Streamlined Questing: The New Darkshore

24 11 2010

While I was leveling my new spacegoat Shaman yesterday, I popped over to Darkshore instead of doing Bloodmyst to start experiencing the new post-shattering questing world. First experience: it’s great. After some time and some pondering, I noticed a few significant changes to the way questing was set up.

Kill ten of that, find me this, rescue those guys, discover that and then come back

In BC and Wrath, and especially in vanilla content, leveling was often a matter of collecting all the quests from a hub and going out to complete them. This is still the foundation of questing (at least, based on my Darkshore experience), but there’s more to it. I arrived in Lor’danel somewhat disappointed to only see two available quests for my level 10 Shaman. Assuming that there was more than met the eye, I took my quests and wandered off to kill things and save people.

I did a few quests (all of which were pretty much adjacent to the town/questgiver) and returned to the town. On the second set of quests which sent me into a cave, I at first was annoyed. Typically cave quests mean you have to kill far more of a mob than usual to get to the desired named mob/item in a quest. This time, however, there were two extra quests found in the cave, and these also played into the storyline of the zone! I was pleasantly surprised.

This trend continues into the rest of the early parts of the zone. Questing is much more streamlined and organic. There has been no point so far where I have been starved for quests. I have always been on my way somewhere, finding quests as I go. Also, named mobs appear as a skull on the minimap. This makes me very happy.

Story, story, story

Another thing that strikes me as excellent about the new questing is that the quests are very focused. Something is going on in the zone, and the quests go beyond “we are being attacked by x, kill them.” I won’t give away what the story is, but suffice it to say that the quests really tie in well to a story and while there might not be any significant phasing going on, you feel pretty involved with what is happening. Also, there are elementals attacking the city. (Will they be attacking the city for the next two years/until the next expansion comes out?)

Tangent, tangent, tangent

Speaking of story, a guildie who saw a burning tree asked in gchat yesterday: “So will this tree be burning for the next two years?” I answered probably. I hope that I’m wrong, however. A Cataclysm occurred, yes, but I think it’s important to keep the story moving as much as possible, and this should involve more than the introduction of new raids. Citizens of Stormwind should slowly rebuild the broken sections, cities under siege should be calling for reinforcements or fall to the attacks, etc.

So please, Blizzard, let us rebuild, or make us fall; just continue the story! (They have demonstrated the ability to do this without too much interruption: see the way the elemental invasion unfolded without major patch downloads between stages.)

A taste of what's to come


Rotations: What’s Okay, What’s Not?

9 11 2010

In a recent post on WoW Insider, Matthew Rossi quotes a post from Ghostcrawler about Blizzard’s past and future stances on killing/changing certain specs/rotations. I, of course, was waiting for a mention of the once-great 32/39 spec (I’ve tried in vain to find a screenshot of an old talent calc, but to no avail).

The post focused on diseaseless Blood tanking rotations in 4.0.1. Ghostcrawler said: “It doesn’t bother us unless ignoring diseases becomes the only reasonable way to play.” In the past, Blizz has killed a few specs. Notably diseaseless Blood and 32/39. 32/39 did some funny things, like focus on Howling Blast, Icy Touch, and Gargoyle instead of using Obliterate. Diseaseless Blood similarly did funny things; both specs were head and shoulders above the alternatives.

And while GC couches this in terms of making changes because some spec or rotation didn’t match up with the core values of the class, I can’t help but see it as quashing innovation in favour of keeping us tight to Blizzard’s vision for us. The example GC uses, of Rogues becoming ranged DPSers, is far more extreme than anything that’s ever happened to DKs. Yes, we’ve sometimes used abilities where clearly we weren’t intended to (for example, the phase where Unholy used Obliterate instead of SS), but we never changed the way the class played in a way that would affect more than our own DPS, as Blizzard suggests ranged Rogues would.

32/39 no more


The Great Innovator

I imagine that at some point in Cataclysm, DKs will start doing something odd again. We’ve had a lot of stuff changed in 4.0.1, and probably a lot more to come in major patches in Cataclysm. And I hope that Blizzard won’t feel the need to stomp on really cool things like the 32/39 spec. They didn’t just nerf it down to acceptable numbers, remember (it was definitely OP). They completely destroyed the spec that the rotation was built on by moving Gargoyle and Howling Blast deeper into their respective trees. Because in their minds, the spec was wrong. Similar things happened to builds that spammed Icy Touch, which I thought were also cool.

This has been something of a windy post, but my main point is that I hope we continue to innovate and do really cool, interesting things with our DPS rotations as Cataclysm matures, patch by patch. And I hope Blizzard takes a cue from this GC post and let’s us roll with our weird, non-intuitive rotations, because that’s part of what makes Death Knights interesting.

