Patch Night Did Not Go As Planned

It was a night of surprises for BBB.

It turns out, this is funny, but it turns out that a little knowledge can be a bad thing.

I knew just enough to be dangerous to myself, but not enough to plan properly. And I just know I drug some of you down with me.

Lemme back this bus up to the WTF dock and start from the beginning, okay?

I was very hopeful when I logged in last night.

According to reports, “smoothest patch release evar.”

Well, hell, that sounds promising.

Patched up, logged in, set Load Out of Date Addons to on, pick a character and login.

I picked my Paladin. Of all my characters, my level 71 Paladin was the one I was most excited to login, because I had the entire delicious set of Level 60 PVP gear to transmog into.

Loading bar started, and at the 10% mark stopped. Total system freeze.

Um, what?

Hard shutdown of WoW, login and try again. Freeze, same point.

Okay, maybe it’s Northrend. Let’s try Stormwind, and a different character.

Login, crash on loading.

Back out, reboot computer, check MMO Champion and WoW Insider and Twitter.

Nope, everyone else in the world seems fine, WTF?

Huh.

I updated addons, but not all were updated. I wonder…

Login, disable all addons and try again.

I’m in!

And now the hunt begins…

Which one of you little pricks is crashing my WoW. I gots playing to do!

It turns out, FuBar no be good no more meng, nor is the Fubar2Broker alternative I’ve been using getting update love.

This… this is a crisis.

I can do without a lot, but there is no way, NO FREAKING WAY I can do without a Fubar/ChocolateBar style band at the top of my screen that lets me mouseover an expandable Guild and Friends list. I need to know, at a moments notice, who is online and where they are at any given moment.

That’s right, I keep tabs on everyone. I’m watching you!

Not really. But if I suddenly get the urge to whisper Matheo or Ursimage, I want to be able to mouseover the guild list in a hot millisecond to see if they’re busy in an instance or a raid first. Opening pages of windows and scrolling through the guild roster? Hells no. This will not stand!

Oh, the addon author quit WoW two years ago, according to Curse. Hmm, I guess it will stand.

A quick scan of Curse addons to just go whole Chocolate for LDB (LibDataBroker) and Broker shows there are LDB Friends and LDB Guild. Do these replace my old GuildFu and FriendsFu? Will they plug into my ChocolateBar?

YES!

Okay, crisis averted, I don’t have to quit WoW just yet.

Moving on… Paladin time! Let’s get ready to moggle! And only an hour and a half of the night lost.

I’ve tried to stay spoiler-free, so Ursi tells me the Mogging Vendor is somewhere around the outer ring near SW Cathedral. A quick flight overhead shows me a massive crowd around a little door. Uh huh, fresh baked cookies? Nope, that would be the new vendor hut.

Time to mog! I pick my Field Marshal item, I go over to… wait, WTF do you mean I cannot use that item appearance for transmogging?

Just… just hold the f’ck on here.

Moggin’ has been on the PTR for months. (In my mind, rhymes with hoggin’.) There have been blue posts, articles, FAQs, WoW Insider in-depth articles. This must be a mistake, someone would have said something if this was intended. A bug, certainly.

Er, no.

Bashiok said, LAST NIGHT;

The items out in the world (Marshals, Grand Marshal’s, High Warlord, etc) that use the level 60 PvP art are un-transmogrifiable (including the item level 115 stuff that shares the name from Burning Crusade).

In Area 52 a set of vendors has replaced the PvP Vendors who used to live there. Grex Brainboiler, Krixel Pinchwhistle, Tini Smalls, Kezzik the Striker, Big Zokk Torquewrench, and Leeni “Smiley” Smalls. These vendors sell new, transmogrifiable versions of the classic armor to players who have the Feat of Strength for Legionnaire/Knight-Captain or higher under the old PvP system.

There was a bug with the Feat of Strength granting access to these items, but was hotfixed within the last couple of minutes. If you meet the criteria log out and back in and you should be able to access the vendor.

The design intent with the Feat of Strength achievement requirement was specifically to limit these particular art styles to players who earned them through the OG (and relentlessly difficult) PvP honor system, while keeping the door open to reward them to more people in the future.

In a future patch the items sold by the Area 52 vendors will also be renamed ‘Replica of’ to be more consistent with the items sold by the Darkmoon Faire – they’re currently exact duplicates of the original items that allow transmogrification, which is obviously a bit confusing.

Potentially related, since he’s in the same area, Kezzik the Striker sells inaccessible Season 1 Gladiator’s, Season 2 Merciless Gladiator’s, and Season 3 Vengeful Gladiator’s gear to all players, as the majority of that gear didn’t have restrictions.

Have a nice day.

As an existing rule this does not irritate me, not at all.

I said when I posted about it in the first place, the level 60 epic PvP gear was very difficult to obtain at the time, and I would completely understand it being made difficult to obtain or restricted to those that had really earned it back in da day.

What does torque me a bit is that this comes out of left field to me. My Paladin did not exist when the “Feat of Strength” and the PvP associated with it happened, so I can’t even go back and try it earn it the ‘right’ way. Not that I would have without knowing moggin’ would exist someday in the future, but still.

It’s nice that the only people who can sport those iconic looks on their modern gear are the folks who earned it, but it sure would have been great if I had seen a FAQ, WoW Insider article or mention somewhere that you might as well not get that gear, you won’t be able to use it.

I’m sure this is my own damn fault.

This is of course what I mean about ‘a little knowledge being a dangerous thing’. If I hadn’t been skimming the news reports to avoid spoilers, I probably would have seen a blue post or FAQ that said this somewhere a while back. They even added new vendors in Area 52, they must have said SOMETHING about it while the PTR was going on. I just didn’t see it, because I wanted to hit the new instances and raid cold and fresh.

So, I has a sad.

There is good and bad to this.

The good is, I get the thrill of the hunt. I get to find a new set I want, set goals for how to get it, and log in with a purpose. That’s always fun.

