Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rant: Ninja Gquitters are Cowards

We are in difficult times. ICC and the last major content patch of WotLK has been released. The Cataclysm alpha is currently being tested and I wouldn't be surprised if the Beta was made available within a few weeks. On top of all that summer is fast approaching and we all know that plays havoc on raid availability. Times are hard for raiders and raiding guilds.

In times like these guild rosters are heavily influx. Some guilds fall apart. Others need to recruit heavily to fill spots. It is not unexpected for raiders to look for greener pastures in this situation. In fact, all three of my guild moves occurred during the summer, so I understand the situation very well. That said there is a right way to make a change and a wrong way, and in my opinion ninja quitters are a bunch of cowards.

It's Not about Loyalty:

At this point many bloggers would go on a rant about guild loyalty and such. I won't. I think the concept of guild loyalty is overblown quite often and in general I think guild members owe very little to their guilds in the long run. No one is paying my 15 dollars for me, and no one can tell me went to play, what to play, or who to play with.

I know it sucks when a valued guild member leaves the guild or goes casual. I've had quite a lot of experience with it lately in fact. Not only have many of our veteran raiders gone casual, but we have also lost a couple of leaders who decided to quit the game or go casual. I don't begrudge them their rights to do so. I just think here is, or at least should be, an etiquette for making this transition.

The Etiquette of Leaving:

Give Notice: Though it may feel like it at times WoW is not a job. I am not suggesting that you give your guild 2 weeks notice though it would be nice. However, every guild does deserve some notice even if it is only a couple of minutes. Take for example the inspiration for this post. Last night two of our raiders didn't show up for raid. We waited a little bit but started without them in hopes that they would show up soon. However, after about an hour someone noticed that neither of them were on the guild roster any longer. They had ninja quit without saying anything on the forums or cancelling their raid sign up. As a result we raided short most of the night.

Some of you may be thinking "what's the big deal?" If we had the people available to replace them we would have. Since we didn't, it probably wouldn't have mattered if they and told us a head of time. I disagree.

First off, at the very least it wastes the guilds time. We used valuable raid time wondering where they were and trying to replace them. Second, who knows what could have been done in a days time. I know we are getting apps to the guild still. Even with very little time a couple of those could be approved and included in raid. Third, we have several member ranked guildies that are available for raid on occasion and are willing to fill in when necessary if they can. By ninja quitting you don't allow any of these things to happen and as a result waste the time of 24 other people.

Be Considerate: As said before I think guildies owe their guilds very little, and in general I don't think they owe anything for the gear they receive. If your their for the fight, you earned it just like everyone else. However, some guild assign specific jobs to guildies like being the guild crafter. These people are given preference for patterns and mats. With in reason, I think these people should repay the guild for some of the things they receive. Certainly return any mats you are given, and if possible provide compensation for the patterns you receive, especially if you are quitting the game and giving away all of your gold.


I know I am drawing a fine line here and some of you may not see the difference. I will admit that some of my comments are coming from the bitterness I feel over wasted raid time last night. To some extent I am probably blowing this out of proportion. However, just because I am angry and possibly a little irrational doesn't mean I'm completely wrong. If you are thinking of making a guild change I wish you good luck, just be considerate in how you leave.

Yes, we are Recruiting:

If you hadn't guessed my guild is recruiting again. We have spots for a Feral Druid, almost any Ranged DPS (included a moonkin, damn you Murmurs), and hybrid healers. If you're looking for a focus guild that gets a lot done in just 9 hours a week, the LoE may be the place for you. You can find more info here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Surviving as a Moonkin

Last month I wrote a post on the "General Rules of Raiding." After reviewing that post I realized I left something out. When it comes to raiding, a lot of players focus very heavily on their offensive performance. Through out the history of this blog, I've gotten tons of emails that say "my DPS is low, help!" Never once have I gotten an email that says "I'm dying a lot, help!" One could assume that all moonkin are pro at surviving but my experience says differently. While improving DPS is important, improving survivability is usually more significant and I think few players focus on it the way they should.

I have addressed this topic in the past, and I don't think that all DPS deaths are preventable or even the DPSers fault. However, just as some healers are quick to fault DPSers for not doing all they could to stay alive, I think a lot of DPSers are quick to blame healers for not getting enough heals. In reality it is not always one persons fault. Sure, you may not have gotten a heal for 8 seconds, but if you had a healthstone in your bag you are partially to blame. In this post I will go over some of the ways Moonkins can keep themselves alive and not take avoidable damage.


Any guide focusing on survivability should probably start with Awareness. Without awareness, a player is lost. The best DPSer in the world would sit on the bench without the proper level of Awareness.

Unfortunately there is very little I can tell you to to help you improve your awareness. You just have to pay more attention to what is going on around you. However, here are a few hints that will hopefully help you down that road.