The Fringe Benefits: Beyond Death Knight Raid Buffs

25 10 2010

In the process of forming my Cataclysm raid group, there has been a lot of discussion of what classes we need to get all available buffs. As a primarily Frost specced Death Knight, I bring a few things: 20% attack speed debuff (Frost Fever), 4% physical damage taken debuff (Brittle Bones) and 10% ranged/melee attack speed (Improved Icy Talons). This isn’t much, and a lot depends on having other melee/hunters in the raid to benefit. If I’m in a 10-man with mostly casters, I’m not helping much at all.

The Fringe Benefits

Falling down

AMS will save me, right?

This buff-induced unhappiness got me thinking about what else I bring to the table as a Death Knight. These things won’t be unique to DKs, particularly, but they are still important considerations when dreaming up an ideal raid group.

  • Survival. Few DPS classes have as many ways to stay alive as Death Knights do. Paladins and Druids come to mind because they can heal themselves in a pinch, but that’s far more reactive than most DK survival tools. The abilities involved are: Death Strike, also a reactive tool; Anti-Magic Shell, now with 7-second glyphed goodness; Death Pact; and Icebound Fortitude. These survival tools benefit a lot from knowledge of the fight. To use some old-timey examples: Death Striking after Gluth’s decimates, Icebound Fortituding in preparation for XT’s tantrum… you get the point.
  • Slows. Chains of Ice, while not as awesome as it used to be, is still a potent slow. And there are fights where this matters. Mimiron’s Bomb bots, for example. I also read there was an ooze that needed slowing in the Omnitron Defense System encounter. Awesome!
  • Army of the Dead. Hey, don’t look at me like that. I swear this spell will be the lynch pin of an encounter some day.
  • Interrupts, taunts, emergency tank, Death Grip, lions, tigers, bears, etc.

My point in all this is that a class is more than the three or four buffs it brings and some DPS/tanking/healing. No matter how much our gear is standardized between classes, or however much we’re reduced to numbers and buffs, each class inevitably brings its own stuff to a raid.

Note: I also posted this as a Blog Azeroth Shared Topic idea, so if you have your own blog, check it out!

One-Handed Weapons: A Death Knight Conundrum

21 10 2010

This has bugged me ever since I started Dual Wielding as a Death Knight. It still bugs me to this day. And it bugs me even more given the recent hullaballoo over simplifying stats and making sure each class has access to properly itemized gear. Changes in this vein include: all healers getting mana regeneration from spirit, reforging and the removal of ArP in favour of mastery (ArP was worth more to classes that did lots of physical damage compared to classes like Paladins and DKs whose rotations include magical damage). So what’s bugging me? Where are the one-handed weapons itemized for DKs?

Agility One Handers

Bad itemization, bad!

Oops. This post has been edited to reflect the truth

As excellent commenter Argon pointed out, not only can Fury Warriors also use one-handed DPS weapons again, but there are also a number of properly itemized one-handers for DKs and Fury Warriors that have popped up on Wowhead. So instead of deleting this post, which I considered, I’m going to turn it into a more positive one.

Thanks, Blizzard

Since 4.0.1 hit the servers, I’ve been noticing a lot of little things that just make life easier and more fun. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to give thanks.

  • General UI improvements (everything looks a lot prettier and is generally more elegant now, especially the spellbook)
  • Guild achievements and leveling
  • The amazing transformation of Haste and making it a useful, interesting stat for DKs (it’s really cool to have a stat that isn’t a straight DPS increase like most are)
  • The new glyph system

That’s all I can think of for now. There’s lots more. The only reason I didn’t include reforging in the list is because it’s just so complex and I have yet to wrap my brain around my feelings toward it.

A Caper Story: Reforging Old Alliances

5 10 2010

It seems like Cataclysm has been on its way for a long time. And I guess it has been. And for what seems like the 30th time, I’ve renewed my subscription. It’s not because suddenly WoW is more exciting than it was when I left in November last year. But something else is happening, and that’s people returning to the game. Not just me, but a bunch of the people from my old guild who were the main reason that WoW was any fun.

Looking out past Dalaran

Feels like the beginning of a heist movie

At the beginning of Ocean’s Eleven, Brad Pitt and George Clooney start looking through their rolodex and picking the best people to make a team. That’s the kind of thing I was doing today–working out who we knew was coming back, who we could convince to come back, to make the best 10man Cataclysm guild we could. And it’s so great that 10man guilds are an option now, because it just gives you so much more freedom without limiting you, gear-wise.

But that’s not really the point of this post. Cataclysm is almost here, and the promise of a whole new way of doing things (changing far more than Wrath did, and in a much more interesting way, but again, that’s a post for another time) is leading people back to WoW. So here’s to bringing old friends together to beat up angry monsters.

More posts to come, hopefully.

Cataclysm Death Knight Changes Part One: Rune System

4 05 2010

Hi guys, I’m back

A friend of mine gave me a scroll of resurrection, so I decided that while I was temporarily (possibly for more than the 10 day free playtime) back in the World of Warcraft, I’d toss a blog post up here in case anyone’s reading. Seeing as I am not an expert in optimal DPS theorycrafting these days, I’m going to talk about the rune changes proposed for Cataclysm. Here they are, in case you are not familiar with them:

Dragon's going to eat part of DK rotations, leaving big holes.