The bad is, I’ve looked at all the Paladin gear sets, every single one, and none of them with the exception of Lightbringer really says “Paladin” to me with style.

I know a lot of people like the Judgment armor, and I agree, it’s very nice. But it’s not for me. To me Judgment armor is very cool to look at, but it speaks more to the Warhammer 40K religious ethos; the fighting force charging into battle, a heavily armed and armored holy warrior at their side to oversee the consistency of their spiritual faith… and apply an attitude adjustment with a chainsword where the faith seems to be wavering.

Very cool, kick ass concept, but that’s not MY Paladin.

MY Paladin is a holy warrior that heads into the teeth of the dragon proudly armed with sword, shield and faith, braving flame and claw to protect the innocent and defend the weak.

Others may strap on heavy plate armor and go forth to battle, and they may be brilliant generals leading armies on the field or small unit commanders destroying the enemy through fire and manuever, or even solo berserkers tearing into their foes and leaving gobbets of flesh hanging from the spikes of their bloody axes.

What sets MY Paladin apart from them is the aspect of faith, and how he lives his life and fights his foes under the influence of that faith. Faith in the light, faith in justice, faith coupled with a desire to lead by example and be an inspiration to others on the field of battle, faith that it is his duty to ensure that the light SHALL overcome the darkness.

MY Paladin isn’t a gritty anti-hero wearing black and red plate, big spikes, curving trophy horns, skimpy chainmail bikinis, or worse yet, camouflaging his beliefs and hiding in the bushes, waiting inside his mud-coloured armor to lunge out and slip throats.

The Warriors and Death Knights can strap on evil-looking blood-drenched heavy plate decorated with skulls and tentacles and spiky bits all they like. They can wield massive weapons and deal brutal damage to their enemies reveling in the gore. At the end of the day, their strength does not flow from the conviction of their faith in the light.

The Paladin trusts in the Light, and he (or she) polishes his armor until his cohorts are gleaming. You need gleaming cohorts to be a Paladin. It’s a fact. (That’s a Terry Pratchett joke, btw).

Lightbringer is great looking armor, probaby better in some ways than Field Marshal, but when I originally browsed the armor sets for the Paladin and saw that Field Marshal set, with it’s gleaming gold, silver and blue, and above all the gorgeous matching Aegis shield, I fell in love.

Well, looks like my Paladin gets jilted at the transmoggin’ altar.

I wish I would have known. It would have been nice to not get my hopes up, to have my expectations set that high.

I won’t miss the armor itself quite as much as the shield. I do so love that shield. I’m level 71, and I’m still using that level 60 Aegis shield. I don’t want to give it up.

That’s okay. Life goes on. *sniff*. I’ll do fine without it. *sniff* *sniff* I didn’t want it that much anyway. Mean old armor.

*BWAHHHH*

Okay, seriously though, it will be fun as hell to take a tanking paladin into the raids necessary to get Lightbringer. And, hey bonus… Cassie is leveling her Disc Priest healing with me… so once we hit level 85, it’ll be time to grab a few DPS friends and see us some old school raids!

Oh yeah, and I also ran two of the new 5 person instances last night. I’d talk about it a little, it was smokin’ good fun, but I’ll give the patch a few days so folks don’t get anything spoiled.

For anyone that was foolish enough to follow my advice and got your own level 60 epic PVP gear for transmogging… I’m sorry. I apologise for steering you wrong.

But look on the bright side.

Ain’t nothing stopping you from wearing it as an ‘about town’ set just like before, and fooling people into thinking you’re a PVP god!

Unless, you know… you really are.

Druid Rings for All Specs!

A while back I ruminated on my desire to design a Bear Tank ring and sell it on Shapeways (mostly ’cause I want one myself).

Tesh, he of Tish Tosh Tesh and Zomblobs! fame, took up the concept and plowed into Shapeways, setting up the Tish Tosh Tesh storefront there, and designed some really cool steampunk-themed dice. No, really, check out how the dice looked finished and then all painted up!

Oh yeah, and he designed some really sweet Druid Bear rings.

Well, did you saw the title of the blog post?

Yep, Tesh created more ring designs, in slimline and signet, for Cat and Resto Druids. They’re already up in his store, in a wide variety of sizes. AND, Shapeways is having a sale! You’d almost think a major gift-giving season was almost upon us.

I know that I said “All Specs” in the title, and there isn’t a Moonkin ring there yet.

What that might mean is that someone would have to show Tesh that they would be interested in buying a Moonkin ring. It does take time to complete these designs, and I have no idea how many, if any, have sold.

I know I’m hoping to see one under my tree this year, but if I was sure of it, where would be the fun in that? Where would be the surprise?

Is there interest in Laser Chicken rings? Do you love his work as much as I do? Let Tesh know!

Today Ragnaros, tomorrow the Old Gods?

According to MMO Champion, Deathwing will arrive tomorrow, and depart in a blaze of glory about 4 hours later, most likely. Okay, I’m kidding.

I know that it’s like this every time we get a new content patch, but it sure does feel like the raiding guilds have about exhausted what the Firelands had to offer.

Poor Ragnaros has died many, many times now, hard modes have been trounced, and Legendaries have been dissiminated.

Lots of Legendaries, from the chart MMO Champion put out a week ago.

You know the Firelands have been out for a long time when even *I* have killed Ragnaros!

Strange Days.

Deathwing will arrive (officially) tomorrow, and we will begin the process of getting geared up and experienced enough in his ways to destroy him.

Seeing the entirety of the Firelands and taking down Ragnaros has led me to think about the various mechanics of the fights and all that is required to match them. How did we get here, and where do we go from here?

In looking back over the years, the one distinguishing feature of content releases is the Skill Level arms race.

When Vanilla WoW first came out and we hit end game, did anyone envision where we would someday get? Maybe we should have.

With every expansion or content release, the challenge for Blizzard grows.

The mission? Design content that is challenging AND fun.