Survive First, DPS Second: This is more then a simple "don't stand in the fire statement." I don't think anyone stands in the fire purposely, and few people wait to finish a cast after a void zone spawns underneath them. Of course you move in that situation.

My main point in this section is to avoid getting tunnel vision. It's quite easy to get tied up in what's going on with your rotation, and in those times it's quite easy to miss the void zone that just spawned underneath you. My point is, if you're going to make a mistake, make sure it's a mistake in which spell you cast and not where you stand. When I'm in raid I very rarely look at the mob I'm DPSing. I'm usually focused on my own feet or some other potential hazard. If I miss an Eclipse proc, so be it. I may not have done optimal DPS, but I am alive.

Set your UI for Success: Your UI is probably the best tool you have to help you survive and unfortunately the default UI does very little to help you. The health frames are up in the corner. The boss emotes are small and fairly hard to see.

There are plenty of people who play successfully without addons, but there is little reason not to augment your UI to help you perform better. Here are a couple of things you may want to consider.

  • Unit Frames/HUD: Your focus should be on the center of your screen most of the time to watch for void zones and other bad things coming your way. Therefore, you may miss that your health is getting low, or a hazard while looking at your health.

    I like IceHUD because it brings my health right to the center of my screen and it is very easy for me to see. However, I have also heard very good things about Shadowed Unit Frames since it is light weight and allows you to move the unit frames to a more usable spot.

  • Power Auras: There are other addons that do the same thing, but I've liked this one best. Power Aura's monitors the combat log and other game inputs and outputs and will alert you the events you specify in game. For example, I have a Power Aura to let me know when the Lich King is casting Defile, or when I am standing in the Ooze on Rotface. It can also tell you when you have buff or debuf. It can also alert you to when one of your cooldowns is available.

    The great thing about this addon is that you can set it up to tell you almost anything, and it eliminates a lot of the confusion I used to have in a fight. If there is any addon that can help you be more aware, then this is it. Since I started using it, I don't die as many stupid deaths. I've also set it up to let me know when I go below 40% health so that I know if I need to use my stone or cast a heal.
After awareness the only way to improve your survivability is through the proper use of abilities. There are two types of abilities we have available to us: Cooldowns and Heals.

Cooldowns: I think of cooldowns as oh sh!t buttons and are commonly only associated with tanks and healers, but most DPS classes have them as well. Cooldowns tend to be more about preventing damage.

  • Barkskin: Barkskin is the obvious cooldown for druids. It reduces the druids incoming damage by 20% for 12 seconds and can also be used while CCed.

    Barkskin works best with preventing predictable damage. If you know a high damage ability like Festergut's Pungent Blight is coming then popping Barkskin before hand can help out a lot. Barkskin is also good to use during periods of chaos. Take the Bone Storm phase of Marrowgar for example. When people are moving around and trying to avoid damage it is easy for healers to get separated from their targets or to have to delay casts due to movement. In these periods of chaos, reducing your damage intake can be very helpful because it gives the healers more time to heal you back up.

    Don't be afraid of "wasting" Barkskin. It is on a cooldown, but it is relatively short when compared to the cooldowns of other classes. If you think you might need the extra protection go ahead and use it, Barkskin will probably be back up the next time you need it.

  • Dash: Some of you may be surprised by me including this in the guide. It is not a traditional defensive cooldown, but in the right situation it can save your butt.

    I find that Dash works best when am trying to correct an error. If you move a little late, Dash can make up the difference. If you've drifted out of position and you need to get some where fast, Dash can help. Dash really shines in a fight like Sindragosa. I've used it to avoid Blistering Cold and to place Ice Tombs. If the fight is technically outside, don't forget that you can also use Travel form to get away quickly.

  • Shadowmeld: I realize that not all druids have Shadowmeld (sorry taurens), but many do. Shadowmeld isn't a traditional threat drop, because all the threat will come back after the affect is cancelled, and it can be broken by environmental damage. That said, it does give your tanks time to get aggro. Just be sure to give them the time. You may have to wait a few seconds for the tanks to come back and pass you on the threat meter.
Heals: As a general rule DPSers should not be healing. If so many healers have gone down that you need a moonkin to pick up some of the healing slack then it is probably a wipe anyway. That said, DPSers should not hesitate to heal themselves when necessary.

  • Healthstones/Health Pots: The availability of Healthstones and Health pots really depends on the fight and raid make up. Most 25man raids will have a Warlock for a healthstone, but it is less of a given in 10man raiding. That said, you should have your healthstone or pot bound to an easily accessible key. It's useless if you have to search your bags to use it, and binding it to a hard to reach key could mean the difference between surviving and dying.

