Distractions

There has been a delay in new postage, simply because I have been searching (and interviewing) looking for new employment quite assiduously.

I have now found said employment, the traditional making and accepting of offers is complete, and I can now relax…

Ha!

No, now I can plan my assault upon my new employer, dedicated to showing that I am the chosen one, the new employee that will make them say to themselves, “Shit dawg, why didn’t we hire that (&*%^& two years ago?”

Or at least impress them enough that I am not let go before my probation period is over.

So.

Stress. Yes, stress. Not “living through an earthquake” stress, or “My state just got hit by a hurricane and I’ve been cut off from food, water, plumbing and electricity for 5 days, hand me the shotgun I’m gonna loot the Wal-Mart” stress, but stress just the same.

I’ve had some posts I’ve wanted to write. But all of them, at their heart, were pretty angry rants directed at people whose attitudes have been irritating me lately, and in the interest of following the inspiration of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, I have therefore been saying to myself, “Don’t blog angry. Don’t blog angry!”

Will I post a real post again soon? Indubitably!

But until that day (which may come later this week), I will leave you with this link.

Out of the blue, I stumbled on the Hijinks Ensue webcomic, and I’ve been browsing through their archives. A rich, meaty banquet of hilarity doth indeed ensue within.

There are moments of genius, but I love love LOVE the accompanying text post that went with this comic.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I love it when a practical joke comes together.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I shall return to my idle moments of browsing webcomics while waiting for my mental equilibrium to return without the addition of lithium or librium, thank you very much.

Looking for a more robust “Recruit a Friend” option

So, here’s a funny situation.

Blizzard’s Recruit a Friend program. It’s a nice deal for both sides.

Blizzard potentially gets new customers, at the cost of giving you a few extra benefits to leveling speed in game, plus summoning each other (something high level guild members get now too), plus after a few paid months the recruiter gets a mount.

Not a bad deal at all.

What I’d like to bring up is a poser in how it works.

Now, the enhanced leveling speed works when the two players, recruiter and recruit, are both playing in close proximity to each other.

The gifting of free levels goes between the two players.

The summoning works between the two.

It’s awesome.

But only as long as there are only TWO people in the relationship!

Let’s take a look at a different situation.

Let’s say, purely as an example, that there are two very long-time players, we’ll call them Bear and Cassie.

These two have been playing for a very long time, lots of alts, lots of level 85 characters.

These two experienced players each have their own distinct account, and enjoy making new alts and playing them together as a team.

Now, let’s assume these two have children. Children that have seen mommy and daddy play World of Warcraft together, and are now old enough to want to play themselves.

And what the children would love to do most of all is play in a team WITH mommy and daddy.

Well, that’s where Recruit a Friend goes off the rails.

What these three people would prefer to do is have a third account for their son, and then each would make a level 1 character, group up, and play, quest and adventure together.

If these experienced players try to take advantage of this Recruit a Friend program, two out of three characters will level faster. Much faster. Much, much faster.

The group won’t get the same satisfaction from playing together, as one levels at a different rate and contributes less or can’t even hit the higher level mobs.

Is this the end of the world? Well, no.

But it is my way of pointing out a situation where it would be nice if you could link accounts together as a “family plan”.

Sure, you’re not recruiting a friend… but you are recruiting a family member, and isn’t that just as likely? Isn’t their money just as welcome?

Isn’t the lack of a three member option in Recruit a Friend a potential reason these three family members will seek out a competitors’ video game where the three CAN play together and enjoy rewards?

It’s a thought. Enhanced leveling is nice, a rocket mount that you can carry other people on is nice, but it seems a darn shame to have to exclude yourself from enjoying those benefits because you plan on having three people playing together instead of two.

I know this is aimed more at my older audience, but how many of you have run into this same kind of consideration, where you and your spouse might both play and your child or children are old enough to join in the fun?

Oh, and speaking of an older audience…

I saw someone this morning in game, and they were in a guild that has my new all time favorite guild name.

“Member AARP”

That, my friends, is epic win.

Your Kung Fu is Strong!

The concept behind player versus player combat in World of Warcraft fascinates me.

From the first time that I played the game, I knew PvP was out there, but I didn’t know much about it. Questing on a PvE server didn’t really give me much immersion in fighting for my life against cunning and vicious opponents… you know, those other players.

When I did start delving into it, I felt daunted by the complexity, the learning curve you have to climb.

When I first started talking to friends about how to get into PvP, what I’d need to know to really dig in, the discussion wasn’t about knowing maps, or flag capture strategy, or AV turtles and why they suck. It wasn’t about Resilience levels, there was no such thing as Resilience back then.

What I was instructed to learn was the specific attack and crowd-control moves of every class, and what every counter is for them.

The moves and counters.

I was assured that, in order to be a good PvP player, you needed to know every single thing that you could do with your class to lock down, neutralize and destroy the enemy, and what every other class could do in an attempt to get out of or survive your attacks, those bastards.

You also had to know everything the other classes could do to you to return the favor, and what you could do, specifically, to avoid being controlled or made dead.