It’s got to be difficult enough that it will take a while to learn, but not so difficult that it breaks the spell we are under when we pursue ‘progression’. If the difficulty includes too much grinding or random chance to succeed, then people lose interest.

It has to remain somewhat challenging even after the path to success is learned, to keep interest alive once mastered.

It’s got to be unique enough to be fun, for a given value of fun. Plus loot, new loot of ever higher ilevels.

Now, it’s got to be all that, plus it’s got to last long enough that the next content release has time to be designed, programmed and tested for release.

Sounds daunting, but that’s just one side of the arms race.

The other side are the players.

Over the years, I have watched in amazement as the player base has built tools to arm themselves in direct opposition to the Blizzard Design Team.

Granted, I’ve taken part in this myself, but it’s still amazing to me what has grown.

As fast as the content is developed, the players build tools to help them beat it.

Website forums for theorycrafters and class experts, individual blogs, web-based optimization tools like Ask Mr Robot or World of Raids, combat log parsing tools, addons, addons, addons, geez I mean Deadly Boss Mods represents a force-multiplying escalation all on it’s own.

As the content gets more challenging, the players rise to the challenge, get better prepared and more experienced. Teamwork, by necessity, improves.

The next round sees more complex mechanics… and the players improvise, adapt, overcome, and then craft new tools (or improve old ones) to speed it up and make it easier.

As with any arms race, there is collateral damage.

Oh yes there is. How would you like to have to design a brand new MMO in this landscape, where the majority of MMO players have been hardened in the fires of 7 years of Azeroth raiding?

And of 7 years of Trade Chat?

Blessing of Kings is taking part in the SWTOR Beta, and todays post highlights a fun fact; chat trolls using story point spoilers to try and ruin your game.

As an MMO developer, how do you arm yourself against this type of scenario, when your opponent (the player) has had 7 years (or more, counting how long the genre has really been out there with Everquest and others) of experience on you?

A new MMO nowadays has to come up with a solid concept, and then design a game not for what players expected and would have enjoyed 7 years ago, but for what people are used to seeing, and subverting, now. Within a week of launch it will have to face the test of the cynical and jaded MMO gamer, whose expectations get higher every day.

Deathwing is doomed, but even as the patch warms the servers in pre-load position, content developers are hard at work preparing the next payload for delivery, aiming at a moving target. They have to design for the players, as they think we will be at that future day, after we have absorbed the lessons we learn from the Deathwing raids.

Isn’t it amazing? This is what it means to be part of a game experience as it evolves, and growing with it. And we get to go back with our modern, up to date characters, and visit the content that was designed for the player of yesteryear whenever we’d like, to remind us of how far we’ve come.

I love it. Yes I do.

The new patch comes tomorrow, and despite the rise and fall of Deathwing, the one thing I think I am most looking forward to is the resurrection of raids to go into old content, to satisfy those transmogging urges. Getting friends together willing to do Serpentshrine Cavern or Black Temple or The Eye should be easier than ever before.

At least for a few months. 🙂

Where will the developers take us next year?

Who can say? It depends, at least in part, on how well we adapt to and overcome what Deathwing has in store for us.

You have to wonder, do the developers of other MMOs watch and even play WoW, just to get an idea of what the modern, experienced raider learns to handle?

Isn’t that a trip?

I for one am glad to be part of the journey, wherever it’s taking us. My concern is, in order to come up with ever greater challenges to fit the lore, someday soon we may find World of Warcraft has hit the same wall many of our long-term pen and paper RPGs hit, once the characters reached level 25 with all the epic items that entails.

Where do you go when the players are looking to kill the actual gods and usurp their place to find some kind of challenge? Do you face down the Old Gods, bring forth the terrors of the outer darkness, face an invasion of demons from space?

Oh wait, been there, done that, got the tabard.

Where do we go once we’ve killed Deathwing?

Apparently, once we’ve killed the gods themselves, the only foes we will have left to fear are the most powerful beings known to Azeroth; our former allies.

But in pitting Horde versus Alliance as the core of the battle… can there be any resolution at the end?

Fuzzy What Now?

Last week, I mentioned we had a spot of car trouble.

We’ve since purchased a more modern car, and life moves on.

Now, it’s more modern, but it’s not ‘new’, as in ‘I’m the first owner’ new. It was owned by a rental agency first and doubtless rode hard by the renters, but it’s only a year and a half old, and it certainly looks and feels new, thanks to having been well maintained and serviced.

It looks shiny and new and modern, and it is very cool. I love this freaking car. 

It’s a 2010 Hyundai Elantra, a nice combination of inexpensive fuel-efficient compact and interior comfort with techie toys.

It also fits a 6′ big bear butt comfortably with tons of headroom, not an easy feat.

My favorite thing? The stereo has a USB port and plays mp3s. You can, and I have, put your mp3s in different folders on a USB flash drive, or just all loose, and plug it in the USB port. It instantly sees the drive and you can browse the folders, whose file names are visible, play the mp3s, it’s fully and smoothly integrated.

No more CDs or CD cases in the car. Ever. EVER. Want to add a new favorite song to your favorite driving collection? Don’t burn a whole new CD, just put it in the folder on your flash drive. And of course, you can plug in your mp3 player via an auxiliary audio port, but I am captivated by the USB input. I can now have 4 gig of music sorted and organised and ready to go.

I can have a folder with ALL my Tim Malloys songs on it, instead of across three CDs.

As you can probably tell, I’m quite captivated that technology installed in cars has finally caught up to what I wanted ten years ago. And I has one!

Did I mention no more burning bloody-be-damned CDs?

So yes, I like the new car.

I like it clean and neat and sparkling.

But I am a big bear butt, and I must have some customization. I must show my whimsical spirit.

As Cassie and Alex and I drove back from the dealership, I remarked that I was going to keep it exactly the way it was…

But I must add some fuzzy dice dangling from the rearview mirror.

Cassie was quick to point out that I can’t. I’m not allowed.

