Some News, Some Thoughts

30 06 2009

Option to change factions in the works (source)

Some may herald this as the downfall of WoW (as with so many other things, like the mount changes) but to me it’s another way for a) Blizzard to make money, since the transfer will probably cost 25$ and b) to make the playing experience more customisable and fun. It also basically doubles any given guild’s recruiting pool. Not only can you recruit horde from your own server, but it gives you far more transfer options. Maybe you’ll be able to combine server/faction switches, for ease of guild swaps. Wild speculation aside, this change falls in line with other things we never thought we’d see like PvE to PvP transfers and dual specs. I look forward to more changes along these lines.

New Wintergrasp gear, the emblem change and the “ease of getting gear” dilemma

MMO-Champion recently reported new items being added to Wintergrasp (see the new items here), stuff that is either ilvl 232 or 226. While I’m not surprised at this (it happened with 3.1 as well) there has been a significant lack of whining on my radar about this addition compared to the conquest emblems dropping everywhere. First, the two changes are connected. If you have a choice between running Wintergrasp, BGs and fail-arenas for points and getting ilvl 213-226 gear and running heroics to get ilvl 200 gear, well, which one would you choose to gear up to raid the fastest? My guess is PvP.

The change that makes all heroics and entry-level raids drop Emblems of Conquest is intended (I believe) to make sure people still run that content. It’s never Blizzard’s intention to have old content completely abandoned, especially for fresh 80s, so a change was necessary to incentivize people into doing that content.

The change to the emblem system also has the effect of making t8.5 and ilvl 226 gear available from running heroics. Some are bothered by this, feeling like it’s a kind of undeserved handout. Personally, I have everything I want from Emblems of Conquest on my main (and have for a while, so much so that I bought Emblems of Heroism with them) so this change affects my DK very little if at all. I believe the situation to be similar for all other guilds who are progressing well into Ulduar. In the next patch, when this change occurs, these raiders will be doing the Crusaders’ Coliseum rather than raiding Ulduar anyways, and Emblems of Triumph will be the ones we want, not Conquest. So basically my alts get gear faster and easier, which is a plus in my books.

Raid lockout extension

Cool. Probably not necessary in the next patch (the new raid instance has what, 5 bosses?) but again it’s nice to have control over stuff like this, especially for guilds like mine who only raid 9 hours of 25-man a week.

Common token for all tier pieces

Sweet. AWESOME. I love this change. If you haven’t looked at the stats for the DK t9, I’ll tell you that the one piece with ArPen on it is the legs. All the other pieces are decently optimized, with one piece that has haste (unfortunately) and the rest a mix of crit, expertise and hit. Streamlining the way loot works in this manner also plays into Blizzard’s idea that picking your upgrades should be a thinking process, which means they don’t want us assuming that every single new item that drops is an upgrade. While this change is great, it’s a bit lackluster compared to the state of loot overall.

Things like relics and mail with spellpower are very class-specific. If you either are that class, or your raid has none of that class, it can be quite frustrating. I think it would be best to put niche-items like tanking guns into professions like Engineering and Blacksmithing or into the emblem loot system.  This (or a similar change) would mean less wasted loot overall as well as fewer rotting badges.





The Fix That Wasn’t

22 06 2009

Blizzard has made a few strange decisions regarding Wintergrasp and arena. Today I want to talk about why I don’t like the way Blizzard has gone about making these nerfs/changes/whatevers to Wintergrasp and the 2v2 arena bracket. I’ll start off with Wintergrasp (it sounds more frosty than arena, I guess?).

The problem with Wintergrasp: too damn busy (i.e. too damn laggy, but is it performance lag or network lag?)

The WG fix: make Wintergrasp battles less attractive, hopefully drawing fewer people per battle

The WG problem redux: the fix didn’t do anything

My future is uncertain!

My future is uncertain!


The problem with this “fix” overall is that it really wasn’t a fix but a way to get players to stop using content. Blizzard is now changing Wintergrasp to a BG-like queue system (which you can read about here if you’re out of the loop) that will allow only 100 people from each faction to participate in the battle at the time. Will they in turn change the weeklies back to dailies? I doubt it – but since the change was (at least partially) done to disincentivize WG, it’s a possibility. But why didn’t Blizzard simply make it a queue from the start? Did they really expect people to go only once a week to do dailies? That seems preposterous. The queue system is a much better idea of a fix, though in practice I don’t think it will make a difference.

Here’s why: I had a 5-year old laptop a few weeks ago, and have since gotten a new one that can actually handle WoW. On the old one, I could barely move in Wintergrasp Fortress during a battle. Rarely were there more than 99 people of my faction in the keep with me, so that won’t change. Given 50 Horde and 50 Alliance fighting in one place, though, and my old laptop would just hide in the corner weeping and I’d get around 2-3 FPS, if that. With my new computer, not a single lag issue in WG (except for once when the whole zone experienced a few second delay, but that was the exception not the rule). Also, in a recent WG, my GM was with us and counted out how many people were in the battle: 120 Alliance. A cut to 100 won’t change the amount of performance lag, since there will still be 100 (less on my server) running around killing us and making our FPS low.

The new “fix” is more of a fix, but still not likely to change anything about Wintergrasp. Those with old computers will probably still feel the lag.

The problem with 2v2 arena: it’s not balanced, FotM (flavour of the month), it’s too fast-paced

The fix: 2v2 rating no longer allows you to buy the newest season of arena gear

The problem with the fix: it’s not a fix

So what Blizzard seems to be saying here is that they are giving up caring about 2v2 arena, a bracket that many care strongly about and others enjoy playing (I fall into thse second group, I find it to be fun and easier to setup than 3v3 or 5v5). In 3.2, where you won’t be able to get gear from 2v2, it seems like Blizzard will use this as an excuse to give up attempts at balancing it. Like the first WG “fix” this change wants you to stop playing 2v2. The message that this sends out is possibly a dire one: if something is broke, don’t fix it. There have always been broken elements of the game, like one class being overpowered either in PvE or PvP or another being underpowered, but Blizzard’s always taken the approach of fixing classes rather than saying “ummm don’t play that class anymore, okay?”

The 2v2 arena “fix” and the recent changes to WG are sort of like making Paladins unusable in PvP. Of course, that’s taking it to the extreme, but that’s what it feels like to me. If something isn’t working properly, well, fuck it and move on. But unlike Exorcism, which has been changed so much in the last few patches it’s hard to remember what it started out as, 2v2 seems to be going the way of the dodo. WG on the other hand will likely see more change or be instanced, eventually.

P.S.

You may have noticed a lack of discussion of 3.2 DK-specific changes. Every time I think about writing something about them, my thought always ends in “but we’ll have to see how it looks on the PTR.” Blizzard has been pretty vague as to the specifics of the changes, specifically how the new dual-wield talent will really work and what the buff to Blood Strike really means. So… check back when the PTR pops up and results from tests start flowing in.








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