Okay, that seems extremely reasonable. Every trade requires specialized knowledge and the development of skill, even digging ditches requires mad shovel skillz and an understanding of body leverage to move the dirt out of the way properly without killing your back after eight hours.

PvP is no different.

If you’re going to do something, why do it half-assed?

If I was going to PvP, I wanted to do it right. Better get studying!

Errr, you know, that PvP stuff sounds really cool, but I’m kinda busy at the moment. I’ll just tuck it away in the back of my mind, and do that research some other time. There’s always tomorrow to start that, right?

Oh look, shiny.

Yeah, so I’m a fail PvP bear. I own that.

The whole concept of PvP being a game of move and counter-move stuck with me as being a kick ass idea, though.

In PvE, really it’s all about bringing someone that could survive the attacks and hold the aggro of the stupid old monsters, while someone else heals and the rest of the crew just buckles down and does damage, tosses some CC as needed or bulls on through. The monsters never, ever take that moment in mid-fight to realize, “Hey, I bet if I ignored this fur-covered haunch of Bear meat that keeps snarling all up in my grill (no matter how hungry I am) and focused on killing the healer first, this would go a lot better.”

Flashback to the late 70’s. When I was a younger Bear, one of the things I loved was South Florida television.

We only had like 6 channels, but one of them would put on “kid programming”, starting up right after the schools let out.

This kid programming consisted of tons of black and white episodes of The Three Stooges, followed by the Kung Fu Power Hour.

The Three Stooges were awesome enough, but Kung Fu? And I’m talking old school wire-fu kung fu movies, badly dubbed, incomprehensible plots, just awesome martial arts.

As I recall one of the core concepts of the old Kung Fu movies was this whole ‘move/counter-move’ thing.

In the completely fictional world of Kung Fu movies, every distinctive style of Kung Fu was specifically designed to counter someone else’s style, while having their own special ‘unstoppable’ moves.

The plots would follow some group bullying innocents who could not defend themselves, then someone knowing Kung Fu would beat them off, then the bad guys would bring in higher-level support that knew a countering style of Kung Fu, then the wandering stranger that didn’t want to get involved would step in, and he know some esoteric or legendary Kung Fu that was unstoppable because nobody knew any counters for it.

Hilarity, as they say, ensued.

Ah, how well I remember those grade school discussions of Tiger style vs Crane style or Cobra style, and just… wow, what a concept for fertile young imaginations that knew nothing of the real cultures that inspired such things.

*Five minutes of lips moving without sound* “My Kung Fu is stronger than your Kung Fu!” *lips keep moving for a minute.*

*Lips move for thirty seconds* “You want to fight?” *lips keep moving* “Fight ME!” *incomprehensible screams as they charge at each other, flying through the air*

Ahh, bliss.

Good wins out over evil, altruism beats selfishness, bully gets trounced, innocents defended, Batman in a silk bathrobe wins again.

What was the underlying lesson, though?

Knowledge is power.

The Kung Fu of the stranger was unstoppable, not because it was better, but because it was unknown by the practitioners of other styles. Nobody had yet had a chance to see it in action in order to develop counters for it, and then train in using those counters.

Flip to a different comparison.

Professional team sports like baseball and football, how often do you hear commentators talk about how the new rookie pitcher or quarterback is wreaking havok on opposing teams because he’s an unknown quantity and nobody has a grasp on what his style is in order to plan their own defensive strategy accordingly?

How many seasons over the years have we seen teams with new quarterbacks break out strong with a string of wins, raising enthusiasm, only to have the team get stomped into the ground in the second half of the season as everyone finally has a chance to study game films, analyze weaknesses, and adjusts their counters to compensate?

Your Kung Fu is stronger… this time. But your enemies are scrambling to find a counter.

Knowledge is power. 

In World of Warcraft, there is no ‘unknown, unstoppable’ style of Kung Fu. Everything is laid out there for you to study and master depending on your dedication and commitment. And, okay, twitch-based reflexes.

If you practise your PvP-Fu, know your own moves and study the counter-moves of your opponents, then presumably you have a chance, and will be ready to learn from your losses and build on your wins.

If you don’t study, if you just toss on some Resilience gear and jump in the deep end, what do you think is going to happen? 

You’re volunteering to be a professional victim. Someone, somewhere, will happily use you to improve their score. You might as well wear a hat with a big sign saying “Honor farming here, form a line to my rear, please use lube. Kthxbai.”

After a few hours of that, you’ll stagger away so sorry and sore that they should mail you flowers and a nice card afterwards.

I wonder how many people actually make the attempt to learn the moves and counters ahead of time, how to recognize the spell effects that whisper of your sweet impending destruction… and how many others just leap in feet first, craft some Bloodthirsty Pyrium stuff with resilience and say, “Let’s do this thang.”

I bring this whole thing up really just to talk about an attitude I have, an attitude that I really didn’t know was there until doing Baradin Hold the other day.

How I play World of Warcraft, even the raiding aspect of it, I consider to be the average difficulty of the game. It isn’t quite easy mode, that would be questing solo without ever participating in the group aspect. But it’s not exactly hard.