    I tend to save my health stone for emergency's unless there is a specific time in a fight that I know I am going to need it. I also like to save mine for the end of fights because that's when the damage tends to be higher, and that is when you are also less likely to have a healer to top you off. However, if you think you are about to die don't hesitate to use a healthstone even if it is early in the fight.

    Health Potions are a little more tricky to gage since it prevents you from using a DPS pot during the fight. I like to have a couple on hand just in case, but tend not to use them.

  • Bandages: I am a firm believer that every raider should have is First Aid leveled to the max. However, bandages are a little problematic. They have a 1 minute cooldown, and there healing is interrupted my damage or movement. I keep a few in my bag in case of emergencies, but they need to be a last resort option.

  • Healing Spells: There is nothing that says moonkin can't use their resto spells. Yes, our heals are inefficient and shifting out to do so eats up even more mana, but it is better to be safe then sorry.

    I have most of my healing spells macroed to target myself and keybound to easily accessible keys. If I am in a tough spot and my health stone is gone. I cast Lifebloom or Rejuv on myself and let my health tick back up. If I am really low I will throw a Regrowth or Nourish on me for a bit of a direct heal. Avoid using Healing Touch. It's cast time is just to long to be affective. You will either be dead or healed all the way up before it finishes.


Survivability is a topic that doesn't get a lot of press on WoW blogs or on the forums, but is hugely important to most successful raiding guilds. As a DPSer make sure you have the right priorities: Survive first, DPS second. You can follow these priorities by trying to improve your raid awareness, and organize your UI to easily identify incoming threats. Also, have your cooldowns hand heals easily accessible so that you can use them in a moments notice.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WoW Auction House: There's an App for that.

Yes, I know this title will be used by a thousand different blogs, but I con't think of a better one.

Back in February Blizzard announced that they were working to integrate the Auction House into the Armory so that players could review the Auction House while they were a way from the game. The the post was short on details but that didn't stop people from predicting doom and gloom or saying this would be a huge advantage for gold sellers and the like.

The details of this new service were announced today, and I am sure we will see a new round of dire predictions about the future of AH PvP. In this post I will give my reaction to this new service.

The Free Services:

  • Browse the Auction House
  • Get real-time notifications when your auctions sell or expire
  • Get real-time notifications when you win auctions or when you are outbid
  • View your characters' current gold
  • View the status of your auctions and search for similar auctions
  • View the items you can sell in your bags, bank, and mailbox
  • View the status of auctions you are bidding on
  • View the items you've sold in the Auction House
  • View your expired auctions
  • View the status of auctions you created
  • View your successful auctions
All cool stuff that I don't think anyone can really be unhappy about. There are many times that I am tied up crafting, raiding, leveling, or something when I have a little extra time and want to check the AH quickly. I may just want to see if something sold or maybe I'm looking for a deal but it will be nice to not have to log on to a bank to see the AH.

The only question I have here is if there is any level requirement to use the Web AH? Toons have to be level 10 or higher to be viewed on the Armory. Since most bank toons are level one or close to that, this could put a big downer on this service. I know it isn't hard to level a toon to 10, but I would rather not spend the time.

The Premium Services:

For $2.99, you can receive the following services for 30 days.
  • Bid on auctions
  • Buy out auctions
  • Create auctions from items in your bags, bank, and mailbox
  • Collect gold from successful auctions
  • Collect gold from unsuccessful bids
  • Collect all outstanding gold with a single click
  • Cancel your auctions
  • Relist items for sale from your expired auctions
In the FAQ Blizzard answered a very important question.

Is there a limit to the number of transactions (purchases and sales) I can make?
Yes. In order to help prevent abuse of this service, there will be a system in place to limit the total number of Auction House transactions (including bids, buyouts, and creating auctions) that a single World of Warcraft account can perform through World of Warcraft Remote each day. For the purposes of the beta test, the limit is set to 25 transactions per day per World of Warcraft account. When the Remote Auction House beta test ends and the live World of Warcraft Remote service launches, we plan to increase the limit to 200 transactions per day (with a World of Warcraft Remote subscription), though this limit is subject to change. Our goal with this system is to ensure that most players who are using the service will not reach the limit, and we will be continuously monitoring how the service is used and making adjustments to the system as needed.
Mostly it allows you to do what you already can do in game without addons, but it does add three features that I hope make it into the game version.

1. "Collect all outstanding gold with a single click." For big AHers that can be a lot of mail. Basically you would be opening dozens if not hundreds of pieces of mail with a single click. That would save a lot of goblins a lot of time.

2. "Relist items for sale from your expired auctions." Assuming relisted auctions can have a new price, this would effectively eliminate the mailbox from the AH equation. If it doesn't sell, just relist it. If it does sell collect the gold with a single click.

3. "Create auctions from items in your bags, bank, and mailbox." I currently have 3 alts devoted to selling inscriptions. I have to have 3 because it takes that many to hold all the glyphs in the game in player bags. If I could post auctions from my bank I could consolidate them into one toon.

