Saturday, 27 September 2008

RP Gear for the Expansion

Now I'm not an active role player and don't play on a role playing server but I do love all the extra touches Blizzard puts into the game which add some variety and can seem at times incredibly random. Being a rogue a huge source of these can be found from pickpocketing mobs (which you should be doing anyway for the extra income and lock boxes) but occasionally they can be found in the normal way through the killing and looting of mobs.

With the expansion coming up there are a couple of groups which are going to have some significance and there are ways you can look the part whilst doing it.

Dalaran - The new Shattrath of the expansion. So a place you're likely to spend a lot of time whilst repairing and sorting out bank/bag space etc. It's possible to look the part with a Dalaran Wizard's Robe which drops off the wizards in Silverpine forest. Easy to pick up as a Horde character, but if you're with the Alliance you'll have to check out the neutral auction house and hope to get lucky.

The Scarlet Onslaught - What's left of the Scarlet Crusade in Northrend. Try some extra deception by wearing your own Tabard of the Scarlet Crusade whilst keeping them at bay. This can be picked up by either side, all you need to get to the end of the Armory in the Scarlet Monastery, kill Herod and then decimate the Scarlet Trainees that spawn. Once they're all dead loot away and hope that it's dropped. Else run out reset and repeat until you do.

So there's my suggestions and the things you may see me wearing around Northrend, have fun.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

My new favourite toy

So Brewfest is back again and being celebrated around Azeroth. Along with the now traditional ram racing and Brewfest barking the Dark Iron dwarves are making a bigger impact with their attacks on the festival and their boss Coren Direbrew hanging around in Blackfathom Depths.

This bad guy is the daily boss of this festival, running along the lines of The Headless Horseman and Lord Ahune. With the added advantage of a shortcut from the instance entrance to the bar and the boss respawning without you having to run out and reset. A group of us went in and ran it a few times today, the new mount dropped but I lost the roll however over the course of the runs I picked up a new trinket and a new dagger.

However the coolest drop I won was this little doodad which not only provides a once an hour teleport to The Grim Guzzler but once there allows you to talk to the roadies for the L80ETC who will summon the band for a sound check. Cheering at them will grant you a +10% to all stats buff for 5 minutes which is quite handy for fighting the boss and lasts just about long enough to down him and try and get one of the elusive mounts. (Actually I've already got the ram due to obsessive brewfest ticket grinding last year).

Pirates vs Ninjas - Tis the turn of the pirate

On 19th September most of the world takes part in the noble tradition of talking like a pirate, something we took very seriously for our Friday night Karazhan jaunt as we all arrived in pirate costumes either from Savory Deviate Delight or from visiting Booty Bay and speaking to those celebrating on the roof. Here we can see Crash in all his piratey goodness along with pet parrot.

After the raid I looked at the pet and thought, well where can I get something a bit more unique. A quick search around and the Deadmines seemed to a good bet. Having never really played an alliance character this was also a great way to see some new content and wow running that as one of your first instances would be awesome especially with the quest to explaire the place.

Anyways, on the first run, Cookie dropped his Cat and on the 3rd run through one of the pirates gave up a parrot. I also have a nice head piece should I need to use it, there's always something good about a rogue wearing some kind of facemask.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Class Homogenization: Rogue perspective

There's a few posts going around discussing the class changes that are coming up and how they are removing some of the unique properties from classes and giving something similar to another class. Some people aren't looking forward to it (further explanations here) whilst others are looking forward to it. Personally I'm coming down in the second camp for one particular reason, the new raiding progression for 10 man groups and the ability for this many people to take down the raid bosses involved.

As has been mentioned our guild has successfully cleared Karazhan and had a couple of stabs at Zul'Aman with limited success. While we are running through Kara now for badges and to gear alts it's becoming clear that we can start to run with groups that would have horrified us when we first started trying to down the bosses.

Anyways one of the problems you face when hitting the 25man raids is that there are suddenly key classes that must be there for the fight to succeed. We're talking about Warrior tanks for things such as Illidan, Warlocks for Magtheridon, Hunters for the High King Maulgar fight. Which is fine in a group with 25 key players, once you've sorted the number of tanks and healers you require, there's still some room to have the right number of key classes and bring the rest of the players that have signed up. Once you scale that number down to 10 there's a lot less room for manourve.

