Friday, May 9, 2014

My Take on WoD Alpha Patch Notes

As I said in my last post, I am back to playing WoW to some extent, and I've been trying to catch up with what is going on with Moonkin, WoD, and WoW in general. As a result, I have a lot of things I want to talk about.

Here is your Fair Warning: I'm going to ignore the fact that I haven't paid much attention to WoW over the past 18 months and I'm going to act like I know what I'm talking about. I've read some guides, patch notes, and listened to a few podcasts, but I haven't looked at any Logs, Simulators, or Spreadsheets and any assumptions I make will largely be based off of my experiences from before I stopped playing. So, feel free to call me an idiot in the comments. I only ask that you tell me why what I said was dumb. On to the post.

The Alpha patch notes is some of the juiciest information, filled with changes that I can't resist commenting on.. The latest update of the patch notes was 2 weeks old when I saw them. So, I know this is old news for everyone. Therefore, I'm going to assume you've looked them over as well.

Periodic Effects and Snapshotting

Overall, I think these are positive changes. You may remember that I'm not a big fan complex rotations, and this should simplify the rotation to some extent. I never liked the fact that there are times when it is good to overwrite an existing DoT on a target based upon the Buffs you gain or are about to drop. In my opinion, DoTs should mostly be "Fire and Forget" types of spells where you don't have to track 5 different buffs to get the most out of them.

It's also important to note that this doesn't take all of the strategy out of how you cast DoTs. With dynamic damage calculation, precasting DoTs before a buff like Chosen of Elune, basically saves you a GCD of buff time that you can use for the harder hitting nukes. You also have to think about when you refresh an Eclipsed DoT. If you're still in Eclipse in the last 30% of the DoT it doesn't really matter, but if the DoT is eclipsed and you don't have the buff, you want to wait as long as possible to refresh the DoT.

Despite all of that, I do have two questions.
  • How will this impact the overall value of Haste as a stat and a buff? It obviously devalues Haste as a buff since snapshotting increased the effective uptime of all Haste buffs. However, having DoTs adjust to Haste buffs dynamically may actually increase the value of Haste as a stat. This is due to how the stats interact with each other and that this change incents the player to cast DoTs outside of big haste buffs meaning there is less interference from the Haste Cap. It's also a bonus that it eliminates the Haste Breakpoints.
  • Should this change apply to Eclipse? In the patch notes it indicates that Moonkin DoTs will still snapshot in terms of Eclipse, but I don't know if this is a good idea or not.

    From the perspective of consistency and simplicity, Moonkin DoTs should adjust dynamically to Eclipse as well as all of the other buffs. It's not intuitive that DoTs will function with all Damage buffs but one. Having Eclipse still snapshot would also continue to encourage some DoT clipping because you're not always going to be in the last 30% of a DoT while entering and leaving Eclipse and it's too big of a buff to ignore.

    On the other hand, some will argue that this would dumb down Eclipse and and make it a less interesting mechanic. It would turn Eclipse into something that just happened and wouldn't have a big impact on how A moonkin is played. It would also significantly weaken Mastery as a stat.

    I'm not sure what the answer is, but I'm leaning towards making Eclipse consistent with other DPS buffs or increasing the period in which you can refresh the DoT above 30%.
Talent Changes:

There were several talent changes while I was gone that I haven't completely gotten my head around yet, but it looks like Blizzard is pretty satisfied with what we currently have. With the exception of level 90 tier, most of the talents don't appear to change, and I have to say one of the real successes of MoP has been the new talent system.
  • Hybrid Tier Gutted: I know some people are upset that the level 90 talents are loosing their DPS component but I don't have a problem with it. The Hybrid tier was intended to encourage Druids to perform other rolls temporarily, but it turned into a DPS tier because we complained about it so much. At the time it seemed strange to me that the top tier of talents would only be situationally useful. Now that it won't be the top talent tier, it can go back to encouraging hybrid play as it was originally designed. I know some people will worry about the DPS loss, but that's what Beta and Balancing is for. In the end I'm sure Moonkin will be fine.
  • Sunfall: My first impression is that it's boring and weak. Obviously, Blizzard can easily make a spell stronger, but I don't see how they make this more interesting. All this does is make the solar portion of the rotation conform to the lunar portion of the rotation. I also wonder how Sunfall would interact with Celestial Alignment. Would you get both Sunfall and Starfall like with Moonfire and Sunfire?
  • Insect Swarm: My first impression of this talent was very negative due to button bloat. For most classes, Blizzard is trying to remove abilities, but for moonkin they just keep adding them. There are already six buttons in a Moonkin rotation and a seventh is completely unnecessary. Not to mention the fact that Insect Swarm wouldn't speed up the rotation all that much, and could be weak without the Eclipse buff. Also, what happens with the remaining IS ticks when you enter a new Eclipse? Do they still generate energy and if so what kind? Either way good be bad.

