Dark Night of the Warlock’s Soul

I’m really not entirely sure how to characterise Cynwise’s latest post. I’m not sure we’ve ever featured a post quite like it.

He’s having a dark night of the soul with regards to his warlock character, Cynwise, and the fact that, somewhere in the past while, he has stopped liking to play Warlocks. Warlocks, mind, not Cynwise herself. And all of this spirals into a fascinating discussion spreading across class roles, being useful versus enjoying yourself, the feel of a class, and much, much more .

I’m actually not going to do the usual thing and include a quote here, because I simply can’t find one that gives a good representation of this post as a whole. Instead, I’m just going to say – go read the whole thing. It’s touching on so much stuff – the “healer forced to DPS” issue we’ve been talking about in recent weeks, the discrepant experience of playing a tank versus playing a DPS in 5-mans, the flavour that some classes have and some don’t – and it’s all wrapped up in Cynwise’s personal dilemma. It’s really a remarkable piece of writing, and I think virtually all WoW players will find at least part of it resonates with them.

So – go read, if you have a moment. And then tell us –

What do you think? What should Cynwise do now? And what thoughts did the post inspire for you?

Article source: Cynwise’s Field Notes .

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Reflections on the last 9 months of MMOs

The blogosphere seems to be in a reflective mood today. Perhaps it’s WoW Patch 4.3 looming into view, or just the fact that we’re in the fourth quarter of the year now, approaching the end of 2011.

For whatever reason, there’s a lot of reflection, summing-up, and thinking back going on today, and here’s the best of the posts we’ve seen:

  • Syp at Bio Break has just quit RIFT – but it’s not a bad breakup. He’s thinking back over their time together, and reflecting on the good and bad parts of that particular MMO” – “I love, love Trion. So many studios promise all sorts of fast, significant content after release, but I’ve only seen Trion take that challenge and keep up with it, month after month”
  • Brian Wood at WoW Insider is getting his graphs on as he reviews top raider logs to determine the state of class DPS in Firelands“. Even if the exact amount behind isn’t clear from top 100 data, the fact remains that frost unholy DKs, BM hunters, destruction warlocks, subtlety rogues, maybe SV hunters and certainly mage specs requiring more than two buttons (I joke!) are all in need of some kind of DPS help.”
  • And Zinn at Jinxed Thoughts closes out today’s MMOPot entries with a really nice idea – she’s going through everything she really likes about WoW right now“I agree with nearly all the general opinions about what currently isn’t very well designed in WoW, from the raid fight design philosophy, “bring the player not the class”-failure, how mistreated melee have been this expansion and so on. But you know what? I am still playing this game.”

Do you think the top raiders’ numbers really reflect the state of WoW’s DPS? Do you agree with Syp about RIFT’s strengths and weaknesses? And do you fancy being cheery about WoW?

All quotes taken directly from their respective sources.

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Let’s keep the tanks, the healers, and the DPS!

There’s been a bit of a revisionist movement of late in the MMOSphere, with various people – very nearly including Blizzard – suggesting that the Holy Trinity of tanks, healers, and DPS should be revised or removed, that it’s passed its sell-by date, and that it’s hindering our gameplay.

It’s a popular suggestion – so popular, in fact, that I haven’t really heard any dissenting voices, until today, as Gazimoff eloquently speaks up in favour of the Trinity :

“This proposal cropped up recently on WoW Insider, where pure DPS classes would have some of their abilities replaced to become tank/DPS or healer/DPS hybrids, or even all three. This would mean that everyone would be able to perform at least two out of three in the trifecta.

I don’t like this.

If you play a class that can heal you get pressured into healing. If you play a class that can tank you get pressured into tanking. If you can do both then you get pulled all sorts of ways and spend your days keeping everyone but yourself happy. All this peer pressure is a bit crap considering that I want to play the role I enjoy, and that role is nuking the crap out of a monster and seeing big yellow numbers.”