I'm not entirely sure it would work, but if these three things were added to the ingame version of the AH it would be huge for Goblins.

The Implications:

I think a lot of the doom and gloom predicted 3 months ago was unreasonable, and I doubt these changes will have a major impact on how the AH operates.

No Addons: Most of the doom and gloom I've seen predicted ignores the facts of the current AH game. To really play the AH, you need addons. You need addons to scan the AH and find the market price and current price for items. You need addons to list multiple items with a single push of the button. You need addons to search for deals and purchase them quickly.

I don't know if it is possible to write a program that will perform these tasks outside of the game, but even if it is possible there is the question of legality. Blizzard has long banned third party applications like Glider that automate the game outside of the LUA language. It wouldn't surprise me if Blizzard took the same view for AH automation, and started handing out bans for using such programs.

Transaction Limit: It's also important to take note of the transaction limit. With only 200 transactions a day it would be difficult to do any serious trading with automated transactions. Even on my slowest AH days I listed over 300 items in a day. At my peak, I would probably listing close to 2,000 auctions a day. A 200 transaction limit is pretty high if you are doing everything by hand, but with automation it you could blow by it in minutes. Therefore there is very little incentive to automate anyway.

Who Would Use The Premium Service?

Lets take a look at it from the perspective of several AH user types.

Casual AH Users: I don't know why they would spend the money to get access to the premium services. If money is no concern then they may buy it for the convenience, but most will probably stick with the ingame AH. If they do buy it, then it will help them look for deals, or list things when they can't get to the computer. They would use it purily for the convenience.

Moderate AH Users: People who stick to fairly small markets within the AH could really be helped by the premium services. They aren't listing a ton of auctions so the 200 limit shouldn't be an issue. They are also in few enough markets that it is easy to search for deals by hand. For example if you're in the flask market it is easy for you to search for deals on Lichbloom and Frost Lotus without the help of an addon. Again though I'm not sure why these people would buy the premium service. The extra money they would make would be hardly worth the 3 dollars a month they pay.

AH PvPers: I can see why these people would pay for the service. They play the AH as a game and gold is a way of keeping score. Anything the helps them get a higher score is valuable to them. However, the lack of automation and and transaction limit will limit how useful the the service is for them. I think they will primarily use the service to look for deals. You may not be able to list hundreds of glyphs, but you can look for cheap herbs to buy. Also, the truly dedicated can manually search the AH for deals on high value items in the hope to relist them at a profit.

Gold Sellers: I see Gold Sellers as another form of AH PvPers except that if anyone can automate the web AH it is these guys. That said, I don't see the benefit of doing it. These guys play wow for a living. They don't need to access the AH when they are outside the game because it shouldn't be a problem for them to stay logged into the game and just scan the AH.


I think all of the of the services being made available with the new Web AH sound great. I would love to have access to them all as a player. However, the free services while convenient lack any real power or significance. Yes, I can check the AH from work, but I can't do anything about it without paying for the premium service. Unfortunately, I see little reason to purchase the premium service. I couldn't maintain my wow industry when I'm outside of the game because the web based service lacks addons and the transaction limit prevents be from posting as many actions as i would need to.

Beta Testing: If you would like to test the new web based AH you can find the necessary information here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cataclysm Profession Preview

There isn't a lot of exciting news in the Cataclysm Profession Preview posted by Blizzard yesterday, but there are a few things I would like to comment on.


  • New elixirs will be about 75% as strong as flasks. So you can get more total stat points with two elixirs, but flasks will still be the best at giving you a single offensive or defensive stat.
  • New Mysterious Potion created with common materials restores health and mana in a massively random range, as well as sometimes granting the benefit of another potion. The health and mana range is from 1-20,000 and is able to crit. The minimum amount restored, however, is scaled upwards by the Alchemy skill, making it a great choice for alchemists to keep for themselves.
For no rational reason I often think of Alchemy as my main profession. It's the first crafting profession that I leveled to max level, and it's on my main toon. Though I have no real reason to value it more then any other, I do. Therefore, my interest is little higher when it comes to this profession.

The Elixir's change sounds interesting, though I doubt it will have much of an impact on how we use consumables. While it will provide more realistic options, it sounds like a flask will still be the best option in a raid situation, and I've never thought flasks or elixirs were necessary at any other time.

I am very interested to see how the "New Mysterious Potion" works out. In concept, I've always been a big fan of the Mad Alchemist potions, but feel that they have failed to deliver for me as caster DPS. In TBC the random elixir proc was useless because I had a flask, and when I didn't it usually gave me something like attack power. In both TBC and WotLK, the mana returned was less then that of a Mana potion. Therefore if I needed the mana I used a mana pot. The random affect was to unreliable to make up for the less mana returned.