The PvP… in the back of my head a little voice whispers that PvP is the hard mode of WoW. To demonstrate true skill and mastery of the game, you have to excel at PvP. If you cannot truly dominate in PvP, then you are not a master player of the game, no matter what bosses you’ve killed in which raid or dungeon.

It’s not something I’ve ever articulated to myself before, it’s not a belief I’ve looked at too closely. But when it comes down to it, I truly do believe that PvP excellence requires a knowledge of the game and all of the classes within in that surpasses normal PvE requirements, and also requires the active use of that knowledge against the most vicious enemies known to humanity – the other players.

While people can be carried in raids to get achievements or loot, it’s pretty damn hard to be carried in PvP Arenas past a certain rating. You can only go so far if you suck before the other rated teams you’re up against simply crush you because you’ve got the weakest link dragging you down.

It’s not something that bothers me, as I said, other shinies have always distracted me from buckling down on the PvP side of things. I’d probably suck at it too, some of those players hop about like ferrets on meth with a triple espresso shoved up their ass.

I just wanted to talk about the PvP a little though, the way I really respect the design that Blizzard has implemented for it that goes beyond just shoot and heal, the struggle they sometimes face to balance PvP and still have PvE operate pretty damn well. It all works incredibly well for the size of the game.

And also, I wanted to say how much I really do respect those that are very accomplished at PvP. I sometimes see a lot of snide remarks denigrating “little PvP kids”, sneering at PvP as though only the losers who can’t handle raids take part in it, and I wanted to give props where I feel they’re due.

If you participate in PvP, and you are really damn good at it, then my hat is off to you. You are playing the game at what I consider to be the most complicated and difficult level possible, and I respect that.

Just don’t gank me, bro!

I think a call to action is needed here

With Transmogrification becoming a reality, there is only one thing I think needs to be done to make our gaming preparations complete.

WoW Insider, this is a call for you to step up.

Dawn Moore wrote an article, an excellent article, under the heading “WoW Fashionista”

It is time to make that a weekly feature.

Do it. Make it so.

World of Fashioncraft is here, but I am too masculine a Bear to understand which boots go with what leggings. I can’t color coordinate my staves with my gloves. I need help!

I need Queer Eye for the WoW Guy, or something. I need guidance on my Extreme Makeover, WoW Edition.

Just… come on, help bling a home bear out?

Much appreciated, kthxbai!

PS. I really like the Visual Roleplay Gear List. If you have other websites/blogs you like to visit for gear set suggestions, why not link them below? They will be most appreciated.

How to Prepare Your Raid

Introduction

If you properly prepare for your raid, you will discover new heights you never thought you could reach. But a perfect raid doesn’t just happen! You have to make it work.

The point of this article will be to help you create the perfect raid for you and your friends, by introducing you to some of the early concepts.

If you want a raid experience like no other, you have to begin with the fundamentals; understanding the classes and their roles in the raid. 

Once you have that basic understanding, you can build from there by learning how each complements the others, and use that knowledge to weave them all together into a solid mix, having just the right elements to achieve your goal, without one particular ingredient being stronger or weaker than the next.

But that is only the beginning! Now is when the true complexity starts, when you begin the journey of exploring the subtleties possible in a raid with so much potential variety.

Composition. Balance. The interplay between abilities across classes. The flexibility… the depth.

It may seem like a daunting challenge at first, but if we take each part step by step, the final result will be something truly special, a raid you and your friends will remember for a very long time to come.

So let’s get started!

Class fundamentals

The first step to building the perfect raid is understanding the various classes that you may have available, and in what ways they fit together.

Each class has various strengths and weaknesses that you will want to take into account when working towards a successful raid.

When exploring the classes, I personally like to begin by separating them first according to texture, and then break them down further by their flavor profile. While the various specs of each class do add subtle nuances to the taste, it’s very important to start by getting the textures just so in order to build a pleasing balance. Only after the textures are in place can you begin building the perfect flavor combination and consider questions of taste.

In this chapter, we will discuss the chicken of the raid world, the cloth wearing classes; Priest, Warlock and Mage.

The cloth wearing classes provide a pleasingly smooth texture that can both bind together different leather-wearing elements of the raid and lubricate the harsher edges of the plate wearers so they are easier to swallow.

Cloth wearing classes should form the foundation for your meal. Much like chicken, when properly cooked their texture is neutral, and will easily complement nearly any other combination of textures.

Whether steamed, broiled or baked, they provide amazing versatility without compromising your dish. And when you think of all the possible specs that your cloth wearers can choose from, you are almost guaranteed to have a wide complement in your raid to choose from.

From the explosively spicy Destro Warlock to the iced smoothness of the Frost Mage, the sourball bitterness of the Shadow Priest to the in-your-face boldness of the Discipline Priest, cloth wearing classes all provide that smooth texture you’re looking for to get the party started.

Cooking Techniques

Now, when building the foundation of your raid, I know that many beginners leap to direct flame roasted techniques, but I personally disagree with this choice. I have spent many years perfecting my technique, and what I have found is that the secret is in the marinade and the duration of the final immersion.