    After I thought about it a little more, I do see some advantages for Insect Swarm. The main one being is that it gives you something to do on multidot fights when you leave eclipse. Depending on how Insect Swarms Energy would work you could throw it up on a couple of targets and get to the next Eclipse on Insect Swarm and Shooting Star procs alone.

    I'm still not a big fan of this because I think 7 buttons is to many. However, it will be interesting to see how they make the energy work. I would be ok if it turned out to be situationally useful, but I would rather it not become a regular part of the rotation.
  • Equinox: My first impression was that this will never make it to Release. Even though it is somewhat diminished because it would delay Nature's Grace procs, it still sounds overpowered to me. If I remember correctly, Eclipse buffed about 60%-65% of Moonkin damage back in T14 with a 40% buff. If that 40% buff lasted the entire rotation, then that is 10% or 11% buff. Now, my math is overly simplified, and as I said before delaying the Nature's Grace Procs would diminish its value some, but I have a hard time believing that this won't be overpowered.

    On a different note, I do like how it would impact the Moonkin play style. Always being in Eclipse makes it easier to understand what spell you should cast, and you would never be trapped out of Eclipse in a high DPS phase.
90 to 100 Leveling Perks:

As a whole I'm not all that impressed with the Perks. Most of them are standard fair and boring. Also, a couple of them don't really sound like Perks. Take Enhanced Starsurge for example. It isn't an enhancement at all. It's just a design change that Blizzard stuck in the perks for some reason. The perks feel like they were thrown in last minute, and I'm not sure what purpose they serve. Why not just bake them into the abilities instead of making people get them randomly as they level. That said, there are two that I find a little interesting.

  • Empowered Mushrooms: This perk has some potential, because I can see a couple of different ways to use them. The more obvious option is that you could use them as a part of an AoE rotation, by putting down the mushrooms, empowering them and detonating them on the AoE's targets. The other option is to put the mushrooms down on the boss, AoE the adds, and then get some quick burst with the mushrooms when you switch back to the boss.

    Despite the potential I see a couple of problems. As an AoE rotation it feels backwards to me. To make it work you place the mushrooms, channel Hurricane, and then pop the mushrooms. Packs with lots of targets charge the mushrooms more quickly, but they tend to have less health and my not be around for the burst at the end. Fewer adds that last longer won't charge the mushrooms that quickly. If Blizzard is trying to create an AoE rotation, this mechanic should be reversed. Mushrooms should buff Hurricane and Astral Storm rather than the other way around. That way you pop the mushrooms and all targets hit are then vulnerable to storm damage.

    Also, I'm just not a big fan of this spell. I don't like having to place three mushrooms. I don't like the small damage radius. It's just another button on an already crowded action bar.
  • Empowered Storms: This sounds more like a punishment than a perk to me. It depends on how "Storm" damage is calculated. If it snapshots with Eclipse like the DoTs then players are incented to clip AoE just before they leave Eclipse. If it doesn't snapshot then, casting your AoE will push you out of Eclipse and lower your damage.
Ability Pruning:

In general I think Ability Pruning is a good idea, but it really hasn't had all that significant of an impact on Moonkin. To be fair, I can't really think of any moonkin spell that is useless enough to cut. All of our DPS spells do have a purpose in the rotation, but I do think Hamlet's idea of cutting Starfall is an interesting idea. It's currently a fairly boring spell that is cast at a very specific time in the rotation. If it was cut I wouldn't miss it.

Now lets look at the spells that really are gone.
  • Symbiosis: Since I didn't play WoW for most of the Mists expansion I don't have a lot of experience with Symbiosis, but it was clear it had issues early on. As I said in the TeamWaffle Moonkin Roundtable in 2012, Symbiosis was a cool idea on paper that doesn't work in the game. A lot of the trades were unfair with one player getting something useful and the other getting something useless. It was also a pain keeping track of what my 10 options were and who it was good for and who it wasn't. All in all I think it turned out to be a bigger headache then it was worth.
  • Innervate: Not gone completely, but no longer available to Moonkins. Moonkin haven't needed Innervate for several expansions now. It was a nice bit of Utility that I could bring to the raid, but it was always a little difficult to figure out who I should cast it on. I'm fine that it's gone.
  • Tranquility: Also not gone completely, but no longer available to Moonkins. It started out pretty weak for moonkin, but has been a nice piece of utility for the last couple of expansions. Though it now sounds like it got a little out of hand in MoP. All in all, it's nice having a Raid saving cooldown like Tranq, but I probably won't miss it. I would rather focus on my primary role of DPS.