In Cataclysm, it sounds like mana will become a bigger issue. If this potion remains a cheap but inconsistent mana pot I doubt there will be many people using it. I and many other people will prefer the consistency and possible greater return from a normal mana pot.

New Cataclysm weapon enchantment preview:
  • Avalanche -- Chance to deal Nature damage on melee hit/spell hit.
  • Elemental Slayer -- As expected, this enchantment helps players deal devastating damage to elemental creatures.
  • Hurricane -- A stacking haste proc.
  • Heartsong -- Mana regeneration through increased Spirit when chain-casting spells.
  • Many more maximum-level enchantments are still in progress.
I'm loving this new concept for weapon enchants. Lets be honest, in most cases item enchants are boring. It's 30 Spell Power to Bracers or 23 Haste to Cloak. There is very little debate as which is best, and very few of them do anything other then provide stats. With this announcement it looks like they are moving away from the traditional 65 SP enchants at least in the weapon slot. Instead they will be providing useful buffs or procs.

Obviously we don't have many details, but I hope that the weapon enchant becomes more like Glyphs. If you are going to Ragnaros then Elemental Slayer might be the best option, but Avalanche might be better for non elemental targets. Maybe there is a fight that requires a lot AoE and the Haste from Hurricane might be better.

I like the idea of having to put some thought into which enchant you should use. The main issue I see with this model is that the materials cost for these enchants could remain very high for weapon enchants. If that is the case then many people will resist making multiple changes.

The other thing I would like to see from enchanting is have enchants that scale with gear. A fresh 80 with gold gets the same benefit from their enchants that someone with the best gear from ICC. It's not that big of a deal, but I would like to see enchants have a bigger impact on the performance of highly geared players.

  • With the large number of class changes coming with Cataclysm, many existing glyphs will see new functionality.
  • Minor glyphs are woefully uneven from one class to the next right now, so they're a focus for us to clean them up and try to ensure that everyone has minor glyphs they're excited about.
  • We'll be adding more major glyphs as well, but in the hopes of making them as balanced as possible, we'll likely wait until after the expansion ships to add any for the new abilities in Cataclysm.
  • New and more desirable off-hand and relic recipes will be added.
As a whole I think Inscriptions has been a very successful profession, but it hasn't lived up to what I first envisioned when it was announced before WotLK was released. I thought it would provide a lot more options. Instead of having one glyph for every spell, I thought they would have a couple of glyphs for most spells.

Take Moonfire for example. It's a good DoT for PvE moonkin. The direct damage portion of the spell can be good for PvP moonkin to get some quick burst on a target or to stop them from capping a flag. Obviously the spell has multiple uses but the current glyph set up only focus on one. In addition to the Glyph of Moonfire why don't we have another glyph that is more attractive to PvP moonkin. Maybe it could increase the direct damage of Moonfire by 300% but reduce the DoT damage by 90% and add a 6 second cooldown. I pulled those numbers off the top of my head, but I would like to have a choice of which Moonfire glyph to use as well as choosing between Glyph of Moonfire and Glyph of Insect Swarm.

Speaking to the post directly, I agree with all the bullet points. I don't think minor glyphs have been implemented well as a whole, and waiting to add glyphs for new abilities is probably a good idea. What I found most interesting though was last bullet point. Scribes will be able to make relics in Cataclysm.

I don't expect to use a crafted relic on Graylo, because I assume the best ones will still come from raiding. However, leveling my shaman has reminded me how difficult it is to get a relic until you raid. I hope they allow low level scribes to make relics also for low level toons since you currently can't get a relic until level 60.

  • All Cataclysm herbs have the chance of containing Volatile Life.
  • There won't be a new Lotus equivalent in Cataclysm. Alchemists will use the more reliably-found Volatile Life to create the new high level flasks.
  • "Heartblossom -- Named for its deep red color, this delicate flower grows close to the ground, and always in pairs. If one blossom is taken, the other flower begins to wilt immediately and dies soon after. It is considered very unlucky to disturb a Heartblossom without blessing it first."
It sounds like the "volatile life" is the new crystallized life. Getting rid of the lotus model makes some sense since guild mats are likely to kill the market for them. I assume the volatile life will be used by other professions as well an this should help maintain the market.

I am very interested in the quote regarding Heartblossom. I wonder if this is just some RP, or are they actually going to make herbing more interesting. Will you get more herbs if you /bless it first? would it be more profitable to herb in pairs to get both halves of the Heartblossom? I have a feeling it's just RP, but a change of pace would be interesting.

Quick Hits:

  • I like what they are doing with the crafted gear from Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, and Tailoring, but I doubt it will have much of an impact. All of the professions provide decent leveling gear, but I find it unnecessary in general. I have gotten plenty of decent leveling gear from quests and imagine that will be easier during Cataclysm. I've used very little crafted gear on my toons and what I did use was mostly done so by the toon with the profession. Having random stats won't make crafted gear more attractive, or less time consuming to create.