Gazimoff makes several very interesting points within this short article, from his personal views on the role he wants to play to his suggestion at the end that the entire flap might well result from a misattribution of the entire problem. It’s an interesting thought – after all, the lack-of-tanks issue has always primarily been centered around PUG groups. Is it, perhaps, not that people don’t want the responsibility of tanking, but that they don’t want the responsibility of tanking for people they don’t like?

Are you a Holy Trinity abolitionist, or do you think they’re fine? And does the problem lie elsewhere?

Quote taken directly from Gazimoff’s article .

Find Gazimoff’s blog, Mana Obscura, at http://www.manaobscura.com/ .

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Forsaken sympathy, DPS excellence, and more Firelands tips

We’ve had some interesting topics come up in the last few days, and it seems the blogosphere’s all about responding to them today. So, with no further ado:

  • Shintar of Priest With A Cause has been playing through the Forsaken experience, too, and finds that in many ways they’ve become more sympathetic: “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the Forsaken have suddenly turned into a bunch of fluffy bunnies. They are still ruthless and cruel, but something has changed for sure. They don’t just loathe everything and everyone anymore, including themselves.”
  • The great improvement tips posts keep on coming, with Gazimoff of Mana Obscura laying out his advice for going from a good DPS to a great DPS: “The next time you go out in dungeons or raids, push yourself into looking for situations when you can use your other buttons. Become more than a damage machine – throw a bit of versatility in the mix. If someone says “I didn’t know your class could do *that*”, you know you’re getting somewhere.”
  • And it looks like there’s still a fair few people going for the Firelands title: Elkagorasa The Casual has more suggestions if you’re stuck. No quote here, but a bunch of useful additional tips.

So which side of the Forsaken debate are you on? (If you haven’t answered already) And do you have any more “good to great” tips?

All quotes taken from their respective articles

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Why No Trinity Works in Guild Wars 2

I’ll admit it, I’m looking forward to Guild Wars 2, even if it does keep getting pushed back. But today’s post on Kill Ten Rats from one of the Community Open House events has me salivating even more.

He’s describing how Guild Wars 2 instances work – given that no-one in the party has a fixed role. No dedicated healer or tank, just a lot of interesting abilities. And apparently, it works pretty well:

The elementalist I talked to afterwards said he was playing around with the fire attunement mostly in the beginning, but he ended up playing with water after seeing how aggressive the warrior and thief were playing. If things felt good he would switch to kill the gravelings with fire. Interestingly enough, I switched from engineer rifle (decent damage + crowd control) to flamethrower (short range area of effect (“AoE”) damage + crowd control) because I noticed the gravelings loved to swarm. It was almost as if I unknowingly assumed his role as AoE damager as he shifted to something more supportive. The two melee guys also loved going in to my napalm wall for extra damage against the mobs.

I’m really loving this idea. It’s doable in WoW too these days, but not by design – still, some of the most fun times I’ve had in WoW recently have been playing through low-level dungeons with no tank or healer, just a bunch of DPS using our abilities to survive. Sounds like GW2 is actually designed on the principle of flexibility – and that sounds damn cool.

Like that idea? Or will you miss the fixed roles and structure of the Holy Trinity?

_Quote taken directly from Kill Ten Rats’ post.

Find Kill Ten Rats’ homepage at http://www.killtenrats.com/_

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Patch 4.3 Shadow Priest Quick Start Guide – stats, gems, glyphs, reforging and DPS Rotation / Priorities

It’s time to melt some faces! I’m not entirely sure why shadow priests are so associated with faces and the melting therof, but it seems to be a Thing, so hey. In any case, if there are faces in your future which you wish to melt, here’s a guide to the shadow priest glyphs, gems, stat weightings, and rotation you’ll need, plus advice on enchants, reforging, and more, for World of Warcraft Patch 4.3.

Updated March 6th 2012 for Patch 4.3

Shadow Priest Changes in Patch 4.3

Short version: None.

Long version: absolutely, totally, utterly nil, nothing, nada, nuts-all.

Our Tier 13 bonuses are fun, but they don’t change our rotation, gearing, or anything else.