You'll probably still need 2 tanks and 2/3 healers which leaves you with 5 dps spots. If you suddenly need say 3 hunters then your rogues, dps shamans, mages, warlocks etc. are left fighting for the last 2 spots. However if the key ability that a hunter had that is required for the fight and someone else has an ability that is similar well then it makes sense that a.n.other class can do it in their stead.

What does this mean for the rogue, well suddenly we'll be required to do more tasks than just dpsing down the current dps target, and this is going to make instancing and raiding a lot more fun and varied. A misdirect, AoE, ability to disarm and the like all mean we can do something that will benefit the raid as a whole and help support other classes. A feral tank can't disarm like a warrior but with a rogue in the party there's suddenly one available to them.

So while other classes may decry the loss of something they felt makes them special, and die hard dps monkeys may cry about having to spend precious energy on something other than something to put the hurt on the big bad I say bring it on, let's start having some fun and learning some new tricks. It's a brand new world so lets enjoy it and help our guilds/groups destroy the new big bads hiding around the corner.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Rogue 101: Energy and Combo Points

The unique combat mechanic of the rogue class is the use energy and the generation of combo points. For anyone who's been more used to rage or mana which are just used in order to perform an action or spell things can be slightly confusing, and this is where this article hopefully comes in :)

The basic rules of energy are that you have 100 energy which regenerates at a rate of 20 energy every 2 seconds. Currently this appears in 20 energy blocks, however the next patch will change this to a much smoother rate of 1 energy every .1 second.

In the same ways that spells cost mana, rogue abilities cost energy and it's always a fixed amount for each ability. If you don't have enough energy then you can't perform that ability and an error message will appear in the same way as if you try to cast a spell when you don't have enough mana.

There are various items and talents which can affect energy regeneration which we shall look at now.

The first is Thistle Tea which is a special rogue only potion made via the cooking profession and gained by completing a faction specific quest. Up to level 40 it returns 100 energy and after that returns 100 - ((level-40) * 2) energy meaning that at level 70 it'll only return 40 energy, which is only really an emergency finishing move or a talented sinister strike so isn't seen very much in current end game raiding.

In terms of talents there are 4 major ones to be aware of (patch 3.0/WotLK stuff included).
  1. Relentless Strikes - A tier 3 assassination talent which gives a 20% chance per combo point to restore 25% energy. In real terms this means that a 5-point finishing move such as rupture and slice and dice is effectively free as they cost 25 energy and are guarenteed to restore 25 energy due to this talent (5 * 20% = 100%). In patch 3.0 this talent is due to be moved to a tier 1 subtlety talent and will require 5 points in order to gain the same effect.
  2. Combat Potency - Lurking at the bottom of the combat tree we find this talent which with 5 points invested in it will give successful offhand attacks a 20% chance to restore 15 energy. Now with slice and dice up you're going to be hitting the mob a lot (especially with a fast off hand weapon) so this will proc fairly often and allow for extra attacks sooner than initially expected.
  3. Focused attacks - A new talent for patch 3.0 in the assassination tree which with 3 points in gives melee crits a 30% chance to restore 3 energy. This is very similar to the Improved Leader of the Pack heal on melee crit, but doesn't appear to have the hidden cooldown.
  4. Arcane Torrent - One of the Blood Elf racial talents, currently restores 10 energy for every mana tap you've got stacked (up to 3). Come the next patch this is changing to restore 15 energy but is more likely to be used for the silence component when kick or gouge are on cool down.
Finally, I said at the start of this section that you have 100 energy, well it is possible to have more through a couple of means.
  1. Vigor - Another assassination talent which increases your total amount of energy by 10 so with this alone you can go up to 110. More energy means more damage and given that Mutilate costs more than Sinister Strike an assassination rogue can always do with that extra top up. Patch 3.0 is moving this higher in the tree so we may see more rogues taking it for end game at level 80.
  2. Gladiator's PvP gear - The 4-piece set bonus increases maximum energy by 10 so an assassination rogue could end up with 120 energy for double mutilate goodness in a battleground or arena fight.