Oh, it’s not Cassie that would deny me fuzzy dice. Oh no. She’d simply remark on my utter lack of taste, or in this case my essential poor white trash redneck sense of taste, and shake her head in sorrow.

No, it’s the guv’mint that forbids me from expressing myself by putting fuzzy dice dangling on my rearview mirror.

No, seriously. Check this out, my friends.

Sgt. Mark Baker

Minnesota State Patrol

Q: My friend says having anything hanging from the rearview mirror is illegal. Is that true? And if so — would I really get pulled over just because of that?

A: Ah, the things people like to hang from their rearview mirrors! And suspended objects seem no longer to be limited to fuzzy dice, air fresheners, graduation tassels and garters.

Unfortunately for those who like to hang things from their rearview mirrors, all of it is illegal. Minnesota State Statute 169.71 subdivision 1 addresses suspended objects between the driver and the windshield. This statute states “no person shall drive or operate any motor vehicle with a windshield cracked or discolored to an extent to limit or obstruct proper vision, or (except for law enforcement vehicles) with any objects suspended between the driver and the windshield, other than the sun visors and rear-vision mirrors.” (The exception for law enforcement vehicles provides for necessary speed detection equipment as well as video and other equipment).

Because this is a vision obstruction and illegal, people commonly are pulled over for this violation alone. Many of the crashes officers investigate are due to a driver not seeing another vehicle, bicycle or pedestrian. We have many visual obstructions in the vehicles we drive already, such as the support pillars and rearview mirrors. Any that we can eliminate makes everyone safer on our roads.

Now, before we move on, let me add the link to the statute / law. Just so we can get any doubt out of the way as to whether or not I am shitting you.

No shit. In the state of Minnesota, if you put anything, anything at all, dangling from your rearview mirror you are in violation and if the cop is feeling cranky and needs to make ticket quota, you WILL be pulled over and ticketed for it.

They say suspended in the statute because they don’t have the balls to say something as risque as dangling.

I could put Fuzzy Dice on my rearview mirror, but they would be Illegal Fuzzy Dice.

Illegal. Fuzzy. Dice.

Think about that. Illegal Fuzzy Dice. Three words that capture so much meaning.

Cassie and I started talking about illegal fuzzy dice, and Alex started laughing his butt off. I’ve got him now to the point that he loses it and dissolves into giggles at just the barest mention of illegal fuzzy dice.

He wants to make a WoW character named IllegalFuzzyDice, and he was crushed that it would be too many letters. He’d like to see a guild named Illegal Fuzzy Dice, though.

So would I.

Illegal Fuzzy Dice.

We are at the point where, if something can be described, it WILL have a law detailing what is or is not permissable. And the justification used, as with so much else, is “If it will result in the saving of just one life, than isn’t it worth it? Who among us is so evil as to object to the saving of a human life?”

It makes sense, when phrased that way. If you suspend your damned sense for a minute, anyway.

The reality is, that justification can be used, if followed to it’s logical conclusion, to restrict all humanity to remain within their homes with the doors locked, and robots to make sure that we continue to wear bubble-wrap on our bodies at all times to protect from falls, all devices that create sound banned to preserve our hearing, lighting rigidly controlled to prevent eyestrain, food metered out in recommended doses to keep us from getting fat, etc, etc.

What the hell does that describe? What else is managed to that extent? Oh yeah. Cattle.

What a statute like that on the books, actually enforced by law enforcement officers, represents is a belief that it is better to regulate and control through legislation rather than leave the issue up for personal judgment or responsibility and then hold people accountable for their actions.

Boiling it down, if one person would dangle something big from their rearview mirror that blocks their view, gets into an accident and says it wasn’t his fault because nobody stopped him from doing it, then the obvious way to prevent similar accidents in the future is to forbid ANYONE from dangling shit from their mirror, blocking their view.

And then ticket anyone you see doing it.

Now, me being myself, I’d think the logical thing to do instead is hold people responsible for their own actions. Have something dangling if you’d like, but if you get into an accident where visibility to the front was determined as being part of the cause by an acident investigator, and you had stuff dangling, then you get in trouble for unsafe driving. A catch-all.

Of course, that would take effort on the part of someone using judgment on investigating a cause, rather than making some blanket “if you do this you’re breaking the law, breaking the law.”

Freedom includes the freedom to accept the consequences, and if you block your view in an unsafe way, then it’s your ass. Why should everyone else suffer?

I believe in freedom. I believe in personal responsibility. And I believe in holding people accountable for their own actions rather than pre-emptive legislation.

I believe that legislation like this rear-iew mirror stuff is ludicrous and offensive.

It says “I don’t think you low-class idiots are capable of taking care of yourselves or making your own decisions, so we’re going to tell you what you can or cannot do, and to what extent. Morons.”

Illegal Fuzzy Dice.

ILLEGAL FUZZY DICE.

I can drive down the road, in a car I purchased myself with money saved through the labor of my own hands, earnings that were heavily taxed, and I can be driving under the speed limit, using caution when appropriate for the conditions of the road, lights on, music low, paying attention for idiots that are swerving violently in and out of traffic, and if I have illegal fuzzzy dice dangling from my rear-view mirror, cute little white fuzzy dice, I will be an outlaw.

A dastardly desperado, dangling dice like forbidden fruit, taunting The Man.

Illegal Fuzzy Dice.

Welcome to the real world.

Is it any wonder I love World of Warcraft so much? 

Oh yeah, and Happy Thanksgiving. 🙂

And the winner is!

Congratulations to Saffron and Thelandira, you are both the winners of the spontaneous “Come up with Epic Calss Abilities” contest!

The idea was, come up with your own ideas of epic level class abilities that could compete in awesomeness with the proposed possible maybe kinda hopefully hunter Stampede.

Here are the ideas the two winners came up with;

From Thelandira; 
My suggestions for an “OP”, or “Special”, ability for all classes:

General rules across all classes
* None of the following abilities can be used during Heroism, Bloodlust, etc or in conjunction with other cooldowns.
* All abilities are active for 15 seconds with a 10 minute cooldown.
* Player takes no damage, or suffers no pushback, for duration of ability.