DPS Rotation / Priority

Shadow Priests don’t have a strict DPS rotation – instead, they operate on a priority system.

Absolute first priority is to keep all your Damage Over Time spells ticking on the target: Vampiric Touch, Devouring Plague, and *Shadow Word: Pain *. Use an addon like DOTimer to track these.

Next, cast Mind Blast whenever it’s off cooldown, unless your Empowered Shadow buff is about to drop off or has dropped. If it is or has, carry on with your priorities but wait for a Shadow Orb to proc before casting Mind Blast.

If the target is below 25%, also cast Shadow Word: Death whenever it’s off cooldown.

Finally, if everything else is on cooldown and your DOTs are still ticking, cast Mind Flay. This will also refresh your Shadow Word: Pain.

DO NOT worry about Shadow Orbs (one of the Shadow specialisations) unless Empowered Shadows is about to drop or has dropped. Mind Blast does so much damage that you should cast it whenever it’s off rotation, regardless of how many Orbs you have. DO NOT cast Shadow Word: Death when a target is above 25% health.

Cooldowns: Use Dark Archangel and Shadowfiend as soon as you need the mana, unless you are sure you won’t run out of mana in the current combat, in which case use them on cooldown. Whilst it’s not a cooldown spell, you can also use Shadow Word Death (provided you’re specced into Masochism, as our standard spec is) to regenerate mana reasonably quickly.

Shadow Priest Talent Spec

The theorycrafting experts consider this talent spec to be overall the best option for Shadow Priesting in 4.3.

That spec leaves 2 spare points. Good options for those two points are:

  • 1 point for 33 in Mental Agility, bottom tier of Discipline. Reduces your mana cost for instant cast spells, potentially increasing DPS in longer fights.
  • 1 or 2 points in Inner Sanctum, 2nd tier of Discipline. The bit we care about here is that it boosts your movement speed by an additional 2% or 4% whilst you have Inner Will up, and movement speed is likely to boost DPS in many situations.
  • 1 point in Psychic Horror, 2nd from top tier of Shadow. A short CC/disarm. No DPS benefit, but VERY useful against bosses like the 2nd in Grim Batol which are affected by disarm. Your tank will love you.
  • 1 or 2 points in Phantasm, 3rd Tier in Shadow. Gives you a 50% or 100% chance for Fade to remove movement impairing effects. Primarily PvP oriented, but useful in some circumstances.

For raiding, Mental Agility and Inner Sanctum are probably the way to go.

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Stats, Reforging and Gems

Intellect and Spellpower are FAR more important than any other stat. Gem and enchant for them whenever possible unless a single gem will enable you to reach haste cap (see below).

Reforge Hit, Spirit, Crit and Mastery to Haste if you can. If not, reforge Crit (by preference) and Mastery to Spirit (not Hit) until you hit 17% hit cap (Spirit also boosts Hit for shadow priests). Finally, reforge anything left to Mastery.

What, you’re saying don’t go for Hit Cap? Yes. There’s a fair amount of debate about this in the Shadow Priest community, but it appears that both Intellect and Haste are more valuable than Hit.

Shadow Priest enchants

It’s worth checking to make sure your own professions can’t provide better buffs than these, by the way!

Head Arcanum of Hyjal
Shoulders   Greater Inscription of Charged Lodestone
Back Enchant Cloak – Greater Intellect
Chest Enchant Chest – Peerless Stats
Wrist Enchant Bracer – Mighty Intellect
Hands Enchant Gloves – Greater Mastery
Belt Ebonsteel Belt Buckle
Legs Powerful Ghostly Spellthread
Feet Enchant Boots – Lavawalker
Weapon Enchant Weapon – Power Torrent
Off-Hand Weapon Enchant Weapon – Superior Intellect

Glyphs

At last, a simple choice!