When I asked Maloriak to come up with the perfect marinade for my raids, he surprised me by recommending a marinade combined with alternately heating and chilling the meat. The Maloriak marinade begins with some flame to tenderize the meat, is followed by a fast exposure to the deep freeze, and combined with a strenuous pounding throughout. Finally, the marinade, a liberal application of slime, I favor the green slime for piquancy, replaces the moisture in the players with a good, salty seasoning that will help keep the meat moist throughout the actual cooking process.

The marinade was nothing, though, when compared to my vision of the ultimate raid experience.

It was to pursue my dream of creating a revolutionary raid that all of my fellow bosses would talk about for decades that I created Kitchen Arena.

Within Kitchen Arena, the best raids square off to prove that they are worthy to be the main ingredients in my culinary triumph.

We begin by placing all of the raid members in the pot I have designed expressly for this purpose. Kitchen Arena is, justly, the focal point of my entire home, and from this you can see exactly how seriously I take my meal preparation.

Timing is absolutely crucial to having all elements of the raid ready at exactly the right time, so while the ranged raid members are busy having their muscle structure energized and loosened by the electrical forces of Onyxia, I forcefully tenderize the melee and plate wearers personally.

Once everything is just right, it’s time to introduce all raid members to the burning magma. By filling the pot quickly with pre-heated magma, we are able to get the perfect crispness on the outside, and seal in that salty seasoned marinade on the inside.

It is a little known fact that the properties of the magma of Blackrock Mountain are unique in Azeroth, for having an undertone of peanut that adds a delicate and refreshing aftertaste without adding calories and saturated fat.

The true secret ingredient to this part of the cooking process, though, is adding just a touch of Shadowflame to all the ingredients while the Chromatic Prototypes keep things stirred up to cook evenly.

The final result of these elaborate preparations is a raid that is crispy on the outside without changing the innate texture of the class shell, tender and succulent on the inside, and a veritable feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

While you cannot hope to achieve the same culinary heights I have traveled, I still wish you luck on pursuing your own journey towards raid excellence.

The next article in the series, “Plate Wearers – The Delightful Crunch you want to Munch”, will be featured in the September issue of Good Raidkeeping magazine, so pre-order yours today!

Yours truly,

Lord Victor Nefarian

Great Expectations

Are you starting up a new character, and about to try an unfamiliar role?

More specifically, have you always played as melee or ranged DPS, or as a healer, and now you’re about to try a tank?

Well, then this discussion is for you!

When you’re the tank, there are a lot of expectations about what you’re supposed to do.

Those are expectations. You don’t have to do anything but play your own way, but it’s a good idea to know what is coming your way and be prepared.

The first thing is Crowd Control.

The rest of the group expects that the Tank will handle all crowd control related decisions.

Your first decision? Do you need to have any crowd control at all.

You won’t be told you have to use it, but it’s expected that you will know your own skill level and gear level, that you’ll compare that with the gear and skill of your healer, that you’ll judge how quickly your DPS will be able to burn mobs down, and be familiar enough with the mix of mobs in the instance to know if you’ll need Crowd Control.

There are two different types of mobs that you’ll likely want to use crowd control on, even if you’re awesome, and those are the healers and the casters of big AoE damage spells. Even then, if the heal spells can be interrupted, and you have players that can interrupt and do so reliably, then even that can be optional.

The only really tricky part is knowing what all the particulars are for every type of crowd control out there so you know what CC you’ve got available. There are a lot of possibilities, some based on spec, and some that get modified for Glyphs.

MMO Champion has a forum thread that includes a great breakdown of various types of crowd control. It’s a great place to start learning about some of the more obscure types, and how they work.

Everyone knows Rogues can Sap and Hunters can Trap, Mages can Sheep and Shaman can Hex. Do you know the ins and outs of Druid Hibernate? Do you know that a Warlock can Fear mobs, and with the right Glyph those Feared mobs won’t run around screaming but will freeze in place? Do you know that some but not all Hunters have a second form of CC with a sting shot?

Most players in a thrown together group won’t tell you what they can do, they expect you to know already, and wait for you to call on them to use what they have when YOU decide you need it, not before. So, arm yourself with knowledge.

The most important things to focus on?

Can it be applied in mid-fight (direct cast Sheep, for example) or must it be applied in advance while out of combat (A Rogue using Sap)?

Is it cast on moving targets easily (again with the direct-cast Sheep), or does it only work when the mob runs over it/is positioned right (like with a Hunters trap).

How long can you expect it to last, can it be re-applied in combat, and finally… what breaks it?

Know the answers to those and you’re doing fine. After all, what does everyone ask after the main group is dead? “Who do you want us to break next, Ice Trap or Sap?”

Pulling.

Nothing says “I’m the tank” quite like making that pull. There is a delightful feeling to charging in and unleashing hell, or yanking someone to you and laying the smacketh down.

What you need to know here is, how you handle the pull, your position and style of movement, all have a massive affect on how your run will go.