Hunter – All Specs – Stampede
• Calls out all 5 pets at once
• Pets limited to basic attack (smack, bite, claw) and one special (toss, lockjaw, rabid, etc.)
• This is a channeled ability and pets do 200% of Hunter’s AP in damage (200% damage is combined and not for each pet)

Warlock – All Specs – Demonic Force
• Calls out all demons to targeted area, except Infernal and Doomguard
• Demons limited to basic attack and one special
• This is a channeled ability and demons do 200% of Warlock’s SP in damage (200% damage is combined and not for each demon)

Mage – All Specs – Mirrored Mirage
• Calls forth 6 images of Mage to targeted area
• Images mimick Mage’s attacks/spells but Mage’s SP is reduced by 50%, while images receive no reduction…Or
• This is a channeled ability and images do 200% of Mage’s SP in damage for their normal attack/spell (200% damage is combined and not for each image)

Shaman – All Specs – Mother Nature’s Fury
• Drop a totem that is immune to all types of damage that calls forth a Wind, Water, Fire and Earth Elemental
• Elementals do damage based on 200% of Shaman’s AP/SP
• Shaman’s AP/SP reduced by 50% while totem is active, but Elementals receive no reduction
• For Resto Shamans this totem could just increase the Shaman’s SP by 200% for duration since Restos don’t necessarily need Elementals to do damage. Or, it could still summon one of each of the above Elementals that would provide 200% resistance for raid/party dependant on type of Elemental (Fire Ele for Fire resist, Wind for Shadow resist, Water for Frost resist and Earth for Nature resist).

Druid – All Specs – Forestation
• Calls forth 6 Treants to fight along side Druid with a special attack based on Druid’s current spec
• Feral = Whipping Limbs – Treants lash out with branches doing damage based on 200% of Druid’s AP (200% damage is combined and not for each treant)
• Balance = Burning Branches – Treants cast Wrath and damage is based on 200% of Druid’s SP (200% damage is combined and not for each treant)
• Restoration = Falling Leaves – Treants shower raid/party, within 35 yards, with “falling leaves” healing them based on 200% of Druid’s SP (200% is combined and not for each treant)
• Druid is still able to attack/heal during duration at a 50% reduction in AP/SP, but treants receive no reduction…Or,
• This is a channeled ability and treants do 200% of Druid’s AP/SP in damage/healing (200% damage is combined and not for each treant)

Death Knight – All Specs – Legion of Death
• Calls forth a “Legion of Death” (similar to Army of the Dead) but they only attack the target that the DK is attacking/targeting.
• Legion mimicks the DK’s attacks and they do 200% of DK’s AP in damage
• DK’s AP is reduced by 50%, but Legion receives no reduction

Paladin – All Specs – Hand of God (or replace “God” with whatever name of a WoW God fits best with Paladins…I’m not familiar with WoW lore)
• Paladin casts an improved version of Consecration that does 200% of Paladin’s AP/SP in damage/healing
• Paladin can move while ability is active and Consecration follows Paladin
• Damage/Healing affects all targets within 20 yards of Paladin

From Saffron;

For Druids,

Strength of the Ancients
Guardian: Tortolla
Balance: Aviana
Feral: Goldrinn
Restoration: Aessina

The long-lost strength and fury of the Ancients of old is summoned to your side, enhancing your shapeshift forms. Guardians change into a massive turtle, massively reducing damage done to them (70%? 80%) for however many seconds. Balance turn into ancient stormcrows, causing lightning to strike the ground around them. Feral changes into wolves and summon a pack of wolves to swarm their target. Restoration causes the earth around them to explode with life (something like that vanity item from the Molten Front) doing some sort of healingy thingy!

As stated a few times before, while these ideas were awesome, actual winners were picked based on very, very scientific principles. Very. No, really. There was, like, maths and stuff involved. Charts. Math and charts.

Congratulations to both our winners, and thank you to everyone that came up with cool, awesome and fun ideas. I enjoyed reading them all, and I hope you had fun coming up with them.

By Way of Apology

Talking in Guild Chat last night with Ursiheil and Blackbear and Cross, and I made a few Dwarf jokes.

You know, nothing too outrageous.

“You know why Dwarves wear kilts?”
“Because sheep can hear a zipper a mile away.”

“Dun Morogh – where Dwarves are dwarves and sheep are nervous.”

Nothing too serious.

Bu I felt like maybe Cross was a bit uncomfortable. Like perhaps he felt that his dwarven masculinity was being challenged.

I want to make it up to him.

So here is a video JUST for the kilt-wearing Dwarves who feel tired of having to defend their sartorial habits.

It’s not a skirt, damnit!

The contest, it is closed. Results tomorrow!

The contest is now closed, all comments are under consideration. Careful consideration. Scientific methods will be used.

Someone may even be wearing a big reflective disc on a band around their head, or have a strange machine that focuses on an eye and magnifies it for display.

“Reaction time is a factor in this, so please pay attention. You are reading comments for a contest and the writer did not mention Druids. Describe in simple words how you feel about… the writer?”

“The writer? You want to know how I feel about the writer??”

*bang!* *bang-bang!*

But seriously folks, all of your comments were fun and enjoyable, including the ones that weren’t suggestions but were made for fun in the conversation, like wanting Druids to be able to fish in forms. It’s going to be hard to pick just two to offer stuff from the store, and when I do announce the names, please don’t take it as my not liking your idea, it’ll just be that I have to make a choice, and the comments that will be at the top are those that in all ways follow as closely as possible what I asked for.

Then those names will go in a hat, and Alex will pick two. 

That’s right! Blame the boy!

Oh, and if you didn’t know there even WAS a contest… well, guess you shoulda read the whole bearwall, huh? He he he.

Crash boom bang

Well, no, not really. But when I thought about my car being dead, that was the music that came to mind.

That, and rattle and hum.