Prime Glyphs: Glyph of Mind Flay, Glyph of Shadow Word: Death, Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain

Major Glyphs: Glyph of Fade, Glyph of Psychic Scream, Glyph of Spirit Tap

Minor Glyphs: Glyph of Fading, Glyph of Levitate, Glyph of Shadowfiend

Yes, Shadow Priests actually have useful minor glyphs!

You also might find the rest of MMO Melting Pot interesting – we scour the blogosphere daily looking for the most interesting discussions and posts about WoW and other MMOs and deliver them straight to you, all in one place, right here. See what’s on the Pot today!

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All Of T3h: Opinions on the “Call To Arms”

Oh, my word. Blizzard announces they’re going to bribe tanks to please, please, please queue solo in the LFD Tool (as a friend of mine commented the other day, the “D” is silent), and the blogosphere explodes in a way I’ve not seen since the last time Blizz really screwed up – erm, I mean, since the Real ID flap.

I’ve just spent the last 45 minutes reading all the reactions that have flooded out of the WoWosphere (not to mention the 364 and counting comments on WoW Insider). That’s a lot of writing about one patch note. So, if you’ve been hiding under a rock and missed all this (or quit WoW to play Rift, but want to come back and laugh at us), here’s our pick of the reaction posts:

  • Blessing Of Kings has an excellent post discussing the WoW approach to tanks vs the Age of Conan approach. Why do we have to have one overstressed tank and three bored DPS in a group? Why not have two of each? Really nice thinking outside the box, and I can’t see why it wouldn’t work.
  • Psynister at his very own Notebook has an excellent and lengthy overview of things from a DPS perspective, and an analysis that I’ve not seen anywhere else – that actually, Blizzard should be rewarding the DPS, not the tanks. You may agree, you may not, but it’s a very interesting perspective.

    • Kadomi at Tank Like A Girl thinks it’s a Call To Fail. Don’t mince words, Kadomi, tell us what you really think! But she does, with a number of excellent points, including the minor issue that actually, these rewards aren’t enough to compensate for being forced to queue solo.
    • Thisius at Dots and Locks hits the nail on the head when he says that the real problem with LFD isn’t lack of rewards for tanks: it’s you and me. Or at least, it’s the DPS who pull for a tank, who rush them, abuse them, and so on. And Call to Arms won’t fix that.
    • The worst offenders in LFD are the pushy assholes who are just there for the rewards. By attempting to incentivise tanks with rewards, you’re just going to get more pushy assholes – so says Saniel of Primal Precision in just one of the many good points he makes about Call to Arms.
    We’ll be keeping on top of this story as it develops (said he in his best TV reporter voice), and I’ll be writing a bit about my own thoughts on the subject. So far, the most interesting point is that I’ve not seen a single post praising this idea.

What do you think? Solution from the heavens or Blizzard screwing the pooch?

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Don’t forget to kill Philip!

If you play an Unholy Death Knight, I’ve got some bad news for you. You might want to sit down. There’s no easy way to break this to you, so I’m just going to come out and say it. Consider is gone. I know, I know. It’s going to be hard, but we’ll have to struggle on together.

Consider has maintained the awesome Unholy DK thread over on Elitist Jerks for quite some time now, and it’s brilliant. Have you ever randomly been grouped with a DK only to realize with shock that they weren’t an idiot and actually knew how to play their class? It’s rare (for Death Knight players, anyway) but it does happen, and the reason is usually because they’ve read Consider’s thread.

Sadly, Consider is finally hanging up his ghoul and calling it a day. Luckily for us poor Death Knights, the thread already has a new maintainer. Matron Heartless has taken over, and she’s in no danger of letting the quality drop. The new thread, Just Act Natural (which scores bonus points for an excellent Shawn Of The Dead reference) is excellent. It’s based on the guide published at Heartless’s own blog, Son Of A Lich (again, bonus pun points must be awarded), which is in itself a great read for Death Knight players.

So, if you play a Death Knight and haven’t yet memorized every damn word of these guides, get reading. Maybe one day we can lose our moniker of Class Most Likely To Attract Morons!