  • The Jewelcrafting changes were pretty predictable. Int and Hit had to be moved out of yellow or it would have been a very crowded socket color. The random possibility of crafting a "superior" or "epic" item when you craft jewelry is interesting, but I think in the end it will be like playing the lottery. If it happens you get some extra gold by selling the better item.

  • I think First Aid is a mandatory profession for any level 80 (even those with healing spells), but the big problem with it is that bandages do very little for very well geared players. It will be interesting to see if this third bandage fixes that. In the end I think it would be best if bandages scaled a little with the players health pool.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

WoW Lacks Significant Rewards

If you ask a progression raider why they raid, a majority of the time the answer will be that they love the challenge, the team work or something of that nature. I think those answers are 100% true, but there is also another reason why progression raiders raid and it is often left out of the conversation. Many progression raiders also like the rewards gained from their high level of achievement. Unfortunately, these rewards are being devalued by Blizzard. In this post I will look at what makes a good reward and explain why the current rewards are inadequate.

What is a Good Reward?

In my opinion, there are two things that can make a reward valuable: Utility and Rarity.

Utility: Isn't a reward better if it makes life a little easier. I leveled the Ardent Crusade and all of my faction reps to exalted purely to get the squire who could check my mail and look at my bank. It same saves me time, and possibly my raids time if I forget something in my bank. In fact I no longer carry my Shadow Resist gear around on the off chance we do ToGC. If I need it I can quickly pull it out of the bank.

That said, utility can be a slippery slope. If you make the reward to powerful it goes from being a reward to being a need, and many people will feel compelled to do the task just for the reward.

Rarity: There is a reason why Kungen from Ensidia still wears the Scarab Lord title. It is the rarest of all titles. It represents a significant achievement from Vanilla WoW. Only a few hundred people in the world got the title, and even the people who cheezed it on new realms had to put in a lot of time to get it. A very rare reward gives the player a way to display their accomplishment. Not only that it signals to other players and guilds your quality and may help you get in a guild or a pug group.

The Current Rewards:

Gear: When I made my comment two weeks ago that Heroic raiders should get first crack at the new content several commenters said that Heroic Gear should be enough of a reward for doing Heroic content. I disagree completely.

There are several big issues as to why Gear should not be seen as a reward. The first being utility. Gear is the primary example of a reward having to much utility. Gevlon has proven with his undergeared project that you don't have to have the best gear to progress, but I think even he would agree that it makes it a lot easier. Gear in the long run reduces the skill needed to complete content and I have been in raids where the GM calls it because we don't have the gear to complete the content even though we had better gear then the people go completed it before attunements were lifted.

Gear is just to powerful. If it is handed out only as a reward for an accomplishment it creates large barriers for entry. This is what caused the big shift in Blizzard gear philosophy in TBC when they let BT level gear be purchase able with badges and had Kara level gear drop from 5man instances. In WotLK, Blizzard has made gear even more available, and this leads me to the second reason why gear is a bad reward.

Gear is to easy to obtain to be a significant reward. In a matter of weeks a player can get a full set of T9 gear gear with out ever setting foot into a raid instance. It is theoretically possible for someone to do the same with T10 gear. Given how accessible the normal mode of ICC is a new player can have a very good set of gear in just a few months. Progression raiders will have slightly better gear, but the performance advantage is small and it looks the same as it's lower level equivalent.

Titles: Titles can be a very good reward. As I mentioned above the Scarab Lord title is still highly valued and I have been very proud of several titles over the course of WotLK. The problem with titles though is that they aren't removed from the game. My proudest achievement from WotLK so far is completing Immortal and therefore the T7 meta achievement before Ulduar was released. The Immortal title is still pretty rare, but that is due more to a lack of effort then any great barrier. Any group with half a brain, some preparation and ICC level gear could get Immortal now with a little effort. The same goes for the Sarth 3D titles. Both were very significant in T7, now there are tons of alts picking them up when ever Sarth becomes the weekly quest.

So, titles do have significant value at least temporarily, but most lose their value after it is possible for players to over power the content. There is a reason that the server first titles are so popular, and there is a reason why I still where the Ardent Defender title. I won't claim that my accomplishment is as big as a 10man strict guild getting it, but it does show that I completed some very hard content at the appropriate gear level.

Very Fast Mounts (310%): If you had asked me a year ago, I would have told you these were the perfect reward. I feel for the guilds that were not able to complete the T7 meta in time, but no one can deny that the Black Proto-drakes show that you beat the T7 content in level appropriate gear. In addition to representing a significant accomplishment, they also allowed you to get places a little faster and that is huge for an impatient person like me.

