular… there is no travel time there anymore. No more waiting for two people to fly from Dalaran to Nexus for the Summoning Stone.

And when you’re done? No more Hearthing to get back to whatever you were doing, unless you don’t want to go back where you were.

By traditional MMO thinking, this is terrible for Blizzard. The idea is supposed to be, isn’t it, that you want the customer doing long, time wasting tasks so that they spend more time in game to get something done, and that corresponds to subscription fees.

No time wasted on a flight? No time hanging around waiting for people to get going?

But you see, isn’t this the best thing? It sends a message to me that Blizzard is so satisfied with the amount of things there are that we WANT to do in the game now, that they’re willing to remove the obstacles that keep us from doing them instantly. 

This teleporting folks into and out of dungeons is just wonderful.

But what else?

I’ll tell you what else.

It’s a people watcher’s dream.

As a Tank, I’m watching all the mobs and the environment with an eagle’s eye, wary for aggro opportunitues.

As a DPS, I’m watching the primary kill target, and planning my next move.

But I ain’t doing the PUGs as a tank or DPS… I’m going as the Healer, bwana.

As a Healer… I’m watching the PARTY.

I get to see what the DPS are doing, and laugh or cry or whine to Cassie on vent, whatever the case may be.

But even better, I get to watch what the tank is doing, and just be all judgmental on his ass the whole run.

This has been a cause for pure joy. Good run, bad run, wacky run, I’m seeing the entire range of personalities and playstyles, and it all rocks.

I get to see the Warrior tank that runs all the time, and pulls no matter where anyone else is, or what mana levels they have. As I like to call them, the “Run far, die fast and leave a splashy corpse” style of tank.

I get to see tanks that mark, and tanks that don’t, and see that, you know what? If you’re in a PUG, the melee DPS seem to like to know who to unload on or chase after, and the ranged don’t care. And the more AoE someone has, the less they think anyone else deserves a kill target mark to follow.

I get to see tanks that run fast as hell from group to group… but pause for that critical split second needed for mana to hit 75% or so before taking off.

I saw one such tank that took heroic Pit of Saronwrap at a dead run… except for when everyone’s mana was below 50%. A brief, just slight delay and then back on the run. And kiting mobs to bigger mobs, based on how his health had been doing and how well I’d been keeping him alive. Great job.

And then there are the groups where you just watch in amazement, as the Rogue posts Recount stats not just after every fight, but even DURING the middle of the boss fights. No, his DPS hasn’t changed, he just posts it over and over, perhaps in case we forgot. He’s died to aggro from various unmarked mobs 4 times before the third boss, and used Jeeves to regain Durability as though he is long used to doing this, too.

There is the Mage that Blinks into the middle of a pack of undead before the tank can get there. Yes, the Mage led the way. Mage tanks, now? What WILL those crazy kids think of next?

There is the Paladin tank that spends the entire time asking in party chat how to tank as a Pally, and whining about his mana regen sucking, and asking the party for advice on how to Pally tank… while he’s wearing all Tier 9 tanking gear with heroic ToC weapons, running Heroic Pit of Saron again.

There are the Hunter’s I’ve come to love, quietly sending in pets, dropping traps, doing damage and getting the job done. It’s easy to miss them, since they’re not causing any drama.

And how about that Shaman, who, after the Brann escort for Halls of Stone is activated and mobs are running into the room in waves, announces in party chat “Oh, I’ve got lag, I’m going to log off” and leaves the party. We 4 manned it easily, but Cassie was with me in that run and we were chatting in vent, and we mutually said “Oh, what an asshat. LOL, who bails AFTER the fight is started?”

There are just so many awesome things to see people do in runs.

Sure, I saw them before. But with all the delays built into the system, it could take all night to get two heroic runs in purely from LFG.

With the new system, you can pop out three in an hour, and end up looking at the clock after thinking, “Wow, it’s only 8 PM? Normally it’d be bedtime by the time I had three runs done.”

I don’t care how bad the run is now… because it took no time getting there, it’ll take no time to get back where I was, and there will be another group coming along 5 minutes after this one. So sit back, relax and /popcorn!

Is that the secret to the success? We’re all just having an amazing time meeting so many crazy people, and watching what happens next?

I enjoy the camaraderie of our guild runs a lot, but in the greater scheme of things… I guess I like watching failpugs from the cheap seats, and people are getting so insanely overgeared from Triumph Emblems that they can get away with the most amazing behavior, and still win.

I love it. I can’t get enough of it, in fact.

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