The glyph system is another one of those ideas that sounded cool on paper but doesn't work very well once it got into game. In Wrath they were powerful, but boring because everyone chose the same 3. In Cataclysm they tried to make them interesting by adding a new tier of glyph that shouldn't have a DPS advantage, but again everyone chose the same set of glyphs. Finally in MoP they completely gutted the system and focused it on adding Utility and cosmetic affects, and it's still pretty boring.

If it wasn't for the Inscription profession, I bet the entire glyph system would be removed from the game or incorporate it into the talent system. With that in mind, all they are doing is making quality of life changes to the system. The Auto Learning is a good idea since getting back to an auction house while leveling can be difficult and buying the glyphs can be expensive. Combining the two stampeding roar glyphs is also a good idea.


Professions have been in a bit of a weird place for several expansions. You have some professions like Alchemy, Jewelcrafting, and Enchanting that are ways in high demand. You have others like Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, and Tailoring that are mostly useless other than their leg enchants. Then you have the Gathering professions that I lot of people like, but some feel like they can't take because they don't have big enough Performance buffs.

There aren't any big changes here, but they all sound pretty good.
  • For one Raiders can be gathers again. As someone server hopped most of Cataclysm I can say it sucked to have two crafting professions on my main. Both of my professions needed herbs but the only way I could farm them was off of the Auction House. If I hadn't invested so much into both of my professions I would probably change one of them to herbalism as soon as this went live.
  • "The yield an herbalist will be able to harvest from each node is now determined by skill level." Miners and skinners have similar improvements. My question is what is the upper limit on how much a skilled gather can get from a single node. If the upper limit is high enough this could be awesome. Leveling a crafting profession is a real pain right now because you don't get enough mats while questing, and the mats on the Auction House are few and expensive. If a maxed out herbalist can go pick 20 Peacebloom from a single node, it reduce the impact of those issues.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I thought I was out, but WoW sucked me back in.

Here's the deal. I've been given an opportunity to come back to WoW and raid again. I'm still thinking about it, but the chances are very high that I'll give it a shot. However, I haven't raided in over 18 months, and haven't paid much attention to what is going on with moonkin or WoW in general since then. Obviously, my skills are rusty and I have a lot of catching up to do. As a result, I've been doing a lot of research, reading patch notes, listening to TeamWaffle podcasts, and looking over Hamlet's Moonkin guide. During this process, I came across an old problem. I don't have anyone to talk to about WoW.

The only reason I started this blog almost 7 years ago was to get my thoughts out of my head and into a form that other people could read or hear. Over time I added the guides and such to attract more readers, but the main reason I kept up with the blog was always to rant at Blizzard about Moonkin design, 10vs25 man raids, or one of a hundred other miscellaneous topics. Now that I'm looking at the WoW and Moonkin news again, I'm having all these thoughts without a good way to express them. So, I guess I'm back to blogging to a limited extent.

I must stress that I'm back to a LIMITED extent.

The guides are likely a thing of my past. There's no way in hell that I'm doing a gear guide again. They are too much work for little or no reward. I doubt I would do a spec guide again, because there other people that make better guides then me anyway.

I also don't know how much I will post. Though I failed miserably a lot, I always tried to post regularly. I'm not going to worry about that this time. I have one post written that will go up soon, but how often I post after that is anyone’s guess. It could be once a month, once a year, or never again. When I have time to write down my thoughts, I'll post them. That's all I can guarantee.

If you’re still with me at this point, thank you. It means a lot to me that people valued my opinion in the past and I hope that my opinion will continue to mean something. Either way I will continue to rant and rave about some random topic as long as I have something to rant and rave about.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

An Outsider's View

First things first. Thank you to everyone for all of the nice things you said about the blog and such on my my "fairwell" post. It is very nice to know that what I did mattered and helped people. Also, there may be a couple of who got excited when you saw this post on your blog reader thinking I've come back. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

This is not a return to blogging for me. In fact, I currently don't have an active WoW account. I probably would reactivate it if I qualified for a Scroll of Resurrection, but I don't. Even if I did, most of the reasons I stopped playing and blogging remain. I am mainly posting this because it was hard for me not to get a little caught up in all of the Blizzcon shenanigans from this past weekend.

So, here is my "Outsider's" view of the Blizzcon announcements with one quick disclaimer. Since I have not been active in the game for more then a year now there is a good chance that with some of this stuff I don't have a clue what I'm talking about. Feel free to call me an idiot.