Unfortunately, Blizzard has allowed these rewards to lose their significance and in Cataclysm Blizzard will be taking away the utility completely. Call me a hypocrite if you like. I know that I got my Ironbound Proto-drake after ToC was released, but the fact that they are still available a year after Ulduar's release has made them nothing more then a pretty picture. With ICC gear pugs are able to over power all of the content with a little prep and organization.

Not only that, but Blizzard said this in the Twitter Developer chat a few weeks ago:
Our current plan, is that in Cataclysm, you can learn a new rank of flying that lets all flying mounts move at 310% (even current 280% mounts). That will probably be as fast as mounts will ever get. We don’t like it that when you get a 310% mount that you stop using your old ones. (src)
This could mean one of two things.

1. When you complete a meta achievement you get a "Tome of Very Fast Flying" that increases your riding skill to 525 and allows all of your flying mounts to go a 310% speed.

2. The 310% flying speed will be purchasable with gold like the other levels of riding skill.

I really hope that it is the first. If it's the second, then Blizzard has just taken the best part about the meta rewards and given them to everyone with time.


I can hear the groans now, and I'm sure I will turn off a few more readers my supposed Elitism. However, I think accomplishment should be rewarded and I like to be recognized for my accomplishments. Unfortunately Blizzard has taken steps to undermine those rewards in WotLK.
Gear is tool and should not be seen as a reward by anyone. Otherwise it would have to little value or create a huge barrier to entry and prevent people from accessing content. Titles work well as reward temporarily, but ultimately lose their value due to people being able to over power the content. Mounts much like titles made a great reward in the beginning, but now are losing their value because over geared players can complete the meta achievements just a little thought and planning.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cataclysm Leaks: Build 11927

Posting about the Alpha:

I am a little paranoid about posting on Alpha leaks. I have no contacts with Blizzard as far as I know, and therefore have no hope of getting in to the alpha, but I would like to get into the beta. It's probably just wishful thinking that Blizzard would give me any kind of key priority as a blogger, but I have hope. That said, if there was anyway to piss off blizzard and lose any kind of special treatment posting on alpha leaks is probably a good way to do it. However, as one of the main moonkin bloggers, I'm having a hard time ignoring it. So, even though I am posting about the alpha I would like you guys to keep a couple of things in mind.

1. I'm not going to post on anything unless it pops up on a major WoW news site like MMO Champion or WoW.com. I figure it is generally available if it is on those sites and I will be using it as a discussion point.

2. Remember the context of this information. THIS IS JUST ALPHA LEAKS. This brings two concerns to mind. First, who knows if these are correct or not. Second what goes live with the expansion will likely be very different then what is hitting the servers now. There were huge changes between my first alpha post last time and what went live. The two barely looked a like at all. For these two reasons, I don't want to see any proclamations of doom and gloom. We don't know how any of these things are going to work and the people who can actually test it right now can't talk about it.

All that said, I might be jumping around a little bit, to combine some of my comments.

Talent Changes:

Haste Talents - The current Balance tree has three haste talents Celestial Focus, Nature's Grace, & Improved Moonkin Form. In this first alpha build, both Celestial Focus and Improved Moonkin Form have lost their haste affects. This isn't surprising given that one of our mastery bonuses is for Haste and the issues we've had with capping haste. Ghostcrawler has said many times that they view stat caps as a bad thing and this is one way to combat that.

The semi strange thing is that Nature's Grace has been left unchanged. I can only assume that this means they haven't finalized what they want to do with Nature's Grace yet. Ghostcrawler has said multiple times that Nature's Grace is overpowered and an issue. Therefore I don't expect it to last.

Moonkin Form Changes - I'm sure this will have a lot of people up in arms. The Moonkin Form talent only increased your armor while in Form and shifting free's the caster from polymorph and movement impairing effects. Improved Moonkin Form increases the Crit Chance of the raid by 6%. So, we gain an extra percent chance to crit, but lose mana on crit, reduced damage when stunned, the haste effect, and spell power from spirit.

I'm not really surprised by any of this. I expected the loss of spell power from spirit. As I said before the loss of the haste effect makes sense, and the damage reduction has never been something I thought about. The loss of mana on crit doesn't surprise me but is a little shocking. I think most moonkin agree that it is a little OP. I never have mana issues as long as I am nuking and have plenty of Replenishment. However, I am a little worried about where our mana will
come from if no mana on crit is permanent. It may be overpowered, but it is also needed. I would have expected a nerf rather then a out right loss.

Hit Talents - Imp Fierie Fire is gone. Balance of Power still provides 4% chance to hit but it also converts Spirit to Hit chance as well. Neither of these things are a surprise. Blizzard has said they are doing away with the Hit buffs, and that makes Imp Fierie Fire useless. The 3% chance to crit was nice but lets be honest and say that it was not the main attraction of the talent.