The expectation in a random heroic is, you will run directly forward and attack the mobs. You will throw some form of smack on all of them in the first millisecond of the pull, so nothing runs past you at the healer. If a ranged caster is part of the pull, you’ll silence them in some way so that they’ll run closer to you, bunching up.

The melee DPS are expecting this, and will run past you to position themselves behind the mob. The ranged DPS and healers will remain where you left them, at extreme range.

This works, certainly, but there are reasons for what you’re doing, and if you break the pull down, there are a couple things you can decide you’d like to change based on the kind of tank you are, availability of Charge or having a ranged silencing Pull, etc.

The first point is that you are focusing the attention of the mobs on you. You set the position. If you move, the mobs will change both position and facing direction to remain oriented on you. They will continue to try and attack you. If they cannot SEE you, they will move in a least-distance course to regain sight of you and resume attacking.

Melee DPS want to be behind the mobs, not just to avoid any potential Cleave or Flame Breath, but also because mobs can’t dodge attacks from behind. It’s a net DPS gain.

No matter how you choose to pull, the melee DPS will want you to stand as stationary as possible for the fight. Every time you move, the melee have to move also.

What I’m saying is, when you have a mob in front of you, think in terms of a dog. You move away, the puppy follows you, and the melee DPS come trailing along as the tail.

Don’t wag the tail.

Also, remember the tail can catch on fire, too.

If the mob you are fighting drops pools of bad stuff, you will move out of the stuff, probably backing away and pulling the mob out of the stuff… but make DAMN sure you move far enough that you pull the DPS out of the bad stuff too.

Yes, it is the responsibility of melee DPS to move their own butt out of the fire. They also want to continue to do DPS. They will try to find a flank where they’re not in the fire, and also able to hit. If you pull far enough back that the DPS can stay on their butt and be out of the fire, they will thank you.

Pets don’t know enough to get out of the fire on their own, and some fires don’t do damage, they stun instead (like in Throne of the Four Winds). If you don’t pull the mob far enough, the Pet will stand like an idiot in the bad, stunned. So move the tail out of the yuck.

Knowing all this, how you handle the pull becomes less a “this is how you do it”, and more of a choice.

You can decide to charge in and stand still, letting the DPS run past to get behind the bad guys….

Or, charge in, move THROUGH the mobs and turn around, leaving their butts facing the group. The DPS will get to run straight in and stop, unleashing stabby-stab faster.

The first method is what is expected in randoms. The second method actually helps the group a little more, but can lead to confusion since nobody expects it.

If you charge forward, move through the mobs and spin around, then not only do the melee DPS have a shorter run up to get stuck in, but you are automatically turning the mobs so any flame breath or cone attack will be faced away from them. Also, you will be in a good position to see the ranged players, healers and DPS, and you will see if something comes up on them from behind.

It’s ALWAYS a good idea to be aware of what is happening to the ranged players, and be prepared to immediately tag and taunt at range. ALWAYS.

As I said, one weakness of this is that random people do NOT expect you to turn the groups. That can be fixed by telling them what you will do at the beginning of the run, AND by being consistent in doing it. Don’t mix things up at random, sometimes turning them, sometimes running up and stopping. Damn, that’s irritating. Pick a style and be consistent. 

The other weakness is that with you facing the rear of the party, you aren’t watching what might be coming up behind you.

Moral of that story is, no matter whether you run up and stop or run through and turn, you have to check your back for bad guys. Situational awareness, check your six. Don’t get ganked by a grue. It’s embarrasing.

One of the finer points, when you do have to move the mobs out of stuff (or into stuff), keep in mind melee DPS want you to stand still as much as possible.

To that end, when you have to move, move fast, get to a new position, then stop and continue the fight. Go in bursts of movement. Dash from position to position.

I’ve written before, endlessly it seems, about line of sight pulls but I’ll say two more words about it.

Most classes have some form of Silence now, but nothing feels quite as good as marking targets for crowd control, letting that CC get placed, then casting an attack on mobs at range and ducking behind a piece of in-game architecture to break their line of sight with you.

When mobs in a group are all spread out, you want to bring them in tight to get all of them in your own AoE. If you taunt at range and duck behind a column, all of them will try and attack you… and the ranged that try to cast spells at you will all run directly at you in a least-time intercept to be able to see you to start casting again.

This brings the spread up group into a tight little circle for your AoE, and coincidentally gets them away from any CCd mobs.

Vortex Pinnacle as an example has plenty of opportunities for line of sight pulls out of magic fields, and it continuously surprises me how often tanks just charge in and pray.

Line of sight pulls, when you warn the group you are about to make one, are a good tool to have in your toolbox, a weapon in your tanking arsenal. Use it, it’s FUN to mix things up!

Threat

Ah, the big enchilada. Threat generation.

The expectation is that the tank will have aggro on ALL mobs within the first millisecond of the pull, even BEFORE the tank was able to physically reach the mobs, and the DPS will not be able to pull off of you no matter who you marked with Skull and whether or not they are on that, or on a whelp in the other cavern.

That’s the deal.

With yesterdays changes in place, that’s the deal. If someone pulls aggro, it will now not only be perceived as your fault, but people will assume that this message was approved by Blizzard; “DPS that pull off tanks are the tanks fault.”