My car, it is no more, it has ceased to be, it has expired and gone to meet it’s maker.

Well, not literally. If we took that literally, well, I dunno where they were making Chevy Malibus in 2000, but I’m certainly not hauling the dodgy thing back there.

Wouldn’t that be fun, though.

‘Where you off to, John?”

“My car is dead. I’m taking it back to meet it’s maker.”

At the dealership; “It’s alive! ALIVE!”

“Just a plugged fuel line. That’ll be $500, bub.”

My car is dead, and we are quickly looking at options for a replacement.

My criteria; Not new, but no older than 2009. Fuel efficient. Low mileage, average about 15k miles per year max. Fuel efficient. Cheapest we can find in nice shape. Able to fit a big bear butt in the driver seat.

So far, just browsing the internet, we’re fidning reasonable deals on Kia Rios and what is looking like my personal favorite at the moment, the 2010 Hyundai Elantra GLS.

We’re going to look at an Elantra tomorrow, but I was curious what suggestions or thoughts any of you folks might have.

Anyone doing any car hunting on a budget lately?

A New Sensation

Warning: Prot Paladin talk straight ahead.

There is a Star Wars: The Old Republic beta. I was in it this last weekend.

I’ve read the agreement carefully, and it turns out that’s about all I can say about that subject.

Except maybe for this; I could have spent a LOT of time in the SW:TOR beta this weekend, but I ended up spending most of my game time in WoW.

What was I doing, if I wasn’t lost in a galaxy of laser swords and 2 trillion candlepower pistolgrip flashlights?

I was playing my Protection Paladin in PvP, and doing a LOT of PvE tanking.

My Paladin, affectionately named BigCrankButt, started the weekend Friday night at level 57.

Cassie suggested that I leave XP on and level through BGs until I got the Honor Points I needed to get all that tasty level 60 PvP epic gear. She would level by questing solo through Blasted Lands.

By the time I dinged 60, she was actually a little ahead, and I had won every random BG, so you can see that from our super-small sampling, pure questing is equal to PvP in leveling speed, or much better if you’re losing in BGs a lot. Anecdotal and subjective evidence of no real value in a study, but still interesting.

From the moment we dinged 60 and trained flying, we’ve quested a bit and run instances a whole lot more.

I have just one thing to say about the playing experience on our Prot Paladin and Disc Priest combo.

OMIGOD epic!

The biggest reason for my pleasure has been the Paladin class being godlike in AoE tanking from 15 to, now, 62. There has been some added spice to the yummy feast brought by the sheer power of level 60 PvP epics, but that has just been the last two levels.

The real prize is being a Protection Paladin.

Playing Prot and tanking through the levels has left me, as a Druid tank at max level, kinda feeling like Charlie Brown during Halloween; “I got a rock.”

As a Prot Paladin, I have had all the tools and all of the talents I could ever wish to get and hold aggro during everything that PUGs could throw at me.

We’ve leveled in PUGs almost the whole way, and we’ve seen every kind of pull for the tank, gogogo, shoot the wrong mob, charge the target and stun it type of thing you could imagine, and the Paladin has taken it all with a smile.

A word on that. Of everything I’ve seen, far and away the most annoying has been to throw Avenger’s Shield to pull a group of mobs, only to have a prick of a Warrior charge one as they JUST started running to me, and stun it in place at it’s starting point, WAY THE FUCK OVER THERE, when it’s a casting mob, and now my Avenger’s Shield is on cooldown and I can’t easily pull it back to where I’m taking care of business with all these other casting mobs over HERE.

Congratulations, you prick. Grrr. It’s not a big deal, I either keep taunting it while burning down the caster in my face, then run over there, or just let the idiot that charged it deal with it, but still. I like my pretty little clumps of groups in range of my melee AoE, damnit.

Oh, and if you’re going to roll Need on tanking gear for level 50s, hows about you actually QUEUE as a TANK, you worthless little douchebag. Thank you very much, signed, the actual tank.

Anyway, Protection Paladins are not overpowered. Not from 15 – 62, at least. I don’t want you to get the impression that is what I’m saying.

What they are is tuned JUST RIGHT. They are not ‘snooze and cruise’, you have to use your abilities and there are a LOT of them. But you have all the abilities you need. You are never left feeling just screwed. And you can get and hold AoE aggro. If you play one, you can succeed and have a ton of fun.

If the other tanking classes can’t feel the same level of control on the battlefield in PUGs, and can’t experience the same fun, then it’s not Paladins that are OP, it’s the other tanks that need a buff.

The object of the game is to have fun. If your reaction to hearing I am having lots of fun tanking is to assume the class needs to be nerfed, you need to re-evaluate your baseline assumptions. Tanking shouldn’t have to feel like a pain in the ass sucky job.

I’ll say it again. What has been most awesome about them is that they actually have all the tools they need to get aggro, keep the group moving fast, and HOLD aggro in the face of all that the DPS can do to try to screw you. You’re kept hopping, looking around for distant mobs to nail with Avenger’s Shield, grabbing swarming patrols incoming with Hammer of the Righteous, and so much more.

That is my definition of fun tanking. Being able to respond immediately when shit happens, instead of sitting on your hands helpless.

If Blizzard wants me to have fun as a tank, give the DPS wild shit to do to cause massive threat, and give ME all the tools I need to regain and hold threat. Pop this, pop that, fire that off, and wahoo! Fast paced, pulse pounding action.

I don’t know what they’re like at max level, but so far from 15 to 62 it’s been a perfect game.

Maybe a lot of that has been having a skilled healer along for every run that, y’know, actually heals instead of doing DPS because “they’re bored”. Amazing concept, but if you want to DPS, queue as DPS. If you queue as heals, keep our ass alive. Cassie has done that, and because of that every run is funtime fancypants mode.

Believe it or not, there is a point to my talking about all this, and it’s not to say “Oh look at me, I’m having fun.”

One response I get from people a lot when discussing tanking, is how daunting, even intimidating PUGs are to try and learn how to tank.