Mythic Raiding:

Ok, I admit that the main thing I wanted to comment on was the changes to the Raid Structure, or as I like to call it Vindication. If you are reading this you are probably a long time reader, and probably remember my posts on the 10 vs 25 debate. I was and still am apologetically pro 25-man raiding, and argued that equality of 10 and 25 man raiding would be very bad for 25 man raiding and Cataclysm proved me (and TONS of other people) right. Though I didn't spend a lot of time playing MoP, it was clear early on that Blizzard finally agreed there was a problem and were looking for a way to fix it. In WoD it looks like Blizzard is biting the bullet and finally doing whats right (and hopefully getting it right).

As and old raider who has never experienced a Flex raid this sounds like a near perfect set up. Mythic raiding kind of sets an unofficial standard raid size of 20, but at the lower levels it allows a guild to adjust based on the current situation. Lot of good people show up for the night, you can expand up to 25. If it's light night you can go with 15. If you have one or two people in the raid that are playing horribly and bringing the group down you can sit them for the night without hurting the group. Since most people raid below the highest level this makes a lot of sense.

Locking Mystic Raiding at 20 makes a lot of sense as well in my opinion. I know there are probably many hardcore 10-man raiders out there that hate this change and I honestly feel for them. However, when I played 25-mans were still the primary source for hardcore raiding, therefore it makes sense that Blizzard would lean to that size of raid. Also, a "Raid" should have this larger epic feel that is harder to get with smaller groups.

As I've said, this change sounds good to me. My only question is if it's too little too late. I know there are a lot of things that have contributed to decline of subscriptions in WoW since WotLK, but I think equal 10s and 25s is one of the big ones. It destabilized a lot of guilds and helped cause many to fall apart. Having to look for a guild over and over again is part of the reason why I stopped playing. Hopefully, this will stabilize the remaining guilds and allow them to grow again.

Stat/Itemization Changes:

There are a lot changes being made and some I like more then others. However, On the whole, I think Blizzard is going the right direction. I don't know this for sure, but I bet that the demographics of the average WoW player have changed a lot over the past five years. The number of college kids with tons of free time has probably decreased and the number of working people with families has increased. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to simplify the itemization to make it easier on busy adults. For example, I am a working parent with two kids. I raided late at night and went to work early in the morning. The time between work and raiding was spent with the family doing homework and making dinner, and didn't leave a lot of time for figuring the optimal set up after I got a new piece of gear the night before. So, in general I think these are good changes even though I may be a little nostalgic about some of them.

  • No Hit Rating: I wrote a blog post many years ago about why I thought Hit Rating was a good stat after someone argued that it should be dropped on the forums or on a blog. I still think its a good stat, but is probably needed less since Mastery was added. Plus, eliminating it does simplify gear choices a lot which is probably a good thing. (Yes, I know other stats were eliminated as well but I don't think any of them really affect Moonkin, but I could be wrong.)
  • No Reforging: It's funny how some of the major features from past expansions don't last that long. Glyphs added in WotLK king were gutted to near uselessness in MoP, and now Reforging is completely removed.

    I can't get worked up about this one either way. It sounded cool in the beginning but turned out to be more of a pain in the ass then anything else. Plus, it made gear choices less significant because, you could minimize the impact of having a less the optimal piece of gear. On top of all that it made my gear lists difficult to make.

    I've changed my mind. I'm glad reforging is getting removed.
  • Just Leather: Gear that adjusts dynamically to the spec of the player wearing it is probably one of the best changes ever. It makes so much sense on so many levels. Whoever made this possible should get a raise.

Lore an Continuity: 

First off, this is a game and in my opinion shouldn't be held to the same story telling standards as a book or movie. Unlike a book or movie, the primary source of enjoyment in a game comes from playing it. If it's got a great story then that's a bonus in my opinion. As a result, I can't get all worked up about Garrosh conveniently escaping to set up the next expansion, or the fact that he has to time travel or travel to an alternate universe to do so. This is a game. I'm not expecting Tolkien.

That said, I do think that this expansion seems fairly unimaginative lore wise. Between the Burning Crusade and the books, the lore of the Orcs is fairly well covered. While we haven't gotten to play through that lore in WoW, I don't really think we need to. On top of that there are a lot of risks to redoing this story line. First, Rise of the Horde is one of the most popular books. Going back over that materiel will create an opportunity for comparison. It may be wildly successful like the new Star Trek movies, but it could also crash and burn. I also doubt that Blizzard will be able to resist having Thrall meet his parents, and I doubt they will be able to pull it off in a way that doesn't come off sappy and boring. Personally I thought Argus was a much more logical choice I'm sure they will get there eventually.