Realistically, what this boils down to is understand that idiots will start shooting/casting even as you move/charge the mobs. You cannot rely on a second or two grace period to get a couple Swipes in. The Fireball is moving past your head as you’re running.

Sorry, that’s the way it is.

Now, I could tell you that the answer is to only play with friends that live close by to you, so if they act that way you can get in your car, drive over, and beat the shit out of them. But that’s not really very helpful, now is it?

My recommendation to you instead is that you be prepared to blow AoE attacks first, Swipes and all that stuff, just get it in and on cooldown as fast as possible.

Also, look for those caster mobs that stand off at range, as I mentioned before. Grip them to you, Silence them so they run to you, or simply Charge them and bonk them on the head, AoEing as you pass the rest of the group, using the caster as the new center from which you will build your battle. 

Whatever you do, I wish you well on taking up the tanking challenge, and I hope that you find your groups open to whatever plan you come up with next.

Transmogrifying – now with less Legendary

Just a quick update, on my last blog post I specifically rushed to the awesome idea of a Rogue being able to go back, get the Warglaives, and finally raid with them.

Nope.

A Blue commenter has specifically remarked that Legendary weapons will NOT be allowed to either have their image be changed, or to supply their appearance to another item.

My editorializing will now begin.

How completely frakkin’ stupid! If the whole point is that you have to possess the item in your own inventory, then why in the hell would you NOT want to be able to display that you have a legendary? Why?

Are Legendaries SUPPOSED to rot unused and unseen in a bank?

Just… on top of the greatest news I’ve had in a few weeks about the game, to drop that bombshell of just STUPID is amazing.

And I don’t even have a Legendary!

Gear Gathering – It’s on like Donkey Kong!

I don’t even know where to begin, but since that’s a beginning, let’s roll.

Today, we are told, I’m still not believing the words I’m typing, that patch 4.3 will include Gear Transmogrification.

You’ll be able to change the current appearance of your gear to match the appearance of any other comparative type of gear.

Plate shoulder to plate shoulder, leather chest to leather chest. Possibly even two-handed staff to two-handed staff, and one-handed swird to one-handed sword.

This feature, no I swear to you I am not kidding it’s been confirmed by Blue post on the official forums, goes hand in hand with the new Void Storage, which apparently is intended to have about 150 inventory spaces… for the storage of your old gear.

Items you put in Void Storage, according to Blue posts, will have enchants, gems and crafting identifiers removed. It will be put in the digital equivalent of long-term cold storage.

The subtext here? You will have to possess, currently, an item of gear in order to be able to apply that gears’ appearance to your currently worn gear.

Maybe it will have to be placed in Void Storage to have the pattern be available at the Transmogrifier Vendor, that sounds very reasonable to me. It would make Void Storage a form of “recipe list” for appearance patterns.

Holy shit. Just, holy shit.

Do YOU want to PvP or raid in the armor sets, the MATCHING armor sets of yesteryear? Do YOU love role playing and having cool outfits, and regret having to wear a cobbled-together clown suit to achieve performance?

Well, kiss the clown suit goodbye, my friends, and say hello to a whole new game of planning your special outfit and then going out there and GETTING IT.

Did you always want the twin Warglaives from Black Temple, but once Cataclysm came out and the Legendaries were obsolete as effective gear, you lost the fire in your belly to get them?

Have you always loved the Blackened Defias set, and wished you could wear the whole thing and still be as effective as everyone else?

Just… holy shit.

I know that my first thought, my very first thought was, “I need to transfer my Rogue to my new server, so when this change goes into effect I can be wearing my full Dungeon Set 2 while raiding. With the twin Season 1 PvP swords.”

I know it probably seems stupid to you. Maybe I’m one of the odd ones, getting excited about this.

But just holy shit! I am!

I am excited as hell to go back and review the appearances of every set in the game, decide which appearance I would LOVE to have for my character, and then go out there right the hell now and start working on building it.

How about you? Are you like my Rogue, and have a freaking insane kick-ass set ready to go for your favorite character, just waiting for this to go live? Do you have twenty?

Are you like my Warrior, who intentionally leveled Blacksmithing and acquired every single recipe and built the full Imperial Plate set and kept it, just for a “Worgen about town” outfit, but it’s really nothing all that special?

Or are you like my Druid, who has nothing waiting in the wings, because I was always in forms and it didn’t matter if my gear looked like I failed clown school?

It’s such a simple thing, and yet, our view of the game is what we see around us. We see other players around us, all the time.

When every player you see will be able to look exactly how that player wants, I think it’s going to have a major effect on the world. Instead of people wearing random crap, everyone will have a choice, and who among us doesn’t want to make our own decisions and USE those choices?

Kick ass, Blizzard.

The tanks all said wha?

From out of the blue yesterday came a new Dev Watercooler blog post from Ghostcrawler, where he revealed that Blizzard has decided tanks shouldn’t have to worry about generating enough threat to hold mob aggro against crazy DPS.