Not “how to tank as X class”, but simply trying to get used to what a tank has to look at and prioritize. How to play AS a tank.

If you haven’t played a tank before, it takes a little bit to get used to the differences from the other playstyles, especially if you’ve mostly been playing a healer looking at health bars and moving your own butt out of fire.

If you want to learn to play as a tank these days, I think the max level PUGs are really the wrong place to try and do it (based purely on the patience level of your fellow players), and once 4.3 rolls around and the Trolls are added into the standard PvE Heroic random mix, it’ll just get worse.

But if you do want to learn to play a tank, I’m thinking a possible idea is to do it in two stages.

First, create a new tank alt and start running random PUGs at level 15. Obviously from my gushing, I’m telling you that I know for a fact a Prot Paladin would be a good choice.

Level up through the PUGs, preferrably with a friend that might want to try a healer for a change, and take on all comers. With the changes to tank threat generation, you’ve got an advantage in getting and holding aggro.

The skills you would want to develop in this way, skills that apply to all tank classes, are;

  • Getting the pull clumped up on casters. (Silencing/pulling casters to you, Line of Sight pulls, charging groups, etc).
  • Watching a 360° radius for patrols and runners and bringing them in to you before they hit anyone else.
  • Watching your own health to time survival/mitigation cooldowns.
  • Watching your party health as a clue to pulled aggro.
  • Controlling enemy groups and maneuvering them out of fire/acid/green/bad.
  • Positioning yourself consistently to make it easier on melee.

All of these skills need to be developed with the following ‘test to destruction’ real world criteria; how well does your chosen method work in a group of strangers?

An example of what I mean; If you want to do a line of sight pull of a caster, and the rest of the group ignores you to run around the corner shooting, then you need to take that into account and come up with a new plan. Maybe telling them what you’re gonna do before pulling, or macroing a “LOS pull, don’t attack yet!” yell, or just trying something else like charging in.

The point being, whatever you do, see how it works in random groups. Tweak it until you can handle what the players will do.

The second step would be to take the generic skills you developed in tanking through the levels, and then apply that to your max level character of choice now that you’ve built up confidence.

I think it might work pretty good.

I am interested in how the other classes feel to tank through the levels. I know from experience that the Paladin feels far more in control of PUG aggro than my Warrior did while leveling. Is it just the Paladin? I could easily have been Warrior tanking wrong. Do all of them really handle the same way until you get to the 80-85 range?

I don’t know. I’m interested enough to try a Death Knight and tank through the levels, though. Just to see.

It’s been a new sensation for me, playing a Prot Paladin.

I feel… epic.

It’s been a long, long time since I felt that.

I’ve gotten used to setting my goal as “I feel competent in my class.”

If I go into a raid, in Firelands or anywhere else, that has been my goal for a year now. “Do I feel competent at my class? Did I do enough DPS to feel that I didn’t suck? Did I tank well enough to meet expectations?”

I never expect to feel badass anymore.

About the best I feel is when someone like Matheo tells me “I don’t know how you get those numbers on a Beastmaster Hunter”.

That feels good. I know I don’t have actual great DPS, just a surprising amount for a BM Hunter with my gear level, that’s all. It’s an “exceeds expectations” evaluation, and oh boy doesn’t that just thrill you.

But playing the Prot Paladin as a tank through the levels… taht brings back the old “epic” feel.

The “I am in command of this battlefield, weep you poor NPC bastards, weep!”

It’s a good feeling.

I’ll admit, since dinging 60 and equipping that incredibly powerful PvP epic gear, it’s gotten even nicer.

Or, as one player said to another in the Hellfire Ramparts run we did Monday;

Player 1 – “How the hell is the tank doing more than twice our DPS?”
Player 2 – “Have you SEEN his gear?”
Player 1 – “Where the hell did you get all those epics?”

It’s true. Thanks to the AoE heavy fights in Ramps and Blood Furnace, my damage output at level 60 was about twice that of most DPS players in heirlooms. DKs included.

In other words, I already felt epic before, but now while wearingthe  epics, I actually feel EPIC.

It’s a good feeling. Turns out I missed it. I wish I could figure out a way we could get it back at high level.

This be some crazy sh*t, mon

Here at BBB Worldwide Amalgamated (or is that Wordwise Propagated?) we have a tradition of initially ignoring most BlizzCon buzz, then following up later with a call for calmness.

This time I was sure I could break the chain. I hate being predictable.

For the most part I eschew discussing the meatier news that comes out of a ‘con, because I know that by the time an actual PTR hits the potential delicious entree of awesome will turn into a bland tidbit of taste, if it doesn’t evaporate entirely like dry ice first.

This time I knew that people wouldn’t rise to the usual bait of BlizzCons past, getting frenzied from speculation and building castles made of sand from the cool-sounding ideas that were tossed out off the cuff.

I had faith in the cynicism of my peers in WoWland. Wiser heads shall prevail.

Time to throw that caber by the wayside, because they just keep pushing and pushing this one potential piece of kickass thought out in Blue posts, and I’m seeing excitement ramping up fast. Cool your jets.

From this Blue post by Kaivax;

Here is a Ghostcrawler quote for you —

“One of the potential ideas we’re considering for a new hunter ability is one where they send all 5 of their current pets to attack, for a short period of time, on a long cooldown. No guarantees that we’ll go with it, but we’re at least considering something like that.”

Um, what? Okay, am I awake? Or did I dream reading that just now? They don’t honestly expect me to believe they would really do that, right?

Further comments from Kaivax keep appearing, fanning the idea as though this were really under consideration.

We’re talking about something that is completely hypothetical, so anything is possible.

I personally would want the ability to call the five pets that I actually have on hand at the time, since that would give me control over what everyone sees when I send out the stampede.

Furthermore, it makes a lot of sense for the spell effects to not vary much from hunter to hunter, so special abilities would be right out, *but* I wouldn’t mind seeing the pets going through their best motions.