Other Little Things:

  • Level 90 Boost: It looked like some people were complaining about this in the coverage, but it makes perfect sense to me, and should have been done years ago. WoW is really freaken old. It would be stupid to force new players to level through so much old content just to get to there friends, and it gives a little bonus to old players so they don't have to go through the old content for the tenth time. In fact, wouldn't be against blizz selling level 90 boost like realm transfers at this point.
  • Garrisons: I've never really understood the point of player housing, so I don't really understand the attraction of Garrisons. That said, I did find my little farm to be entertaining, so I may like this as well.
  • Truly BoA Heirlooms: Three words - About damn time!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lets Make it Offical

I've gotten several emails and such asking about the blog and such, so I guess I should explain what has been going on lately. As all of you can see I haven't written a blog post in over four months at this point. In fact, I haven't logged into WoW in almost as long. I didn't plan on taking an extended break from the game (I still have an active account actually), but it just kind of happened after a couple of things happened both ingame and IRL.

I am still a big fan of the game, in particular I love raiding and the community that can develop around a guild who raids together. I love the struggle. I love the triumphs. I love the stupid inside jokes. Unfortunately, I've found those aspects of the game increasingly hard to find over the past few years. As I've said several times before, Cataclysm was a very tough expansion for me guild wise. Prior to cataclysm I had been in only 3 raiding guilds over 4 years, but during that one expansion I spent time in 6 or 7 different guilds. Most of them fell apart or were on the verge of falling apart when I left. It was a tough time and I considered quitting the game many times. However, I decided to take a second shot at a guild I have a lot of respect for thinking that if it worked out, it could be the long term home I've been looking for.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out. My trial was rejected for what I think are fairly nitpicky reasons. At about the same time I was laid off from my job and it was the straw that broke the camel's back (For the record, I have a new job now.). I didn't have a reason for logging in anymore, and that was good because I didn't feel like logging in anymore. I didn't mean to take a break for 4+ months, it just kind of happened.

Quick Edit: I have gotten a couple of comments asking what kind of guild would reject my trial. The simple truth is that just because I wrote a blog about moonkin doesn't mean that I'm an amazing raider. There is a lot more to raiding then knowing the theory. I've never claimed to be the best moonkin and can say for a fact that there are a lot of players out there better then me.

While I do think the reasons told to me for rejecting my trial were nitpicky, I also know that I could have performed more consistently. At the highest levels of raiding the little things matter a lot and I left myself open to critisism on a couple of occasions. Also, I think trialing at the start of an expansion when everyone is excited about the game was a mistake.

So, what does the future hold for me and this blog? I honestly don't know.

At this point, I doubt I am done with the game forever. I still feel the urge to log in and see whats going on every so often, but haven't done so yet. At the very least, I'll probably buy what ever expansion comes and try it out.

In terms of the blog, I think I'm done. I won't say I'll never write the blog again, but I doubt it. The blog has gotten increasingly hard to write over the years. When I started there were very few moonkin blogs and none of them were doing theorycrafting. On top of that, the theorycrafting was very simple in the beginning. However, over time it got harder, and Moonkin became more popular and attracted more theorycrafters. As time has gone on my blog has become tougher to write and less and less relevant. Given all that, it is probably time to put the blog to rest. But who knows, If I get back into the game in a big way maybe I'll get back into the blog in a big way as well.

I do want to say a few thank you's if this does end up being my final post.

First and foremost I must thank all of my readers over the years. I never imagined that the blog would become as big and influential as it was for a time.

I also want to thank Blizzard, GC, and the developers I had contact with (Chris and Chadd). Thanks for making a great game and getting me into Betas.

Thanks to Phaelia for providing a guide and helping my blog to grow early on. I wish you were still around.

Thanks to the many moonkin over the years who helped the blog both directly and indirectly over the years. This is by no means a complete list: Erdluf, Lissanna, Murmurs, Hamlet, Relevart, and many, many others I am forgetting at the moment.

A big thanks to all my great guildies over the years. Necro, Jeeves, Abid (rip) at FoC; Dchaney, Lotsapots, Doom, Ardin at WA. Sevrenwinter, Myraxa, Osmand, Keahe, Auro, and Syni at LoE. Finally at Skunkworks Infinitum, Neatpete, and Olducu thank you for your support.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

10 vs 25: The Korean Test

In case you haven't seen it yet, here is the news from Korea.
We received several feedbacks regarding raid instance lockouts and 10/25 rewards, and we appreciate your opinions and deep interests. We thought that Korean players wish to enjoy the most hardcore contents more flexibly and according to their play styles. Therefore, from the upcoming patch we decided to change the raid instance lockout rules for all KR servers. Raids, as usual, will be reset every 7 days following maintainance checks. However, after 5.1 patch 10 man and 25 man raids will have seperate lockouts.

From now on, players could play raid instances, such as Mogu-Shan Vaults, in both 10 man and 25 man difficulty. Normal and Heroic difficulty raid of same instance will share same lockout as usual. Furthermore, the loots of 25 man raids has been buffed, and will offer higher iLV compared to same 10 man instance. For example, Terrace of the Endless Spring in 25 man difficulty will drop loots with iLV of 504, wile 10 man will drop 496.