The new rune system will change how runes regenerate, from filling simultaneously to filling sequentially. For example, if you use two Blood runes, then the first rune will fill up before the second one starts to fill up. Essentially, you have three sets of runes filling every 10 seconds instead of six individual runes filling every 10 seconds. (Haste will cause runes to fill faster.) Another way to think of this is having three runes that go up to 200% each (allowing extra “storage”), rather than six runes that go up to 100% each.

This sounds like gobbledeyguk, so read this explanation by Ghostcrawler instead (scroll down to see his full post):

In Cataclysm, when you’re killing things, you use rune 1. Then any extra “red” in rune 2 will fill rune 1 back up again. If both of them are full, you can use 2 Blood Runes immediately. But after that, rune 1 will fill up first and then rune 2. If it helps, imagine rune 2 is the extra tank.

GC then goes on to talk about how this might slow down DK rotations, and how it might leave space between rotations, open GCDs, breathing room, etc.

Does anyone really want breathing room in a rotation?

I don’t know about you, but I like my rotations packed. It’s part of why I liked ITx6 rotations back in the day: they were fun and engaging. When you have a lot of open GCDs, it feels like you’re not doing anything. So when GC says that we can hit less and harder instead of often and weaker, I’m not encouraged. I’m confident that DKs won’t stop doing reasonable amounts of DPS, but I’m not convinced that we’ll stop being really fun.

I don’t like ranged DPS or caster DPS because it simply doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything. So if DKs stop being a class that DPSes at a rapidfire pace, well, I’ll be sad. I know we probably won’t get a rotation that plays in Unholy Presence anytime soon, but all the ones that did were really fun.

It might not be a bad idea to make open GCD rotations and tight rotations appropriate for different trees. Unholy has always had more open GCDs (its main strike is a two-rune ability and it doesn’t have a cheap RP dump like glyphed Frost Strike) and Frost has typically (especially in the UP rotations) had tighter rotations. Blood has usually had pretty tight rotations as well, but in cataclysm it will be a tanking tree (sad panda here) so it’s not part of this discussion.

[SPOILERS] Initial Reactions to Cataclysm

22 08 2009

Keep in mind this post contains spoilers for the new expansion, so if you’re not into that sort of thing you should stop reading now.

That said, I thought I’d share my reactions to a few things that’ve come out.

Armor Penetration removed completely, Haste changed to increase rune refresh rates (no longer melee speed), no more AP on gear

These are the major stat changes that are going to affect Death Knights. For one, gear selection will now be limited to strength gear (with the exception of Reforging, which you can learn more about here) since Agility gear won’t have any AP to make up for lost Strength. This means itemization will have to be better spread out to accomodate DKs (we’ll need 1-handers with Str) and definitely other off-pieces with it as well.

Another side effect of this change is that there will be more competition between plate-DPS classes – no longer will some classes refuse gear because it has ArPen or any other stat.

As to the Haste change, well, this one is the most problematic. Unlike casters, who have long 3-second or higher cast times to reduce with Haste, or Warriors who have rage dumps, DKs only have so many GCDs available. If Haste significantly affects the rune refresh rate, how will we (specifically Blood and Frost DKs, who have very few open GCDs) take advantage of it? Obviously it’s very early Cataclysm’s lifetime, so hopefully this is addressed or we’ll all end up in Unholy Presence.

I think the best part (and probably the most intended aspect) of the Haste change is that it will now be a valuable stat for tanks. Unlike the current incarnation, which just gives the boss more chances to parry your swings, the new Haste will be invaluable for most tanks. Since tanks are often using runes for things like DnD and defensive cooldowns more so than DPSers, faster rune refresh rates could be very helpful.

Worgen. Humans turning into wolves. AND THEY CAN BE DEATH KNIGHTS.

I’ll most likely be rerolling a Worgen DK as soon as the expansion hits. I’m really glad I’m Alliance, though, because Goblins are ugly.

As to the rest of the changes made to the world and new zones, I’m REALLY excited about it all. I remember the months before WotLK when all that information was filtering out, and frankly I am far more interested in Cataclysm. Not only is the raid content more interesting (Arthas has been something of a lame duck for most of this expansion, after the initial shock of seeing him pop up in various quest lines), but a revamp of old Azeroth was 100% necessary.

The old content was fine when WoW started out, but since then questing has been made (barring poop quests) just plain better. So admitting that, and doing something about it, is a nice acknowledgement that Blizzard cares about both old and new content. Making levelling better makes the game better as a whole. Much time is spent levelling, whether you’re on your first character or your seventh.

On a side note…

I’m in the market for a new mouse. Wired or wireless, somewhere between 40-50$. I also need a new (preferably a really good one) VGA cable to connect a laptop to an external monitor. Mine is crappy and has some issues. So if anyone out there is fairly tech savvy and has some tips, I’d appreciate it. Any thoughts on this mouse?