The EJ thread for Frost Death Knights (which was also maintained by Consider) is still in need of an new author, by the way, so if you’re up for the job (and you’re not scared of the notoriously friendly and welcoming Elitist Jerks), throw your name in the ring.

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Games Breaking Away From The Trinity

Syl says she’s recently realised that what she most wants from future MMOs is for them to keep the swords and magic, but get rid of the holy trinity of tanks, healers and DPS. She says she’s tired of it. She takes a look at WoW and points out that despite a few design attempts to work round the trinity, the damn system is more entrenched in WoW than any other game.

Enter Guild Wars 2. Syl points out bits from the developers talking about their approach to the trinity, and how they’re treating specific roles. They seem to have a whole new attitude to healing – are re-classifying it completely. And that’s just the start. Syl’s getting very excited about it and points out a lot of ideas the GW2 developers have which sound spot on, all about balancing fun and roles to create a new way of playing.

A thing that never seizes to baffle me personally, is the strict separation of abilities between roles, in WoW and most other MMOs: You have this powerful caster standing next to you in a 5man party, that magic spellweaver – and all he really does for the group is deal damage, besides few more mob-centric abilities. While his allies fall left and right, while his healer is about to die horribly, he stands there hurling firebolts at the enemy, unable to do anything about much more pressing matters.

As a child of fairytales, sword & sorcery books, tabletops and classic RPGs, I need to ask: in which fantasy setting is this “realistic”?

Syl’s post is long but well worth the read. Nils read it and then wrote his own response, studying the tank/healer/DPS trinity. I mean studying – his post reads like he’s got the monocle out and has pinned the roles down by their delicate, pretty wings. Ahem. Anyway, his post is a good dissection of what the problems with the current trinity system are, and why both tanking and healing are absurd roles. And why they exist and games lean on them so heavily. Nils also ponders a little on potential solutions which look like they have roots in some of the games we’re seeing developed at the moment. Here’s looking forward to what we see those games achieving, and the ideas they take on board.

What about you – do you think we’re on the verge of breaking away from the traditional trinity, or is it so set into the fantasy genre that it’s going to stay?

_Quote taken directly from Syl’s post

You can find Syl’s Raging Monkeys homepage here

You can find Nils’ Blog homepage here_

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Threat – Whose Responsibility Is It?

Zellvirae has a stonkingly well written piece about threat and role mechanics over at the Dead Good Tanking Guide. I couldn’t put this post down.And it’s extremely relevant to WoW today – have you noticed how unbalanced the various role responsibilities like threat and mitigation are?

That’s exactly what Zellvirae’s saying. He’s taking a long, hard look at what responsibilities tanks, healers and DPS have in group content in Cataclysm, and what we’re meant to enjoy doing. And he’s asking – why is it different for some roles to others? Why is something put into the game for one role because it’s enjoyable, but not for other roles?

What strikes me as odd is the fact that healers are now being asked to develop a more strategic view of their gameplay (the right spell at the right time) with regard to finite mana pools, while damage dealers are simply looking for their best button … What compounds this foggy thinking is the assertion that healers find picking the right spell at the right time fun, as opposed to just their best spell.

He’s also looking at how the responsibilitise have been moved around between tanks, DPS and healers as WoW’s progressed. He gives frequent comparisons between how things were in TBC to how they were in Wrath, and now look to be going forward into Cataclysm. And he says the balance is wrong: tanks and healers have a whole lot more plates to spin compared to DPS who are just meant to well, DPS. Back in the day where good DPS watched their threat…ahem, anyway.

Zellvirae rounds it up with some assurances he doesn’t see the game as broken but this needs fixing, and here are some potential ideas. Absolutely brilliant piece, somewhat out of leftfield given this topic doesn’t come up outside of theorycrafting forums.

What do you think – do tanks and healers have too much responsibility in comparison to DPS (were things better back in the day) or does Cata’s role balance work nicely?

_Quote taken directly from Zellvirae’s post

You can find Zellvirae’s Dead Good Tanking Guide homepage here_

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