Okay, Hunters? All of you but most especially Beastmasters that are following this and saying “Oh please oh please oh please?!?”

Take a deep breath.

Is it an idea worthy of excitement? Yes, of course it is, because it fires the imagination. If you dwell on the potential of Stampede as described and as hoped by Kaivax, if you start thinking about what pets you’d want in your stable to be called out by the spell, say a pack of five wolves, or a pride of powerful pussycats, or a who’s who of various T-rexes, or even one of every kind of spirit beast, why you can just go on like this for days.

That is exactly what makes a spell like Stampede the msot dangerous in terms of unwonted enthusiasm. The base idea allows for us to take it and run with it, getting all excited as we mentally explore the possibilities for us to make it our own within their framework.

Let me remind you of another BlizzCon, and another concept tossed out that fired our imagination.

Titan’s Grip.

They just tossed out this idea, Warriors could dual wield TWO HANDED WEAPONS as their max class talent. Isn’t that awesome? And now moving on to other boring things as though we never said that…

Credit to Blizzard, in the end they went through with Titan’s Grip. We can dual wield two handers. And yes, I did originally level my Warrior as Fury simply because of my enthusiasm inspired by that idea.

But what really happened?

When it was first implemented, it was just as incredibly OP as we all expected. It was amazing. And if you’re badass enough to dual wield two-handed weapons while Whirlwinding, shouldn’t you expect it to be?

But what happened next?

Balancing.

Which meant, after unleashing the full might of Titan’s Grip on the PTR, came the inevitable reigning it in and bringing it in line so as not to be too OP in overall DPS compared to other classes, who didn’t all get the same level of awesome.

They built in a big miss percentage, then brought it back down. Then they just nerfed overall damage output by 10%, then brought that back up.

The point to carry away from Titan’s Grip from first mention to final iteration, is that YES, we did get Titan’s Grip, BUT don’t go into it imagining that the pony or moose you thought you were promised will be what you actually get at the end of the 5.0 PTR cycle.

There is the first awesome idea, but there WILL come the inevitable balancing. Especially if the other classes don’t get something comparable.

Think of Titan’s Grip, and Stampede, and then think of the challenge that Blizzard faces with Mists of Pandaria.

It’s a challenge of bringing the awesome. They have to do it equally for all God’s children.

Blizzard is mommy and daddy, and the players are the kids. Mists of Pandaria is Christmas (or your festive gift-giving season of choice).

Blizzard CANNOT give one kid an Xbox 360, and give the rest slipper socks. Well, they could, with the sure and certain knowledge that the rest of the kids will cry and cry and cry.

Whatever brilliant idea for a class ability that Blizzard may have, they know going in that if they don’t bring equal levels of awesome to ALL the other classes, they WILL hear about it later in the forums, at BlizzCon Q&As, on blogs, wherever.

So even putting aside the issue of class balance and having a button that sics FIVE Hunter pets on a target to nom nom nom them, by bringing out Stampede, Blizzard would be committing to coming up with at least one new class-specific ability for every other class that would be just as freaking awesome. And then balancing ALL of them.

PLUS a new Race and Class thrown in!

Now, between you and me, I feel that setting the goal of coming up with awesome new kickass OMIGOD stuff should be at the top of the brainstorming board.

You shouldn’t set yourself the goal of ‘meeting expectations with more of the same’. Not when you are bringing the next expansion to your product. It should be, dare I say it, expansive? You should be challenging yourself to push the limits, to make your customers say, “Holy shit, that is going to ROCK!!”

Stampede, on the Hunter front, is one of those things that, as a Hunter, you would say, “Holy shit, that would totally ROCK!”

I truly hope that Blizzard really is keeping silent on core class abilities because they are trying to dream up that one special class ability for each class that all specs can share, available at max level, that is a Stampede-level holy shit “that is so going to ROCK!” moment.

That is what I hope.

But these are hopes and dreams and wishes and wingéd goldfish. They are the stuff of candyfloss and hot summer days you wish would last forever.

Don’t build it up too much in your mind. Any dreaming done now, any plans and speculation made based on BlizzCon statements or Blue posts is not just premature but counter-productive. 

Whatever Blizzard creates will have to be balanced so it is not OP for burst damage in PvP, and so it does not bring that class higher in average overall DPS in comparison to other classes. So go ahead and dream of useful and fun and neat abilities, but keep your expectations in check.

Mists of Pandaria seems very ambitious in scope, so I think they are committed to building and improving WoW for at least the next few years, new MMO or no new MMO on the horizon. They might do a Stampede and a whole lot more for all classes.

But please, just relax for now. Get interested, but don’t get all crazy. We’ve been here before, we’ve seen the attempts to build early buzz in the month RIGHT before a massive new competitor MMO gets released.

Don’t buy into it until you see the five pets rush out on the screen and eat the entrails of your enemies like so much colored licorice.

I guess, what I’m trying to say here, is;

Don’t believe the hype!

I wonder, wouldn’t it be fun to have a thread requesting players to come up with their own wild ideas for new, outrageous class abilities in keeping with the spirit of Stampede? I mean, the hardest part is coming up with the creative idea, the implementation is, as John Ringo might say, ‘fiddly bits’.

Do you think you can do as good or better for your class? Do you think you can come up with that ‘holy shit that would ROCK!’ ability for your class to be on the same plane as Hunters with Stampede?

Tell you what. Contest right now say what?

Post your own imaginative idea for a new outrageous (but possible, damnit make it possible!) class ability in the comments down below, one that could hold it’s own in awesome with Stampede, and I will pick a couple of my favorites to give Big Bear Butt cafepress t-shirts to. I might use some real scientific and fair method of picking the winners, such as random number generators, or reading them all aloud to my 8 year old boy and letting him pick the ones he likes best, so you’re warned.

You want in? You’ve got until next Friday, November 18th, to make your comment on this post. Go for it!

And no, this totally is not a test to see who read all the way to the end of the Bearwall. Would I do that?