We wish that players will further enjoy the contents and gain satisfactory rewards, and decided to offer the system that suits most well with the KR players. -- From MMO Champion. Translation by 
Here is the TL:DR version.
  • 10s and 25s will be separate lockouts in Korea. Meaning that one took can run both a 10man raid and a 25man raid every week
  • The 25man loot is being buffed to a slightly higher ilevel then 10man loot.
Let me get three things out of the way before I talk about this more.
  1. At this point this is only happening in Korea, and there is no indication that it will eventually come to US or EU servers. Some of you probably remember that the Korean servers had two lookouts per week for Firelands and Dragon Soul during Cataclysm, and that change never came to the other game regions. So this could be a way to test the change in a relatively small region before exposing it to the wider population, or it could just be an adaptation for marketing purposes. I'm going to assume for this post that it's a test.
  2. We know VERY little information about this change. As far as I know Blizzard hasn't said anything about what is intended or how this will affect other systems.
  3. There is NOTHING Blizzard can do that will make everyone happy. Just looking at the MMO Champion thread there are a lot of people that like the change a lot. There are others that are threatening to quit the game over it. In short some people will love this. Others will hate it. Just keep it civil.
This Seems a Little Strange

It's not surprising that Blizzard might be testing a new way to differentiate 10 and 25 man raiding. Over the past couple of months many of the big wigs at Blizzard have said that they aren't pleased with how 25man raiding has declined since WotLK. I also don't think it would surprise anyone to know that I personally wouldn't mind if the system reverted back to WotLK standard for all regions. However, given what we know I do find this change a little strange.

Though I personally didn't have a big problem with it, I do agree that there were some problems with the WotLK model that Blizzard needs to address one way or the other. For example, 10 man strict raiders were not recognized appropriately in WotLK. With that in mind, I can't recall any instance where Blizzard revert a large change back to an early version. Usually they try and create a new system that address all of the issues. For example, look at the Moonkin rotation during the MoP Beta. When many people complained that the Moonkin rotation was to boring and simple they added Fae Empowerment. When Fae Empowerment didn't work out they didn't revert back to the old rotation. They came up with a new one.

That's why this is a little strange. Given the little information we have, this Korean format sounds like a reversion to the old WotLK format. While I wouldn't have a problem with that personally, I have never thought that was a realistic possibility and still don't. If history is any guide Blizzard would at least try to address the WotLK issues, and that is why I think there is more to this change then we currently know.

How this Might Work

Interestingly, there is a way for 10mans to receive inferior gear from bosses, but still have gear that is equal to 25mans in the long run. For the record, this idea came to me while I was reading through the MMO Champion thread, but I can't find the post that caused it. As a result I don't know if this idea is a moment of inspiration or plagiarism on my part. Either way I think it's an interesting idea.

As you may remember, Blizzard planned to revamp the Valor system in MoP. Instead of allowing players to buy gear with Valor points, players would be allowed to upgrade their gear with Valor points. Obviously this change didn't make it into the release patch, but Blizzard does plan to included in patch 5.1 before the next tier.

What if the 25man gear was already upgraded when it dropped but couldn't be upgraded again with Valor points?

I can see pluses and minuses to this idea, but I must admit that it sounds like a great idea to me.

  • Differentiates the 10 and 25 man formats without completely delegitimizing the 10 man raiding.
  • Lessens the burden of Valor farming on 25man raiders and raid leaders, making the format more attractive.
  • Encourages pugging for people that want an extra shot at loot.

  • It will probably make it harder for 10man raiders to gear up, and be a bit of a disadvantage in the overall progression race.
  • The 25 man raiders will need some way to spend their valor points, if they don't need it to upgrade their gear.

As I said before, Overall I like this idea and would like to see it implemented in the US realms. Let me know what you think.

Monday, September 24, 2012

5.0.5 Gear Guide is Up, Sort Of

I've gotten most of the gear guide done, but I'm not sure I will be able to finish it before leveling starts tonight. So, instead of delaying it I've posted a fairly rough version. I think the valuations are 95% right, though there are probably a couple of issues. As always if you see a problem or something doesn't look right please let me know.

I will try and get the list done before raiding starts next week but it probably won't be until Thursday or Friday since I will be leveling myself.

Also, this list is based off of WoWhead, and it isn't always accurate for new expansions like this. Some of these items may not exist or might have the wrong data. To be completely honest there are a couple of items that look fishy.