Specifically, tanks on the starter end of the gearing grind shouldn’t be crushed under the weight of trying to hold aggro against raid-geared DPS going balls-to-the-wall in a pick up group.

Ready? This isn’t some “we think it would be nice to someday…” announcement. The hotfix apparently went live today, August 16th, and right now all tanks in their tank mode will have their threat generated from damage boosted, going from 300% threat from damage to 500%. They’ve also ramped up the rapidity by which Vengeance builds in the first few seconds of a pull.

Surprise!

When the announcement went out yesterday, folks I talked to had a wide range of responses.

Among them were that this was the end of the game as we know it, tanks will no longer have to know how to do anything, skill is dead, everybody dance now or quit in disgust, blah blah blah.

Say what now?

I’ll admit, I thought that the days of there being anything tank-related for me to talk about here were gone, what with the high levels of knowledge and awareness I see among the players I run into every day, but I guess I was wrong.

Let’s talk about what this really means for you and me, mmm’kay?

Tank threat generation has been increased. Not just by a little, but by a metric shit-ton. Threat from tank damage has almost doubled. It’s close to TWO metric shit-tons now, and that’s a lot.

So, it’s all crimson blood spraying and rolling in the clover for tanks now, right? We run in, lay down a few quick swipes, then we can go stagger away from the keyboard looking for a Guinness while the DPS finishes the pull.

Right?

Well, maybe a teeny bit, but not really.

The big reason that it’s not going to work that way is that encounter design, even on trash pulls, has changed a lot over the years.

It used to be that the bread and butter, meat and potatoes pull (it’s lunch time, I’m hungry) was the tank runs in and hits the mob, the DPS burns it down. There would be minor variations on that theme, a few extra adds maybe, a healer or ranged spellcaster that wouldn’t come along for the ride, but that was pretty much it.

These days, just as GC points out, the design has changed.

Now, most fights in high level instances and raids have some kind of mobile component, a multi-mob component, and also what my wife Cassie refers to as a gimmick.

The mobile component is simply something to encourage people to move around. Tornados swooping in and out, rocks falling from the sky, mobs that start cleaving/flaying wildly, stomps that you have to jump to avoid being hit by, green or red shit to move out of, electrical fields to pull mobs out of, the list goes on and on.

A mobile component; Blizzard designing fights where the player needs to think about moving your ass instead of just standing and mindlessly pushing buttons in a fixed rotation.

The multi-mob component. This doesn’t just mean that there was more than one mob standing there.

This is where during the fight you need to be aware of the area around you, including behind you, because there may be roaming packs of adds wandering around, there may be adds that spawn periodically out of nowhere and come running in that the tank has to grab on the fly, there may be adds just like the old days that heal others or do evil debuffs and poisons that need to be killed first or locked down with interrupts, and there may even be adds like in Stonecore or Zul’Aman that, if not stopped, will run off and bring a LOT of friends to your fight.

And finally, the gimmicks. Ah, the gimmicks.

It seems like every encounter has some kind of thing that’s different. Bosses that will fixate on a target and charge them. Mobs that are frozen that need to be drug through fire, mobs that are on fire that will destroy you unless you hit a frozen mob first to get chilled out, mobs that will bubble and you have to go jump around flipping levers, all sorts of stuff.

Gimmick. It’s an unkind term for unique encounter mechanics, but it’s accurate.

Tank threat is buffed now. A lot.

So, how does this change the game?

It doesn’t. It simply smooths out the flow.

If adds come running in, the tank still has to tag them and do damage to them to generate threat. End of story. You will not suddenly, miraculously grab adds and hold them automagically without doing anything to make it happen.

You will not be able to charge in, blast up and tune out. You as the tank will still have to be mobile when necessary, be aware of your surroundings and actively grab adds and distribute damage/threat amongst them, and you will still have to handle the gimmicks of each encounter. 

What you can expect to change is that, if you are already doing everything you are supposed to, you will have a much stronger chance of holding aggro on all members of an AoE group, even if you are focusing on Skull, and the DPS are ignoring your marks to blow up whoever they want.

This change would normally encourage you to prioritize AoE threat generating abilities more. Since most AoE is on some kind of cooldown cycle now, you’re probably already using your AoE abilities whenever they’re up anyway, so, well, no big change there. Right?

It’s not like you can do Swipe spam, no matter how much you would have wanted to. But you can pop it every time it’s off cooldown, and expect it to have tastier results.

Likewise, for DPS players, this does not signal the death of Vanish/ Feign Death and Misdirection/Fan of Knives. Adds will still come in from wierd directions, and being able to send them off to the tank is always a good thing. Likewise, having an emergency “Get them the f&*(^ off of me” button never loses it’s value.

So.

In conclusion…. I don’t know where the hell all the panic I saw came from, or the rage about dumbing down the game, but I for one welcome our new threat overlords, and invite them to come tank at the pug table.

My Warrior and Hunter alts will be sure to make you feel RIGHT at home.

Zombies are Dead

I’m requesting an intervention.

The next time someone wants to write a story, do me a favor… don’t include zombies.

If you have the urge to type that “z” word, stop yourself. Think long and hard about what you’re about to do… and then don’t.