Lunar Justice - When you kill a target that yields experience or honor, a ray of moonlight will shine underneath the fallen enemy instantly restoring 2%-6% of your base mana to you or the first ally who stands underneath it. Lunar Justice lasts for 15 sec. - This sounds interesting but I'm having a hard time seeing how this would be more then a leveling talent. First, I assume that the moonkin has to get the kill shot for it to proc. If that is true then it will have very limited usefulness in PvE. If it's not true, then Moonkin could proc a ton of them on heavy add fights and make the mana issue trivial. Second, since it spawns on the dead target, it is unlikely that the moonkin will get it in a party. Most likely it will be consumed by pally's and shaman who are in melee range by default. It may be useful in BG PvP, but I'm not sure how they could balance this.

Solar Beam - You Summon a beam of solar light over the enemy target's location, Disorienting all enemy targets under the beam for 3 sec. and silencing all enemy targets under the beam while it is active. Solar beam lasts for 10 sec. - The talent that was first mentioned in the Twitter Developer chat. It sounds more PvP oriented but could have some uses in PvE. On a fight like LDW it would be nice to be able to silence multiple adds at once, but also sounds pretty tricky to use perfectly. Since it is listed as a prereq for two other talents my guess is that most PvE moonkin would pick it up in this set up.

Starsurge - You Fuse the power of the moon and sun launching a devastating blast of energy at the target Causes 1025 to 1027 Spellstorm damage to the target and knocking them down. - This sounds pretty sweet for both PvE and PvP. The knockdown is basically and interrupt if you can time it well. The damage may sound low to some of you guys, but remember that this is available at level 30. The equivalent Starfire does 189-231 damage and has a second longer cast time. This thing hits hard and has other benefits.

Lunar Guidance - Increases the radius of your Solar Beam by 6 yards, and your Starsurge also instantly generates 15 Lunar or Solar energy depending on which is greater. - Obviously the current version wouldn't work in Cataclysm since Int will provide spell power on its own. I like what they did to it. It significantly buffs both Solar Beam and Starsurge.

Wrath of Cenarius - What MMO champion has listed for this talent is very strange. Rank one has a completely different tooltip then rank 2 or 3. Who knows whats going on here.

Rank 1: While moving, the direct damage portion of your Moonfire spell is increased by 5% and it's mana cost is reduced by 10% for 3 sec. This effect can stack up to 3 times and lasts 3 sec., but is refreshed as long as you are in movement. - Depending on how this talent stacks, and if it has multiple ranks, Moonfire spam could be a viable strat while moving. For example, if it does really have 3 ranks and can stack up to 3 times then it could have a 15% Damage increase to the direct damage and a 90% reduction in mana cost. This could be huge in Battlegrounds, but I don't think it would be really big in PvE, unless it stacked really quickly.

Ranks 2 and 3: These are the same as the current 2nd and 3rd ranks of Wrath of Cenarious. So my guess is that they are not correct, but I am a little surprised that they would be getting rid of this talent.

Eclipse - Increases the amount of Lunar or Solar energy generated from your Starfire and Wrath by 12% and when critically hit by a melee or ranged attack, you will instantly generate Lunar or Solar Energy. - Hard to tell what affect this will have on Moonkin DPS without knowing how Eclipse as a whole will work, but it looks it feels pretty weak at the moment.

Earth and Moon - Increases Raid Wide Spell Damage taken by 8%. The personal buff is still 6% - The Raid buff is down from 13%. We are losing some utility through this but, I have to admit that 13% was pretty powerful. Since blizzard is making buffs feel even less mandatory, this change makes sense. I also don't expect the personal buff to stay since this is the type of thing they are trying to get rid of with mastery.

Fungal Growth - When your Trents die or your Wild Mushrooms are triggered, you spawn a Fungal Growth at its wake covering the area within 8 yards slowign all enemy targets by 70%. Lasts 10 seconds. - PvP talent that could be situationally useful in PvE. For example i would love to have it in Valithria Dreamwalker. DPS and slow the suppressors all at once? Yes please.

Insect Swarm - Since its not there, I'm assuming it becomes a base spell, though they could be taking at a way completely.

Overall Reaction:

It's clear that the balance tree isn't done. Several of the talents don't look finished. That said, I'm not overly impressed with the new additions as a PvE moonkin. Solar Beam and Fungal Growth seem very PvP oriented. Lunar Justice doesn't seem to be that significant of a talent. Therefore it's hard to make any real judgements. That said, I am left with one question.

Where are we going to get Mana from? If Mana on Crit is permanently gone then the days of the OOMkin could come back unless other changes are made. Obviously Moonglow and Dreamstate would be staples in such a situation, but I don't think they would be enough.