I hope this help and thanks for understanding about its incomplete nature.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Another Look at 10 vs 25

The 10 vs 25 debate is nothing new to me or this blog. I've been talking about it for years and have gotten called names for having my opinions. When Blizzard announced that 10s and 25s would be equal in Cataclysm, I like many bloggers and players predicted that it would destabilize the 25man format and raiding as a whole even before the expansion was released. I've used numbers to show that the number of people participating in 25mans has dropped dramatically with each new content patch since 10s and 25s were made equal.

So when Ghostcrawler says that he doesn't like the current situation with 25s and that "Entropy will cause 25s to break down into 10s without strong counter force," all I have to say is we told you so.

I still think that the addition of 10man raids in WotLK was based upon false assumptions about what made Karazhan and Zul'Aman popular in TBC. I still think that the unequal design of WotLK could have worked if Blizzard had given more appropriate rewards to 10man raiders and limited access to both formats. Instead of trying to fix the problems they created, they tried create a new systems and end up creating new and bigger problems.

Yea, I'm little bitter, but you can't unring a bell. As much as I and many other people would love for Blizzard to revert some of the changes they made in WotLK and in Cata, I don't thing any of us are deluded enough to thing Blizzard would ever do that.

The question is how do we move forward? Are 25mans worth saving? If so, why? And finally, how do you save 25mans?

Why are 25s Worth Saving:

It shouldn't come as a surprise to any of my regular readers that I think 25s are worth saving. However, I will  admit that I sometimes have a hard time articulating why. Let me try again.

Epicness: To be completely honest I don't find this to be a very strong argument. Though I have read all of the books I don't consider myself a lore nerd, and have considered WoW more of a puzzle game then a story that I'm playing through. That said, WoW is a very story driven game.

We are the solders on the front lines in a battle for the universe, and have had to fight forces of unimaginable strength. With that in mind it seems a little strange to me that 10 adventure's can band together and save Azeroth from demons, old gods, and elemental lords. If that's the case why wouldn't the faction leaders just form a raid team to take care of it?

I realize that this is just a game and you can't apply logic in a lot of these situations. I also realize that some of this is explained by having Thrall use the Dragon Soul or having Cenarius and the Archdruids help with Rag. Plus, 25 is just as arbitrary a number as 10 in this respect, but raids were designed to be the place where players get into the big fights and take down the big bosses. Therefore, I think you should need a big group to conquer these foes and 10 people just isn't a big group.

This is an MMO, not an RPG: When the Cross-Realm Zones were introduced with patch 5.0.4 quite a few players complained because they didn't like the increased competition. Blizzard responded by basically saying "tough, this is a multi-player game." I completely agree with that response. Blizzard should emphasize the Mulit-player part of MMO, but they should also emphasize the Massively part which they have done nothing but undermine since the first expansion.

There are plenty of game styles out there were you can get together with a small group of friends to fight bosses and complete challenge, but where else can you join 24 other people in the fight to the evils of a fictional world? I'm not a video game expert by any stretch of the imagination, but MMOs are the only place I know of where this is possible and it's one of the aspects that made MMOs so awesome in the first place. Without it, MMO's are just another RPG.

There is Demand for 25mans: I can't say this with scientific certainty, but there is a lot of demand for 25man raiding out there. Over the past two years I've been in a lot of guilds and talked to a lot of people. I have heard a lot of 10man raiders say they would prefer a 25man raid, but can't find one that fits their schedule or that is on their server. On the flip-side I have yet to hear a single 25man raider say they would prefer 10s, and have only heard of one new 25man guild

The problem is supply, not demand. People will take the path of least resistance everything else being equal. As a result players who prefer 25s stay with their guild now that it's 10s because it's easier not to move or they can't find a 25 guild that fits their needs. There are guild leaders who let there guild turn into a 10man guild because it's a lot easier to form a 10man team out of your remaining 20 then finding 5 new players.

The Free Market Solution:

If you know anything about free market economics then you know that you fix a supply problem by increasing the rewards for the supply. This is why Alaskan Crab fishermen get paid so much. We as a society really want the crab, but only few people are capable of supplying it and willing to accept the risks. Therefore they charge a lot of money for the crab and we pay it.

This is the big problem with 25mans currently. They require a lot of extra work to maintain because your roster is 3 times as big, but the only reward for leading a 25man raid is your own personal preference and a miniscule amount of extra gear. The question is how can Blizzard increase the rewards of 25man raiding without gutting 10man raiding and reintroducing some of the old problems.

How Not to Save 25mans:
I think it's clear that Blizzard really under estimated how significant of an advantage 10s have over 25s. To counter that advantage 25s need an incentive that is just as significant, but can't be so strong "that all the 10s players stampede back to 25s."