Combo points
Combo points are gained in 1s 2s or occasionally 3s when you sucessfully perform an ability that grants them. If the attack is parried, dodged or misses then you aren't awarded the points so it's always worth checking to see whether the attack landed. Combo points are tied to a particular mob and you can have a maximum of five on that mob. Finishing moves consume the combo points and are generally more potent the more points that are used. This can be in the form of increased damage or a longer duration buff or a combination of the two depending on the move.

Each ability that generates combo points will generate a fixed number which is listed in the description but there are other ways combo points can be generated.
  1. Seal Fate - 5 points into the assassination talent means that every combo point generating move that crits adds an additional combo point. The additional is the key point, a mutilate (which adds 2 combo points) that crits will add 3, which is enough to consider a finishing move if you need to.
  2. Premiditation - A subtlety talent which adds 2 combo points which are available for 10 seconds or until used. Not having played a subtlety spec fully I'm not always sure of when to use this, but I suspect it would be useful for increasing the duration of a stunlock or ensuring a bigger eviscerate/envenom should you need to finish someone off quicker.
  3. Initiative - Another subtlety talent and with 3 points spent in it gives you a 75% chance to add an additional combo point when using one of your abilities from stealth.
  4. Ruthlessness - Back in the assassination tree, 3 points in this talent gives each finishing move a 60% chance to generate a combo point.
  5. Netherblade - The Tier 4 rogue armor from Karazhan, Gruul's Lair and Magtheridon, 4 pieces of which will give your finishing moves a 15% change to generate a combo point.

A useful fact about 4 and 5 is that they are independant chances so when the random number generator is on your side a finishing move can generate 2 combo points and cost no energy (see above).

Energy is something that is always available and will always regenerate at a constant rate. It is used to perform abilities that generate combo points and spend them. Always ensure you have enough energy to perform the moves you need and wait for the energy to regenerate if you don't. Combo points are available on a use them or lose them basis on a single mob but the more you have the more powerful the finishing moves you'll be able to perform. When playing keep a watch eye on both how much energy and how many combo points you have at any one time.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

I'm in

Characters have been copied successfully and were there when I logged into the PTR this morning. Crash (or Crshnburn as he's had to be called) has got a shiny new assassination spec to play with. Initial testing show it's a lot of fun, though I'm going to have to go up against something quite tough to make use of all the new talents and abilities.

Also going to have to hack in some addons, really can't cope without my Hud showing energy amount and combo point totals.

Stay tuned...

Monday, 15 September 2008

Experiences of the PTR process

1) Download large installer file.
2) Set installer running overnight
3) Get up at 3.30am to stop now running client playing music, use time to make use of empty transfer queue to initiate character copy for both 70s
4) Watch average transfer times rise and fall whilst yours are pending
5) Decide to check out the PTR forums to see if there's anything relevant
6) See the *huge* amount of whinging and trolling and pointless posting
7) Log out and do something else

Now this isn't a whinge on my part, yes I'd like to get in there and start playing with stuff but I understand that with all the new stuff there's probably most of the player base wanting to get in there and trying things out.

However if you've managed to get a character copied and are trying things out please be constructive, yes ret paladins have been heavily buffed, yes rogues are still going to be a problem to casters (remember to wave to your anti-class), no this isn't the final product.

The whole point of testing is to see how things are working and adjust them when necessary. It's also worth remembering that all the shiny 51pt talents that are available have to be suited to our roles as brave adventurers against the Lich King in Northrend so are going to seem a bit over-powered when used at our current level. In the words of the current big bad, 'We are not prepared', but need time to grow into these new skills and ensure that they're right for what we need to do.

Let's not forget that there will be changes after the expansion hits, just look at what's happened with the Cheat Death talent, and things will be adjusted as the developers see how players make the best of their class.