It’s been done. It’s been done to death, raised, killed again, and then had a dozen boring variations on the theme brought out to try and make it seem cute, much like these “done to death” cliché lines.

Now, I understand your fascination with zombies. You can do SO MUCH with your story, using zombies as a metaphor for something else.

Zombies are symbolic of the human condition, and very tempting to use to make your point.

If you want to talk about how a person can feel alone in a crowd, few things represent it quite so well as having that someone running around surrounded by mindless, unresponsive, hostile zombies that just don’t ‘get’ you, no matter how hard they try. A sea of faces, blank or hostile, that are all around you, but no matter how loudly you scream for help, you are still all alone in a cold, threatening world that sometimes seems to hate you.

But here’s the thing. It’s been done. It’s been done, the point has been made, it wasn’t even a point, it was a massive sledgehammer of brutal obviousness ramming the entire concept down your throat.

Zombies do NOT equal subtlety.

So why is it people will not leave zombies alone? Why do we keep getting zombie movies, books, comic books, video games all in seemingly endless derivations?

Does someone out there think that there is still some untapped reserve of zombie goodness, some secret well that, once found, will gush forth with a fresh perspective that adds something new?

Here’s a secret for you. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.

IT’S BEEN DONE!

I don’t have to be more specific. Whatever the hell it was, if you were thinking about it plus zombies, it’s been done.

If your idea was, just pulling something out of my butt, literary fictional classics and zombies, I bet it’s been done somewhere.

I’m sure if you looked, and I’m not even going to bother, but I’ll bet you could find a version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and even Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, all done with added zombie.

Zombies in Space? Oh, please. There’s even been Jason Voorhees in space, for the love of memes!

Oh, are your zombies from a plague, the main characters are isolated and alone and fearing infection, and you’re making a witty statement by having the healthy be the minority, hurting and alone, and the sick be the uncaring, unfeeling masses? No, we missed that you inverted things to make your point. We are completely incapable of grasping your intended statement about aids or other communicable diseases, and how terrible the isolation feels, without the addition of zombies.

Oh yeah. You’re a freaking genius. Our silence stems from stunned admiration. Or a cowlike obliviousness. You pick. You will anyway.

Does your special zombie breed come from some alien cause, and part of the horror is being alone in a world that is not just hostile, but is unknown and unknowable, something you will never understand or be able to deal with, where all you can do is try and survive and keep ahold of your sanity, and find hope amongst the hopeless even when it seems there is no possible future to be found?

Well, just so long as it’s done with zombies.

Just, yes. We get it.

Funny zombies, scary zombies, adventure zombies, mercenary zombies going into war torn regions of the world to rescue political prisoners, a world of the living dead where humans are long gone and all that is left are zombies versus vampires, I DON’T CARE!

Just stop it.

Just… stop it.

We keep seeing the same cycles. New zombie story is very, very serious business. Next zombie story  is a variation on the theme, playing on some popular small bit the fans of the serious movie liked, like special forces vs zombies. Then the humorous take on zombies comes out, poking fun at the ‘serious zombie’ story. Then the self-conscious ironic take on the zombie story comes out, lampooning the whole thing, tongue sticking out of rotted cheek.

Then, a new serious zombie story comes out to remind people what a serious zombie story is, and is acclaimed as revolutionary, revitalizing the genre.

And it starts all over again!

Please.

Zombies.

Just say no.

If you still feel the urge, that primal drive to write or direct something that has zombies in it, if you feel that your message, whatever the hell it may be, can only be said through the use of the shambling undead, then prove it to yourself.

Take a moment of private time to contemplate Edward Hoppers’ painting, Nighthawks. Don’t think about it, don’t try to analyze it or break it down, just contemplate it. Let it seep in.

Now, while you’re contemplating Nighthawks, in the back of your mind, just let this thought seep into view…

Could I improve this by adding a zombie?

Think about it. Then go write a screenplay featuring cartoon characters from the ’80s in our modern world. You’ll display the same creative integrity, but aren’t they so cute.

If you’re a bitter nihilist, you’ll make the cartoon characters be zombies, just to spite us.

Zombie Smurf has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

At this point, straight up, I’d rather see just about any other damn thing than a new zombie story.

I won’t specifically name which zombie ‘thing’ was the inspiration for this post, I’ll leave it to your imagination to come up with the possible culprits. I’m sure you won’t be lacking possibilities. If someone somehow does guess right, I’ll say so, but I won’t confirm what type of media it was. Well, I’ll narrow it down for you. It was either a movie, book, comic book or video game.

Yeah, that narrowed it down. At least you won’t be wondering which music video set me off.

I will say, for the record, that it wasn’t “They Live“, only because, well, it was hilarious, I love Rowdy Roddy Piper, the alley brawl is legendary, and I feel like giving it a pass, even though you could use it as a freaking textbook case of what I’m talking about. 

Oh… and psych! If you made it this far, smile. I’ve been having some fun with you. What’s the point of doing Aprils Fools posts on Aprils Fools Day when everybody expects it?

You’ve been Bearwalled!