Gear is a Poor Motivator: This isn't to say that Blizzard can't motivate players with gear. They do it all the time. However, there are only two ways gear can motivate players and I don't think either is very good at balancing the additional logistical challenges of 25man raiding.
  • Quality: This is the first way gear can motivate a player and it is extremely powerful. It is one of the key ways Blizzard has motivated players since the beginning of the game, but when they split 10s and 25s in WotLK it proved too strong. Players who were motivated by gear ran 25s and forced 10s into an inferior role.
  • Quantity: The issue with Quantity is that it is too weak of a motivator. Sure, the players will get their gear a little sooner, but what happens after they get it? You can't equip helmets, so after you get the items you want Quantity is unimportant. This is how Blizzard tried to reward 25s in Cata, but it obviously didn't work that well. They are doubling down on it in MoP, but I expect it will work just as well.
Separate Achievements has Problems: A common suggestion from this past week is that there should be separate realm first 10s and 25s. While Ghostcrawler seemed to be interested in the idea, I have a couple of issues with it.

The first problem I see is that it's too weak to fix the problem on its own. Realm firsts are only important if they are an actual achievement. If there's only one guild competing to be the first on the server, as is the case on many servers, then it's not really much of an achievement. It would also be diminished if it happens significantly after the 10man feat was achieved. Finally, it offers absolutely no incentive for the guild that comes in second, which is unfortunate because realm firsts are determined by time spent just as much as they are determined by skill.

The second problem is how do you prevent a 25man guild from getting the 10man achievement? Obviously, you can make the two achievements mutually exclusive and that would prevent the guild that got the 25man realm first from getting the 10man version. However, how do you prevent the #2 25man guild from getting the 10man achievement?

This isn't to say that I think there shouldn't be separate achieves for 10s and 25s. In fact I think 10s and 25s should be rewarded separately, and the fact that they weren't was the biggest problem with the system in WotLK in my opinion. However, creating a system that rewards them separately and fairly is going to be quite difficult now that 10s and 25s are treated equally.

How to Save 25mans:

It's right to point out that the "logistical" or "organizational" burden largely falls on the leaders and that the most effective incentives would be focused on them. If this were up to the free market the best raid leaders would find a way to get compensated with free gametime or something, but there are too many opportunities for abuse if Blizzard tried to reward guild leaders directly. So Blizzard needs to find indirect ways to reward them.

Give Players/Leaders a Tangible Reason to Prefer 25s: As I said before, people will generally take the path of least resistance. If a guild is faced with the choice of recruiting 5 new people and stay in 25s or downsize to 10s, it's pretty clear that downsizing is the easier option if everything else is fairly equal. Therefore making players/leaders give up something by converting to a 10man gives them an incentive to stick it out and preserve the format.

This would work for a couple of reasons. First, if the raid leader likes the reward they have more reason to recruit rather then give into the easier path. Second, if the players like the reward they are more likely to help the leaders recruit, relieving some of the burden on the leaders. Third, if players like the reward, then they are less likely to accept the downsizing and will be more willing to change guilds to gain the reward. As a result, there is a larger pull for 25s to recruit from which should make it easier.

At this point I wouldn't be surprised if there are a couple of 10man raiders who are fuming mad and asking why 25man raiders deserve perks that wouldn't be granted to 10mans. To be completely honest, I don't think that argument is without merit. I don't think that the average 25man raider does something more then the average 10man raider that makes him more worthy of perks. However, this entire post is based on the assumption that 25s are worth saving. You don't have to agree.

Give them Free Consumables: One of the best ways to motivate people is to give them stuff. In this case the trick is to give them something strong enough to cause them to make an effort to raid 25s, but not so strong that people feel like they have to raid 25s. In my opinion free consumables could come close to striking that balance.

What if when you walked into a 25man raid there was a guy standing there handing out flasks and food that could only be used in 25man raids. From the officers stand point this is a win because they no longer have to worry about Cauldrons and Feasts. They also don't have to deal with the questions about when they are going to be dropped or with waiting for everyone to arrive before dropping them. From, the players stand point this makes 25s slightly more attractive because they then know that they won't have to farm mats or buy them off the AH. Granted many guides do supply these things so there was little worry in the first place, but I do think it makes 25s more attractive for the player if only a little.


Yes, I believe that it is in Blizzards best interest and in the best interests of the game to save 25man raiding. If you disagree that's fine and I can understand why you may reject what I'm suggesting in that case. However, there are a lot of people that don't want 25s to die, and some of them are important people at Blizzard.

So if 25s are to be saved then Blizzard needs to take some bold steps. The first is to recognize and accept that the 10 and 25 man formats are inherently unequal and can't be treated as if they are equal if they want both formats to survive. The second step is to reward players, leaders, and builds in a way that tries to counter that inequity. I know 10man players won't like that but it is what is required if 25s are to survive. If Blizzard isn't willing to do that to save them, then they might as well go ahead and kill them now.