If you really want to ensure the game remains fun, play it and play it well, only then can the developers see what can be done with the talents and abilities they've given you as no matter how good you are you'll never think of every little way things can be used.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

I've been on a bit of a collecting mission recently, with the change to the pet UI coming in the next patch it's not going to be so much of a bag space problem keeping all those cute lil guys around and can randomly pick one to have by your side for a particular fight.

The whole collection has been augmented with Don Carlos' famous hat for the added bonus of appearing to have a tame shaman in tow. Killing the man himself was a lot of fun as we took Crash, our MT feral druid and a shadow priest to help with healing. Providing we didn't do anything daft like swipe a patrol or miss a need to taunt him off the priest he died fairly smoothly and provided the entire team with the aforementioned stylish headpiece.

After that the bear and I went to pay Baron Rivendare a visit which was a bit of a laugh. The only major problem we faced was when killing Baroness Anastari. Not fully understanding the mind control aspect of the fight I duely got posessed had all the useful abilities (Evasion, Adrenaline Rush) used and I took down the druid before he could damage me enough to release the posession. Other than that we had a clean run through and even managed to kill him before the hostage got sacrificed. Sadly the mount didn't drop but it was a trip which allowed for some lore based exploration and a map I'll need to learn for the new Caverns of Time instance.

Loads of people have suddenly found themselves with a beta invite, but I haven't but given my main aim was to try out some of the new talents and spells I'm going to have a go a getting onto the PTR for the patch which will include all that stuff. The client is downloaded and I'm just waiting for the copy queue to clear up so I can get Crash and Med across and have a play. If all goes to plan I'll put some stuff up about new talent spec's I've tried and how things work out.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Oh yeah it does that...

When putting together the previous post I initially was going to state that druids didn't have any interrupts. Fortunately I was asked to tank Arcatraz (all the way through which was a novelty) for one of our mages who was keen to get his Sha'tar rep to revered for the glyph.

Whilst tanking Dalliah the Doomsayer our plan was just to dps through the heal due to lack of rogue/shaman. As I got out of Whirlwind range the dps did the best thing whilst the boss isn't being actively tanked, and continued nuking. So to get back in quickly I used Feral Charge hoping to either keep the stack of lacerates up, or get it back quickly enough. The mechanics of the fight mean that she always casts heal straight after the whirlwind, and as I shot back in faster than the average bear I noticed the heal fail to complete.

D'oh, /facepalm, time to cut up my tanking licence, I forgot about the interrupt component of the charge, mostly because of the amount of times I charge at something that isn't casting, or is immune to the effects. I'm sure there's been others, and it's probably only going to get worse as the next expansion (and probably the following ones) introduce new abilities.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Things I miss when playing the other character

We had another of our weekly Karazhan runs last night and due to a surplus of tanking specced classes Medrare got to go as dps. With no other feral druids in the party I had the extra challenge of keeping Mangle and Faerie Fire up on the mobs being focussed on. It was a lot of fun especially as I was acting as raid leader again so had to run tactics as well.

Given that running around in Cat form is a lot like playing a rogue it got me thinking about what I miss from one class whilst playing the other. So here is a non-definitive list for each of them:

Heals - Relying on food, bandages and natural regen can be slow and expensive at time. Linked with this is Improved Leader of the Pack with it's improved crit chance and heal every so often when you do crit helps you to do the Duracell Bunny thing and keep on going.
Instant pulling - Whilst stun locking and getting the first blow in from stealth is the way of dispatching a mob 99% of the time. That other 1% requires you to pull 1 away from the group to dispatch away from his friends who might be slightly upset with you. Throw or Shoot take time to happen plus the travel time which means that the bad guy has the opportunity to wander. Something like faiere fire means that you use it you know you're only going to pull the mob you're interested in.
Variety - When raiding or instancing the rogues job is usually the same in every fight, do as much damage as you can whilst not causing the tank a headache, an occasionally preventing a spell cast. Whilst you can tweak and perfect your rotation to try and eek out those last 1 or 2 dps after a while it can become a bit samey. With a druid, even a feral one you've got all the tools to heal and provide ranged damage, it's not the best but whilst raiding I've provided a combination of tanking/dps and healing all in the same run.

Interrupts - There is nothing more annoying that seeing a mob casting something that would cause a lot of pain should it complete. Whilst Maim can be used it does rely on not just having spent all your combo points on Rip and having the energy to use it. Having something else in Cat Form such as Kick would be fantastic.
Vanish - Not only great for dumping threat should you need to during a fight but when things get a bit tricky due to running mobs or things wandering in during the middle of your fight being able to trick them all that you're not there can be a big life saver.

Now this isn't a wish list for either class, just trying to highlight some of the key things each class can bring by noticing them when they're missing when you play a different one.

Friday, 5 September 2008

A quick loss would've been better?!

So I was playing a couple of games of Alterac Valley last night trying to gather together the last bits of honour needed for the S2 OH dagger ready for the new talent trees.

It does appear in my battle group that once you get past midday you end up with every stereotype of battleground player. There's the AFKers keeping the cave safe, the wannabe generals shouting orders regardless of who's paying attention and the whingers who complain that everyone is useless and the Horde always lose.

Having won one game, I queued up again and off we went. The Alliance played a good game and soon we were all pushed back to Frostwolf Keep and required to defend heavily. So defend we did, when rogues and druids sneaked past and tried to capture the towers we ran back, flushed them out and prevented the capture and then ran back to keep them at bay.

Do you know what, it was a lot of fun, we were organized in that chaotic way, we got healed, we took out the healers and generally made life difficult for the invaders. As the battle raged it was clear the the Alliance reinforcements were running out quicker than ours were and sure enough we won the match.

As we entered the closing stage the immortal line from the title was uttered by one of our side, the full quote as I remember it was "I would say gg, but a quick loss would of been better". I was so surprised that I completely forgot to screenshot it and managed not to say something unfortunate in battleground chat. It did make me wonder though, if you're going to play a game in such a way that a quick loss is better than an epic, well fought for win why are you playing it.

Sure when playing with complete strangers things might not always be exactly as you would like it, but if you can't try and find something to like then get out, and stop causing me to fill up my ignore list with people who feel the need to spout off about how wrong everyone else is for trying to enjoy the game.

Anyways I've now bought the dagger so I can hopefully avoid these people and just hang out with all the lovely people in my guild.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Now is the pre-expansion lull of our discontent

Unless you've been very cunning with what you've been reading on the interwebs you'll be aware that there's an expansion on the way, and before that a hefty content patch with some of the new stuff.

Will all this exciting stuff in the offing there are a couple of view points which are surfacing and being discussed.

The first is expansionitis which means people cut back on their playing because anything you might be able to gain in game now will soon be replaced by quest and dungeon rewards from the frozen north.

The second is what I shall call preparationitis, where people are trying to get everything they might need for the progression through the new levels, professions, dungeons. This can include but is not limited to crafting materials, armor/weapons and of course gold.

Either of these can suddenly make the game seem like a chore as you wait patiently for the new exciting stuff just peeking it's head above the horizon. So my advice is don't let it; if you've lost interest in raiding, why not go back and do some old quests around the place, check out Tranquillen if you've not rolled a Blood Elf, go kill Hogger (I might do this as I've only played Horde). If you're sick of all the dailies or flying around mining, herbing or skinning stuff, go look for fun stuff to pick up from in game. There's loads of things that are in the game for fun whether it's a non-combat pet or random trinket which should be very easy for a level 70 character to go and collect.

If you've still done all this and looking for something then why not roll an alt, not for any particular purpose, they don't need to hit 70, they don't need to be geared for whichever raid you're currently running, they can just be there for a laugh and something new to learn. If you're doing any kind of raid leading or boss tactics, nothing gives you a better insight into how a class works than to have played it, at least out of the starter zone and a spending a few talent points.

Personally I've got a troll hunter who's running through the Arugal quest line and searching for Mankirk's wife again. Come the expansion he'll probably be forgotten whilst Crash and Med and a yet to be named Death Knight head towards 80 but it's a bit of a laugh running through the old content and quite frankly ridiculously easy with my ickle cat keeping everything at bay.

So what are you doing in the pre-expansion lull, or are you not feeling any problems and WotLK can arrive when it arrives?